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THE SITUATION ROOM
Criminal Complaint Filed against JetBlue Pilot; Supreme Court Questions Healthcare Mandates; Billions of Livable Planets in our Galaxy?; Bugs in Popular Starbucks Drink?; Rhode Island Soldier Dies Saving Child
Aired March 28, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST, CNN'S THE SITUATION ROOM: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, breaking news -- federal officials take action against a JetBlue pilot after his in-flight breakdown. The complaint, just released, offers scary new details, including his rant about religion.
Also, Trayvon Martin's parents are answering critics right now who say they're trying to make money off their son's killing. The Florida teenager's name now is being trademarked.
And it turns out that a popular drink at Starbucks has a surprising ingredient -- bugs.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: All right, let's get to the breaking news this hour.
A federal criminal complaint was just filed against the pilot whose in-flight meltdown prompted a major emergency landing.
JetBlue captain, Clayton Osbon, is charged with interference with a flight crew. Osbon has been suspended from his job with pay. He's in FBI custody right now and under medical care.
Our aviation correspondent, Lizzie O'Leary, is joining us now with more on this story -- Lizzie, this complaint contains new details about what happened aboard that JetBlue Flight 191.
LIZZIE O'LEARY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, pretty gripping details, Wolf.
And we should point out that interfering with a flight crew is a federal offense. It carries a maximum of 20 years in prison. I want to go to part of the affidavit here that came from the FBI agent involved in this case. He talks about what was going on with Osbon. They left New York. They started climbing. They were at a cruising altitude.
And the first officer, the co-pilot, noticed things weren't quite right with Osbon. And at this point, the first officer became concerned when Osbon said, "Things just don't matter."
Osbon yelled over the radio to air traffic control and instructed them to be quiet. Osbon turned off the radios in the aircraft, started dimming his monitors. Osbon sternly admonished the first officer for trying to talk on the radio. The first officer became really worried when Osbon said, "We need to take a leap of faith." Osbon started trying to correlate completely unrelated numbers, like different radio frequencies. And he talked about sins in Las Vegas.
At some point, Osbon told the first officer, quote, "We're not going to Vegas."
Osbon began giving what the first officer described as a sermon.
Now, at this point, Wolf, we know from the FAA and passengers involved that the first officer basically locked Osbon out of the cockpit when he left to go to the -- to the lavatory and brought in an off-duty pilot. And then this continued, as Osbon tried to get back into the cockpit.
He started trying to enter his code in order to reenter the cockpit. He banged on the door hard enough that the first officer thought he was coming through the door. The first officer and non-rev captain, that's the captain aboard for the ride, locked the cockpit door from the inside. The first officer announced over the PA system an order to restrain Osbon. The flight attendants were already trying to stop Osbon from entering his code. Several passengers jumped in to help and brought Osbon down in the forward galley. One female flight attendant suffered bruised ribs during the struggle -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Lizzie, what do we know about the screening that these pilots normally get?
I know you've been investigating today.
O'LEARY: Well, pilots are a very highly screened group, but certainly this incident raised questions for the passengers and the flying public about just what exactly commercial airline pilots are screened for.
O'LEARY (voice-over): By now, you've seen the video.
O'LEARY: A JetBlue captain ranting, locked out of the cockpit by his co-pilot, subdued by passengers. PAUL BABAKITIS, JETBLUE PASSENGER: When we -- we took him down, he was screaming about say your prayers, say your prayers. I mean he just clearly demonstrated the level that he was just not coherent and realizing what he was doing or saying.
O'LEARY: JetBlue spokespeople say they don't know what caused 49 -year-old Clayton Osbon to act this way, but hope and trust he is getting the care he needs.
Osbon, who has been suspended with pay, has flown with JetBlue for 12 years. The FBI says he's undergoing a medical evaluation. Doctors say that would include checking for depression and mania.
These men and women live to fly. And if they have some type of medical condition that's going to ground them, that is very distressing to them.
So is it possible that he could have hidden something, that something was developing and he was very fearful of not being able to fly?
