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CAT Scans May Cause Cancer; Dozens Busted for Medicare Fraud; Cuba's Castro Slams Obama; U.S. Troops' Daunting Task

Aired December 15, 2009 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yet another reason today for patients to sit up and take note of tests doctors order for them. Thousands of CAT scans are performed every single day in the United States to find conditions like heart disease and cancer. Now, a new study says it's possible -- possible the very test used to detect cancer may actually cause it.

Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is joining us now.

Elizabeth, what exactly did this new study discover?

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: What this study discovered is that if you look at estimates and computer modeling, you can try to take a guess as to how many cases of cancer in the United States may be attributable to people having CT scans. Let's look at these numbers, Wolf. I think they're kind of eye- popping.

There's 70 million CAT scans done annually in the United States. And according to this study, that could potentially lead to 29,000 cancers.

Now, no one is saying that you can point to one case of cancer and say, aha, that one person's cancer is because of radiation. The theory is that with each scan that you get, it increases your chances of getting radiation.

And by the way, Wolf, it's interesting, about 66 percent of these 29,000 cancers are women -- simply because women tend to get more scans than men -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What do radiologists say about this study?

COHEN: Radiologists point to the fact that these are, as I said, estimates based on computer modeling. They say there are no studies that show that CAT scans cause cancer. And they point out that these estimates are based on things like radiation that people were exposed to during Hiroshima. And they say, well, this is not a Hiroshima situation.

So, let's take a look at what the radiologists said. Cancer assumptions based on this paradigm should be considered but accepted as medical fact. No published studies show that radiation from imaging exams causes cancer. BLIZTER: So, what should someone do if the doctor says, you know what, you need a CAT scan. What's the advice that were, I guess, they should be seeking right now?

COHEN: Right. What doctors tell me is you want to say, you know what? I'm happy to have the CAT scan if we think that that's really necessary, but is there anything else that you could do in instead of a CAT scan that would give me less radiation. In many cases there's not, and you really need that CAT scan to help diagnosis your problem. But sometimes, you can talk to your doctor about other things that they could do instead. And if you have a child, make sure that child is getting a child-like size of radiation rather than an adult dose of radiation, because believe it or not, sometimes kids get adult doses.

BLITZER: Well, that means a radiologist was making a huge mistake if the radiologist were to do that to a child, right?

COHEN: That's right. I mean, that's -- it's not supposed to happen, but sometimes, it does.

BLITZER: All right.

COHEN: So, you want to specifically ask when you have a child, for a kid-sized dose.

BLITZER: Good advice from Elizabeth Cohen -- thanks very much.

Dozens of people arrested, tens of millions of dollars are stolen, say federal agents, through bogus Medicare claims. It's all part of a sweeping roundup today in three states.

Our senior correspondent, Allan Chernoff is joining us now from New York with more on this.

This is a big crackdown. How did it come about, Allan?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it actually happened as a result of data mining. The feds have been looking at the claims submitted into the government and that's how they are pinpointing the fraud. Today, federal agents broke up five separate rings that allegedly filed $61 million in false claims to the Medicare.

Thirty-two people are charged in Miami, Detroit and Brooklyn, New York, with a variety of schemes. The largest case in Miami involved a doctor and nurses who allegedly ordered home health care services that were not medically necessary.

In Brooklyn, a company called Americare in Home rented space from this realtor. Its owner and head of customer service are charged with billing Medicare for expensive custom-made orthotics for diabetic patients when in fact the company was merely providing inexpensive, off-the-shelf inserts, in some cases when they weren't even medically necessary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LANNY BREUER, ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: When someone sends fraudulent bills to Medicare, they are stealing American taxpayer dollars that are intended for those most in need.


CHERNOFF: As we've reported, health care fraud is a multibillion enterprise that has spread to organized crime groups. The Department of Justice and Health and Human Services say they're expanding their joint health care strike force teams into Brooklyn, Baton Rouge and Tampa to complement the four teams already in place. Those cities are targeted because a Health and Human Services inspector general analysis finds fraud is widespread in those seven areas.


DANIEL LEVINSON, INSPECTOR GENERAL, HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES: There are people masquerading as health care providers who have no business claiming to be health care providers. That also constitutes a significant part of a fraudulent action that we're uncovering.


