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THE SITUATION ROOM
New Missile Tests Raising Tensions; President Near A Breaking Point?; Facebook Poll Threatens President Obama; Chicago Honor Student Beaten To Death
Aired September 28, 2009 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, Iran flexing muscles and raising tensions with new missile tests. This is just days after revelations of a secret nuclear facility and days before the highest level talks with the U.S. in decades.
Where does Washington go from here?
Also, a brutal and deadly beating caught on tape. Now the disturbing video leads to three arrests -- new developments in a story that has shocked Chicago, as well as the nation.
And flooding of unbelievable proportion -- thousands -- hundreds of thousands of people, they are now homeless. The death toll is rising in the Philippines -- the misery, the dramatic rescues -- we're going to take you there.
Wolf Blitzer is off today.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux.
And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It is not just the test, but it's also the timing -- Iran test firing missiles today that are capable of reaching Israel, American bases in the Middle East and even parts of Europe. It is the second day in a row. And the tests come as tension with the West over Iran's nuclear program -- it's reaching, now, new heights. All of that complicating looming talks that are going to be the highest level contact between Washington and Tehran in decades.
Our CNN foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, she is at the State Department -- Jill, just tell us, what have you been picking up?
How have you been following this?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, here is the dilemma, as one expert on Iran tells us.
How do you convince Iran's leaders that it is in their interests to give up their nuclear program, that they would be more secure without it than with it?
The test comes this week.
DOUGHERTY: (voice-over): Twenty years after Iranians took Americans hostage, severing relations between the two nations, now the highest level discussions between Iran and the United States this Thursday. The U.S. dispatching top diplomat, Under Secretary of State William Burns, to Geneva, joining representatives from Britain, France, Russia, China and Germany. The message -- Iran must come clean about its nuclear program.
P.J. CROWLEY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: This is about Iran coming forward once and for all, putting everything on the table and letting the international community, you know, understand what the intentions of its programs are.
DOUGHERTY: But with Iran playing war games, testing long-range missiles, and revelations by President Barack Obama and his allies that Iran has been secretly developing an underground uranium enrichment facility, no one is predicting success. Iran won't say what it will do at the meeting, Iran's foreign ministry spokesman saying if there's goodwill, it's a good opportunity for constructive negotiations.
But patience is running thin, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton telling CBS "Face The Nation."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "FACE THE NATION," COURTESY CBS)
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The Iranians keep insisting, no, no, this is just for peaceful purposes. Well, I think as the Russians said in their statement and as we believe and what this meeting on October 1st is to test is fine, prove it. Don't assert it, prove it.
DOUGHERTY: Could the talks simply lead to more talks?
A senior administration official tells CNN that would not be a bad outcome.
What could change Iran's behavior?
The allies are considering drastically increased economic sanctions, like cutting off international investment in Iran's oil industry.
But a leading Iranian expert says there's no silver bullet.
KARIM SADJADPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: The problem with this Iranian regime is that the economic well-being of the Iranian people has never been a very important priority for them. So I think they're going to be willing to endure severe economic sanctions, severe economic hardship for reasons of political and ideological expediency.
(END VIDEOTAPE) DOUGHERTY: And behind the scenes, U.S. officials claim that they have actually more leverage than they had just a few months ago. Iran, they say, has damaged itself significantly by not responding to international concerns about its nuclear program and by that brutal crackdown on the demonstrations during the presidential election. And as one U.S. official told CNN, the challenge is to put pressure on the Iranian government while keeping faith with the Iranian people -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Jill.
And Iran, of course, is just one of the many pressing issues on President Obama's very full plate -- some say even too full, possibly near a breaking point.
Our CNN senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, you're here -- and, Candy, obviously, he's juggling so many things. We saw him at the G20 last week and the U.N. Security Council.
How does he manage all of these things?
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I guess the short answer is because he has to. That's what being the president is all about, you know, he does face a daunting fall to-do list, against the backdrop of an American public that is at least less enthusiastic than they were last spring on a variety of issues.
CROWLEY: (voice-over): The list ranges from dealing with Iran's nuclear ambitions to now traveling to Copenhagen to pitch Chicago for the 2016 Olympics. It's a trip the president said two weeks ago he couldn't take because he was working on health care. He doesn't think that any more.
VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, health care reform has been his number one priority issue here domestically. He wanted to make sure that he would -- if he went, that it wouldn't have an adverse impact on that. So he's going for just a day.
