Return to Transcripts main page


Air Travel Paralyzed; Game Show Ripoff?

Aired December 27, 2010 - 18:00   ET



Happening now: word of a major arrest in Pakistan of a wanted terror suspect. So , why are U.S. officials doubting that it ever happened? And now the focus is turning to a new and even more dangerous threat to American troops in Afghanistan.

Also, major U.S. airports are scheduled to reopen this hour after a blizzard paralyzes much of the Northeast United States. But it may not make much of a difference for some travelers.

Plus, a game show controversy. Was this couple the victim of a million-dollar ripoff? Well, they're telling their story to us.

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

Almost a decade into the war in Afghanistan, there's a growing threat to U.S. forces, one that most Americans have not even heard of. It's a group of fighters fiercely loyal to one family. And last week, Pakistan claimed to arrest a key member. But now we are learning that may not be the case at all.

Our CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr has more.

Barbara, what do we know about this so-called Haqqani Network?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the name to remember, Suzanne. A lot of Americans haven't heard a lot about them, but the Haqqani Network, who are the Haqqanis?

A family of fighters once loyal to the CIA now fighting and attacking U.S. forces.


STARR (voice-over): In Eastern Afghanistan, U.S. troops hope to start coming home in months, but the reality may be different. Here, attacks are rising. But it's not from the Taliban or al Qaeda. The number-one threat, fighters loyal to this man, Jalaluddin Haqqani, the leader of the group known as the Haqqani Network.

The top U.S. commander in the east has Haqqani in his crosshairs. MAJ. GEN. JOHN CAMPBELL, REGION COMMAND EAST: We focus really on the Haqqani Network as one of the most important insurgent networks here in Afghanistan. I believe it's the biggest threat to Kabul because of their location and how close they are the Kabul and the objectives they want to get at.

STARR: Haqqani fighters have stayed out of Kabul lately, but their overall success at trying to control territory and attack the Afghan government could risk the U.S. war plan.

CAMPBELL: They have no issues with recruiting. They go into madrassas inside of Pakistan, and they can come in very large numbers.

STARR: A major problem, the Haqqanis also operate inside Pakistan, sending a constant flow of weapons and fighters into Afghanistan. They control a region running from Khost in Eastern Afghanistan across the border into Miranshah and then into Pakistan's North Waziristan region.

Last week, Pakistani intelligence officials said they arrested Nasiruddin Haqqani, the leader's son, on the road from Peshawar into North Waziristan. It would have been a huge intelligence coup. Nasiruddin is considered the moneyman.

But a U.S. official says there's doubt the incident ever happened, telling CNN, "There's been no indication that Nasiruddin was detained recently."

A senior U.S. military official tells CNN there's every reason to believe the Pakistani intelligent service, the ISI, protects the Haqqani Network, something Pakistan officially denies. But some believe there's easy proof. The arrest may have been an effort by the Pakistanis to show they were cracking down.

FRANCES TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: The Pakistani intelligence service at a minimum turns a blind eye, because if they were actively fighting against them, we would have been more successful by now.


STARR: Now, General Campbell says every time Haqqani fighters attack U.S. troops, the Haqqani fighters are defeated.

But there is also evidence, officials say, that the Haqqanis protect top al Qaeda operatives, perhaps even Osama bin Laden and his associates, all underscoring one of the crucial problems 10 years into this war. How do you succeed in Afghanistan if you can't take hold and do something about those safe havens across the border in Pakistan? -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Barbara, thank you very much.

I want to get more with our CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend. She was homeland security adviser to George W. Bush and is a member of the CIA and Homeland Security external advisory boards.

Fran, thanks for joining us here.

Obviously, as Barbara had reported, she said this is really one of the deadliest groups facing American troops inside of Afghanistan. They are better financed, better equipped than some of these other terrorist organizations. If they have got the backing of Pakistan's intelligence, how does the U.S. take them on?

