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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Arrest Made in Georgia Mass Killings; President Obama's School Speech Uproar; Arson Blamed in Deadly California Wildfire
Aired September 4, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone. Thanks for joining us. I'm Erica Hill. Anderson is on assignment.
Tonight, breaking news: a major development in the Georgia killing rampage that left eight people dead. The young man who made that anguished 911 call, this young man who you see, that he had come home to find his entire family had been wiped out, well, he tonight is under arrest, charged with their murders. Details are just ahead.
But, first, we want to concentrate on the growing pressure on President Obama, with your children stuck in the crossfire. The president talking to kids on the first day back to school may not seem all that controversial on the surface. Plenty of past presidents, both Republican and Democratic, have done it without causing much fuss, but not this president and not this time.
That's because, this time, some school districts are refusing to carry the president's speech. Some parents now plan to keep their children home from school on that day. It turns out there's a lot of fear out there. And some folks believe teaching materials meant to accompany Mr. Obama's speech justify that fear.
Tom Foreman now takes a closer look at both the fear and the facts.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Call it a fast lesson in public pushback. The president's plan to speak to schoolkids on Tuesday has some conservative parents saying he's trying to brainwash their kids into buying his politics.
SHANNEEN BARRON, PARENT: Thinking about my kids -- sorry -- in school having to listen to that just really upsets me.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Politics is totally up to the family.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, will I send my child? I don't know. Right now, I would say no. I will keep him home.
FOREMAN: Across the country, many school districts are encouraging students to watch. In New Orleans, it will be required, but that's an exception.
In virtually every state, at least some schools have decided to either not show the speech, review it first, or make viewing optional. Some cite schedule conflicts and technical difficulties, but this was not what the White House expected. The president's speech will focus on keeping kids in school, a subject he's promoted before.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Unfortunately, nearly 30 percent of U.S. high school students aren't making it to graduation.
FOREMAN: But the core complaint seems to be with supplementary teaching materials from the Department of Education. Originally, they called for students to write -- quote -- "what they can do to help the president."
(on camera): The White House has since changed that, suggesting the children now write about their own educational goals. Furthermore, the text of the president's speech will now be put online Monday, so any teacher, parent, or politician can preview what's going to be said.
(voice-over): Plenty seem fine with that, including the national president of the PTA.
CHARLES SAYLORS, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL PTA: We have an opportunity here in the United States for parents, teachers, and students to take part in a tremendous civic lesson.
FOREMAN: Still, just like the crowds at all those town hall meetings, others are far from satisfied.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My rights as a parent are being circumvented, so that this president can speak to my children.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
FOREMAN: And they clearly resent the notion that they are unfairly questioning the president's motives.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, OCTOBER 1, 1991)
GEORGE H.W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Education matters. And what you do today and what you don't do can change your future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: After all, they point out, when the first President Bush spoke to schoolkids on TV in 1991, top Democrats called that just political advertising on the taxpayers' dime.
Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HILL: Going to talk strategy now with political contributor and Democratic strategist James Carville. Also joining us, GOP strategist Tony Blankley, who also was of course former press secretary for Newt Gingrich.
Good to have you both with us.
Tony, there is this very growing passionate conservative outcry against the planned speech. Tell us, what exactly is the issue with the president's planned speech?
TONY BLANKLEY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think this is an example of an unforced error by the White House staff.
Every president has certain image vulnerabilities that you should try to avoid. I worked for Reagan. People thought he didn't have command of the facts. So, we tried to avoid images that consisted of that.
President Obama has certain images. Hillary Clinton talked about it. "Saturday Night Live" talked about it during the campaign. And a smart staff would avoid playing into that. So, when this White House sends out...
HILL: Wait. Wait. Give me a specific, though. You are not telling me specifically what you think those vulnerabilities are.
BLANKLEY: Well, sure, the one and all of that business, and the cult stuff that's been talked about by -- as I say, by Hillary, by "Saturday Night Live," and a lot of people since then.
And so why would they send out an instruction to students, little kids around the country, to explain how the president inspires them. That plays into that fear and concern. And a large part of the public has responded with deep concern.
HILL: So, is the issue then not necessarily the speech, but the issue is more with the lesson plans?
BLANKLEY: Well, I think yes. And that's the White House admitted they had been infelicitous in the language, and changed it. I think that that was what sparked the concern.
Obviously, presidents have spoken to students on a regular basis.
BLANKLEY: Reagan did. Bush did. That's -- there's nothing wrong with that. But I think it was the lesson plan, when we started seeing the things that they're -- like asking our kids to start asking, how does he inspire you? That plays into the problem.
HILL: Well, in some of those questions, we should point, they were talking about how did that speech inspire you? BLANKLEY: Yes, I know.
HILL: I want to bring James in here, though.
BLANKLEY: I'm just saying, you don't want to -- if you are White House staff, you don't want to be stupid. You want to be smart.
