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THE SITUATION ROOM
BP Begins Static Kill Operation; Immigration Debate Continues
Aired August 3, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, breaking news: BP begins a critical attempt to plug its blown-out well in the Gulf of Mexico. Crews are now pumping heavy drilling mud into what is called the static kill operation. We have the latest details.
Civil liberties groups sue the government to halt a plan to kill U.S. citizens who are designated as terrorists -- the target in question, an American cleric who is described as bin Laden's heir apparent.
And outrage in Virginia after a nun is killed in a horrific highway accident. Police are blaming a drunken driver, an illegal immigrant convicted and released after earlier DUI cases.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Breaking news from the Gulf of Mexico, where the static kill operation is now under way. It is BP's effort to once and for all seal the ruptured oil well that led to a region-wide disaster. After a final round of testing, crews began to pump heavy drilling mud into the well just a little while ago.
CNN's Chad Myers is standing by at the CNN Center, but let's begin with CNN's David Mattingly. He is in New Orleans watching all of this unfold.
David, update our viewers.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, 106 days into this disaster, we are now at the beginning of the end of this well. Just a short time ago, BP began pumping drilling mud into this well to force that oil back down into the reservoir, essentially push that oil back into the hole that it erupted out of and started this disaster back in April.
What we are looking at right now is a matter of hours, possibly days, for them to finish this operation called the static kill, where they will pump enough mud in there to essentially drown that oil out, hold it at bay, and beat back the pressure that the oil has built up over these days since they put that cap on.
They went into this procedure almost immediately, coming out of a very short period of testing. The results from that testing, they said, were textbook, telling them that this well was in great shape and was going to be able to handle this procedure, giving everyone a great deal of confidence that they are going to see some results from this and see it very quickly -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What is their worst-case fear though, David?
MATTINGLY: The worst-case fear is that this procedure will not work, that they will find that there's weaknesses in this system, where the -- the mud will not push this oil back.
But, if that happens, they have the failsafe mechanism ready to go where they are drilling that relief well. About a week from now, they will intersect that BP well and then begin filling it up with cement, a huge cement stopper to end this threat once and for all.
This procedure that they're doing right now will have the same effect in killing that well, but because of the caution that they have instituted in proceeding with killing this well, they say it is not going to be done until that relief well is finished and they have that cement plug in place.
BLITZER: We will keep our fingers crossed. Thanks, David. Thanks very much.
Let's get a closer look at how this static kill operation is being carried out.
We will turn to CNN's Chad Myers for an explanation -- Chad.
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Wolf, literally it is the mud. And it is not dirt mixed with water. It's a very heavy chemical that is pushing and kind of taking all the weight and the pressure that is going up of that oil and pushing it back down, literally filling up the entire casing, the depth of that entire oil casing, all the way back down to push it.
We have been watching all of these underwater cameras, and we kind of lost sight of them for a few days because nothing was happening, but now these underwater cameras are very important. We don't want to see anything floating around in here. We don't want to see plumes of mud or oil or gas, because that means something will have ruptured, something in this -- because, Wolf, they are adding more pressure to this.
You just can't take mud, force it into some place now at 6,900 or a little bit -- even more than that -- PSI trying to push up. You have to push it a little bit higher than that to push it back down. So, the numbers and the pressure is going up in this blowout preventer, the pressure going up all the way down the well.
And if it pops something, that would be very, very damaging. That would be the worst-possible-case scenario. Another thing that they are doing, while they are taking this mud and they're pumping it down, the wellbore itself is about 36 inches all the way down. That is the size of the drill bit, if you think of it that way. Now think of how an old antique antenna -- I guess I have one on my old car, but whatever -- it gets bigger and bigger and bigger as you pull it out, and as you pull it out, it gets smaller and smaller and smaller. Well, these casings also get smaller and smaller all the way down.
And the casing is the protection from the outside where the rock is here to where the oil would have gone had this been a successful well. They are going to fill the casing up with mud. But the mud cannot fill up the gap between the rock, where the bit was, and the metal part of the casing that is sitting down there.