CROWLEY: And it will still be here when he gets back. One Capitol Hill source says the president has made it clear his fall priorities are financial reform and health care.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There comes a time to remember the fierce urgency of right now. Now is the time.
CROWLEY: It will take hands-on. The Senate Democratic leadership is looking for presidential guidance in putting together one bill out of two really different ones, while still holding onto enough votes to pass it. The administration sent financial reform legislation to the Hill and on both sides committee work has begun, but it's a long way from cooked. A number of Capitol Hill players say privately anything beyond health care and financial regulation would be a miracle this year. On the global scene, in addition to Iran, there is winding down the war in Iraq and deciding what the U.S. is doing in Afghanistan and if whatever it is means more troops.
ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think you saw Secretary Gates say that -- that a resource request that he gets will not be sent here to the White House until he believes and the president believe that we're in a position, having reached a consensus on moving forward.
CROWLEY: Also worth noting, the complexities of closing down the prison at Guantanamo Bay is proving complex and slow enough that the deadline is apparently no longer a deadline.
GIBBS: We're not focused on whether or not the deadline will or won't be met on a particular day, we're focused on ensuring that the facility is closed.
CROWLEY: And then, of course, there's the unknown -- the unpredictable things that require immediate attention in any presidency. It's a lot, but during the campaign, then candidate Obama seemed to know what he was getting into.
OBAMA: Presidents are going to have to deal with more than one thing at a time.
CROWLEY: A bit of an understatement.
CROWLEY: you don't have to look far to find Democrats willing to say the president does have too much going on. A couple of people I spoke with think the problems with the popular but bureaucratic car Clunker program and the slow pace of health care reform are products of an administration with too much to do. Still, the Clunker program was wildly popular with consumers. And if the president gets health care reform, Suzanne, I don't think we'll hear much more about too big a plate.
MALVEAUX: Yes. And I know White House officials say, obviously, that he's taking on a lot, but they feel that if they let a deadline slip or two, that that's OK. Eventually they're going to catch up.
MALVEAUX: So we'll see how it goes.
Thank you, Candy.
Well, we are going to talk more about this, obviously, and in just a few minutes, with a senior adviser to President Obama. That is Valerie Jarrett. She's going to join us live here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Federal authorities are investigating an online poll posted to Facebook that threatens President Obama. Our CNN Internet correspondent, Abbi Tatton, she's here -- Abbi, what does this poll ask?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Suzanne, any user on Facebook can create a poll and post it onto the Web site. And you'd better believe the Secret Service wants to know who's behind this one.
This is a Facebook poll that we grabbed -- screen grabbed earlier today. Look at it: "Should Obama be killed?," it asks.
There's choices -- yes, no, maybe, if he cuts my health care. And if you can see right at the bottom there, it says that over 700 people participated in this poll that was posted over the weekend. It was spotted by this blog here, posted online and since been taken off Facebook.
A spokesman for the Secret Service says: "We worked with the FBI to have the poll taken down and we are investigating."
These polls are created using a third party application through the Web site Facebook. Facebook now saying that this particular app has now been suspended while the developers figure out a way to monitor how it's being used -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Abbi.
Well, he is accused of trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper. Now, we are learning now details about him.
Was this terror suspect acting alone or was he part of a larger cell?
Also, credit card companies -- they're basing your credit worthiness on what other people are buying -- how their purchases could affect you.
And he pled guilty to having sex with a 13-year-old girl, but managed to remain a Hollywood insider while spending three decades as an American outlaw. Now, stars react to the arrest of director Roman Polanski.
MALVEAUX: Well, it is something that no American president has ever done, but later this week, President Obama is going to travel to Denmark to personally push for the 2016 Olympic Games to be held in his hometown of Chicago.
Joining us to talk about that and more, Valerie Jarrett. She's senior adviser to the president.
Thanks for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
JARRETT: My pleasure.
Good evening, Suzanne. MALVEAUX: Hello. We just came back. There was a briefing with Michelle Obama. She is taking on the first lady of Brazil, as well. Obviously, Rio is your main competitor. They're talking about building a rail, renovating the airport, a major sports complex, not to mention Brazilian sunbathers.
Now, I lived in Chicago and usually you think of frigid weather and you think of great pizza.
What's the president's pitch?
JARRETT: Oh, my goodness. Chicago is a world class city. Coming in the summertime, when the weather is beautiful, our wonderful lakefront, the venues that will be tailored for the comfort of the Olympians and the Paralympians so that they can come to Chicago and compete on an even playing field. It's a terrific city. It's in the heart of our country. That "I will" spirit, where people from all walks of life can work hard, dream big, Suzanne, and achieve their dreams. It's everything that the Olympic spirit is all about.
