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What Next For Chilean Miners?; Interview With California Gubernatorial Candidate Meg Whitman

Aired October 14, 2010 - 18:00   ET



Happening now, the world shared in the joy of the rescue. Now these 33 miners recover from their ordeals. There's also new concerns though about what the future may hold. We have revelations of mistresses, the lure of fame and fortune. What is next for some of these men? Stand by, new information coming in now.

Also, an Army whistle-blower who says he was beaten black and blue by rogue soldiers accused of killing Afghan civilians. Now his interview with CNN canceled at the very last minute. Is the Army clamping down on this explosive case?

And she has now set a new record for the most expensive gubernatorial campaign in California history. How much more of her personal fortune is Meg Whitman willing to spend? I will ask her this hour.

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

It is now nearing dusk in Copiapo, Chile. Some of the miners who were trapped underground for so long are about to see their first sunset since August. They are all doing remarkably well given what they have been through and we have just learned that three of them are being released from the hospital today.

Lawrence McGinty of ITN has the latest.


LAWRENCE MCGINTY, ITN REPORTER: You can't blame the medics for being cautious, but the wheelchairs hardly seem necessary. Only 12 hours after the last miner came to a local hospital for medical checks, nearly all of them were found to be in remarkably good health, so much so doctors are talking about discharging them early.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Three miners are going to be released from the hospital today. Tomorrow, Friday, probably many more miners are going to be released.

MCGINTY: There are some medical problems. Jose Ojeda Vidal has diabetes kidney problems, but he had them before. Jorge Galleguillos is one of 10 miners with high blood pressure, but again he had that before. What they and their families didn't have before was relentless media attention, celebrity, even fame.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In some sense, they are gaining celebrity status, and that can be difficult to cope with, but it is a different kind of stress to dealing with trauma, so they kind of have these two strands of adjustment that they have so make. And they have a lot of support for both of those. They have media training and they have psychologists at hand.

MCGINTY: If the photo call with their president this afternoon is anything to go by, they looked almost at home with the media pressure.

Lawrence McGinty, ITV News.


BLITZER: We are also learning new details about the miners' ordeal starting with the collapse that triggered it all more than two months ago. Early August, that's when it happened. Listen to this interview with Richard Villarroel from his hospital bed.


QUESTION (through translator): How did it sound when the rock fell?

RICHARD VILLARROEL, RESCUE MINER (through translator): Oh, the whole mountain was moving, the ground, the ceiling, everything. It is almost like something was exploding.

Our boss told us every day, you have to be strong. If they find us, they find us, if not, not, because it was -- at times we thought there was no hope. So, we just had to encourage each other and pray. I have never prayed in my life. And I learned the pray.

QUESTION (through translator): Were you afraid to die down there?

VILLARROEL (through translator): Yes. That's what we were expecting, because, you know, we were really thin. We weren't eating anything. I had lost about 12 kilos. I was really concerned that I wouldn't get to meet my child. I would like to thank God and all the people that made our rescue possible.


BLITZER: So happy that rescue was possible.

Chile's president says the miners' saga is a wakeup call for worker safety and he is now promising -- and I am quoting him now -- "radical change."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEBASTIAN PINERA, CHILEAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The main wealth in our country is not copper. It is our miners. It is not our natural resources. It is the Chileans. And, therefore, workers have to be treated as people.

And I assure you that a respectful and safe treatment that will give our workers safety will enable our companies to be more productive, more efficient. This is going to be a radical change, a very important change, because the lesson that we have learned at the San Jose Mine is something that we will never forget.


BLITZER: Let's go live to scene right now.

Gary Tuchman has been reporting for us.

And let's talk to Gary.

Gary, the transparency is amazing what we have seen from the government, the authorities there. I assume it is going to continue and we will have even more access to these 33 miners in the coming days?

GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is what has been amazing about this, Wolf, the transparency, just everything we have seen, the video not only close up as these miners came out of the hole, but the video the audio, half a mile below the earth.

That is something we have never seen before and the video the audio in the reunion house that they set up between the families and the miners. We are here at Camp Hope, which was a city, a tent city of more than 2,000 people, family, friends, reporters, security. It's now being dismantled.

Families don't want to be here anymore. I think that we miss them more than they miss us. But right behind me, this is the gate. That was the gate to the rescue site, the gate to where the workers went in every day when they came here to this mine. It is now closed. There are no operations taking place here anymore.

