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THE SITUATION ROOM
Quarantined In Haiti: Tuberculosis Risk Is High In Tent Cities; Unemployment Racial Divide; Out in the Military; Tough QB in a Tender Moment
Aired February 13, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, HOST: Quarantine in Haiti, tuberculosis is a threat to quake victims right now. Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Anderson Cooper are following up on personal and painful stories in the disaster zone.
Plus, African-American leaders confront the president about the jobs crisis for minority workers. This hour, their relationship with the Obama White House and whether they expect any special treatment.
And New Orleans celebrates its 'Super Bowl" win. And the city's comeback after Katrina; James Carville and Mary Matalin give us a VIP look at the parade to honor the Saints victory of the "Who Dat?" nation.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Suzanne Malveaux. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
At this time of year, the people of Haiti would normally be celebrating Carnival, but instead of partying their rebuilding, struggling to put together their shattered country and their shattered lives. CNN is dedicated to bringing you their stories long after many other reporters have left. Our Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta, they went back to Haiti this week, and Wolf Blitzer spoke with them about the challenges ahead.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "AC 360": We were out with UNICEF today, as they, and many other aid groups, like Save The Children, International Red Cross, are trying to figure out ways to figure out how many kids have been orphaned, and what will happen to those kids. It is a very complex task.
But the clock is ticking because with more people moving out to the countryside to get out of this city, as the government here has asked them to, that means families are even more spread apart and kids who may be lost, or separated, from their loved ones, it is going to be that much harder to find them.
So we were out with the team today, several teams from UNICEF, who are basically going through these tent cities, where up to half a million people are living in Port-au-Prince right now. And just trying to get their hands around just how many kids really there are out there who may be orphaned, or who may have extended family that could be able to take care of them in the weeks and months and years ahead.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Sanjay, update us on that amazing recovery, that rescue, a young man, 27 days, we believe he was in some sort of rubble-and, and, he's he's alive?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. There is no question about it. We got an update today. Sometimes a second day can even be more challenging medically than the first day. You have to replace fluids, make sure that he doesn't develop kidney failure, heart failure or something as a result of the resuscitation. But he's doing well. He is stable. According to the doctors still a little bit confused by all that has happened to him certainly. But starting to eat food, as well; he was asking a lot for chocolate for some reason and the nurses were giving him chocolate today. And he was able to keep that down. It sounds like things will be constantly improving for him.
I will say exactly what happened to him, all the details of all this are a little murky because he's confused. And as Anderson and I have talked about some of these other survival stories, we may never know all the details exactly of what happened here. One of the things he said that was pretty haunting to me was that he heard bulldozers coming in around him, excavating lots. And he thought that maybe his lot was going to be next, just one of those really haunting things to hear. But we are in a search and recovery mode, not a search and rescue mode, as you know, Wolf.
BLITZER: I want to ask both of you, I know you've been back for a day or two since coming back here to the States, have you had a chance, Sanjay, and Anderson, first to Sanjay, to get an update on some of those personal stories you reported on the first two weeks after this earthquake? How some of the people are actually doing right now? Sanjay, you performed surgery on some of them, as all of our viewers will recall.
GUPTA: Yeah, no, I have. I'll tell you, like Anderson, I really couldn't stop thinking about some of this even when we went home for a few days. There was a 12-year-old girl who I performed surgery on, and I was worried about her for some time certainly before the operation. The operation went well. But, you know, it is one of these situations we hear over and over again, was she an orphan? Where would she go after she recovered?
But interestingly enough, and I don't know if I told you, but viewers were watching from Canada and actually one of the viewers turned out to be her aunt. And they actually are back in touch and the aunt was able to get a hold of this girl, her name is Kimberly, get a hold of Kimberly's father. And hopefully they'll be reunited this week. That was a good story and hopefully a positive outcome for her.
BLITZER: And Anderson what about you?
COOPER: We're hoping to get in touch again with Monli (ph), the little boy that was rescued from the rubble, according to his uncle eight days after the earthquake. We haven't been able to find him yet today. He's in a camp. We know where we believe he is. We're going over there tomorrow.
And also, of course, the 13-year-old girl we saw being rescued, first morning, the morning after the earthquake. She had been concerned, she broke her leg, she didn't break her leg. We saw her about a week or so after the earthquake and she was doing well. She lost ten members of her family. So obviously there is emotionally a lot going on. But we hope to get back in touch with her.
There are so many people here who you come across who just you recognize from being out on the street. There is a guy who has been living in the park behind us now for all this time, who, you know, I see him every couple of days. And we talk and check up on how he's doing. But it is, you know, as you know, Wolf, it is all around. Half a million people or so homeless right now in the streets of Port- au-Prince.