So, that is why this secondary and these -- well, two of them -- wells have to come in and fill the bottom up with cement, so that the cement can go up into the gap. If you don't fill the gap with cement, then all of the sudden, this oil can come right back up at you on the outside of the casing.
It can come up here and go up, and the well will not be killed until they kill it from the top, which is the tube that they would have taken good oil out of. And, also, the gap between the tube and the rock, and that is why it is a two-part process.
At least, the first part is going, and going so well, they don't see anything in the water right now. It's a good sign, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, a very good sign. Let's hope for the best. We are watching it, together with you, Chad. Excellent explanation. Thank you.
A scientist charged with determining the flow from the blown-out well now say roughly -- get this -- 4.9 million barrels of oil seeped from it after the accident. Of that, about 800,000 barrels were retrieved by the siphoning vessels. According to CNN data, this makes it the worst ever accidental oil spill in marine waters.
The world's worst accidental spill had been the 1970 blowout of a well in Mexico's Campeche Bay in the Gulf of Mexico. It took almost 10 months to stop that spill after 3.3 millions gallons of oil leaked then.
It's a devastating scene in Pakistan, with the worst monsoon flooding in decades. One official now says as many as 1,500 people may have been killed and that the toll could rise. Aid workers are struggling to get help to victims in the villages cut off by floodwaters.
CNN's Reza Sayah has our report from one of the hardest-hit areas.
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some are too weak to walk, but to escape Pakistan's deadly flood zones, they find a way to an army helicopter that airlifts them to safety, the rescue operation one of hundreds in Northwest Pakistan, where the U.N. says the region's worst floods ever have damaged or destroyed more than 100,000 homes and displaced an estimated million people.
"It was a bad flood," said this teenager who was rescued."Many builds were destroyed. I don't know what's going to happen to us."
With a helicopter tour of the hardest-hit areas by the Pakistan army, the scope of the damage comes into focus. Entire villages and farmlands that used to line area rivers, now underwater.
Few have suffered more loss than the people of Nowshera, a city just east of Peshawar. When record-breaking rains broke the banks of the nearby in this river, entire neighborhoods were flooded.
The Pakistani government insists it's doing all it can to get help to flood victims. The army says it has rescued more than 30,000 people, and set up several relief camps. But many victims continue to complain they're not seeing the help.
(on camera): One of the reasons help isn't getting to victims is because bridges have been demolished by floodwaters. We're at a village in the northern parts of the Swat Valley, where so many bridges connect roads and go over rivers. And military officials say almost all of them have been demolished, and that has meant that victims in these areas haven't been able to get out, and relief hasn't been able to get in.
MAJ. GEN. GHAYOUR MAHMOUD, PAKISTAN ARMY: So, this was the enormity of the task, that every person and every problem could not be mitigated so soon.
SAYAH (voice-over): With the army unable to reach everyone, desperate villagers in Swat Valley often risk their lives, trying to flee, by whatever means necessary. For them, help could no longer wait.
Reza Sayah, CNN, Swat Valley, Pakistan.
BLITZER: To find out how you can make a difference and help provide relief for the flood victims in Pakistan, you can visit our Impact Your World page. That's at CNN.com/impact.
Jack Cafferty coming up with "The Cafferty File" in just a moment.
And then, a nun is killed in a horrible highway crash, the suspect an illegal immigrant accused of drunken driving, and not for the first time.
Plus, civil liberties groups sue to keep American terror suspects off a government hit list -- the case in question, an American cleric who has been described as the next bin Laden.
And a CNN exclusive: Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, accompanies a medevac mission bringing wounded troops out of Afghanistan -- today, the first stop on the way home. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: In a word, it is setting up to be an "Obamanation," a sprawling bureaucratic giant -- nobody knows how big it's going to be -- that seems to be the result of President Obama's new health care law.
According to Politico.com, a recent report says it's impossible to estimate the number of agencies, boards and commissions that will be created by this new law.
