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Iran Closer to Nuclear Bomb?; New Orleans Celebrates Super Bowl Win

Aired February 8, 2010 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: It would be an extraordinary story of survival. Word coming in from Haiti of a man who may have been buried since the earthquake struck a month ago. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper, they are now back in Haiti. Anderson is standing by.

Iran defies the United Nations and announces a major step in its nuclear program. Could that also be a step toward a nuclear bomb? We're going to our Iran desk for all the late-breaking developments.

And New Orleans gets a head-start on Mardi Gras, as the Saints go marching home after a thrilling Super Bowl win.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: But, first, the breaking news out of Japan right now, where Toyota is apparently set to announce a recall of its 2010 Prius hybrid.

CNN's Kyung Lah is on the phone for us.

It's very early now, Tuesday morning, in Tokyo. What's going on, Kyung?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I have been able to confirm that, despite the number of reports saying that a recall was ongoing and happening, you know, imminently, Toyota has just officially decided that a recall will be taking place.

What we did not know is exactly when. We can tell you that it will be today in Japan. It will begin in Japan. Toyota will have to notify the government here. But it will not be limited to just Japan.

The United States is a major market where the 2010 Prius is sold. The U.S. will also be impacted. The logistics of it will be that somehow Toyota will have to then notify the U.S. government when the United States wakes up for business tomorrow.

But what this is, is a fix. It is a fix that Toyota says had already been in place for cars, the 2010 Priuses that had been built after the end of January. But these are all the people who were impacted before that fix was in place, Wolf. So this is the remedy that they were waiting for. And it is on the way now -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And do they know what the problem is with the brakes on these Toyota Priuses, these hybrids? Do they know how to fix it?

LAH: They do. It's a software problem. What happens is, is that when you press on this brake, it is a glitch, if you will, where you don't get the full braking feel when you press down on the brake. It's something to do with the regenerative brake and the antilock braking system.

And so it just doesn't feel quite right when you press down on it. And there may be a split-second where it feels like your brake isn't working. So they are going to remedy that with a software fix and that's what is on the way now.

BLITZER: So the formal announcement, Kyung Lah, is going to be when?

LAH: Is going to be today here in Japan, the timing of which is still being worked out. They are still working on the logistics of who is going to make the announcement, how will it be done, exactly what time, all that is still taking place. But we do know that they have decided that the recall will be taking place, and it will be today.

BLITZER: And this follows on the heels of recalling about eight million other cars because of the sudden acceleration from the gas pedal. What a nightmare for Toyota. All right, Kyung Lah in Tokyo, we will stay in close touch with you.

Other breaking news we're following from Tokyo right now, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta reporting that an individual -- excuse me, in Haiti -- our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta reporting now that an individual was found amidst the rubble four weeks after the earthquake alive. Details remain sketchy right now.

Sanjay was over at the hospital. We will be checking back with him shortly, but an amazing story coming in from Haiti right now.

In these horrible days after the earthquake killed so many people in Haiti, CNN's Dr. Gupta and Anderson Cooper are now back on the ground letting the world know what is happening. They want to make sure that none of us, none of us here in the United States or around the world forgets what's going on in the disaster zone.

Let's bring in Anderson Cooper. He's in Port-au-Prince right now.

Anderson, you were there for the first two weeks after the earthquake got there within hours. You came back for a week, but now you're back in Haiti right now. And tell our viewers why you decided and Sanjay Gupta decided that it was important to spend more time there and report on what's going on. ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Well, it's an odd question, because it's really not a question anybody here asks. The question people here ask is, why did you leave and why have so many reporters left? And, frankly, I don't really know how to answer that question.

There are still hundreds of thousands of people here homeless. The misery that we saw in week two after the earthquake is still present here. You can walk down any street, and you still -- there are still bodies being pulled out of the rubble. We were at the cemetery -- 25 more people were brought to the cemetery today.

We were there when a mother and a child were brought in and the remains were really just shoved into an old crypt, no coffin, no ceremony, no nothing.

The massive humanitarian relief effort here is still under way, still ongoing. And there is a huge concern with it basically dropping out of the headlines and all the focus, for understandable reasons, perhaps, being on 10 American missionaries being held here for allegations of child kidnapping and child trafficking.