MALVEAUX: And a big concern for quake survivors right now is the spread of diseases through cramped tent cities. Dr. Gupta took a closer look at the threat of tuberculosis.
GUPTA: There is something happening here in these blue tents behind me. I can tell you what is happening inside there could impact people all over the world. Think of this as a quarantine tent. People in here have been quarantined since the quake. Many of them have tuberculosis, which is why we wear a mask like this. You'll notice the door is open. If you stay 10 feet away from someone with tuberculosis, you'll be OK. And sunlight kills the bacteria as well. Once you go inside, you have to wear a mask like this. Let's go meet some of the patients.
This is Syndia. She is 20 years old. We have spoken to her already. Take a look at her, she's obviously had a lot of difficulty since the quake. She lost her home. She also lost her medications which puts her at high risk of developing drug resistant tuberculosis.
How are you feeling?
SYNDIA LAURLENE, QUARANTINED TB PATIENT (ON SCREEN TRANSLATION): I don't feel well.
GUPTA: There is a lot of things doctors pay attention to. With Syndia, she definitely has some sweating. It is hot outside, but the sweating is a little more than that. Also the sweats often occur at night. Her lips are so chapped as well. You can see just form the dehydration. But hard to tell, but she's breathing quite quickly, seems to have a little bit of difficulty breathing. Tuberculosis is a disease of the lungs.
What really brought her in here was this dramatic loss of weight. Look at her arms. She lost so much weight. Malnutrition, difficulty eating that often happens as well. A lot of these patients, including Syndia, say after the earthquake they lost so many things including her home, and also her medication. So she couldn't take her medications for a period of time.
What is the risk there?
DR. MEGAN COFFEE, UCSF DIV. OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES: There are two big risks. One, of course, we worry about the most is developing multidrug resistance. She may be taking only one med that is working for TB, and she might then develop resistance to all the other meds. And then, she might be more infectious because TB can grow back. And most of the patients here are living in tent cities, where they're sleeping nose to nose, with their families with hundreds of thousands of other people sleeping nose to nose with them, is there a chance of spreading it and spreading it.
GUPTA: People think of Haiti as over there, some place else, not here. London, New York, Atlanta, San Francisco, do people need to be worried about what is happening in this tent?
COFFEE: Over time, this is going to grow and grow, if we allow TB to grow in Haiti. People are going to travel, people are going to be infected, even workers like us here. And that can really spread to Miami and New York City and eventually to San Francisco and the Southeast. And we really do not wish to have multidrug resistance. It is something even in the U.S. we can't treat well. It would be terrible if we had that spread.
SK Where will you go after you leave here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn't know.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She doesn't have a house to go to.
GUPTA: What happens to someone like Syndia. Is she, medically, from a medical standpoint is she going to be OK?
COFFEE: I hope so. If the right infrastructure is in place, she has totally treatable diseases in the U.S. And right now I know I can treat all of her diseases.
GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, Port-au-Prince, Haiti.
MALVEAUX: Over a month after the failed Christmas bomb attack there are now new complaints about the politics of fear. Are lawmakers engaged in finger pointing, putting our security at risk? We're going to hear from two House members who are very influential on terror issues.
And the first TV interview with an openly gay serviceman since he was called back to his unit. Does 1st Lieutenant Dan Choi see a difference now that "don't ask, don't tell" is likely to end?
And the most moving moment for the Super Bowl MVP, a father, a son and a New Orleans style celebration.
MALVEAUX: The White House is resisting calls by Republican lawmakers for the president's top counterterrorism aid to step down. Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan is under fire for the administration's handling of the suspect in the attempted Christmas bomb attack. Now Brennan has fired back accusing his critics of playing politics with national security.
Wolf spoke this week with two lawmakers who are influential in the debate over terror. Democrat Jane Harman and Republican Peter Hoekstra. Hoekstra explained why he thinks the president should fire Brennan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER HOEKSTRA, (R-MI) INTELLIGENCE CMTE.: I think that, you know, over the last two days I think that this White House staffer, he's crossed the line. What he said on the Sunday morning shows attacking Republicans was uncalled for, and then following that up with an op-ed piece that, again, attacked Republicans and said we're actually providing comfort to Al Qaeda.
What the -- what this White House individual is forgetting is that, you know, Chuck Schumer said the trial of KSM in New York City is a mistake. Arlen Specter came out this week and said that the Christmas Day bomber should have been Mirandized. This is Republicans and Democrats who both have very specific critiques of this administration. We can debate public policy. We don't have to make it personal.
You know, Jane is with us tonight. Jane and I have worked together for years. We have had strong disagreements in the past. We have never made it personal.