The Congressional Research Service report points to many reasons for this. First off, the parts of the law that create these new bodies vary drastically. In some cases the law gives lots of details, in other cases, barely a mention.
The law authorizes some new entities without saying who is going to do the appointing or when it's going to happen.
And all of this means that some agencies could wait indefinitely for both staff and funding, while others could go forth and multiply, creating -- quote -- "an indeterminate number of new organizations" -- unquote.
So far, it is shaping up to be exactly what the critics were afraid it would be.
For example, there's one provision in the health care law that requires six separate agencies -- six -- within Health and Human Services to each establish an Office of Minority Health -- six.
One Alaska health task force was supposed to meet by May the 7th. That was the deadline. Held its first meeting July the 16th. Another committee on breast cancer was supposed to be set up by May the 22nd. It's now August 3 and it's still reviewing nominations for committee members.
These are also questions about the ability of Congress to carry out oversight of this sprawling mess. And there are concerns about the number of appointments the General Accounting Office gets to make, at least 83 new members to be appointed to six new boards.
Here's the question: How is the government going to manage our health care if it's impossible to know the number of agencies, boards and commissions that are created by the new health care law?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile, post a comment on my blog.
Like that word, Obamanation?
BLITZER: I never heard it before.
CAFFERTY: Well, I just made it up.
CAFFERTY: Me and Sarah Palin make up these words.
BLITZER: Thank you.
BLITZER: There is outrage in Virginia right now, where an illegal immigrant freed after earlier DUI cases is accused of killing a nun in a horrific highway accident.
Let's go to Woodbridge, Virginia.
Brian Todd is all over this story for us.
A tragic story, indeed, Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was, Wolf. This man has a long rap sheet and had been processed by both law enforcement and immigration officials, but the way the system is set up, he was released every time. And officials here are now very upset, because all of that this past weekend brought tragic consequences.
TODD (voice-over): A life of devoted service cut short, police say, by a speeding drunk driver. At this bridge in Northern Virginia, according to police, Carlos Montano swerved off of the road, hit a guardrail, careened across the opposite lane, hit a wall, and slammed head-on into a Toyota sedan.
Two nuns were seriously injured, Sister Denise Mosier killed instantly. At the monastery of the Benedictine Sisters of Virginia, Sister Andrea Verchuck talked about the 30-plus people who Sister Denise regularly counseled.
(on camera): How big a loss is this for them?
SISTER ANDREA VERCHUCK, BENEDICTINE SISTERS OF VIRGINIA: I'm sure it is a great loss, because they depended on her.
TODD: While grieving the loss of their colleague and praying for the recovery of the other two, the sisters here at the Benedictine Monastery find themselves caught up in a much broader story about politics and illegal immigration, something they say they would rather not be involved in.
(voice-over): But officials in Prince William County are not about to let go of the case.
(on camera): What makes you most angry about this case? COREY STEWART, CHAIRMAN, PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS: What makes me just furious about this case is that we have handed this person, this illegal alien -- we identified him as an illegal alien. We told ICE that he had twice been convicted now of DUIs, that he posed a threat to the community, and they turned around and they released him right back into the neighborhood.
TODD: Prince William Board Supervisor Corey Stewart is referring to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, ICE. Carlos Montano has a long rap sheet.
Before last weekend's accident, prosecutors say, he had been convicted twice once for DUI, once for reckless driving, twice for speeding, once for public drunkenness and other violations, all while being an illegal immigrant. He had had his license revoked more than a year ago. CNN was unsuccessful in trying to reach a representative for Montano.
Officials with ICE tell CNN Montano has been handed over to them twice, but they have had to release him each time because his offenses have not been serious enough for mandatory detention. He has been monitored and had been in court proceedings for removal from the U.S., but the case has not yet worked its way through the system.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who oversees ICE, responded to CNN's question about that.
JANET NAPOLITANO, U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: This is a terrible, terrible thing, but it is also something that I have immediately asked to be looked at.
So, why is it that this individual was still out driving? He was in removal proceedings. Why were the removal proceedings taking so long? I do not, obviously, as of today, have the results of that, but I will get them.