The real story here is the hundreds of thousands of people who every day are still struggling to survive -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And people forget -- how quickly we forget, Anderson. More than 200,000 people, according to the prime minister of Haiti, are now confirmed dead, and a million, at least a million are homeless right now. This is a story of epic proportions under way.

Give us a little flavor of what you're seeing with maybe your fresh eyes after a week in New York. Now you're back in Haiti. What's it like to be back?

COOPER: Well, you can look behind me, and there is this tent city which any viewer who watched our coverage the first two weeks is familiar with. It hasn't gone away. If anything, it's become more established.

There are now -- some people have use corrugated tin. They're using tarps. A few tarps, it looks like, have been handed out. I think the officials have handed out some 70,000 tarps used for tenting for people to live in.

But there are, as I said, hundreds of thousands, perhaps as many as half-a-million homeless here in the city of Port-au-Prince living in makeshift cities. They tried to establish sort of more permanent camps, but the vast majority of people are still living in these very makeshift settlements.

And there is a concern about the spread of disease now, especially among children, when you have people living in such close quarters, really without sanitary conditions, a lot of stomach illnesses. A lot of illnesses can move very swiftly. So, that's a big concern. They started inoculating children today. But there's -- any place you look, the level of work that needs to be done, it's enough to kind of make you throw up your hands. They have started paying people to sweep up the streets and pick up rubble. And they have some heavy earth-moving equipment, basically bulldozing old buildings.

But, as you know, Wolf, as they do that, they just find more and more bodies, so that death toll will be going up every single day.

BLITZER: And this fear of disease breaking out, killing even more, thousands of additional people, how real is that fear right now?

COOPER: I have talked to Sanjay about it. I have talked to doctors about it. They are very concerned. They have started this vaccination program for a number of illnesses.

They had a case of tetanus that they were obviously concerned about. That's not something we are used to seeing too much in the United States. Obviously, the medical needs, the acute phase, as they call it, the emergency phase, has slowed down. So, they're not seeing as much need for amputations and the like.

But just primary care of people and also follow-up care to people who did have limbs amputated and who do have infections that need treatment, that requires still as many doctors and as many nurses as were here the first two weeks.

BLITZER: The other fear, I have heard, Anderson, maybe you know something about this, is weather. If it starts raining, for example, the rainy season, I don't even know when it starts in Haiti and the Dominican Republic.

COOPER: March.

BLITZER: But if you have all these tents, people living these flimsy conditions, I don't know what the impact of that is going to be.

COOPER: That's a huge concern. Rainy season usually starts some time in early March. And these aren't even tents. You probably can't see it because it's getting dark now, but literally these are just a plastic sheet sometimes or several plastic sheets kind of pieced together.

So, there are seams. If it starts to pour with rain, it is going to be a huge mess. A lot of the fields that people are in -- they're literally are in fields -- are going to turn to mud. That's going to add to the transmission of diseases.

So, they haven't had much rain up to now. And that's been a blessing. But there is a real concern about what happens to these hundreds of thousands of homeless people literally sleeping in the streets. Just about every street you go down to, just people are sleeping in the streets. They don't want to go back to their buildings, even if their buildings haven't fallen down yet.

What is going to happen to them when it starts pouring with rain? There is not an answer for that right now.

COOPER: Anderson Cooper is back on the ground in Haiti for us.

Thank you, Anderson. We are going to touch base with you and with Dr. Gupta as well.

This important note to our viewers: A special investigation on "A.C. 360," before the quake, corruption, greed and hundreds of millions of lost dollars. We will follow the money, "Stealing Haiti," a special "A.C. 360" investigation, starting tomorrow night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Jack Cafferty is standing by. He will bring us "The Cafferty File" in a moment.

Also, the battle over the Christmas Day bombing suspect's rights, the Obama administration accusing the GOP of playing politics with terrorism. We will talk to our national security contributor, Fran Townsend.

And developments in Haiti's case against a group of American missionaries, including two teens who remain in jail there, accused of child kidnapping. We will go back to Haiti and hear from Karl Penhaul. That's coming up.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is joining us with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: It was a campaign promise of President Obama's and he is taking a lot of heat for not keeping it.

Well, Mr. Obama now says he wants to hold a televised bipartisan health care meeting on February 25. This move toward transparency comes after the president got strong reviews for that televised question-and-answer session he held with the Republicans a week ago or so.

President Obama says he wants to go through all the best ideas that are out there on health care, including those the Republicans might have and then move forward with reform. Leaders of both parties are praising this move. But Republicans say they want to start from scratch on health care reform, and that's something the president says he won't do.