BLITZER: All right. Go ahead, you could make it personal if you want, Jane.
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, are you asking for my response, Wolf?
BLITZER: Yes. He says that John Brennan should be fired. I assume you don't want him fired.
HARMAN: That's right, I don't. Peter and I have worked closely over the years, we have had our disagreements and a few weeks of not speaking to each other, but we have always made up like an old married couple, and worked on keeping our country safer.
I think the war of words is not going to keep our country safer. I said for years that the terrorists won't check our party registration before they blow us up. And John Brennan is somebody that Peter and I have known for years. He was the first head of the National Counterterrorism Center, did very well there. He worked at the CIA for 25 years. I think he's doing an admirable job in the White House.
And what we should be thinking about now are ways to improve our ability to do intelligence well, and the message that all this squabbling is sending to hard-working people in austere places around the world, who are getting a lot of this right. Let's understand in the last week or so the Taliban, in the tribal areas of Pakistan, has admitted that we have taken out its leader, Massoud, who was partly responsible for the suicide bombing that killed seven CIA operatives in Afghanistan.
We're doing better with this. And we shouldn't demoralize and create risk aversion by the people who are out there working by creating a circus in Washington.
BLITZER: What he did say on the Sunday show, Congressman Hoekstra, John Brennan, specifically that was not accurate?
HOEKSTRA: Well, what he did is he totally mischaracterized what happened on Christmas Day saying that he briefed the four leading Republicans in the House and the Senate on, you know, the -- what happened with Farouk, the Christmas Day bomber, and that clearly Republicans knew that this guy was an FBI custody, that he was going to be Mirandized, even though he did not specifically outline that for us.
BLITZER: Did he call you that day?
HOEKSTRA: I talked to him on Christmas night.
BLITZER: Did he tell you the FBI arrested him?
HOEKSTRA: He said that this guy was in custody. He talked a little bit about the attack on Christmas Day. And that this guy was being questioned. And that was about it. He did not --
BLITZER: Let me press you press you on that Congressman Hoekstra, if he tells you the FBI has him in custody, can't you just assume he's been Mirandized?
HOEKSTRA: No, you can't. Because actually when the Obama administration was talking about setting up this high-value interrogation unit what they said, as they were setting that up, is they said this would be led by the FBI, the high-value interrogation group would decide whether this person would be Mirandized or not, and whether this person would then be going through the civilian process, or be put into a military tribunal.
So that kind of variability, even under FBI control is something that that administration was saying the high-value interrogation group would have the discretion to do.
BLITZER: Congresswoman Harman, hold your thought for a moment, because I want to take a break. But very quickly, when he said the FBI has him in custody, did you specifically ask him about whether or not he had been Mirandized?
HOEKSTRA: You're talking to me?
BLITZER: Yes. On that phone call, when John Brennan told you and told you he was in FBI custody, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, did you ask whether he had been read his Miranda rights?
HOEKSTRA: No, I did not.
BLITZER: Was that a mistake?
HOEKSTRA: Now in hindsight, now that john Brennan is saying that, you know, that we had that discussion, there are lots of questions that I had that night that were not answered. It was a very quick, cursory overview. And then, as john Brennan said himself, on Sunday, we will stay in touch with you, Congressman, as we move forward.
BLITZER: Most Americans, according to this Quinnipiac University poll, Congresswoman Harman, agree with Congressman Hoekstra on this issue, the Christmas Day bombing suspect should be tried as an enemy combatant, 76 percent say he should be. Only 19 percent say he should be tried as an ordinary criminal, which is what the Obama administration wants to do. Who's right?
HARMAN: Well, I think this argument is really foolish, Wolf. Let me explain why. We missed an opportunity right after 9/11 to put a very clear set of rules around interrogations and detentions of all of these folks arrested after that date. We missed it. And we have been in a hodgepodge system ever since. This man was arrested on U.S. soil and every single case of someone arrested on U.S. soil means that he goes into the criminal justice system. There was not just an FBI, but an FBI/CIA --
BLITZER: So, you're in the minority.
HARMAN: I think it is a phony argument.
BLITZER: You're in the 19 percent.
HARMAN: No, but let me respond to some of the things that he is saying.
BLITZER: Hold on, hold on. I just want to let Pete Hoekstra respond to that. You're in the majority, 76 percent. But I take it that he was treated, Abdulmutallab, exactly the way the Richard Reid, the shoe bomber, was treated.
HARMAN: Yes, right.
BLITZER: He was read his Miranda rights within minutes and went to criminal court. Let me let Congressman Hoekstra respond to that. Were you complaining at the time of the Bush administration's handling of these domestically arrested terrorists?