CHERNOFF: Miami is ground zero for health care fraud. The inspector general found 52 percent of all Medicare home health care expenses above $100,000 -- those are supplemental payments -- were in Miami Dade County. Yet only 2 percent of Medicare home health care beneficiaries actually live in that county. Wolf, a very clear sign of Medicare fraud in Miami -- Wolf.

BLITZER: So, are we likely to see more of these arrests, more charges of this fraud coming down the road?

CHERNOFF: Well, Wolf, unfortunately, there is so much of this fraud. There's no question that we are going to see more, especially as Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice expand their strike forces. They like to say that they are zeroing in on the fraudsters and using computer technology, mining the data to find the fraud.

BLITZER: And this is money being stolen from American taxpayers when all is said and done.

CHERNOFF: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Allan, thank you.

Let's go to Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: It may not have been pushing the panic button, but it was close. President Obama summoning the Senate Democrats to the White House this afternoon in a last-ditch effort to get something they can call health care reform through the Senate without being embarrassed. The president was expected to characterize this as the last chance to pass comprehensive reform. It's yet to be determined, however, if it's either comprehensive or actual reform. The Senate's racing to pass this thing by Christmas, whatever it is. The problem is they need 60 votes and these are Democrats, so you get 60 opinions.

The biggest obstacle has been Senator Joe Lieberman the Connecticut, an independent who caucuses with the Democrats. Lieberman has threatened to join a Republican filibuster if the bill includes either the public option or a provision allowing people older than 55 to buy into Medicare. Now, Joe Lieberman couldn't even win Connecticut's Democratic primary the last time he ran for reelection, that's why he's an independent. But he's threatening to block the entire health care reform effort here.

A couple things to think about: in 2006, Joe Lieberman ranked second in the entire U.S. Senate in the amount of money he took from the insurance industry. His state, Connecticut, has more than 22,000 people who work for health insurance companies -- presumably some of them also vote. In the last 10 years, Joe Lieberman has taken more than $1 million in contributions from insurance companies. One e- mailer called him Senator Aetna.

So, here's the question: is this the last chance ever for health care reform in the United States? Go to and post a comment on my blog.

Twenty-two thousand people who work for the health insurance industry in Joe Lieberman's state of Connecticut. Isn't that interesting?

BLITZER: It's interesting that he and Chris Dodd seem to be on different sides of this battle. Right now, the two senators are from Connecticut. But, in the end, they're both going to agree, because a president wants a deal, even if the deal isn't perfect, as you well know, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, we'll see.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you.

Frosty new remarks casting doubts on warming ties between Cuba and the United States. Details of what Raul Castro is now saying about President Obama.

And the controversy over transferring terror detainees from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to a prison in America's heartland.


BLITZER: Cuban President Raul Castro is pouring cold water on talk of warming relations with the United States. He singled out President Obama and some rather angry remarks at a gathering of leftist leaders in Havana, which included Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

CNN's Shasta Darlington is in Havana with details.


SHASTA DARLINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, with President Obama in the White House, Havana and Washington began to put 50 years of animosity behind them. It appears that honeymoon is over.

(voice-over): Latin America's leftist leaders closed the two-day summit in Havana with some tough words for the United States. Cuban President Raul Castro warned old friction shuns will not disappear.

"The times we live in," he said, "reflect that Latin-American and the Caribbean, the confrontation between historic forces is getting worse." Castro condemned U.S. plans to use military bases in Colombia to fight drug trafficking. "It constitutes an act of aggression against all of Latin America and the Caribbean," he said.

But how much is just preaching to the converted?

Launched by Venezuela's Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro five years ago, experts say the leftist trade group, Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas or ALBA, is fighting to remain relevant, in part because the evil empire to the north has a new, more liberal president in the White House, Barack Obama.

At the summit, Chavez read aloud a letter from Fidel Castro, insisting that the United States was again on the offensive in Latin America.

"The real intentions of the empire are obvious," he said, "this time hidden behind the friendly smile in the African-American face of President Barack Obama."

A drop in oil prices has hurt Chavez' influence in the region. Through ALBA, some of Venezuela's oil revenues have funded literacy programs and eye operations for the region's poorest.

The rhetoric has not diminished. In Havana, leaders also slammed Washington's handling of the Honduras crisis. They accused the Obama administration of supporting an electoral farce after leftist president, Manuel Zelaya, was toppled in a military coup.

(on camera): The summit did produce regional proposals and its own declaration on climate change. It also made it clear that relations between Cuba and the United States are back on ice -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Shasta Darlington reporting from Havana for us -- thank you.