Also, some worry that this live televised half-day meeting will only prolong the process. The Democrats already have a lot of disagreements among themselves over the two versions of the bill passed in the House and the Senate.

Since the Democrats' loss of Ted Kennedy's Massachusetts Senate seat, White House officials have been sending mixed messages on health care, saying they might break the bill into smaller parts. They might keep it together. They might hold off on action or they -- quote -- "might just punch it through Congress." Meanwhile, it's not clear how much the president's offer to open up the health care meetings will matter this late in the game. A lot of Americans have been turned off by the secret closed-door nature of the negotiations. They expected more from the candidate who vowed to broadcast it all on C-SPAN, remember?

And don't forget, this televised meeting would probably never happen -- not probably -- there's not a chance in hell it would happen if Republican Scott Brown wasn't the newest senator from the state of Massachusetts.

So, here's the question. Is President Obama's plan for a televised bipartisan health care meeting too little, too late? Go to Post a comment on my blog.

This is more political theater, I think, than anything else.

BLITZER: February 25, the cameras will be inside when they all get together on the White House's turf, which should give the president an advantage, since that's his home field.

CAFFERTY: If the Republicans show up.

BLITZER: Yes. Well, that's -- they're going to negotiate the deal. Maybe we get the C-SPAN cameras when they negotiate the terms of the deal.

CAFFERTY: Not a chance.


BLITZER: That would be good.

CAFFERTY: That ain't going to happen.

BLITZER: Yes. All right, Jack, thank you.

The decision to treat the alleged underwear bomber as a criminal defendant and read him his rights has congressional Republicans, at least many of them, reading the riot act to the Obama administration. And now the administration is accusing them of playing politics with the fight against terror.

Our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, is joining us now with more.

Jeanne, this is sort of getting a little bit bitter out there, isn't it?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: It has been bitter and it continues to be. John Brennan, the president's top counterterrorism adviser, says he's tired of politicians using national security issues like terrorism as a political football.

He says they often make allegations that are, in his words, not anchored in reality. Then he waded into one of the hottest ongoing political debates in town, the decision to read the alleged underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, his Miranda rights on Christmas Day. Brennan said some of those criticizing the decision now knew about it then.


JOHN BRENNAN, U.S. DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: On Christmas night, I called a number of senior members of Congress. I spoke to Senators McConnell and Bond. I spoke to Representative Boehner and Hoekstra. I explained to them that he was in FBI custody, that Mr. Abdulmutallab was in fact talking, that he was cooperating at that point.

They knew that in FBI custody means that there's a process then you follow as far as Mirandizing and presenting him in front of the magistrate. None of those individuals raised any concerns with me at that point.


MESERVE: If Brennan thought that was going to hush up critics, he was wrong. Senator Kit Bond, the ranking Republican on the Intelligence Committee, fired back with this statement.

"Brennan never told me of any plans to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber. If he had, I would have told him the administration was making a mistake. The truth is that the administration did not even consult our intelligence chiefs, as DNI Blair testified. So, it is absurd to try to blame congressional leaders for the dangerous decision that gave terrorists a five-week head-start to cover their tracks."

Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra also chimed in that the mishandling of the case is the Obama administration's failure and they have no one to blame but themselves.

Obviously, Mr. Brennan is not going to get his wish. This national security issue is still very much a political football -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeanne Meserve, thanks very much.

Let's discuss what Jeanne just reported with our national security contributor Fran Townsend. She was the homeland security adviser to President Bush. She also worked for the Justice Department during the Clinton administration.

Fran, thanks very much for coming in.

What did you think of John Brennan, the counterterrorism adviser to the president, when he sort of lashed into the Republican critics yesterday on "Meet the Press"?

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: You know, Wolf, I think he diminished himself. John was a -- has been a career counterterrorism official with a long history in the intelligence community. And I will tell you, you know, this is the sort of thing, if you want to go on a partisan tirade, you leave it to Axelrod or Gibbs, the partisan folks in the White House.

John, he says he doesn't like the partisan attacks, and then he makes one.

BLITZER: Well, what did you not like about what he said? Was there a factual mistake that he made?

TOWNSEND: Well, no, but if you wanted to come back at the Republicans when they were attacking you, the time to do it was at the time of their attack, to counterpunch. To wait a week and then to decide to unleash on them is just a -- I think it's a tactical mistake.


