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Chairman of Senate Armed Services Comes Out Against Increasing Troop Levels in Afghanistan; Interview with New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly

Aired September 11, 2009 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A big city police officer involved in two fatal shootings in just one week, with both suspects possibly unarmed.

Why was he put back on duty after just four days?

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


It was a war borne of the 9/11 terror attacks eight years ago today. Now, the U.S. mission in Afghanistan is at a critical point. American deaths have more than quadrupled, while public support is dwindling away -- all as the commander-in-chief weighs sending even more U.S. troops to Afghanistan.

But some powerful Congressional Democrats are now saying bluntly now is not the time to escalate this war.

Our senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, is joining us now from Capitol Hill with more on what's going on.

It is a pivotal point -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. You know, it actually has been kind of a standard dynamic for a president to face an anti-war Congress. The difference now, of course, is that it is a Democratic president facing concerns from fellow Democrats.


BASH: (voice-over): A stark warning from a powerful voice in the president's own party -- hold off on sending more troops to Afghanistan.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: The larger our own military footprint there, the more our enemies can seek to drive a wedge between us and the Afghan population.

BASH: Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin, who just returned from Afghanistan, says he believes the president's military commanders are poised to recommend a troop increase beyond the 21,000 for combat and training he approved in March. And in strikingly critical terms, Levin said no more American combat forces should be sent to disrupt the Taliban and Al Qaeda until the U.S. accelerates the training and equipping of Afghan security forces.

LEVIN: More trainers, a larger Afghan Army, more equipment to Afghanistan now, for about six months, at least -- this is -- these are the steps that I believe that we need to take before we consider additional combat forces.

BASH: Levin's recommendation comes as other Democratic leaders, hearing from anti-war constituents, are openly uneasy and cautioning the president.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I don't think there's a great deal of support for sending more troops to Afghanistan, in the country or in the Congress.

BASH: Public support for the war in Afghanistan has dropped dramatically since the president increased troops there six months ago. It is especially low inside the president's own party. Back in February, just 33 percent of Democrats supported the Afghanistan war. Now, only 24 percent support it. A stunning 74 percent of Democrats oppose the war.


BASH: And some liberal Democrats, like Senator Russ Feingold, are even calling for a timetable for withdrawing from Afghanistan. Now, that's the approach that Senator Levin and other Democrats took on Iraq, of course, when there was a Republican in the White House. But as we know, President Obama campaigned on stabilizing Afghanistan. So the debate really is over whether or not to send more troops there.

And can I tell you, from the Republican perspective, Wolf, John McCain who, of course, is the top Republican on military matters now, he issued a statement blasting Levin. And he said that the lesson of Iraq should be that we do need to send more troops into Iraq to clear out extremist forces. In this case, of course, that's the Taliban and al Qaeda -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A real debate emerging on this front.

Dana, thank you.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara, the Pentagon is weighing whether or not to send additional troops to Afghanistan right now.

Where does that stand?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they are waiting for a recommendation from General Stanley McChrystal, the new commander in Afghanistan.

But what is the military necessity of possibly sending more troops to the war zone?

Well, threat number one -- those improvised explosive devices.


STARR (voice over): An IED was blocking this road in central Afghanistan a few days ago.


STARR: This time, U.S. troops blew it up before it could cause harm. But stopping roadside bombs is an uphill battle.


ADM. MIKE MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We're losing people, as -- as everybody knows.


STARR: The statistics are staggering. Since 2007, the number of IEDs in Afghanistan has jumped more than 300 percent. Many are found before they detonate. But the number of troops killed is up more than 400 percent; the number wounded, up more than 700 percent.

One U.S. military source tells CNN that in just the last year, the Taliban's capacity to manufacture bombs, train attackers and target U.S. troops has grown.

On September 8th near Kandahar, troops seized five tons of ammonium nitrate -- more than twice what was used in the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995.

On August 27th, C-4 plastic explosives, believed manufactured in Iran, were found in Herat by Afghan troops.

Experts say the Taliban have a key advantage. -- Afghanistan's dirt roads make it easy to quickly hide IEDs.

GEN. MONTGOMERY MEIGS (RET.), FORMER DIRECTOR, DOD IED TASK FORCE: You have disturbed earth all the time. You still probably have junk around, especially close to villages and close to intersections. That just makes the seeing and finding, even by soldiers' eyes, much more complicated.

STARR: Other worrisome Taliban tactics -- in flat areas like the southern Helmand Valley, detonation wires now may run for more than a mile, so the attacker can remain out of sight.

And the Taliban know that troops regularly stop ahead of culverts to search for bombs. Now, the Taliban are placing bombs where the convoys stop instead of in the culverts.


