Return to Transcripts main page


BP Worker Warns of Catastrophe; Will Change of Command Force Change in Afghanistan Policy?

Aired June 24, 2010 - 18:00   ET



Happening now: stunned and sick. Top guns at the Pentagon react to the comments and attitudes expressed by ousted General Stanley McChrystal and his aides. But will the change in command lead to any policy changes in Afghanistan?

A BP worker accuses the company of cutting costs at the expense of safety and warns of another catastrophe in Alaska. CNN investigates the whistle-blower's claim.

And he likens himself to Rambo or a samurai. After 10 days of detention in Pakistan, this self-styled bin Laden hunter is back home talking exclusively with CNN.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

President Obama says his Afghan policy remains the same after the dismissal of General Stanley McChrystal. And the man tapped to be the new commander in Afghanistan, General David Petraeus, tells CNN that he supports the July 2011 deadline to start withdrawing U.S. troops.

Petraeus calls the circumstances of the change in command very sad. At the Pentagon, the reaction of the top brass is even stronger.

I want to go live to CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.

And, Barbara, tell us a little bit about obviously the mood and this kind of extraordinary openness that we saw from these top leaders.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, I have to tell you that this was an unprecedented reaction to an unprecedented mess here at the Pentagon.


ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINTS CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Honestly, when I first read it, I was nearly sick.

STARR (voice-over): Admiral Michael Mullen and Defense Secretary Robert Gates just a year ago urged the president to choose General Stanley McChrystal to lead the war in Afghanistan. But now they are furious at disparaging comments in "Rolling Stone" by the general and his aides about the administration.

MULLEN: It made me -- I -- literally, physically, I couldn't believe it. So I was stunned.

ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: The statements and the attitudes reported in the news media are unacceptable.

STARR: Gates initially thought McChrystal should stay, a senior Pentagon official told CNN. He worried the war could not afford a change of command, but then:

GATES: It was the president who first raised Petraeus' name. And -- and it immediately to me answered a lot of the concerns that I had.

STARR: General David Petraeus was on Capitol Hill Thursday to talk to senators in advance of his confirmation hearings. Gates and Mullen say there is no change in the overall war strategy, but the new commander could decide to ease rules restricting combat that were put in place by McChrystal, rules some troops believe put their lives at risk.

GATES: General Petraeus will have the flexibility to look at the campaign plan and the approach and -- and all manner of things when he gets to Afghanistan.

STARR: Petraeus and McChrystal do see eye to eye on the counterinsurgency strategy, but will there be a different in their style of leadership?

MICHAEL O'HANLON, SENIOR FELLOW IN FOREIGN POLICY STUDIES, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: Not much. That's the main point. I think that both of them are extreme workaholics, very energetic. Both of them are good communicators.


STARR: General Petraeus is going to be under tremendous pressure, though, to show quick progress in the war, this month, June, not even over yet, and already the deadliest month of the entire war in Afghanistan for the coalition -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Barbara, what do you think the toughest question is going to be for the general facing from both Democrats and Republicans next year when he goes before -- next week, rather, when he goes before them?

STARR: Right. I think the crosshairs question is going to be that July 2011 timetable of the president's for a beginning of a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan, how many troops, how fast. Is Petraeus going to support a major drawdown? Will it be a nominal drawdown? It all depends on how much progress he can make in the war between now and then -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Barbara. Well, 92,000 U.S. troops are now deployed to Afghanistan along with 48,000 troops from allied nations -- 1,120 Americans have died in the Afghanistan war.

Well, I want to get more on that remarkable news conference by the Pentagon brass today, the strong comments by Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, Admiral Mike Mullen.

Joining us, our CNN's John King.

Were you as surprised as I was to hear just how candid these guys were? I mean, I have covered Secretary Rumsfeld before. I had never heard this kind of language.

JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": It was riveting. I could not leave my office watching it, even though I was supposed to be other places to go, because it was very candid and very remarkable.

Both the defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs realized they have a crisis moment on their hands. One, there is a crisis of confidence about the war strategy. They wanted to say we have a good strategy.