BLITZER: Because the point he was making, which was that anyone arrested in the United States on terrorism charges, that they were behaving according to FBI ground rules or guidelines, similar to what happened during all the years of the Bush administration, including when they arrested Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, and read him his Miranda rights within minutes.

TOWNSEND: Well, it's not clear they John actually talked to the members of Congress about Miranda.

Let's be clear on what this phone call was. They're often -- they're called Hill notifications, or otherwise known as dump and runs. What you do is, you make these phone calls. You call these members of Congress. You tell them what you're doing. You don't solicit their advice. You don't engage in a dialogue. You dump and run.

And that's what John did. That's fine. The Republicans should have admitted they got those calls. And John needs to be clear that he wasn't really getting into a detailed conversation with them. So, there is a little bit of politics getting played on both sides here.

BLITZER: But he's not a political guy. He's a career CIA guy who worked basically his whole life fighting terrorism. And so, he doesn't come into it like a David Axelrod or a Rahm Emanuel, from a political background.

TOWNSEND: He doesn't, but he waded into a political fight that he didn't need to engage in himself. It seems to me that's a mistake on his part, because he's now going to be viewed by those on Capitol Hill as very much another partisan mudslinger.

BLITZER: Yes, but I guess his attitude is, is, since he was getting slammed by them -- he's the point man for the president on counterterrorism. Someone slams you, you slam right back. TOWNSEND: I guess that's right, Wolf. I think he's going to feel later on that he wished somebody else had been doing the slamming.

BLITZER: He's a tough guy. But that's what you want in a counterterrorism adviser, a tough guy.

TOWNSEND: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BLITZER: All right, Fran, thanks very much.

The rise in autism rates, a new study suggests a link to older moms. We have new details coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

And new developments concerning those American Baptists being held in Haiti on child kidnapping charges. They may have had at least one necessary permit to take Haitian children with them. Stay with us. We will share the information we're just working on.



BLITZER: Ten missionaries sit in a Haitian jail right now charged with kidnapping children, but did they have a permit to take those children into a neighboring country? Stand by.

Mardi Gras starts early in New Orleans, as the Saints go marching home after a remarkable win in the Super Bowl.

Plus, Michael Jackson's doctor is charged in connection with the pop star's death. He's now entered a plea.


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

Happening now: President Obama announces he is planning a health care summit this month. Could it be a new beginning for health care reform?

Mudslides in the West and even more snow headed for the nation's capital. We're tracking two dangerous storm systems.

And Sarah Palin's Tea Party cheat sheet. Her political future may be in her hand. We have got that for you as well.

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

Ten American missionaries charged in Haiti with kidnapping children are facing hearings over the next two days. Meantime, a lawyer says they had permission from the neighboring Dominican Republic to take the children off the border.

Let's go to CNN's Karl Penhaul. He is in Port-au-Prince. He has got the latest on this story. What are you learning, Karl?

KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, five of the 10 Americans showed up at a courthouse in downtown Port-au-Prince today, yet the only one who went before the examining judge was team leader Laura Silsby.

It seems that the examining judge didn't have time to cross- question the other four. She made no detailed comments about what was going on when she came out of her hearing, except to say that she was putting her trust in God and that she hoped and believed that she would soon be exonerated and soon be freed.

But, meanwhile, of course, the case continues. The team -- the 10 Americans, now have a new team of lawyers, three Haitian lawyers. And, also, a Dominican lawyer showed up today. He was the one in charge of putting together the Haitian team. And as he came into the courtroom, he said to us that he had in his possession documents from the Dominican government to prove that Laura Silsby and her team did have permission to take 33 children into the Dominican Republic.

He promised to show us that document at the end of the hearing. However, at the end of the hearing, he showed us no document. And, of course, what we have heard for the last several days from the Dominican Consulate in Haiti is that no such permission was ever issued to the missionaries -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Karl, how much longer might this process go on?

PENHAUL: The process with the examining judge could go on for at least two or three more months.

And then, if it moves to trial, and throughout all that investigation period, the whole process could take up to nine months, and then, of course, a sentencing period after that. And that is the big question mark. How long in jail could they face if they are convicted, Wolf?

BLITZER: What about the U.S. government, the State Department? What kind of role are they playing, if any, in this?