And it is unlikely according to government officials that this mine, this copper and gold mine, will reopen again. And you see here, this is the work. The tents that were here before are gone. Those were the tents where the family members lived. These are some media tents and the media is tearing down their tents, also. It is a very different atmosphere here now, but this is just what the family and friends dreamed.

They hoped this day would come, that their loved ones would be rescued and indeed all 33 have been rescued, and as you as heard a short time ago, no medical problems at all. Some releases taking place today, a lot more releases taking place tomorrow. And we anticipate all will be released very soon, because any medical ailments are minor ones -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It is really amazing when you think about it.

But during the course of those two-and-a-half months, they were bringing down not only food and water, but medicine as well. And clearly, Gary, it paid off enormously. Who would have thought that only minor ailments after this ordeal?

TUCHMAN: Well, that is what is amazing.

The first 17 days, no one knew these men were alive. And the men very well may have thought they everyone had given up on them. So, you can imagine what they were going through physically, mentally, emotionally. it was devastating.

But then over the last several weeks, they have been one of the most carefully watched people on earth. Medicines have been going down, advice on how to take care of themselves, good food. So, the good health that a lot of these men are in is not a surprise to a lot of people, because they have been carefully observed.

BLITZER: And, Gary, the rescue workers who went down there to bring these guys out of there, they are all, the 33 plus the five or six rescuers, everyone is out. Is that mine shut down? Is it over for the mine? Or are they still going to go down there from time to time?


That actual tunnel, the 2,300-feet tunnel, is sealed and probably sealed for eternity. There will be no one going in there anymore. There was a collapse and that is what happens in a coal mine, in diamond mine, in gold mine and copper mine collapses.

As far as this entire complex, this mine is in an area in the northern Chilean desert. It's been a very important part of the economy of this region. But government officials are telling us that it is very unlikely it will reopen. That's not definite yet, but it's very unlikely that this particular mine will reopen.

But I will tell you, Wolf, there are a lot of mines in this region. It is a very big part of this region's economy. And those other mines will reopen. And that is what you heard a lot of about yesterday when these miners were coming up. They want more safety in Chilean mines. And we hear that a lot after U.S. mine accidents, too. We will if that happens here in Chile.

BLITZER: We will stay in touch with Gary, Gary Tuchman, on the scene for us doing an outstanding job together with all of our CNN reporters and producers and personnel. We appreciate it very much.

For some of the miners, life after the rescue is proving much more complicated and on many different levels.

CNN's Brian Todd is working this part of the story for us.

What are some of the issues that these men are now facing? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we know they're facing sudden and overwhelming fame, attention that could be very difficult to deal with.

And, in some cases, the miners' personal lives, which were complicated before all this happened, just got a lot more so.


TODD (voice-over): His first glimpse of fresh air freedom in more than two months. As Chilean miner Yonni Barrios exits the rescue capsule and takes off the harness, he looks around to see who will greet him. And from behind a woman comes to embrace him, kiss him, and cry on his shoulder, not his wife, but a woman believed to be the mistress he lives with.

He may not be the only one in this situation. There have been several published reports saying the rescue operation brought together not just families, but also the awkward mix of wives and mistresses. One report said one miner faced competing claims from four women.

I spoke about that dynamic with noted psychiatrist Lise Van Susteren.

(on camera): How complicated does it make their lives now, when they have got to deal with girlfriends, mistresses and wives who may be finding out about each other for the first time and now they have got the added pressure?

DR. LISE VAN SUSTEREN, PSYCHIATRIST: Well, these guys went down in the mine with their faults and flaws, just like everybody else. But they came out of those mines with these klieg lights on them. So, every little mistake that they have made and will make in the future, in the near future, at least, is going to be broadcast. Everybody will be able to see it, because the whole world is interested in them.

TODD (voice-over): Another complication, money. These miners are expected to be offered book deals, movie rights and gifts that could bring life-altering sums to them and those closest to them.

VAN SUSTEREN: That can add fuel to the fire, because there's going to be a reason for people to want to hang around them. Everyone is hoping that something beautiful and fantastic and easy will come for the future in their lives because of the money and the fame.

The danger is, of course, is that this will not be a solution and it will only exacerbate preexisting problems.