Yes, that is possible.
O'LEARY: Commercial air pilots must be examined once a year by a doctor certified by the FAA, twice a year if they're over 40, as Osbon was. Doctors don't have to do a formal psychiatric workup, but should get a general impression of the pilot's emotional stability and mental state.
JetBlue says it offers its pilots a peer assistance program, but doesn't do screening beyond the FAA requirements.
Mental health is a touchy issue among pilots. Two years ago, the FAA allowed pilots to take one of four approved anti-depressants for the first time. But if they do, they can't fly for a year.
One pilot with 30 years of experience told CNN, "Yes, pilots are flying around depressed because if they do admit depression, they'll be grounded."
(END VIDEO TAPE)
O'LEARY: Now, Wolf, it's worth noting that commercial airline pilots are some of the most watched people in the world. And a lot of that is done by their fellow flight crew members. As we saw in this case, it was the first officer who really stepped in here and did a lot of things.
I also talked extensively with a pilot who runs sort of a volunteer outreach program for another airline. He says part of this is about sort of breaking the stigma of mental health problems so that pilots reach out, get the help they need.
They've certainly seen, over, say, the past decade, more pilots reaching out for help, both for substance abuse problems and for any mental health instances to try to both keep the pilots safer and, in turn, keep the passengers safer -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. What a story this is.
I know you're working on it, so stand by.
I want to bring Jeffrey Toobin into this conversation.
Jeffrey is our senior legal analyst -- you've read, as I have now, this U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, the federal criminal complaint against this JetBlue pilot.
What do you make of it?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, whenever the federal government arrests someone, they have to file a complaint. There has to be some legal proceeding against them. And this is an initial charge, which is the logical charge given what went on.
Given his bizarre mental state, you can be sure that the -- a mental evaluation period will go on for some time.
And then the government will decide whether they want to file, make this a criminal case, divert it into the mental health system.
But this is a way, at least, of making sure he is legally being held, not going anyway, and certainly not flying on any planes.
BLITZER: The ongoing -- the investigation is being led by the FBI.
BLITZER: So this is a federal issue right now...
TOOBIN: Oh, absolutely.
BLITZER: -- not a state of Texas...
BLITZER: -- where he happens to be incarcerated right now.
TOOBIN: Yes, I mean this is under the same kind of laws as hijacking, even though, obviously, he was the pilot and this wasn't exactly a hijacking.
But anything that goes on in an airplane is automatically under federal jurisdiction.
BLITZER: So this -- this investigation is going to take some time. And, obviously, if there are mental issues, that further complicates...
TOOBIN: Right. BLITZER: -- what -- what the U.S. attorney could do.
TOOBIN: And this just makes sure he's not going anyway in the meantime. He's going to stay in custody.
BLITZER: To stay -- he's under medical examination...
TOOBIN: That's for sure.
BLITZER: -- right now, as he should be.
All right, let's make the turn to the United States Supreme Court.
What happened today?
What was your impression?
Now, three days, the U.S. Supreme Court dealing with the constitutionally of the health care law that's been in effect now for two years.
I know you've been -- I've been reading your Tweets and basically you said yesterday it was a "train wreck" yesterday, it's a "plane wreck" today. It doesn't look good for the mandates. It doesn't look good, maybe, for everything else.
TOOBIN: Right. Certainly the mandate seems to be in desperate, desperate trouble. I mean this morning, the issue was so-called severability -- can you separate out the mandate from, if -- if it's declared unconstitutional, from the rest of the law?
Anthony Kennedy, the key vote on the court, was asking question after question based on the assumption that the law -- the -- the mandate was going to be held unconstitutional. And several justices, including Kennedy, Roberts, Scalia, Alito, were raising the possibility, in a serious way, that the whole law may have to be declared unconstitutional.
Not clear that they were committed to that, but that was certainly on the table.
In the afternoon, the Obama administration certainly had a better day defending the expansion of Medicaid for poorer, you know, for -- to pay for poorer citizens.