HILL: Well, let's ask James about that.
Tony is saying that the White House staff was kind of stupid with what they did.
HILL: They did revise an initial question.
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
HILL: Did the White House not think it through initially?
HILL: So, how would you answer that question if I was asking you? Join the live blog. We would love to hear from you. You can log on at AC360.com.
Up next, James Carville will answer the question and a few more, as we continue our conversation.
Also, the breaking news tonight -- his family murdered, his voice on a 911 tape heard across the country pleading for help. Tonight, we will show how that same man went from victim to defendant, charged with eight counts of first-degree murder.
HILL: Our conversation and the controversy over President Obama's planned back-to-school speech next week continues now -- the White House today calling the concerns over speech to students silly.
Many conservatives, though, are taking this very serious, and some parents -- you even saw the tears there earlier -- promising to keep their children home from school on the day of the speech.
Before the break, I was talking strategy with Tony Blankley and James Carville.
And I asked James whether the White House had failed to anticipate the potential here for political controversy. Here's the rest of our conversation.
HILL: Did the White House not think it through initially?
JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'm not sure, but I think it came out of the Department of Education.
And I think they were talking about, in terms, as I understand it, it was like civil responsibility -- personal responsibility, being studious, or something like that.
The truth of the matter is, they have got people in this country that don't believe that Obama was born in the United States. There have got people in this country that believe that the Earth is 5,000 years old, all right?
There's nothing that you can do about that. You have to live with it. They have to go on. To the children that want to sit there, this is a man that's sort of a testament to what education can do for somebody. His mother read to him at 4:30 in the morning.
He is a highly educated person. He can talk to kids. He can talk. He might be able to connect with a lot of kids that don't -- do that, and, if you feel compelled to keep your kid out of school, I mean, it is a free country, keep your kid out of school.
But you cannot run a country based on birthers and creationists. You have to run a country based on trying to inspire kids. And that's what these guys have got to learn to do.
HILL: Tony, in terms of keeping kids home from school, A, if you could give me a yes or no, do you think it is a good idea? And, if you are going to keep kids home from school, what should the lesson be that parents are giving their children that day, in terms of a civics lesson?
BLANKLEY: Look, I think every parent has to make their own decision as to -- as to why they're -- what they want to do.
Keeping your kid out of school and on the first day is a big deal. On the other hand, a parent has a right to protect their children from anything they don't want to have. And, sometimes, parents keep them from sex education and other stuff. That's a family's decision. It's not mine and it's not the government's.
HILL: James, would it be easier -- the White House has said now that it will release a copy of the speech online on Monday, so parents can review it ahead of time before school starts.
CARVILLE: Well, I think they are, yes.
HILL: No, they are.
CARVILLE: My understanding is, is that they are.
HILL: But should they have done it sooner. They are. They have confirmed that. But should they have done it sooner, say, yesterday?
CARVILLE: Well, look, in retrospect -- in retrospect, you should have anticipated -- again, this is a country that people believe that -- these people believe Obama wasn't born in the United States. They believe the Earth is 5,000 years old.
A parent has every right to take their kid to the Creation Museum in Kentucky. I don't -- that is a right. But this is something that we have got to live with in the United States. And I don't guess the administration saw this coming. And, in hindsight, could they have done this or that? That's fine. And people have a right to keep their children home.
But I think we would be better off if we sort of believed in what facts were and we had some kind of appreciation of what the scientific method was in this country. But, hey, you know, think what you want.
HILL: I only have 15 seconds on this last one for the both of you. So, you're each going to have to do 15 seconds.
James, I will start with you.
Is this growing political divide getting to be too much? Is it something that can be overcome at this point?
CARVILLE: I don't know. I don't know. It's pretty rough out there.
CAVUTO: I mean, look, I think the president is going to have to, you know, sort of a -- that was his kind of thing when he came in as a unity, community Democrat and everybody said, well, it was just the Clintons that made all these Republicans nutty. But it looks like maybe they were just that way from the start.
HILL: Tony, I will let you respond to that.
HILL: He's calling you a little nutty.
BLANKLEY: No. Well, look, I know James.
James, if he was running this operation for his president, they wouldn't have done this stunt.
But, look, the fact is, Obama had a tremendous opportunity when he came in as a post-partisan president, 70 percent job approval. And I think, in seven months, they have thrown it away. And he is now just another president, another politician. And that's another example of sloppiness on the part of his staff.
HILL: So you don't think we can overcome that divide?
BLANKLEY: No. Somebody will. Somebody shrewder than the last several presidents will.
HILL: Well, we will be -- we will be watching to see who it might be.
BLANKLEY: Who knows.
HILL: Tony Blankley, James Carville, good to have you both with us.
CARVILLE: You bet. All right.
HILL: Thank you.
CARVILLE: Thanks. Appreciate it.
