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THE SITUATION ROOM
Remains of Troops Brought Home; Wall Street Rises
Aired August 9, 2011 - 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: President Obama and the Pentagon brass, they are on hand to pay their respects.
Another crazy ride on Wall Street today. This time, the roller coaster ends with a big upswing, as the Federal Reserve steps in to keep interest rates down.
And London under siege, 16,000 police on now the streets in a desperate bid to put an end to the nightly riots, the looting and the burning.
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.
Thirty fallen U.S. troops were brought home today from Afghanistan. President Obama and the top Pentagon officials attended the solemn transfer of remains at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. The Americans and eight Afghans were killed when a U.S. helicopter was shot down over the weekend.
It was the worst single incident loss of life for Americans since the start of the Afghan war nearly a decade ago.
Let's begin our coverage this hour with our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian.
A very solemn transfer, I must say, Dan.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It is. And this is the tough job of the president. One moment he's celebrating Navy SEALs who were able to kill Osama bin Laden and next he's remembering Navy SEALs and other military personnel who lost their lives.
The president landing in Dover after 12:00 this afternoon according to a White House official. He boarded two C-17 aircraft that were on the tarmac. There were other officials, U.S. officials also on those aircraft. The president paying his respects to the remains there. In addition there was a chaplain on those planes who offered prayers. The president also met for about 70 minutes with family members and friends of the fallen.
We did not get to witness any of this. This was done away from the public eye. We did not hear from the president. But yesterday, as the president was wrapping up his remarks on the U.S. economy, he did talk about the soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan, talked about their courage and their sacrifice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will press on and we will succeed. But now is also a time to reflect on those we lost and the sacrifices of all who serve, as well as their families. These men and women put their lives on the line for the values that bind us together as a nation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LOTHIAN: Now, Wolf, as you know, President Obama did speak over the weekend with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan. They reaffirmed according to the White House their commitment to the mission there. That commitment being getting a stable government and making sure that they are able to handle their own security and then of course also making sure that Afghanistan does not again become a haven for terrorists -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Dan, are the White House officials you're speaking flatly say that this incident, the tragic loss of life, will have no impact on the course of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, that it will be continuing as earlier scheduled and planned?
LOTHIAN: Wolf, that has been the word from the White House from the get-go, saying that any time you have reports of these kinds of things happening where U.S. soldiers are killed on the front lines that it's not altering the president's timeline in terms of moving troops out of Afghanistan. This is the kind of sacrifice that these troops know that they are signing up for. It's a tragedy, but the mission still remains the same, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Dan, thank you.
Amid the heart-wrenching emerging from the devastating loss in Afghanistan, a young boy who contacted CNN to speak up for his father, a fallen soldier.
Our Brian Todd is looking into this especially touching part of the story.
Tell our viewers what happened here.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, if this doesn't bring this story home, nothing will.
This is a 10-year-old boy from the Kansas City area who lost his father in that crash in Afghanistan. And for days now, he has been watching tributes to the Navy SEALs who died, justified tributes certainly, but Braydon Nichols has told the world, please don't forget about my dad.
We have pictures now, one from a few years ago of Braydon Nichols with his father, Bryan Nichols. Bryan was an Army chief warrant officer, not a SEAL, but the pilot of the Chinook helicopter that was shot down. His mother says Braydon was so connected with his father that he was like a little version of his dad.
Now, after seeing the tributes to the SEALs, Braydon's mom says he asked her why they weren't showing his dad's picture. His mom said it was because other people had gone online and posted photos of the SEALs. So, with his mother's help, Braydon did that.
They pulled up CNN.com. They went to the iReport section and here is what Braydon Nichols wrote -- quote -- "My father was one of the 30 U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan yesterday with the SEALs rescue mission. My father was the pilot of the Chinook. I have seen other pictures of victims from this deadly mission and wish you would include a picture of my father. He is the farthest to the left. Sincerely, Braydon Nichols, 10 years old, Kansas City, Missouri."
We have the photo -- there it is right there -- that Braydon posted. That is his dad sitting farthest left.
Wolf, boy, tugs at you.
BLITZER: Yes. And it's gone -- this iReport from this 10-year- old boy has really gone viral, hasn't it?
TODD: It has. Within hours, local stations reported on him doing this. More than 10,000 people on Facebook reposted his message and the photos. It was all over Twitter.