MALVEAUX: Now, Valerie, the president, obviously, he has to deal with Iran, North Korea, Afghanistan -- very serious issues on his international plate.
MALVEAUX: Do you risk using some of his political capital and -- and perhaps losing some of that if he doesn't get the Chicago Olympic bid?
JARRETT: Oh, no. Absolutely not. As you know, Suzanne, the president is a competitive spirit. He's very interested in promoting Chicago and bringing the Olympics and Paralympics to our shores. He's not thinking about the political calculus. He's thinking about what's best for the American people. And having the most important sporting event in the world on our shores again would be terrific, not just for Chicago, but for our whole country.
MALVEAUX: I -- I want to show you what you're up against here. There was some -- some folks who went out to Chicago, asked some folks about whether or not they wanted to have the Olympics there or Rio.
I want you to take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I back the bid.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I back the bid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I back the bid.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I back the bid for Rio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For Rio.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Rio.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: For Rio de Janeiro.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take it to Rio.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take it to Rio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, take it to Rio.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care where it goes, as long as it doesn't come here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Valerie, you've got to respond there. Those are folks in Chicago.
JARRETT: Well, you know, I'm from Chicago and I know the city well. And I can tell you, the vast majority of people from Chicago will welcome the Olympics and Paralympics to Chicago. We are an embracing city -- a welcoming city. It's going to be a terrific economic boost for the city. We're hoping that people from all over the world will watch the Games there and then want to come and visit our fair city. So I'm not worried about a few people who were just teasing you. I know what Chicagoans really want.
MALVEAUX: I want you to take a listen. I spoke with Senator Kit Bond, a Republican who was critical of the president earlier today, about the trip.
Here's how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. KIT BOND (R), MISSOURI: I think it's baffling that the president has time to travel to Copenhagen, to be on "Letterman" and every channel except the Food Network, and yet he doesn't have time to talk with and listen to his top general. He's got a lot of responsibilities, but his number one responsibility is as commander- in-chief, to keep our country safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: How do you respond to some of those who've come forward and say the president should stay home, focus on Afghanistan, focus on Iran, leave this up to, you know, the star power, obviously, of -- of Michelle and even Oprah Winfrey, who will be there?
JARRETT: Look, I agree. Obviously, the president's top priority is our national safety. But I think improving our reputation around the world and the diplomacy that goes with hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games is good for Chicago. It's good for our country. It's yet another evidence of the -- of the president's commitment to be open and inviting and encourage people to our shores. That helps improve our national security, as well.
And so I think, as you said earlier, Suzanne, don't we want a president who can concentrate on more than one thing at a time?
He's going Thursday evening so he'll be sleeping as they travel across the ocean. He'll be there in the morning for the presentation and then he'll be right back. And everybody knows that Air Force One is equipped with every -- whatever you would need in the form of communication. So I think it's important not just for Chicago, but for our country. And it's yet another step that the president is making to reach out around the world and show the world how welcoming our country is.
MALVEAUX: And, Valerie, you're not only involved in, obviously, the Olympic bid here, but in many of the inner workings of the White House. We heard from former President Bill Clinton this weekend, who said that he believes that the right-wing conspiracy is in full force and that it is directed now to President Obama.
I want you to listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "MEET THE PRESS," COURTESY NBC)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your wife famously talked about the vast right-wing conspiracy targeting you.
As you look at this opposition on the right to President Obama, is it still there?
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, you bet. Sure it is. It's not as strong as it was, because America has changed demographically. But it's as virulent as it was. I mean they're saying things about him, you know, just like when they accused me of murder and all that stuff they did.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Do you agree with the former president?
Do you see signs of this of this -- of this right-wing conspiracy?
JARRETT: You know what I would say, Suzanne, I said -- I would say there's always going to be a very vocal minority in our country that stands for the status quo and that resists change. But I think the fact that President Obama was elected by our country shows that our country is really ready to move in a more positive direction. His entire campaign and his presidency over the last nine months has been focusing on what we have in common...
JARRETT: ...solving real life problems, Suzanne, that face American people.
And, in the end, that's what the American people elected him to do. That's what he's going to do.
MALVEAUX: All right. Valerie Jarrett, thank you so much for your time here on THE SITUATION ROOM.
JARRETT: You're welcome.
MALVEAUX: A deadly beating caught on tape -- why did no one try to help this young victim?
