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Palin: Reading Between the Lines; Alaska Senate Race in Court; Possible AIDS Breakthrough; Royal Wedding Date Set; 69 Unforgettable Days; Korean Conflict Fraught With Danger; Gov. Bobby Jindal Pens Political Tome

Aired November 27, 2010 - 18:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: U.S. ships head into war games while North Korea says it's on the brink of a real war. President Obama faces a new crisis launched by an unpredictable nuclear power.

The controversy over airport pat-downs and body scans reaches new heights during this busy holiday week travel. Plus a new worry, pilot fatigue.

And get in line for the Sarah Palin show. A possible White House hopeful rolls out her new book and gets even more media attention. We'll tell you if she has anything new to say.

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

North Korea warns this weekend's military exercise by the U.S. and South Korea could push the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war. The U.S. has sent a carrier strike group led by the USS George Washington to take part in the exercise.

Now, it follows North Korea's sudden artillery attack on the South Korean island, which killed four people and led to the evacuation of some 1,300 others. The shelling also led to the resignation of South Korea's defense minister. And that country remains on high alert.

Joining me now, Jim Walsh, he's an expert on international security at MIT.

Jim, thank you so much for joining us here.

First and foremost, North Korea is now calling these joint military exercises a reckless plan by trigger happy elements. Are these military exercises helpful or hurtful when it comes to deescalating the tension and the rhetoric?

JIM WALSH, SECURITY STUDIES PROGRAM, MIT: Well, it's been going on since last spring, Suzanne, after the North Koreans sunk the South Korean ship, the Chignon. Essentially these exercises and, in particular, this set coming up with the U.S. aircraft carrier, there are three audiences. One audience is South Korea. The U.S. is communicating to South Korea and its people, hey, we got your back and we're protecting you. The other is North Korea. And the message is, you better not attack again because you might hit a U.S. ship and you're going to be in a whole world of trouble. The third audience here is China. The U.S. is trying to send a strong message to China that if you don't want U.S. warships continually in waters near China then maybe you should do something about North Korea.

Now, there are always risks associated with carrying on these war games. I hope the parties will be cautious and prudent. But they are not going to go away any time soon. We are going to continue to have them for a while.

MALVEAUX: What kind of risks are you talking about when you say that?

WALSH: Remember, it just takes someone to make a mistake, an errant mistake, and there can be an exchange of fire. And then people can misinterpret that, or there can be bad information, or there can be a political need to respond which then escalates the crisis. I mean, frankly, the last thing we just had with the shelling of the island, that came in a context of live fire exercises. South Korea is in disputed territory. I mean, North Korea, there's no justification for what North Korea did. But, you know, we have to be honest that territorial line is in dispute and South Korea was using live fire. They were using shells aimed away from North Korea, but using shells nevertheless. And these things can happen when that happens.

MALVEAUX: In light of that, in light of what we're seeing there, how seriously should we take the threat of war? That we could see North and South Korea at war?

WALSH: I think it's unlikely that we'll see a war. Certainly no one wants a war. It would not be by design or intention. North Korea doesn't want a war because they'll lose, and they'll loose badly. And that will be the end of the regime. South Korea doesn't want a war, because they'll suffer all the consequences, if that goes down; the refugees, the economic problems, the same for China. And certainly, the U.S. with troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere, doesn't want a third headache right now.

No one wants war. The question is, despite those intentions can crises escalate so that people lose control of what they're doing, and feel like they have to respond to the other side. And the other side feels like they have to respond, and up it goes. That's the danger. Not an intentional, deliberate act that's supposed to cause a war.

MALVEAUX: We know there was an unveiling of a nuclear site in North Korea just this past week. How does that play into this situation? How does it complicate matters when we now know that North Korea is even stronger?

WALSH: Yeah, I think it's part of the -- it may be part of this overall bargaining approach that North Korea has. It's hard to tell. We don't know what North Koreans are thinking and we have to guess here. It seems as if it's all connected, but we can't be sure of that. It may be this most recent stuff is tied more to the military than the nuclear issue.

But, Suzanne, I would hasten add here, North Korea is no more of a nuclear threat this week than it was last week. It is building that facility, but it already has a nuclear material, already has a small number of nuclear weapons, not that it can really shoot them anywhere. But it has them. I don't think the revelation this week really materially changes anything, just shows North Korea continues down that path.