TODD: Back at the monastery, I asked Sister Andrea what her friend would have said to Carlos Montano?
VERCHUCK: I could practically quote Sister Denise. If she had been conscious at the time that she was taken from the wreck and if Carlos had been there, she would have said, "Carlos, I forgive you."
TODD: But officials here are not ready to forgive so quickly. Right now, Carlos Montano is charged with involuntary manslaughter and DUI, but Paul Ebert, the commonwealth's attorney for Prince William County, told me a short time ago he is likely to pursue more serious charges, including felony murder.
Now, those proceedings would now take priority over the immigration process and a conviction could put Montano in prison for more than 40 years -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd in Woodbridge, Virginia, with this tragic story.
Thank you, Brian.
So far this year, Brian, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says it has removed 270,000 illegal immigrants, about half of whom were declared criminals. That percentage is up from last year, when about 35 percent of deported immigrants were called criminals.
Since 2001, the annual number of deported immigrants, according to ICE, has risen every year for a total this decade of 2.2 million, about one million of whom are -- were declared criminals.
He is being targeted as the next bin Laden, but civil rights groups are intervening -- get this -- on his behalf -- why they are trying to protect Anwar al-Awlaki. Stand by.
And an exclusive look at a perilous journey -- CNN's Barbara Starr goes along as wounded American soldiers are rushed from the battlefield to medical treatment and eventually home.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: An American on a U.S. anti-terror hit list. Civil liberties groups are now filing suit to try to save a radical cleric who may be targeted by the U.S. government for killing. Is that the same American, by the way, the heir apparent to Osama bin Laden? We will take a closer look at why he is seen as such a major threat.
Plus, wounded warriors on the way home. In a CNN exclusive, our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, joins a medevac mission from Afghanistan to a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
BLITZER: Two major civil liberties groups today filed suit challenging the federal government's authority to kill U.S. citizens abroad who are designated as terrorists.
The group represents a father of a radical Islamic cleric. His son, an American, may be targeted by U.S. airstrikes in Yemen. Anwar al-Awlaki is accused of urging holy war and inspiring terror attacks against the United States.
But the rights groups say the government is making him -- marking him for death without due process.
CNN's Deborah Feyerick has been looking into the threat posed by this American cleric, who some already are calling the new bin Laden.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When Anwar al-Awlaki speaks, he speaks largely to a western audience, inspiring and recruiting young men to join his local insurgency, using the Internet and American credentials to do so.
(on camera): How dangerous is he considered on a scale of one to ten?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say 10.
FEYERICK (voice-over): Counterterrorism expert Sajjan Gohel radical cleric al-Awlaki Usama bin Laden's heir apparent.
SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIA-PACIFIC FOUNDATION: Often the United States is seen as a strategic hub for getting the message out. It is a country that has enormous resources and the potential for recruitment is large and significant.
FEYERICK: If anyone knows, it is al-Awlaki. Born in America, he spent his teen years in America before returning to the U.S. at the age of 19 to study at engineering at Colorado State University. Though studying engineering, al-Awlaki soon realized a talent for preaching at a mosque near campus Mumtaz Hussein remembers him as a pious young man.
MUMTAZ HUSSEIN, ISLAMIC CENTER OF FORT COLLINS: He gave a few sermons. It was a long time ago, but they were really good.
FEYERICK: Good enough that without any formal training, al- Awlaki found himself preaching at the Denver Islamic Society. He began recording C.D.s on Islam and the prophets.
MOHAMMAD NOORZAI, FORMER ISLAMIC BOOKSELLER: He comes across in a very simple way to explain to you what Islam is all about.
FEYERICK: From Denver Al-Awlaki move to San Diego in 1996 with his new wife. He became a spiritual adviser here. His sermons were usually in English.
LINCOLN HIGGIE III, FORMER AL-AWLAKI NEIGHBOR: Very friendly, outgoing.
FEYERICK: His neighbor Lincoln Higgie said they enjoyed talking about things like the orient and Taj Mahal.
