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Feds Move on Mosques and Buildings; Fort Hood Shooter; A Second Hero; President Obama Wants More War Options; President Obama Goes to Japan; Bank Policy Change; Jobs

Aired November 12, 2009 - 19:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You won. You're "Today's" kid show kid reporter. You are the winner here, girl.

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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now -- a new move by the federal government targeting properties linked to Iran including several mosques here in the United States, this hour the breaking news on a major counter terrorism investigation.

And early doubts about the alleged Fort Hood gunman's state of mind, we are learning more about his colleagues' deep concerns about a man now charged with murder and a frightening milestone in the swine flu epidemic. We are going to take you behind the scenes, the dramatic rise in the death toll.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in CNN's Command Center for breaking news, politics, and extraordinary reports from around the world. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're continuing to follow our breaking story this hour involving the U.S. government's takeover of an office tower and several mosques here in the United States. Federal prosecutors are investigating a nonprofit Muslim organization suspected of transferring money to the Iranian government and the properties they own. Let's go to CNN's Deborah Feyerick. She's in New York. She's picking up the story for us. All right, Deborah, what's going on?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf here's what we've got. U.S. officials are attempting to seize four mosques, plus a New York City skyscraper just steps from Rockefeller Center on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue. The charge that the Allobi Corporation (ph), which gets money from these properties is actually a front company for a larger Iranian owned bank and that that bank channels money to support Iran's nuclear program and parts of its military forces labeled terrorist organizations by the United States.

Now the four mosques include the Islamic Institute of New York in Queens, New York, the Islamic Education Center in Houston Texas was what you are looking at right now, and two others mosques in Maryland and California. The imam at the New York mosque is on a pilgrimage to Mecca and could not be reached for comment.

President Obama today extended the national emergency with respect to Iran because of ongoing problems with that country. The attempted forfeitures were announced by the U.S. attorney in New York southern district in an amended complaint and U.S. officials are also attempting to seize bank accounts and other properties believed to have direct ties to the Iranian government. U.S. accuses Iran of deceptive practices designed to fund terrorism and pursue its nuclear and missile programs.

American Muslims are already very concerned, Wolf, about potential backlash because of the Fort Hood shootings. A senior Justice official stresses that this move is against the Iranian landlords and that the mosques just happen to be in some of the targeted buildings. We are waiting to hear back from attorneys for the Iranian bank. Last year, they did deny any involvement in deceptive banking properties -- practices -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right we're going to stay on top of the breaking news. Deborah, thanks very much. We're waiting reaction from the Iranians as well. Let's get to the Fort Hood massacre though right now. For 13 people slaughtered in cold blood, there are now 13 counts of pre-meditated murder. That's what the only suspect in the Fort Hood massacre now faces.

The U.S. Army says Major Nidal Malik Hasan has been charged in the military's legal system. More charges could come. If convicted, he could be put to death. Meanwhile, we are uncovering new information about the suspect's professional past. For that let's turn to CNN's Brian Todd. He's working his sources. Brian, what are you picking up?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, former colleagues aren't painting a portrait of Nidal Hasan as someone who had his share of problems during medial training, problems that did come to the attention of his superiors.


TODD (voice-over): A former colleague of Nidal Hasan's during his medical training tells CNN Hasan's contemporaries had widespread concerns about his competence as a psychiatrist. Former colleagues who did not want to be identified because of the ongoing investigation say they thought Hasan's presentations were not academically rigorous and one said quote, "No one in class would have ever referred a patient to him." Earlier this week, Hasan's supervisor at Fort Hood was asked about reports of problems. COL. KIMBERLY KESLING, DARNALL ARMY MED. CENTER: His evaluation reports said that he had some difficulties in his residency, fitting in to his residency and so we worked very hard to integrate him into our practice and integrate him into our organization. He adapted very well and was doing a really good job (INAUDIBLE).

TODD: But former colleagues tell CNN of substandard performance by Hasan during previous training. One of them says his PowerPoint presentations like this one shown in "The Washington Post" were inappropriate and unscientific. Hasan's former colleagues tell of Hasan talking about the persecution of Muslims and justifying suicide bombings in those talks, instead of the required discussions on health.

Two colleagues remember Hasan saying his allegiance was to the Koran over the U.S. Constitution. One colleague says he confronted Hasan about the presentations and says Hasan dodged his questions and talked about Islam. He says people complained to Hasan's superiors about his slide shows and that the superiors seemed attentive to their concerns. NPR reports Hasan superiors had a series of meetings in 2008 and 2009 discussing whether Hasan was psychotic. Hasan's attorney didn't comment on issues of Hasan's professional competence, but was asked about mental responsibility in this case.