PENHAUL: Well, of course, Bill Clinton was in town at the end of last week. And there were rumors and, also, interpretations of some things that he had said, that he was playing some kind of intermediary role -- trying to play a broker role to get the Americans out of jail and back to the U.S.

But today, we understand the State Department has been very clear saying, no, Mr. Clinton does not need to play an intermediary role because Haitian justice is taking care of this one and any other thing that the U.S. government has to say to the Haitian government on the matter of the American missionaries will be dealt with through normal diplomatic channels.

So it seems that the U.S. government -- the State Department is saying that they, for now, will leave this matter up to Haitian justice -- up to the Haitian government -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll stay in close touch with you, Karl.

Thanks very much.

Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper are now, by the way, back in Haiti. Well check in with both of them. They'll be joining us at the top of the hour, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Iran is staring down the United Nations nuclear watchdog, declaring it will enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent. That's far from the level needed for nuclear weapons, but it is an important threshold.

CNN's Ivan Watson has been looking into that.

He's joining us now from our Iran Desk -- all right, Ivan, well exactly -- give us some context, what Iran has announced today.

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is a formal letter that it sent to the International Atomic Energy Agency saying we're going to go ahead and enrich uranium at a level of 20 percent highly enriched uranium. And this comes after months of negotiations with Western governments, where they had offered to do a fuel swap to provide that fuel to Iran.

And just days ago, the Iranian foreign minister said he was confident some kind of solution could be reached. Now Iran comes out and says, no, we're going to do it ourselves. In fact, one official being quoted saying that there were plans to establish 10 uranium enrichment facilities around Iran over the course of the next Persian year. That is a statement that some experts -- scientific experts have questioned whether Iran really has the capability to do that, Wolf.

Meanwhile, Western governments, particularly Germany and France, coming out hard, calling this a farce and saying that the time for negotiations is over, now it's time to work on sanctions against Iran.

BLITZER: Well, that's what the U.S. Government -- the Obama administration said the Iranians had until the end of last year, 2009. Well, now it's already February.

What's really behind the latest posturing from Iran, this announcement today?

WATSON: Well, Wolf, a lot of the Iran experts analysts I've been talking to have been saying, you know, this is a tried and true strategy that the Iranian government uses when it wants to deflect attention from what's going on at home. And this is a critical week. This is the 31st anniversary of the establishment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

And the opposition in Iran that we have seen coming out, braving squads of security forces using force, opening fire on crowds, arresting thousands of people, hitting people with clubs -- we've seen these images over and over again over the past eight months. And the opposition have said they're going to go into the streets this -- this week to voice their dissent -- their opposition to the government. And the Iranian government saying that will not be tolerated.

Critics saying that the -- the Iranian government is using the nuclear issue to deflect attention from internal divisions. In fact, the supreme leader of Iran, Wolf, Ayatollah Ali Khameini, he addressed an audience of uniformed military officers. He denounced the opposition, saying they were counter-revolutionaries, even though some of these leaders helped actually spark the Islamic Revolution of 1979 that overthrew the Shah of Iran.

He claimed that the enemies of Iran were using human rights issues and democracy as a ploy to weaken the Iranian state -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ivan Watson is over at the Iran Desk working this story for us. You're going to be busy in the next few weeks and months, Ivan.

This story is heating up.

A Super Bowl trophy has New Orleans feeling pretty super about itself again. The Saints give their city a huge boost.

And two feet of snow on the ground and a lot more on the way -- the Mid-Atlantic States, including Washington, DC, bracing for the next winter storm. Yes, more snow is on the way.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Super Bowl champs, the New Orleans Saints, are back home. And as quarterback Drew Brees said, "Mardi Gras may never end."

The team was greeted by crowds of ecstatic fans and the Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, this afternoon as they arrived at Louis Armstrong Airport.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us now live from New Orleans, where they're already partying big time, getting ready for a huge parade tomorrow -- Ed.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. And the bands have fired up again here on Bourbon Street once again. And all eyes toward that parade tomorrow night.

But to give you a sense of how intense the love is for the Saints, consider the ratings from last night's Super Bowl. According to the ratings, eight out of every 10 television sets in the City of New Orleans last night was tuned into the Super Bowl.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) LAVANDERA: (voice-over): This is the cure for a Bourbon Street hangover -- crews power blasting slime from the French Quarter. They cleaned up in time for the newly crowned kings of New Orleans to return home. Thousands showed up to see the Saints walk off the plane.