But I mean just taking the week as a whole, going into this week, I, fair admit, I thought this law was heading for a fairly easy uphold -- being upheld. That was definitely not the case. And -- and I think we are in for a very major constitutional decision in June...
TOOBIN: -- that will not be pleasing to the Obama administration.
BLITZER: There are four liberals on the court.
BLITZER: Four conservatives on the court, Justice Kennedy, Anthony Kennedy, has been the swing vote.
Your impression from him, though, is he's swinging toward the conservative side on this issue. But you're still suggesting maybe the chief justice, John Roberts, he could side with the liberals, is that what I'm hearing?
TOOBIN: That certainly, based on questions yesterday, Roberts, even more than -- than Kennedy, seemed, at times -- and only at times -- somewhat sympathetic to upholding the law.
But these justices played to type. The four liberals aggressively, enthusiastically defended the law. The four conservatives who spoke were united, for the most part, against it. Clarence Thomas didn't say anything, as he hasn't said anything for more than six years. But his views on the Commerce Clause, which is the key part of the Constitution at issue here, are well known and contrary to the Obama administration.
So, you know, five beats four.
TOOBIN: And that's the way it looks.
We have a clip from Ruth Bader Ginsburg, one of the liberal justices...
BLITZER: -- on the Supreme Court. She's making the case, at least salvage something out of this...
BLITZER: -- even if you have to kill the mandates.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUTH BADER GINSBURG, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: It's a question of whether we say everything you did is no good, nonstop, from scratch or to say, yes, there -- there are many things in this that have nothing to do, frankly, with this -- the affordable health care. And there are some that maybe it's better to let Congress decide whether it wants them in or out.
So why shouldn't we say it's a choice between a wrecking operation, which is what you are requesting, or a salvage job? (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Wrecking or salvage, because even if the mandates are deemed unconstitutional, a lot of folks would like to keep the no cap on what insurance companies would have to pay if somebody come -- becomes critically ill or -- or some of the other issues, like keeping children on your health insurance until age 26, for example; pre- existing conditions.
But all of that might have to go, because the mandate requiring younger, healthy people to buy health insurance from these health insurance companies, that pays for all the other stuff.
TOOBIN: This was the theme from the four liberals, from Ginsburg, from Breyer, from Sotomayor, from Kagan, which was, hey, wait a second, OK, you don't like the mandate. But a lot of these provisions are not cons -- controversial under the Constitution.
Why would you throw them all out?
But the conservatives were raising the issue of, how can we really tell how the parts are related to each other?
How can we, you know, judge where the controversial -- and, they would assert, unconstitutional sections -- impact on the other?
Better let Congress start over. And -- and you certainly heard that argument explicitly from Justice Scalia. You heard it from Justice Alito. At times, you heard it from Kennedy and even from Roberts.
I don't know if they're going to go all in that direction. Roberts, at times, certainly seems sympathetic to the argument that, look, just declare part of it const -- unconstitutional, but I mean compared to where we were walking into court on Monday, this law is in far worse shape than it was.
BLITZER: Yes. They're going to have three months now to determine what they want to do and they'll be discussing it.
TOOBIN: And they'll be working hard.
BLITZER: Doing the legal stuff...
TOOBIN: That's for sure.
BLITZER: -- behind the scenes.
Jeff, thanks very much.
A new source of outrage over the death of a Florida teenager. We're taking a closer look at the trademarking of Trayvon Martin's name.
What's behind it? And this isn't the kind of jolt you want when you go to Starbucks. We're looking into the revelation that one popular drink contains bugs.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with The Cafferty File -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, if the Supreme Court rules Obamacare unconstitutional this summer. It would be a huge embarrassment for President Obama. Healthcre reform was the president's signature. He spent his first two years in office and a whole lot of political capital getting this thing through Congress, and now, two years later, the healthcare law is not looking so healthy.
CNNs Jeff Toobin says he thinks the law will be struck down or at least parts of it will. He described the Supreme Court hearings as a train wreck for the Obama administration. Some would argue it's been a train wreck from the start. Remember, Congress crafted this 2,700- page monstrosity behind closed doors. No transparency for the public, plenty of access, though, for the lobbyists.