STARR: so legislators like Senator Levin are talking about sending more U.S. military trainers to help the Afghans, not more U.S. combat troops. But commanders will tell you, Wolf, that anybody in Afghanistan in a uniform is going to be in combat one way or the other. And as long as the Taliban can keep up this pace of activity, the perception that they have the momentum is going to be very tough to break -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's dangerous all over the place over there. Whether you're a trainer or a combat troop, it doesn't make any difference.

Barbara, thanks very much.

Let's bring back Jack for The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Unpleasant anniversary, Wolf. Today marks eight years since the terror attacks of 9/11. 2,976 people died that day in the most devastating attack on the United States homeland since Pearl Harbor.

This country was changed forever on that fateful Tuesday in September. Since then, the U.S. has invaded two countries, remains involved in two wars. 4,346 troops died in Iraq. Another 822 have died in Afghanistan. And as Barbara Starr was just suggesting, in Afghanistan, things seem to be getting worse these days.

Here at home, the debate revolves around things like Islamic extremists and torture and waterboarding, etc.

As for getting on airplanes, well, that's changed forever, too, hasn't it?

We're all used to taking off our shoes and our belts, putting our liquids in separate bags, waiting in long lines, carrying picture I.D. and so on.

And for residents here in New York and in Washington, D.C. Most people probably think twice, particularly if they see a low-flying airplane overhead.

Meanwhile, a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows 34 percent of those surveyed say an act of terrorism is likely somewhere in the U.S. over the next few weeks. But that's only half as many people who felt that way right after 9/11.

And in that same poll, only seven percent of people say life in the U.S. is completely back to normal. Thirty-two percent think it eventually will be, but 60 percent say things will never be the same again.

Here's the question -- how has the United States changed in the eight years since the 9/11 attacks?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

You're going to talk to Commissioner Ray Kelly in a little while...


CAFFERTY: of the guys who's in charge of keeping this city safe and doing, if I might say so, a hell of a job.

BLITZER: An excellent job.


BLITZER: He's a good guy.

CAFFERTY: A good man.

BLITZER: He's going to be here.

All right. Thanks very much.

Heroes of 9/11 battling illnesses they blame on the toxic air over at ground zero -- and now battling to get the help that they need, as funding for their medical care is about to run out. The New York City police commissioner, Ray Kelly, he's here. He's standing by live.

We'll talk about that and more.

Also, a foreclosed Malibu mansion becomes the personal playground for executives at a bank that took billions of dollars in bailout dollars.

And the results of a gender test on a controversial athlete now sparking outrage in her homeland. We'll take you to South Africa, where the outrage is boiling over.


BLITZER: We're getting new details right now on some of those young first responders who rushed to the scene of the World Trade Center eight years ago today. And now they're living or dying from those consequences.

CNN's Debra Feyerick has more -- Deb.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, nearly 2,800 people died on 9/11. What you may not know is that since then 800 others, many first responders, have also died. And more are getting sick.


FEYERICK (voice over): New York City police detective James Zadroga, a first responder after the World Trade Center attacks, died in 2006 at age 34 of complications from a respiratory illness.

(on camera): How much time did he spend at the site?

JOSEPH ZADROGA, SON DIED OF RESPIRATORY ILLNESS: He spent approximately 400 hours. FEYERICK (voice over): Zadroga joined thousands of others in the weeks after the towers fell -- searching for bodies amidst burning asbestos, lead and other cancer-causing agents.

ZADROGA: When he died, he had the lungs of a 97-year-old man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a deep breath in.

FEYERICK: Doctors tracking 9/11 illnesses say they continue to see new patients -- 200 every month. And it's not only respiratory diseases. At New York City's Mount Sinai Medical Center, there's an emerging pattern.

DR. JACQUELINE MOLINE, WTC MEDICAL MONITORING & TREATMENT PROGRAM.: What we found was that a number of younger folks developed a cancer that's normally associated with older age groups.

FEYERICK (on camera): By a show of hands, who here has a family history of the disease with which they are now affected?

None of you.

(voice-over): These men in their late 30s, early 40s, served with the NYPD. All worked the notorious pile. Detective John Walcott, for seven months.

JOHN WALCOTT, RET. DETECTIVE, NYPD: And we all sucked in the same air. And I think whether it's emotional or something, everybody walked away with some sort of problem.

FEYERICK: All are sick and getting sicker like Detective Ron Richards, who seemed fine until a routine checkup just two years ago.

DET. RON RICHARDS, NEW YORK CITY POLICE: That's where all my nightmares started. You know, I was in kidney failure and that turned out to be because of a multiple myeloma, stage three.