TOWNSEND: Well, Suzanne, your point is probably the most important one. And that is we haven't been very successful at all in North Waziristan, and because the Pakistani ISI, the Pakistani military has been unwilling to go in there.

Why? Because of this relationship with the Haqqani Network. The Haqqani Network is one of three major enemies that our U.S. and coalition forces face. There's the Haqqani Network, the Taliban, and of course people understand al Qaeda. These have different -- slightly different aims, but they come together to fight a common enemy in the United States and coalition forces. And because, in the Haqqani Network, they're often doing business with Pakistani officials, you know, those are their real allies.

MALVEAUX: How does the U.S. approach this formidable foe?

TOWNSEND: Well, it's been very, very difficult. Look, what we have encouraged the Pakistanis on their side of the border to become more aggressive.

And, truthfully, they have over time, with the exception of North Waziristan. And my understanding is senior U.S. officials from the White House and the Defense Department continue to push them to try and get them to actually move offensively in North Waziristan.

But until we can get them there, all of our pushing on the Afghan side of the border is helpful, but isn't going to be dispositive in terms of that fight until we can get some action inside North Waziristan. And we have seen the -- at least reportedly the White House has stepped up cross-border operations. And that's because we can't get our Pakistani allies to take action.

MALVEAUX: And according to Barbara's report, you know, the Haqqani son, he was arrested, but then that report turned out to be bogus. So how can the United States actually trust Pakistan?

TOWNSEND: Well, I think in fairness, what you're hearing -- Barbara interviewed General Campbell. I had been in the region. I saw General Campbell and General Petraeus. You talk to U.S. and coalition NATO forces, and there's a tremendous amount of frustration, because, of course, they see people like the Haqqani Network facilitating cross-border coming from Pakistan -- bad guys coming from Pakistan into Afghanistan.

Remember, in late August, there was -- the base in Khost was overrun. And that could not have happened without the facilitation of the Haqqani Network. And so there's tremendous distrust and frustration on the part of the U.S. and coalition forces.

MALVEAUX: Real quick, Fran, just to button this up here, President Obama is going to be visiting Pakistan this year -- well, next year, we know. What do you think he can accomplish there by being on the ground?

TOWNSEND: Well, it really is important. The president's presence there, pushing them personally on the Pakistan side to get more aggressive, to stand with U.S. allies and to support them in their fight in Afghanistan actually does make a difference.

Only he can do that and really have it resonate with them.

MALVEAUX: And on another subject, Fran, "The Washington Post" had a story today about planes that cross over the United States, whether they're delivering cargo or passengers to other countries. They don't land in the United States. They don't go through the same federal screening processes as those planes that actually land in the United States.

Is that a security hole in our system?

TOWNSEND: It is, Suzanne.

I mean, one of the things you hope to do through international organizations like ICAO International Civil Aviation Organization, is to set best practices and minimum standards, but it is a hole. We don't control screening for the whole world. We try to enforce best practices.

MALVEAUX: All right, Fran, Fran Townsend, thank you so much for joining us today. Appreciate it. Good to see you.

TOWNSEND: Thanks, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: The U.S. Embassy and the London Stock Exchange are among the alleged targets of nine men arrested in a British terror raid last week. Prosecutors revealed those new details as the suspects appeared in court today. They were ordered held without bail pending a hearing January 14.

Well, getting home for the holidays was one thing, the return trip, a nightmare thanks to a blizzard that is socking the U.S. East Coast. Newark Airport is scheduled to reopen right now, but departures only.

Now, New York's Kennedy Airport is also reopening for arrivals and departures. La Guardia is open, but remains at a virtual standstill because almost all of the flights there were canceled.

In fact, some 4,000 flights were canceled nationwide today, including about 1,000 by Delta, 900 by Continental, 250 by Southwest, 830 by U.S. Airways, 300 by JetBlue, and more than 500 flights canceled by American Airlines.