But what was striking to me is you have Admiral Mullen, the top ranked military officer in the country, repeatedly saying to his own men and women, from the generals and the admirals down to the privates, you wear this uniform, you listen and respect civilian authority.

He clearly -- he talked about how he was sick, how he was stunned by the "Rolling Stone" article. He clearly sees a threat, a threat to the very fiber of the military's being, which is, agree or disagree, Democrat or Republican, and when the civil -- civilian authority says these are your orders, you follow them.

MALVEAUX: One of the things that Barbara mentioned, she said the toughest questions she thinks that the general is going to get is about this July 2011 deadline, if you will, about the troops starting to withdrawal.

Last May, when the president was hosting the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, I asked him that very question about that deadline. I want you to take a listen. Here's how he responded.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Beginning in 2011, July, we will start bringing those troops down and turning over more and more responsibility to Afghan security forces that we are building up. But we are not suddenly as of July 2011 finished with Afghanistan.


MALVEAUX: Now, today, he was asked a very similar question. Let's take a listen.


OBAMA: We didn't say we'd be switching off the lights and closing the door behind us. We said that we'd begin a transition phase in which the Afghan government is taking on more and more responsibility.


MALVEAUX: What do you think, John? How much wiggle room is he giving himself to actually step away a little bit from that policy?

KING: He is -- the president is a little softer there than he was to your earlier question.

More interesting is when you listen again the president there may be creating a little wiggle room. Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen today saying, we are committed. We signed on with the president. That is the timeline. We start to come home in July 2011. But when General Petraeus gets there, he's an accomplished commander, he will make some assessments and we will listen to his feedback.

So, I am fascinated, like Barbara and like you, about how the general handles those questions, not only next week, when he's being confirmed, but after he is on the job for a month or two.

MALVEAUX: All right, John, we will be watching the next hour your show.

Jack Cafferty is next with "The Cafferty File."

And then the Obama administration loses another effort to put a moratorium on drilling in the Gulf. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu is here to talk about it. He opposes to president on this one.

Also, look who is tweeting now? We're with Russian President Medvedev in California's Silicon Valley, and CNN's Jill Dougherty is the only American journalist granted access. She is going to be joining us live.

Plus, a CNN exclusive. We go one-on-one with the American man determined to avenge 9/11 and hunt down Osama bin Laden by himself.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm a person that said, you know what, I'm going to get off my (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and do something. And I will be darned if I am going to sit back and let anybody out there say, oh this or that, when they weren't there.



MALVEAUX: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File." Hi, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Suzanne, while the federal government twiddles its thumbs on the issue of illegal immigration, states across the country are following Arizona's lead.

"The Washington Post reports five states, South Carolina, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Michigan, are all considering laws like Arizona's. And lawmakers in 17 other states, including Virginia, have expressed support for similar measures.

It seems pretty clear, doesn't it, that people are sick and tired of waiting for Washington to do its job.

Consider the National Conference of State Legislatures reports nearly 1,200 bills or resolutions dealing with immigrants were introduced in 45 states during just three months, the first three months of this year alone, 1,200. Those include both pro- and anti- immigration measures.

For example, in Massachusetts, the Senate is requiring state contractors to make sure their workers are legal. Hey, there's a concept.

This week, the small town of Fremont, Nebraska, not exactly a border state, voted to ban the hiring of illegal aliens or renting property to them. Supporters say Fremont is an example of "If Washington won't, Nebraskans will." But critics like the ACLU suggest there's no rational reason for Fremont to worry about protecting our border.

One reason that could prevent even more of this activity at the local level could be the economy. Many state budgets are in crisis. They may not have the money for additional law enforcement or to fight the court challenges that would likely follow passage. Arizona is being sued by everybody.

As for the federal government, instead of protecting our borders, they say they might sue Arizona for trying to protect itself. Oh, and, by the way, almost 60 percent of Americans support the Arizona law.

Here's the question: What's the message for the federal government when states across the country want to adopt an immigration law like Arizona's?

