Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Death Sentence in Connecticut Home Invasion Trial; President Obama Heads to Indonesia
Aired November 8, 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: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: He's a radical cleric and one of the world's most wanted terrorists. Now he's giving his followers a blanket license to kill Americans, even as his father is fighting to keep America from killing his son.
Also, as President Obama heads to Indonesia, we visit the place where he spent some of his most formative years as a kid. This hour, a personal tour inside the president's childhood home.
And he's the sole survivor of a vicious home invasion that left his wife and two daughters dead. Now, as the killer is sentenced, he's speaking out. You are going to hear his emotional statement this hour.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world, breaking news, political headlines, and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
He's an American citizen and a radical cleric linked to recent terrorist attempts and attacks from the Fort Hood massacre to the cargo plane bomb plot the other day. Anwar al-Awlaki is wanted dead or alive by the United States, but now he has got a chilling new message for his followers. He says it's OK to kill Americans, no permission needed.
CNN's Brian Todd has details of this latest threat.
Brian, what are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, because Anwar al-Awlaki is a religious figure in Yemen, this is being taken very seriously. And it's already drawing one strong reaction from at least one quarter of the U.S. intelligence community.
TODD (voice-over): A message that prompts a U.S. counterterrorism official to say -- quote -- "He's vile."
American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, wanted dead or alive by U.S. and Yemeni authorities, sends out a chilling call, giving militants blanket permission to kill Americans.
ANWAR AL-AWLAKI, Muslim Cleric (through translator): Do not seek any permission when it comes to the killing of the Americans. Finding the devil doesn't need a religious edict, deliberation, prayer or guidance. They are the party of the devil. And fighting them is a personal duty of our times.
TODD: The radical cleric, a U.S. citizen, made the remarks in a video recording posted on Islamic Web sites. Officials say al-Awlaki is linked directly to the Christmas Day airline bombing plot and to the alleged Fort Hood shooter.
They say he's a significant operational figure in the group al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which claims responsibility for the recent plot to place bombs in U.S.-bound cargo.
(on camera): Given who we know he's linked to and some incidents that he's linked to, could we take this as a possible signal that something may be coming?
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I don't think this is like the signal for some imminent attack, but the fact that he's a religious cleric and that he's giving religious sanction to the killing of Americans is important for the people in this group, because they want to have the feeling that there's a figure giving them sanction to after all do something that in Islam is pretty controversial, which is killing civilians.
TODD (voice-over): U.S. officials have confirmed that al-Awlaki is on a government hit list to be captured or killed, but lawyers for al-Awlaki's father are insisting, because he's an American citizen, he has a right to due process. The father is suing, trying to stop the U.S. government from killing him.
Defenders of the government's position say killing al-Awlaki would be a legitimate military action taken in wartime against an imminent threat. The Yemeni foreign minister says U.S. intelligence is helping track down al-Awlaki in his country. And in a CNN interview, he made a surprising admission.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Yemeni Air Force has unmanned drones at its disposal that are American?
ABU BAKR ABDULLAH AL QIRBI, YEMENI FOREIGN MINISTER: Yes. Yes.
TODD: Now, Yemeni officials have since said there have been no U.S. drone attacks in their country. A National Security Council official told us they don't comment on specific weapons systems or platforms -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You were at the hearing today, Brian. I know you covered it for us. This lawsuit from al-Awlaki's father, what happened? TODD: No final ruling from the judge today, Wolf. And he indicated it may not come within the next few days. He did ask a lot of tough questions to the ACLU attorneys who represent his father.
Now, the father, we have to say, is currently in Yemen. He's not in the United States. A lot of the questions today had to deal with threshold issues, whether the father has any right to bring this suit. What was interesting also, on more than one occasion during this hearing, government lawyers said if Anwar al-Awlaki would turn himself in, he would have no reason to fear being killed.
BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much.
We're also learning that President Obama discussed terror twice with India's prime minister before wrapping up his visit to India today. At issue, the case of an American man who helped plan that deadly 2008 terror attack in Mumbai.