Few lawmakers even read it, then Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Democrats, quote, "we have to pass this bill so you can find what's in it." Real statesmanship on her part. Not everyone agrees that a Supreme Court rejection would hurt the president politically. CNNs James Carville said on this very program yesterday, he thought it would be the best thing that has ever happened to the Democratic Party.
Carville reasons Democrats will then be able to show they tried, and when healthcare cost keep rising, they could then lay it on the Republican's doorstep. Some say it's the Supreme Court rules against it. Republicans will lose a top election issue to repeal of Obama, and the president could then focus on the most popular parts of the bill which ditching the individual mandate, which works and more and more like it may be overturned.
Other suggests Obamacare will not be a major election issue if Mitt Romney is the Republican nominee, because he created the similar law when he was the governor of Massachusetts.
So, here's a question, how will Supreme Court decision on Obamacare affect the president's chances for a second-term. Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. Good question. James Carville was insisting it would be good for the Democrats, good for the president. I'm not necessarily all that convince, but I just (ph) to hear what our viewers think.
CAFFERTY: Well, Carville is a Democratic spinmeister.
BLITZER: He's a smart guy, though. He knows what -- CAFFERTY: He's a very smart guy.
BLITZER: Yes. Very smart. Very good at his job.
CAFFERTY: Not unlike yourself.
BLITZER: Thanks, Jack.
The Obama administration's lead lawyer at the Supreme Court will get a lot of the blame if the healthcare reform law is struck down. We're talking about the solicitor general, Donald Verrilli. Let's bring in our chief White House correspondent, Jessica Yellin.
Jessica, we certainly heard a lot of criticism of Verrilli's performance yesterday and today, but what are they saying where you are?
JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he's been taking a lot of heat for his performance by court watchers who say that his performance yesterday was not too impressive, slightly better today, but here at the White House, they're defending him.
YELLIN (voice-over): The pile on is all about moments like this.
VOICE OF DONALD VERRILLI, SOLICITOR GENERAL: Insurance has become the predominant means of paying for healthcare in this country. And turn has become the predominant means of paying for healthcare in this country.
YELLIN: That's Donald Verrilli, the solicitor general, who defended the healthcare law at the Supreme Court. This court watcher had no mercy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Verrilli, the solicitor general, did a simply awful job defending the law. He was nervous. He was not well spoken.
YELLIN: One day later, the White House came to Verrilli's defense.
JOSH EARNEST, DEPUTY WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are a lot of people who are going to sit on the sidelines and weigh in with their commentary and probably try to assign style points to one advocate or the other. We had complete confidence in his performance before the Supreme Court.
YELLIN: Donald Verrilli is no stranger to the Supreme Court. He's argued 17 cases before the court, clerked performer, Justice William Brennan (ph), helped Justice Breyer through the confirmation process, and he's been the solicitor general since June 2011.
DON AYER, FORMER DEPUTY SOLICITOR GENERAL: Don Verrilli is a superb lawyer, and he's been a private practitioner in town for a long time before he went into the White House council's office and, you know, everybody who knows him in Washington certainly has a huge amount of respect for him.
YELLIN: Don Ayer has appeared before the Supreme Court 19 times. His law firm argued against the healthcare law in court. He believes it's a mistake to focus so heavily on oral arguments.
AYER: It's almost like treating it as a boxing match or something like that, oh, my goodness. So, who won the boxing match? Well, this isn't a boxing match. This is a decision of the most somber and serious sort that this court is going to make based on a total, full consideration of the issues, which they have amply presented to them already.
YELLIN: Even the opposing attorney had this to say about Verrilli.
PAUL CLEMENT, ATTORNEY OPPOSING INDIVIDUAL MANDATE: It was a great privilege to argue and share the podium with the solicitor general of the United States who did a terrific job.