Let's go to Afghanistan right now and an exclusive interview with the top general in charge of the war, that would be General David Petraeus, the head of the U.S. military's Central Command which oversees that entire region. Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr caught up with him in the war zone.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as we have traveled around Afghanistan for the last two weeks, U.S. and Afghan commanders tell us there are growing indications that some fighters on the Pakistan side of the border may be moving back into this country.

(voice-over): General David Petraeus arrived in Afghanistan after a round of meetings in Pakistan with fresh concerns about border security between the two countries. We caught up with him on the tarmac to discuss reports that the Pakistani military operations in the border tribal region have put some top-level al Qaeda and Taliban on the run.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, U.S. CENTCOM COMMANDER: Even though in some cases they have not been specifically targeting some of these other groups, they're focusing, of course, on the extremists threatening their country. But in the process of that, there's no question that they have encountered these other elements of the extremists syndicate and have gotten into fights with them as well.

STARR: Petraeus is in highly sensitive discussions, trying to determine the extent to which these fighters may not have been forced back into Afghanistan.

PETRAEUS: Well, interestingly some of the Pakistani leaders we talked to today out in the Northwest Frontier Province area did think that some of these may have been pushed back after initially some coming to help their fellow extremists when they were under fire from the Pakistanis.

Indeed, there is some possibility of cross-border movement. And one of the reasons for being here, of course, will be to compare notes with the intelligence elements that are here to see if that's been confirmed.

STARR: The next problem? U.S. troops have been pulling back from some of the lightly populated border areas in Afghanistan to concentrate on cities and towns. Petraeus says some Pakistani leaders are now worried that the U.S. strategy could lessen border protection and lead to a new terrorist safe haven inside Afghanistan.

PETRAEUS: Indeed, the Pakistani leaders have some of those concerns as we as do we.

STARR (on camera): General Petraeus discounts any notion that Osama bin Laden may be on the move or that the U.S. has any information about his whereabouts. In fact, Petraeus says it has been years since there was any hard information about the al Qaeda leader -- Wolf.


BLITZER: All right. Barbara, thank you. Barbara's working the story for us in Kabul, Afghanistan.

Israel's former foreign minister is now canceling a trip to London. She oversaw the Israeli incursion of the Gaza Strip. Now, she finds herself under threat of arrest in Britain. We're getting details.

And an SUV plow us through a storefront. More of this mother smash-and-grabs, only two minutes away. And stay with us here on THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: All right. It's official, the president of the United States, Barack Obama, has just released a memorandum to the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense -- secretary of defense and the attorney general to be specific -- authorizing the transfer of some of those terror detainees from the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to the Thomson Correctional Center in Illinois. There's a lengthy memorandum he just released, giving authorization to make this move. We expect about 100 of those terror detainees to be transferred at some point, although there's a huge debate in Congress right now over this.

We're going to have some of that debate coming up momentarily here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Stand by for that.

In the meantime, let's check in with Mary Snow. She's monitoring some other top stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Mary, what's going on?

MARY WOLF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the British arrest warrant for Israel's former foreign minister is receiving harsh criticism. Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls the warrant for Tzipi Livni absurd and says Israel officials should not be labeled war criminals.

It's still unclear why the warrant was issued. Livni was the country's foreign minister during an Israeli military offensive in Gaza last year where Israel and Hamas were accused of human rights abuses.

The attack on Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi that will keep him in the hospital until tomorrow is now being called premeditated. Mr. Berlusconi suffered a broken nose and two broken teeth when he was smacked with a model of a cathedral during a rally. He has been ordered to rest for a couple weeks. The authorities say the suspect had been, in their words, developing a rage against the prime minister for some time.

The new G.E. -- the new CEO, that is, of General Motors is not wasting any time, aiming to pay off a $6.7 billion federal loan by June, that's much sooner than the deadline. The former telephone executive Ed Whitacre, Jr. has said he wants to change the dysfunctional culture at the nation's largest automaker. The company has received $50 billion in federal bailout funds.

And three thieves in Indianapolis pull off a big smash-and-grab. Surveillance video -- take a look at this -- shows the men using an SUV to barrel through the front of the store. Motion detectors outside gave the burglars less than a minute before police arrived. While most of the gun cases were empty at the times, the store reported more than $10,000 in damage -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, smash-and-grab, as they say. Wow!

All right. Thank you, Mary, for that.