But it will take days for air travel to get back to normal. And for tens of thousands of travelers, this nightmare just continues. It's just airline passengers impacted by this massive blizzard. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you can see, for now, I have the streets to myself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This isn't Alaska. It ain't Minnesota. This is Grandview Island, Virginia.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can't get out until Tuesday afternoon now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not today. And today, they tell me it's not going to happen until Wednesday.

ERIC SCHORR, STRANDED PASSENGER: Because of visibility issues, because of the weather conditions, we end up getting stranded on our plane, on the tarmac, for upwards of around nine hours.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Where did you stay last night through the night?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just sit here. I have slept for 10 or 15 minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, it was real cold. They didn't even have enough blankets for everybody ,just probably the most uncomfortable sleep I have ever had.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR OF NEW YORK: Recorded 20.5 half inches of snow on Staten Island, 19 inches in Lower Manhattan, 16 inches in Northern Brooklyn, 18.5 inches in Woodside, and 15 inches in the Bronx, in other words, a lot of snow everyplace.


MALVEAUX: Unbelievable.


MALVEAUX: Well, what impact has all the bad weather had on holiday shopping? We're finding out if retailers are having a truly happy holiday.

And a model is found dead inside the mansion of a beer tycoon. We now have the 911 tapes.


MALVEAUX: Retailers had high hopes for this holiday shopping season, despite the still struggling U.S. economy.

So, how did it go?

Our CNN's Mary Snow, she is working that story for us.

And, Mary, do retailers, do they have any cause to celebrate?


Well, today, they're not celebrating, of course, because of the snowstorm that slammed the East Coast. But, until today, sales have been improving.


SNOW (voice-over): Retailers were hoping for streets filled with shoppers, instead of snow. The snowstorms on the East Coast are putting a dent in post-Christmas sales. But overall this holiday season, stores and shoppers are seeing signs of optimism.

SHARON LERNER, SHOPPER: Went into Macy's, and I could barely fit in through the door. So, I was like, wow, it's -- the recession looks like it's coming to an end, and it's really positive.

SNOW: Some analysts say, while this year is far from a blockbuster, retailers expect to have their best season since 2006.

DANA TELSEY, TELSEY ADVISORY GROUP: I think the three words that describe the season, it feels better. I think it feels better from the standpoint of the consumer who is out there spending a little bit. I think it feels better from the standpoint of the retailer, who have planned their promotions and can make money even at promotional prices.

SNOW: But it comes as unemployment remains at 9.8 percent and people are worried about being able to get a job. So why are holiday sales doing so well?

We asked Burt Flickinger, who is a consultant to retailers and the companies doing business with them.

BURT FLICKINGER, STRATEGIC RESOURCE GROUP: The storyline, Mary, is that the wealthy are spending, the dollars drop, more people are coming from Europe and Asia, and people want to spend more on family, friends, and children staying at home than traveling.

SNOW: Tourists, he says, are giving a big boost to holiday spending in several parts of the country. Gains on Wall Street are also helping sales. And things changed on the retailers' end.

FLICKINGER: We're not seeing the desperation discounting that we saw in the past, when retailers were fighting for their lives.

SNOW: Still, there are plenty of steep discounts. But analysts say, this year, stores were more targeted and careful about inventory. That didn't factor in, though, with a blizzard walloping several states. And now retailers are scrambling to make up for those sales.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SNOW: And it wasn't just any day of lost sales. Sunday, yesterday, the day after Christmas, is considered one of the top 10 busiest shopping days of the year. And one analyst we spoke with says it could take two to three weeks to make up for those lost sales -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And, Mary, what do we think about looking to the future here for retailers in 2011?

SNOW: Yes. Well, you know, it was better than expected for this year. And going forward, some of the analysts we spoke with say they expect that the first half of the year will be solid.

One potential, though, for the second half is that there could be rising costs for consumer companies that could be passed on to consumers, so there's a potential for a weaker second half.


Mary, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

SNOW: Sure.