Our senior CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry is traveling with the president -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, senior U.S. officials say that President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Singh spoke for a second time today about what information the U.S. government had on David Headley, who ended up playing a major role in plotting those terror attacks in Mumbai two years ago that killed nearly 200 people.
Headley was a drug informant for the U.S. government who was sent to Pakistan after 9/11. And what is at issue here is why the U.S. government did not act on intelligence they had suggesting he might be a terrorist. Two ex-wives of Headley had gone to the U.S. government in 2005, 2006, and had basically said they had worries that maybe he was plotting some sort of a terror attack.
Now, White House aide Ben Rhodes today said while the U.S. government did have some general intelligence, they did not have specific intel suggesting he was targeting Mumbai.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The nature of the situation wasn't one where we had information that was relevant to the 26/11 attacks. What we had had is various different kinds of information about David Headley that, again, weren't specific to a particular plot in India, had more to do with suspicions about David Headley.
And, again, so it wasn't an instance where we did not share something related to that particular plot. It was information related to David Headley.
HENRY: Now, even though these intelligence mistakes occurred before President Obama took office, his administration is being very aggressive in trying to clean it up. They have been reaching out to prime minister Singh. They have shared intelligence with him about this matter. They made Headley available to the Indian government after he was apprehended, all because this is part of a broader strategy the administration has to forge closer ties with the Indian government on issues like trade, climate change, but also counterterrorism.
And today back in Washington, the director of national intelligence, who is conducting an investigation of this whole situation, released a statement saying that U.S. officials did not connect the dots on Headley until 2009, after the Mumbai terror attacks, and that obviously if they had this intelligence connected sooner, they would have immediately informed the Indian government -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Henry, traveling with the president for us in India, thank you.
We are going to have more on the president's trip to India in a few minutes, including a very heated confrontation between the White House press secretary and Indian security all on behalf of the U.S. news media. We will explain what's going on. Stand by for that.
Before he left on his Asian tour, President Obama gave an interview that's still generating a lot of buzz. He's talking candidly about where his administration went wrong, leading to the Democrats' trouncing on Election Day. Listen to what he told CBS' "60 Minutes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES")
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that, over the course of two years, we were so busy and so focused on getting a bunch of stuff done that we stopped paying attention to the fact that, you know, leadership isn't just legislation, that it's a matter of persuading people and giving them confidence and bringing them together and setting a tone. We haven't always been successful at that.
And I take personal responsibility for that, and it's something that I have got to examine carefully as I go forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's go deeper with our senior political analyst David Gergen.
David, admitting failures, is that going to help the president going forward?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it does help when he shows humility, as he did in that interview.
What I think does not work is when he claims that this was a communications failure and that essentially is what derailed Democrats. The fact -- I think the facts show, Wolf, that the president and his team did not take their eye off the ball about trying to persuade people.
The president was out regularly. By a CBS tally, in the first 423 days of the president's time in office, he gave 471 speeches, comments, remarks. He was out in the public eye trying to persuade people more than once a day. That's far more exposure than any of his predecessors, even including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.
So, it was not a lack of exposure. Take health care. He gave 54 speeches on health care. Now, it wasn't that people didn't get the message. They did get the message. But it's this -- that old line about people who sell dog food. You can package it any way you want and make it -- and beautiful ribbons and a great bow, but sometimes the dogs just don't like the dog food.
BLITZER: So, looking forward, what does he need to do now?
GERGEN: Well, Wolf, I think it's an interesting question. He clearly -- you had a conversation with Gloria Borger in the last hour, I thought, that was important.
And that is, he's got to get this unemployment rate down. I think that that's partly a question of coming back with some ideas for how to advance the economy, and then actually getting some momentum. And I don't think it's a matter of just giving tons more speeches and getting into people's backyards.
You know, Americans showed, when George W. Bush, you know, gave speech after speech about the Iraq war, when they thought we were losing it, they just stopped listening. And he could give as many speeches as he wanted. They wanted to see facts change on the ground. He's got to see facts change.