On the iReport, you can post comments. Several people of course posted comments in reply, telling him, be strong, we are sorry for your loss, your dad's a hero.
This is the kind of thing that just -- it really gets to you. It brings it home completely.
BLITZER: It certainly does. And our deepest condolences to Braydon, his mom, the entire family. Thank you so much posting that report at CNN iReport.
Members of one of America's most elite fighting units were among those killed when the giant Chinook helicopter went down. A military inquiry may look at just what the Navy SEALs and the other U.S. troops on board were doing there and why.
Our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is digging into this part of the story for us.
So what are you learning, Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what we have learned today is those Navy SEALs were not on a rescue mission as we were first led to believe. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
STARR (voice-over): The 22 Navy SEAL commandos killed when their helicopter was shot down by the Taliban were not on one of their usual secret assault missions. Military sources confirm the SEALs were called in to chase down a group of Taliban on the run.
Army Rangers already on the ground were looking for a Taliban leader when some insurgents started to escape. The Rangers didn't need rescuing. They just called for backup. That's contrary to what some military sources said just after the crash, when they suggested the SEALs were helping pin down troops.
It's all raising questions why so many SEALs were on a single vulnerable helicopter.
COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), U.S. AIR FORCE: They ended up exposing the entire force unfortunately to enemy fire. And all it takes is one lucky shot. And that one lucky shot from a Taliban perspective was what happened.
STARR: Investigators will also look at whether troops other than the SEALs could have been sent.
The shoot-down is raising questions about U.S. troops returning to these remote mountains they left months ago. Insurgents have set up new strongholds, especially here in Wardak Province, where the shoot-down happened.
LEIGHTON: Many of these valleys were previously held by U.S./NATO forces, but because we have concentrated on more populated areas now, the Wardak areas have actually been given over to the Taliban.
STARR: The Pentagon doesn't think the Taliban even knew the helicopter was carrying SEALs from the same unit that killed Osama bin Laden. But commanders asked Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to ban release of the names of the dead men, even though many families have already identified their loved ones. The worry? The deceased names might lead to their buddies on the bin Laden team.
STARR: And now, Wolf, let's go back to that 10-year-old little boy who would the world to remember his father.
Leon Panetta tonight is in the hot seat. The covert military community does not want him to release the names of the fallen. They say it could somehow lead to the team members that got bin Laden.
But so many families have already come forward publicly. They want their loved ones remembered. Leon Panetta has to make a decision. Does he go with what the covert community wants or does he stick with the tradition? The Pentagon to the best of our knowledge has never in 10 years of war failed to publicly acknowledge the names of anyone who has fallen in battle -- Wolf. BLITZER: Well, how can you control the family members who want to express their grief for a loved one? The Pentagon can't tell them, you have to remain silent, you can't say anything, can they?
STARR: Well, this is exactly right, Wolf. This is the modern world of communications, isn't it?
There are Facebook pages. Families come forward of their own free will. They speak out. They offer the photos as this young boy did. So many military families want to speak out when their loved ones fall in battle. Many military families don't. They want to keep it private. That's absolutely their prerogative.
But the key issue really is here the Pentagon for 10 years publicly puts out a statement of the name and the unit of everyone who has fallen in battle. If Leon Panetta decides to break that chain, it will be very newsworthy -- Wolf.
BLITZER: It certainly will be. All right, thanks very much, Barbara.
A day after the bottom dropped out on Wall Street, investors climbed back on the roller coaster today and went for another wild ride. It was a gut-wrenching ride indeed, but this time it ended in some big gains. The Dow was up 429 points or 4 percent. The S&P 500 and the Nasdaq were both up 5 percent.
Fueling the final rally, an announcement from the Federal Reserve saying slower than expected economic growth will force it to keep interest rates in their words exceptionally low for the next two years.
Our own Lisa Sylvester will join us later this hour with more on the markets and what's the Fed's decision means for you.
All right, this just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. A Senate Democratic aide confirming that Senator Harry Reid, the majority leader, will appoint Senator Max Baucus, Senator John Kerry, and Senator Patty Murray to the super committee of 12 members to come up with additional cuts to deal with the nation's deficit. Senator Murray by the way will serve as the co-chair of the committee. The House speaker, John Boehner, will get to appoint the other co-chair.