MALVEAUX: Jim, you brought up a very important point. That is the role of China. We know that President Obama reached out to the leader of South Korea, that he will do the same with the Chinese leader. How important is it they get involved and send a very serious message to North Korea? They're very strong trading partners. North Korea depends on China to help even feed its own people.

WALSH: It's true. China plays a critical role, but to be honest, China also has a balancing act that's a difficult one. On the one hand, they obviously don't want things to get out of control, they'll suffer consequences. They have a very good relationship with South Korea. They trade more with South Korea than they do with North Korea. So they don't want bad things to happen.

But if they pressure-they feel if they pressure North Korea too much, they're going to lose leverage. Somehow they have to continue to talk to North Korea, try to get them to change their behavior, but not leave them fearing-not leaving North Korea fearing as if it has no friends whatsoever. Because if North Korea thinks it has no friends and the six party talks are five against one, then we're not going to make any progress there either. They have to walk a tightrope when it comes to North Korea.

MALVEAUX: Last question, Jim, real quick here. I covered President Bush for eight years. He dealt with North Korea. Obviously the six- party talks, he felt that was important and now we see sanctions, we see punishment. It does not seem North Korea is changing its behavior either way. What does the Obama administration need to do?

WALSH: I'd like to see talks or some form of communication. I know you don't want to reward bad behavior and it's very difficult politically to go into some sort of discussions with North Korea given what just happened.

But, Suzanne, the big picture here is not the shelling and it is not the nuclear facility. It is that North Korea is undergoing a political change. Kim Jong-Il is dying. There's going to be a new head of North Korea. And this has only happened twice in North Korean history. It's a delicate and dangerous time. I worry that if there is no communication, none whatsoever, that is where you get the risk of miscalculation, mistake, and escalation. I think it's important we talk to them, we don't have to like them, but we have to talk to them so that we avoid some of these other risky outcomes.

MALVEAUX: All right, Jim Walsh. Thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it. Happy holidays.

WALSH: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: There have been many provocations from the North over the years, but this week's bombardment may be the fiercest in decades. Dozens of shells rained down, raising flames, pillars of smoke. Our CNN's Stan Grant takes us to the island, now a scene of destruction.

STAN GRANT, CNN INT'L. CORRESPONDENT: Here's an indication of some of the devastation that this attack the other day wrought. Let's have a look inside this house. See it completely routed by the shelling. There's nothing left standing inside here. Just look around. The rooftop is gone. All the bricks have caved in. You can still smell the smoke and the fire that was here the other day.

Just looking through here. So much ash in the air. This room, again, blackened. I can just hear the tiles crunching underneath my feet. Let's have a look through here. Again, more ash, more destruction. I think this looks like over here, this looks like what could have been a microwave oven. Just have a shot through there. This may have been the kitchen. It looks as though there are kitchen implements. There are pots and pans below here. This looks as though it would have been a stove. This is probably the kitchen of the house.

This is just one house. There are other houses as well that have been destroyed. Let's have a look. Here's another house. That's been flattened by the shilling the other day. Again, broken glass, all the tiles that are destroyed, the roof is caved in here. You can see the blackened marks along here where the fire has been. Again, that very, very strong smell of ash and smoke that's still in the air.

You know, what's interesting when you walk around a place like this is you can imagine what life may have been like just before this attack. These people had no idea it was coming. They were here. They were completely unaware. The people I've spoken to said they were stunned and shocked by what happened. If you look around here you can see the traces of their life. This here looks like it was some sort of an incense burner. Here's a toaster that's obviously been destroyed. All of this would have been someone's life.


MALVEAUX: A top Republican is calling the administration's airport security strategy dumb. I'll talk to Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal about the uproar over pat-downs; and he'll explain why he says Washington has turned into "Fedzilla".


MALVEAUX: Holiday flyers are bracing for possible pat-downs at the airport and other security measures that many people find intrusive. The Obama administration is defending its policy while also acknowledging the airline security process is still evolving.

Joining us now, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, a leading Republican, who's been critical of President Obama on the issue as well as others.

Governor, thank you so much for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM. GOV. BOBBY JINDAL, (R) LOUISIANA: Thank you for having me.

MALVEAUX: I want to start off, obviously this morning the TSA Administrator John Pistole said that no immediate changes over the holidays would happening when it comes to the advanced screening. He said this in a statement, "We're constantly evaluating and adapting our security measures. And as we have said from the beginning we're seeking to strike the right balance between privacy and security."