In his case, the unemployment rate has to be coming down by the time he goes into the elections. If I can just take one more second on this, history shows that -- and these are interesting numbers -- that of the last nine elections -- of the last nine presidents who sought reelection, the only three who lost were those who had unemployment rates at 7.5 percent or higher.
And that was, namely, Jerry Ford, Jimmy Carter, and George Bush Sr. Those three went down on reelection bids with a high unemployment rate. For Barack Obama, I think the goal has bringing it under 7.5 percent by November of 2012.
BLITZER: That's going to be very, very hard, if you speak to economists, as you well know.
GERGEN: Hard to do.
All right, David, thanks very much.
GERGEN: Hard to do.
BLITZER: President Obama's future is also on Jack Cafferty's mind. Jack is back with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: America's love affair with Barack Obama is over. So says Mort Zuckerman in his "U.S. News & World Report."
Zuckerman writes the midterm election results show just how far away the country has drifted from Mr. Obama -- quote -- "A man who was once seen as a talented, even charismatic speaker is now seen as lacking real experience or even the ability to stop America's decline" -- unquote.
There's a growing sense now that Mr. Obama has isolated himself from everyone who matters. According to Politico.com, members of his own party worry that the president has distanced himself from congressional Democrats, state party leaders, Democratic lobbyists, business leaders, big-dollar donors, Republicans, the media, members of his own Cabinet, and, most importantly, a whole bunch of voters.
And he may not be able to get it all turned around in time for 2012, the question being whether he's self-aware enough to make the big changes needed to mend all of these relations and whether events will choose to cooperate.
One Democratic official says -- quote -- "He's more of a movement leader than a politician. He needs someone to kick his ass on things large and small, and teach him to be a politician."
On some level, the president seems to be catching on here.
In that interview with "60 Minutes," he acknowledged mistakes that he's made since taking office.
Mr. Obama says he misjudged the pace of the economic recovery and didn't always live up to his campaign promise to change the tone of the Washington debate.
So, here's the question: Is America's love affair with President Obama over?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
His job usually has him battling reporters, but now he's going to bat for reporters fighting Indian security over access. We have details of the dramatic and unusual action that the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, had to take on our behalf.
Also, a half-a-world away from the White House, the childhood home of President Obama in Indonesia, he's heading there right now. We are going to go inside.
And a survivor's emotional remarks as a man who helped murder his family is sentenced. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: It was truly a crime that shocked the country, a Connecticut mother and her two young daughters brutalized and killed during a nightmarish home invasion.
Today, a jury handed down the death penalty for one of the two men accused in that crime, convicted triple killer Steven Hayes. Now the slain family's sole survivor is speaking out.
Kate Bolduan is here with more on this horrendous, horrendous story.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So emotional. It is such a horrible story, but the emotion from today is why we wanted to tell you about this.
We're told defendant Steven Hayes, he showed little emotion as the jury sentenced him to die, but there was plenty of emotion on the courtroom steps.
Dr. William Petit called the death sentence a -- quote -- "verdict for justice." He'd been beaten himself with a baseball bat and left for dead in his basement, while his wife, Jennifer Hawke- Petit, and daughters, Michaela and Hayley, were terrorized on that July 9 back in 2007. Petit managed to free himself, but his wife and daughters died when their house went up in flames. Today, Dr. Petit said there will never be closure.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. WILLIAM PETIT, SURVIVED DEADLY HOME INVASION: The question was, what was going through my heart? I was really crying, crying for loss, you know?
Probably, many of you have kids. I -- Michaela was an 11-year- old little girl, you know, tortured and killed in her own bedroom, you know, surrounded by stuffed animals. And Hayley had a great future and was a strong and courageous person.
And Jennifer helped so many kids at Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh, and at Strong Memorial in Rochester, and at the Yale Children's Hospital in Cheshire Academy. And she -- she cannot do that. So, I was really thinking of the tremendous loss.