There will be 12 members of the panel, six from the House, six from the Senate, six Democrats, six Republicans. So now we know the first of three members. These will be the three Democratic senators who will participate in this 12-member panel. More on this story coming up later as well.
Meanwhile, frustration mounting in Britain. Violent riots continuing on the streets of London. A CNN crew was caught in the middle and we will show you what happened.
Plus, getting a firsthand look at famine. Our own Anderson Cooper travels to one of the most dangerous and desperate places on Earth, Somalia. He is there right now. We will be speaking with him live this hour.
And the Texas Governor Rick Perry's big announcement this weekend, why it could cost him politically in Iowa. We expect to hear what he is going say soon.
BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The great Yogi Berra once said, it's like deja vu all over again.
What we have here apparently is another religious conservative Republican governor from Texas who wants to be president. Only, this one's last name isn't Bush.
Texas Governor Rick Perry expected to strongly signal his intention to run for president in a speech in South Carolina on Saturday.
Perry's announcement is timed perfectly to upset the Iowa straw poll in Ames which is also on Saturday. Although Perry's name isn't on the ballot in Iowa, supporters are waging a write-in campaign.
After the speech in South Carolina, Perry is off to New Hampshire and then to Iowa to headline a fund-raiser on Sunday night.
The Tea Party favorite already has a certain appeal among conservatives who are looking for more options in what is arguably a fairly sad Republican field. And that is working in Perry's favor thus far. The Texas economy is doing better than most. Almost -- I didn't know this -- almost 40 percent of all the new jobs created in the U.S. since the recession started are in Texas. The state also has a balanced budget.
But haven't we been here and done this? We already lived though eight years of a Christian evangelical governor from Texas in the White House, and we're still in therapy from the trauma of that little experiment gone awry.
This past weekend, Perry addressed believers at an all-day prayer vigil in Houston. Perry asked God to help comfort Americans stung by the troubled economy. And he prayed for President Obama, among other things.
He did all this in a stadium that was less than half full. And what about that separation of church and state thingy?
Here's the question: Is another religious, conservative Republican governor from Texas the answer to our prayers? Pun intended.
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog.
BLITZER: Yes, the fact that he is going to South Carolina, New Hampshire and Iowa, as you point out, Jack, enough said about his intentions I think right there. I tweeted that earlier in the day. Good question. Thank you.
Other news we're following, 16,000 police are on the streets of London tonight as Prime Minister David Cameron vows to quell the rioting that has shaken Britain's capital and other cities. The violence was triggered by a fatal shooting during a police stop last week and now the first riot-related death has been reported. A man was found dead in south London with a gunshot wound to the head.
Night after night there have been extraordinary scenes of burning vehicles, smashed storefronts and clashes between police and groups of hooded youths.
CNN's Dan Rivers has been right in the middle of all the violence.
DAN RIVERS, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As looting continued with impunity in London, for the first time British police used the armored trucks to clear roads in a number of areas. This was Peckham in south London. This is who they were up against, gangs of masked criminals who had taken over the streets.
(on camera): So you can see the police are running down here in the center trying to reestablish order. But it's a very, very scary atmosphere. There's huge gangs of kids on the streets. Many of them -- you see there's a large amount of damage here as well. So we're not going to hang around. Get out of the way.
(voice-over): Caught in the middle, terrified young families trying to get home. This was Peckham high street, normally choked with traffic, now overwhelmed with rioters who looted dozens of shops. As night fell, the gangs became even more brazen, nose to nose with the police who were outnumbered.
The situation is anarchy down here in Peckham. There is no sense of anyone intervening to stop this. Perhaps the police feel intervening would make the situation worse or they haven't got the numbers. I'm not sure. This is a supermarket that's basically been completely emptied.
(on camera): We're going to have to move. Things are being thrown.
(voice-over): This was west London, cars left to burn in normally quiet leafy streets. Here almost every shop had been smashed, the economic cost as well as the social damage clear to see. This shopping area remained lawless and volatile hours after the first windows were hit. And this bus was abandoned down a side street after a gang smashed its windows, stormed aboard, and set it a light.
ANDREW BOE, BUS DRIVER WHO WAS ATTACKED: It was scary. It was scary. That's why I didn't want to talk about it. I was shocked. After throwing all the stones, bottles, everything in front of me, I was shocked.