Do they think they have struck the right balance? Do they need to do more?

JINDAL: Absolutely. They absolutely need to do more. Two concerns I think the American people have. I'll start off by saying obviously we all understand that we need to take the threat of terrorism seriously. After all the events, not only in this past year, but in recent years.

But two concerns I think the American people have. Number one, you don't see them using common sense. We all see the pictures of the eight-year-old boy, the six-year-old girl being broke, being handled on the way to go maybe to their grandparent's home, or for Thanksgiving traveling over the holidays. We know these aren't the real threats. We want them to use common sense.

MALVEAUX: What would be common sense in your mind? Would it be the kind of profiling that we're seeing from the Israeli government, for instance?

JINDAL: We need to use the information we have from intelligence sources, common sense, not using that information to target scrutiny to those most likely to cause us harm. It's just dumb. We shouldn't let political correctness prevent us from doing that. I think the second concern that Americans have is that there seems to be this obsessive concern with the rights of the terrorists. You know, they seem more worried about treating terrorists like citizens and citizens like suspects, for example --

MALVEAUX: Why do you say, though, that it's political correctness? The head of the TSA and President Obama, himself, said the NATO summit this is about America's safety. This is about people flying and not having to worry there's a bomb on the plane?

JINDAL: I say it is about political correctness because they don't seem willing to target their procedures in an obvious common sensesical (sic) way to the people most likely to cause us damage. I say it's political correctness because you know, in the beginning they said let's not call these terrorist attacks, call them manmade events. I say it is political correctness because they read the Miranda rights to the underwear bomber. I say it's political correctness, because they seem so focused-the president, his own record, when he talks about the war on terrorism. He talked about, for example, trying to- he goes abroad and apologizes for America. He talks about making ourselves less offensive to those that are angry. He talks about understanding their social injustice grievances. Here is the reality. This is a clash, this is a clash for the people who don't like our way of life, don't like freedoms, don't like our rights. MALVEAUX: So, what should you do to guarantee those freedoms? I mean, passengers have to be screened.

JINDAL: Two things. One, we need to go on offense, we need to be rooting out these networks, killing them. We don't need to be trying to understand them.

MALVEAUX: At the airport? With the passengers?

JINDAL: On the airports? Let's target our procedures to those we have a greater concern about. You even heard folks from the administration, like Secretary Clinton, yesterday saying that, yeah, maybe we do need to change how we apply these procedures. They are not that widely applied. Let's target our searches for those that are most likely to cause us damage, that are most likely to pose a threat to the United States.

MALVEAUX: Let's talk about the economy. Obviously you deal with this in your book "Leadership In Crisis." You talk about the need for a supermajority in Congress, to raise taxes and you say specifically that we didn't get into this economic mess by not taxing the American people enough. We got into it by letting Washington become, in your words, "Fedzilla". "A wealth-eating monster of unimaginable proportions."

How do you take on what you call "Fedzilla", how do you raise the money and how do you make sure there are people here, the economy is turning around? You have to have the revenue.

JINDAL: I have a whole chapter in the book "Leadership In Crisis" about how you fix Congress. Many of the reforms we have to live with at the state level, a balanced budget amendment in the constitution, a supermajority vote before they raise taxes. Look at spending right now, historically we've spent 18 percent of our GDP on the federal government, it is now close to 24 percent.

MALVEAUX: What should the president cut?

JINDAL: We can start by going back to nondefense discretionary spending, go back to 2008, pre-stimulus levels, you are talking about over $100 billion in savings.

MALVEAUX: Give us an example.

JINDAL: It's across the board. They have inflated spending across the board.

MALVEAUX: What would you cut?

JINDAL: Look at the House Republican plan, again, nondefense, discretionary. Secondly, you have to be serious about entitlement reform. And so for example, I have a whole chapter in "Leadership in Crisis" about Medicare reform. We developed a bipartisanship recommendation in the '90s. Conservatives have to be unafraid to say, yes, we have to look at entitlements. Let's do it in a responsible way. I have an entire chapter about how, in a proposal we handed to President Clinton, and that he didn't choose to implement, you could make Medicare affordable, reformed to be more modern and more efficient for seniors. It starts by looking at how members of Congress get health care today. Third, you could repeal Obama care. You want to talk about cutting over $1 trillion of spending, you are talking about $100s of billions of tax increases and Medicare cuts.

MALVEAUX: We know that you are opposed to many of the economic policies of the president, but obviously there are some things you agree with. Name one.