HIGGIE: He liked to fish, I liked to fish.
FEYERICK: Al-Awlaki was also pursuing a master's in educational leadership at San Diego State University.
LT. COL. ANTHONY SHAFFER, CENTER FOR ADVANCED DEFENSE STUDIES: He spent a lot of time going through and learning not only the American society, but how people think in this society.
FEYERICK: It was in San Diego that al-Awlaki met an associate of this blind cleric, imprisoned for plotting to destroy New York City landmarks. It was also there these two eventual 9/11 hijackers attended his mosque. SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIA-PACIFIC FOUNDATION: It's too much of a coincidence that the successor to al Qaeda ideologically was also connected to two of the individuals that planned the worst terrorist attacks that we have ever seen.
FEYERICK: There is no evidence that he knew of the 9/11 plot, but al Awlaki's neighbor remembers the ominous good-bye.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be careful.
FEYERICK: In August of 2001, he comes and he says we're leaving. What was the conversation?
HIGGIE III: He said he is going back to Virginia and shortly after that he is going to Yemen. I said, well, I do hope that you will be coming back to San Diego soon, and he said, no, I won't be coming back. He said, in a little while you will understand why.
FEYERICK: Traveling across country, al Awlaki became a prominent imam in Falls Church, Virginia, and one of the hijackers followed him there and another would soon join. He set out pursuing a PhD. at George Washington University.
SHAFFER: What is scary is that he is adapting best business practices to terrorist process.
FEYERICK: Imam Johari Abdul Malik here who arrived at Falls Church mosque after al Awlaki left says that the radical cleric subverts the faith, and preys on its followers.
IMAM JOHARI ABDUL MALIK, DAR AL-HIJRAH ISLAMIC CENTER: If you look at the statistics most of the people who have been so-called radicalized, they know very little about their religion. They have been mobilized by their passions, by their feelings, by their urges, by their insecurities.
FEYERICK: Al Awlaki appears to know nothing about flying planes or building bombs, but the counterterrorism experts say that his message "Made in America" is his most powerful weapon.
Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: Civil liberties groups will file suit to try to save Awlaki from being targeted for killing by the U.S. Jeanne Meserve will have that part of the story. That's coming up next.
And a CNN exclusive, our pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr flies with critically wounded American troops on a life and death journey from Afghanistan to a U.S. military hospital in Germany.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Let's dig deeper on that radical American cleric accused of inciting terror and holy war against the United States. Should the U.S. government be able to put him and other American citizens abroad on a list for targeted killing? That is at the center of a lawsuit filed today by these civil liberty groups. Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve has the details for us. What is going on?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, here is the deal, civil liberty groups want to bring the suit about the targeting list, but in effect, they say they have to get the government's permission to challenge government policy.
MESERVE: The government says that Anwar al Awlaki is an enemy of America, but two civil liberty groups say that in pursuing him, the U.S. government is betraying its own constitutional principles.
ANTHONY ROMERO, ACLU EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: In America, we give all citizens and all individuals due process of law before putting them to death.
MESERVE: The government alleges that Awlaki who is a U.S. citizen now believed to be in Yemen communicated with the Ft. Hood shooter and aided the unsuccessful underwear bomber. The U.S. government has never explicitly acknowledged that he is targeted for assassination but read between the lines.
JOHN BRENNAN, WHITE HOUSE COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: Individuals shouldn't be able to hide behind their U.S. passport or U.S. citizenship and if they are challenged to us, we need to make sure we address that threat.
MESERVE: Al Awlaki's father hired the American Civil Liberty Union and the Center for Constitutional Rights to contest the government's right to target his son without charges or trial or verdict, but because the treasury department has placed Awlaki on a special terrorist list, they say they are required to get a government license to represent his interests.
ROMERO: Groups like ours should not play mother may I with the federal government when our goal is to challenge governmental policies that target U.S. citizens for assassination.
MESERVE: But a former justice department lawyer says that whether Awlaki gets representation should be the government's call.