RIVERS: Few of the gangs would talk, but this man who says he wasn't involved in the violence, did agree to speak.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People don't got no money. It's not one person. It's a group of people. It's a chain effect, isn't it? That's how it goes when people got no money. People want money.
RIVERS: But much of what's happened seems to be mindless vandalism. Now everyone in the U.K. is wondering how and if the government can regain control of the streets.
BLITZER: And Dan is joining us live on the phone right now.
Dan, so what are the experts there saying, that this is just random violence, that a bunch thugs doing this because they think they can get some free stuff out of stores? Or it's the result of the austerity measures, the severe economic crisis that England and so many other countries in Europe are going through right now?
RIVERS: Yes, it's difficult to call, Wolf, but I just don't buy the idea that this is all about austerity measures.
From what I have seen, this is almost exclusively copycat opportunist violence and looting because people somehow feel that the police yesterday and over the last 24 hours just have completely failed to react and failed to clamp down on this. And that kind of has emboldened these kids and they suddenly feel that they have lost their fear basically of the police completely.
The situation has changed though since we filed that report. We have been on the streets again this evening and it's a lot calmer. The police have totally flooded London with officers, 16,000 across the streets. There have been some clashes in East London, where we were, some bottles and stones and things being thrown at the police, but nothing like the scale of the violence that we saw over the last 24 hours, no buildings set alight, no cars set on fire as we saw.
As we speak though, there are reports in Manchester of disturbances. That's a city up in the northwest of Britain. There may be a sort of picture emerging that because the police have brought in officers from all over Britain and flooded London with the police that the problem has now shifted to other cities like Manchester.
BLITZER: And police are not necessarily looking all that good over the past few days in England in London and elsewhere. Is it the lack of experience, lack of leadership? What has been the basic problem?
RIVERS: Police has had a torrid time this summer. They have lost the most senior policeman in Britain over the phone hacking scandal and one of his deputies as well.
There is sort of a slight sense of nobody being really at the top. One of the senior officers, Tim Godwin, has stepped in temporarily, but there is -- it has been a really torrid time for the police this summer. And then perhaps this kind of multidimensional crisis that has been so dynamic and really came out of nowhere, no one predicted that this would spread in the way that it did or anyone spotted that the violence would be as widespread and protracted as it has been.
It has just taken everyone by surprise. Now, thank goodness, it seems like the police have got a grip on things again. But there will be a lot of fundamental questions about how they operated over the last couple of days and whether they really dropped the ball and were just far too timid in stopping this and nipping it in the bud, when just a local dispute in a small pocket of London and then suddenly it has exploded across the entire country.
BLITZER: Dan Rivers on the scene for us at London, we will stay in touch with you. Thank you very much.
It's no secret that the Federal Reserve's toolbox here in the United States for fixing the economic problems is almost empty. So today they took the extraordinary step of promising something that many people were hoping for.
And remember these angry protests in Wisconsin? Today it's act two in a political drama that riveted the nation.
Lots of news happening today right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The major stock indices may have fallen off a cliff yesterday, but today they dusted themselves off and clawed their way back up. It wasn't pretty, but investors will take it, a 4 percent gain for the Dow, 5 percent for the Nasdaq and the S&P 500.
They got a boost today from the Federal Reserve here in Washington which made an announcement that will affect just about all Americans going forward.
Lisa Sylvester is here working the story for us.
A lot better today than yesterday, Lisa.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A much better today.
And I can tell you, Wolf, that the markets were very happy, the Dow Jones industrial average up 429 points. What a difference a day makes. The Federal Reserve or Open Market Committee met and announced today that it will keep the federal funds rate at zero to 0.25 percent until mid-2013.
The Federal Reserve made that decision saying economic growth has been considerably slower than the committee expected.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SYLVESTER (voice-over): The economy has been sputtering along. Last quarter, U.S. economic growth was a measly 1.3 percent. The Federal Reserve acknowledged consumer spending is down, the housing sector still taking a beating and things are not looking good on the job front.
Investors have been looking to the Fed to work its magic and get the economy moving. To that end, the Federal Reserve gave the markets a gift, pledging to keep interest rates near zero at least through mid-2013.