Figuring out who's on President Obama's family tree is becoming a cottage industry for a lot of folks including genealogists. The latest discovery is that the president is a distant cousin with one of the richest men in the world.

Let's bring in our own Abbi Tatton.

All right. Who is the president related to right now?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Billionaire Warren Buffett and President Barack Obama related. According to genealogist at the Web site, they have discovered that the two are distant cousins. And when they say "distant," they really do mean distant. They went all the way back to the 1650s to find the connection, a Frenchman who came over to American as an indentured servant at that point in the 17th century. But this making billionaire Buffett who endorsed President Obama's White House the bid and the president seventh cousins three times removed -- if that's even possible.

BLITZER: And didn't we hear that at some point the president was also related to Dick Cheney?

TATTON: And a number of people, this thing coming out for a couple of years now. It would certainly make for an interesting family gathering. We're heard that the president -- yes, related to former Vice President Dick Cheney, ninth cousins; also Brad Pitt, another ninth cousin, if you can believe that. And also, if you go across the pond, Winston Churchill, a ninth cousin three times removed.

I think this is a question of if you go back far enough, you can find a link to pretty much anyone out there.

BLITZER: Yes, Warren Buffett, I'd like to be related to him, too.

TATTON: You could ask for a loan.



Thanks very much.


BLITZER: Some residents of America's heartland will soon find terrorist suspects housed nearby -- details of the controversial plan to bring them from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to an Illinois prison.

And under review, the policy that prevents the president from sending condolences for family of soldiers who die -- a follow-up to a CNN report that generated a huge response.


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

Happening now: President Obama makes a grassroots pitch for energy-efficient spending. He says if you spend the time and money to winterize your home, Uncle Sam will cut you a break.

With a global agreement nearing completion, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dips into the climate change debate. Her -- how her two cents might play with an already testy Chinese delegation. Stand by for that.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We want to take you back to Afghanistan right now for a report that illustrates just how difficult the task facing U.S. forces there really is. In this case, they're trying to cut off Taliban supply lines while fending off militant attacks and trying to win over local residents caught in the middle.

Once again, let 'go to Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She's in Afghanistan.


STARR (voice-over): Just over these ridge lines lies Pakistan. We are deep in northeastern Afghanistan's Kunar province with the men of Task Force Mountain Warrior. Although the town of Nare (ph) is relatively peaceful, it is here the Taliban and insurgent and criminal groups have established supply lines that run from this border region all the way to the capital city of Kabul.

Squadron Commander Brad Brown points to an observation post along a mountain crest where U.S. and Afghan forces watch for smugglers who are in large of sums from their operation.

LT. COL. BRAD BROWN, U.S. ARMY: They use that money to then buy weapons. They bring them back. They sell them to other insurgent groups. They bring back, you know, some Pakistani and Afghani fighters that end of supporting the various militant groups on this side.

STARR: Mountain Warrior has been repeatedly attacked. The insurgents specialize in roadside ambushes.

BROWN: When the time is right and they feel like they have an advantage, they can put together as many as, you know, 200 fighters for a major operation.

STARR: These mine-resistant vehicles have just been fitted with a new basket of armor to protect them against rocket-propelled grenades which have been devastating. CAPT. JOHN LEE, U.S. ARMY: We've had vehicles that have been struck with RPGs that have had catastrophic hits to them. They have caused, you know, we've taken some casualties from those attacks.

STARR: Colonel Randy George oversees all U.S. operations in an area covering 700 square miles. He says the poverty in his villages make some Afghans work for the Taliban just to earn money to survive.

So, now, the colonel is moving his troops closer to where the people are, trying to gain their trust.

COL. RANDY GEORGE, U.S. ARMY: We're moving to where the most of the population centers and you were just up in Naray (ph), a significantly larger population center that's there and then in a lot of these smaller villages, we're seen as you know we're coming in there, we're occupying or holding their land and I think that they've realized that that's not the case.

STARR: The soldiers know that winning the confidence of these people will take time. For now their focus is on bringing security to the region.

Barbara Starr, CNN Naray, Afghanistan.


BLITZER: A massive recall of some 50 million items in American homes that can kill small children; details of a danger hiding in plain sight. That's coming up.

Plus the video that left scientists stunned. An octopus doing something no one knew it could do.