Go to Post a comment on my blog.

There is a street sign here in New York City that conveys the message quite nicely, but I can't do it on a national news program.

MALVEAUX: All right. We will just have to imagine that, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Think about it. It will come to you.

MALVEAUX: I am sure it will. Thank you. (LAUGHTER)

MALVEAUX: Well, President Obama says that he and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have reset the relationship between the two countries, so could the Cold War hot line between the White House and the Kremlin finally become a thing of the past? Take a listen to this.


OBAMA: Some have even wondered whether our Declaration of Independence may have been signed from goose quills from Russia. More than 200 years later, it is a sign of the times that during his visit to Silicon Valley, President Medvedev opened up his own Twitter account.

I have one as well, and I said during our press conference today that we may be able to finally get rid of those old red phones.


MALVEAUX: That Silicon Valley visit is something that you are only going to see here on CNN.

Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, she went along on that trip, and she is joining us now.

Jill, tell us. You spent a couple days with the Russian president and have a pretty good idea about this project. Tell us about it.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It was really an up-close and personal view of the president. We went around Silicon Valley all day yesterday with him.

And, you know, his staff say that he is really a technophile. He has four iPhones, they say, and a Mac. He is blogging. He's tweeting. And that's all the fun part of it. But there is really a serious side to this, and that is what he is calling his innovation strategy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Russian. OK. That's Russian. Is that it?


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): At Twitter, the tech-savvy Russian president hits the button.




DOUGHERTY: "Greetings to everyone," he says. "I'm at Twitter, and this is my first tweet."

Dressed in jeans, Dmitry Medvedev tours Silicon Valley, and I have joined the Russian media as the only American journalist granted access.

Russia has big plans to build its own multibillion-dollar version of Silicon Valley in the Moscow suburbs. "Impressions?" I ask.

"Really good," he says. "Haven't seen a lot, but it is impressive."

(on camera): And now we are on Highway 101 in the motorcade. He is going to Cisco, and we are cutting right through Silicon Valley.

(voice-over): In a coffee shop in Palo Alto, he tries to woo young Russian engineers and entrepreneurs back home to be part of it.

Ana Dvornikova (ph), a businesswoman, says she hopes Mr. Medvedev will see the optimism here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And that thing is that it is OK to fail, and the third thing is that Silicon Valley is about startups, small, risky companies.

DOUGHERTY: We run from the motorcade to the next stop, Yandex, Russia's biggest Internet search engine. They have opened up a small lab here in Silicon Valley. Why?

Co-founder Arkady Volozh tells me because this is where the talent is.

(on camera): If Russia wants to attract talent, why are so many Russians here in Silicon Valley?

ARKADY VOLOZH, CO-FOUNDER, YANDEX: Because people are free, and they may work and live wherever they want.

DOUGHERTY (voice-over): His partner, Ilya Segalovich, says it could be a tough sell for President Medvedev to create his own Silicon Valley.

(on camera): Is it difficult to do that, to convince people?

ILYA SEGALOVICH, CO-FOUNDER, YANDEX: I think it is difficult to convince the people. I think it is.


SEGALOVICH: Very few positive examples.

DOUGHERTY (voice-over): From Silicon Valleys to Stanford University, the president makes his pitch. His pet project, innovation, is looking for partners.


DOUGHERTY: And at that speech at Stanford, there was one young Russian man who told the president that Silicon Valley really is not a place, it's a state of mind, and Mr. Medvedev seems to agree. He said that Russia has money, it has a lot of money, but fostering that state of mind is really going to be the biggest challenge of all -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Jill, do you think you're going to follow his tweets now?


DOUGHERTY: I am. I will tell you, they are all tweeting. I just checked it a few minutes ago. They are all tweeting about the hamburger that he ate today with President Obama.

MALVEAUX: Big story.

OK. Thank you, Jill. That was excellent reporting. Thank you so much.

As the oil disaster unfolds, there is growing concern about BP operations in Alaska.

Plus, a new disaster for New Orleans and its new mayor. Mitch Landrieu is in THE SITUATION ROOM.