We go inside the mob mentality.
Plus, they did the right job, but the wrong roof. It's what happened next that's the real shocker.
MALVEAUX: Betty Nguyen is monitoring the stories that are coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- hey, Betty, what are you watching?
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, Suzanne.
Well, in the streets of Honduras, today was supposed to be a show of power in support of ousted President Jose Manuel Zelaya. But yesterday, the government issued an emergency decree allowing the police to break up protests and soldiers raided and shut down pro- Zelaya media outlets. So far, CNN reports that even tensions continue there and it's been little to actually halt some of that violence.
We want you to take a look at this, though. Rescue workers fighting off bees in Turkey -- yes. It happened when a van filled with bee hives collided with a truck. Oh, my. One person died, unfortunately, and more than 20 were injured, all because of bees. Yes, beekeepers in the special safety gear were needed to rescue the victims -- victims that included the police and medics who first arrived on the scene.
Well, what could be worse than finding out that a roofing company made a mistake and tore the tiles off of your roof while you were on vacation?
Well, how about still having a bare roof two months after that. In West Palm Beach, the roofing company admits it made a mistake and says it will give the owner a deal on a new roof.
A deal on a new roof?
They tore off your roof by mistake. Well, the owner apparently doesn't want a deal. Of course not. He wants his roof back and says he is considering a lawsuit.
All right. You have to see these pictures. Finally, a story that has a whole flock buzzing. Last week, Roberta, a hen in Upstate New York, laid this enormous egg. Look at that thing -- two-and-a- half times the size of a normal egg. This quarter pound monster egg was a bit under world record size, but, hey, the owner doesn't mind. He says it is destined for the frying pan -- no joke, perhaps with a -- a bit of ham. That's one large omelet -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: I think...
NGUYEN: Look at that thing. It's crazy.
MALVEAUX: I would take that omelet. I would take that, no question.
All right. Thank you, Betty.
NGUYEN: All right.
MALVEAUX: Well, a teenager is beaten to death in Chicago by a group of his peers. Now, three other teens face murder charges, four lives ruined.
How does mob violence like this happen?
And in Maine, the NAACP begins a full court press to register prison inmates to vote. We'll ask the group's CEO why the big push.
And Roman Polanski still heralded a hero by his industry despite his arrest for sex with a 13-year-old girl more than 30 years ago -- is the celebrated director an outlaw or Hollywood insider?
MALVEAUX: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a time crunch -- President Obama's one year deadline to shut down Guantanamo Bay is bearing down while progress has been slow. His defense chief says it could take longer.
So what's the holdup?
The state of the war in Afghanistan -- with violence there showing no signs of letting up, we dig deeper to find out just how bad that situation is on the ground.
And behind-the-scenes of history -- new Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor reveals the exact moment that President Obama picked her to become the person Hispanic on the court.
Wolf Blitzer is off today.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux.
And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
In Chicago, a 16-year-old boy is relentlessly beaten to death as dozens of people look on and do nothing to stop it. It is all caught on videotape. Now, three teenagers face charges of first degree murder.
Our CNN's Mary Snow -- she's following up on this very disturbing case of mob violence -- Mary, explain to us. We see this. It's devastating.
How does something like this happen?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, that is the question that is confounding everyone, is how this could have happened. What authorities can say at this point is that they've made those three arrests so far. We'll have more on that in a moment.
But first, a look at the senseless death and calls from the community to take action to stop the violence. And we need to warn you that some of the video you're about to see is very disturbing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ask for your loving kindness.
SNOW: (voice-over): As family and friends offer prayers and try to come to grips with Derrion Albert's horrific death, one question asked over and over again is why?
Relatives believe Derrion, a 16-year-old honor student, was targeted because he refaced to join a gang. But questions remain.
JOSEPH WALKER, DERRION ALBERT'S GRANDFATHER: I don't know where all this anger comes from these people today. That's just too much anger for someone to have in their heart. All I can do is I'm going to pray for these people. I'm going to pray for forgiveness.
SNOW: This amateur videotape was given to Chicago station WFLZ and has now become part of the police investigation. It lasts roughly three minutes, showing a violent beating.
You can see the victim being hit with a board while others just watch and you can hear yelling in the background.
What exactly led to this horrific scene is unknown, but we asked forensic psychologist Diana Falkenbach to look at the video, to try and explain why no one appeared to stop the violence.
DIANA FALKENBACH, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: It almost has a feeling of like this sort of riot mentality.