It is a -- it's a huge void in my life, in our family and friends' lives.
To all the -- to hundreds and -- and thousands of friends and people that are -- have written to us to express their condolences and support.
So, I -- I was glad for the girls that there was justice, because I think it's a -- I think it's a just -- just verdict. But, mostly -- mostly, I was sad for the loss that we have all suffered. It's helpful that -- that justice has been served with an appropriate verdict. I don't think there's ever closure. I think whoever came up with that concept is an imbecile, whoever they are who wrote it the first time.
And I think many of you know who have lost a child or a parent or a friend there's never closure. There's a hole. You know, the way I have imagined it straight through, it's a hole with jagged edges. And over time, the edges may smooth out a little bit, but the hole in your heart and the hole in your soul is still there.
So, there's -- there's never closure. I was very much insulted when people asked me last year that, if the death penalty were rendered, would that somehow give me closure?
Absolutely not. You know, this is not about revenge. You know, vengeance belongs to the lord. This is about justice. We need to have some rules in a civilized society. And, if life is that important, we -- we need to view -- view it in that fashion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: It just absolutely tears at your heart to hear his words. They -- the jury deliberated for about 18 hours. And there's another suspect, Joshua Komisarjevsky, that's expected -- he's also charged in the case, and he is expected to go to trial next year.
But just those words, Wolf, it just absolutely tears at your heart.
BLITZER: Our heart goes out to that father. What a loss.
BOLDUAN: Someone told me once -- and this seems to ring exactly true -- if you lose a spouse, you're a widower -- a widower. You lose a parent, you're an orphan. But there's no words to describe if you lose a child.
BOLDUAN: And that's really what you hear there.
BLITZER: All right. Kate, thank you.
They certainly can be all too easy prey for con men, investigators warning many of America's elderly are at serious risk right now for House of Representatives abuse. We are going to tell you how to keep your loved ones, your parents, your grandparents safe. There's information you need to know. We have it for you.
And George W. Bush famously did it. Now it's President Obama's turn to do it as well. You are going to find out who coached him to show off some dancing moves. There they are.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It's the Indonesian home where a future American president spent an important part of his childhood. We're going there. Stand by.
And the White House press secretary's fight with Indian security officials.
Thank you. Thank you, Robert Gibbs.
And the contestant that blew everyone away solving a "Wheel of Fortune" puzzle. Stand by for that as well.
BLITZER: President Obama's next stop, Indonesia, where he spent part of his childhood. He wrapped up his trip to India with a state dinner, after telling the Indian Parliament he will be back -- he will be strongly backing a bid for a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council for India.
The president's press secretary also made some unusual news, getting into a tussle with Indian security.
Let's bring back CNN's Brian Todd.
You've got some new details on what happened. Tell our viewers who don't know what happened what happened.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Quite a scene, Wolf. You're familiar with these pool confusion situations. We're going to get to that in a minute, but first for our viewers, explaining what the pool is.
Because it's often too expensive and not logistically practical for each news organization to send a team in to cover presidential events, they arrange for a so-called pool. It's basically, like the word says, pooling resources to send in a small group or one team that speaks for all the other journalists and then share that material that's gathered with those other journalists.
Now, today at the president's bilateral meeting in India, real confusion ensued when Indian officials decided to cut the agreed-on number of White House pool journalists allowed into this meeting for a photo op. The journalists thought eight would be allowed in. Indian officials wanted only five. Then White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, said he would pull the president out of the meeting unless the agreed-upon eight journalists were let in.
The cameras were rolling when some of this unfolded. Now the video and lighting were a little jumpy, you'll see, because photographers are often adjusting their gear to make sure the video is right, but take a listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Here's what I'd like to do. I'm going to start with these guys. And I shouldn't have any problem getting in because that -- they're going in with me. That whole group is going in with me. OK. Those guys, if there's a pool, all of them go in. All of my guys go in. OK? That's the new agreement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Now, at one point Gibbs literally had his foot in the door, pressing Indian officials to let the eight journalists in. Eventually, they were all let in for just a few seconds, then hustled back out, Wolf. It was a bit of a scrum in there.
