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Elizabeth Warren & Your Wallet; Scientists Claim Government Intimidation Regarding Gulf Oil Spill; Follow-Up on CNN Hero of the Year; Decision Day for Avastin; Eat Healthy & Save Money; Romney Takes Aim at 2012?; Angle Attends D.C. Fundraiser; 5 Terror Arrests in London; Six WWII POWs in Japan on Peace Visit

Aired September 17, 2010 - 11:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Live from Studio 7 at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Don Lemon. The big stories from Friday, September 17th.

Banged up New Yorkers have some cleaning up to do. A freak but fast storm rolls over the city with some very destructive force.

The government may revoke an approval for a promising, tumor- choking breast cancer drug. Studies now question whether it works.


RONNY VILLARREAL, BREAST CANCER PATIENT: I couldn't say that Avastin is the reason why I've lived longer than I expected. I say that it's a combination of a lot of things.


LEMON: Plus this story -- men forced to work in factories and mines under brutal conditions. American POWs return to Japan looking for an apology.


LESTER TENNEY, FORMER WWII PRISONER OF WAR: Our needs are very simple. We've never asked for much.


LEMON: We'll update you on that story.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. Tony is off today.

Those stories and your comments right here, right now in the CNN NEWSROOM.

All right. We start with this story. Who is this woman? And why is she about to have a big influence over your finances?

She is, of course, Elizabeth Warren, and today President Obama appoints her to help establish the new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. Concentrate on the word "establish." The agency's role is to help you avoid fraud and hidden fees in everything from mortgages to credit cards to student loans. President Obama, again, is not appointing Warren -- that's why I said pay attention to the word "establish" that agency. Not appointing her to head the new consumer agency, at least not for now.

Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry joins us now live from Washington.

Hello, Ed. Good to see you.

Explain what the president is doing. And why is he doing this?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, let's start with why she has become such a lightning rod.

Elizabeth Warren is sort of a hero to the left, a lot of progressive groups, not just -- you know, beyond just being a Harvard law professor, she is chair of a congressional oversight panel of those TARP bailouts. And from that perch, she has really taken on some of the big banks. She's been known as being fearless. Also, and frankly, taking on the Obama administration and making sure -- keeping them honest about having oversight, real oversight of Wall Street.

So, there was a lot of pressure on this president to make sure that Elizabeth Warren had a prominent role either in setting up this agency or heading it. Let's talk a little bit about the agency.

As you mentioned, it's going to provide a check and a balance specifically on making sure credit card companies are following through on these new disclosure requirements, protecting students who have student loans, also giving people free credit scores, making sure you have access to that information.

And so the president is going to say at 1:30 Eastern Time, when he makes this official -- among his remarks will be, "Never again will folks be confused or misled by the pages of barely understandable fine print that you find in agreements for credit cards, mortgages and student loans. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau will be a watchdog for the American consumer charged with enforcing the toughest financial protections in history."

But here's why the president is not naming her to actually head the office. She has been a lightning rod for being so tough on the big banks. The left is happy about that, but the right is not.

So you have some Republicans in the Senate who may not have voted for her confirmation if she was actually running the office. So, instead, she's going to become sort of a special adviser to both the president and the treasury secretary to set this office up, and then down the road they'll name someone to actually run the office.

There are more Republican friendly groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce not happy at all. They just put out a statement saying this is a circumvention of really one of the few checks and balances that are out there to make sure that this new agency which is going to have vast regulatory power over the markets, to make sure that there's some checks to have that Senate confirmation. Instead, the White House is sort of going around this with this appointment -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Ed Henry explaining very well there.

It looks like a beautiful day in Washington.

HENRY: It is.

LEMON: Ed, have a great day. I'm sure we'll talk to you a little bit later. We'll see you later on, on CNN.

We're going to dig much deeper on this story and tell you about the new Consumer Protection Bureau. It is the centerpiece of financial reform that followed the economic meltdown.