BLITZER: We'll check back with Mary Snow. She's monitoring stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Mary, what's going on?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is pulling more than 50 million Roman shades and roll-up blinds off the market to prevent deadly consequences. The agency says the cords can catch around a child's neck. Five children died of strangulation, 15 others were nearly killed in the last four years. The commission reports some five million Roman shades and three million roll-up blinds are sold each year.

Famous rocker Courtney Love has lost custody of her daughter Frances Bean Cobain (ph) who she had with former Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain (ph). CNN has confirmed that temporary guardianship was granted to her paternal grandmother and an aunt. Frances is now 17 years old, an attorney for Cobain tells CNN that the issue is a private family matter.

And take a look at this. Your eyes are not fooling you. This octopus in Indonesia is actually picking up a coconut shell with his tentacles and people who study these about these things tell us that it's carrying it to a new location where it will assembled into a fort used to protect itself from predators.

Scientists are calling it amazing behavior that they weren't aware of until now. And the findings were published today in the journal "Current Biology." While the octopus is the first of its kind to demonstrate the ability to use tools many other species have already proven they can do it; among them chimpanzees, crows, elephants and dolphins.

And signs of lava and clouds of ash are causing the evacuations of close to 50,000 people around the Philippines most active volcano. The eruption is said to be imminent. The alert levels were raised Monday night as scientists warned a full-scale eruption is expected within the coming days -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow, thank you.

A controversial move by President Obama, he's ordering the federal government to buy a prison in rural Illinois and convert it into the country's most secure facility in order to house a limited number of terror detainees currently held at the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois strongly favors the move.


SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: People are desperate for good jobs. And the jobs we're talking about here are some of the best, over 3,000 new employment -- new employees in this area. Half of them from local people, who were getting jobs with good paychecks and good benefit packages. These are jobs that you can use to build a family, build a neighborhood, build a town and a community. That's what we need desperately.


BLITZER: All right, let's talk about the controversy with the Republican Congressman Don Manzullo of Illinois and George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley. Gentlemen thanks very much for coming in. This is your district, Congressman, I take it where this prison is, is that right?

REP. DON MANZULLO (R), ILLINOIS: It is -- that's correct, Wolf.

BLITZER: And so you don't want to create jobs in your district? Is that what you're saying?

MANZULLO: Well, that's not a fair question. I do want to create jobs, but opening that prison either as a standalone federal or as a standalone state facility. The State of Illinois is at 177 percent of capacity. The Governor just released 1,850 felons because he had no place to put them. And even if half the anticipated economic activity takes place as the standalone prison, there's more than enough in revenues by state sales tax and state income tax in order to keep that prison going.

BLITZER: But you're concerned that if they bring over 100 of these terror detainees -- what is your major concern? Because you heard Dick Durbin, you heard others including the governor and the president for that matter. So you shouldn't really be concerned about the security but that's your concern.

MANZULLO: Well, I share the same concern as Senator Jim Webb of Virginia and Senator Lieberman of Kentucky and former Governor Sebelius of Kansas. Governor Sebelius successfully wrote to President Obama and said we do not want the Gitmo terrorists at Leavenworth, not because they will break out, but because it will create a magnet of activity. They'll be lightning rods for terrorists and terror cells to come into the area, thus disrupting the normal business and endangering the schools in the area.

So we better be concerned about this. I have said from the beginning, there's a threshold question that must be answered at which the administration refuses to answer and that's this. If the reason for closing Gitmo Bay is that it creates so much hatred among the terrorists that it serves as the number one recruiting tool for al Qaeda, if Gitmo Bay is moved to Thomson, Illinois, it's not being closed, the prisoners and the personnel and the operations are going to Thomson Bay, what assurances do we have that that hatred won't transfer from Gitmo to Thomson, which is obviously a much more vulnerable spot than Gitmo bay?

BLITZER: Does the Congressman, Jonathan Turley, make a good point?

PROF. JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: I have to confess, I don't really understand the point. In that we have had terrorist suspects housed in the United States, al Qaeda suspects. I've represented both terrorists and espionage defendants. There isn't any risk, they haven't been magnets.

The reason Guantanamo Bay became the place for Gitmo had nothing to do with its security. It was put there so that they could avoid U.S. courts. It was a rather transparent effort to deny them legal right. But what we're doing and frankly what the Congressman is doing is creating this image of al Qaeda that they're somehow supermen and that we're cringing from them, that we don't want even to have a super-max facility that's housing a few of them, because we're afraid that they're going to come in to attack us. There's no support for that.