FEYERICK: And retired Vice Detective Ernest Vallebuona, who has lymphoma.

ERNEST VALLEBUONA, RET. DETECTIVE, NYPD: I feel like half the man I was since 9/11.

FEYERICK (on camera): Is this just you four?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are many people out there.

FEYERICK (voice-over): Where is the money coming from to treat all these people?

Nine thousand first responders and volunteers are suing New York City and building contractors, asking for $1 billion for medical testing and treatment.

The city says it's not at fault and supports a pending Senate bill that would potentially reopen the victims' compensation fund to provide for those too sick to work.

But for these men, the fight has taken a toll.

(on camera): How many of you feel that you've been a little bit abandoned?

REGGIE HILAIRE, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: If we're sick and we're not being taken care of, what kind of message does this send to the next responders?

FEYERICK (voice-over): As they wrestle with diseases almost certain to cut short their lives, their fear is for those left behind.

VALLEBUONA: What we really worry about is, you know, our families. You know, we want to make sure our families are taken care of.


FEYERICK: Funding for medical programs runs out in 2010 and many doctors fear they will not be able to track diseases that develop 20, even 30, years from now and that they will never know the ultimate death toll -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Deborah Feyerick with a powerful story.

The commissioner -- the New York City police commissioner, Ray Kelly, is here.

When you hear that kind of stuff, Commissioner, what goes through your mind?

RAY KELLY, COMMISSIONER, NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's -- it's very, very disturbing. We've lost 18 police officers, who have died, succumbed to diseases that they contracted at -- at ground zero.

BLITZER: Because they were rushed to the scene.

KELLY: Right.

BLITZER: And now, years later, they're either getting sick or even dying?

KELLY: Precisely.

BLITZER: And so...

KELLY: And obviously we...

BLITZER: So what can we do about this? KELLY: Well, we are -- we are analyzing. We're providing services for them. But this is going to be a long-term problem, no question about it. It's going to happen years down the road. We need help from the federal government. We need funding from the federal government. We're hopeful things are moving forward in Washington. We're hopeful that we'll be able to get sufficient funding to sustain.

BLITZER: Because a lot of these police officers and their families, they're desperate. They -- they're filing lawsuits right now. They're worried about what's going to happen.

KELLY: They are. But we are taking care of those individuals who are in the department who are experiencing illness. We're -- we're servicing them.

BLITZER: Is it a matter of money?

KELLY: It's -- it's a matter of -- of money to a large extent, yes. And that's why -- it's a lot of money. And it's a federal government issue that is going to ultimately be the -- be the case and be the answer to the problem.

BLITZER: Because I remember reading one statistic, New York City, eight years after the 9/11 terror attacks, you have thousands fewer cops on the streets right now than you had in 2001.

KELLY: Well, that's true. That's true.

BLITZER: Five thousand.

KELLY: We've had a significant reduction in our head count based on the budget crisis that we have.

BLITZER: Because that's a matter of money, too.

KELLY: That's a matter of money, yes.

BLITZER: So is the city safe today, as safe as you would like it to be?

KELLY: The city is as safe as it's ever been. Certainly, our crime rate is at record lows. We've done more to protect the city from a terrorist attack than any other city in the world. So there are no guarantees, but we're doing more than any other place on Earth.

BLITZER: You're constantly working to improve it?

KELLY: Absolutely. We are honing and...

BLITZER: You're never going to be satisfied, really.

KELLY: ...and refining. Of course. No, of course. We're never going to be satisfied.

BLITZER: Because Richard Clark, who was a former National Security Council terrorism expert, he was on ABC this morning. And he said this.

I'm going to play a little clip for you.


RICHARD CLARKE, FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY OFFICER: Terrorists, if they did surveillance, would know that security hasn't really improved since 9/11.


BLITZER: That -- that's a pretty shocking statement. And he was -- ABC was referring specifically to the subway system here in New York City.

KELLY: Yes. Well, I know Dick Clarke a long time. I would take issue with that statement, though. We -- we do an awful lot in our transit system. We have bag searches in the system. No other transit system in the world is doing that. We have 2,600 officers assigned specifically to our transit system.

BLITZER: What about the tunnels coming in and out of city?

KELLY: In the tunnels, we have officers who ride those trains looking specifically for it.

Now, would we like to have help as far as technology is concerned?

Yes. That's an issue and I think Dick was referring specifically to an MTA contract.


KELLY: That contract has been long delayed. Yes, obviously, we would like help with technology.

BLITZER: But those tunnels, I guess a lot of people -- whenever I go through the Mid-Town Tunnel or any of those tunnels, you see a lot of police at -- on both ends.