One online retailer has just announced its bestselling item ever. We will show you what's flying off the shelves at Amazon.

Plus, why this fireworks spectacular had a married couple sleeping in different rooms.



MALVEAUX: Remember the uproar over what critics called health care death panels. Well, the controversy may be firing up again.

Plus, the mistake by a TV game show that cost this couple $800,000.


MALVEAUX: Well, it was one of the most controversial issues Congress confronted in 2010. And we can expect that health care reform will be back before lawmakers in 2011, as Republicans try to make good on their campaign promise to dismantle it.

And they will probably have the support of the majority of Americans, who oppose the law. A CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll shows that 43 percent of those asked support the new health care law, but 54 percent do not.

Our CNN congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar, has more on what Republicans have planned for health care reform -- Brianna.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, House Republicans are expected to have a vote to repeal the entire health care reform law next month.

It's not expected to be the first vote they take. That will be reserved probably for a bill that deals with the economy or jobs. But we will likely see this dramatic vote before the president gives his State of the Union address.

(voice-over): Scrapping what critics derisively call Obamacare, it's a vote House Republicans promised their supporters, especially Tea Party voters, whose anger helped sweep them into the majority.

John Boehner will be holding the speaker's gavel, and he is promising to:

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: Repeal this monstrosity and replace it with commonsense reforms that will bring down the cost of health insurance in America.

KEILAR: New polls numbers show most Americans have big problems with health care reform. They either think it's too far-reaching or doesn't do enough. Like Republicans, six in 10 people surveyed oppose a requirement that everyone buy health insurance, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.

But many Americans favor other reforms -- 61 percent support stopping health insurance companies from dropping coverage for the seriously ill -- 64 percent are happy insurance companies won't be able to deny coverage on the basis of a preexisting condition.

An all-out repeal is seen as unlikely. After all, Democrats are still in charge in the Senate, and President Obama wields a veto pen. But, in the House, Republicans also have plans to dismantle health care reform one piece at a time by refusing to fund certain parts of it and launching drawn-out congressional investigations, with an eye on ultimately delaying the reforms.

(on camera): A recent "New York Times" report said the Obama administration was looking to ad that end-of-life counseling provision back into health care reform through a regulatory process. You will remember, that was the provision that touched off a political firestorm.

Well, a White House spokesman called the story inaccurate and said the end-of-life counseling is a benefit signed into law under former President Bush, and the only thing this president is changing is allowing it to be offered in a new annual wellness visit for Medicare patients -- Suzanne.


MALVEAUX: Brianna, thank you.

I want to get deeper into this controversy over end-of-life planning and whether it's going to revive the political storm over these so-called "death panels."

Joining me in THE SITUATION ROOM, CNN senior political analyst David Gergen in Boston and CNN national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, who's here in Washington. Thanks for being with us this afternoon.

I want to start off here first. Congressman Earl Blumenauer, he was the author of the end-of-life proposal, if you will, these discussions. And he was actually quoted in the "New York Times" on Sunday, a chain of e-mails that he was sending out to supporters, and here's his warning here.

He says, "While we're very happy with the result, we won't be shouting it from the rooftops, because we aren't out of the woods yet. This regulation could be modified or reversed, especially if Republican leaders try to use this small provision to perpetuate the 'death panel' myth. Thus far, it seems that no press or blogs have discovered it. The longer this goes unnoticed, the better our chances of keeping it."

Well, clearly it's out there now. Does this whole thing just kind of blow up in their face, David?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, that Blumenauer e-mail was sort of like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Of course, they're going to charge. And they're going to -- they're going to make what they can of it.

I happen to believe, on the merits, that giving people advice about end-of-life options is wise. If we're going to bring health- care costs under control, we have to bring, in particular, how much how we spend on heroic measures for people who are terminally ill who might choose not to have them if they fully understood the implications. And that's a lot of the cost of Medicare.