MALVEAUX: It is strike two for the White House. A federal judge in New Orleans is standing by his order to allow deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, rejecting an administration request to keep a temporary ban in place.

Now, among those who want the drilling to resume is New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, now joining us.

Mitch Landrieu, Mayor, thank you so much for being here.

I want to ask you first if...

MITCH LANDRIEU (D), MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: Hey, Suzanne. thanks for having me.

MALVEAUX: Your -- my pleasure.

If the government, if the federal government can't assure that deepwater drilling is safe, what makes you think that you can?

LANDRIEU: Well, the point is we think that you can. Obviously, everybody wants drilling to be safe. The question is whether you have a moratorium that is unpredictable in length and is as broad as it possibly can be.

I think what folks down here have been saying, folks that are experts in the industry and understand how fishing and oil go together, that you can actually do it with a scalpel, rather than with a sledgehammer.

And I think what folks have been asking from down here is to do this in a much more precise way than just an unpredicted moratorium that could last ad infinitum, because once you do that and there's no predictability left and these rigs go away, it's going to devastate the economy and that piece of the economy for five to 10 years.

MALVEAUX: Is there any worry, though, however, Mayor, that if another accident happens, it's happening on your watch, at a time when you say, OK, it is OK to drill?

LANDRIEU: Right. Well, that's -- again, let me be very clear about this. Everybody wants to drill, and make sure that it is safe to drill, but in terms of having a moratorium that is unpredictable in length, and is broad as it possibly can be, and not sending in strike teams to make sure that you can drill safely rig by rig, we think is not the way to go.

Obviously, nobody wants to drill unless it's safe. The BP oil rig was an awful disaster. But folks have been drilling down here for a very, very long time without incident. We believe that you can do both.

So, the question is, do you do it smart? Do you do it with a scalpel or do you do it with a sledgehammer? We think doing it with a scalpel is a better way to do it.

MALVEAUX: There has been some tragedy obviously all around since the oil spill disaster, the recovery effort. We understand that at least -- there have been two deaths.

One of them, a man, Allen Kruse, who had been fishing -- a fishing boat captain for two decades, obviously, he lost his livelihood, he decided to go ahead and be a part of the cleanup crew for BP. We understand that he apparently shot and killed himself.

Can you give us a sense of the psychological toll, the type of damage that has been done to the New Orleans community?

LANDRIEU: Listen, there's no question about this. This is a catastrophic event for us. And it's laid on top of what we suffered as a result of Katrina and Rita.

On top of that, the moratorium adds another layer of distress to folks that are just trying to make it through the day. We are talking about people's livelihoods, cultures, people for a long period of time.

We think it is going to get harder, not easier. But, listen, we have been through a lot of stuff. I don't think that anybody should expect that this thing is going to get easier over time. I think it's going to get harder. And it's always fallen on our shoulders to really stand back up.

That is why it has been so difficult for us for the past number of days, and we expect that it's going to get harder. We're in it for the long haul, but we will be here when it is over.

MALVEAUX: And there are services -- I know that, after Katrina hit, and I have relatives there, that there was a lot of depression. Are there services that you are providing for the people of New Orleans to help them cope with this?

LANDRIEU: Absolutely, no question about that.

One of the things that we want to continue to talk to individuals that are worried about the consequences is the mental health consequences. We saw this a lot after Katrina and Rita, where older individuals, individuals that had been through it, lost everything, really just kind of gave up. So, it's something that we want to pay particular attention to. It's something that we want to be prepared for.

We know that it is coming, and we just have to prepare as best we can for it. It is really very unfortunate. And it's one of those things that happens. And, of course, when you have four or five events that land on top of each other, it really kind of pulls people's resilience down more than you normally would be.

MALVEAUX: Now, Mayor, you have requested of BP some $75 million to help with a campaign, an ad campaign to promote tourism. I understand that you have gotten -- at least the state of Louisiana -- $15 million, of which New Orleans has gotten a third.