SNOW: Falkenbach describes why a mob can be so dangerous.
FALKENBACH: As a group, violent behavior can be more accepted because I personally don't have to take responsibility for what I do, but I can sort of diffuse this responsibility to the other people and to the group. And so where an individual might not be violent individually, in a group situation, some of those inhibitions may be sort of taken down.
SNOW: (on camera): So does it feed on itself?
FALKENBACH: It certainly feeds on itself and it can get bigger and bigger. SNOW: (voice-over): And other experts say another effect of the mob mentality is intimidation from the community.
NANCY ZARSE, CHICAGO SCHOOL OF PROFESSIONAL PSYCHOLOGY: I think there's almost a disconnect in our heads, as well, that -- that when violence is gang on gang, people think, OK, well, that's over there. But when an innocent bystander gets involved, it -- it makes it seem much more close and personal, much more difficult to defend against and, thus, more frightening.
SNOW: Now, police now have in custody three suspects. One is 16, another 18 and another is 19. They were all charged with first degree murder. At a vigil this afternoon in Chicago, community leaders made an appeal to people who have information about others involved to come forward -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Mary.
It's such a disturbing story.
Lonely and suicidal. That is how a friend describes a young Jordanian man who is accused of blowing up a Dallas skyscraper. Ed Lavandera has been on the story since it broke. Tell us what you learned today.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, FBI investors have been describing Hosam Smadi as a lone wolf, not someone affiliated with any terrorist cell here in the U.S., but his father is reportedly saying that he believes all of these charges are completely fabricated.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): On September 11th just two weeks before FBI investigators arrested Hosam Smadi sheriff's deputies in the small text why is town about the 19-year-old Jordanian citizen lived almost derailed the FBI's undercover investigation. Ellis county sheriff's deputies pulled Smadi over because a light on his license plate was out. When he ran a background check deputies learned he was a person of interest in an FBI case. As deputies handcuffed and arrested him the police dispatcher asked if they needed backup help to handle the situation. FBI investigators spoke Ellis County authorities and released Smadi. Federal authorities say Smadi continued with what he thought was a plot to blow up the fountain place building in downtown Dallas. According to the arrest warrant undercover FBI agents asked Smadi if he was ready and Smadi allegedly responded let the drums of victory be struck.
JOSHUA CHILDRESS, SUSPECT'S FRIEND: He never said anything about violent jihad or anything of that sort. He never even, you know, gave hints about it LAVANDERA: FBI's portrait of Hosam Smadi is far different from the young man his friends in the small town of Italy, Texas, came to know. Friends say Smadi was outgoing and friendly, but Joshua Childress does say Smadi started showing signs of depression about six months ago. According to the arrest warrant, that's the same time investigators believed Smadi was serious about carrying out a bombing attack.
CHILDRESS: He wasn't happy. He was away from his family. Didn't like the way things were going here in Texas. He just really wanted -- wanted to go back home.
LAVANDERA: And Suzanne, what's difficult to figure out in this case is exactly why Smadi was still here. Feds say that he was here illegally, but we have not been able to figure out why he hadn't been deported up until this or leading up to this point, and we've been told by several federal sources he was here on a tourist visa. Other reports indicate that he was here on a student visa, but we're still working to clear up exactly what the official line is on that.
MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you very much. Ed Lavandera.
A Colorado man accused of plotting to unleash weapons of mass destruction on New York City faces arraignment tomorrow. Our CNN's national correspondent Susan Candiotti is working the story for us from New York and also has an exclusive interview with someone who knew the suspect in this case, a friend who found himself swept up in this investigation. Susan, tell us about the latest.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, terror suspect Najibullah Zazi who was transferred to Colorado over the weekend will make his first New York court appearance tomorrow morning. He's expected to enter plea to a conspiracy charge of cooking up a homemade bomb with hydrogen peroxide and other chemicals. The thing is this. The investigation is still going full throttle, but the lid is on. No one is saying much of anything. However, we can tell you that the joint terrorism task force is focusing on people they believe were working with Zazi. In court records they describe at least thee others who helped him buy chemicals in Colorado. Agents say several afghan men tried to rent a u-haul truck in New York but were turned away, so they have also been checking other possibilities and storage rentals for where any chemicals might be stashed. It's also no secret that signatures that been sending outside the queens apartment where Zazi briefly stayed just before he was arrested. Investigators have been in the neighborhood for two weeks now. One young man who knows he's under intense scrutiny says he barely knew Zazi and simply gave him a place to stay for the night. Now he says his world has been turned upside down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAIZ KAHN, FRIEND OF NAJIBULLAH ZAZI: If somebody comes to mosque in our culture, people come to mosque and you talk to them, hi, how are you, and you don't know what he's up to? I just say hi, hi, how are you, but I don't talk about his business.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CANDIOTTI: Now according to sources familiar with the case and court records, the FBI seized nine backpacks and electronics scale with Zazi's fingerprints on it from that apartment and Zazi's attorney says the scale is meaningless and Khan who gave Zazi a place to stay tells CNN he never saw a scale. Backpacks were used for the mass transit attacks in London and Madrid and bombers need scales to measure explosive ingredients but Zazi says the backpacks belong to his uncle who got them for free from a store that was going out of business and says his uncle was going to take them to Pakistan to give away as presents. The backpacks are still in the hands of the FBI and so is that scale -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: OK, thank you, Susan.