DAVID RIVKIN, FORMER JUSTICE DEPT. LAWYER: This is a war. The citizenship of an individual is not relevant. What is relevant is whether this individual is an enemy combatant who can be lawfully attacked with deadly force.
MESERVE: The treasury department said this afternoon that it will work the civil liberties group to make sure he will get legal services, and the ACLU says that if they are going to give him license, they should do it quickly, because he has already been targeted by multiple drone strikes. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Multiple drone strikes in Yemen where he is right now. All right. Thanks very much.
Let's bring in our national security contributor Fran Townsend. We should disclose Fran is an external board adviser for the CIA and the homeland security department. Who signs off on a targeted killing, or at least the potential targeted killing of an American citizen? Does the president of the United States need to sign a finding in effect that would allow these drones to go after this guy?
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, of course, Wolf, the government does not talk about what the process s but god bless them, there is a whole elaborate internal review process that includes lawyers at the justice department. This is a process that was established across administrations, and this is not an Obama or Bush administration, but consistent. There is an interagency group of lawyers who specialize in national security and intelligence and look both at the law and if facts of the particular case to see if there is sufficient facts to find that there is an immediate threat to the United States, and whether or not the methods that are going to be used are appropriate. We saw the use of drones around the world this the Bush administration, and the use of drones the launch fatal attacks has increased under the Obama administration and presumably that is because there has been legal findings across both administrations.
BLITZER: But those drone attacks go after non-Americans, Pakistanis and Afghanis and others. Is there a separate procedure to authorize the target of a U.S. citizen like al Awlaki, and I want to know how high? Does the attorney general need to authorize it, the head of the CIA, the director of the national intelligence or the president of the United States?
TOWNSEND: Well, typically, these are the authority is, if you will, given to the director of the CIA and those predator shots that you are talking about. The government has not acknowledged how far up it goes, but you can imagine if there is an approval against a United States citizen, it is the sort of thing whether or not he signs a piece of paper that would briefed to the president of the United States and his involvement and approval would be sought if not formally, but informally.
BLITZER: So the buck stops with the president as Harry Truman used the say and as well it should.
TOWNSEND: Yes, and these are the things that are briefed to the oversight committees in Congress, so it is not purely an executive branch. Maybe it is their decision or actions but you can well imagine that these sorts of operations are briefed to the Congressional oversight committee.
BLITZER: We will see how the ACLU does in the lawsuit, Fran. TOWNSEND: Yes.
BLITZER: And some of the worst injuries that doctors have ever seen, but soldiers are treated and sent home faster than ever before. CNN's Barbara Starr has an exclusive of what they face after they leave the battlefield for the long journey home.
BLITZER: Back in World War II and even during the Vietnam war, it could take months or the wounded to return stateside, but now airborne hospitals can get the troops back home often within two or three days of being wounded. CNN was given an exclusive opportunity to join a U.S. evacuation mission as it flew into Afghanistan, picked up the wounded and took them out of harm's way. No journalist has ever taken this journey of pain and heroism before. Here is the second in a series by CNN pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Got it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Got it.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Eight hours after leaving the war zone, words of comfort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to the hospital.
STARR: For some, the rush into intensive care, even the stretchers keep coming off the overnight flight from Afghanistan. These critically wounded troops have just arrived from Afghanistan here at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, and some of them are suffering from massive injuries. They have been in roadside bomb blasts, mortar attacks. It is here that you can begin to see the price that the wounded are paying in this war. In the last several weeks, Trauma Director Lieutenant Colonel Raymond Fang has seen first hand what is happening to the troops carrying out the strategy of protecting Afghan civilians.
LT. COL. RAYMOND FANG, LANDSTUHL REGIONAL MEDICAL CENTER: We see a lot more injured, what we call dismounted IED injuries where people are on foot patrol when they're injured, and here we are seeing truly devastating extremity amputations. We've been seeing a lot more than three or four extremity amputations than I had seen in the conflict in Iraq.
STARR: Specialist Gary Davis arrived here from Afghanistan a couple of days ago. He survived a massive roadside bomb, and portions of both legs have been amputated.