KELLY: Right.

BLITZER: How worried are you about the safety of those tunnels if there were, for example, an explosion?

KELLY: Well, we -- we think that the tunnels are -- are pretty well protected. And I think Dick was talking about subway tunnels.


KELLY: There's 22 subway tunnels that come into Manhattan. We check them out on a -- on a daily basis. Again, we'd like to have technology to buttress what we do. But we believe that we're doing everything that we can do to protect the tunnels.

BLITZER: But -- but if you had more money, you could do more, is that what you're saying?

KELLY: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BLITZER: So is the federal government stepping up to the plate?

KELLY: We'd always like more. You know, that's the nature of being a local agency -- you always want more from the federal government. I think they could do more. We need more as far as personnel costs are concerned.

BLITZER: What does that mean?

KELLY: It costs money to put boots on the ground.

BLITZER: You'll need more police officers, is that (INAUDIBLE)...

KELLY: We need more police officers and, obviously, we would like the federal government to help in that regard, because we're protecting America's assets in this city.

BLITZER: And -- and do you feel Al Qaeda is still capable of doing in New York City what they did eight years ago?

KELLY: Well, we -- we -- that's our certainly our -- our premise. We have to consider them capable of doing that. We look at it as a three-tiered threat -- Al Qaeda central, Al Qaeda surrogates and the homegrown terrorists. So...

BLITZER: The lone wolf.

KELLY: Right. We're -- we're looking at all three levels, you might say.

BLITZER: Because you've built up, as far as I know, a pretty good intelligence operation in New York City, for a city to have almost, you know, a much smaller version of the CIA.

KELLY: Well, we have our own officers in 11 foreign cities. We have outstanding people who work for us. David Cohn and Richard Falconer are two top notch professionals. They had a...

BLITZER: David Cohn used to work at the CIA.

KELLY: David Cohn was in the CIA for 35 years. Richard Falconer was adviser to the president on homeland security issues. So we've got a world class team that's helped us build a first rate intelligence operation.

BLITZER: Give -- give me a final thought on this eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks.

What do you want our viewers watching in the United States and around the world to -- to leave this interview with?

KELLY: We're safer than we've ever been. And we continue to hone and refine our capabilities to protect this city, but there are no guarantees.

BLITZER: We're counting on you, commissioner.

KELLY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much.

KELLY: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Commissioner Ray Kelly of New York.

A police officer shoots and kills a man, then does the same thing just four days later -- both victims possibly unarmed. Now residents of one big city are demanding to know why he was returned to duty so soon.

Plus, the death of the oldest person in the world right here in the United States.


BLITZER: Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Fred, what's going on?

WHITFIELD: Well, thanks, Wolf.

British riot police separated rival groups at a London mosque today. Anti-Muslim protesters outside the mosque clashed with a group that came to show support for the Muslim community. Some of the protesters threw sticks and stones and at least eight arrests were reported.

An anti-abortion activist was shot and killed outside a Michigan high school, as students and parents watched in shock. Officials say the 63-year-old man was demonstrating across the road from the school when a man drove by and fired at him. A suspect is in custody. Police say they believe he allegedly shot the activist because he was offended by graphic anti-abortion pictures displayed across from a school.

And the world's oldest person has died. American Gertrude Baines was 115. Grover Cleveland was president when she was born in 1894 in Shellman, South Georgia. Baines got a letter from President Obama when she celebrated her birthday on April 6th. She voted for him, telling a local television station that she never thought she'd live to see a black man become president. Baines has attributed her long life to her faith, eating well and not drinking or smoking.

Homeless, but not hopeless -- a woman who fell on hard times after losing her job lands a plumb new job living in a Wal-Mart parking lot and blogging from a Starbucks -- Brianna Karp started "The Girl's Guide To Homelessness," which chronica -- chronicled her ups and downs. She caught the eye of "Elle" magazine advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who offered Karp the chance to write her own blog. So everyone will get a chance to hear her story firsthand -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right. Good for her.

All right, thanks very much for that, Fred.

Miami Beach police are feeling the heat -- should an officer who was involved in a fatal shooting be back on the street force only four days later?

We're investigating.

And South Africans reacting in anger over shocking reports involving a record-breaking runner.

Is this runner a man or a woman?

And "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" is sued and it has to do with one of her favorite things. We're talking about music.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, a foreclosure outrage -- we look into claims a couple's Malibu beach house was being used as a pleasure palace by an executive of the very bank that took it away.

Buried caskets secretly opened and human remains dumped -- we're investigating the gruesome claims involving one of California's oldest and largest Jewish cemeteries.