BLITZER: I can only imagine. Thank you, Robert Gibbs, for doing this. But this isn't the first time he's intervened on a foreign trip.
TODD: Not at all. Almost a year ago during this climate conference in Copenhagen, Gibbs got into it with Chinese officials who were trying to keep American reporters out of a photo op between President Obama and the Chinese premiere. This is after Chinese media had been allowed in. He got even -- he got a little tougher, even, at that point. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GIBBS: I got to get my American guys in, because everybody else got in. Those guys get in.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no, no.
GIBBS: No, no, no. All right. My guys get in just like your guys got in. This is a joint meeting. My guys get in or we're leaving the meeting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: American (UNINTELLIGIBLE) right in just now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. I did not get in.
GIBBS: This guy didn't get in. Come on.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: So twice in the span of one year, Robert Gibbs intercedes with local security officials, trying to force the hand and try to get U.S. journalists in there, and he at both times, Wolf, said, "I'm going to pull the president out." Pretty forceful by Robert Gibbs.
BLITZER: Yes. And he should do that. He did a good job. And we thank him for that, because it's not just the media; it's the American public. It's the world gets to see the pictures, gets to hear what these leaders are saying. If you don't let the pool in, the pool of reporters, we're not going to see it.
TODD: You don't get it now. Tell us about your experience. Clinton-Blair, 1997. You pulled some of the same stuff, too, right?
BLITZER: I remember I was the network television pool reporter for this meeting at No. 10 Downing Street where the president, then President Bill Clinton...
BLITZER: ... was meeting with Tony Blair, the British prime minister, and we were going in. We had the camera crews and everything. And one of Tony Blair's communications advisers or press secretaries said, "You guys can go in, but you're not allowed to ask questions."
And I pointedly said, "Well, we're going to go in. We can ask questions. They don't have to answer the questions if they don't want to. It's a free country, the United Kingdom, but you know, we'll ask the questions, and they can answer or not answer."
"Don't ask questions or you're not going in."
I said, "We're going to go in. We'll ask questions. They don't have to answer."
We had a back and forth, and they said, "Well, we're not going to let you in."
And I said, "Well, we're going in. And if we don't go in, the world is not going to see any pictures of the president of the United States and the prime minister."
TODD: I got the picture. We have a clip of it, I think.
BLITZER: Yes, we've got a little sound bite. We went in, and I asked the question, and guess what? Both leaders were more than happy to respond.
TODD: All right.
BLITZER: Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BLAIR, FORMER BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Thanks, guys. You know there will be a press conference, of course, later where you can ask questions.
BLITZER: Mr. Prime Minister, would you care to share with us some of your thoughts about some of the -- the lessons you learned in getting elected from President Clinton's playbook?
BLAIR: Well, I'm sure that we'll share lots of lessons together. But like I said, you'll have an ample opportunity to ask us questions later this afternoon, thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: He was annoyed. Bill Clinton was certainly not annoyed. Our job is to ask the questions. They don't have to answer them if they don't want to.
TODD: Did you get any brushback from that press secretary?
BLITZER: Yes. The British press for years, for years, he was annoyed with me, Tony Blair's press secretary. But that's life in the fast lane.
TODD: That's right. You pushed for it. You got it.
BLITZER: I wasn't just representing CNN. I was representing all of the U.S. television networks. You know, once you're in the pool, you stop working for your own company; you work for everybody.
TODD: It's always a competitive situation, but you have a responsibility.
BLITZER: Let's give a shout-out to Robert Gibbs.
BLITZER: He did the right thing, not only for the press but for the American public. Thank you, Robert.
A broken system is putting American's elderly at risk. What you need to know to protect yourself or your loved ones, your parents or your grandparents. Stand by. New information
And imagine solving Wheel of Fortune with only one letter and an apostrophe. Stand by.