YELLIN (on-camera): Wolf, and keep in mind, many of the people I spoke to said this case is unusual, because there are more than 150 legal briefs presented to the justices, and they will, no doubt, take many of the arguments presented there into consideration in addition to the oral arguments.
There was one bit of news out of the White House here today on this topic, Wolf. The White House made clear that they are not making contingency plans in the event in case either the individual mandate or the law in its entirety should be struck down -- Wolf.
BLITZER: This contingency plans, it doesn't cost anything to make contingency plans. They should start thinking about that, just in case.
YELLIN: Not doing it.
BLITZER: All right. Jessica, thank you.
Let's get back to the breaking news. We have new scary details about what happened onboard that JetBlue flight when the pilot went on a rampage. We're talking to a passenger on that flight in just a few minutes. We'll get his reaction to this latest federal criminal complaint with lots of these details. Stand by for that.
And is there life on other planets? Astronomers now are offering billions of reasons to say yes.
BLITZER: Our Mary Snow is monitoring some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now, including an update to the story we brought you last hour about Mitt Romney's proposed car elevator. What's going on here, Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you just mentioned, we told everyone last hour about Mitt Romney's plan to renovate his multi-million dollar house in San Diego, which includes installing a four-car garage with an elevator for the cars. Now, the Romney campaign just responded to the story, telling us the project is on hold until the campaign is over.
A desperate search is under way for a woman missing in a vicious Colorado wildfire. The fire, which isn't contained at all, has already scorched 4,000 acres near Denver and claimed two lives. Thousands have been warned to evacuate, and almost 30 homes have been destroyed. Firefighters are battling heavy winds and dry conditions fueling the blaze.
Doctors have successfully performed what's being called the most extensive face transplant ever. The 36-hour surgery essentially replaced everything except for the patient's eyes and back of his throat. Compare that to what he looked like after losing his lips, nose and portions of his mouth in a 1997 gunshot injury. Doctors consider the final result of what the patient used to look like and his anonymous donor.
Now, imagine the possibility of life beyond the planet Earth. It may not be such a far-fetched idea. Astronomers now estimate there are actually tens of billions -- billions of habitable planets in our galaxy capable of sustaining water and possibly life.
In fact, they may be even more habitable than the Earth because they have more mass. The estimate is being called a, quote, "great stride in planetary science." Pretty fascinating, Wolf.
BLITZER: Just think, there could be another little Mary Snow out there in some place. Who knows, right?
SNOW: Scary thing, but yes.
BLITZER: We may be meeting her one of these days. Thanks, Mary.
We're looking into news right now to trademark Trayvon Martin's name. It's a new twist in the killing that sparked national outrage.
And it's not a secret ingredient anymore. Starbucks explaining why it's putting crushed bugs in one of its drinks.
BLITZER: We're watching lots of news here in the SITUATION ROOM. Welcome back.
Some Starbucks customers may soon be thinking twice about the place they go to for their morning fix, all because of one ingredient in one popular drink. We're talking about that ingredient being bugs. Let's bring in Brian Todd. He's been investigating this for us. Everybody goes to Starbucks. What's going on?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Everyone almost gags when they hear about this, Wolf. Right. Those strawberries and cream frappuccino specifically, very popular drink in the summer, they get those pinkish hues from the crushed-up bodies of insects found in South America. One prominent nutritionist say don't gag over this, but some vegan activists say they've been misled about this drink.
TODD (voice-over): The grande Starbucks strawberries and cream frappuccino tastes terrific and has a beautiful pink hue courtesy of crushed insects. You heard right. A barista at Starbucks who's vegan recently divulged that the strawberries and cream frappuccino is colored using cochineal extract, the ground-up bodies of cochineal insects native to South America. The barista gave that information to a vegan news site run by Daelyn Fortney who says she is shocked.
DAELYN FORTNEY, THISDISHISVEGAN.COM: We were told that the anyway you want it frappuccino were made with sway mulch (ph), was completely safe for vegans.
TODD: A Starbucks spokesman says the company never claimed the drink was vegan-friendly.