COL. JOHN GALLIGAN (RET.), NIDAL HASAN'S ATTORNEY: Anytime you have conduct alleged or attributed to an individual that's completely inconsistent with what appears to be earlier conduct, that issues are raised that call into question one's mental responsibility.

TODD: One of Hasan's former colleagues tells CNN he saw no signs of mental instability in him, but believes Hasan did try to provoke people with his religious views. Given these patterns, should someone have intervened with Nidal Hasan? General Russel Honore (ph), who was not involved in Hasan's career makes this point.

LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE (RET.), CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Something was missed in this major's tone, his demeanor and the things that has been reported that he has said. That we could have possibly done more to help him before he got that far.


TODD: The former colleague I spoke with says he's beating himself these days over that very question, asking himself repeatedly if he could have done something. He says he doesn't think he could have -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What are his former colleagues saying about the context that Major Hasan had with this radical cleric believed to be in Yemen right now.

TODD: I ran that by one of his former colleague and specifically, the finding by the investigators that those contacts with the cleric were consistent with his research as a psychiatrist. And one former colleague said the notion that this had anything to do with his research is quote "completely ridiculous and disturbing". This colleague says to call anything he was doing research is a joke. He's not making that connection at all.

BLITZER: We're going to watch this story very, very closely. Thanks Brian very much.

We are also getting some new details of the fire fight that brought the massacre to a halt. Let's go to CNN's Ed Lavandera. He's at Fort Hood for us. Ed, what are you learning on this story?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as we can all imagine, it was a chaotic scene. There were dozens of shots fired, which has made separating fact from fiction into that massacre ending very difficult to disarm. But as these former officers or these officers who handled the shooting are speaking out now, we are getting a clearer picture of what happened.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): At first Sergeant Kimberly Munley (ph) received most of the credit for ending the deadly rampage at Fort Hood, but Sergeant Mark Todd (ph) also played a crucial role in bringing down Nidal Hasan.

CHRIS GREY, CID: Our investigation thus far indicates that two responding police officers, one male and one female, arrived at the scene and both engaged the armed suspect.

LAVANDERA: Investigators haven't determined which officer's gunshots wounded Hasan. Both arrived at the same time and both fired repeatedly as Hasan allegedly moved around the soldier readiness building. Sergeant Munley (ph) told NBC's "Today" show that Hasan fired at Todd (ph) first.

SGT. KIMBERLY MUNLEY, KILLEEN, TX POLICE: I got out of our patrol car and ran up the hill. And I immediately looked to my left and saw Sergeant Todd (ph) and that's when gunfire started to emerge and we started to take action.

LAVANDERA: Munley was allegedly shot by Hasan three times in the right hand and each leg. Todd escaped uninjured. And according to Sergeant Todd's (ph) comments on NBC, it sounds like his final gunshots might have ended the shoot out.

SGT. MARK TODD, KILLEEN, TX POLICE: I came back around and then that's when I first -- next time I seen Sergeant Munley and that was at the other location and that's when I challenged the individual to drop his weapon, drop his weapon. And at that time, he started towards -- he turned towards me and started firing and then we neutralized him.

LAVANDERA: Investigators say the final story of what happened in those tragic moments will take time to piece together because of the complex crime scene.

GREY: I would caution anyone from drawing final conclusions concerning the actual engagement in terms of who did what until all the evidence is fully analyzed. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LAVANDERA: Wolf, and obviously there's a great deal of interest into figuring out exactly how this massacre came to an end. But perhaps the best part of the story is that having two heroes is better than one -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank god for both of them. Thanks very much for that, Ed. Might you have any information for investigators looking into this case, the U.S. Army is asking anyone who had contact with the suspect and might be aware of his activities or behavior to tell what they know. That's what a senior U.S. Army official is telling CNN. So if you knew him, you knew his whereabouts or what he was doing, the U.S. Army wants to talk to you.

President Obama speaking to U.S. troops just a little while ago, making a promise. Just ahead, the latest on his overseas trip and his war planning and we're hearing that the president isn't satisfied with his options dealing with Afghanistan. Stand by for the inside story on his big decision about sending more troops to the war zone.