JINDAL: Look, I think that when he went to India and made a stronger relationship with the world's largest democracy, a free market economy, that was a positive sign. I agreed with his refusing to bend down to the liberals that asked him to an artificial-to withdraw artificially before we were done in Afghanistan. Third, when you look at some of the reforms Arnie Duncan is trying to do in Education, I like where they have started. I'd like to see strong follow through. But I like where they are headed on charter schools, accountability in the classroom, tying that to teacher evaluation. Many of the things we're doing in Louisiana.

MALVEAUX: Who's the best spokesperson for the Republican Party? Sarah Palin's been, you know, under a lot of publicity for her.

JINDAL: There's such a focus on who's going to be the RNC chairman, the spokesperson. We don't need one. We need multiple ones. What's more important is the message, not the messenger.

MALVEAUX: Is she a good representative for your party?

JINDAL: Absolutely. But one of many. But for my party, four years ago we lost power because we defended spending and corruption, that we shouldn't have tolerated. We need to earn our way back into being a majority party. We need to show the American people we're going to govern differently, stepping away from earmarks was a symbolic but important first step.

MALVEAUX: Governor, thank you so much. Governor Jindal. "Leadership in Crisis" it's called. Congratulations on your book.

JINDAL: Thank you for having me.


MALVEAUX: The airline industry and federal regulators are at odds over rules on pilot fatigue. We're going to look at the potential dangers of this dispute for passengers.

They are heroes around the world. The freed Chilean miners talk emotionally about their ordeal with CNN's Anderson Cooper.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) MALVEAUX: There's a lot of debate this week over stepped up airline security measures during this busy Thanksgiving holiday travel season. But there's evidence that most air travelers are not riled up over revealing body scans and pat-downs. A "USA Today" Gallup poll finds 71 percent of flyers believe the potential loss of privacy is worth it to prevent terrorism. More than half surveyed, 57 percent, say they are not bothered or angry about full body scans. Now, there's slightly more discomfort with the extensive pat-downs, with fewer than half saying they are not bothered by the procedure.

Well, there's another big concern right now for airline safety, and that is pilot fatigue. The Federal Aviation Administration is proposing new rules to try to ensure pilots are well rested, but the airline industry is opposing those rules. Our CNN Senior Correspondent Allan Chernoff has more on the dispute, and the life and death stakes.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT (on camera): When you're at cruising altitude and you are cruising just for hours, it's easy to get fatigued.

MAXINE LUBNER, VAUGHN COLLEGE OF AERONAUTICS & TECHNOLOGY: Very easy. Fatigued, bored, distracted, all of those things.

Fatigue is a dangerous thing. It has caused many accidents and deaths.

CHERNOFF (voice over): Thirteen people died six years ago from this crash in Missouri. The National Transportation Safety Board blamed pilot fatigue. And the investigation of the 2009 crash near Buffalo, New York, that killed 50 people revealed the pilots were not well rested.

(On camera): The same rules have governed pilot rest and duty hours for 25 years, even though a growing number of accidents have been tied to fatigue and the science in this area has been improving. So what's taking so long to get better rules in place? Industry players just can't seem to agree. The FAA's now proposing pilots be permitted to work to more than 13 hours a day, and be given more downtime. An least nine hours prior to a flight assignment. An increase of one hour from the current rule, not enough say pilots.

CHESLEY "SULLY" SULLENBERGER, CAPTAIN OF US AIRWAYS FLIGHT 1549: Every human has a physiological need for sleep and science tells us we need about 10 hours in a hotel room to be able to get eight hours of sleep.

CHERNOFF: But the fiercest opposition is come from airlines who want flexibility in scheduling employees. Their trade group, the Air Transport Association calls the proposal "operationally onerous".

MARK SICHEL, AIRLINE PASSENGER: It seems to me passengers are much more safe with pilots who are well rested.

CHERNOFF: That says the NTSB is reason enough to get new rules many place as quickly as possible.

MARK ROSEKIND, NTSB BOARD MEMBERS: Everybody who flies should be outraged there are known changes that would help to benefit safety in this area, and absolutely everybody should be pushing to see these changes happen now.

CHERNOFF: Changes are coming even with the complaints the FAA is going to push forward. Congress has mandated the FAA must put a new rule in place by August 1st of next year. Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.