MANZULLO: There is support behind that. Number one, according to Phil Carter, who is the number one person in charge of detainees, this will be the largest concentration of incarcerated al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists in the United States and the few that the professor may have represented, there are only about 10 or 12 international terrorists that are housed in the entire federal system.

BLITZER: But let me interrupt you Congressman...

MANZULLO: So... BLITZER: ... because Dick Durbin, your senior Senator from Illinois, he says there's about 350 convicted terrorists serving time in various federal institutions.

MANZULLO: That's not correct. According to Harley Lappin (ph), who is the head of Bureau of Prisons of the 340, 220 are mainstreamed with the regular prisoners. The other 120 are set aside in super-max in Florence, Colorado; Marion, Illinois and Terre Haute, Indiana. But those are just a handful of people.

It's not the same as Guantanamo Bay is moved to an area that represents the largest concentration of these terrors.

BLITZER: Well let me -- Jonathan Turley, you're a professor of law, so you appreciate the legal aspects. By moving these 100 let's say to Illinois, would they get greater legal rights serving at the Thomson facility as opposed to the legal rights they have at Guantanamo Bay?

TURLEY: Well, Wolf they were already getting greater rights. The Bush administration...

BLITZER: But would they even get more rights in Illinois than in Cuba?

TURLEY: Well, that's yet to be determined. I think there's a greater chance for it they're on U.S. soil, but the court had already determined that you couldn't get out of U.S. law by moving them to Guantanamo Bay, so the Bush administration wasn't successful in that effort. But what it will do Wolf and what is really should be the thing that we treat this as a point of celebration is that if you want to defeat al Qaeda the best way to do it is to prove that we're not hypocrites, they're hypocrites.

They use religion to kill people. They have special rules for themselves and for others. The best way to defeat terror is to show that we're not afraid of them and that we're not going to change the way we do things. They're criminals, and they'll be...

BLITZER: Well, let me just press you on that point, professor.

TURLEY: These are...

BLITZER: Hold on a second, would they be allowed to receive visitors in Illinois as opposed to Gitmo? They obviously are not getting visitors over there; would others be allowed to visit them at this proposed federal penitentiary?

TURLEY: Probably not to the extent that people think they would. When you have a high-ranking terrorist client, they are often under what are called SAMs, which are special procedures. This is a would be a super-max situation, these guys are likely to be in their cell for all of about a day, with the exception of maybe 20 to 40 minutes a day. They're not going to be mingling with the population and holding terrorist seminars.


BLITZER: I'll let the Congressman respond.

MANZULLO: They will bring their Bevan's (ph) right's cases, all kinds of civil rights cases. And you know, you know what really bothers me -- and I know you and I agree upon this -- is the fact that the federal government wants to bring -- maybe between 120 people, terrorists as to whom the government does not want to give any type of a trial, either on the federal court or the military tribunal.

It really smacks against the Constitution that God forbid we should hold anybody in this country without having any type of a trial. And you know darn well when that gets tested, the ACLU and other groups that are out there fighting and representing these various prisoners, that somewhere along the line, the Constitution is going to be on and of course they're going to say, look it, we have to give these people more Constitutional rights.

BLITZER: All right, go ahead respond.

TURLEY: And that will be a great victory for our country when that happens. As a native of Illinois, I'm proud that my native state will be housing this prison...

MANZULLO: But there are...

TURLEY: ... and will bring justice to these people, but it will be a great moment, not a weak moment, not a problematic moment; it'll be a great moment when we bring them into court and say that our laws will apply to you the same as they apply to other defendants and you will be punished to the full extent of that law.

BLITZER: Congressman, Congressman I assume you've been to the Thomson Correctional Center in your district.

MANZULLO: I've driven by it, I've not gone through...

BLITZER: You've not actually -- because I'm wondering, are you concerned of possible escape?

MANZULLO: No. There is no way possible anybody could escape from that prison. I've never been concerned about that. That's not the security issue.

The security issue is that, as again what Governor Sebelius said to President Obama when you say, don't bring these terrorists to Leavenworth is the fact that the whole area will serve as a magnet or lightning rod with which to attract terrorists and acts of terrorism.

But that study has yet to be done. And my fear is that study will never be done.

TURLEY: But Congressman, what does that mean? What does it mean that terrorist groups are going to be coming to this prison? What could they possibly hope to achieve by coming to this prison? Are they going to storm the prison? MANZULLO: No, no, they won't do that. It serves as a magnet.