Your predecessor, Mayor Ray Nagin, got a lot of criticism because he focused on building up the French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina, and he left a lot of people in Ward 9 and ward 7, where my folks are from, behind, and they didn't get the kind of funding support they needed to recover.

Do you think that is the best use of the money here is to promote the tourism business? How do you guarantee that that is the kind of money that's going to trickle down and help the folks who really need it?

LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, BP should pay every damage that they cause by this spill. And those damages are going to be for people's businesses. They're going to be for people's lives. They're going to be for their boats. They're going to be for all of the consequential damages.

Tourism is a huge industry in the state of Louisiana, as is in Florida. And if you don't market to the rest of the country that New Orleans right now, for all intent and purposes, is open for business and is doing really well, the loss of jobs, not only in the tourist industry, but for the folks that live in the neighborhoods in New Orleans, is going to be much more dramatic than it is now.

BP obviously believes in advertising. They obviously believe that it makes a difference, because they have been doing a whole lot of it in the last couple of weeks. And so you will see states, Mississippi, Florida, Louisiana, all of those that have lost jobs that are related to this. We have lost jobs in the fishing industry. We have lost jobs in the oil and gas industry.

We want to stop the bleeding of jobs. That is what pays people's mortgages. That is what pays people's health insurance. That's what sends folks' kids to school. So, we want to make sure we get ahead of this, so that the damages are mitigated over a long period of time.

MALVEAUX: Mayor Landrieu, thank you so much for joining us.

LANDRIEU: That's great. Thank you.

MALVEAUX: And obviously we wish the folks in New Orleans the very best in the recovery effort. Thank you so much.

A BP worker blows the whistle on his company, warning of another potential catastrophe in Alaska. CNN investigates.

And he is a self-styled bin Laden hunter, comparing himself to Rambo or a samurai. And if you doubt him, just listen to this


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, when you are able to stand up and put your life on the line, then we will sit down and talk. Until then, you shut your mouth.



MALVEAUX: BP's oil spill is catastrophic in terms of lives lost, damage to the environment and the economic impact. But is there another powder keg in BP operations?

Our CNN's Randi Kaye investigates concerns at BP Alaska.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Mark Kovac was 24 when he joined BP. For 33 years he has been working on Alaska's north float and 18 of them on the pipelines. Kovac says that BP pays him well, and yet he could be risking his job talking to us. BP's operation in Alaska, he warns is a ticking time bomb.

MARK KOVAC, BP EMPLOYEE: I see a gulf-like explosion. If the two large gas handling plants that we have, CCP or CGF, go up, in the worst case scenario, it will be worse than what you saw on the platform. More people will die.

KAYE: He says that it is inevitable because BP and Alaska already have a history of spills, fires and explosions. Workers injured and killed on the slope, he says, because BP cuts corners on safety to save money. BP's mantra according to Kovac and others is to "run equipment to failure." BP says it does no such thing and never has.

KOVAC: If it falls apart or breaks or if they don't need it, they won't replace it. If they do need it, they will replace it, but they are taking a huge risk, and isn't those people making the decisions taking the risk, but it is the people who are working in the field. We work next to this equipment when it fails. Those people sit behind their desks.

KAYE: He is talking about management. Eleven years ago, Kovac and dozens of other BP Alaska employees sent this letter to then CEO Lord John Brown. Two workers had been killed and the letter asks when the body count and capital destruction and loss of production be enough to halt this dead end course? Among Kovac's concerns, not enough workers to monitor too much pipeline for leaks and corrosion. When a pipeline gets heavily corroded it can leak or even explode putting safety at risk. In 2006, it was an aging corroded pipeline that burst. 200,000 barrels of oil spilled into Alaska's bay. BP plead guilty to a misdemeanor count of violating the clean water act. A federal judge put BP on probation for three years and fined it $20 million. Keeping them honest, we talked with Steve Rinehart, a spokesperson for BP Alaska who told us their budget does not limit the safety program. He insists corrosion efforts have improved in recent years.