The Saints' victory has invigorated New Orleans. "The Times Picayune" newspaper can't print enough Super Bowl editions. The headline reads simply, "Amen."

Many Saints fans woke up on Monday asking themselves, still in disbelief, did the Saints really win the Super Bowl?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: God almighty. There ain't nothing like it in the world.

LAVANDERA: Tens of thousands descended on the French Quarter and didn't leave until the sun came up Monday morning. Even locals, who usually leave the French Quarter to the tourists -- felt the need to celebrate with each other.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm 66 years old and I've never seen them close Canal Street for a crowd like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "who dat?" (INAUDIBLE). "who dat?" "who dat?"

LAVANDERA: Overshadowed by the Saints' hoopla was the election of a new mayor in New Orleans over the weekend. Mitch Landrieu was overwhelmingly elected, with 66 percent of the vote. He's New Orleans' first white mayor since his father left the office 32 years ago. Landrieu says his first mission is to make the city's streets safer.

MITCH LANDRIEU, NEW ORLEANS MAYOR-ELECT: It was about all of us coming together to make sure that our city is safe so that we could be at peace and we can be free.

LAVANDERA: It's impossible to overstate just how much the Saints' rise to the top of the sporting world means to the city -- a team that has come to symbolize the hardship and rebirth of New Orleans. The often controversial outgoing mayor, Ray Nagin, acknowledges the Saints brought the city together in its hardest moments, when politicians could not.

(on camera): After -- and I'm sure you've talked about this a lot. But after everything this city's been through.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN (D), NEW ORLEANS: Well, you know, after Katrina, we went through our struggles. We almost died as a city, really. We should have gone bankrupt and not be where we are. But the Saints came along. And now we're focused on this -- this event that they're going to and the city has got a whole different mindset right now.


LAVANDERA: (voice-over): "who dat?" say that New Orleans is back. New Orleaneans say that, that's who.


LAVANDERA: And, Wolf, just a -- a nice moment from the airport scene today, as the head coach of the New Orleans Saints, Sean Payton, was leaving the stadium. He held the Super Bowl trophy out of the top throughout the sunroof of his car.

The crowd -- the thousands of people who had turned out at the airport this afternoon to welcome the Saints home went crazy when they saw that. So you can imagine what downtown New Orleans is going to feel like about this time tomorrow night, as the Saints celebrate their victory parade here in New Orleans -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's good to be able to report some positive, uplifting news once in a while. This is certainly one of those stories that transcends sports.

We're going to have live coverage tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM of that parade.

You're going to be part of our coverage, Ed, whether you like it or not.

We'll stay in touch with you.

I suspect Ed Lavandera will love that coverage tomorrow.

Stay with us tomorrow. You'll see what excitement in New Orleans is all about.

And, by the way, two Saints fans and CNN contributors, the New Orleans' residents, James Carville and Mary Matalin, they'll be joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM in the next hour. We'll talk about what this Super Bowl win means for them. They moved back to New Orleans from Washington.

How excited are James and Mary?

You will find out. That's coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Moving on to weather right now, here in the Washington, D.C. area -- throughout the Mid-Atlantic, I should say, millions are still digging out from a storm that dumped more than two feet of snow in a lot of places.

And guess what?

More snow is now on the way.

Let's go to our meteorologist, Chad Myers.

He's over at the CNN Weather Center -- Chad, we're bracing here in Washington, what, for 10 to 20 more inches?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. I don't think D.C. gets 20. The Weather Service there did say 10 to 20, but that Weather Service forecast area goes all the way up into Northern Maryland and all the way -- almost up to Pennsylvania. So that's the area north of D.C. that I think might get the 20.

The good news is we can see the Capitol. For a while -- for most of the weekend, we couldn't see it, with the snow flying down. The next storm is coming in from Memphis and Little Rock right now.

Look at some of these numbers. There's the winner or the loser. Colesville, Maryland with the last snow event, 40 inches of snow just from one snowfall event.

Here's the snow now, kind of coming into Memphis with a rain/snow slushy mix. It's going to slide up toward Louisville and Knoxville. And then it's going to get into DC.

There's going to be a demarcation from south of DC, into Richmond, where it's going to snow, as well, and then on up into New York City. You may only get four to maybe six inches of snow.