MALVEAUX: Jessica, this is something the Obama administration -- clearly, they've been hitting back hard on this. And they say, "Look, this is something that was first approved by the former president, George W. Bush. What is different? What's new about what we're seeing here?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I spoke with a senior official at Health and Human Services who explained it this way, Suzanne. Under -- when President Bush was in office, he signed into law a provision that allowed doctors to discuss with a patient what their end-of-life directives would be. Do they want to be kept alive if they're on a ventilator or not, that kind of thing. But only during a one-time visit that they get at the beginning of their Medicare benefits.

When you first become eligible, you get this one-time visit. You can have this discussion.


YELLIN: Well, the new law, the health-care law, made that visit happen every year. It's part of preventative care, so you can have that overall wellness check-up where they check your cholesterol, and if you're a woman, you get a mammogram. What pills are you on? They go through a check list of all sorts of things. And the end-of-life planning is one of those items.

So now that one-time visit will happen every single year, and this end-of-life care discussion will also happen every single year. And that is what has been carried over.

MALVEAUX: We'll see how this plays out, obviously.

David, did you want to add something real quick?

GERGEN: Well, I was going to ask, isn't it also true that the doctor would then be paid by the Medicare system for giving that advice? In other words, that would be an extra piece of money, a change that the doctor would pick up. Isn't that also what the Republicans are going to have real problems with?

YELLIN: Absolutely. It is precisely what will be covered by Medicare. So, yes, this is what -- yes. It spells out how -- what Medicare will cover, and it's all those items, including end-of-life care.

MALVEAUX: OK. On another topic, obviously, the -- the race for mayor in Chicago is heating up. Rahm Emanuel has gotten the endorsement now of former president Bill Clinton.

But the polls are showing that he's pretty much ahead of the pack. About 32 percent now say that they support him for mayor of Chicago. Does he need Clinton at this moment -- David, Jessica?

GERGEN: Jessica, please. Go ahead. Go ahead, please, Jessica.

YELLIN: I'm sure Mr. Emanuel would say that he's happy to have him, but polls show he doesn't really need him.

I spoke -- I checked in with the campaign today. They said Bill Clinton is going to come in and talk about the crime bill that they worked on together. It was one of Rahm's big initiatives when he was in the White House -- David, I'm sure, will remember -- where they put an extra 100,000 cops on the beat. They have this long history.

And you know, Clinton stumping for a Democrat never hurts. But I'm sure David has more insight.

GERGEN: Yes, Rahm Emanuel has not only got 33 points, but he's about 20 points ahead of everybody else. So he's in a -- almost a runaway situation. But knowing Rahm, he's going to want to bring in everybody he can.

MALVEAUX: All right.

GERGEN: He's going to want to cement this in.

MALVEAUX: OK, David, going to leave it there. David, Jessica, thanks. Thanks so much.

GERGEN: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Well, it's a new war of words erupting between two former Cold War foes, the U.S. and Russia. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a lot on her plate. So why is a billionaire's trial in Russia seizing her attention?

Plus, cell phones. They're not just for talking or even texting anymore. They're helping pick America's next leaders. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


MALVEAUX: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has a long list of issues on her plate, but today she came out and critiqued a trial that's happening in Russia. It's the trial that's pitting one of the country's richest men against one of its most powerful. Our CNN foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is at the State Department with details.

Jill, this is a very interesting story. Tell us what this is about.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. You know, Suzanne, as I was looking at that video coming out of Moscow, it was for me kind of like deja vu because, look, you have Mikhail Khodorkovsky in a cage in a Moscow courtroom, just as I saw him seven years ago, demonstrators on the street, police on the streets. Another conviction. And a wave of criticism from other countries.

But something really is changing. And the Obama administration is trying to send a new message to Moscow.


DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Once Russia's richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky already has spent seven years in a harsh Siberian prison camp for fraud and tax evasion.

Now the former oil man and his business partner could be stuck there for at least another six years. A new conviction drawing a quick warning from the Obama administration it could jeopardize Russia's attempts to attract American investment.