HILL: When we come back, the breaking news tonight: He called 911 to tell the operator he found his whole family dead. Now Guy Heinze Jr. is charged with those murders -- authorities in Georgia speaking out tonight -- just ahead, the evidence that led to his arrest.
And, later, we are back on the fire lines in Southern California, where tens of thousand of charred acres are now a crime scene and part of a homicide investigation.
HILL: Breaking news out of Georgia, where tonight a man is under arrest, charged with killing eight people.
This is the suspect, 22-year-old Guy Heinze Jr., who now faces eight counts of murder. Seven of those victims are related to him. The eighth was a family friend. The brutal crime happened last weekend, and it was the suspect himself who alerted police to his horror.
Listen to his 911 call.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GUY HEINZE, FAMILY MEMBER OF VICTIMS: I just got home. My whole family's dead.
911 OPERATOR: OK. Tell me what's going on, sir. What...
HEINZE: Yes, I just got home from -- I was out last night. I got home just now. And everybody's dead.
HEINZE: My dad's dead.
911 OPERATOR: How many people are there?
HEINZE: There's like six. My whole family's dead.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
HILL: A chilling call which authorities now believe was made by a killer.
Sean Callebs joining us live now from Brunswick, Georgia, with the latest on the arrest.
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Erica.
It has been a simply a shocking development in this case. There's no other way to phrase it. Throughout the week, people wondered out loud if indeed Guy Heinze Jr. could be involved in this. He was arrested almost immediately after authorities arrived. He was charged with tampering with evidence, lying to investigators. And he had a small amount of pot as well.
However, his bond was set at only $20,000. So, when the chief of police here in Glynn County came out just a short while ago and announced there was a significant break in the case, it certainly sent shockwaves through to this small coastal area.
The chief said that throughout the week, Heinze Jr. wasn't specifically a suspect until some significant information came to light. Here's what the chief said just about one hour ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATT DOERING, GLYNN COUNTY, GEORGIA, POLICE CHIEF: Very late this afternoon, two pieces of information came forward to us.
We took those two pieces of information, compared it to the whole of all the evidence collected all week long. We were satisfied that that led us to believe that Guy Heinze Jr. is the responsible person for the murders.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CALLEBS: Really want to point out that Chief Doering was extremely tight-lipped throughout this week, and he said very little at the news conference. He wouldn't talk specifically about what this new information was. He wouldn't talked if he had a -- he wouldn't discuss whether he had a motive, wouldn't discuss whether there could have been more than one person involved.
I want to show you some very sobering, very somber pictures. Look at this, seven caskets in one room. These are seven of the eight people who were brutally murdered in a mobile home park here in a small coastal area last Saturday.
Now, we spoke with the family early -- family earlier today, and they actually invited us to take these pictures. They wanted the community to see what was at stake. They said -- quote -- "We want this monster out there arrested."
Now, at the time, the brother-in-law said he had no reason to believe at all that Heinze Jr. could be involved in this.
Erica, I really want to stress this. Now, think about this. It was a father, four children who are Heinze's relatives, as well as Guy Heinze Sr. So, he is accused of killing five of his family members, as well as three others. And there is a 3-year-old child clinging to life this evening who remains on life support -- Erica.
HILL: It's just incredible to think of. And that visual, as you said, of those caskets really puts it in perspective.
I know you mentioned police have been very tight-lipped. You have been there since Monday. Earlier in the week, they were saying they really wanted to catch somebody. People were living in fear. What has it actually been like there in Brunswick, Georgia, over the past week?
CALLEBS: It has been amazing.
I'm going to walk you through this timeline. First, we had the 911 call. And then Heinze Jr. was arrested and faced those three charges. Now, I spoke with his attorney, Ron Harrison, on Tuesday on the phone. Harrison categorically denied that Guy Heinze Jr. had anything at all to do with the murder.
Then, on Tuesday, bond was set, $20,000, not a high bond, not the kind of bond you would keep for someone who theoretically could have committed eight murders.
I spoke with the family just a little bit on Thursday, then went back out and interviewed them Friday. It has been brutal for that family, as you can imagine. The mother of the four children is basically in shock. It's been very difficult.
They actually found out that Heinze Jr. had been arrested at the viewing this evening. The funeral is slated for tomorrow -- so, just some horrific news, and then this bombshell coming, that Guy Heinze Jr. had been arrested, this after the family said, we have no reason to believe he is connected with this at all.
HILL: Boy, just when -- just when you think it can't get any worse for that family, can't imagine what it must be like tonight.
Sean Callebs live for us in Brunswick, Georgia -- Sean, thanks.
Just ahead, we're also following another case -- arson now blamed in a deadly California wildfire -- a homicide investigation now launched after the deaths of two firefighters. Tonight, we take you on that hunt for the killer.
First, though, Tom Foreman joins us with a 360 news and business bulletin.