TODD: Van Susteren says it is those new expectations that make this such a tough problem for the miners who had other women in their lives. They have wives with their own expectations for the future. Now add mistresses or girlfriends who are competing for the attention, for the money. She says that is about as combustible a mix as you can get here -- Wolf. BLITZER: Yes, and a lot of people are focusing in on that part of the story.

Brian, thanks very, very much.

This is a story that certainly captured the world's attention. You can relive the entire drama in an "A.C. 360" special entitled "Countdown to Rescue" tomorrow night, tomorrow night, Friday night, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Pacific, only here on CNN.

Here's a question: How is the economy leading to declining expectations? Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: So much for the American dream, maybe.

A new poll showing a majority of Americans are now pessimistic about their children's future. More than half of those polled in a Bloomberg survey say they are "not confident" or only "somewhat confident" that their kids will have a better life than they did.

It is a shocking statistic, really. For a very long time, as long as anybody can remember in this country, each generation has the expectation that the next generation will have a better life, easier, more successful life than their own.

But this huge recession, economic downturn, may have brought all that to a screeching halt.

One 65-year-old retiree in Massachusetts says his three grown children -- quote -- "I don't think they have got a chance," adding that he's "very angry at what's going on in this country."

Pluralities of people in the survey say they're not hopeful that they'll have enough money in retirement, expect to keep working to make up the difference -- 85 percent say they have taken some steps now to cut costs, from using coupons, to cutting a regular expenses, things like cable TV -- let's don't get silly -- telephones, Internet service, and putting off making major purchases.

The outlook is bleak. There's a new survey of top economists in the country cutting its growth forecasts for both this year and next.

They expect GDP to be a paltry 2.6 percent, down from their previous estimate of 3.2 percent. Percentage-wise, that's a significant decline.

And they have lowered their outlook for consumer spending, which, headed into the holiday season, is not good news either.

This is an economy that's driven by the consumer. And if they cut back, because they have to, well, the results are obvious.

Here's the question: How do you think your children's lives will compare to your own?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

Jack Cafferty will be back.

Troubling new numbers coming in, they're sparkling new concern about the foreclosure crisis here in the United States and the fallout for the already struggling economy.

And Sarah Palin is speaking live this hour in San Jose, California. She is taking questions. We are monitoring her speech. Stand by.


BLITZER: There are new, very, very disturbing signs of the depth of the foreclosure crisis in the United States. A new report says that in the third quarter of this year alone, in the third quarter, 930,000 homes, nearly one million homes, received a foreclosure notice. That is up 4 percent from the previous quarter.

CNN's Mary Snow is working this story for us.

There is enormous concern about what is going on, Mary. Tell our viewers what you are learning.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, besides -- aside from the foreclosure rate, there are other worries and those worries are about banks' foreclosure practices and those worries are growing.

Concerns about the impact of this mortgage mess were clearly visible on Wall Street. Take a look at some of the stocks from major banks. They all slid, this because there is uncertainty about the fallout on banks and the overall housing market.

And it is only heightened after the attorneys general in 50 states yesterday announced they are investigating improper foreclosures. Now, at the heart of the problem, the people rubber- stamping foreclosures and signing documents without really understanding or at times even reading what they were signing.

And it has come out in depositions. Now, in one case, an employee at Litton Loan Servicing, which is connected to Goldman Sachs, was asked about an certain affidavit in Texas, the state where her company is based, and she said admitted: "I don't know the ins and outs of the loans. I'm not a loan officer," in her words.

Now, the company did not comment on this particular case, but said it suspended foreclosure proceedings in some cases while it reviews procedures. One Florida attorney that we spoke with represents thousands of homeowners. He said he started getting depositions from bank employees after seeing that these foreclosure documents were being signed far from where his clients lived.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PETER TICKTIN, FORECLOSURE ATTORNEY: You have somebody swearing under oath that they are the records custodian responsible for the records and collection of particular debt, but it is not, it is somebody who might have been a beautician that got hired to sit at a desk and sign these documents one after another, that is false; that is lie.


SNOW: But the question is, were people wrongly thrown out of their homes of defective foreclosures? That we have not seen evidence of yet.

Now, some of the bigger banks have come out to say, while they are reviewing these documents, they are standing by their accuracy. But they still have to face the sloppiness of how things were handled and how it got to this point -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And the impact on millions of folks with real estate with their own homes, the value could go down, and that is why there is so much concern about what is happening right now. It just does not affect those people who have received the foreclosure notices, Mary. It affects a lot of people whose value of their home are in trouble.