Outside a Moscow courthouse, as Khodorkovsky's supporters shouted "pozor", "shame," the judge convicted the men of embezzlement and money laundering.

Their supporters call it a political show trial, punishment by former President, now Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Khodorkovsky, they claim, broke Putin's golden rule: businessmen can make money, but they'd better stay out of politics. Putin just two weeks ago said a thief should sit in jail.

From the State Department, Hillary Clinton said the conviction raises serious questions about selective prosecution and about the rule of law being overshadowed by political considerations. And the White House noted President Obama has raised the issue of Khodorkovsky with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who claims he's trying to build a modern Russia that respects the rule of law.

The White House warning, the Russian government cannot nurture a modern economy without also developing an independent judiciary. Khodorkovsky's son, Pavel, in an interview with CNN's Max Foster, said he thinks it's not Medvedev but Putin who decides things in Russia.

PAVEL KHODORKOVSKY, SON OF BILLIONAIRE: Before today's news, I had hope that Medvedev's -- President Medvedev's rhetoric about judicial system reform would actually bear some fruit. However, today I realize that the judge is completely subservient and is a slave to the political will of Mr. Putin and other bureaucrats in the Kremlin.


DOUGHERTY: This is a setback for Moscow, but not a disaster. That's what one former senior U.S. diplomat told me. But he also said that it leaves Russia in a kind of limbo. And as he put it, still viewed as a risky place to do business and to invest -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Jill, thank you very much.

A model turns up dead at the mansion of her beer tycoon boyfriend. Now we are learning details about previous police investigations of him.


MALVEAUX: Well, you've definitely seen it at the pump now: a new milestone for surging gas prices. Samantha Hayes is monitoring that and some of the other top stories that are coming in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Sam, say it ain't so.

SAMANTHA HAYES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I wish I could. I really do. This is awful. You know, and it's just in time for the brutal blizzard that's been battering the northeast.

Gas prices have now surged above $3 a gallon. And that's the highest level since October of 2008. Fueling the increase: rising crude oil prices. And brace yourself. Some market analysts predict that prices could climb to $4 a gallon this spring.

Well, it looks like both of Alaska's senators will be in Washington for the start of the new Congress next week. Republican Joe Miller now says he will no longer oppose the certification of incumbent Lisa Murkowski as the winner of their disputed Senate race, but Miller does plan to continue with his legal battle and a federal lawsuit, even though Alaska's supreme court ruled against him last week.

And cell phones are helping Americans to pick their new political leaders. More than a quarter of Americans used cell phones to take part in election-related activities during last month's midterms. According to the Pew Internet and American Life project, 14 percent used their cell phones to tell others that they had voted. Twelve percent of American adults used their phones to keep up with news about the election or politics. And 10 percent sent out text messages on the midterms.

Well, Amazon has got an all-time best seller. And it might be right at your fingertips. The online retailer says its latest Kindle has become its best-selling product ever. The e-reader even topped sales for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hollows."

And how's this for a New Year's resolution? Miley Cyrus, she may have made headlines for her provocative outfits and her precocious performances, but the teen star says that she wants to make 2011 all about helping others and making them happy. She also wants to go on some, quote, "cool trips."

MALVEAUX: All right. I'm down with that.

HAYES: I'm down with that.

MALVEAUX: OK. There you go. Help some people.

HAYES: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) over the last month, making people happy, too.

MALVEAUX: Good. All right. Thanks, Sam.

An aspiring model found dead, a beer tycoon, and now a tantalizing 911 call. It is all adding up to a lot of questions.

And when is a right answer wrong? Well, how about when you have $800,000 on the line?


MALVEAUX: A beautiful aspiring model is found dead at the home of the former Anheuser-Busch CEO. Now a mysterious 911 call is surfacing. It's raising even more questions about this strange case. Let's find out more from CNN's Casey Wian in Los Angeles.