Ines Ferre has more on how the agency is supposed to help protect your opinion.

How's it supposed to do it, Ines?

INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, Don, let me tell you, one of the goals of this new agency is to avoid another subprime meltdown. So it's really a watchdog. It's an independent watchdog over mortgages, short-term loans known as payday loans, over all sorts of products, credit cards included.

Now, and what it does is it ensures that consumers get accurate information on these. But what it also does is this agency can set new rules. And not only can it set new rules over the enforcement, but it can enforce these rules and also improve data collection of these products.

So the other thing that it is, is the idea is that it's really a centralized agency. And what they're going to be -- because the whole idea with it being a centralized agency is it's kind of like a one- stop shop for these financial services and products and regulations and rules over these financial services and products. And it's going to establish a hotline.

So, Don, people that have complaints about certain -- whatever product it is, they can actually call this hotline. It will be a toll-free hotline, and they can call just call their hotline for complaints or information.

LEMON: All right. Thank you for much for that, Ines Ferre. We appreciate it.

And as our Ed Henry said from the White House lawn, the president will announce the appointment of Elizabeth Warren today, 1:30 p.m. Eastern, 10:30 a.m. Pacific Time. You can see that announcement during the CNN NEWSROOM, right here, of course, on CNN. (NEWSBREAK)


LEMON: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Don Lemon.

BP plans to seal its ruptured oil well this weekend and declare it dead. A relief bore finally intersected the well more than two miles beneath the Gulf floor.

What happened to all that leaked oil? Well, that's in dispute. The government claims most was burned, skimmed or either evaporated. Some scientists disagree and claim the government is using heavy- handed tactics to shut them up.

Here is Maya Rodriguez from New Orleans affiliate WWL.


MAYA RODRIGUEZ, WWL REPORTER (voice-over): As the oil spill unfolded, scientists from research institutions around the country descended on the Gulf to witness what ended up becoming an unprecedented environmental event.

DR. WILLIAM SAWYER, TOXICOLOGIST: Right now the Gulf is basically a big experimental laboratory.

RODRIGUEZ: Two of those scientists included Dr. William Sawyer, a Florida toxicologist, and Marco Kaltofen, a scientist and head of Boston Chemical Data in Massachusetts. Both were hired by a New Orleans-based law firm to collect and analyze samples of water, sand and sea life affected by the spill.

STUART SMITH, ATTORNEY: What's been most important to us is to make sure that we have independent data.

RODRIGUEZ: The scientists sampled off the coasts of several Gulf states, including Louisiana. They say their findings so far are troubling.

SAWYER: We have found an alarming pattern of hydrocarbons maintained in the water column.

MARCO KALTOFEN, BOSTON CHEMICAL DATA: If we're finding so much more of the toxic part of oil in the water column, the obvious question is, what's happening to the seafood?

RODRIGUEZ: In the seafood they found the presence of potentially toxic hydrocarbons at levels above the norm. Even though they had yet to issue a report drawing any conclusions, they began posting their data online. Then came the phone calls.

KALTOFEN: We were contacted by the National Commission on the BP Oil Spill.

RODRIGUEZ: President Obama created the commission to look into the oil spill, but the two scientists say the commission's phone calls were unsettling.

SAWYER: I explained the work, but seemed to be a grave concern as to why we are finding contamination as there was sort of a loaded question, and then the questions were geared towards sampling permits.

RODRIGUEZ: The question: Did they have the proper permits to do their sampling? They said they did.

KALTOFEN: The second thing we were asked is, do we believe that our data shows that the federal data is wrong? And the last thing, of course, is the national commission impugned by reputation and said that they were trying to determine if we were sampling illegally.

RODRIGUEZ: The attorneys told Kaltofen they were responding "to a constituent complaint from a food distributor," but a spokesperson for the oil spill commission says that wasn't the case, and that the scientists were contacted because the commission was impressed with their work. Yet that wasn't the impression left with either one of the scientists, one of whom retained a lawyer.