SNOW: Yes, absolutely. And the big worry and what we saw on these banking stocks today is the overall worry of the uncertainty on the housing market and that has yet to be determined.

BLITZER: I am worried about that, as I am sure a lot of our viewers are as well. Thanks very much, Mary Snow.

Meg Whitman has spent a fortune of her own money, $120 million or so, in her quest to become the California's next governor, succeeding Arnold Schwarzenegger. Does she plan now in the next two-and-a-half weeks to spend even more? My interview with Meg Whitman, that is coming up.

And a CNN investigation. Is the U.S. Army trying to silence a soldier about the killing of Afghan civilians? From a brutal beating to the official response, we have story right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Big debate coming up later tonight. Sharron Angle, the Republican candidate in Nevada, trying to beat Senator Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader.

Let's talk about little bit about that with our chief political correspondent, Candy Crowley. She hosts "STATE OF THE UNION" that airs every Sunday morning 9:00 a.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

This is remarkably close. Some polls even have her ahead of the Senate majority leader. CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: And that is worrying them, obviously, because any time you have an incumbent like Harry Reid who is the majority leader -- and as we all know, sometimes being leader of the Senate does not help you. Tom Daschle was leader of the Senate and he got bounced out of office -- because people begin to feel that you are not representing them back home.

So, it's not necessarily -- for us, we think, oh, my goodness, the majority leader, but it is not necessarily a good thing back home. He is also at the other end of the wave of something that seems to be going Republican.

But when Sharron Angle became the primary winner, they were looking at this with much more relief than they had been before, when they thought they have a different opponent that they thought would be a more serious opponent. So I think it shows you the strength of the Tea Party.

I think it shows you the weakness at this point of Senator Reid. However, he has had a lot of tough races before. The under 50 percent I think is what bothers them more than anything, is that he is below that 50 percent mark, which is never where you want to be if you're an officeholder.

BLITZER: Yes. Here's what should really bother them. It's 9.6 percent, the unemployment rate nationally. In Nevada, what, it's 14 percent, the highest in the nation right now. There are a lot of frustrated, angry voters out there.

CROWLEY: Yes, the tide is awful. I mean, the wind is totally against him at this point. He is an incumbent in the year of the anti-incumbent. He has a horrible unemployment rate. And people look at him as someone who helped usher through the Obama agenda, which is not popular that much among a number of people, a number of voters.

So he has got a lot of headwinds, but they think and they believe that, A, he has a flawed opponent in Sharron Angle. They think that she is gaffe prone. And they have, as many of these incumbents have, has taken some of these Tea Party candidates and tried to say, they are far-right, they're weird, they're way out there.

They believe now, the Democrats in general believe -- and I have talked to a number of strategists saying, look, no longer is the voter saying, I'm angry about this and I'm angry about that. They know they have to make a choice. So, they have sort of set aside the anger said, it is either this person or this person.

And they believe that when the choice comes up, Senator Reid will come be the one that comes out of this election.

BLITZER: And we will see if those Tea Party supporters can really energize that vote out there in Nevada and help her. I am sure they will try as much as they can.


BLITZER: Thanks very much.


BLITZER: See you Sunday morning.

CROWLEY: It is a deal.

BLITZER: She has now spent more of her personal fortune on her campaign than any candidate in U.S. history. How much more is Meg Whitman willing to spend? I will ask her -- that interview coming up.

And the heated debate that prompted two co-hosts of "The View" to storm off the set today.


BLITZER: Big money and big controversies are marking the race for governor in the most populous state in the United States, where a former governor is facing a former tech CEO.


BLITZER: And joining us now, Meg Whitman. She is running for governor of California against Jerry Brown, the Democrat. Meg Whitman is the Republican.

Thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: I want to get to some of the substantive issues in this California race.

But I will play the apology that he delivered to you the other night, Jerry Brown, on the comment someone made on a -- overheard on a phone conversation, presumably somebody on his staff, using the word whore.

Listen to this.


JERRY BROWN (D), CALIFORNIA GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATE: This is a five-week-old conversation picked up on a cell phone with a garbled transmission. Very hard to detect who it is.

This is not -- well, I don't want to get into the term and how it's used, but I will say, the campaign apologized promptly. And I affirm that apology tonight.