But somewhere, Wolf -- Philadelphia, Hagerstown, Frederik, there's going to be another 20 inch snowfall total. And if it wobble to the right a little bit and D.C. gets it, I'm going to be very afraid for some of these flat-roofed building with, what, thousands of pounds of snow now on top of them and more snow to come. Eventually, that snow -- even when it melts -- will still be very heavy. And some of those buildings, especially some of those older structures, could be in jeopardy. We have to keep watching that. If you hear the creaking or if you hear water coming in, it's time to get out of that building.

All right, let's tell you, one more thing I want to talk about right now and that's right to the north of Houston, near Cut and Shoot, Texas. A tornado warning in effect. This is not unusual for a snow event to be on one side of the storm and a tornadic event or a severe weather event to be on the south side. And when el nino comes in, Wolf, those severe weather and tornado events, they happen at night. And those are the most deadly.

BLITZER: Chad Myers is doing an excellent job for us, as he always does.

MYERS: Thank you.

BLITZER: Whenever there's a weather issue, I want to hear it from Chad. No one else, just Chad. Chad is the man.

Thanks very much for that, Chad.

MYERS: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Michael Jackson's doctor enters a plea after being charged with involuntary manslaughter in connection with the pop star's death.

And the answer is in the palm of her hand -- Sarah Palin has a cheat sheet and Jeanne Moos finds it most unusual.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: There's been a major development in the case surrounding Michael Jackson's death.

Let's go to CNN's Ted Rowlands.

He's on the scene for us -- Ted, what happened today?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, first, the district attorney in Los Angeles filed charges against Conrad Murray, the doctor that was with Michael Jackson at the time of his death -- one count of involuntary manslaughter. Murray showed up here, at the courthouse near the airport in Los Angeles, and pled not guilty. He asked for bail and was granted bail by the judge.

The prosecution wanted $300,000 worth of bail, but the judge, in the end, ruled $75,000.

So Murray is on his way. He was processed here at the courthouse and is now free to go. He'll be back here in April, where they will set a preliminary hearing in this case.

Following the preliminary hearing, if there's enough evidence, according to the judge, it will then go on to a full trial. So we're still months away from that. But a significant development in this six plus month investigation.

Also here at the courthouse, rather unexpectedly, the Jackson family showed up in force. They were inside the courtroom taking up the first two rows on the prosecution's side. And after the short hearing was over, Jermaine Jackson commented briefly about his thoughts and his family's thoughts about what's going on.



(END VIDEO CLIP) ROWLANDS: Very brief, but it speaks volumes. Very brief, obviously, Wolf. What the family was hoping for was a more severe charge, possibly second degree murder.

But in the end, after the D.A. analyzed the evidence against Murray, they decided that first -- that involuntary manslaughter was what they wanted to proceed with. And that's exactly what happened here today.

BLITZER: And there are some fascinating details that have just been released in the coroner's report, right? ROWLANDS: Yes. We've been mulling over that. And one of the things that really jumps out is the coroner's opinion about the cause of death and, specifically, Propofol. That's that strong anesthesia that Murray gave Jackson in his home. The coroner says that the way that it was used, basically, in their -- in the coroner's opinion -- was not the -- was not proper. It was used outside of clinical atmosphere and there weren't precautions in place.

One of the things about Propofol is the patient often stops breathing. And there was no mechanism in place in Jackson's home to combat that. That's mentioned in the coroner's report. Clearly, that will clearly help the prosecution as this thing moves forward.

BLITZER: Ted Rowlands, thanks very much.

Joe Jackson, by the way, Michael Jackson's father, will be on LARRY

KING LIVE tonight. It's an exclusive for Larry. You can see the interview -- the program, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

President Obama's plan for a televised bipartisan health care summit meeting with Congressional Democrats and Republicans -- is it too little too late?

Jack Cafferty up next with your e-mail.

And Sarah Palin's most unusual cheat sheet.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour, Wolf, is President Obama's plan for a televised bipartisan health care meeting too little, too late?

Jeff in Houston writes: "You heard it here first, Jack, the Republicans will back out at the last minute. The moment that they're backed into the corner by a well-spoken, educated man who actually cares about people -- other than wealthy whites -- someone who doesn't pray at the altar of money while pretending to pray at the altar of Christianity, they'll not want to attend. And besides, Obama uses all those big words they don't understand."