Casey, what do we know?

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the cause of death of a mother and former model dating an Anheuser-Busch family heir remains unsolved, and the 911 call does little to clear up the mystery.


WIAN (voice-over): More than a week after Adrienne Martin, the girlfriend of brewery scion August Busch IV, was found dead in his St. Louis area mansion, police have released a 911 call made by an employee at the Busch home.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need an ambulance.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. Is that a residence or business?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. What's the problem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This girl is just not waking up. We can't get her to...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is she breathing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't know. It's dark back there. I'm going to get a light and try to see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right. I'll get them going right away.



WIAN: That call was placed at 1:12 Sunday afternoon, December 19, according to the Frontenac, Missouri, Police Department. Paramedics arrived eight minutes later and pronounced the 27-year-old mother and former model dead at 1:26. According to the police report, there were no apparent signs of trauma or other indications of cause of death.

Busch's attorney spoke with CNN affiliate KSDK.

ART MARGULIS, ATTORNEY FOR AUGUST BUSCH IV: There's absolutely nothing that indicates there's anything suspicious about this. It's just a tragic circumstance, a tragic death of a young lady, a very nice young lady, as a matter of fact.

WIAN: The St. Louis County medical examiner's office is investigating but won't have toxicology results for four to six weeks.

Martin's ex-husband, who's a doctor, told "The St. Louis Post- Dispatch" that she had a heart rhythm disorder called Long QT syndrome that, in some cases, can cause sudden death. She had been dating Busch, the former CEO of Anheuser Busch, for a year.

HEATHER HIGHFIELD, FRIEND: She was starting a new chapter in her life. She had just gone through a divorce, and she was ready to start things over again.

WIAN: Martin leaves behind an 8-year-old son.

HIGHFIELD: He's lost his mother right before Christmas, and there's no greater tragedy than that.

WIAN: Her obituary describes August Busch IV as, quote, "the love of her life." (END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: Busch no longer is involved in day-to-day operations with the brewery, now owned by a Belgian company.

In the 1980s, when he was in his early 20s, he had two well- publicized run-ins with the law. One was a police chase involving undercover narcotics detectives. He was acquitted of assault. Another was a traffic accident in which a former girlfriend died. He was not prosecuted in that case -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Casey, what do we know about the victim's family and friends? What are they saying about her death?

WIAN: Well, what's really interesting about this is her ex- husband, the one that said that she had that heart condition, has had very kind things to say about Mr. Busch, and her friends also said that she was very happy in her relationship, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Casey. Thank you so much.

Well, imagine that you're on a game show, and $800,000 could be yours for the right answer. You give the right answer, but you don't get the money. This is a real-life controversy, up next.


MALVEAUX: Here is a look at "Hot Shots."

In the Philippines, police hold up pistols taped shut in a campaign to promote a campaign against random firing during New Year's celebrations.

In the Ivory Coast, women pray for peace as the country faces a possible civil war.

In New York City, a worker shovels snow from Times Square after yesterday's blizzard.

And in Berlin, an elephant eats a snowball as the city braces for even more snow.

"Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.

Well, if the brand-new game show, "Million Dollar Money Drop," wanted to get people talking their first week on air, they have definitely succeeded, but maybe not in the way that they had hoped. That's because a mistake by the show's researchers may have cost a Southern California couple close to $1 million in winnings.

Let's get the scoop on this game show goof from CNN entertainment correspondent Kareen Wynter.

Kareen, what happened?

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, what a story this is. Well, Gabe Okoye and Brittani Mayti, they're the boyfriend-and- girlfriend couple at the center of this game-show controversy. They were the very first contestants of FOX's new program "Million Dollar Money Drop."

With $800,000 on the line. They answered the question, this one. Which was sold in stores first, Macintosh computer, Sony Walkman or Post-It notes? Well, their response has now set off quite a fire storm.


KEVIN POLLAK, HOST, FOX'S "MILLION DOLLAR MONEY DROP": Eight hundred thousand dollars sits on Post-It Note.