And what's driving up the swine flu death toll so dramatically? We have some new numbers and the explanation. Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: The president of the United States is on his way to Asia right now, but he's deeply, deeply concerned and he's weighing all sorts of options involving the war in Afghanistan. Senior administration officials tell CNN the president wants more details before deciding whether to send more troops to the war zone. Let's go to our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux with more. What are you learning about this back and forth the president is considering sending more troops, but he wants more information?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He certainly wants more information, wolf. We heard from the press secretary Robert Gibbs aboard Air Force One on his way to Anchorage, Alaska there. He was saying that he wants some benchmarks, some time tables. He wants to look to the Afghan government and know that there are times that the police is going to basically step up here. That the army is going to be able to step up, that the government is going to be able to step up. And he is not going to make any commitments when it comes to U.S. troops until he gets those assurances from the Afghan government they are willing to do their part.


MALVEAUX (voice-over): President Obama on his way to Asia -- stopped in Anchorage, Alaska to deliver this message to the U.S. troops.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will not risk your lives unless it's necessary to America's vital interest.


MALVEAUX: It comes as the president is deciding his new strategy on Afghanistan. Wednesday night, after President Obama's eighth meeting with his war council on Afghanistan, the commander in chief sent his top aides back to the drawing board. He was unhappy with his options and wanted aides to clarify how long U.S. troops would have to fight before the Afghans would take over the responsibility. Senior aides say the president will not commit to sending a substantial number of U.S. troops until he's assured he has a credible partner in Afghanistan's president, Hamid Karzai.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: I think he's correctly recognizing that it's not just about troop numbers that in fact finding leverage with Karzai has to be a crucial element, a crucial, central element of the strategy.

MALVEAUX: Aides say Mr. Obama wants to make it clear that the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan is not open ended. But the president's delay in deciding troop deployments is causing some concern.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The process has become long and very messy.

O'HANLON: Well it is messy, but let's not forget there is a benefit to -- or there could be a benefit -- let's hope there is a benefit to President Karzai hearing some of our anguish internal debate because then he will hopefully appreciate that we are not so committed to this to as to continue reinforcing failure forever.

MALVEAUX: The president's decision comes after his ambassador to Afghanistan, a former general, Karl Eikenberry (ph) sent two classified cables to Washington, which a U.S. official says "expressed concern and reservations about troop increases in Afghanistan."


MALVEAUX: And Wolf, I learned from a senior administration official that the next big war council meeting that he's going to have very likely here back in Washington when he returns, that's in about a week or so. But he'll continue those small discussions about the situation in Afghanistan while he's in Asia. As Robert Gibbs said, he is focusing on not just how to get the folks in Afghanistan, but how to get them out -- Wolf.

BLITZER: He's got to worry about Afghanistan while in Asia. He's also got to worry about jobs and the economy and health care while in Asia as well. He's going to have his hands full.

MALVEAUX: He's got a lot on his plate.

BLITZER: Suzanne thanks very much -- Suzanne Malveaux at the White House.

Al Gore certainly knows what it's like to help a president make a major decision. What does he think about President Obama's decision making over Afghanistan? Al Gore spoke just a little while ago with CNN's Larry King. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thousand more troops General McChrystal (ph) wants. There are other experts saying don't (INAUDIBLE). Pull out. Where does Al Gore stand?

AL GORE: Well, I think he's doing the right thing...

KING: By thinking about it?

GORE: And taking the time. Not just to think about it, but to get the best information available, to have his war cabinet involved with him in deep deliberations and to focus on what the exit strategy will be. In some ways this is more about Pakistan than it is about Afghanistan. And that border region between the two countries is where the real source of trouble from the Taliban is originating.

And because Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal and is experiencing troubles of its own, it is one of the most complex foreign policy national security challenges any president has ever faced. And taking the time to get it right, including with an appropriate focus on what the exit strategy is, would that President Johnson, so many years ago, would have taken this care and time before getting us into the Vietnam War.


BLITZER: And Al Gore has certainly a lot more to say. Wait until you hear what he has to say on the president's handling of the war and the threat of global warming. The full Al Gore interview. He's on for the entire hour tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE". It airs at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Last hour, the president made a stop over at Elmendorf Air Force Base (ph) in Alaska where he gave a pep talk to service members, thanking them for their sacrifice and vowing never to send them in harm's way unless it's in the country's vital interest.


OBAMA: If it is necessary, the United States of America will have your back. We'll give you the strategy and the clear mission you deserve. We'll give you the equipment and support that you need to get the job done. And that includes public support back home. That is a promise that I make to you.