BLITZER: You accept his apology?

WHITMAN: You know, I think that Californians deserve better than the traditional, you know, politics of slurs and personal attacks. It's not what California is about.

But I accept his apology, and I think Californians want to talk about the issues. And which candidate is going to be better equipped to jump start the economy, who's going to be able to get the, you know, budget put back together, and who has the best chance of fixing our K-12 public education.

BLITZER: Just yesterday, you said you were going to spend another $20 million of your own money to try to get yourself elected. You've already spent, what, about $120 million. How much more are you willing to spend in these final 2 1/2 weeks?

WHITMAN: Well, you know, what I've tried to do is invest money so that I can get the message out to California voters so they have a choice in this election. And I'm up against some very powerful interests in Sacramento. Over the last five years, the unions have poured $300 million into controlling Sacramento politics. So I'm investing the money so people really know where I stand on the issues and the way forward, I think, that we can put Californians back to work and get this state turned around, because you know the crisis we face out here, Wolf. It's among the worst in the nation.

BLITZER: Sarah Palin, the vice-presidential nominee on the Republican side, she's got a big event in California. You are not going to be there. Carly Fiorina is not going to be there. Why did you decide not to join forces with Sarah Palin in California?

WHITMAN: Well, we've got a whole series of events scheduled. It's been scheduled for quite some time. And what I need to do is to be out in the communities meeting voters, having them get to know me and my policies for turning California around. So it just didn't work out from a scheduling point of view.

BLITZER: Do you have a problem, though, with her? Any reason you might not want to be seen with her?

WHITMAN: No, listen, you know, Sarah Palin has a lot of support among the Republicans in California. I want everyone to be a part of this campaign. You know, if I'm going to win this campaign, we've got to have Democrats and independents. We've got to have Latinos and African-Americans. We've got to have everyone part of this campaign, because if we're going to turn around California, we've all got to join together and say, "You know what? Enough is enough. We're going to have a different point of view on how we're going to get things done here."

BLITZER: Let's go through some of the issues. Immigration, illegal immigration specifically. Jerry Brown, your opponent says this about your position. Listen to what he says.


BROWN: That's basically treating people from Mexico as semi- serfs. Just bring them in, work them and send them back. I don't think that's human. I don't think it's right.


BLITZER: Do you support a pathway to citizenship for illegal immigrants who play by the rules, study, work hard, wait in line? Do you support a pathway to U.S. citizenship for them?

WHITMAN: You know, I don't support amnesty. Here is what I do support, which is we have got to get our arms around the illegal immigration question in California and the country. So here's where I stand. I am not in favor of the Arizona law for California. From the beginning I've said I don't think that's right for California.

Here's what we need to do. We've got to secure our border. I spent a day on the border between Mexico and California. I can tell you we have not given those Border Patrol agents the resources they need, either personnel or technology.

And I want to hold employers accountable for hiring only documented workers. We need a good e-verify system to hold employers accountable. And then finally we have to eliminate sanctuary cities.

But we also have to have a temporary guest worker program for certain industries in California, like agricultural -- agriculture and hospitality so that we have the workforce we need for California. And that's the plan. I think it's a smart plan. I think it's a balanced plan, and I think it will work for California.

BLITZER: So illegal immigrants could be part of that guest worker program, is that what you're saying?

WHITMAN: Absolutely. So if you are a worker who is working in the agricultural industry or hospitality, you can sign up for this temporary guest worker program, be here to work legally on a temporary basis, pay taxes, you know, be part of the system, but it's a temporary guest worker program.

BLITZER: And they would never be allowed to stay permanently and become U.S. citizens?

WHITMAN: You know, certainly my view is, until we can convince Americans that we can stop illegal immigration, Americans are not ready to talk about anything else.

We have -- the federal government who has failed in their obligation to stop illegal immigration into this country. Let's prove to Americans we can get this done. And -- and then we can take up all the other issues, but the first and foremost, let's get our arms around what is an increasing problem. And everyone is very concerned about it, as you know, on both sides of the aisle.

BLITZER: Where does that issue involving the housekeeper who was an illegal immigrant who worked for you, where does that stand right now?

WHITMAN: Well, I think the good news is the Gloria Allred circus has pretty much left town. Californians understand that that was a political stunt. I did nothing wrong. We went to an employment agency to hire our housekeeper. We had three forms of identification. She was a great employee, came to us, you know, nine years later and admitted that she was illegal. And we did what we had to do, which was let her go. It broke my heart. Been a, you know, part of our family for nine years.