MALVEAUX: When is a book tour more than just a push to sell books? Some think when it comes to Sarah Palin it's the perfect way to launch a presidential run. We're going to go between the lines.

Also, in Alaska, the final outcome of the race for U.S. Senate could rest in the hands of a judge.


MALVEAUX: The midterm election campaign is well behind us, but Sarah Palin's been drawing crowds this week. Some of them even camping out for the occasion. Palin is promoting her new book, but may also be promoting herself as a future presidential candidate. Our Brian Todd has been reading between the lines.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): They're not in line to see Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift, this crowd in Phoenix awaits another kind of star. Some have been here more than 12 hours to catch the author of the new book "America By Heart."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really like who she is as a person, I've been watching her show.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's for small government, she's for taking back America, which we need no thin this country.

TODD: The timing of Sarah Palin's book release, the early primary state itinerary of her publicity tour, fuels speculation this isn't literary work as a grand announcement. Susan Page of "USA Today" wrote a review of "America By Heart".

(On camera): What does she get into in this book to think this is a launching pad for a presidential run?

SUSAN PAGE, WRITER, "USA TODAY": Here are the things that she does in the book that make it helpful for her if she decides to run for president. Number one, she cultivates support among Tea Party Republicans who are going to be important in this process. She defends them against accusation of racism, for instance. The second thing that she does is she bashes the likely opponent, the Democratic, likely Democratic opponent, President Obama. TODD: Boy, does she. Palin broadsides the president for what she perceives is a cynical view of his own country. Quote, "This president's rejection of American exceptionalism has translated into a stark lack of faith in the American people."

And she says he's gone on a, quote, "global apology tour." She's also not hesitant to go after the first lady referring to Michelle Obama's controversial 2008 comment about being proud of her country for the first time.

Quote, "I guess this shouldn't surprise us since both of them spent almost two decades in the pews of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church listening to his rants against America and white people." We got no response from the White House to that. Some believe Palin's willingness to engage could cost her politically.

(on camera): Whether this is a launching pad for a presidential run or not, analysts say Sarah Palin has some tough obstacles to overcome in a possible presidential run, like high unfavorable ratings in some polls. But that's not always a death knell in national politics.

(voice-over): In 1992, Bill Clinton overcame unfavorable ratings not much lower than Palin's.

(on camera): What's her main challenge? Convincing people she has the foreign policy chops, economic chops?

DAVID BRODY, CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: She needs to convince people she has the chops, both not just economic or foreign, but intellectual chops. In other words, you can blame it on media, she will. You can blame it on a lot of factors, but the truth of the matter of the is, is that there needs to be a reboot, a Sarah Palin 2.0 if you will.

TODD: This book may also be a start toward that. Palin doesn't shy away from the substance of issues like health care and energy reform. She quotes Playdough, (inaudible) Emily Dickinson, but weaves in references to movies like the "40 Year Old Virgin." Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: The last undecided Senate race for the midterm elections is now up to a state judge in Alaska. Tea Party backed Republican Joe Miller sued the state over the way the ballots are counted for his Republican rival, write-in candidate Lisa Murkowski. She's the incumbent senator. Murkowski, who has already claimed victory, has labelled the suit as baseless and asked for a quick decision.


MALVEAUX: Thank you so much for being here with us. I first want to point out this is --

JOE MILLER, (R) ALASKA SENATE CANDIDATE: Thank you for having me. MALVEAUX: Sure. -- A ballot that you provided us and our viewers can see it on the screen where it certainly looks -- appears as if someone voted for you there and then crossed it out in blue ink, changed my mind, wrote in the name Lisa Murkowski.

This is one of those ballots that you are clearly contesting as not being accurate or fair or viable. I want to show the audience, however, the big picture here. Let's look at the big picture.

If you look at the vote totals now, you've Murkowski in the lead by more than 10,000 ballots. You have contested more than 8,000 ballots. Now, even if you won every one of those ballots that you contested, she would still be ahead by 2,000 ballots and you would still lose the race. So tell us what is the point of the suit?

MILLER: Nobody really knows as to the total number of votes between Senator Murkowski and I, and the reason why is there's been an ever changing standard applied not only by the Division of Elections when it first started the count.

Now, my view, the standard that they've used is a standard they never used before in state history. In fact, it's a different standard that even Senator Murkowski expected throughout the campaign.

It's a different standard that the Division of Elections argued before last spring should be applied at the time they were trying to get write-in lists at each one of the precincts in Alaska.