KALTOFEN: If we don't get the data out to people, how will they decide whether or not it's going to be safe?


LEMON: Maya Rodriguez from our affiliate WWL in New Orleans.

A spokesman for the government's oil commission says its members are asking questions to gain insight. He regrets if there was any misunderstanding about the government's motives.

One is a liberal, one is a conservative, or at least they play partisans on TV. Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert announce plans to wake up Washington.


LEMON: We're going to get you live to Washington in just a second. We want to tell you about religious conservatives. They're opening a big political talk-fest in that district today. It's called the Values Voters Summit.

You're looking at live pictures now of the event. You see Republican Indiana Representative Mike Pence speaking now. The event is in its fifth year and draws presidential wannabes, along with GOP rising stars.

Again, a live look at Republican Congressman Mike Pence, speaking at the podium. We're going to continue to follow this story throughout the day.

But Delaware Senate nominee and Tea Party favorite Christine O'Donnell has been invited to speak today after her surprise win on Tuesday. Also speaking today, Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann.


REP. MICHELE BACHMANN (R), MINNESOTA: And to those who have spread lies and to those who have spread falsehoods and rumors about the Tea Party movement, let me be very clear to them. If you are scared of the Tea Party movement, you are afraid of Thomas Jefferson, who penned our mission statement. And, by the way, you may heard of it. It's called the Declaration of Independence.


LEMON: Michele Bachmann speaking earlier. And again, Mike Pence speaking live in Washington at the Values Voters Summit.

We're going to have continuing coverage throughout the day on this story on CNN, so stay tuned.

And speaking of politics, I don't know if it's politics or comedy. I guess they merged. Fake news is intersecting the real world of politics today.

Satirical anchorman and comedian Jon Stewart is calling his fans to march on Washington this October 30th. The event is a response to a recent rally by conservatives called "Restoring Honor."


STEWART: Tonight I announce the Rally to Restore Sanity.


STEWART: It is happening, people! It is happening! It is happening! A real gathering!

We will gather! We will gather on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., a million moderate march, where we take to the streets to send a message to our leaders and our national media that says we are here! We're only here, though, until 6:00 because we have a sitter.


LEMON: This is going to be good. And not to be outdone, Stephen Colbert, Comedy Central's conservative pretender, countered with his own announcement.


COLBERT: My fellow Americans, two score and four days from now, on October 30, 2010, I am calling for the nation to join me on the Washington Mall for the March to Keep Fear Alive!


COLBERT: Remember, the government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth. But you might.


LEMON: Well, next hour, you'll want to stick around, because I'm talking with the best political team on television about how outsiders are remaking American politics and if these rallies by Colbert and Stewart, if they can gain any political traction. You may be surprised, so stick around.

You know, was it a tornado that hit New York City yesterday right in the middle of rush hour? Whatever it was, it made a big mess, killed one person, and scared a whole lot of people.



LEMON: You know, all year we have introduced you to remarkable everyday people who are changing the world. And in just one week we will reveal our top 10 CNN Heroes of 2010. Has it been a year already?

Let's check in with our 2009 Hero of the Year to see how the recognition has transformed his life and helped him expand his extraordinary work.


ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": The CNN Hero of the Year is Efren Penaflorida.


(voice-over): From the slums of the Philippines to the stage of the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood, Efren Penaflorida has come a long way.

EFREN PENAFLORIDA, CNN HERO OF THE YEAR: We are the change that this world needs to be.

COOPER: For 12 years, Efren and his team of volunteers have pushed their mobile classrooms through the streets of their neighborhoods, teaching kids who never make it to school. But after being named 2009's CNN Hero of the Year, Efren became a national hero.

PENAFLORIDA: This is really overwhelming.

COOPER: Upon his return, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo presented him with one of the country's highest honors. Over a year, the pushcart classroom model has been replicated more than 50 times across the Philippines and inspired the construction of an education funded in part by the CNN Heroes grant.