And the controversial group ACORN fires back after two staff members are allegedly caught on tape giving advice on how to run a prostitution ring and evade the IRS.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


He apologize in a phone call to the White House, but now House leaders -- Democrats, that is -- they want South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson to issue another apology, this time on the floor of the House of Representatives, for shouting "You lie" to the president of the United States during his health reform speech before a joint session of Congress. Aides say if Wilson refuses, Democrats will seek a resolution admonishing him. Wilson has a video out on YouTube in which he calls what he did wrong, but his tone is now more defiant.


REP. JOE WILSON (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I will not be muzzled. I will speak up and speak loudly against this risky plan. The supporters of the government takeover of health care and the liberals who want to give health care to illegals are using my opposition as an excuse to distract from the critical questions being raised about this poorly conceived plan. They want to silence anyone who speaks out against it.


BLITZER: All right.

Let's talk about this with Democratic strategist and CNN political contributor, James Carville, and Republican strategist Nancy Pfotenhauer. She is a former McCain campaign senior adviser.

Guys, thanks very much for coming in.

How is he handling this political politically?

If you were Congressman Joe Wilson, James, and you had this uproar -- and now he's going on YouTube. He's raising -- clearly raising a lot of money for his re-election.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR, CLINTON SUPPORTER: Right. I'd handle the way he's handling it. I mean, look, he get -- he issued some kind of fake non-apology and he's sitting there raising money. He's become a hero in the Republican Party. This guy was a -- a backbencher. I'd handle it just -- just exactly like he's doing. He's doing fine.

BLITZER: What do you think, Nancy? How is he doing?

NANCY PFOTENHAUER, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I have -- obviously I think that his behavior that night was inappropriate and that it was -- and that he should have apologized. I was pleased to see that the president accepted that apology.

I'm kind of neutral on whether he should go to the House floor, although there is some -- there is some level of fairness there because that's where he - if you will - committed his error, so there might be some fairness to him going down to the floor to apologize there as well.

You know, from a political standpoint, his substantive arguments, I believe, are sound. The problem is he handed a tool to the opposition by giving them a clear process point and a point that allowed people to talk about his behavior rather than the substance of the bill.

BLITZER: All of a sudden, James, this congressional district in South Carolina, he's raising hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contribution.


BLITZER: His democratic challenger is raising hundreds of thousands of dollars.

CARVILLE: Right. BLITZER: It's going to be a bonanza down there.

CARVILLE: If I were the Republican Party and Michael Steele and Ken Mehlman, I would look at some of Congressman Wilson's associations, particularly the Sons of Confederate Veterans, of which he claimed to be a member. I don't know if he still is. We don't know that. They have published some very controversial stuff in their newsletter, (UNINTELLIGIBLE) to Max Blumenthal, who is an expert on this right wing nuts. He has this book out called "Republican Gomorra", that African-Americans are an inferior race.

I would check into the fact that he was one of seven legislators that voted to keep the Confederate flag up. I think he's a problem. I don't think he needs to be censured on the floor. I think he's pretty popular in the Republican Party, but those Republicans, however few there are that are looking to have an inclusive party and I'm not sure that this man fits the mold here. It's worth them looking at.


BLITZER: He does represent -- I just want to point out we don't know if those allegations are true, but he does represent a pretty conservative district down in South Carolina, Nancy, and the fact that he would support the Confederate flag might be understandable given the nature of his constituency.

PFOTENHAUER: Well, you know, there was a huge brouhaha in South Carolina, about that, a couple years back. And it is still, to this day, during the presidential campaign we saw Senator McCain step forward and just say, look, it's time to move on from that issue. And I think the people of South Carolina really wanted to move on from that issue.

But, you know, health care is transcending multiple anxieties here. So what happens on the health care bill, regardless of what his statement was on the floor that was inappropriate may end up having more impact on the outcome, not just of this election but of many. When you've got 64 percent of Americans saying how their elected representative votes on this bill will have a large impact on who they support in the next election, that's really the most important indicator, not what a single congressman said.

BLITZER: A lot of Democrats remember that from '94.


BLITZER: As well, James, I'm sure you do. There is no doubt about that.


BLITZER: Let me move on and talk a little bit about a controversial statement that the Republican governor of Minnesota Tim Pawlenty made on Minnesota public radio. He's suggesting that the state of Minnesota could invoke its sovereignty and prevent the state from participating in a new federal health care reform package. He says this, let me read it to you. He says, "Depending on what the federal government comes out with here, asserting the 10th Amendment may be a viable option."

Now for those who don't know the 10th Amendment, it says this, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people."

Tim Pawlenty, his name keeps coming up as a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2012, but what about the substance, James? Does he have a point?