I mean, when you take a look at, for example, there was an article in "The Washington Post" on November 29th. There were two Yemeni brothers, one has been at Gitmo for eight year, and other one is in Yemen. The one in Yemen said when President Obama promised to close Gitmo, we thought he would be releasing the prisoners, but if he decides to move those prisoners, including my brother, to the mainland of the United States, that the hatred will be even greater, and people will be more prone to do acts of violence.


MANZULLO: This is from the people who (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: Go ahead and respond, because we're out of time.

TURLEY: You know, Wolf, I'm not worried about the reaction of people in those corridors. The real family members that care about their loved ones I think will take some degree of solace that they're coming to the United States and may ultimately be given a trial, as they should be, and their guilt proven or disproven in a court of law.


BLITZER: Professor Jonathan Turley, Congressman...

MANZULLO: Professor, thank you for being candid on the addition of constitutional rights. I appreciate it that I wish more people in the administration were as candid as you are.

TURLEY: You're welcome.

BLITZER: The (INAUDIBLE) administration is a professor at Georgetown University Law School, but he does make that point. Congressman, you were very candid as well. Appreciate your candidness.

MANZULLO: Thank you. Thanks professor.

TURLEY: Thank you.

MANZULLO: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good work to both of you. Thank you.

TURLEY: Thank you.

BLITZER: The health care push is on, on Capitol Hill. Is this the last chance ever for health care reform in the United States?

Jack Cafferty and your e-mail that's coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: We're right back for Jack for the Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour: Is this the last chance ever for health care reform in these here United States?

Adam writes: "I think this is the one and only time for real reform. We have already what a Republican majority and a Republican president are willing to do. Health care reform? They could care less how many thousands of Americans die each year. Which is why Lieberman's latest stance is so disgusting. He's a political prostitute, selling his vote to those who come to him with the most money. And the insurance company pockets are deep."

Scott writes: "No, it's not the last chance and I'm disappointed in the cynical tone of your blog and your question. It is comprehensive, it is reform. And though it doesn't -- it isn't perfect, it will break a log jam to help contain health care costs and extend coverage. Senator Lieberman was within his rights to vote his conscience, and unless evidence surfaces of unethical behavior, his character should not be maligned.

Brad writes: "I'm not sure if this is the last chance for health reform, but so far, it has been the best chance. People are going broke, people are dying; if this problem is not addressed now, then when? When another 46 million Americans become uninsured? When another middle-aged couple loses their home because they had the audacity to get sick? It needs to happen now because people who are desperate don't care about the chances of reform in the future. They may not have one.

C in Washington writes: "Health care reform -- any bill without a public option is nothing but a guaranteed profit stream for the insurance industry and the American Medical Association. Senator Aetna should be ashamed of himself. But I don't think he's capable of shame.

Rodney writes: "I was born and raised in Connecticut for over 30 years in the insurance or insurance services industry. I lived in Joe Lieberman's district and I believe he is one of the most turn coat, self-seeking, bamboozling politicians ever. He is clearly in the pockets of the health care industry. I can't believe he can assert his view on this bill with a straight face.

And Joe offers this quote from Stephen Colbert: "Joe Lieberman is a man who sticks to his principles. Maybe one day he will tell us what they are."

If you want to read more on this subject, and we have a lot of mail on this, you can check out my blog,

Senator Aetna -- I like that.

BLITZER: All right Jack. Thank you.

The U.S. Geological Survey is now combing Twitter -- Twitter for the word earthquake hoping it will help them with some real time reporting. Let's bring back our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton. All right, how's this going to help?

TATTON: Wolf, something that's increasing happening, when an earthquake strikes, first of all, obviously the earth starts shaking and then immediately after that people start tweeting how it's affecting them, the strength of the earthquake. Real-time reports that are coming in minutes before official reports are coming in.

Let's take you to Pueblo in Mexico; on May 22nd you remember a 5.7 magnitude earthquake then. Immediately after it struck, in the next few seconds, someone in the epicenter of Pueblo saying, it is shaking, it is shaking. Then we knew that Mexico City was feeling it, too, someone writing that that was a strong earthquake. And then in the next few seconds more and more reports coming in.

And now the USGS is putting together a research system to monitor all these tweets. Important tweets, important information that are coming in before the seismic centers are reporting those official details; it is potentially a lot of data.