PENAFLORIDA: Before pushcart, they see it as a symbol of poverty. But now they see a pushcart as a symbol of hope and education.

COOPER: Recently, Efren has had his story told in six countries and languages, and can be seen weekly in his own search for heroes on Philippine television. A young man from the slums has turned the attention of a nation toward a common dream.

PENAFLORIDA: My fellow Filipinos, they're unleashing the hero inside them.

Thank you.


LEMON: Who will be the CNN Hero of the Year for 2010? Well, you decide. We'll decide next Thursday, and we will be announcing this year's Top 10 Heroes on at 1:00 p.m. That's when you can vote online for the CNN Hero who inspires you the most.

You know, thousands of American women with breast cancer use the drug Avastin. So what happens if it loses its FDA approval? The decision is expected today, and we'll hear how it could impact women all across the country.


LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon. Tony is off today.

Some cancer patients are keeping their fingers crossed, that's because the FDA is expected to decide today whether to continue its preliminary approval of the drug Avastin.

Nearly 40,000 American women will die from breast cancer this year and doctors prescribe Avastin to more than 17,000 cancer patients, so a lot of hopes are riding on this particular drug.

More now from our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, the women affected by this decision have stage four breast cancer, which means that it's spread to other parts of their body. They say Avastin has given them precious more time with their families.


COHEN (voice-over): The first time Ronnie Villarreal got breast cancer she was 27 years old. When it came back, she was 31 and pregnant.

RONNY VILLARREAL, BREAST CANCER PATIENT: And when I was 27 weeks pregnant is when I found out it was a reoccurrence of my cancer in which it spread from the original site into my bones and this particular case into my right hipbone.

COHEN: Little Maddy (ph) was born healthy but the cancer is still in Villarreal's bones and now it's in her liver, too.

VILLARREAL: I had a healthy, beautiful baby.

COHEN: Most patients who get a diagnosis of stage four breast cancer like Villarreal, can expect to live only another year and a half. But Villarreal's lived two and a half years and counting and her tumors have shrunk a bit.

Why has she lived longer than most? VILLARREAL: I think, first and foremost, it's my faith in God.

COHEN: And also, she says, because of one of her medicines, Avastin. Like other patients, Villarreal uses it in combination with chemotherapy drugs.

VILLARREAL: People respond differently to different types of treatments, and for whatever reason I have responded positively to this treatment.

COHEN: Dr. Edith Perez is her doctor.

DR. EDITH PEREZ, MAYO CLINIC: Before she started this treatment, she was in pretty bad condition.

COHEN (on camera): Have you actually seen tumor shrinkage?

PEREZ: Oh, absolutely yes. Yes. Definitely.

COHEN: This is the Avastin here?


COHEN (voice-over): But Villarreal is afraid her insurance might soon stop paying for Avastin, that's because recent studies show breast cancer patients on average don't live longer with Avastin. Plus, the drug has serious dangers, including high blood pressure and internal bleeding.

Dr. Joan Mortimer was on the Food and Drug Administration advisory committee that voted against Avastin.

DR. JOANNE MORTIMER, CITY OF HOPE NATIONAL CANCER CENTER: I think, based on the objective data that we have right now, there really is no evidence of the benefits of Avastin with chemotherapy outweigh the risk to the patient.

COHEN: Without insurance coverage, there's no way Villarreal could pay for Avastin on her own.

(on camera): If patients have to pay for this themselves, how much money is it per month?

PEREZ: You know, again, it varies from institution to institution, but it's going to be more than $5,000 a month.

COHEN: That's a lot.

PEREZ: A lot of money, yes.

COHEN: Do you think Avastin is the reason why you have lived longer than expected?

VILLARREAL: I don't know. I couldn't say that Avastin is the reason why I have lived longer than I have expected. I say that it is a combination of a lot of things. COHEN (voice-over): Maybe it's her other medicines or maybe just good luck. But Villarreal doesn't want to change the treatment that seems to be working.