FOREMAN: Hi, Erica.
The August job reports is in. And the economic signals are mixed, at best. The unemployment rate jumped to 9.7 percent, a 26- year high. But the pace of job loss slowed. Employers cut only 216,000 jobs in August, compared to 270,000 in July.
Vice President Biden today insisted the numbers are still too high.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, I don't want -- I want to be clear about something. Less bad is not good. That's not how President Obama and I measure success.
We are not going to be satisfied, any more than the governor is or anybody else is, until we start adding, not losing, thousands of jobs per month. But one of the tools to get us to that point is the Recovery Act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FOREMAN: Libya admits pressuring British officials to release the Lockerbie bomber. The son of Colonel Moammar Gadhafi says he wanted the terrorist included in a prisoner release deal tied to trade deals between the two countries, but, he says, Britain refused.
Diagnosed with terminal cancer, the bomber was later freed on compassionate grounds by Scottish officials. He returned last month to a hero's welcome. Not the last we will hear of that, for sure.
And it's a boy. The panda cub born at the San Diego Zoo nearly a month ago was examined for the first time as its mother briefly left the den. Weighing in at 2.8 pounds, the yet-to-be-named cub is described as healthy and -- quote -- "very roly-poly." So, Erica...
HILL: I think that's what you want in your panda baby, right?
FOREMAN: I suppose so.
FOREMAN: Any ideas for a name? Any ideas you have there for a name?
HILL: What about Tom?
FOREMAN: Tom is not bad. I -- I think I would go with Barney Frank.
HILL: I'm sure he would appreciate that.
FOREMAN: Be a good name.
HILL: We will talk about that on the blog.
HILL: Tom, thanks.
Up next on 360: searching for the fire-starter -- the massive wildfire out of control and intentionally set. We are on the trail of the arsonist behind this deadly inferno.
And pushing his plan -- President Obama's health care pitch. After months of calling on Congress to come up with a plan, will he now write up his own proposal?
HILL: They gave their lives trying to save others. Today, the two humans who died battling the deadly wildfire in Southern California were laid to rest.
Comrades saluted Captain Tedmund Hall as the hearse carrying his body drove to the funeral home. Hall and Specialist Arnaldo Quinones were killed on Sunday fighting the inferno. Memorial services for the fallen firefighters will be held next weekend at Dodger Stadium.
Their deaths have been ruled a homicide at this point, and officials believe the wildfire north of Los Angeles, which has now destroyed nearly 150,000 acres and dozens of homes, was deliberately set. There's also late word tonight that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is pledging a $100,000 reward leading to the arrest of the arsonist.
But just how can investigators find the culprit amidst tens of thousand of acres of ash?
Brian Todd reports on the hunt.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Erica, this is now an arson investigation, officials here not giving many more details than that.
And with this fire being fought on so many fronts, it's not as if firefighters here needed any reminders of how serious this situation is. But, earlier today, they got one.
TODD (voice-over): The remains of a fallen firefighter are driven past his saluting colleagues. His death and that of another firefighter mean the biggest wildfire in Los Angeles County history is now a homicide case. That's because investigators are now calling this arson. The incident commander adds another phrase.
MIKE DIETRICH, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: Any act of arson in the wildlands is domestic terrorism. That's my personal opinion. I believe that other folks have said that, because it affects communities, citizens, firefighters, law enforcement officers. And what else could it be?
TODD: This could be ground zero -- Mile Marker 29 on the Angeles Crest Highway in the Angeles National Forest -- roped off with red flags carefully placed. Veteran investigators tell us it's likely they believe this is the point of origin. Officials here are not commenting on a "Los Angeles Times" report that incendiary material was found here. The source for that information didn't specify what material that is.
Tom Fee, a former Pomona fire chief who has investigated thousands of wildfires all over the U.S. says it could be a change of things.
TOM FEE, WILDFIRE INVESTIGATOR: Probably they either found the match that was left there, the lighter that was left there, the incendiary device that was left there, the road flare that was used to start this fire.
TODD: Fee takes us through the CSI of wildfire investigations. Clues, he says, are everywhere.
FEE: Paper on the ground like this also becomes good indicators.
TODD: These, he says, are indicators of the direction the fire burned in at the point of origin.
An investigator on scene elaborates.
RITA WEARS, U.S. FOREST SERVICE: Indicators can be things such as burned rocks. It can be soil that's been damaged.
TODD: Fee says while these clues reveal the direction, arson is revealed by anything from something on the ground to a confession.
But another key question...
(on camera): In a territory that is the size of a major city, burned acreage for as far as the eye can see -- not only finding that point of origin, but determining that it's arson really fairly quickly, in a matter of days, how do they get to that point in just a few days?
FEE: Well, each fire is a little bit different. But the things that we use are early-on aerial photographs, sometimes satellite photographs, witness statements. The firefighters that first arrived, they will know what the area involved was at the time they arrived.