So at the time the count start, different standards applied then as were applied later on during the count --

MALVEAUX: Do you think the bottom line is that you could still win?

MILLER: There's certainly a possibility of it. Nobody really knows what the count is and that's really is the problem. We had not only a difference in standards applied, but we also have a difference in the way the ballots were counted.

The Joe Miller voters were counted by a machine count. The Lisa Murkowski votes counted by hand count and the reason why that's important is it, there are hundreds of ballots that the machines don't count.

In other words, one defect or another they get thrown into a pile that isn't actually tabulated by the mechanics of it and so it's important that we have a look at the votes, according to the standard, that Alaska has always followed as well as through a hand count. That's what this is about.

MALVEAUX: OK, granted that's what this is about, but how do you respond to the Alaska Republican Party, which has called on you to concede and most of all of Alaska's major newspapers who've also called on you to concede and fellow Republican Fred Thompson, this on his radio, had this to say.

FRED THOMPSON (R) FORMER SENATOR, "THE FRED THOMPSON SHOW": Joe Miller ought to give it up and live to fight another day. Show a little class. All those people around you who had big plans based upon your success are going to have to back off now. Don't let them take you through this court system forever, trying to hang on by your fingernails.

MALVEAUX: How do you respond? Is this more about you or your party?

MILLER: Well, no, this is a question about whether or not the rule law is going to be applied or not. The question is, are we a nation of laws or are we a nation where some bureaucrat at the heat of the moment can make up basically the rules by which it's accounted?

This is a black and white situation where during the election one standard applied once the election was over, a different standard applied. And I think I deserve -- I think Alaskans deserve to have a clear process, one that they can rely on in the future, and one that's not gamed at the end.

And so this is not about winning or losing at this point. Even though we don't know where that count is. This is about making sure the laws of the legislature is passed in Alaska is applied fairly and is not applied really basically according to the whims of some bureaucrat who makes a decision on these ballots like the ones that's been displayed at the beginning here.

MALVEAUX: And Sarah Palin, she backed you obviously. She made a name of you. Have you talked to her since? Is she backing your continuing this fight?

MILLER: Certainly she's donated to the Count Fund, to the Legal Defense Fund. There are many people still behind us both at a state and national level.

But again, this is about making sure that we are a nation of laws. Not a nation where we decide that, you know, because circumstances have changed we're going to apply some different standard.

This is a case right now where less than 1 percent of uncontested ballots separate Murkowski and I. So it's by no means this wide expanse that the media is trying to portray.

I've got to tell you that amongst our supporters in Alaska they absolutely are dedicated to this concept we make sure the law is fairly applied in an objective way, not to the subjective tendencies we saw earlier.

MALVEAUX: OK, we're going to have to leave it at that. Joe, Miller, we'll see how this plays out in court. Thank you so much for joining us.


MALVEAUX: Researchers think they may have hit on a major breakthrough in the battle against AIDS. Could a vaccine against HIV be close at hand?

And later, a date is set for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. We'll get the inside scoop.


MALVEAUX: It's potentially one of the biggest breakthroughs in HIV and AIDS research in years. Researchers were able to reduce the risk of infection in high risk groups by as much as 73 percent.

Dr. Anthony Fauci is here to explain how. He's the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the National Institutes of Health.


MALVEAUX: Thank you for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM here. First of all, you normally don't really make a big deal about something unless it really is a big deal. How is this report different? What does this breakthrough tell us?

DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY, INFECTIOUS DISEASE: This is a very important audition to our prevention modalities. In the preventions of HIV, it's never going it be uni-dimensional, it's going to be a combination of things, proper use of condoms, consistent use of condoms, decreasing the number of sexual partners and women, like a recent study show perhaps topical vaginal microbisides.

This one here of using a drug that is generally used widely to the treatment of people who are HIV infected to use that drug in individuals who are at high risk to see if you can prevent infection is a very, very important advance in our momentarium now.

Another tool that we can use. The results were really quite striking. You mentioned them. That in people who took the pill for more than 90 percent of the days they were supposed to, the decrease in risk of HIV infection compared to the people who took a placebo pill was 73 percent, which is really quite striking and highly significant.

MALVEAUX: So do you think high risk people should start taking these pills right away? And can they take these pills right away? Are they available to the public?

FAUCI: Well, first of all, we don't make any recommendation right now because this is a study that literally was published today. We need to get the appropriate bodies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the FDA, community groups, community physicians to examine all of the information, put it in context and determine whether or not at this point in time it would be appropriate to make a recommendation or a guideline.