But good news is I think, you know -- as I said, that has, you know -- that circus has left town, and Californians, as I said, want to talk about how we're going to -- how we're going to jump start this economy, how we're going to start bringing jobs back to California, how we're going to continue to own innovation and make sure that our higher education system in California, which is the best in the country, stays that, as opposed to have more and more budget cuts, which will jeopardize our innovation engine out here.

BLITZER: Well, with hindsight, should you have gone to authorities and reported this woman after you learned she was illegal?

WHITMAN: You know, I don't think so. You know, you make a judgment call at the time. And I didn't want to make an example of Nicky. She had been a, you know, part of our -- part of our extended family. We did what we needed to do, which was let her go, and I didn't want to make an example of her.

BLITZER: Meg Whitman wants to be the next governor of California. Thanks very much for coming in.

WHITMAN: Thanks, Wolf. Good to see you.

BLITZER: We've repeatedly invited Jerry Brown to come here into THE SITUATION ROOM, do an interview from California. So far, he's declined all of our requests. Jerry Brown, so far a no-show, but we'll keep on asking.

Beatings, drug use, even murder. That's what U.S. Army soldier says went on in his platoon in Afghanistan, but is the U.S. military trying to keep critical evidence under wraps? Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: There are new developments in the case of -- it's a disturbing case, I must say, of a U.S. soldier, several U.S. soldiers accused of killing Afghan civilians, supposedly for sport. As we continue to dig and dig into the story, the U.S. military is trying to clamp down on information. Drew Griffin of CNN's special investigations unit has the latest.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are pictures obtained by CNN of a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan. A soldier who blew the whistle on what the Army says was a platoon gone rogue. Bruises on his back, arms, near his neck, of Private First Class Justin Stoner. Bruises received not in combat, but in his bunk. Beaten by fellow soldiers who feared Stoner was a snitch. Jeremy Morlock, one of the soldiers now accused of murdering three Afghan civilians, told investigators in this taped interrogation he was there the day Private Stoner was beaten.

JEREMY MORLOCK, ACCUSED OF MURDERING CIVILIANS: Yes, we walked into the room, and locked the door behind us, and a couple guys just started talking to him, just laying on him. You know...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you mean?

MORLOCK: Well, it started with talking. Why would you rat on your guys, you know, stuff like that, and then that led into someone grabbing him or...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did he deny it?

MORLOCK: Yes, at first -- at first he did. And then he came to and made some comments about how he was tired of being a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) or something like that. And then he made a comment, like, something about I think someone had grabbed him at that point and maybe gave him a punch to the chest or something. And he made the statement like, "Hey, you guys can sit here and punch me all day long if you want," or something, and once that was made, Gibbs was like, "Oh, OK" and grabbed him off his cot and threw him on the ground in his room, and then that's when a few guys got a few licks in.

GRIFFIN: Morlock's attorney told CNN his client was on prescription drugs, high on hashish and suffering combat-related brain injuries when the crimes were committed.

Sergeant Gibbs, the squad leader who has tattoos on his leg which he said represent kills in both Iraq and Afghanistan, is the alleged ring leader. He hasn't admitted anything. His attorney told CNN he is not ready to comment.

Others during interrogation also described how they believed Stoner was a rat, about to tell commanders about the drug use going on at forward operating base Ramrod. At least seven members of the rogue platoon entered Stoner's tent on May 5, surrounded Stoner, as Stoner himself sketches in this drawing for investigators. Then, according to Stoner's statement, "collectively stomped, kicked and punched me everywhere on my body below the neck."

(on camera) Last week Stoner agreed to talk again, this time to CNN in an on-camera interview, but just three hours before that interview was to take place, south of Seattle, CNN received this e- mail from Private Stoner's military attorney.

(voice-over) "About two hours ago, prosecutors and I met regarding the disposition of the case against PFC Stoner," the attorney writes. "Based on this meeting, PFC Stoner will be given full immunity in the case and not be prosecuted for any allegations made against him contingent, also, however, on staying away from media."

With that, the interview was canceled. The military, which had not charged Stoner with any crime, was threatening to bring charges against him, then offered him a deal as long as he didn't go public.