TODD: With those methods, he says, you can narrow down the point of origin to an acre or less, maybe even to a manmade object, like this burned-out bottle. They comb through the scene with everything from sifters to dogs, and, of course, look for witnesses -- Erica.
HILL: Brian Todd, thanks.
You can share your thoughts on this story or anything else we're covering tonight. Just log on to our blog at AC360.com to join the live chat.
Still ahead: A possible new strategy by President Obama and health care, but is this all too little too late?
And allegations a doctor is preying on the poor and illiterate, desperate for just one thing, their kidneys -- more in our weeklong series "Secret Harvest" when 360 continues.
HILL: The health care battle heating up once again tonight, as President Obama considers drafting his own formal health care bill -- after weeks of angry debate about health care reform, the administration now promising to lay out in -- quote -- "understandable, clear terms" exactly what it is looking for in this legislation, the details to be unveiled at the president's speech to a joint session of Congress next week.
Senior White House correspondent Ed Henry joins us now with more.
Ed, there is a little bit of news, I know, coming out of the White House as we head into the holiday weekend about what these plans for health-care reform might be. How much are you learning?
ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erica. We are learning some new information tonight. And as you know, for months the president has been resisting unveiling his own health-care plan. But sources close to the process are telling CNN tonight that, in fact, people inside the White House are now talking about drafting a legislative plan of their own as sort of a contingency plan in case a deal on Capitol Hill falls through. It's obviously very difficult to get something through right now.
In fact, my colleagues, Jessica Yellin and Gloria Borger, have heard, as well, that the president could send such a plan to the Hill sometime after next Wednesday's speech to a joint session of Congress.
But I have to tell you a White House spokesman stressed to me tonight that, while the president has looked at various proposals that are floating around, no final decision has been made on whether to send a formal legislative proposal. So it could just be principles they send to the Hill, but we're hearing that they are considering now sending a full legislative plan.
Finally, the key is going to be what's -- what's in this. And what we're hearing is that the president's top aides are still very deep into the negotiations with Senator Olympia Snowe. She's sort of the last Republican standing. The real last hope of them getting a Republican to sign onto what they call a bipartisan bill.
The key there is there would likely not be a public option, and instead, it would be sort of this trigger mechanism that, if insurance companies don't step up to the plate and make the changes that they promise to make, then the public option will be triggered as sort of a fall back.
And the key there is, will liberals revolt? Will they feel that the president just gave up too much here to get a deal. And that's going to be the big question.
HILL: And we want to dig deeper on that and a few other questions. Now I bring in senior political analyst David Gergen.
David, when you look at that trigger option, is that enough to break this impact over health-care reform, and is it a smart way to do it?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: On the surface, no, Erica, but we'll have to wait and see who's willing to compromise, who's willing to bend.
Here's the dilemma. The public option, essentially, as you know, calls for setting up a U.S. government health insurance corporation that would compete with private health insurers. Now, they're -- on the left of the Democratic Party, there is strong support for that, because they think it will bring down prices; it will introduce more competition.
And the president's problem is that 60 members of the House have signed a letter saying they will not vote for a bill, in effect, that does not have a robust public option. They don't want to trigger it. It's got to have a robust public option that goes into effect right away. Without them you can't get a bill through the House, as Nancy Pelosi said last night. On the other hand, a bill that does contain a robust public option looks like right now it will not get through the Senate. It will not get enough votes among Senate Democrats to get through.
So the president has got a dilemma on his hands. and I think his problem is going to be how does he -- how -- I think what he needs to do before his speech, if I may say so, is see if he can't get a negotiated deal before the speech not to take sides in the speech. Because if he does that, one side is going to be disappointed and may well attack whatever his speech is on Wednesday night.
HILL: Ed, how much are you hearing, too, about that speech? Is this address to Congress really going to be more of a sales pitch or an attempt to embarrass members of Congress into acting?
HENRY: Well, I think he's tried the sales pitch over and over again, speeches across the country, and it hasn't necessarily worked.
I think David is absolutely right that what their hope is -- and it's just a hope now -- is that they can get a deal with someone like Olympia Snowe before the speech. Then the president has something to present. But they don't know if they can get that, so they don't want to promise that. They don't want to raise expectations, so they are sort of caught here.
And David is right: you can't really get a public option through the Senate right now. You can't get conservative Democrats on board. So what I'm hearing the latest sort of iteration of this, some advisors to the president saying that what he's likely to do is to tell liberals in the House, look, let's just get as much as we can now and go back later. I kill reform altogether. Get as much as you can now.
HILL: David, would that have been a stronger strategy from the beginning to go with more of a baby step, limited approach. Let's see what we can do now. Because it seems like this effort to ram everything through at once. A, it's not working and, B, it seems to really hurt the president politically.