JOE GAGNON, PETERSON INSTITUTE FOR INTERNATIONAL ECONOMICS: They are speaking directly to the markets. They are telling banks and bondholders and bond investors that they can count on ultra-low interest rates for at least 24 more months, which is a pretty major statement, I think.
SYLVESTER: That means low costs for Americans to borrow for a house or a car or to take out a college loan, at least for another couple of years.
Until now, the Federal Reserve had only said it would keep interest rates low for -- quote -- "an extended period" without spelling out how long that was, but the Central Bank did not commit any new funds for bond purchases that would pump money back into the economy to kick-start growth, something investors had been hoping for. The Fed is trying to steer the economy away from dipping into a second recession.
But some economists point out, its tools are limited because interest rates are already very low.
JEFFREY MIRON, ECONOMICS PROFESSOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: The Fed just doesn't have that many bullets left in the holster. It can't lower interest rates very much. It could buy a lot more assets, but it's not clear that that would make much difference.
SYLVESTER The Fed couldn't go any lower with interest rates, so it gave the next best thing: to keep it going longer.
SYLVESTER: And investors saw it as good news and they responded.
Now, one interesting thing to point out is that there are 12 members of this Federal Reserve committee that sets monetary policy. Three of the members voted against the action, worried about inflationary pressure. They went against the chairman, Ben Bernanke, on this one and, Wolf, that is a pretty rare thing to see.
BLITZER: Yes. Three out of the 12 dissenting on this. But I've got to tell you. When Bernanke speaks, he's got some power and he's got some influence. Merely by uttering those words, you saw what happened.
SYLVESTER: Yes. And the fact is, he has the other members with him, and they clearly saw that this was something that was needed for the economy, to jump start the economy. So until mid-2013, we can expect low interest rates, which really is huge.
BLITZER: But you're right. Three dissenting votes, that's a lot. Thanks very much.
More fallout from last winter's bruising battle over a collective bargaining law in Wisconsin. Voters today are casting ballots in six recall elections that could allow Democrats to seize power in the Wisconsin state Senate. The vote is seen as a referendum on the Republican governor, Scott Walker; has enormous national ramifications, as well. Let's go to Madison, the capital. Ted Rowlands is standing by with more.
Ted, set the scene for us.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the folks in Wisconsin are the only ones doing the voting. But absolutely you -- you got it right in that this is not just a local election. People around the country are watching this very, very closely.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): When thousands of demonstrators filled the Wisconsin state capital last February, organizers vowed there would be a recall. Today in districts across the state, six Senate Republicans are fighting for jobs. It isn't just a Wisconsin fight. It's part of the ongoing war between Democrats and Republicans over unions.
Republican Governor Scott Walker's budget law limits the power of public employee unions.
GOV. SCOTT WALKER (R), WISCONSIN: You've seen school districts and local governments all across the state in the last month or so have been talking about using the reforms that they're empowered to now have because of this action.
ROWLANDS: More than $25 million has been spent on the recall election, most of it from out of state. U.W. Madison political science professor Charles Franklin says there are two reasons why Republicans want to destabilize unions.
PROF. CHARLES FRANKLIN, UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN-MADISON: One is the way unions and state workers affect budgets. The other is how unions support the Democratic Party, both monetarily and through campaign volunteers.
ROWLANDS: To take control of the state senate, Democrats need to pick up three seats. If they do, they couldn't do anything about the union law, but they could stop further Republican-backed legislation from getting through. Walker isn't eligible to be recalled until after his first year in office.
FRANKLIN: If the Democrats pick up three or four or, less likely, five seats, that will surely energize the forces that want to recall Governor Walker next year. If they fall well short of that, then it's an open question whether they will see that as worth pursuing or not.
ROWLANDS: And Wolf, absolutely at the center of this is the union issue. States around the country are looking to Wisconsin to see how this plays out. Other states thinking about trying to do the same thing that the Wisconsin legislators did, the Wisconsin governor did. Unions trying to send a clear message. You better not do it or you might lose your job. Polls close at 8 p.m. Central Time, and we're told that voter turn out is extremely heavy. Four out of these six races are considered toss-ups. We may not know the result right away because of -- because of the heavy voting.
BLITZER: We'll stay in close touch with you, Ted. Thanks very much. Good report.