VILLARREAL: So, it's given me two years with my daughter and to me that's kind of priceless.

I mean, I, again, will willingly take whatever I can get to give me more time with my family.


COHEN: Don, if the FDA takes away its approval for Avastin for breast cancer, the drug will still be on the market for other cancers and so doctors can still prescribe to breast cancer patients.

But here's the catch -- insurance companies may say, hey, if the Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved this for breast cancer, we're not paying for it. And, of course, most patients could never afford to pay for it on its own. It's at $5,000 a month or even more for some patients -- Don.

LEMON: All right, Elizabeth, thank you very much for that.

She is an outspoken consumer advocate and she's about to take on a powerful new role. We'll take a look at Elizabeth Warren's background and what's ahead for her and your money.


LEMON: Want to take a look at your top stories right now on CNN.

On day two of the pope's visit to London, five men were arrested on suspicion of terrorism. Police have not confirmed whether the men were a potential threat to the pope, but their arrest did prompt London police to review their security plan for Pope Benedict.

As the National Weather Service works to figure out if Thursday's storm was a tornado, New Yorkers are cleaning up the damage. Crews are scrambling to restore power to thousands of customers right now. And the storm killed one woman after a tree crashed right into her car.

The second in line to the British throne is new rescue chopper pilot. Prince William, known as Flight Lieutenant Wales, graduated from the Royal Air Force's Search and Rescue Training Program today. He'll copilot a Sea King helicopter and will be stationed in Wales.

Let's talk about improve being your health by eating right. It can cost a fortune for the right foods, but it doesn't have to. It's time now for our "Fit Nation" report and CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta gets tips from a world famous French chef on eating healthy and saving money.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With the economy in a slump, families are struggling to make ends meet, but you don't have to sacrifice good nutrition. Where better to look for tips on healthy living on the cheap than a five-star French chef?

CHEF ERIC RIPERT, LE BERNADIN RESTAURANT: (INAUDIBLE) little bit of your impress (ph) into the food, it's easy ways to find to eat for a budget which is not too expensive, good food.

GUPTA: World-renowned Chef Eric Ripert says it is about doing what's good for you.

RIPERT: You can, for instance, buy a chicken which is very inexpensive. Instead of buying the chicken already cut or cooked, you buy it whole and therefore you save a lot of money.

If you want something healthy and something inexpensive, you have to think seasonally. If you want to eat tomatoes in January, it's very expensive. Now if in January you eat root vegetables, if you make a soup with a squash, it's going to be very inexpensive.

GUPTA: So how does this French chef extraordinaire stay healthy himself surrounded by top notch cuisine all day long?

RIPERT: First, before I leave the house, I have a little bit of dark chocolate of very good quality.

I leave my house around 10:00 and I walk through the streets of New York. It takes about 40 to 45 minutes. I think it keeps me in a certain good health and in shape.

GUPTA: The bottom line, says Ripert --

RIPERT: I'm a strong believer that you can do a lot of things in terms of eating, which is you can eat burger, you can eat chocolate, you can have a little desert here and there, but again, it has to be in a quantity that is controlled and you have to compensate with some exercise.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN reporting.


LEMON: All right, 65 years after an horrific war, some American soldiers get the recognition they want.


LEMON: The moment you've been waiting for, it's time for your "CNN Equals Politics" update. Paul Steinhauser with "The Best Political Team on Television" is in shirt sleeves and he's raring to go live in Washington.

What's crossing right now, Paul?


Right now, on the CNN political ticker at, you were talking about it earlier this hour, the Value Voters Summit. It's an annual event here in Washington, top conservative activists around the country. You know, Christine O'Donnell, whose a rock star now, I guess, on the right, she will be there, the new Senate nominee from Delaware speaking later.