Now a CNN exclusive. A home-grown former terrorist speaks out now about the radical environmental group that he belonged to and the tens of millions of dollars of damage caused by his terror cell alone. Drew Griffin is CNN's special investigations unit and joins us live.
Drew, tell us what he is saying. How is he explaining this?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Very, very interesting stuff here. You know, they were known, Suzanne, as the family, this terrorist cell of the earth liberation front, scoping targets, plotting attacks, building these incendiary devices in sterile rooms and all the time worried that the FBI was hot on their trail. Its members admit they were domestic terrorists living in a paranoid fugitive lifestyle that began with small attacks growing until many in the northwest were living in fear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACOB "JAKE" FERGUSON, FORMER EARTH LIBERATION FRONT MEMBER: Maybe you let out some mink and we did those, and you're like, wow, that was big. I want to do something bigger so then maybe you do an arson fire and burn a truck and that wasn't good enough so you go from there and then you do a building and then you're doing two buildings and then multiple buildings in states and it kept getting more and more and more. You never want to backtrack and do something smaller.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: That's Jake Ferguson, Suzanne. He now regrets what he did. The attacks of 9/11 were a sort of wake-up call for him to stop, and for the first time on television he is explaining how the FBI eventually tracked him down and then how he helped tear down the E.L.F. -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thank you. There is much more of Drew Griffin's exclusive interview. Can you see that tonight on "ANDERSON COOPER 360" at 10:00 eastern, 7:00 pacific only on CNN, an exclusive.
A controversial effort to register prisoners to vote. The NAACP is behind it. President Ben Jealous is here to explain why.
Plus, a bizarre new twist that has some credit card customers essentially scratching their heads. Why is their credit limit being lowered because of what other people are buying?
MALVEAUX: The standard for criminals is generally you get caught, convicted and then you lose your freedom, including in most states the right to vote, but not so in Maine and Vermont where inmates are still allowed to cast their ballots. The NAACP is going to visit two prisons in Maine tomorrow as part of an effort to register prisoners to vote. NAACP president and CEO joins us now from Boston.
Ben, thanks so much for joining us and being here. I want to point out a couple of things. You know these stats as well as I do. 19 percent African-Americans are uninsured. You've got 15 percent unemployed, twice as likely to be unemployed as other Americans. Why focus now on registering inmates to vote?
BEN JEALOUS, PRESIDENT & CEO-NAACP: You know, we want these men to be able to be responsible, you know. The whole idea that we want folks to come home more engaged, more ready to, you know, give back than they left, and this is one way to help them do that. We have men there who spend each day reading to a video camera so that a DVD can be sent home to their son. These are guys who are trying to change their lives, and this is one way to help them take one more step toward doing just that.
MALVEAUX: How do you respond to those people, the family members, of people who perhaps they are on the other side? They don't have their kids to talk to who have been murdered or people who have been raped. Why should these inmates who committed felonies in Vermont and Maine be allowed to have that privilege, to have that right to vote?
JEALOUS: They have that right right now, but that right is meaningless if they can't sign up to vote, and so, you know, we want to make sure that all of them can sign up. They need to be part of the -- of the discourse about the future of their society, you know. The reality is that a lot of these guys come from very poor communities, and we have 5 million people in this country right now who cannot vote because they went to jail once or they went to prison once and they are out on the street and they can't vote, and so we're trying to say, look, this is a country that fundamentally believes that all people should be able to vote. The state of Maine, the state of Vermont have extended the right to people in prison, but yet most of them haven't signed up so we're there to really invite them to get involved in a constructive way. We really need to see their time behind bars as a time when we can change them and get them set on the right course and this helps them get set on that right course.