That very likely will not happen for weeks to months. But in answer to your specific question, these drugs are available on the market right now. They're being widely prescribed for people who are HIV infected.

In fact, we know as a fact that some physicians are prescribing them off label for some of their patients who are not infected, but who would like to get an extra degree of protection. That's not recommended at this time, but people are certainly doing that.

MALVEAUX: What do they cost? Are they expensive?

FAUCI: Well, if you look at the retail costs in a pharmacy like, for example, in the Washington, D.C., area, if you just get a prescription to go into the pharmacy, this drug cost $1,000 a month if you take it every day.

So you're talking about anywhere between $12,000 and $13,000 a year. If you look at other ways of getting it, like at the NIH pharmacy, it costs us about $5,000 a year and there are some generic versions of it available in other countries, at a much, much lower cost.

MALVEAUX: Is this something insurance covers?

FAUCI: Right now, it's not an indication for use of prevention, but that's the reason why various agencies of the federal government, the CDC, the FDA, HRSA, CMS and all those who determine what is eligible for being reimbursement.

They're going have to look at this and determine, a, would it be recommended and if so, would it be paid for? So these are the things that are going on literally right now and would be a topic of considerable discussion over the next several months.

MALVEAUX: OK, Dr. Anthony Fauci, thank you so much. I really hope this is something that is truly ground breaking. Really appreciate your time.

FAUCI: You're quite welcome.


MALVEAUX: Britain's royal family sets about the task of planning a wedding. When we come back, the ring, the date and other details of pending nuptials for Prince William and Kate.

And CNN pays tribute to some of the world's heroes with 39 special guests. The Chilean miners who survived against all odds tell their heartfelt stories.


MALVEAUX: Well, save the date. We now know when and where Britain's Prince William will marry his fiancee Kate Middleton. The wedding is scheduled April 29th at London's Westminister Abby. Let's get insight with "People" magazine's Nancy Jeffrey joining us from New York.


MALVEAUX: Tell us why the Westminister Abby. What do we know about that?

NANCY JEFFREY, SENIOR EDITOR, PEOPLE MAGAZINE: Well, Westminister Abby is big, it's beautiful, it's glorious, but we spoke with William's private secretary and he told us one reason they like it, it has an intimate feeling at the altar.

Of course, the Abby has so much tradition and meaning for William's family. His grandmother, the queen was married there. The funeral for his mother, Diana, was held there. As William, himself, has said he wants to make his mom a big part of the most important day of his life.

MALVEAUX: We're looking at pictures that it is absolutely stunning, so beautiful. Can you tell us why this date? Is there a significance to the date, April 29th?

JEFFREY: Well, April 29th is three months to the day before his parents, Charles and Diana, were married some 30 years earlier on July 29th, 1981. Also it happens to be the feast of St. Katherine and as we know Kate's full name is Katherine.


JEFFREY: Yes. So it has some meaning.

MALVEAUX: Do we have any idea who's on the invite list?

JEFFREY: Right now, it is held very closely secret. It is going to to be a semi-state affair, not a full state affair as Charles and Diana's was. So you might not expect to see as many heads of state.

We do know that William and Kate very much want this to reflect their own feelings, their own family, and their own friends, but certainly some notable names will be there.

It sounds like Chelsea Clinton, people who were significant. Tell us a little bit about if we know whether or not who is designing Kate's dress.

Well, Suzanne, the big question on everyone's mind who will design that dress. Now, here go to choice has been (Essa) and of course, the royal blue rap dress she wore to the engagement has become instantly famous.

(Inaudible) already flying off the shelves, but (Essa) is a Brazilian label and many people think that Kate will bow to tradition in this regard and choose a British designer. One name that has surfaced recently is (inaudible), but so far that again is secret. So much of this wedding planning the couple has managed to keep amazingly a secret.

MALVEAUX: And we know that she has the late Princess Diana's engagement ring. Do we think that perhaps she'll take a wedding dress that's similar to Diana's as well?

JEFFREY: Well, we have spoken to a number of designers and one thing seems clear. While Diana's dress was, of course, probably the most famous wedding dress in the world, Kate is going to go for something much more modern, more lean, more sleek. Don't expect a big pufante, poofy dress. MALVEAUX: OK, and we know that the royals are going to pay for this, do we have any idea how much - any idea how much they are going to shell out?