BLITZER: The president is expected to arrive in Tokyo in about seven hours. Our White House correspondent Dan Lothian is already there -- Dan, what about Japan and its role in the war in Afghanistan. What are we learning?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, you know the U.S. does see Japan as a key player in the war in Afghanistan and ahead of the president's visit Japan announced that it was pledging $5 billion over the next five years for Afghanistan to help in building schools and highways and retraining police officers there.

And this comes ahead of about $1 billion that they've already pledged for economic development in Pakistan, so a key player here the United States seeing Japan and helping the war in Afghanistan, but no additional agreements expected in the visit here when the president comes here. This is really seen as a relationship building session between the United States and Japan -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What kind of reception, Dan, can the president expect in Japan?

LOTHIAN: Well, President Obama, you know, Wolf, still remains a very popular figure here. But there's been a lot of controversy. Some people here in Japan don't like the American footprint here. There are about 50,000 U.S. troops here and the recent controversy is in Okinawa where this 2006 agreement came about where some of the troops' base will be moved to a less populated area in Okinawa. And some Japanese folks don't think that these military troops should even be here.

That they should leave. So this is one of the issues that no doubt will come up as President Obama sits down with Prime Minister Kozioma (ph), dealing not only with that issue, but also climate change, North Korea and the global economic crisis.

BLITZER: It's already morning in Japan, in Tokyo. We're going to be checking in with you, Dan, every step of the way -- Dan Lothian on the scene for us.

Another change in bank rules, but this is one many people will be happy about. Details of what it means for you, that's coming up, and a sign of the very tough economic times. We visited a school where almost half the students are homeless. And we're testing your CNN knowledge with this question. What did an FAA panel endorse as a possible remedy for pilot fatigue? It is part our " Challenge". We're going to tell you the answer after the break.


BLITZER: Before the break, we asked you a " Challenge" question. What did an FAA panel endorse as a possible remedy for pilot fatigue? The answer, napping. Head to to check out, it's a fun game. Try it,

Check in with Don Lemon, he's monitoring some other important stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Don what's going on?

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, in one more hour, we could both use a nap, everybody on this shift I'm sure will get one right after this. OK here now the news. Starting next summer, banks can no longer automatically enroll you for overdraft protection and charge you when you need it.

The Federal Reserve is prohibiting the controversial procedure at ATM's and most debit card transactions. Some banks charge up to $40, even if the account is just a few dollars overdrawn. The FDIC says three out of four banks currently automatically sign customers up for the overdraft program. The recession doesn't seem to be daunting plans for the world's largest fast food chain, McDonald's plans to open 1,000 new restaurants next year mainly in the U.S., Germany, France, Russia, China and Australia. The chain will also spend almost $2.5 billion to renovate 2,300 McDonald's restaurants.

New York City is hoping to bring Coney Island back to life year round. Mayor Bloomberg announced his administration has agreed to pay some $95 million for seven acres on the Brooklyn waterfront. The plans are to keep the amusement park and to feature the city's first roller coaster since the Cyclone was built more than 80 years ago.

New hotels and entertainment are also in the works there. And you might say you know Facebook and a pancake breakfast have saved a 19-year-old from jail. The New York police arrested Rodney Bradford (ph) on robbery charges in Brooklyn and held him for 12 days before his alibi could be substantiated. Well a minute before the robbery, Bradford wrote his girlfriend on Facebook from his father's Harlem apartment asking where his pancakes were. See, Wolf, social networking can save you from jail and probably many other things.

BLITZER: Well it can also cause plenty of other problems. Don, you encouraged me a long, long time ago to go...

LEMON: Months ago, months ago...

BLITZER: ... start twittering. I'm tweeting, as you know, CNN -- and it's been a lot of fun.

LEMON: And you got like three more -- three times more followers than I do. That's because you are on every day and you are beloved and you're a legend in the business. But now you know looking at this guy, Rodney Bradford (ph), you know what, you need to get a Facebook page. Because you never know what could happen. It could save you.

BLITZER: You know you told me a year ago...


BLITZER: ... to join Twitter so I did that -- I did that about a couple of months ago, maybe.

LEMON: At WolfBlitzerCNN.

BLITZER: At WolfBlitzerCNN. At Don Lemon CNN, right?

LEMON: Yes, I cut you off, what were you going to say, I'm sorry, Wolf.

BLITZER: No, I was going to say it's been good.

LEMON: Yes...


LEMON: I'll tweet about you right now.


BLITZER: WolfBlitzerCNN -- all one word --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a lot of fun.


BLITZER: We should share information during the commercial breaks on what's going on.