STEVE RINEHART, SPOKESMAN, BP ALASKA: In the past few years, certainly since 2006, every element of our anti-corrosion program has advanced. We have taken the number of pipeline inspections from something in the neighborhood of 40,000 a year to about 90,000 this year.

KAYE: Still as recently as 2008, Kovac wrote this e-mail to a BP manager warning, "We are expecting a major failure in Alaska. Next time BP may not be so lucky." These 2008 pictures from Kovac show the risk he says BP employees face everyday. The gas injection line snapped due to corrosion. In response, BP's Rinehardt says that the pipe "regrettably missed its inspection because it was covered in snow and never made it on to the to-do list." A former BP Alaska employee who did not want to be identified because he still works in the industry told me the oil giant had "serious lapses in safety compliance in terms of corrosion." This employee says he was fired back in 2007 after refusing his supervisor's request to manipulate data and paint a better picture of the pipelines than really existed. BP would not discuss the charge.

RINEHART: Any individual working on the North Slope has the right to raise his or her hand and say stop the job. Without retaliation. Safety is that important.

KAYE: We contacted many BP workers in Alaska to discuss safety concerns with them. Most would not go on camera, because they fear for their jobs. Marc Kovac said it's well known BP has a history for harassing and intimidating workers when they speak out. BP says that is just not true, and they set up an office to prevent that.

RINEHART: There is zero tolerance for retaliation of any sort.

KAYE: Kovac also worries about safety, because he says that too many fire and gas protection warning systems which would warn workers about a fire or explosion are not in compliance. KOVAC: Our systems were supposed to be updated 20 years ago and BP has been piecemealing the systems together, and some of the locations are not updated. Warning systems are not even functional.

RINEHART: They are old systems. And we are in the midst of a steady step by step process to upgrade these.

KAYE: Kovac remembers three years ago when incoming CEO Tony Hayward promised to make safety this soul of the company.

KOVAC: What he said was basically lip service. It is all show and no go.

KAYE: That is why he is sounding the alarm. What happened to BP in the gulf, he is certain will happen again to BP in Alaska.

Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


MALVEAUX: And we have an extraordinary exclusive one on one interview with the American man who set out to hunt Osama bin Laden by himself.

GARY FAULKNER: You sit down and you get to the back of the bus. Better yet, get off of the bus, because this is not your bus, this is not your ride.


MALVEAUX: He says he went to Pakistan to hunt Osama Bin Laden, but Pakistani police stopped him at the border saying he carried a pistol, sword and night vision equipment. After ten days of detention, Gary Faulkner was sent home. He arrived back home in Denver and sat down exclusively with CNN's Jim Spelman.


JIM SPELMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What happened that you got, that you were -- this is unclear that you were arrested or detained? Like what was going on? What happened?

FAULKNER: Oh, oh, nothing like that at all. I was never arrested. I was never detained. I was never captured or anything like that. I was not flogged or beat or anything like this. For my protection, they had to bounce me around, because somehow my cover got blown. So, they helped me go from a place to place to place only so no one could actually get an actual location on me until they were sure that the airplane in Islamabad, the airplane could be boarded without someone seeing me, because if someone saw me and you had a launched rocket, it is nothing to take a plane out.

I'm in a very trying time, and my emotions are on edge. I mean, my life was on edge. You know, there is people out there talking smack, oh, he is crazy or this or that. You know what? Those are the people sitting on their [ bleep ] and talking and saying that quarterback should have done this or that, but you know what, they don't do nothing but talk. And that's why I am talking about it. I got off of my butt, and I put my life on the line to go out there. I know there's a -- I mean, my life is a story that you won't believe. But you know what, it doesn't matter. What does matter is I stood up for what I believe and if nobody doesn't like that, I could careless. That doesn't mean anything to me, because I don't see them. I may hear them, but you know what, what they do the same thing day in and day out, because they are ignorant and blind and you may say I'm a religious freak or Rambo or samurai, but you know, what I'm a person who said, "I'm going to get off of my [ bleep ] and do something, and I will be darned if I sit back and let anybody say this or that when they weren't there. I am on dialysis, and I put my life on the line. My life was on the line not because of them, and not because of Pakkies or al Qaeda or anybody else, but when you stand up and put your life on the line, then we will talk, but until then, you shut your mouth and you sit down and you get to the back of the bus. Better off, get off of the bus, because this ain't your bus. This ain't your ride. I'm sorry, I'm a little bit edgy, and I'm very tired from the long trip and stuff like this, and I don't mean to be that way, but I am that way.