CARVILLE: Well, just I think what was first quoted by Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann and Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina, I might add. This is kind of in the middle of the sort of Republican Party, invoke the 10th Amendment. The governor of Texas wanted to talk about invoking secession. The truth of the matter is this is a party that is dominated by its talk radio base, and these very pleasing to the Rush Limbaughs of the world. This is old music to Rush's ears, this secession talk, or this talk of invoking the 10th Amendment, and not following the laws of the Congress of the United States. And we just have to deal with and understand that this is the Republican Party as it is today.

As I said last night to get angry at that is like to get angry at air. It's just there, and Congressman Wilson's affiliation with the neo-Confederate groups are probably somewhere in the mainstream of the Republican Party.

BLITZER: Nancy, address the substance. Does Tim Pawlenty have a point?

PFOTENHAUER: I think if he does it's arcane and I think it's premature. You know, we don't have a law passed yet so it's a little early to be determining whether or not the 10th Amendment would apply.

Although I think states' rights are important. And I think many Americans do. Politically what matters is that what you're hearing from these gentlemen is reflective of the passion of the people who are very, very nervous about what this town might be doing.

I think it's more -- it would be more to -- more germane, if you will, to our conversation to look at what's going on in Arizona. On the 2010 -- on their ballot, there will be a provision that says: Do the people of Arizona have the right to purchase any health care they want that's legal with their own money? And do they have the right to opt out of any insurance program without penalty? Those are two things that President Obama made pledges about multiple times during the campaign. And so it will be interesting to see what -- how the people of Arizona vote on that, and whether the Democrats who voted against it, to the individual in the Arizona legislature can explain that vote to the people of that state.

BLITZER: We'll leave it on that note. Guys, thanks very much for coming in. Have a great weekend.


CARVILLE: Thank you.

BLITZER: Two deadly shootings in just four days both involving the same police officer. Now there's growing question about whether he was back on duty after only four days, whether that was the right thing.

Plus, a cemetery accused of desecration, digging up bodies and scattering the parts. Our Special Investigations Unit discovers this isn't the first time the owners have faced these allegations.


BLITZER: A pair of fatal shootings by police in Miami Beach have some people questioning how long the officers involved should be kept off patrol. Let's go to CNN's John Zarrella; he's looking at the story for us.


JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The middle of June, a steamy, quiet night on Miami Beach, until the 911 call.

911 OPERATOR: Miami Beach Police and Fire. How may I help you?

CALLER: Two Hispanics walking down the block with T-shirts on. It looks like one of them has a machine gun on him.

Security camera video shows Hussein Shehada, a tourist from Virginia, and his brother Samer, walking down the street. A noticeable bulge in one of their shirts. They are stopped by police. Something is said. Another camera shows Hussein Shehada being shot and falling to the ground.

SAMER SHEHADA, VICTIM'S BROTHER: His hands were already up. His hands were up for a good two seconds, three seconds.

ZARRELLA: An eyewitness tells CNN it appeared Shehada was reaching behind his back when police shot him. Sources close to the investigation say the bulge was nothing more than a coat hanger.

Four days later on Miami Beach a taxi is carjacked.

911 OPERATOR: Did he have a gun?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, he hit you with a gun?


ZARRELLA: After a chase, the suspect gets out of the taxi, authorities say, and fires at police who fire back killing him.

CHIEF CARLOS NORIEGA, MIAMI BEACH POLICE: In both these cases officers responding to dispatch calls, received from the public, subjects armed with weapons. ZARRELLA: But police have been unable to directly link a gun to either incident. Still, police say the officers clearly believed their lives were in danger.

(On camera): For one officer, both times. The same officer who shot and killed Hussein Shehada was also involved in the shooting death of the alleged carjacker. Four days after the first incident Officer Adam Tavss was back on patrol. Neither Tavss, nor his attorney has made a public statement, but experts wonder regardless of the circumstances, is four days enough time away?

DET. JUAN SANCHEZ, MIAMI BEACH POLICE: I think each person would be an individual process. I don't know. You'd have to see -- even myself, I wouldn't know if that would be long enough because I've never been involved in that type of scenario.

ZARRELLA: There are more than 20,000 police departments in the United States. All have individual policies following police-involved shootings. Many, just like Miami Beach, a minimum 72 hours off, coupled with psychological support. Maria Haberfeld has studied police use of force for decades.

MARIA HABERFELD, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: I think it's a gross error of judgment on any police department to have -- to maintain the rule that allows an officer who was involved in fatal shooting, to be back on the streets four days after the incident.