MALVEAUX: Explain to us the department of corrections in Portland, Maine, initially was against this idea of actually helping to register them to vote because they were saying perhaps you were trying to influence African-American prisoners to vote Democratic, but my understanding is 90 percent of the prisoners in Maine are white.
That's right. I mean, you know, at the Maine state prison we have 900 inmates, 90 black inmates, 200 members of the NAACP, you know, so -- so this is not about race. This is not about, you know, a party. We were founded by Republicans 100 years ago. We're here because we think all people in this country should be able to vote, you know. We have folks -- 90 percent of them white who have been locked out of the system simply because while they have the right nobody will show up there to actually sign them up so we said, fine, we'll go there to sign them up. Again, you know, you have men in that prison who are working very hard to change the path of their lives. This is one more way to help them take a step towards that.
MALVEAUX: Do you believe that the former president Jimmy Carter who made these comments recently that some of the criticism against President Obama on health care is really deeply rooted in racism?
JEALOUS: Certainly some of it is, you know, how much of it, I'm not sure, but, you know, you can see the signs, you know, that some of the tea baggers were holding. There were garish cartoons of him, you know, and really violent slogans, and -- and we've also seen, you know, at the same time a real pick up in the number of hate crimes in this country so certainly there's a sense. Frankly I think Jimmy Carter as a former governor of Georgia is the best judge. He's a much better judge than I am.
MALVEAUX: All right. Ben Jealous, we'll have to leave it right there, the president of the NAACP. Thank you.
Well, much of the Philippines is underwater. Officials desperately appeal for international help, the worst flooding in more than four decades hits the island nation, and another storm could arrive in just a matter of days. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: At least 140 people are known dead, and the numbers are sure to rise in the Philippines where a typhoon spawned the country's worst flooding in more than 40 years. A call for international help has gone out for officials overwhelmed of the magnitude of this disaster. People struggle to survive as another storm is brewing east of the island nation. Here is CNN's Dan Rivers.
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's been wading through his flooded neighborhood for two days now. It would be unfair to describe John Gonzalez as a looter. This 11-year-old probably doesn't even know what that means. What he does know is that he and his family almost died and now he's searching these water logged streets for anything that will help him survive. The flood went above the height of a man, way above our heads and today the water just comes to my mouth. That's why we're out looking for the food. This is the Marietta Romeo village in manila, one of the dozens of flooded suburbs where people are trying to comprehend what happened over the weekend. A month's worth of rain in just a few hours. Thirty-four centimeters or 13 inches left huge areas of the Filipino capital submerged and residents stunned.
MAJ. BEN ZULUETA, FILIPINO ARMY: This is the first time that we experience this kind of flood. The flood rise up to the second floor of this building house, the houses here.
RIVERS: Manila is a saturated city, but the waters are now rapidly receding. In neighborhoods like this, it's ankle-deep or knee-deep at worst, whereas yesterday they were literally struggling to keep their heads above water. This was the flood at its most ferocious, raging torrents sweeping people helplessly along as bystanders watch in bystanders watch in horror and then scramble to help. Elsewhere, people climb electricity cables to get out of the swirling water below. And now the logistical challenge of reaching remote communities still cut off with bridges and roads swept away. This won't be easy. Everywhere residents speak of their fight to survive.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no food. We have no water to drink for almost two days. So we are trapped inside our house. So we have to destroy our roof in order to get out of our house.
RIVERS: Food and water are being handed out to some residents. But they're becoming impatient after days of waiting, compounding the misery of this beleaguered city.
Dan Rivers, CNN, Manila.
MALVEAUX: Well, the night the call came, Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor reveals her emotional response to President Obama's job offer and how she got lost on the way to Washington to meet him.
Plus, closing the detainee camp at Guantanamo Bay. Right now the U.S. military is scrambling to meet the deadline.
MALVEAUX: Where you shop, how much you drink and the state of your marriage. It appears that credit card companies may be poking around into cardholders' personal business and it could have an impact on your credit line. Our CNN personal finance editor Gerri Willis has the story.
GERRI WILLIS, CNN PERSONAL FINANCE EDITOR: Suzanne, credit card issuers are scrutinizing your spending patterns for changes. If you're buying rounds at the local bar for the first time or maybe seeking marital counseling, you could see your credit limit cut. One Atlanta man says the scrutiny goes too far.