HOEKSTRA: I think that's exactly -- you identify exactly the problem, Wolf. Richard Reid was treated that way there was no alternatives. Since that time, Congress passed legislation that would allow the Christmas Day bomber, that there would be a decision that could be made that would put him into military custody. That way we could have had more thorough investigations. He would not have had the, you know, the right to stay silent. He would not have had the right to an attorney while he was being investigated.
HARMAN: That is not correct.
HOEKSTRA: We could have gotten more valuable information that perhaps would have been actionable and we could have done things in Yemen, going after Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula. We missed opportunities.
BLITZER: To be continued. Unfortunately, we're losing your satellite connection right now. But I promise, both of you will be back to continue this conversation.
MALVEAUX: In my family's hometown, New Orleans, they're saying, "Who dat?" That is because the Saints won the "Super Bowl" and the party is still going on. Our James Carville and Mary Matalin are residents in the middle of all of it, and they talked to Louisiana's governor and its senator, out partying. And of course, we'll get to them.
And why is the unemployment rate for African-Americans nearly twice as high as whites? It angers the Reverend Al Sharpton, so he's demanding action from President Obama. Sharpton is here to explain.
MALVEAUX: Well to hear someone say "Who Dat?" it is probably someone celebrating the New Orleans Saints. Their Super Bowl win set off one of the biggest parties ever in New Orleans. Now the Saints came marching in to a heroes' welcome at the recent parade, while Wolf Blitzer was here, our CNN contributors and New Orleans residents, James Carville, Mary Matalin, were there along with some very special VIPs.
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST (On camera): We got a VIP with us here, Mary. Want to introduce the VIP sitting next to you?
MARY MATALIN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Not only our senator, she is the sister of our new mayor, the oldest of the nine Landrieu children, here in the parish presidents box. We have been talking about that this isn't just for the city, it is for the whole region.
Mary, are these -
SEN. MARY LANDRIEU, (D) LOUISIANA: These are all the parish presidents because this celebration isn't just for New Orleans, not just for the region, not just for the Gulf Coast, but for the whole nation. And maybe even the world, Mary. We have been getting messages from people all around the world. The ambassador of the Netherlands just called me.
People are just, you know, the underdog has won. The city is coming back and you and James have been phenomenal, just phenomenal.
MATALIN: What do you think of our mayor?
LANDRIEU: He's great. You all, you know, people kept saying he was going to win by a lot. I thought he would win. But this is truly a mandate, you know, 66 percent. He carried every precinct and almost every neighborhood in the city. And I'm so proud of the city because they passed a vote for unity, they passed a vote for their future, I think Washington could learn a little bit about this kind of feel good, get along, and do it for the people. (AUDIO GAP)
MATALIN: What are you looking for tonight, Senator?
LANDRIEU: Oh, my goodness, I just want these men on this team to know how much the city is so grateful for their leadership. I tell you, Drew Brees makes everybody here so proud, the way he articulates what we have been through, and what it is worth fighting for. This city isn't just for us, it is for the whole country, it is one of the most important places, the wetlands we have been trying to preserve, building the port, and securing the protection of the city. And these men have articulated this for us in a way. And Rita Benson, what can we say? And the Benson family?
MATALIN: Yes, the Benson family, as you all know up there has been instrumental. That's a big turning point. The other emotional moment was when the team came back -- that was a big moment for you, James.
MATALIN: I'm interviewing my own husband.
CARVILLE: Now, look at this. We've got everybody over here, we got Republicans from Lafayette. We got Democrats, the whole -- everybody in the state is up here.
MATALIN: All the parish presidents. It is all happening right here.
CARVILLE: We are-it is very important to remember we have 1.2 million people, I know there is many out here tonight or more.
MATALIN: We have legislators from Shreveport, from Monroe, that drove down. This is a celebration for the whole state. And the "Who Dat?" nation.
CARVILLE: Who dat?
MATALIN: Who dat?
CARVILLE: We have the governor general here. Governor, how does it feel to be the governor of the state of the "Super Bowl" champions?
GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) LOUISIANA: Let me tell you we have been waiting 43 years. There must be pigs flying somewhere. New Orleans deserves this. Louisiana waited so long for this. Having the world champion football team has been so great for this city, so great for this region, gives us a chance to show the world we're building back better than we were pre-Katrina, better schools, better hospitals, more jobs.
I'm so proud of these guys on the field and off the field. They have been involved in rebuilding New Orleans. What a great message to the entire world, New Orleans is back, Louisiana is building back better than we were pre-Katrina.
CARVILLE: That's wonderful to hear. And also the regional support, the statewide support here is unbelievable.