MALVEAUX: Gary Faulkner says he has no regrets and was guided by god.

Congress may lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military. In the meantime, tens of thousands are serving while staying in the closet. We will speak to a soldier who is keeping his sexuality secret. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


MALVEAUX: The wheels are in motion for the repeal of the ban on gays serving openly in the U.S. military, but "don't ask, don't tell" remains the law for now leaving service members serving in silence. Here is CNN's Soledad O'Brien.


SOLEDAD O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You may not be able to see it, but this man is nervous. He has every reason to be. He is one of an estimated 60,000 members of the U.S. military serving in the closet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wondering if this is the day that my secret is going to fly out. Is this the day.

O'BRIEN: You live like that? Everyday?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, whenever you get the e-mail to come to the office by your boss or somebody is on the phone, and who is on the phone? I don't know. You never know, is this that phone call.

O'BRIEN: The phone call that will kick you out of the military?


O'BRIEN: He is a 10-plus year veteran are army intelligence and currently serving overseas. He can't reveal his identity because of the military policy "don't ask, don't tell," but that is about to change.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R): The committee's focus is today on the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

O'BRIEN: The service members' legal defense network has been lobbying Congress to pass the Pentagon's military spending bill. It has an amendment that would repeal "don't ask, don't tell." You think you have it?

AUBREY SARVIS, SERVICE MEMBERS' LEGAL DEFENSE NETWORK: This bill will be close. We won the voting committee. We are going to win the vote on the Senate floor. Senator McCain has threatened to filibuster, and so we may have to come up with 60 votes. If we have to we will.

O'BRIEN: But some say that the military is not ready for openly gay service members. For former air force Major Mike Almy, the upcoming vote comes late. How did you find out that you had been caught?

MIKE ALMY, FORMER AIR FORCE MAJOR: My commander called me into his office for a routine meeting which was not out of the order and the first thing he did was to read me the DOD policy on homosexuality, just like and I'm sure I turned ghost white, because I was completely flabbergasted and as if somebody had pulled the rug out from under me.

O'BRIEN: Five years ago, a co-worker found his e-mails to a man he was dating. Almy was booted from the air force.

ALMY: I'm pissed off. I really am. I want my job back. I want my career back.

O'BRIEN: Can you get it back realistically?

ALMY: There have been about 14,000 men and women who have been thrown out under "don't ask, don't tell." So you've got to figure there's maybe two or 3,000 of those who want to come back in. How do you revive a career that's been completely derailed like mine where I've been out for four years now?

O'BRIEN: The repeal won't automatically lift the ban, and the services could take months to implement the policy. There is no guarantee that ousted members like Almy could return. As it moves forward what advice would you give the members of the military who are closeted? What do you tell them? Wait?

SARVIS: Well, they have to keep in mind that this law has not gone away and serve in silence until you get the green light.

O'BRIEN: When the time comes, breaking that silence will not come easily. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it is repealed soon, and I decide to come out, I think it will be some pushback from the colleagues.

O'BRIEN: Pushback in what way?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pushback and major penalties from the co- workers.

O'BRIEN: You will lose friends?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, I will probably lose some friends.

O'BRIEN: Make it worth it, still?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, because I am me. I am who I am.

O'BRIEN: For CNN in America, I'm Soledad O'Brien, Washington, D.C.


MALVEAUX: Tonight, Soledad follows two men on their quest to become fathers and the legal and personal obstacles they face as a gay couple. "Tony and Gary Have a Baby" airs tonight on CNN.

It was the U.S. goal heard around the world and the internet. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes an unusual look.