On the scene in a country reeling from famine, our own Anderson Cooper is in Somalia right now. He's in the dangerous capital of Mogadishu, where thousands are in desperate search for food. We'll talk to Anderson shortly.
And make way for Rick Perry. The Texas governor heads for important stops on the campaign trail. Look for him to make some big news about 2012.
And Jeanne Moos follows the ups and the downs of a roller-coaster stock market. Buckle your seatbelts.
BLITZER: For five years, Mogadishu has been the Somali capital in name only. The city was ruled by the al-Shabaab terrorist group from 2006 until last weekend when the terrorists withdrew. Now Mogadishu is crowded with Somalis fleeing the famine that has ravaged their country.
CNN's Anderson Cooper is there right now. He's joining us live.
Anderson, what's going on? Give us a little sense of what you're seeing there.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Wolf, right now the situation in Mogadishu, you have more than 100,000 people, according to U.N. officials who have come to the city in the last month or two looking for shelter, looking for food.
You see these camps, these IDP camps, they call them, internally displaced people. This is opposed to the hundreds of thousands of people, the nearly 500,000 people who have already fled into -- into neighboring Kenya, where we were yesterday. More than 100,000 have fled into neighboring Ethiopia and other countries.
So you have more than 100,000 people now who have come into Mogadishu, a city which is already crowd and a city which, as you said, has been seeing battles, pitched battles for years now between al-Shabaab, which has controlled a good chunk of the city to the north -- to the northeast and to the -- here in the southwest, which has been controlled by the transitional government, but really by an African Union force of Ugandan peace keepers.
Al-Shabaab, as you know, left the city unexpectedly last Friday. So they are no longer in the city, en masse. There have been still snipers. It is still a very dangerous place. But for the first time, you have African Union peacekeepers who are basically now able to go just about anywhere in the city, and they're trying to secure the city as much as they can, though they are very much under manned. There's only about 9,000 of them. This is a city of some two million people. So it's a very fluid situation.
But there is a little bit of a bright spot in the fact that al- Shabaab has left and the African Union peace keepers are hoping this is an opportunity when they can finally get Mogadishu under some semblance of control and moving in the right direction, Wolf.
BLITZER: Anderson, this is not the first time you've been there. You've covered this story before. Compare and contrast what you saw years ago and what you're seeing now.
COOPER: Well, you know, I think all Americans probably remember Mogadishu from "Black Hawk Down," from when U.S. troops came here as part of Operation Restore Hope, that it was a humanitarian mission that ended up being a hunt for a Somali warlord, Mohamed Farrah Aidid. It also ultimately led to the deaths of more than 40 Americans overall in the operation, not just in Black Hawk Down, the operation that went wrong.
You know, the city in many ways seems the same. I mean, it seemed destroyed 20 years ago. It's even more destroyed now, if that's possible. I mean, there's literally not a street that you can go down that does not have signs of just complete destruction. Bullet holes in just about every building, mortar holes in buildings.
There's really -- there's been no functioning government here for 20 years, Wolf. It's extraordinary. I don't know that there's any other place on the planet like this city. It's one of the most -- it's been one of the most dangerous cities in the world because of al- Shabaab, because of their kidnappings, because of their institution of Sharia law and the areas that they control.
And remember, Wolf, they are still in control now in southern Somalia. That's where the greatest part of the famine is, that they really contributed to the famine. I mean, it's not just the fact that this is a drought, the worst drought in 60 years, affecting southern Somalia and places in Somalia.
It's the fact that al-Shabaab has -- has pushed out health-care workers, has pushed out foreign aid workers, has stopped allowing children to be inoculated, to be vaccinated. So you're seeing children now dying of diseases, with -- of cholera, of malaria, of measles, of things which, in the case of measles, could be vaccinated against. BLITZER: Anderson, what kind of reception have you received in Mogadishu since you arrived?
COOPER: You know, it's a very strange city in many ways. I mean, this is a city which has been at war for 20 years, which has had no central government. So the people are wary of outsiders who are coming in. It's a clan-based society.
Frankly, this is not a city you go walking around in. It's simply extremely dangerous. Kidnappings, you know, are a common thing here. So we've been driving around with African Union troops in armored vehicles. It's not even like the African Union troops go out on foot patrols and are walking around on the streets. They're moving very quickly in armored vehicles to predetermined spots.