(on camera): Nicely textured. Starbucks didn't want to put anyone on camera with us, didn't want us filming anyone in the stores making this frappuccino. A company spokesman did tell us they started using cochineal (ph) extract to move away from some dyes and other artificial ingredients, but the extract is FDA-approved and that it would never do anything to harm its customers.
(voice-over): As for the customers we spoke with --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is still technically all natural. It is still probably organic.
TODD (on camera): Does it gross you out at all they use bug extract in this thing?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We use bugs in all sorts of things. I'm not terribly surprised or concerned.
TODD (voice-over): After all, bugs have been a staple of nutrition for years on Discovery Channel's "Man versus Wild."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can just eat them, eat them raw.
TODD: Starbucks officials also point out products like juices made by other companies have the same insect extract in them, but according to the World Health Organization there have been instances where cochineal (ph) extract is believed to have caused asthma attackers and allergic reactions.
(on camera): Probably wonderful, right? It tastes pretty good.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's OK.
TODD: It's OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I prefer my own homemade smoothies.
TODD (voice-over): Renowned nutritionist Katherine Talmage (ph) also warns of those symptoms, but --
(on camera): If you drink one of these is it going to do anything to you? Is it bad for you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nutritionally it's fine, but any time a restaurant puts an ingredient in the food it should be disclosed.
TODD (voice-over): Talmage (ph) says the cups seen by customers should disclose that the strawberry frappuccino has insect extract in it. Right now only the boxes of liquid mixture used by the baristas behind the counters have those labels.
TODD: An FDA official tell us the law does not require those cups to be labeled because the drink is prepared by Starbucks' staff, not sold in any packages bought directly by customers. A Starbucks official did tell me that they are looking into the possibility of labeling those cups. Now in the interest of full disclosure my wife works at the FDA but in a separate unrelated division from their office of food and additive safety -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Your wife is a doctor --
TODD: That's correct.
BLITZER: She's an expert in a lot of other stuff at the FDA. Let's talk about allergies, reactions. The FDA approved this --
TODD: That's right.
BLITZER: -- ingredient but there are some people are saying they should really be more notified about it in case they have some bad reactions.
TODD: And some people even argue why did you approve it? One FDA official says look there are a lot of things -- first of all, this is a healthy additive, according to an FDA official and he also said that there are a lot of things out there that you can buy and ingest that cause allergic reactions, peanuts, milk, things like that. You can't just take it off the market. It is all about the labeling and the question is are they going to put the labels on the actual cups so the customers can see it? Starbucks says it's going to look at that.
BLITZER: Expect sales of that one drink are going to go down pretty quickly --
TODD: It might -- might.
BLITZER: There are some people probably --
TODD: They're doing OK financially --
BLITZER: I'm not worried about Starbucks. All right thanks very much, Brian.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.
BLITZER: All right let's get back to the breaking news this hour. A JetBlue pilot now faces federal charges of interfering with a flight crew. The complaint goes into new details about Captain Clayton Osbon's (ph) in-flight meltdown yesterday. Says Osbon (ph) sprinted back to the forward galley and the flight attendants gave chase. The flight attendants had already notified certain passengers they may need their help.
The flight attendant -- the flight officer announcer over the PA system in order to restrain Osbon, several passengers jumped in and helped -- to help and they brought Osbon down in the forward galley -- that according to criminal -- a federal criminal complaint that has just been filed. One of Osbon's neighbors in Georgia tells CNN he's shocked by what happened.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELTON STAFFORD, PILOT'S NEIGHBOR: Obviously, you know, something has clicked or something. He's a very straight-headed guy, very level headed and very professional. So I know he loves his job. We've talked about it a little bit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's dig a little bit deeper now with one of the passengers onboard JetBlue Flight 191. Tony Antolino is joining us from Las Vegas. Tony thanks very much for coming in. First of all, where were you sitting when all of the commotion started?
TONY ANTOLINO, JETBLUE FLIGHT 191 PASSENGER: Thanks for having me, Wolf. I was in row 10 when the commotion started.
BLITZER: You were in an aisle, a middle, or a window?