In October, there was a quake in Indonesia; 1,000 tweets related to the earthquake in just ten minutes afterwards and these key moments before the official information comes in.

One thing, Wolf, they do have to watch for is that tweets containing the word quake are not necessarily about an earthquake, There's a popular video game called Quake so just because someone is talking about that, it does not mean the earth is shaking where they are.

BLITZER: And they have to make sure that nobody is fooling around and false claiming a quake.

TATTON: Absolutely. That is why it is a research project at this point.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much.

Twitter -- I'm on Twitter too, you know that.

TATTON: I've heard.

BLITZER: WolfBlitzerCNN.

TATTON: I'm following you.

BLITZER: An unusual twist to the old question of getting people to take part in the census. What if someone told you Jesus and Mary and Joseph took part?


BLITZER: We turn now to our stories of mothers coming home from war; wounded, broken and back home where their kids need them to pick up where they left off.

Here is part two of Campbell Brown's special investigation: "Band of Sisters".


MELISSA TROTTER, VETERAN: Go back and do the scale again.

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: A typical night at the Trotter household in East St. Louis. From flute practice, putting up the family Christmas tree ...

TROTTER: Spell it so I could know that you spelled it correctly.

BROWN: ... to helping the kids with their homework. It is enough to make any single mom tired, especially this one.

Melissa Trotter though is not just any single mother, she is also an Iraq veteran, seriously injured just two months into her tour of duty.

TROTTER: My teeth were knocked out, my legs broke.

BROWN: She was riding in her gunner truck when a fuel truck slammed into her.

TROTTER: As he got ready to turn, I was on the side that he turned to, and he hit me. I don't even remember anything. All I know is that when I wanted to take my tongue across my teeth, there was nothing there.

BROWN: An accident like that would change anyone's life. For Melissa, the primary caregiver for her two children, DeRon (ph) and Tiara (ph), it was devastating.

TIARA TROTTER, DAUGHTER: I couldn't really picture it or didn't really believe it that much until I saw her.

M. TROTTER: it's kind of getting tight.

BROWN: Women make up 14 percent of the active military and the Pentagon does not track the number of single mothers, but we do know that 17 have died in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And those statistics didn't scare special agent Melissa Trotter. One thing she knew for certain, she wanted to join the military. She thought it was the best which to provide security for her children.

M. TROTTER: I try not to cry, because you don't want the kids to see you cry. You have to be strong. This is my job, and she might not have understood, and he might not have understood, but I know I had to do this. This is what I have to do.

BROWN: But she never expected she'd come home wounded with shattered teeth and a badly injured knee, the army sent her to Walter Reed and paid for family visits and then sent her to rehab. She never considered how tough all that would be.

M. TROTTER: I had to learn how to deal with being a mother and being a wounded soldier coming back and getting back into life and being that person that I was before. It has been five years now, and I still haven't figured it out.


BLITZER: Campbell, these women come back -- they come back from the war zone, they get right back into the family life, but they face really significant at least potentially psychological problems.

BROWN: They do, Wolf. When they come home, obviously, things are different. Their relationships with their children are very different. They have missed out on a lot of their kids' lives while they were off at war. They don't know what to expect from each other anymore.

And one psychologist we talked to, Wolf, described it as women really going through this grieving process when they first get home. He says these mothers often find themselves wracked with guilt and if they come home disabled or suffering from PTSD, post-traumatic stress, they face even greater hurdles.

BLITZER: What about the children, Campbell? Because it's an adjustment; they face challenges as the mothers come home?

BROWN: And Wolf obviously children are affected when either of their parents in the military and the Rand Corporation just did a new study about this and found that about one-third of military kids experience symptoms of anxiety. Girls find it more difficult usually than boys to readjust when a parent comes back from war.

And here is kind of an important note, the Rand study showed a direct connection between the mental health of the parent and the well-being of the child. We know that 20 percent of the troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with PTSD and women may very well be more susceptible than men in many cases, so it is really troubling and something that the military is really grappling with right now.

We're going to have a lot more on this -- I want to mention, Wolf, too as well tonight at 8:00.

BLITZER: "Band of Sisters", an excellent series that Campbell is working on. Thank you. We'll be watching.

And to our viewers, happening now: President Obama sends a message to health care reform critics, "Don't get in my way." Senator Joe Lieberman tells us he's not backing down from his one-man blockade...