So it's -- it's a very tricky situation and a very -- I mean, it's a really surreal place. I've never -- I mean, it was strange 20 years ago to see a city that had been destroyed after a year or so of war. It has been 20 years now of fighting, and I don't think you can find a city like this anywhere else in the world.
BLITZER: Anderson, thanks very much, and good luck over there. Be careful. We'll check back with you.
Here's how you can make a difference in East Africa. Go to our Impact Your World page at CNN.com/impact. And you can see a lot more of Anderson's reporting less than 90 minutes from now. Tune in for an "AC 360" special edition, "Somalia: On the Front Lines of Famine." That's at Anderson's new time, 8 p.m. Eastern, later tonight only here on CNN.
Many Republicans think Rick Perry is heaven-sent, but is the Texas governor interested in wrangling the White House away from the Democrats? That's coming up.
BLITZER: Rick Perry, the Texas governor, plans to announce intentions to run for president of the United States this weekend. CNN's Jim Acosta is looking at the story for us.
All right. He's going some places that give a pretty significant hint of what his intentions are.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As you tweeted earlier today, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, that pretty much sums it up. That's right, Wolf. He may not get the most votes at the Ames straw poll this Saturday, but Rick Perry just might steal the political show this weekend.
ACOSTA (voice-over): The Ames straw poll, a GOP political tradition that allows Iowan Republicans to unofficially make their picks for president just might get upstaged this Saturday by a Texas two-step. Rick Perry is bypassing the straw poll and instead flying to South Carolina, then New Hampshire, the kind of moves that point to a run for 2012.
BOB SCHUMAN, AMERICANS FOR PERRY: They're going to have to talk about here are the results of the Iowa straw poll. But by the way, here's the candidate that wasn't here today. And so I think strategically, it's a great move.
ACOSTA: Bob Schuman, who leads a super political action committee backing Perry and has volunteers on the ground in Iowa, says the Lone Star governor fills a Texas-sized void.
SCHUMAN: This is a fine field. I just think we feel like there's something missing.
ACOSTA: Perhaps to make up for his absence at Ames, Perry has been calling conservative activists in Iowa like Bob Vander Plaats, who tells CNN the signal is pretty clear.
BOB VANDER PLAATS, THE FAMILY LEADER (via phone): He was very nice about wanting to come to our state, get a chance to meet me and meet a lot of other Iowans and really wanted to know if there's still room for a full-throttled, unbridled conservative to come into this race.
ACOSTA: The rest of the field has taken notice. On Monday, GOP front-runner Mitt Romney took a veiled swipe at Perry.
MITT ROMNEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know, there was a poll. I guess it was about a month ago that was a little surprising and he had -- it had me as the only Republican candidate who in Texas could beat President Obama.
ACOSTA: But Perry is gaining on Romney in the latest polls.
GOV. RICK PERRY (R), TEXAS: Father, our heart breaks for America.
ACOSTA: Coming off his widely watched prayer event, Perry could reunite Christian conservatives with Tea Party Republicans.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What if we had a candidate for president with a real record of creating jobs?
ACOSTA: His supporters are running ads touting his economic record, pointing out that half of the jobs created in the U.S. since June 2009 were in Texas.
But Perry's record isn't perfect. The Texas unemployment rate in June was higher than all of its bordering states.
Then there's his take on New York's move to legalize gay marriage. One day saying it's a states' rights issue.
PERRY: That's New York, and that's their business. And that's fine with me.
ACOSTA: Then reversing himself days later. Rick Santorum pounced.
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It is our business. And it's not fine with me.
ACOSTA: Iowa won't miss Rick Perry entirely this weekend. On Sunday the Texas governor is headed to the city of Waterloo, which just so happens to be the hometown of Michele Bachmann -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. We'll see what happens this weekend.
Jeanne Moos keeping track on Wall Street. That's coming up this hour.
BLITZER: Let's get back to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour: "Is another religious conservative Republican governor from Texas the answer to our prayers?" Pun intended. Rick Perry's expected to announce Saturday in South Carolina that he's going to make a run for president.
Chris in Buffalo, New York: "No, Jack. I think another unknown, inexperienced, economically ignorant community organizer from Chicago is the answer to our prayers. I mean, the first one's working out so well, isn't it?"