GERGEN: That's a very good question, Erica. I think we're going to have a lot of post mortems when this is all over, if we get -- if the president gets a watered-down deal, which I think is the best he's going to get out of this right now.
You know, the landscape changes on health-care reform. It did for the Clintons, and it has for President Obama. What he could have gotten three months ago is -- he probably could have gotten a better deal three months ago than he could get now.
The way this has unfolded with this intense public negative reaction coming in through these town halls, with opinions souring, he's still got a lot of people for it, but he's got a lot more people against it now.
You know, he would have been better off, I think, getting -- cutting a deal three months ago and then going and taking it to the country. He might have gotten the public support behind it. But this process has been so messy and chaotic in addition to have this sort of big liberal bill coming through the House, that I think the whole thing has sort of begun to crater on him. He's got to -- Wednesday night is critical, but he's got to get a negotiation, if he can, before Wednesday night.
HILL: And everyone will be watching. I have a feeling we'll be discussing it with both you gentlemen. Always good to talk to you both. Ed Henry, David Gergen, thanks.
GERGEN: Thank you.
HILL: Up next, preying on the poor to harvest kidneys. Desperate for cash and duped into giving up body parts. We'll tell you where this secret harvest is happening.
Plus, the fight for Afghanistan, increase in insurgent violence and the debate over sending in more U.S. troops. Is this a war that can be won? We'll talk about all that with national security analyst Peter Bergen.
HILL: Our weeklong series on the harvesting of human organs concludes tonight with perhaps the most disturbing side of this worldwide trafficking business. The toll it takes on the donors, many of whom are in desperate need for money, lured by brokers to give away part of himself. And in return, they're promised much but also left with emotional and physical scars that may never heal.
Drew Griffin reports.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was centered in northern Israel, where prosecutors allege a broker and a doctor treated the harvesting of kidneys like picking parts from used cars.
GILAD EHRLICH, ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The object was the kidney. In order to get the object, you need the person and you need to traffic him in order to do that.
GRIFFIN: Gilad Ehrlich, who was one of the prosecutors, was able to shut down essentially a human trafficking ring to send both Israel patients, all Jews and their Israeli owners, all Arabs, to the Ukraine, where an Israeli doctor performed the surgery.
The broker is in prison, the doctor in the Ukraine avoiding prosecution. The allegation, that they preyed on illiterate, poor and desperate people for one purpose: to get their kidneys.
(on camera) Basically, these two men were trafficking humans like used cars, and using those cars, those people, for their spare parts.
EHRLICH: Exactly. And once the kidney was gone, so did the responsibility. No medical care, no one took care of them. As I mentioned before, we had the one victim that took out by himself his own stitches with a kitchen knife.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): The other prosecutor in this case, Basad Condua (ph), says the victims were lured in by newspaper ads like this one published two years ago.
(on camera) The ads were placed in Arabic-speaking newspapers, targeting people like those who live in this very village in the north of Israel. Unemployment here is extremely high. The education level is low. The perfect place to find people desperate to sell just about anything, including their kidneys.
He's taking us to Kaframanta (ph). This is the village where a teenager was talked into, duped, really, into giving a kidney to somebody in the Ukraine.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They don't know yet what happened.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): This is one of those victims. Condua (ph) says he's embarrassed, still hurting. And once, inside away from the neighbors, he showed us the awful reminder of what happened.
(on camera) And he still is tired. Still is weak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He feels like he's a half person, half human being.
GRIFFIN: He's a half human being.
(voice-over) He was promised $7,000 for his kidney. He was given roughly half. Then the broker began deducting expenses: meals he was given and lodging. In the end he sold his kidney, he says, for nearly nothing.
Prosecutors say the ring preyed on people just like this man, illiterate, destitute. One victim, a single, divorced woman living in a Muslim culture.
EHRLICH: When you're illiterate, you have two kids, you are divorced, and you are coming from a very, very poor family in a very, very poor village, in the end, you're the best prey.
GRIFFIN: Prosecutors won their convictions on evidence from just five cases. But they believe the ring has been going on, perhaps, for years. Its victims now too scared, too ashamed to admit they bear the scar of organ trafficking.
Drew Griffin, CNN, Nazareth.
HILL: Now, it is a crime to buy or sell an organ for transplant in the U.S. But some say that policy should change.
Dr. Sally Satel supports the idea. She received a kidney from a friend in 2006. She's also a psychiatrist and the author of a new book, "When Altruism Isn't Enough: The Case for Compensating Organ Donors."
On the opposite side, Dr. Gabriel Danovitch is a professor at UCLA School of Medicine. He's also on the board of the National Kidney Registry.
Doctors, good to have both of you with us tonight.
Dr. Satel, you mentioned you would have paid for a kidney, had you not gotten one from a friend a few years ago. We just saw in Drew's piece, though, essentially the rich preying on the poor. If it were legal to buy and sell organs, how would you keep that from happening?