SPEC. GARY DAVIS, U.S. ARMY: We flipped over and everybody had the seat belts and stuff on, but we were in pain. I got out of the vehicle, undid my seat belt and I just flopped on to the ground. With all of the adrenaline going through me, I did notice that my legs were messed up, but I crawled as far as I could to the door. That is all of the energy I had and I kept on yelling, help me, help me.
STARR: Davis is on constant pain medication, but still, doctors will try to get him out of bed and into a chair. He will fly home within hours.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Take him to the E.R.
STARR: Back out front with the teams who handle the wounded, Specialist Shalandra Reddin giggles about her new braces, but quickly this 27-year-old begins to open up.
SPEC. SHALANDRA REDDIN, U.S. ARMY: We have seen so many people with missing legs, arms, eyeballs, I mean, no -- it has been crazy.
STARR: She tells us that these days, there may be as many as four buses of wounded a day, and it used to be just one. Shalandra talks to the troops.
REDDIN: One story I heard that particularly stuck in my mind is that he said that he was looking out the window in Iraq, and the next thing he woke up, he was here. So, he had no legs. So.
STARR: That is a lot for you the deal with at the age of 27.
STARR: It is hard?
REDDIN: Yes. It is. But, I'd rather help someone that it be the other way around, that is how I look at it.
STARR: As soon as the wounded are stabilized enough to fly again, they leave Germany and are loaded one last time onto a cargo plane for the nine-hour flight back to the United States. Medications are checked, and rechecked.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Number 20.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go ahead. Lower.
STARR: More gear is loaded, turning the C-17 cargo plane into a flying intensive care unit. For this critically wounded soldier, equipment that would take up an entire hospital room stateside. From hospital bed to cargo plane. You are now on the way home?
STARR: What are they telling you? Where are you going? What is going to happen next?
DAVIS: I'm going to Walter Reed, and start my rehab there. My parents are supposed to meet me there at some time, so, I'm excited about that.
STARR: Young troops still have their priorities even now. DAVIS: For example, I asked if they had internet, and they said, oh, yes, don't worry, you will have a computer in your room so you can like do e-mails and stuff like that.
STARR: Still, at moments, the road is daunting. Right now, because of the medication and everything fairly pain-free?
DAVIS: I'm doing pretty good.
STARR: Yes? This is not such a good day?
DAVIS: Well, yesterday was tough, because they took me out of the bed.
STARR: For these troops, pain and exhaustion, but they are going home.
DAVIS: Thank you very much, and have a very good day.
STARR: That story tomorrow.
BLITZER: Barbara is joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM. What an amazing journey. You had some moments and touching moments with these troops?
STARR: We really did, Wolf. I have to tell you but until you hear them talk about it, one of the wounded things they do is to hand them a cell phone to call home and call their families and for many of the young troops, the first phone call is to their mothers to say they are OK. Tomorrow, we will have part three and you are going to meet three amazing young soldiers who are the living spirit of the band of brothers and more from the medical crews who take care of them on this long journey.
BLITZER: I know it is an emotional journey for you and everyone. We wish all of the troops only, only the best and speedy recovery. Thanks very much. We will have part three here tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Coming up, we are following other important news. Jack Cafferty is standing by.
BLITZER: Let's get back to "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The question this hour is how will the government manage our health care if it's impossible to know the number of agencies, boards, and commissions that will be created by the new health care law?
David in Virginia writes: "From the people who can want manage the 93 intelligence agencies and the Medicare mess they have now comes Obama care. The only thing more mysterious are the dozens of new financial control agencies. This isn't big government. This is morbidly obese government. Like the obese person next to you on the airplane, it will flow freely into every nook and cranny of your space."
John in Pennsylvania: "Health care reform. Wow. What a good idea. Before retiring in April I paid $194 a month for my wife and myself. Now it's $1,100 a month for the same coverage because I have C.O.B.R.A. and live in Pennsylvania. If I lived in other states I could get the same coverage for $484 a month. If I didn't take C.O.B.R.A., I would be paying $2,100 a month. Thanks, Mr. Obama."