ZARRELLA: Officer Adam Tavss has been with Miami Beach police for three years. His recent review says he, quote, "meets expectations". He's now on desk duty while authorities investigate whether he did anything wrong.

LAWRENCE McCOY SR., VICTIM'S FATHER: I want justice for my son. I think if you rob and murder two people there should be consequences behind this.

NORIEGA: Officers are required to make split-second decisions and cannot afford to be hesitant or be wrong.

ZARRELLA: So how you do you train, prepare for that split second?

SGT. BILL PENNYPACKER, BROWARD C O., FLORIDA SHERIFF'S OFFICE: In less than half a second your pulse may go from 60 to 160, 170 and your heart is beating out of your chest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Put that gun down!

ZARRELLA: The sheriff's department in Broward County uses an interactive video screen that plays out multiple scenarios officers may face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ma'am, do not approach her. Do not approach her.

(GUNSHOTS) ZARRELLA: The outcome is not always the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come talk to me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told you to leave me alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand that. I understand that.

ZARRELLA: In this scenario no shots are fired. Police say it's the way they wish every confrontation went. In real life it just doesn't work out that way. It didn't on Miami Beach.

John Zarrella, CNN, Miami Beach.


BLITZER: Foreclosure scandal, claims that an executive with a major bank used a foreclosed home as her own party palace, and just wait until you hear how the couple lost their beach house.

And "The Ellen DeGeneres" show dances into some legal trouble. We'll explain right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Imagine losing your home because you were a victim of the Bernard Madoff scandal, and then imagine learning that an executive of the bank that took over your beachfront property allegedly moved into the house and used it as her own personal playground. CNN's Casey Wian is in Malibu, California, with a story that has a lot of people angry.

Casey, tell us what's going on?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's really an incredible story, Wolf. Behind me is the Malibu Colony. It is one of the most exclusive places in all of Southern California, gated community, lots of celebrity and lots of entertainment industry figures, lots of just very wealthy people live there.

The house we were speaking about was actually on the market for $65,000 a month to lease the house. And if you wanted to lease it during the summer, it would have cost you $100,000 a month.

The previous owners of this house, as you mentioned, lost a lot of money in the Bernie Madoff Ponzi scheme. So to satisfy a debt they gave the house back to Wells Fargo Bank. Instead of selling the house, as you would expect Wells Fargo to do, months later neighbors in the Malibu Colony area noticed a Wells Fargo executive had moved into the house with her family. They were entertaining guests over the weekend. They allegedly had a big party one weekend where there was a yacht and small boats ferrying people back and forth to this beachfront property.

It's really an incredible story. We spoke to the real estate agent who once had the listing for this house. They say that they had an all-cash offer to buy this property and that they went to Wells Fargo with that offer and they couldn't get Wells Fargo to respond.

Now we have a statement from Wells Fargo about this. They say that they are not going to talk about the individual executive, in their foreclosure department, who allegedly moved into this property, but they say that Wells Fargo's code of ethics and business conduct handbook instructs team members to avoid conflicts of interest, or the appearance of conflict of interests in their personal and business actives.

Wells Fargo says it is going to investigate this case. Won't say anything more about whether this executive is still working for the company, or is still in the house, Wolf.

BLITZER: A story, all right, thanks. Once you get the answers to those other questions, let us know, Casey. We'll be all over it. Casey Wian in Malibu for us.

Let's check back with Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File."

It's a nice place. Have you been to Malibu? It's nice.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: No, I haven't. But that sounds like one of those things that was fun while it lasted.


CAFFERTY: But it's over now.

BLITZER: "Weekend at Bernie's."


CAFFERTY: Well, no. That's one of the funniest movies ever made, by the way. I love when the body hits the buoy, being towed behind the speed boat.

The question this hour has nothing to do with -the question of the hour on "The Cafferty File ". How has the U.S. changed in the eight years since the 9/11 attacks?

Amanda writes, "Whether or not our safety compromised, I think people are more aware of the threat of danger than they were before, sometimes to the point of paranoia. Even today my family is scared when I leave the safety of my Midwestern home to travel to the big cities on the coast. Racial tensions have also risen. I work with international students. Many of the Arab students are called names, treated poorly when they had nothing to do with terrorism and are simply here to get a better education than they can back home."

Mark writes from Florida, "We're broke thanks to needless wars and uncontrolled spending under the umbrella of safety. W e lost many civil rights and we did not get bin Laden."