A White House job summit -- who is invited, we're going to tell you about the president's latest initiatives to help the nation's unemployed. And Sarah Palin what she really thinks about that Katie Couric interview and her son-in-law or at least almost son-in-law, never actually became a son-in-law, Levi Johnston.


BLITZER: You might say the president of the United States is putting out a want ad. He's looking for anyone with some good ideas to help the administration create more jobs. Today, he announced a new effort ahead of a major presidential trip. Let's bring in our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley. This is a critical issue for the president, indeed for everyone in the country.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And one he cannot afford to ignore, no matter where he goes. All the president has to do to get advice really is to pick up the phone or walk down the hall, so why is he now announcing that he's going to have this big job summit? First of all, it can't hurt. And even the announcement of the meeting is a message, that no matter where he goes, the jobless are always on his mind.


CROWLEY (voice-over): Some numbers, an eight day trip to Asia, 15.7 million unemployed Americans, think those two are not related.

OBAMA: Good morning everybody. Before departing for Asia this morning, I would like to make a brief statement about the economy.

CROWLEY: Americans like to see their president being presidential overseas, but trips from the home front is an economic turmoil require a bit of a political finesse prior to departure, especially this departure.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He's going to Asia where not only is Asia our banker, China our banker, in particular but Asia is the place where millions of American jobs have relocated over the past couple of decades.

CROWLEY: And 5.6 million Americans unemployed for more than six months, six people looking for every one job opening, the worst odds in more than 70 years, and a trip that looks a little bit like going to the belly of the beast.

PETER MORICI, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND, SCHOOL OF BUSINESS: The president is going to China. That's where the solution to the economic riddle lies. The huge trade deficit with China, it's huge trade surplus is stealing customers from American businesses. They don't have anyone to sell their products to, so they are laying off workers or they're not hiring.

CROWLEY: The president isn't expected to return home with anything that might make a dent in the jobless rate. But before leaving, he did announce a jobs summit next month.

OBAMA: We'll gather CEOS and small business owners, economists and financial experts, as well as representatives from labor unions and nonprofit groups to talk act how to work together to create jobs and get the economy moving, again.

CROWLEY: President Obama is already hip deep in economic advisers, and many outside progressive and conservative economics think this jobs summit is less about new ideas and more about support for one already on the table.

MORICI: There's a lot of sentiment on Capitol Hill for another stimulus package. The president hopes to engage private sector economists to receive some kind of an endorsement.

CROWLEY: It will play out in December. For now, the president, the most traveled first year president ever, is off to Asia, having to deliver a message to the home front.

OBAMA: We have an obligation to consider every additional responsible step that we can to encourage and accelerate job creation in this country.

CROWLEY: As the first President Bush once famously said, "Message, I care."


CROWLEY: A recent CNN poll shows that 52 percent of Americans now disapprove of the way the president is handling unemployment, a marked shift since earlier this year.

And politically the president is moving into crunch time. Increasing numbers of Americans say if the economy is still bad next year, they will blame the president and the Democrats. In an election year, it's not the sort of thing you want to hear.

BLITZER: This jobs summit has sort of reminded me of former President Bill Clinton during his eight years. He used to have these jobs summits, forums, all day events bringing in great minds to discuss...

CROWLEY: Social security summit.

BLITZER: It worked for Bill Clinton. We'll see. CROWLEY: We'll see.

BLITZER: He got himself reelected. It was a quiet time during those eight years except for the scandals. Thanks very much.

An elementary school where nearly half the kids are homeless. It's in Nevada, a state that's been one of the hardest hit by foreclosures and jobs losses. CNN's Dan Simon shows us the impact.


DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She has moved seven times in just the past few months since leaving her sales job to take care of a sick mother. That would be tough for anyone, but Sarah Barks also has five young children to worry about.

SARAH BARKS, MOTHER: For me, just to get something, like a backpack, tennis shoes, shoelaces, I can't provide those things, I can't. I cannot. I can't go to the store and buy them what they want.

SIMON: She wants her old job back, but it's filled, and she says the Las Vegas job market is so dry that she competes with hundreds of others for the same positions. Her kids, who range in age from three to nine years old, try to adapt to their nomadic lives.

JOCELYN BARKS, NINE-YEARS-OLD: Sometimes momma struggles to find us a place to live. But as long as I'm with my momma, I'm fine.

SIMON: You get sad sometimes?


SIMON: What's the hardest thing for you?

BARKS: Having to say bye to my friends.

SIMON: Jocelyn has a lot of company. According to a study conducted by the Pew Center on States, year over year, Las Vegas public schools saw a 42 percent increase in homeless children, more than 5,000 kids today in all.