MALVEAUX: Time now to check back in with Jack Cafferty. Hey, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Suzanne. The question this hour, what is the message for the federal government when states across the country want to adopt an immigration law like Arizona's?

Terri writes, "I live here and I'm proud that we have Governor Jan Brewer protecting us. If you don't live close to the border you have no idea what the impact is. Our deserts are a dumping ground and it is not safe to go in many areas now."

Joe in Virginia, "It means our government is more interested in pandering to special interests than solving problems. Nothing new here. As for the states, I say have it. As they say in the army either lead, follow or get out of the way. The federal government needs to get out of the way."

R. in California, "The message in these states is they are looking for a convenient scapegoat to blame for their election year woes and Arizona has handed them immigration reform. In truth, the state of Arizona has become America's chicken little, running all around clucking that the sky is falling."

Mike in Ohio writes, "The message is our government has failed us. This means Republicans and Democrats and now the states see that they have to try and protect their citizens with no help from the federal level. The danger I see in this is it could be the first step toward legalized vigilantism."

June in Chicago, "Simple, legal American citizens are fed up. The first step should be to take a hard look at companies that continually hire illegals. I'm from the Chicago area and if immigration services walked into any warehouse in this area not only would the illegals run but so would the management and the owners. They know exactly what they are doing and exactly what laws they are breaking."

David in Nebraska offers this, "It doesn't matter what type of message we send Washington. Remember, Obama stands shoulder to shoulder with Calderon. The Arizona law violates the sense of fairness that we Americans cherish. Some members of Congress gave Calderon a standing ovation. Our National Guard troops aren't allowed to impede the progress of the migrants. I only wish our voice counted as much as Mexico's."

If you want to read more on this, you'll find it on the blog, and I assume we can look forward to your smiling face here in the "THE SITUATION ROOM" tomorrow.


CAFFERTY: We will celebrate Friday together.

MALVEAUX: You got it, Jack.

From the pub to the white house and beyond, Americans celebrate the moment of goal! CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look.


MALVEAUX: It's most unusual for Americans to get so worked up over soccer but this was no ordinary goal. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It may be more refreshing than a moment of Zen, the moment of goal. [ cheers and applause ] a kick that beat Algeria was like a kick in the pants, making Americans jump up in bars from Seattle to Nebraska.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was like, I needed to take a Xanax, okay.

MOOS: True, some Americans are probably more familiar with disco balls than soccer balls.

STEVEN COLBERT, TALK SHOW HOST: Soccer, the sport for fourth graders that foreign people take seriously.

MOOS: Now even Stephen Colbert is a soccer convert and blurry videos of the moment of goal being uploaded like mad. YouTube. Who is watching all these moment of goal videos online? How about the guy who kicked the goal? Landon Donovan told CNN he'd been surfing the web.

LANDON DONOVAN, TEAM USA: I spent all morning watching the reactions in the bars around the country.

MOOS: Even far from TV, the moment of goal could be heard ever so distantly on the Senate floor. [ cheers and applause ] and at the white house. [ cheers and applause ] President Obama told the U.S. team he heard cheers erupt while he was meeting with General Petraeus discussing General McChrystal's fate. Most folks watching were thrilled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With the exception of one terrified patron, toward the winning goal.

MOOS: Some put the moment of goal to music. And some singletons.


MOOS: -- enjoyed the moment of goal alone. Sometimes you can tell a lot by focusing on one great face, no, not that face, faces like the lady in pink. She went from being prayerful to patting her chest and pumping her arms, mouth open so wide a soccer ball could almost fit, holding her face practically worshipping, heaving a sigh and smothered under the jersey of Donovan, who made the kick. One announcer stretched the moment of goal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gg-oooo-aa-llll.

MOOS: 11 seconds and when he finally ran out of breath --


MOOS: It's worth getting down on your knees.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


MALVEAUX: That was an awesome moment. Thanks for joining us. I'm Suzanne Malveaux in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can follow me online on twitter at JOHN KING USA starts right now.