Lia in Florida writes: "Actually, Jack, this is a brilliant idea. Instead of rumors, grapevine guessing or blatant lies passed through the mainstream media and Congressional Web sites, the public will get to witness for themselves just who's looking out for whom. It should prove to be an eye-opener for party die-hards on both sides." Steve writes: "Of course it's too late. If our president and Congressional leaders really wanted to have an openly debated, negotiated health care bill, they could have and they would have done it. This is all just political theater. What a bunch of nonsense."

Marion writes from Alabama: "How can the Republicans -- Republicans debate when they've been shut out of all the meetings and behind door secret deals and briberies for votes?" Steve in Philadelphia: "It's just another P.R. stunt from the propaganda machine. Obama got caught in a campaign lie and now they're trying to mend the wound."

And Sachincko writes: "Jack, no matter how you phrase the question, it's still better to have a president who's trying to do something than one who does nothing. No matter how late in the game health care reform is done, it will be just in time to save someone's life. And that person will be thankful for reform, even if you and your Republican friends are not."

If you want to read more on this, you can go to my blog at -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jack.

Thank you.

By the way, there's another way for you to follow what's going on behind-the-scenes here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can go to Twitter. You can get my Tweets at -- wolfblitzercnn all one word.

Sarah Palin's sleight of hand at the weekend's Tea Party Convention -- Jeanne Moos tells us about her Moost Unusual place for crib notes.

Also, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: A Moost Unusual cheat sheet -- you might say Sarah Palin had Tea Partiers in the palm of her hand at the weekend convention in Nashville.

CNN's Jeanne Moos explains.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: (voice-over): Asked about the future, Sarah Palin resorted to palm reading...


MOOS: Her own palm. It was a short list that went a long way. Newspapers and blogs called it her "handy helper," "hand jibe," Hand Gate." UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean who writes notes on their hands?

I thought that was a childhood thing?


MOOS: More like reminding. The words on her palm were "energy," "tax cuts," "lift American spirits." She sure lifted the spirits of critics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you can't answer the question, "what are your priorities," without reading the palm of your hands, maybe you're not the best leader to be leading people.

MOOS: When asked to name her top three things to get done, watch her go to the hand to remember energy.

PALIN: We've got to start reining in the spending. We have got to jump start these energy projects.

MOOS: This after she just finished mocking President Obama.

PALIN: A charismatic guy with the teleprompter.

MOOS: Soon her hand was dubbed the "palm prompter" and the "telepalmer."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twelve things Sarah Palin wrote on her hand. Number one, "left."


MOOS (on camera): This was a case where the right hand didn't know what the left hand was saying.

(voice-over): The right kind of handy list?

Pick up eggs, milk, bananas and some lunch meat.

(on camera): Have you ever written on your hand anything?

Like what do you write on your...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not since 5th grade.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Equations. Equations in school...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- formulas for math. You know, sometimes you forget.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did that one time for, one time, a speech. I did it for myself (INAUDIBLE)... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In second grade?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Like, exactly. I was like for a poem and people thought I was cheating.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It shows, to me, that she's really trying.

MOOS: And talk about a prophetic impersonation -- almost two- and-a-half years ago, these two played anchor Charlie Gibson interviewing Sarah Palin.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Putin is the prime minister of Russia.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a cheat sheet on your hand?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This -- this, Charlie, is the hand that's shaken John McCain's hand.


MOOS: The real Palin is letting her hand speak for itself.

(on camera): But Sarah Palin didn't just sanitize the evidence -- she rewrote it. She showed up a day later beside the governor of Texas with "hi, mom" written on her palm, poking at critics. In the words of one supporter, "I like the way she likes to screw with their stupid heads."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Number three, when in doubt, wink.


MOOS: Now that's something the left wing and the right can applaud.

Careful, we wouldn't want this kind of behavior to rub off.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news -- a shocking new rescue in Haiti almost four weeks after the earthquake. We're learning more about how this man survived. CNN's Anderson Cooper and our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta -- they are now back on the ground in Haiti reporting for us. Stand by. We're going there live.

Another breaking story we're following right now, Toyota is set to recall thousands and thousands of Prius hybrids. This hour, new information Toyota owners need to know right now.

And New Orleans may keep celebrating right through Mardi Gras. We've been talking a lot about the Saints' Super Bowl win and what it means for the city. But no one can quite describe what it feels like, like our own James Carville and Mary Matalin. They both live in New Orleans.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.