JINDAL: You have mayors here from all over the state. You have fans from Shreveport, Northwest, Northeast, Southwest Louisiana, we have fans from the Gulf Coast. You said it best, if you weren't from Indiana and you weren't rooting for the Saints, something was wrong with you. Everybody in the country was rooting for the Saints.
CARVILLE: Governor, I've got one of our mayors here. The mayor of Baton Rouge, my good friend, Mayor Kip Holden.
MAYOR KIP HOLDEN, BATON ROUGE, LA.: Good to see you.
CARVILLE: We got a lot of "Who dats?" in Baton Rouge?
HOLDEN: A lot of "Who Dats". Everything has been shut down. People have been partying. The flags are flying around the governmental building. It is a great time for Baton Rouge and the state.
CARVILLE: You know, Wolf, I want to make one point, our three largest cities, Baton Rouge, Shreveport and New Orleans are now governed by racial minorities within those cities. We have the first Indian governor in the United States, I pointed out, the first Vietnamese congressman; Louisiana is a state that you did a job and you can get elected here. It is wonderful.
JINDAL: And all three of those mayors want to have the Saints come do parade their cities. What's great it is not about Democrat, Republican, black or white, it is about Louisiana first.
MATALIN: I'm about to ask a serious question: Did either of you ever think that you would see Mr. Benson dancing?
HOLDEN: He's better than me. He's found more rhythm than me. I'm going back to practice. JINDAL: I want to thank the Bensons for their commitment, keeping the Saints here. They're helping to redevelop part of downtown New Orleans. It is not just about a football team, it is rebuilding New Orleans. They made a commitment to come back to the Dome, rebuild the Dome better than it was before.
MATALIN: (INAUDIBLE) corridor.
JINDAL: $2 billion in the VA/LSU Tulane Hospital, state of the art. It is going to be the best most modern health care facility in the entire world, right here in New Orleans. We have more of our kids in charter schools than any other major city in America. I'm telling you, New Orleans is coming back better than we were pre-Katrina. Saints are just the latest example of that, better health care, better schools, more jobs, one of the best economies in the country. The Saints show that we're coming back.
MALVEAUX: Congratulations, Saints.
Well a tough quarterback and a tender moment. Jeanne Moos shows us the "Super Bowl" super dad Drew Brees.
Plus, the super snow event of 2010, the best images from our iReporters.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Don Lemon at the CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. I want to give you a look of your Top Stories right now.
Some 15,000 U.S. Marines, NATO forces and Afghan troops are fighting to take a Taliban stronghold in Afghanistan - Southern Afghanistan down. Officials say at least five Taliban fighters, a U.S. Marine and a British soldier have been killed.
The ground offensive was launched earlier today in Marjah. The mission is crucial. It's critical to defeating the Taliban since much of the area's opium profits pay for weapons for militants.
Eight people are dead, another 33 wounded in an apparent terror attack in India. This happened in the western city of Pune, near New Delhi. Witnesses say explosives were packed in a bag and left in a very busy eatery. This is the most significant terrorist incident in the area in more than a year.
A Harvard trained biology professor has been charged with capital murder in the shooting death of three colleagues. Amy Bishop is accused of shooting six people at a faculty meeting yesterday at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. The other three are hospitalized, one is in critical condition. Bishop had been teaching at the university since 2003 and was reportedly up for tenure. Investigators are still piecing together a motive. This is "We are the World 2010" an all-star tribute to raise money for Haiti, and almost everybody - anybody who's anybody is singing in it, even Michael Jackson. We're going to show you the video in its entirety in our 7:00 hour - the top of the hour right here on CNN. You don't want to miss that.
I'm Don Lemon. THE SITUATION ROOM continues right now.
MALVEAUX: President Obama met with African-American leaders at the White House this week for an Urban Economy Summit. Now, one of the top issues, the astounding racial divide in unemployment. In a moment, Wolf Blitzer will talk with the Reverend Al Sharpton. He was at that White House meeting.
But first, CNN's Lisa Sylvester looks at the raw numbers.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a story that you can really tell by taking a look at the numbers, and I want to show you this. First, the unemployment rate for the nation is at 9.7 percent, but it's really interesting when you take and you break this down racially.
Let's take a look at this first. We want to bring up for whites. Here it is three years ago, 2008, 4.4 percent. As of January, 2010, last month, 8.7 percent. That's bad, but not as bad as Latinos. Here, take a look at this - 6.4 percent, January of 2008, now at 12.6 percent.
But when you take a look at African-Americans, and this is what is so telling here, they started off at 9.2 percent back in 2008, that's the unemployment rate, and now it's at 16.5 percent as of January. And this is the disparity that people are talking about. We're going to leave that up there right now and we're going to take and bring it back.