(on camera) The U.S. Army appears to be trying to limit further damage by this rogue platoon. The evidence includes damning photographs. Those who have seen them tell CNN they show soldiers posing with dead Afghans like hunting trophies; worse, we are told, than the disastrous photos taken by jailers in Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison.

(voice-over) This military directive sent to defense attorneys orders all photos be immediately returned to the criminal investigation division at Fort Lewis. Last week, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell refused to speculate on the case.

GEOFF MORRELL, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: I don't want to do anything that could in any way jeopardize the prosecution or the ability of the defendants in this case to get a fair trial.

GRIFFIN: So for now, the Army is working hard to contain witnesses and contain evidence, all in an effort to control the story of a platoon even the Army says was out of control.

Drew Griffin, CNN, Atlanta.


BLITZER: After seeing a portion of Drew's story on earlier today, the Army released this statement. Let me read it to you.

"Discussing PFC Stoner's direct involvement in these hearings is inappropriate and could affect the outcome of these cases. It is imperative that we follow the judicial process in order to provide the accused a fair and impartial trial while at the same time serve justice. PFC Stoner is currently not charged in these matters, nor has he been granted immunity by the convening authority for his cooperation in these ongoing investigations." That statement just released by the U.S. Army.

He was accidentally shot by Dick Cheney, then the vice president of the United States, and he still has the pellets in his throat and hairline. You're going to find out why he says he just wants to move on right now.

And Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, they storm off the show "The View" right in the middle. What happened? We'll tell you.


BLITZER: All right. This just coming in from our sister network, CNN Chile. They're now reporting the names of the three miners, three of the 33, the first three who will be released from hospital in the coming hours. Let me tell you who they are. Carlos Mamani, Samuel Avalos, and Claudia -- Claudio Yanez. Those are the three miners who are about to be released from the hospital, the first of the 33. We're told that the others have minor, minor ailments or injuries. And we expect all of them to be released fairly -- very soon. Good news.

We're also getting this in from White House, the statement that the president called the president of Chile, President Pinera, to say this. Earlier today, President Obama called the Chilean president, Sebastian Pinera, to congratulate him and the Chilean government on the historic rescue of the 33 miners trapped under more than 2,000 feet of rock in northern Chile since August 5.

The president haled the rescue as a tribute not only to the determination of the rescue workers and the Chilean government but also the miners and the Chilean people, who have inspired the world.

President Pinera conveyed his thanks to the president, the United States government, and the American companies and individuals who provided support for the rescue efforts.

That statement from the White House just released.

Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What else is going on, Fred? Can you top -- can you top that?


All right. We do have some other things that are equal significance. Some fiery words from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in southern Lebanon today, right on Israel's doorstep. The Iranian president said the Zionists should disappear, and he praised Hezbollah for what he called its resistance in the 2006 war with Israel, saying that will serve as a model for others in the region.

And it's been nearly five years since then-Vice President Dick Cheney accidentally shot Texas attorney Harry Whittington during a hunting trip, if you remember that. Whittington still bears the slight scars where bird-shot pellets lodged in his face.

Well, now he's talking about what happened. He tells the "Washington Post" that all he remembers is the smell of burning powder before passing out. He adds he feels lucky for his every day that he is alive right now, and he just simply wants to move on.

And this highly anticipated story and event. The fireworks flew when FOX News' Bill O'Reilly appeared on ABC's "The View" today. It all started when O'Reilly blamed Muslims for the 9/11 attack. Listen.



WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": No, Muslims? Oh, my God! That is...

O'REILLY: Muslims didn't kill us on 9/11? Is that what you're saying?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Extremists. Excuse me.

O'REILLY: What religion was...

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW': Mr. McVeigh. Mr. McVeigh was an extremist and he killed...

O'REILLY: Listen. 70 percent of the country...

BEHAR: I don't want to sit here. I don't want to sit here now. I don't.


WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. So, after the standing up of Joy Behar there, Whoopi Goldberg kind of joined in, as you see right there. Boom. Collectively stormed off the set in the middle of the show. And they just might get a scolding from Barbara Walters there.

On air she said they should not have walked off but instead should have continued the discussion instead. Wolf, fiery moments, understatement of the day.

BLITZER: Yes. I was watching "The View." They came back, Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar, later, after Barbara scolded them on the air. They came back, and they continued the conversation. But it was lively, Fred. Thanks very much.