SUE URAHN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, PEW CENTER ON THE STATES: Nevada has the highest foreclosure rate in the country. So the housing problems that that state is experiencing is severe. And I think that what that statistic points to, that has real human consequences. And that's what we are seeing in Nevada.

SIMON: The consequences are seen every day at the Whitney Elementary School, where the principal says a majority of her students come from homeless families.

SHERRIE GAHN, PRINCIPAL, WHITNEY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL: We went from a lot of low income families to no income families, which really paid a toll on our families. In addition is the stress of basically trying to survive day in and day out. SIMON: Most school supply closets are filled with things like pens, paper, and crayons, but this one is different. It's one you probably have never seen before at a school. It is filled with food and clothing.

This school has so many homeless people that it felt it had to take the initiative to make sure that its students are fed and have clothes on their back. You can see all the food here.

BARKS: I don't have enough room for their things. There's one tiny closet.

SIMON: As for Sarah Barks, a friend is letting her and her kids live in this tiny two bedroom house until December. Then it's on to another place unless she can scrape up $400 a month for rent.

With no job and no prospects in sight, Sarah isn't sensing an economic recovery. Not yet.

Dan Simon, CNN, Las Vegas.


BLITZER: When we come back, our top story, the breaking news, the federal government seizing some mosques across the country as well as a skyscraper in New York City. We'll go live to Rockville, Maryland. Kate Bolduan is standing by.


BLITZER: Back to the breaking story we are following, the U.S. government's takeover of an office tower and mosque building suspected to be associated with Iran. Federal prosecutors are investigating a non-profit Muslim organization. One of the properties the feds are targeting is in Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.

Let's go to CNN's Kate Bolduan. She's joining us live from Rockville, Maryland. All right, Kate, tell us what's going on where you are.


You can see probably just behind me this white building back in the distance. This is the Islamic Education Center. Also combined with this property is called the Muslim Community School, a school here in Rockville, Maryland.

And according to federal documents, these properties are connected to the Alavi Foundation. We now know federal officials are moving to seize these properties because as we see in these documents, they say there are allegations things these were secretly controlled by the Iranian government.

I must say that federal officials have stressed to CNN and to me that while the action and accusations are very serious and against this foundation, they stress that the actions are against the landowners, not necessarily against the tenants, not necessarily accusing the mosque or this residential home of any wrongdoing. They stressed that.

And as it was put to me, they said very simply that the businesses will continue to operate, they will and continue to be open. But instead of paying rent to the Iranian government, they say, they will pay rent to Uncle Sam.

BLITZER: And they are calling this a counterterrorism investigation. But they will be open -- Muslims will be able to pray at these mosques in the interim, is that right?

BOLDUAN: That is correct. And someone connected with the mosque did come out and very kindly said they could not make a statement. There are prayers and activities going on inside the Islamic Education Center. Right now, they directed all of our questions and inquiries to the Alavi foundation in New York -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I will eventually get some reaction from them, I'm sure. Kate Bolduan on the scene for us in Rockville, Maryland.

BLITZER: Meanwhile, some dramatic new figures on the swine flu. The CDC now says the number of people dead from the H1N1 virus is close to 4,000. That's a sharp increase from earlier estimates.

Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen explains.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you could say that the Centers for Disease Control is readjusting the estimates of how many Americans have died of H1N1 since the outbreak began in April. First, they said the thought there were 1,200 deaths. Now they say that maybe more like 3,900.

Here is what Dr. Anne Schuchat from the CDC had to say today.


DR. ANNE SCHUCHAT, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL CENTER FOR IMMUNIZATION AND RESPIRATORY DISEASES: We know that a number of the deaths that we are seeing are occurring outside the hospital where testing is not possible.

We know that not every patient with influenza gets a diagnosis of flu. For instance, many people can have a bacterial problem following a flu illness and may or may not be recognized as having flu.

The estimation that we are using now we believes gives a bigger picture and a more accurate picture of the full scope of the pandemic.


COHEN: It's important to note the outbreak hasn't gotten any worse. The virus isn't any more deadly. This is really an accounting issue. There were some deaths that we're counted as H1N1 deaths before because they didn't have the test when really, doctors say, they probably were H1N1 deaths.

Let's take a look at precisely who is dying of H1N1. These numbers are pretty stunning. When you look at seasonal flu, the regular flu we see every year, about 90 percent of the deaths are in people aged 65 and older.

However, when you look at H1N1, 90 percent of the deaths are in people younger than age 65. Among children under 18, about 36,000 have been hospitalized and 540 children have died.