DR. SALLY SATEL, AUTHOR, "WHEN ALTRUISM ISN'T ENOUGH": Well, what you've shown, the story you showed is appalling. This is the ravages and the deprivations of the black market, which is exactly why we need a transparent means, legal means of exchange.
What I'm referring to here is not a free market, but a regulated system where the state or federal government would give a reward to a stranger who would like to give his kidney and save the lives of someone else.
HILL: Should that reward be in the form of cash?
SATEL: We envision the reward more in terms of an in-kind benefit: a tax credit, contribution to a 401k, even a contribution to the charity of the donor's choice, so his altruism can be -- can be multiplied.
The reason that we don't -- I say we, my colleagues and I have been working on this -- this issue. And we talk not about cash because, as the show had shown earlier, you don't want to entice desperate people. It's desperate people we don't want. Folks who, you know, feel that "I have no choice but to give an organ."
SATEL: So you don't give cash, because that's what desperate people want.
HILL: Dr. Danovitch, though. I want to bring Dr. Danovitch in on this. You're saying no cash, but this should be regulated in order to avoid some sort of a black market. Dr. Danovitch, could that, in fact, help if it were regulated and if cash were not being handed out, if it was more of an in-kind benefit?
DR. GABRIEL DANOVITCH, PROFESSOR, UCLA SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I think that would be a big mistake. The people who donate for a financial incentive, whether it's cash or non-cash, are always going to be people who are vulnerable.
What we need to do is promote -- promote voluntarily donation. And although we have seen a terrible story today about bad apples, there is actually a lot of good news. In the last ten years in this country, there have been 15,000 voluntary living donations, and the outcome of those -- for those donors has been excellent, both from the -- both from the medical point of view and the psychological point of view. We need to promote voluntary donation. And there's good news around the world.
By the way, in this country, the National Kidney Foundation is promoting an "end the wait" initiative to help prevent kidney disease and promote donation internationally. Eighty countries and organizations have gotten together in the Istanbul Declaration to promote organ donation. And in China there are improvements. In India and Pakistan.
HILL: But here in the U.S., as we look here in the U.S., you mentioned some improvement, that there are still some 80,000 people who are waiting for a kidney. There are statistics that 13 people die every day.
If it's OK for a woman to sell her eggs, for a man to donate his sperm, is it really any different, Dr. Danovitch, to decide to sell your kidney?
DANOVITCH: It's very different, Erica. The population that are targeted for egg donation tend to be people of high socioeconomic status, whereas people who are targeted for -- for financial incentives for a kidney transplant tend to be of low financial -- of low socioeconomic status.
And the bad part, the part that scares me about Dr. Satel's proposal is that it would undermine voluntary donation. Voluntary donation and incentivized donations do not go together.
Doctor Satel's donor, a wonderful woman, donated not -- voluntarily. She would not have donated for money. And you're going to undermine voluntary donation if you permit financially incentivized donation. We've seen that all over the world.
HILL: Dr. Satel, you're shaking your head no. I'll give you the last word. We're about out of time.
SATEL: I just -- yes. I disagree with that vehemently. We've seen in Iran, which is the one country, actually, of all places that has a legalized means of compensating donors, increased and deceased donors by tenfold.
One thing we are sure of is that we -- if we continue with the status quo to tend the way, not end the way, as the National Kidney Foundation says. We are guaranteed more death of recipients, of people who need organs and the poor donors who are going to be exploited in the black market. We just have to reward willing, informed and educated donors.
HILL: Dr. Sally Satel, Dr. Gabriel Danovitch, good to have you both with us tonight. Two very different viewpoints in a debate that is far from easy to reconcile. Thank you, both.
SATEL: Thank you.
DANOVITCH: Thank you.
HILL: Up next, an air strike in Afghanistan. Scores killed. The tensions are rising. Is this really a winnable war? We'll speak with national security analyst Peter Bergen, who joins us live from Kabul.
Plus, see where a Labor Day gift might leave you swimming with the sharks.
HILL: In Afghanistan today, a NATO war plane hit two fuel tankers which have been hijacked by the Taliban. At least 70 people died, and many of them are believed to have been civilians.
In the meantime, with American efforts ratcheting up, public support shrinking for the war. The question here, can Obama -- President Obama persuade the country to stick it out?
Joining us now with a "360 Dispatch" is national security analyst Peter Bergen, joining us live from Kabul tonight.
Peter, good to have you with us. General Stanley McChrystal, who's of course, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, recently tightened the rules for calling in air strikes. He said, quote, "Air power contains the seeds of our own destruction. If we don't use it responsibly, we can lose this fight."
Although the strike early this morning was called in by German NATO forces, do Afghans make that distinction between, say, NATO forces from another country and U.S. troops?