WHITFIELD: Always glad.

BLITZER: So how do you think your children's lives will compare to your own? Jack Cafferty is next with "The Cafferty File."


BLITZER: Let's get right to Jack -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is "How do you think your children's lives will compare to your own?"

Annie writes, "Thirty-five years ago we made a decision not to have children, and I have never been so sure of that decision as I am today. If the trend continues, the U.S. will one day be a third-world country with inadequate health care, inadequate nutrition, and jobs that must compete with low-wage workers in other third-world countries. Tent cities will be common, and Republicans will still be giving tax breaks to billionaires."

Karen writes, "My kids are all lucky to be employed but none have jobs utilizing their college training and all are working for low salaries. Two have moved home for financial reasons. There is, I think, no more American dream. We're all living paycheck to paycheck."

C. in Massachusetts: "Our son's a senior at NYU. He's working two paying jobs while taking classes and writing an honors thesis. He's already eclipsed us in many ways. He plans to do better financially, too. With a little luck and a lot of hard work, we hope so."

Mario in Arizona, "My children are now grown men and women. My fear is not for them. My fear is for their children and their children's children. And for America's children. The day a worker in Indiana is willing to work for the same wages paid to a worker in India is the day the American dream will be buried. It's already on life support. Is there a doctor in the house?"

Deanna writes, "My kids have the opportunity to take these difficult times and trials and become better people because of them. They may learn how to better handle and budget money, because they have such a reality that saving and spending carefully is an important life skill."

Donna writes, "The same question was asked after the Depression, and I remember the hard times in the '70s. The fact is, we'll go on. We always do, because the American spirit is strong. This, too, shall pass."

Alex writes, "In this economy, who can afford to have kids?"

If you want to read more, you'll find it on my blog:

BLITZER: All right, Jack. Thank you.

Next, wait until you find out just how long a Happy Meal can last.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You don't want to do that.

I couldn't bear to...


BLITZER: It's the burger that time forgot. CNN's Jeanne Moos serves up this "Most Unusual" story.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Does a McDonald's Happy Meal have a happy ending?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Astonishing refusal to decompose.

MOOS: A New York City photographer made headlines with her Happy Meal project. Sally Davies says she bought a Happy Meal, kept it on this shelf in her apartment, and photographed it every few days for six months.

There's day one. There's day 180. No mold, or as one newspaper asked, "You want flies with that?"

SALLY DAVIES, PHOTOGRAPHER: That's the burger. MOOS: No smell, though still a slightly greasy feel.

(on camera) The biggest structural change took place between day 42 and day 49 when a section of the upper bun broke off.

(voice-over) But the lack of decomposition had folks freaked out: "Uh... that's really disturbing."

Some accused Sally of falsifying the photos.

DAVIES: Why would I lie? You know, why would I do this? I'm not getting paid to do this.

MOOS: She started the project to prove a point to a friend, but what does it prove?

(on camera) As a food scientist, what does this experiment tell you, anything?


MOOS: Food scientist Dr. John Lucey says it's just dehydrated food.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you took a steak home and cooked it and then forgot about it, you'd get something similar like this.

MOOS (on camera): You don't mind that I'm touching it a little?

(voice-over) How about the bun? Regular bread gets moldy.

LUCEY: Yes, but the burger buns are different because they're made to be lower moisture content because they have to be tougher.

MOOS: Dr. Lucey has no connection to McDonald's, but the company made the same argument: "If food is/or becomes dry enough, it won't grow mold or bacteria."

(voice-over) The Happy Meal fountain of youth.

(on camera) The funny thing is how many people keep old fast food.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is going on four years old, and it's aging better than me.

MOOS: One guy even has a burger museum dating back more than 20 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The world's first immortal hamburger.

MOOS: Morgan Spurlock did a similar experiment when he made "Super Size Me." Eventually, a Big Mac in a jar got moldy, but after ten weeks, the fries looked the same.

MORGAN SPURLOCK, FILMMAKER: What is wrong with that? MOOS: Compared to moldy fries not from a fast food restaurant.

Sally says her dogs lost interest in the Happy Meal within two days, but at 180 days Jay Leno hasn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's disgusting.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it's not nice. She basically refuses to...

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN.

(on camera) I'm just dehydrated. There's nothing wrong with me.

(voice-over) New York.


BLITZER: That's all the time we have. Thanks very much for watching.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.