Take a look at whites and African-Americans side by side - 16.5 percent for African-Americans, 8.7 percent. It's nearly twice as high for African-Americans, and that's what the story is all about. And that's why there's concern by Reverend Al Sharpton and some others in the black community, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Lisa, thanks very much. Let's bring in the Reverend Al Sharpton. He's the founder and president of the National Action Network. He was over at the White House for the meeting with the president today.
Reverend Sharpton, thanks for coming in.
REV. AL SHARPTON, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Thank you.
BLITZER: Why does this disparity still exist?
SHARPTON: I think many reasons. You have the structural inequality historically, but you also have a mixture of the problems right now. First fired, last hired, some of the unions not being fair.
What we wanted to do today, Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, Ben Jealous of the NAACP and I, in meeting with the president was say that labor leaders and business leaders have been part of the discussion, civil rights leaders need to be a part of the discussion.
BLITZER: What did he tell you?
SHARPTON: He says I want to make sure all Americans have an opportunity. I don't want anyone excluded. I'm not looking for a specific race-based program, but I'm not looking to make us as a government insensitive to the fact that we've got to make it fair and an even playing field for everyone.
BLITZER: Are you happy with what you heard?
SHARPTON: I - not only were we happy and encouraged that he continues a commitment to fairness across the board, I think it sets a tone now that everyone's at the table.
We need to talk with union leaders as we create jobs and make sure the unions are not discriminatory. We need to talk to business leaders. There's enough of this conversation that needs to be shared with all.
BLITZER: But is there anything specific he promised you that would help remove this enormous gap between unemployed white people and unemployed black people?
SHARPTON: The question was not to raise a specific request to the president other than that we want to be in the discussion as we deal with this jobs bill. We're going to the Senate leaders, Republican and Democrat now, and we want to be in the conversation as they work through the bills in the conferences.
The president has created a spirit of we've got to create jobs, I want to make sure it's fair. He cannot be the labor leader or the civil rights leader or the business leader. He must be the president. We all must represent our -
BLITZER: -- there are still black leaders, intellectuals and others who are disappointed in this president.
SHARPTON: Well, I think that what - we are not disappointed. I think what we are saying is we've been disappointed in those that have been the obstructionists on Capitol Hill against all job programs and that we think the president must be supported in creating jobs. We just make sure those jobs go to everybody.
If we get an even playing field, when the rubber meets the road, we want to make sure that everybody's in the car. BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about this - this gap. Sixteen percent unemployment for African-Americans, 8% for white Americans. What's wrong with doing something special to try to help African-Americans? Why would the president not want to do that?
SHARPTON: Well, first of all, I don't think the president - we didn't ask or address that in a specific context when you have a bill sitting there.
BLITZER: Well, is there something wrong with that, if there's such a gap?
SHARPTON: Just - no - I don't think there's anything wrong at all with dealing with those things. I'm telling you what the discussion was. I think that discussion has to happen when you get into the Senate, when you get into the Congress, where the bill is going to be and you see the ability to pass the bill.
I think what people are trying to do is ask the president to do something that is going to have to come out of the legislative branch in terms of how do they deal with the structural inequality. If the president says I want to make sure every American is treated fairly, that's all we can ask of him.
What we need to ask the legislative branch is how do we deal with that structural inequality and how do we protect ourselves, and this can happen from justice, with the executive branch, from discrimination policy from some of the people around the table.
BLITZER: How - you were once a Democratic presidential candidate. How worried are you about these upcoming midterm elections and the beating, potentially, Democrats could take?
SHARPTON: I'm concerned about it, but I'm even more concerned that we have - it seems some Republicans that are just on this obstructionist mission to vote no on everything this president or anything the Democrats raise, including a jobs bill. And that's not even about black unemployment, that's about anyone's unemployment.
They're voting against their own proposals, and I think that we have put the whole government in a state of paralysis and I think we've got to break that grip - before we get to November, we've got to deal with after the recess. They've got to stop the paralysis of government. People in all communities are needing to have their employment dealt with and need to be able to feed their families.
These people come to Washington, yell "no" and go and say vote for me because I'm blocking the Democrats.
BLITZER: Bad weather in Washington. Didn't stop Al Sharpton from showing up.
SHARPTON: I thought I'd come down to help melt some of the snow.
BLITZER: (INAUDIBLE) shovel with you (ph). OK. Thanks very much, Rev. Sharpton, for coming in.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
MALVEAUX: He's an openly gay soldier battling to end the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy. Lieutenant Dan Choi is in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Plus, a frosty edition of Hot Shots. Our iReporters capture the best of the blizzard of 2010.
MALVEAUX: Army National Guard Lieutenant Dan Choi returned to his unit for drills last weekend. Now, what makes this so remarkable is that Choi is openly gay and currently being processed for discharge under the military's "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy.