WYNTER: How devastated were you?

GABE OKOYE, GAME SHOW CONTESTANT: It was the -- it is hard to even think about it now.

WYNTER: I can tell.

OKOYE: It's still the hardest thing to ever have to witness, you know? When you're so sure about something, and for it to be wrong, you're told it is wrong, when you're like, man, I could bet my life on it.

WYNTER: Now here's the twist. That wrong answer actually turned out to be the right answer. How did that happen? How did you find out that you were actually right?

OKOYE: Well, that night after the show, you know, I went home and actually did some research myself, just because it just -- it kept playing in my head over and over again. So I looked it up. And when I went on the Web site, I saw that the answer was actually, you know, 1977, which was earlier than the Walkman, which they had stated. And so I was like, well, how could that be? You know?

But I just automatically discredited the Web site. I automatically discredited myself, because I was so sure that FOX knew some other information that I guess I just wasn't, you know, aware of.

WYNTER: Let me read the statement that FOX has released in regards to this. "Unfortunately, the information our research department originally obtained was incomplete. We feel it is only fair to give our contestants, Gabe and Brittani, another shot to play 'Million Dollar Money Drop'."

Now, they also said this question wasn't the deciding question in the game, so some would say, you know, the $800,000 technically isn't yours. What do you say here?

BRITTANI MAYTI, GAME SHOW CONTESTANT: We can never recreate or revisit that particular situation. You can never re-put that energy, adrenaline rush back into us. Who would have, could have, should have, what could have happened? I mean, it was very unfortunate; it was very emotional. And we had to even hold that, you know, within us for so long and to find out it was wrong.

WYNTER: Emotional also for fans, who have been sounding off online. A lot of people saying, "You know what? They deserve the money. Show them the money."

OKOYE: Right, right.

WYNTER: Are you going to be considering any type of legal action here? Will you appear on the show? What's next for you?

OKOYE: Well, we don't know right now at this point. Right now, we're still talking about it. And it's a really -- it's really a, you know, sensitive issue. And the thing is that we have to make sure that our, you know, our next move, you know is...

MAYTI: Is a wise one.

OKOYE: Very strategic.

WYNTER: Are you a little bit angry here, a little bit upset about this?

OKOYE: I -- actually, I am a little angry, and the reason why is because it's not for a game show, you know, like I said, to be in the business of asking people questions. I really, really trusted them to have all their, you know, their "I's" dotted and their "T's" crossed.

MAYTI: The research aspect of it really -- emotionally really affect anybody.

WYNTER: But you're still together?


OKOYE: It made us stronger, though. Honestly.

MAYTI: I love him $1 million worth.

WYNTER: And you haven't let go of each other?

OKOYE: No, no, we haven't.


WYNTER: They really are an adorable couple. And you heard, Suzanne, I asked them that legal question: will they pursue any legal action? And the couple says, you know, while they have not called any attorneys, numerous law firms have reached out to them -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: It sounds like they're still trying to make up their minds. Do you have any sense whether or not this game show is ever going to say, "OK, we're going to cough up the money, because we think you got the answer right," or that's just, hands down, that's not going to happen?

WYNTER: I asked them point blank, the couple, and they said, "We're really far from that."

And I said, "Well, what about, you know, if you appeared on the show and you picked up where you left off with the $800,000 and two remaining questions?"

They said, "You know what? That's a little enticing, but no one has reached out to us on that end." So stay tuned. We'll have to see if this changes.

MALVEAUX: And they think they might go on the game show again? They seem kind of a little traumatized, actually.

WYNTER: They are. They were really, really shaken, but you know, they're following their dreams here. They say they need that money.


WYNTER: "We were so close, and we're not ruling it out."

MALVEAUX: OK. Thanks, Kareen, appreciate it.

Remember, you can follow what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM by following us on Facebook. Just go to to become a fan.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux, in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.