Bob in Kansas City: "They won't as you say manage it. Before long it will be a cesspool of corruption and fraud just like Medicare and it won't reduce the cost one cent."
Chris in the Bronx writes: "Jack, please, the law is about three months old. The real impact of the bill won't be felt until 2014 when the exchanges are up and running. Stop trying to simplify and dumb down a complex idea and suggest that is the health care system."
Greg in Tennessee says: "The solutions is a health care oversight czar heading a commission that will undoubtedly recommend an oversight department and probably need an oversight inspector general. That way they'll be able to determine the number of agencies, boards, and commissions created by this new law."
Dennis writes: "Do you honestly think this would magically happen immediately? Something of this magnitude will take time to work out."
Julie writes: "No surprise, Jack. They call it job creation."
If you want to read more, go to my blog at CNN.com/Caffertyfile. See you tomorrow, Wolf.
BLITZER: Enjoy the rest of tonight. See you tomorrow Jack. Thank you.
Taking another look at a birthright. As the immigration debate intensifies, some Republican leaders are questioning giving citizenship to anyone born in the United States. Much more on this coming up on the top of the hour on "JOHN KING, USA."
The rumors of his death are premature. But Bill Cosby is having a hard time putting it to eternal rest.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Take a look at these "Hot Shots." In Indonesia, a woman is buried up to her shoulders to protest the government plan to evict people from their homes.
In Vietnam a worker walks towards a giant model dragon at an event to celebrate the city's 1,000th anniversary.
In New Zealand, look at this, a Japanese snowboarder performing an aerial trick at a freestyle snowboarding competition.
And in China, jelly fish swim in an aquarium under colorful light. Hot shots. Pictures worth 1,000 words.
The rumor that refuses to die. The problem is the person it's about is very much alive. Jeanne Moos tracks down the origin of a most unusual rumor.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: First, they tweeted that he was dead. Did you hear that Bill Cosby is dead?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
MOOS: He's not. Then he tweeted that he's not dead. Did you hear that Bill Cosby had died?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
MOOS: He hasn't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good.
MOOS: Finally Bill Cosby had to call "LARRY KING LIVE" to prove he's not dead.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm thrilled he's alive.
MOOS: For the fourth time Cosby says he's rebuttaling rumors of his demise.
BILL COSBY, COMEDIAN: My wife said, there's no such word. I said I don't care. I'm alive. I can make up any words I want.
MOOS: Cosby has been dead and buried so many times, news of his survival merits a song.
Don't believe us? Check out the website dead or alive info and type in Bill Cosby. You'll get a smiley face. Bill Cosby isn't smiling about who is starting the rumors.
COSBY: Just tell them to stop. It isn't funny.
MOOS: Sure, there are similar death rumors about other celebrities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Twitter kills a person once a week.
MOOS: But on Google trends the rumors about Cosby's death reached what was described as a volcanic peak. Psychology Today speculated that twitter and the new media fuel the stories. It is easy to spread a rumor. It's the anonymity and perhaps the feeling of having life and death at your fingertips on your computer make this is so appealing. This mom heard it from your kids. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mom, did you hear Bill Cosby died? I said I didn't hear Bill Cosby died. I said you all too much with this Twitter stuff.
MOOS: It sort of felt like a Monty Python movie, the bring out your dead scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring out your dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not dead.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He isn't?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, he's very ill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm getting better.
MOOS: At least Cosby is getting lots of accolades.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you, Bill. We hope you didn't die.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep on keeping on. Happy you're alive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stay healthy. Eat your vegetables. Take your vitamins.
COSBY: Over my dead body.
MOOS: Turns out twitter is a vulture.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: You can follow what's going on behind the scenes here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm on Twitter. You can get my tweets at twitter.com/Wolf BlitzerCNN, one word. You can also follow THE SITUATION ROOM on Facebook. Go to Facebook.com/situation room to become a fan.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. "JOHN KING, USA" starts right now.