Michael in Indiana writes: "We let them win. The terrorists changed our way of life forever on 09/11/2001 because we let them. They accomplished exactly what they set out to do by making us afraid of our own surroundings, and we let them. We need to take back our America. "

Brad in Tennessee says, "We've become cowards. We're afraid of our own shadows so we torture people in order to feel secure. We fear violence so our government takes away our freedom. The moral high ground has crumbled under our feet. Bin Laden's attack did exactly what it was supposed to do. It brought out the worst in the best nation in the world. "

Rocky in Los Angeles writes, "We've become a nation driven and easily manipulated by fear."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to the blog, There is a bunch of them there you might enjoy looking through them.

BLITZER: People do every single day. All right, Jack, thank you.

A new ACORN scandal is out there. The community group fires two workers after they were caught on tape, allegedly gave advice on prostitution, but there's more to the story.

And South Africa is speaking out angrily right now over a very deeply personal reports about the sex championship runner. We have the latest, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: There are reports that a South African runner is neither technically a man, or a woman. What's going on? Athletic officials had ordered gender tests after she set an all-time record. Let's go to Robyn Curnow in Johannesburg who's been following this story for us.

Robin, how are the South Africans greeting these British and Australian media reports that she may have had both male and female organs?

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For many South Africans, the reports that their star athlete, Caster Semenya could possibly be both a man and a woman was met with much confusion. Which is why some newspapers have had headlines like this: What is a hermaphrodite, or an inter-sexual person?

But beyond the initial confusion many of the headlines reflect the anger that South Africans feel. This one saying, "Shock". This one saying "Outrage." Basically South Africans are very, very angry. They feel the international athletics body, and the media, has been treated Semenya badly and that she's been publicly humiliated.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the right to privacy? If they indeed have found out that she is not really a woman, as what they define a woman to be, they should have not leaked it to the media. It should have been an internal issue, with her and her family, and the South African athletic organization.

CURNOW (On camera): So you think she's been treated badly?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think, I think appalling. I think that she's not only been treated badly, she's been made to be less than human.

CURNOW: Now, it is important to remember that the international athletics body has not confirmed these leaked reports saying that Semenya is perhaps a hermaphrodite. That said, they do confirm that they have taken legal advice on whether or not they can strip Semenya of her gold medal. They say not, because she hasn't cheated, and that her condition is medical. She was effectively born with it. The final results of the gender tests taken on Semenya, according to the athletics body, will only be available in the next few weeks.

Wherever she is in South Africa, because nobody has heard or seen from her, she can rest assured that the South African public is still very much behind her. And as this newspaper says, she's "Still Our Golden Girl."

Robyn Curnow, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa


BLITZER: The International Association of Athletics Federation says this: "No decision on Semenya's case will be announced until experts fully examine the results of her gender tests.

The IAAF says news reports suggests that she has both male and female organs should be treated with caution. Meantime her coach confirms she has pulled out of tomorrow's South African cross-country championship race.

The catchy dancing music on the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" gets many people up off their feet, myself included. But the talk show host may have gone a dance step too far. Some of the world's biggest record companies are actually now suing. What's going on? Abbi Tatton has more on the story for us.

Abbi, what's going on?

ABBI TATTON, INTERNET REPORTER: I don't need to tell you how important music is to the "Ellen DeGeneres Show". Who could forget your performance to "Flow Rider" on the show earlier this year?

But now this lawsuit from some of the world's leading record company threatens to stop the music. They are suing the "Ellen DeGeneres Show", and Time-Warner, the parent company of CNN that distributes the show for copyright infringement. And the lawsuit specifically points to this segment of the show, we have all seen this, this is the segment where Ellen is dances through the audience. In this case she's dancing to Kanye West's "Stronger".

That's one of 150 songs cited in this lawsuit as being used without permission. There is also Madonna, Rihanna, the Black-Eyed Peas, they're all on there. A spokesman for Warner Brothers, also named in this lawsuit, called it "unfortunate", saying this was "a routine business dispute and they remain willing to resolve this on amicable and reasonable terms". He added that this matter does involve DeGeneres, who he called a "tremendous music enthusiast" -Wolf.

BLITZER: She certainly is. Thanks very much for that.

Happening now: Unanswered questions about a security scare on this 9/11 anniversary.

The U.S. Coast Guard takes a hard look at its decision to conduct a training exercise not very far from the Pentagon, while the president of the United States was there.

Plus the congressman who yelled, "You lie" at the president says he won't be muzzled. This hour, how Republican Congressman Joe Wilson is profiting from his high-profile heckling.

And liberal activist caught on tape allegedly offering advice on setting up a prostitution ring. CNN is investigating the sting operation and whether it was politically motivated. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in "THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: All that coming up, but the breaking news: We're learning right now about a new high-level request about to go forward, to actually get more troops involved in Afghanistan. The story is unfolding exactly eight years after the 911 attacks that led to the war in Afghanistan.