PETER BERGEN, FOX NEWS ANALYST: No, I don't think they do, Erica. I mean, of course, most of the air strikes in Afghanistan are by the United States, because there are so many more American air assets in the country. And civilian casualties is the major political issue in Afghanistan, Erica.
There's been some real improvement in the last several months with General McChrystal's change of the rules of engagement. But then you have an indent like this, and Afghans are sort of, you know, outraged all over again.
So, yes, the rules of engagements have changed. But you only need one big incident for it to become a problem.
HILL: Did this strike go too far?
BERGEN: Well, I mean, there's no doubt about it. I mean, as far as we can tell, you know, dozens of civilians have been killed, and it was a mistake.
HILL: With August being the deadliest month in Afghanistan for U.S. troops, we've heard so much about how support for the war is dropping. In a recent CNN poll, just 57 percent of Americans now supporting the war.
The casualties are particularly bad in certain provinces. Is this still a war that, for the U.S., is actually winnable?
BERGEN: Well, depends what you mean by winnable, but bringing more security to the Afghan people? Yes, Erica, I think that's very possible. Right now, 40 percent of the country is subject to the high risk of Taliban attacks.
If you can show to the American people in the next year or so that the Taliban have been rolled back to, let's say, 30 percent of the country where they're affected, if you can secure the main road in the country, the Kabul to Kandahar road which right now is still quite dangerous, if you can serve (ph) some really tangible, achievable goals in the next 12 months, I think, yes, you can convince the American people that this is winnable.
We know you'll be talking a little bit more about those goals and how the fight to win them is going later next week when you join us again, more from Afghanistan.
Peter, thanks, tonight.
And just a programming note: Anderson will be in Afghan all next week along with Peter, Michael Ware, and 360 M.D. Sanjay Gupta are also there to see firsthand just what's happening in the country. Don't miss a 360 special in Afghanistan, "Live from the Battle Zone." It all begins on Monday.
We do want to get you caught up on some of the other stories tonight. Tom Foreman joining us again with a "360 Bulletin."
FOREMAN: Hi, Erica.
California investigators have seized a van from Phillip and Nancy Garrido's back yard as potential evidence in the kidnapping of Jaycee Dugard. And tonight, the mayor of nearby Antioch, California, says a trust fund has been set up for Jaycee. She was reunited with her family last week after 18 years in captivity.
To Afghanistan, where 14 private security guards at the U.S. embassy have been fired. They're accused of sexual misconduct and intimidation. They're employees of the private security contractor ArmorGroup North America.
Back home, the University of Oregon has suspended running back Legarrette Blunt for the rest of the season for this: that sucker punch against a Boise State player last night. Since he is a senior, his college career is essentially over anyway. Oregon lost that game 19 to 8. Hence, sensitive feelings.
And some unwelcome guests off Cape Cod this holiday weekend. Sharks. Look at them, the sighting are near Chatham's Lighthouse Beach. Officials are urging swimmers to be cautious. They say beaches will be closed immediately if a shark is spotted lurking in the water -- Erica.
HILL: You know what, Tom? I'm going to stay home in New York City just to be safe.
FOREMAN: Yes. That seems like a good policy. Shark lurking in the water, let's close the beach.
HILL: I'd like you to avoid the sharks, too. We want you back here Monday, Tom.
FOREMAN: I'll be here.
HILL: "The Shot" is next. We are not done yet. I forgot, we've got "The Shot." From beaming to chuckling, the bride who just couldn't stop laughing. It's funny stuff, we promise. I mean, she's laughing. Stay with us.
HILL: All right. A fine way to end the week. How about some infectious laughter?
FOREMAN: Why, sure.
HILL: Why not? Comes from a bride who lost it during her ceremony. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be my waffly -- lawfully, and pancaky. I've been scared of this all my life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: At least she's not crying and running away. The giggling gal is named Melissa. After her groom said "waffly" instead of lawfully and then threw in the "pancaky," she started cracking up. Because who wouldn't?
The whole congregation started to laugh. It kept going for a little while as you can see here. It spread. But eventually, the bride got it together, the vows were exchanged. They're now husband and wife, and I believe they enjoy weekend mornings with a fine waffle and maple syrup.
FOREMAN: Yes. That minister, that judge guy didn't seem to think it was so funny.
HILL: Not amused in the least.
FOREMAN: Yes. I found, in my experience, judges often don't have a great sense of humor.
HILL: Tom, that is a story for another day. I hope you'll share it with us.
FOREMAN: Hey, you know, this is my 23rd anniversary this week.
HILL: Happy anniversary.
FOREMAN: This weekend. How about that? Twenty-three years.
HILL: You should celebrate with a waffle breakfast.
FOREMAN: Yes, we should.
HILL: Happy anniversary. Have a great weekend, Tom. We'll talk to you Monday.
Coming up at the top of the hour, back to the serious stuff. Do parents have a reason to worry about the president speaking to their children in school next week? We've got the fury and the facts.