Well, the West Point graduate and Iraq war veteran is an outspoken advocate for lifting the ban on gays serving openly and he talked about it with Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: Lieutenant Dan Choi is joining us now from New York. Thanks very much for coming in.
LT. DAN CHOI, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD: Great to be here with you.
BLITZER: Your commander all of a sudden says to you, come on in, you could drill with your guard unit over the weekend. Was that the first time in how long that happened?
CHOI: Well, it's been a while. The last time that I'd been with my unit was a few months ago, last year, and essentially my commander says we're going to war and we need all of the capable soldiers that we could get to train with us.
There were critical skills that we had to train on. We had rifle marksmanship. We had to shoot our rifles and qualify. We had combat life saver, first aid training. All those were important things, and they needed everybody that was capable and willing to go.
I said, well, this is, for me, a responsibility. And the amazing thing about it, I know that - I was in Washington, D.C. about a week ago during the - the hearings, and I was on some of the news programs, and there were some people who said, look, if you allow gay people to serve openly in their units, then everybody's just going to quit and there's going to be just mass resignations. People are going to be so uncomfortable, we're going to need to get a draft, and I - I laughed very hard when I realized that some people were actually serious about that. Well, I reported to drill the next day, and - there was a lot of snow on the ground, but we laced up our boots and we got to qualifying on our weapons.
BLITZER: And we got some video and, see, got some pictures of you wearing your uniform. How did that feel to be back in uniform?
CHOI: It felt great, and it was like a homecoming. I mean, I got to say thank you to a lot of my soldiers who wrote character statements for me. We collected almost 500,000 character statements and signatures saying don't fire Lieutenant Choi, and I was very grateful. I got to see some of them.
And, well, the thing that - that I found the most amazing was so many people just wanted to come up to me and tell me about, you know, their gay brother or that they're OK with gay people or they know gay people and it's so great. And it really opened up the conversation.
BLITZER: Was anyone - was anyone -
CHOI: People were allowed to be honest.
BLITZER: Was anyone hostile or seemingly uncomfortable?
CHOI: Absolutely not. And here's the thing. When you assume that people would do that, when you assume that people would be uncomfortable and quit, you are insulting soldiers in the most treacherous way.
I can't believe there are people that are saying a soldier would quit. You want to insult a soldier in the worst way, tell him he's going to quit. Call him a quitter.
BLITZER: Is there a connection in your mind between what the president said in his State of the Union Address when he said that the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy should be repealed, the subsequent statements from the Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mullen, and the decision all of a sudden from your commander to call you back to drill?
CHOI: Well, Wolf, even today, right now, the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy is looming over my head. I could get fired right after I walk off the set here. I - I still have not been an exception to a policy. I'm just serving my country.
And I wanted to make this very clear, that for me this has very little to do with, you know, the statements that people can make or political timetables has even very little to do with civil rights. It has everything to do with my responsibility. Wolf, I made a promise. I said, if I get kicked out and the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" happens, I'd be the first one in that recruiting station.
Well, I've been called back. I'm getting ready to deploy if - if need be, and I have met my part of the bargain, and I still have my promise. "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" hasn't been repealed yet and I'm going to continue speaking out. BLITZER: All right.
CHOI: I want to send a message to all the senators and the Congress that I'm watching them, and my promise remains. I will hold everyone accountable until we can, as Admiral Mullen said, have an organization and an institution that lives by those values of integrity.
BLITZER: Is yours an isolated incident where your commander who may be sympathetic to you called you back? Have you heard any other stories of other openly gay members who have been on - in the process of being discharged all of a sudden were told, you know what? Come on back. Come on back to the United States Military?
CHOI: Well, Wolf, I think the heart of the matter here is that we are at war right now, and there are people that are openly gay in their units right now, and for people to say that a - a statement or politicians that are saying certain things is the reason why there's certain people that are looking the other way, I think that's absolutely not true. Gay people have been serving openly for years and for decades.
BLITZER: But have others who were in the process of being discharged like you, have they been told by their commanders, come on back for the time being?
CHOI: I know of some. I know of some of them that are out there and there's a lot of people that are in their units that I - I think they realize, look, we're in a time of war. We got to have everybody that we can get.
BLITZER: And - and is this the - do you - do you give the president and the secretary of Defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs some credit, if you will, for opening up this policy or allowing you to come back to you're unit?
CHOI: Well, the heart of the matter is exactly as Admiral Mullen said. People should not have to live a lie. It is a matter of integrity.
But nothing has been done yet. There is absolutely nothing -
BLITZER: But your commander -
CHOI: -- of substance there (ph).