BLITZER: More and more of us will need care as we age, but a new federal report says the guardianship system is broken. Kate Bolduan is back, and she reports.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Coombs would come to this restaurant every single day. And this is the table.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Thelma Oliver managed the Grand Street Cafe in Kansas City, Missouri. It was here she befriended a lonely man in his '80s named Griffith Coombs. He'd been a wealthy antiques dealer. He had no family. A collection of antique toy soldiers were his only company. He seemed well-traveled, well-educated and generous.
THELMA OLIVER, FRIEND: And I said, "Mr. Coombs, I really like that blazer. And he literally took it off of his back and gave it to me. I still have it to this day. BOLDUAN: It was that generous spirit, though, that may have been Coombs's greatest failing. As he became frail with age, he stopped driving and started taking cabs. Soon, Oliver noticed a stranger at her regular's table.
OLIVER: The taxi driver would start coming in and actually sitting at the table and having lunch with Mr. Coombs, which I thought was kind of different.
BOLDUAN: That taxi driver was named Ringling Dan Cohn, a convicted bank robber who had plans to empty another bank. This time, his target was Mr. Coombs.
MIKE WARNER, ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: He essentially insinuated himself into the life of the victim, who was an isolated, single man.
BOLDUAN: Mike Warner handled the case for the U.S. attorney's office. He says even with Cohn's criminal past and even without being related to Coombs, Cohn was able to become much more than a driver.
WARNER: He went to various lawyers and over a period of time was able to acquire just about every type of legal documentation that he could to take control over Mr. Coombs.
BOLDUAN: Then, late one night in August 2004, Cohn smuggled Coombs out of his nursing home.
WARNER: Mr. Coombs was basically shuttled to an unfinished basement. He was basically kept in a bed with a diaper. The conditions were pretty -- pretty horrific.
TOM DALTON, FBI AGENT: Mr. Cohn had a legal obligation to care for Griffith Coombs, and clearly he did not. He was in a physical and mental state that was deplorable.
BOLDUAN: The FBI's Tom Dalton says as legal guardian, Cohn used Coombs's money not for elderly care, but as you see in this Kansas City Police Department surveillance video, he spent it on himself. Even bought a Hummer with a hint on the windshield.
(IMAGE: HUMMER WITH "BAD TO THE BONE" ON WINDSHIELD)
DALTON: Well, he used the victim's funds to obtain jewelry, exotic dances, at least one, if not more, vehicles and spent the money on his extended family.
BOLDUAN: In all, Cohn stole more than half a million dollars.
(on camera) Unfortunately, the Government Accountability Office says this is not an isolated case. It's just finished an eye-opening nationwide investigation into financial exploitation and abuse of seniors.
GREG KUTZ, GAO INVESTIGATOR: What we found were hundreds of cases in 45 states and here in the Washington, D.C., area of abuse, including fraud and physical abuse, of seniors and others that were in the care of these guardians. We then drilled down on 20 cases relating to 158 people and found over $5 million of money that was stolen from them, along with physical and other emotional abuse of these people, again including many seniors.
BOLDUAN: It sounds to me like a drop in the bucket.
KUTZ: You have to assume that the ones that are caught, there's many more that don't get caught and get away with it that never go through the judicial system. Because again, only a fraction of fraud is caught. Only a fraction of what's caught ever actually gets successfully prosecuted.
BOLDUAN: Most jobs handling even small amounts of cash require some sort of criminal background check and/or a credit check, but the GAO found in most cases, guardians for the elderly can handle millions of dollars, and states have failed to require either.
KUTZ: And it's like putting the, you know, fox in the chicken coop, basically. And of course, they're going to steal money.
BOLDUAN: Who is dropping the ball here?
KUTZ: I think the local court systems are dropping the ball. They're the ones that are appointing guardians that in some cases were criminals or had serious financial problems. They're the ones that are supposed to be overseeing this activity while it's ongoing, but they were asleep at the switch.
BOLDUAN: What needs to be done?