Craig in Washington writes, "No, but there is a Texas candidate that can at least get the ball rolling in the right direction, and his name is Ron Paul. But whoever people vote for, there is no silver bullet in this, and we all need to get over it. It took a team effort for us to screw this country up, and nothing short of continuing our Founders' revolution will get us back to decency."
Eve in Texas writes, "Did God tell Perry to run for the presidency like the last conservative Texan said? If so and Perry gets in office, don't expect any difference between the two. I'm hoping God uses her sense of humor to derail the latest rhinestone cowboy's efforts to screw up the presidency like the other one did."
Dave writes, "Absolutely not. If you want to know why, just look at the Middle Eastern Muslim countries, where their religion and their government have become one and the same."
Jeff in Georgia writes, "Mr. Cafferty, my only other choice -- if my only other choice is a secular liberal Democrat empty suit from Illinois/Hawaii/Kenya/Indonesia, then the choice is clear: Perry 2012."
Richard writes, "Absolutely not. I'm sick of these phony baloneys. These people ought to have to take a test before they can run for president. Did you see Rick Perry's grade transcript from Texas A&M? A student he was not. A pretty boy phony he was."
And Nan writes from Texas on Facebook, "As a Texan, I say no. Perry prayed for rain. We didn't get a drop. He prayed for the economy on Saturday in Houston. The Dow dropped 600 points on Monday. Maybe a higher power's trying to tell us something."
If you want to read more on this, you can go to the blog: CNN.com/CaffertyFile, or -- and we're starting to get more posts now on Facebook -- you can go to THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page and read comments there, as well.
That's it, Wolf. See you tomorrow.
BLITZER: Good work, Jack, thank you. See you tomorrow.
Well, watching Wall Street is not for the faint of heart. Jeanne Moos is next.
BLITZER: We watched stocks get killed and rise from the dead. Jeanne Moos says it's enough to drive us to distraction.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Better check your wallet. You may feel poorer as the Dow went down, down, downer. But hold on. On Tuesday, the roller coaster headed back up. A rough ride for the parody E-Trade baby created by College Humor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, God, it's dropped 400 points. This is not happening, dear Lord!
MOOS: And though the market rallied Tuesday, it's hard not to panic.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sell, sell, sell, sell!
MOOS: The whole world seems out of control.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More market mayhem.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: London is burning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rioting, arson, looting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Famine in east Africa.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Panic mode.
MOOS (on camera): It's enough to make you want to crawl back under the covers.
(voice-over) And even when the market goes back up and there's good news, they give it a bad name.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could this be a what they call a "rip your face off" rally.
MOOS: A "rip your face off" rally does not involve Jim Carrey. It's defined as a market advance with extreme intensity, so much so that it takes facial skin and hair with it.
And speaking of faces, trader body language inspired a Web site called the "Brokers with Hands on Their Faces Blog."
People like Rush Limbaugh like to coin names when the market tanks.
RUSH LIMBAUGH, TALK RADIO SHOW HOST: Obama-geddon, that's what we have witnessed since Friday. Barack-alypse now.
MOOS: CNBC's Jim Cramer had his own name for a market caught up in emotion.
JIM CRAMER, CNBC: Well, I'm calling this a Bee Gees market, because it's just emotion that's taken me over.
BEE GEES, MUSICIANS (singing): It's just emotion that's taken me over
MOOS: Talk about emotion taking over. Blurry photos circulated on Twitter showing a plane buzzing the offices of Standard & Poor's, towing a banner reading "Thanks for the downgrade. you should all be fired."
"Fortune" magazine reports it was paid for by an angry Midwestern broker.
BLITZER: Wall Street spending and another day in what's being described as freak-out mode.
MOOS: Even comedians took cover from the carnage.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "THE COLBERT REPORT": I'm just down here looking for my emergency hobo satchel. OK Just remember, folks. Just remember -- just remember, over the long term stocks always increase in value.
MOOS: Hey, everybody's chicken. When the market goes down over 600 points one day and up over 400 the next, even the parody E-Trade baby gets queasy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think I'm going to be (EXPLETIVE DELETED) sick.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to jump out the window now.
MOOS: ... New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BLITZER: And that's it for me. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for watching. For our international viewers, "WORLD REPORT" is next. In North America, "JOHN KING USA" starts right now.