Many people are asking, given these statistics, where can we get the vaccine? It is hard to come by. At the end of April federal officials said to expect 10 million new doses on the market every week. Last week, there were on about 3 million new doses -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Elizabeth Cohen, thanks very much for that.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he is seeing fewer school closings due to the swine flu. He also says the H1N1 vaccine will be eventually be available in schools. Let's listen.


ARNE DUNCAN, SECRETARY OF EDUCATION: I think schools have done an extraordinary job of trying to stay open and keeping sick students at home. We're actually seeing declines in the number of schools closing.

We've been working very, very hard on prevention, making sure students are washing their hands frequently and thoroughly, coughing into their sleeves, not in their hands.

But now we're really moving into the chance to get vaccinations. And we want schools to be open, and many schools around the country are opening the doors so that students can receive vaccines within those school buildings. We think that's very, very positive.

Obviously, parents have the option, the choice of whether or not their students will receive the vaccine. But I can tell you my wife and I are going to make sure when the vaccination is available for our children that they will receive it.


BLITZER: Do you know where to go to get vaccinated for H1N1 or the seasonal flu? Right now, Google is teaming up with the CDC to bring you the most up to date information on flu shots. You can get read it online.

Let's go to our Internet Correspondent Abbi Tatton -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's the federal government that orders the supplies of the H1N1 vaccine. But it's the states and local governments that dole them out.

Until now it's been hard to find a central location to find out where to get a flu shot. That's something Google has been working along with the Department of Health and Human Services to bring you this, the flu shot locator.

This is going to pad Google maps with information from state and local authorities and also from pharmacies. If you look at Chicago right here, all those blue syringes are H1N1 shot clinics. The red ones are the seasonal flu clinics.

Like the vaccination program itself, this is a work in progress. What Google is saying is they have information from 20 states so far, and they are hoping to add more and more as the days go on as the vaccination program goes on.

One other word of advice is call ahead to one of these clinics if you are going to head there. We have all seen the pictures of how many people are waiting in line to get the H1N1 flu shot. You want to call ahead and make sure they haven't run out -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi, good information. Thank you.

The former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has been staying out of the spotlight lately, but that's about to end. She's sitting down with Oprah to pitch her new book. We're going to tell you what she had to say here on "SITUATION ROOM."


BLITZER: As we reported, President Obama is now on his way to Japan where one of his many pledges resonates very, very deeply, his vow to seek a nuclear free world.

CNN's Kyung Lah is joining us now live from Tokyo with more on this part of the story. Kyung Lah, you have been speaking with many of the survivors of Nagasaki. And so this visit has a personal and very poignant significance for them.

KYUNG LAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It is something they say they have waited for more than 60 years, Wolf, a president like President Obama who says he wants a nuclear free world.


LAH: Sixty-four years ago, Sengi (ph) Yamaguchi's world exploded.

"I was outside when the atomic bomb fell," he says.

This is Yamaguchi at the age 14. He was near the epicenter in Nagasaki, his upper body ravaged from the radiation from the American bomb. The image he can't erase all these years later, the children burnt and dying.

Since that day, Yamaguchi has repeated one prayer, that humanity will never again feel the flames of a nuclear bomb. He's 79 and suffering from radiation induced organ failure, but Yamaguchi is hopeful his prayer will be answered after hearing this speech from President Obama.

OBAMA: As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act. I state clearly and with conviction America's commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.

LAH: The promise of peace resonates among survivors here in Nagasaki whose average age, like Takashi Miyata, is more than 70. He was 2.5 kilometers from the epicenter in 1945 and fled with his family on foot to where he lives now and where he tells the young about his childhood.

LAH (on camera).: The bombing survivors that live here also feel a connection to the American president by location. Just by coincidence, this part of Nagasaki happens to be named Obama.

LAH (voice-over): President Obama's hope after nuclear-free world turned coincidence to pure adulation. It is an odd connection coming to the life in caricatures of Obama all over the section of Nagasaki prefecture.

LAH: Miyata even wore an Obama shirt under his kimono as he gave me a tour of where the bomb fell.

LAH (on camera): You remember when the bomb fell.

TAKASHI MIYATA, NAGASAKI BOMB SURVIVOR: Yes. I remember. I hope never again.

LAH: Time is running out for people like Yamaguchi who urged President Obama to make good on his promise.

"We victims are dying," he says. "When we are gone, it will be difficult for people to remember the cruelty of the atomic bomb."