WILLIS: Kevin Johnson is an entrepreneur, candidate for office and according to American Express, a credit risk. Coming home from his honeymoon last year, he was shocked to find Amex had cut his credit limit from over $10,000 to just $3,800. KEVIN JOHNSON, ATLANTA RESIDENT: I've done a very good job of being responsible and making sure I pay my bills on time.
WILLIS: Even more surprising, one of the four reasons Amex gave for the decision was even more surprising. Other customers who have used their cards at establishments where you recently shopped have a poor repayment history with American Express.
JOHNSON: I was shocked when I read it because I didn't know that the companies could actually assess your credit worthiness based on others around you.
WILLIS: With more than 10 percent of credit card customers defaulting on their debt, credit card issuers are trying to weed out the risky ones. How? By looking for changes in the way we shop.
ROBERT MANNING, AUTHOR, CREDIT CARD NATION: You're shopping from a middle or upper-tier retail store and suddenly it shows a purchase at a dollar store, some form of downshifting, suddenly shopping at Wal-Mart.
WILLIS: Those red flags can lead to a deeper look at your behavior.
MANNING: If you've suddenly started exhibiting new consumer behavior and then you've made three or four purchases in a row at a local bar, that would raise some flags that maybe there's some impending financial crisis.
WILLIS: For its part, Amex says, "We don't look at and never have looked at where someone shops to make a line reduction. The primary factor is someone's overall debt level and we also look at payment history with us, credit reports and FICO scores."
Banking industry sources say credit scores are still the most important tool in predicting consumer behavior. But those scores don't reflect sudden life changes, like job loss or divorce.
JEFF SLAWSKY, CREDIT CARD INDUSTRY EXPERT: All they can do is look at the actual volumes and transactions that are coming in and see changes in that pattern.
WILLIS: For Kevin Johnson, the experience has motivated him to get involved and perhaps change the way banks work.
JOHNSON: No one should be penalized for the actions of others.
WILLIS: You can't stop your credit card issuer from scrutinizing your spending but you can put your best face forward. Pay for things like bar tabs or marital counseling in cash and make consistent payments on your credit cards; pay as much as you can each month on time. And as always, minimize the number of credit cards you have. Having too many credit cards can make you seem like a risky customers -- Suzanne? MALVEAUX: Thank you, Gerri.
From war games to a financial scheme, still shocking the world regarding Bernie Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme, he's on a worldwide treasure hunt. What is he hunting for? You might say gold from the family members who benefited from Madoff's schemes. Christine Romans has more from New York.
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The man tracking the stolen Madoff billions says he if he has to, he will bankrupt Madoff's family to return money to legitimate investors. Ervine Picard told 60 Minutes said he will sue Madoff's two sons, his niece and his brother this week seeking the return of $198 million.
ERVINE PICARD: Whether or not they have a criminal problem, we will pursue them as far as we can pursue them. And if that leads to bankrupting them, then that's what will happen.
ROMANS: Madoff has insisted he acted alone. His family says they knew nothing of the scam. Madoff's sons, Mark and Andrew, ran a legitimate trading operation and Madoff's brother peter was the chief compliance officer. Picard's team found together they took $80 million in compensation over the past seven years.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID SHEEHAN, ATTORNEY, BAKER HOSTETLER: Clearly, they would have to have known what was going on, given their own personal transactions, the longevity of what was happening and the responsibilities as officers of the company.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMANS: Their investigation found Madoff's sons withdrew more than $35 million from accounts opened with almost no original investment. And over the past 15 years, peter Madoff invested only $14 with his brother but took out $16 million, according to Picard's investigation. Peter Madoff's attorney tells CNN, quote -- and an attorney for Madoff's two sons notes they turned their father in to authorities saying in a statement, by immediately turning him in, the brothers saved the victims of the fraud more than $170 million that their father was about to distribute. The trustee also said that half of Madoff's investors took out more money over the years than they ever invested. They may have to pay -- Suzanne?
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Christine.
Outspoken leader Moammar Gadhafi has a mixed assessment of Osama Bin Laden. Gadhafi shared his thoughts in an interview airing tonight on CNN's "LARRY KING LIVE."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Already you said the United States has made Osama Bin Laden a prophet and a saint in the Islamic world. Is he still held that way, do you think?
MOAMMAR GADHAFI, LIBYAN LEADER (through translator: We should not have given him this value -- these stakes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: You can see more of Larry King's interview with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and his thoughts on Osama Bin Laden as well as the heroes welcome his country gave the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing. That is LARRY KING LIVE, at nine eastern on CNN - the worldwide leader in news.