But right now, Mitt Romney is speaking and he's addressing the crowd and some tough language pointed at President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. Romney, along with a bunch of other possible, possible, probable, maybe 2012 presidential hopefuls are speaking at a two-day conference tomorrow. They have a straw poll. If you want to hear more, is streaming the whole event right now.

Also on the ticker -- or not even yet on the ticker, Don. I'm writing it as we speak. Sharron Angle, the Senate nominee on the republican side out in Nevada who is also backed by the Tea Party movement, she was right here in town in D.C. just a few blocks from where we are at our D.C. bureau.

She was meeting with a lot of insiders, the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, with some top people there and with some senators. They had a fundraiser for her last night here in town. Listen, she may be an outsider but she realizes she needs some inside party help if she wants to beat Harry Reid come November.

And finally, check this out, we were just talking about the battle for 2012, well Sarah Palin tonight in Iowa, this is raising a lot of eyebrows. This is a speech she's going to be giving, she'll be the headliner at a big Republican Party dinner in Iowa tonight. Of course, does she want to run for the White House, Iowa leads the way in the presidential primaries. We set our Peter Hamby out there. Lot more coverage of that coming up later today, Don.

LEMON: And listen, you got to pay attention, Paul and viewers, because as we get closer to November, it comes fast and furious, and Paul is going to be part of "The Best Political Team on Television" updating our political ticker.

Thank you, Paul. See you in a little bit. Your next update in just one hour and for the latest political news, you know where to go,


LEMON: Why don't we talk some money, shall we? And a good way to do that, we can start and you at home with start at

This is a big story today on, "A Housing Rebound? Yes, it is possible." Let's hope so, as a home owner, and I'm sure you're saying the same thing, as well.

Checking the markets real quick. The Nasdaq, up six points, almost seven points, and the Dow is down eight, almost nine points. We're going to get to New York in just a little bit. And as we told you at the top of the hour, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is about to become the newest government agency. Its mission? To protect and you your money.

Now we go to New York, the New York Stock Exchange. Alison Kosik is at the Stock Exchange with all the details for us.

So, Alison, the president is going to appoint Elizabeth Warren to an advisory position. So -- which doesn't require a Senate confirmation. So I don't know, is it the top dog, what's going on? Why is Warren so important that Obama is sidestepping this Senate process?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, she's got a lot of history with this Consumer Protection Agency. It was her idea in the first place. In fact, she proposed if in 2007, just months before the recession technically started. And because she created it, she really knows the most about it, so Obama really wants to get her in there.

And she may not have made it through the confirmation hearings, which is why he may have kind of skirted the process a bit. She has a reputation of having a tough-love attitude with the banking industry. She is not a big favorite with Wall Street, and if she got through these really contentious Senate hearings, they could have actually derailed her confirmation hearing. So that's probably why we're seeing him take this kind of way around.

But the fact of the matter is, Warren does have the experience. Currently, she heads the panel that oversees TARP, you know, she looks at where all that $700 billion went. She also wrote eight books on credit and economic stress, and she served on the FDIC and bankruptcy panel. So she's got a lot of experience mind her -- Don.

LEMON: Yes, and you know, I've heard a lot of people talking about this particular story, Alison, that this accountability and oversight that she would propose would have been years ago when Warren proposed it, but would it have avoided the recession? Some say yes, some say no.

KOSIK: And it's really a good question, Don. But think about it, the recession was started by a variety of problems, so you know, there isn't one magic bullet that would have prevented the recession.

I want you to listen to Andy Silver's take from "Fortune" magazine. Listen to this.


ANDY SILVER, MANAGING EDITOR, "FORTUNE": To the extent that she was overseeing, would have been overseeing mortgages and that was a part of the problem, it's possible she could have mitigated part of the problem. But, you know, it's really very, very difficult to tell. And I think at the end of the day, probably not, probably would have not been able to forestall the huge crisis we had.