BLITZER: But your commander told you to come back to drill after months of telling you to stay away. All of a sudden, after these guys speak out, you're back in uniform. I'm trying to get you to tell me if you think that there was a connection to what the president of the United States said.
CHOI: I think we realized that the president has made his intent very clear. I think we're all waiting for the full repeal to happen.
You know, Wolf, what I'm most interested in is I see this in terms not of political statements or - or policy changes necessarily. I - I look at it in terms of history.
I mean, can you believe that only 60 years ago I wouldn't have been able to serve in my unit because I'm an American who happens to be of Asian descent? And now, think about the future generations. They're going to look back at us and say, wow, really? You guys were forcing people to lie in order to serve their country in 2010? Because there - there are patriotic Americans who just happen to be gay.
BLITZER: We'll leave it on that note. Lieutenant, thanks very much for coming in.
CHOI: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Lieutenant Dan Choi of the United States Military.
MALVEAUX: A super dad at the Super Bowl, MVP quarterback Drew Brees kissed victory, then gave kisses that no parent could forget.
And the snowfall across several states is not just for the record books but also for the photo books. Wait until you see our Hot Shots, the Wicked Winter Edition.
MALVEAUX: The New Orleans Saints Super Bowl win was sweet for the team and sweet for the city, but it was quarterback Drew Brees' most unusual and special moment with his son that has everybody talking.
Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was one of the most memorable plays of the game, the winning quarterback playing catch the confetti with his son. Sort of made those ETrade baby commercials forgettable.
Saints quarterback Drew Brees cradled his son instead of a football, eyes brimming.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Guys - guys, that's what it's all about, Drew Brees with his son.
MOOS: And his mascara, otherwise known as eye black, didn't even run.
Brees could be seen mouthing the words, "I love you, little man," as he later told Letterman.
DREW BREES, SAINTS QUARTERBACK: I'm telling him the whole time just how much I love him and I'm just telling him, you know, little boy, you just don't even know what you're experiencing right now. MOOS: Little Baylen Brees drove the ladies gaga.
SHERRI SHEPHERD, THE VIEW CO-PANELIST: With his baby. Oh!
DAVID LETTERMAN, CBS LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: There you are and your son on the cover of "Sports Illustrated". How about that?
MOOS: Baylen was watching with mom in the Green Room as dad passed with Letterman after a less graceful pass reception. Floor manager Biff Henderson hit the floor.
LETTERMAN: Here's Biff's great catch.
MOOS: Biff had to go to the hospital and is now recuperating at home.
Sandra Bullock, on the other hand, managed to stay on her feet.
Baylen pretty much stays on all fours.
LETTERMAN: The kid can really move.
MOOS (on camera): Baylen was born a little over a year ago, born on his father's 30th birthday.
MOOS (voice-over): And already he shot a commercial with dad.
BREES: If you want to play at this level, you need a high performance diaper.
MOOS: In a web spot for Pampers, Brees proves that hitting a diaper sure beats changing one.
BREES: "Boom" goes the dynamite.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's one tough diaper.
MOOS: And this was a tough quarterback in a tender moment.
MOOS (on camera): And what made that head to head moment even more adorable was the set of giant headphones.
MOOS (voice-over): As one admirer posted, kids should really come standard issue with a set of those headphones.
Sure, it's fun to see the players rub the Super Bowl trophy, but patting the kid is nicer. Talking to the trophy - talking to the kid is nicer. And raising the trophy and kissing it can't compare with raising the kid and kissing him.
Brees connected with two face kisses and two handoffs, kissing his son's hands to win MVD - Most Valuable Dad.
Jeanne Moos -
BREES: I will get you. MOOS: -- CNN, New York.
MALVEAUX: How sweet.
Our CNN iReporters - they've been sending in some amazing images of the blizzard of 2010. You'll see some of the best next in Hot Shots.
MALVEAUX: Here's a look at Hot Shots of this week's snowstorm coming in from our iReporters.
In this photo from Julio in Manhattan, the Charging Bull Statue near Wall Street stands strong in the snow. In Plano, Texas, Brooke (ph) shares this photo of her backyard swimming pool area covered in snow.
In Washington, Amara (ph) snaps this image of a snowman staring at the Capitol. Fifty-five inches of snow accumulated in D.C. during the past two storms. And in Annandale, Virginia, Annika (ph) sends in this photo of her 9-year-old daughter, Daniela (ph) swimming in the snow, complete with her snorkeling gear.
Those are some of this week's Hot Shots - pictures worth a thousand words.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Join Wolf Blitzer week days in THE SITUATION ROOM from 5:00 to 8:00 PM Eastern, and every Saturday at 6:00 PM on CNN, and at this time every weekend on CNN International.
The news continues next on CNN.