JEFFREY: There are some reports saying in the vicinity of $40 million, but we really don't know at this point. We do know that Prince Charles is going to be footing the majority of the bill with the Middleton's perhaps kicking in a bit as well.

MALVEAUX: OK, Nancy Jeffrey, thank you so much. We're all looking forward to this very extraordinary moment and we'll be watching to see what kind of gown, the designer of the dress and all of the details. You let us know if we'll get an invite.

JEFFREY: You'll be the first to know. Thank you.


MALVEAUX: Monks go in prayer in Cambodia. It's one of our must-see images in our "Hotshots." Stay with us for all of them.


MALVEAUX: Here's a look at "Hotshots."

In Brazil, a bulletproof window on a police car is shattered after drug dealers attacked during a wave of violence.

In Cambodia, Buddhist monks pray for the victims of Monday's stampede in which 400 people died.

In India, soldiers from the Border Security Force take part in a camel safari organized to improve relations with civilians.

In Japan, a penguin dressed like Santa takes part in a Christmas event. "Hotshots," pictures worth a thousand words.

One of our Thanksgiving traditions is to salute CNN heroes. This year in addition to our top 10, there are 33 special guests. The Chilean miners, whose ordeal captivated the world. Some of them sat down with Anderson Cooper to talk candidly and sometimes emotionally about those 69 days underground.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What was the most difficult moment in all 69 days?

JUAN ILLANES, RESCUED MINER (through translation): I think it was the first days. Those were the hardest for me. It was the unknown. It wasn't clear whether the rescue was going to happen effectively 20, 30, or 40 days.

COOPER: Jimmy, how about for you? What was the worst moment?

JIMMY SANCHEZ (through translation): It was the first few days. Those first 17 days were the hardest for me.

MARIO GOMEZ, RESCUED MINER (through translation): For me, the worst day was the first day. I thought it was the end.

COOPER: You've worked in the mines for a long time. You were the most experienced here. You really thought that was it that you were going to die?

GOMEZ (through translation): Yes. At that moment, when we were all there and there was all the noise and the dust, I really thought we were going to die.

MARIO SEPULVEDA, RESCUED MINER (through translation): The worst day was the 16th day for me. We could hear the drilling probe. It was very close. It was desperate and fun at the same time, but when the probe did not find our shelter that was the most critical time and desperate time for me.

COOPER: Were there moments of panic, had just -- you know -- maybe you hear that people are searching for you, but were there moments of -- I think if I was there, there would be times I would just panic.

ILLANES (through translation): When we realized the situation we were in, there was great concern and worry. We knew we were trapped, but there wasn't a massive panic, never. The situation was there when we all could have panicked, but we all worked together and Mario had great ideas. We kept communicating and it kept us all calm.

COOPER: I've been in situations where I thought my life was in danger and I made many promises to myself about how I would change or what I would do differently. Did you all in your mind think about the things that you would do differently in your life if you were to get out? I haven't followed through on some of the promises that I've made. So -- but I still have time.

JOSE OJEDA, RESCUED MINER (through translation): We found ourselves inside that mine. All of the mistakes we've made, I've made big mistakes in life. But when we left that mine, we left with a new mentality. The things that we didn't in life properly, we can now redo. For 39 years, my life has not treated me very well. Inside that mine, that was the moment when I found a lot of answers in my life.

COOPER: That moment when the first drill came through, what was it like?

SEPULVEDA (through translation): It was exciting, very exciting. Hope, life, the desire to continue living, it was beautiful like a party. It was outrageous. It was like a carnival. It was if Chile played Argentina in a soccer match and Chile won. We had a note prepared, a letter ready to send up. Otherwise, we would have forgotten everything because it was such an exciting situation. So that is why we wrote the note.

COOPER: Did you write it out before the drill came? Did you know the drill was coming? OJEDA (through translation): Yes. The minute we heard them drilling, the minute it started, I wrote, we are OK in the shelter, the 33 of us.


MALVEAUX: Well, you can see the special tribute to all 33 miners tonight on the CNN Heroes All-Star Tribute starts at 8 Eastern, 5 Pacific. Watch to see who will be named the next CNN Hero of The Year.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Join us weekdays IN THE SITUATION ROOM from 5 to 7 p.m. Eastern and every Saturday at 6 p.m. on CNN and at this time, every weekend on CNN International. The news continues next on CNN.