KUTZ: To do no background checks on them is irresponsible. There has to be more consistent monitoring.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): Unfortunately, it's too late for Griffith Coombs. He died in 2005, just ten days after police rescued him from his so-called caretaker's basement. Not a penny of the $640,000 Ringing Dan Cohn stole has been repaid. He's in prison now but will get out in less than ten years. Unless the system is fixed, Ringling Dan Cohn could strike again.
BLITZER: And Kate is here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Excellent report. These are startling findings in this investigation that's been going on. What can we done moving forward?
BOLDUAN: It's a huge question, Wolf. This investigation was requested by requested the Senate Special Committee on Aging. The committee says it will now consider federal legislation to help state courts improve training of guardians, judges and the legal personnel who handle these cases, but just take a look at this story, Wolf. Time is of the essence. And we're just talking about considering legislation. You know it's an immediate need. Look at this one story and this one case. So it's a little unclear.
BLITZER: There are so many people, potentially, out there who could be affected.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Kate, for that.
It's the Indonesian home where a future American president spent part of his childhood. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: President Obama spent four years growing up in Indonesia. Our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, takes us on a tour of his childhood home -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Wolf. You may recall back in March we were traveling ahead of the president before his canceled he trip. We went on to Indonesia. There was a lot of anticipation, excitement over his trip. The "Jakarta Post" here, you see a picture of President Obama, back then as Barry Soetoro, when he was a young boy.
Here, the next day, "Palace Plays off Delay as Preferable." We had a chance to talk to a lot of his boyhood friends, his teachers, even had a chance to go behind the scenes, a sneak peek at Obama's boyhood home. Take a look.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): The two-bedroom Dutch-inspired house was built in 1939. Saral Risari (ph) lives here now and was gracious enough to show us around. But since he doesn't speak English, we thought we'd give you the tour.
(on camera) OK, let's go inside. This is the sitting room. And this is the original furniture from the Obama family here. You can see it is a typical original teakwood. And this is where they actually would just kind of hang out.
Now, this room is the room where reportedly Ann Dunham, Obama's mother, used to teach English to the kids who would come over from the neighborhood.
All right. Let me take you to the next room here. This is the master bedroom. This is where Lolo Soetoro, Obama's step-father and his mother, Ann Dunham, this is the master bedroom where they stayed. And as you can see, this is pretty much a shotgun house.
So we don't know too much about the president's bedroom at the White House, but this is Barack Obama's bedroom when he was about 8 or 9 years old. This is where he used to sleep and study, and there are two beds here now, but there was just one back then. This was his own room as a young boy.
Outside his bedroom, he was under the stars. A complete outdoor garden with plants, birds. He even had a pet rabbit and a little dog. (voice-over) Since Barack Obama became president, hundreds of visitors have come to his Indonesian home. Saral (ph) was proud to show us his photos and let me sign the guest book.
MALVEAUX: I guess we're not the first. Many people before us. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking foreign language)
MALVEAUX: Thank you.
MALVEAUX: And Wolf, all eyes are on an active volcano in Indonesia to make sure that it is safe for the president. So far, White House officials are monitoring it, and they say all systems go. So obviously, a lot of excitement and anticipation about the president's arrival in Jakarta, Indonesia -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll be watching every step of the way, Suzanne. Thank you.
Jack Cafferty is coming up next.
Plus, she's a one-letter wonder. Stand by.
BLITZER: Let's get back to Jack for the Cafferty file -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour: "Is America's love affair with President Obama over?"
Larry in Ohio, "Yes, the scam is over. After America got past the greatest political sales pitch ever delivered, they finally see an empty suit with no experience."
Al in New Jersey: "Zuckerman" -- Mort Zuckerman, "U.S. News & World Report" -- "Zuckerman is wrong. The country has not drifted away from the president. The president has drifted away from the country. He's mistaken opposition to the Bush presidency for support of himself. The key question is whether the prodigal son will return before 2012."
Dee in Ohio: "For the sake of our country, I would hope not. Although it would be interesting to see if he can win again in the event that the Republican Party just goes crazy and nominates Palin in 2012."