KOSIK: You know, the issue here is that Warren's rules only address one part of banking, the consumer side. You know, it doesn't take into account things like derivatives and even she admits this in a blog that she wrote earlier, saying that the Consumer Protection Agency, Don, won't fix everything wrong with the economy -- Don.

LEMON: Alison Kosik, thank you very much. We appreciate that. Check back in with you in just a little bit throughout the day here on CNN.

We have some chilling details to tell you about, it's of a deadly home invasion. We'll bring you a timeline next hour as a mother tried in vain to get help from police. Evidence from the trial underway in Connecticut, we'll bring it to you.

Plus, 44 million Americans in need. We'll introduce you to a Brooklyn woman fighting to escape poverty. Her story and more in the next hour of the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: New information, this is just into CNN, of course, on a story we have been following all morning for you.

This is from British police, they have arrested five men on suspicion of terrorism. CNN has just learned there is no evidence of a terror plot or threat against Pope Benedict XVI, who is in Great Britain. We've also learned the men are Algerian and in the country illegally. More on that throughout the day here on CNN so stay tuned.

In the meantime, today is National POW/MIA National Recognition Day. It honors the sacrifices made by our prisoners of war and remembers those still missing in action all the way back to World War II. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is speaking at the special event this hour at the Pentagon.

And for six POWs from World War II, it's been a long time, but they're in Japan to get something they have wanted for decades. Our Kyung Lah was with them during their historic peace visit.


KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The final days of World War II -- Japan had surrendered, America's prisoners of war finally free. Earl Szwabo was 17 when he was captured, held for almost four years in a Japanese prison camp, worked nearly to death, weighing only 70 pounds.

EARL SZWABO, FORMER WWII PRISONER OF WAR: They made us all get out of our barracks and watch them shoot the six prisoners. I can't forget all these different things cause I've seen a lot of atrocities.

LAH: Joseph Alexander was just a boy who snuck into the military at age 14. A year later, he was America's youngest POW in World War II. What he has wanted all these decades is a face-to-face apology. JOSEPH ALEXANDER, FORMER WWII PRISONER OF WAR: It would give us satisfaction. I mean, that's what we want.

LAH: Sixty-five years later, the horrors remain, and what these six American POWs have come to reconcile in the country that once imprisoned, the very first American World War II prisoners, invited by the government of Japan, for a peace visit.


LAH (on camera): So 90 and 92.

TENNEY: Yes, I'm 90, I'm going on 91.

LAH (voice-over): Lester Tenney was a radio operator for the U.S. Army when he was captured. He survived what's known as a Baton Death March. Thousands died on that 86-mile march at the hands of the Japanese military.

Now shaking hands with Japanese government leaders, Tenney shared a long-awaited message.

TENNEY: Our needs are very simple. We have never asked for much. The biggest thing we have asked for is recognition that we exist.

LAH: An apology from Japan's foreign minister, who called their imprisonment inhuman treatment.

(on camera): Much has changed in 65 years. This former POW Camp now a modern day company. This is a factory that produces chemicals. The United States and Japan, close allies for more than 50 years.

But after all this time, the American veterans say what they need and the reason why they're here is some sort of official acknowledgment of what they went through when they were POWs here in Japan.

ED JACKFORT, FORMER WWII PRISONER OF WAR: I came here for a purpose.

LAH (voice-over): That purpose, says Edward Jackfort, here from the management of the company where he was once a slave laborer, a meeting the company would not allow us to attend, but one that Jackfort says is decades overdue.

JACKFORT: If all the other companies would do the same, it would make a big difference to us, to know that they acknowledge that what they did was wrong, and perhaps it would make it easier on everybody.

LAH (on camera): So they did acknowledge that to you.

JACKFORT: Yes, right.

LAH (voice-over): Sixty-five years after the war's end, some small peace for those who paid an enormous price.

SZWABO: War is no good. I mean, it's no good for nobody. There's losers on both sides. So I think it's time for us to forgive and forget.

LAH: Kyung Lah, CNN, Tokyo.