Over 70,000 people died instantly in Nagasaki, 140,000 in Hiroshima, tens of thousands more in the days that followed. Those who survivors are left to preach the horror and pray history will not repeat itself.


LAH: So that position has certainly won him some fans in this country, Wolf.

It is difficult to walk in certain parts of Japan and especially here in Tokyo you without seeing something like this. This says -- I don't know if you can quite read that. It says "We love Obama."

Part of the reason for that, Wolf, is "Obama" is a familiar word here in Japan because it means "small beach" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Small beach, interesting. All right Kyung Lay, thanks very much. We will be in touch over these next few days.

On our political ticker, Sarah Palin is dishing on the McCain campaign, saying they kept her "bottled up." This according to the A.P. which found a copy of Palin's memoir due out next week.

The former Republican vice president nominee also sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an upcoming episode. Oprah said there is nothing they didn't talk about, including the father of Palin's grandson, Levi Johnston.


OPRAH WINFREY, TALK SHOW HOST: One final question about Levi, will he be invited to Thanksgiving dinner?


SARAH PALIN, (R) FORMER ALASKA GOVERNOR: You know, that's a great question. And it is lovely to think that he would ever even consider such a thing because, of course, you want -- he is a part of the family. You want to bring him in the fold and under your wing.

He needs that, too, Oprah. I think he needs to know that he's loved and he has the most beautiful child. And this can all work out for good. It really can. We don't have to keep going down this road of controversy and drama all the time.

We are not really into the drama. We don't like that. We are more productive and have other things to concentrate on and do.

WINFREY: Does that mean he is coming, or no, he's not?


BLITZER: Oprah also asked Palin about some of those now famous interviews.


WINFREY: Talk about your interview with Katie Couric.

PALIN: Must we? OK.

WINFREY: You talk about in the book -- so I assume everything is fair game today. You do say that it wasn't your best interview. Do you think that was a seminal defining moment for you?

PALIN: I did not, and neither did the campaign. In fact, that is why segment two, three, four, and maybe five were scheduled, the campaign said right on, good, you are showing your independence. This is what America needs to see. And it was a good interview.

I'm thinking if you thought that was a good interview, I don't know what a bad interview is, because I knew it wasn't a good interview.


BLITZER: The AP reports Palin describes Katie Couric as "badgering and biased" in her book "Going Rogue," which is already a bestseller.

Former President George W. Bush speaking today at Southern Methodist University, the home of his future library and museum. Almost ten months out of Washington, the former president looked back on his eight years of the White House.


GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Over the past months I have had a little time to reflect on my years in office.

There were some good days and there were some tough days. But every day I was honored to represent the nation I love. I gave the job my all. I always did what I believed was in the best interests of our country. And I came home to Texas with my values intact.


BLITZER: The former president's speech was meant to kick off a new public policy institute.

The memories of a man who left Germany as a young Jewish refugee and returned in uniform, the uniform of the United States army. That's straight ahead right here in the "SITUATION ROOM."


BLITZER: Tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. eastern you will see CNN's special "Veterans in Focus." Here is a preview of one of the emotional stories you will see and hear tomorrow.


THOMAS TUGEND, WWII VETERAN: I was born in Germany. We were upper middle class, and it was a very good life.

It changed 1933 when Hitler came to power. May father was a rather well-known pediatrician. He could no longer take non-Jewish patients.

The sudden change in 1933 came as a tremendous shock. Your best friend, who yesterday was your best friend, suddenly wouldn't talk to you anymore.

My father had been a World War I veteran, a captain in the German army. I think it really broke him spiritually and physically. For my father it was really a -- it was a heartbreaking experience.

The German Jews always thought this was a temporary aberration, that the German people would come to their senses. They simply couldn't believe it, and that's why so many of them got caught and that's why they didn't get out when they had a chance.

My family came over as refugees in 1939. When I wanted to join the U.S. army, I had to convince him that -- that I was on the American side and not the German side. I subsequently was assigned to an infantry unit, 254th regimen, and I saw action in Germany and France.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Was it a surreal experience for you, the first time you met your enemy, which used to be your neighbor?

TUGEND: That's a good question. I think I was not conscious of it as long as I was an infantry man. We were shooting at them and they were shooting at us, and that's all you think about.

I had a personal reason for fighting against the Nazis that most other Americans didn't. There are a number of instances in my life where by all the odds I should have been killed. It just gives me a sense of the utter random chance of life.


BLITZER: Don't miss "Veterans in Focus" hosted by Tom Foreman tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m. eastern.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in the "SITUATION ROOM." Up next is Campbell Brown.