Carla writes, "It's over. Though it was a heck of a one-night stand in Chicago back in 2008. Now he doesn't send us flowers anymore. That rarest of blooms, universal health care, wilted right away. The peace lily turned brown before it could be placed in water, ending our hopes of a swift end to the war and the flood of money we've poured into that black hole. He's even admitted that he hasn't called. He's out of touch with what America wants. What's a girl to do?"
Michael in New Mexico: "No. If it weren't for the obstructionism of the Republicans and the spineless blue dog Democrats, the country would have been much further down the road."
Jerry in Georgia: "It must be nice to be able to run around the world when things at home are just going to hell. Americans are simply tired of all the rhetoric from both sides of the aisle and from the media. The branches of government have to come together in the spirit of compromise to get some real work done. Obama's history as of 2012, and he should recognize that. Everybody else does."
David writes, "In the United States, perhaps for some. In the rest of the world, no."
And Ken says, "Unless people go back to work, it's going to be a one-night stand."
If you want to read more, go to my blog.
BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack. Thanks very much.
There's only one Senate race left officially undecided. Alaska's Republican nominee Joe Miller goes one on one on "JOHN KING USA." That's coming up at the top of the hour.
But first, the luckiest game show contestant maybe ever.
BLITZER: A "Most Unusual" lucky guess takes a game show winner to the Caribbean. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): She was excited then, and she's still excited. You'd be excited too if all you needed to solve this "Wheel of Fortune" phrase was a single letter.
CAITLIN ROSE, "WHEEL OF FORTUNE" WINNER: "L"!
PAT SAJAK, HOST, "WHEEL OF FORTUNE": One "L."
MOOS: One "L" and an a apostrophe don't help most folks.
(on camera) What is this phrase?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, my God. Um...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Um -- can I buy a vowel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea. I'm stumped.
MOOS (voice-over): But fashion editor Caitlin Rose wasn't. Host Pat Sajak was rendered momentarily caught mute when Caitlin asked to solve the puzzle so soon. ROSE: Can I solve?
ROSE: It is a prize puzzle.
ROSE: "I've got a good feeling about this."
SAJAK: That's right.
MOOS: No one looked more shocked than her fellow contestant. Look at his face.
ROSE: I had a good feeling about it! I had a good feeling about it!
MOOS: This transplanted New Yorker is such a fan of the show that she got tears in her eyes the first time she spun the wheel.
ROSE: If you're a long fan of the show, there is a strategy a little bit. Like two -- always the apostrophe helped.
MOOS: Helped her know the first word was "I've" or "I'll."
(on camera) And if you think Caitlin is a one-letter wonder, what's really amazing is she said she had the phrase figured out before there were any letters up.
So you knew it when it was empty?
ROSE: Yes. I do this all the time at home. I call it before there's any letters or if there's only a few, and half the time I'm right.
MOOS (voice-over): Skeptics called her a witch, said it was staged, rigged.
ROSE: I think that's just funny. I mean, obviously, I didn't cheat. I don't know how you would cheat.
MOOS: Caitlin won a total of around $53,000, which includes a Caribbean trip. She plans to pay off her student loan.
ROSE: I have a bucket list of things I want to do. No. one was be on "Wheel of Fortune." Somewhere in there is own a Chanel bag.
MOOS: This Chanel bag runs about 3,000 bucks.
The fact that Caitlin solved this with only one letter prompted someone to post, "I can't even solve it when there's only one letter remaining."
We doubted that until we saw a contestant blow it with no letters remaining. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Regis Philbin and Kelly Ripe-a.
MOOS: Leaving us with a bad feeling.
ROSE: I had a good feeling about it.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos...
ROSE: I've got a good feeling about this..
MOOS: ... CNN...
ROSE: I had a good feeling about it!
MOOS: ... New York.
BLITZER: Good for her. Pretty impressive. That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"JOHN KING USA" starts right now. Joe Johns filling in -- Joe.