ANTOLINO: Yes, I was in the aisle seat 10D actually and before the actual commotion started there was probably about 15 or 20 minutes of activity leading up to that point, and it all started with some erratic behavior with the distressed captain immediately as he exited the cockpit for the first time. He was clearly agitated, acting a little bit weird, drinking lots of water.
It seemed like he had a lot of cotton mouth, that type of thing, so he was very, very anxious. So I kind of thought that was a little bit odd, but I think the real turning point where things went from a little peculiar or odd to, you know, confirming that there was a problem was when one of the flight attendants had gone a few rows behind me to talk to an off-duty JetBlue pilot and then when I saw the distressed captain go into the bathroom they kind of rushed him into the cockpit and secured the cockpit door and at that point I kind of was sure that something was definitely wrong with what we came to know to be the captain.
BLITZER: All right, so he emerges --
ANTOLINO: From that point --
BLITZER: He emerges from the lavatory, the pilot who is in distress, obviously, pick up the story then. What happens? He tries to get into -- back into the cockpit, but he can't.
ANTOLINO: Well he comes -- he comes out of the restroom after the co-pilot was -- the off-duty pilot was back in the cockpit. He actually then went to the rear of the aircraft.
I had got up from my seat and went into the men's room and when I came out of the men's room he was actually in the back of the -- in the back galley, so he then started walking up to -- towards the cockpit, and I don't know somewhere maybe around half way or so he just started running towards the cockpit. As he got to the cockpit door, he tried putting in his access code. The door didn't open.
When that didn't happen he started pounding on the door and started yelling let me in and that type of thing. At that point myself and three other guys I think just impulsively jumped up and grabbed him and just started pulling him away from the cockpit door. While that was happening he started yelling things like they got us in Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan. They're going to take us down. We need to throttle down, take the plane down. Then he suggested that we all say the Lord's Prayer and I think certainly for me that was all I needed to hear and I think the other guys probably felt the same way because at that point we just wrestled him to the ground and forcibly restrained him.
BLITZER: What was going through your mind as you were doing this? And you obviously for the next 15, 20 minutes until the plane made that emergency landing in Amarillo, Texas, you were holding him down, but was he still talking? What was going on?
ANTOLINO: Well he kept talking until we had him on the ground. As he was going down, he was yelling I'm so distraught. I'm so distraught. So I mean clearly it was just confirming that he was having some kind of you know mental crisis or a breakdown of sorts. I don't think there was anything really running through my mind from the time I jumped out of my seat to having my hands physically on him. I think it was just an impulsive response, quite honestly. Once we had him on the ground then the thinking started kicking in because the restraints broke that the flight crew gave us, so those zip ties were a complete failure. There was a retired NYPD sergeant with us, so he kind of coached everybody through the situation and just kind of said look, everybody, just hold on to him, you know keep your hands on him.
Don't move. Let's stop trying to figure out how we should tie him up. Just stay on top of him and let's wait until we get on the ground, so that's what everybody did. He -- the captain did stay quiet until we were just about to touchdown and then he started kind of making some statements about an emergency landing, crash landing, get ready that type of thing, so that's how it played out.
BLITZER: And was he strong on the ground? Was he resist -- was he at all fighting you guys or did he just give up once the three or four of you held him down, and I know you used your own -- your own -- I guess anything you had there to restrain him.
ANTOLINO: Wolf, he -- this guy is a big guy. I mean he's easily 6'4", 250 pounds, in great shape, rock solid kind of guy, so it was an effort for four guys to take him down. He did not give up at all. There was one guy in front of me that was trying to get his arm behind him and he kept telling him, look, give me your arm. I'm going break your arm and you know I don't think he broke his arm, but it probably would have gone to that had he not finally given up and just you know kind of went flat, at that point though he did just kind of lay there. He was quiet. The four of us holding him remained completely quiet and we got on the ground and the authorities came on, handcuffed him and put him on the stretcher and took him down the stairs to the ambulance.
BLITZER: And everybody onboard that plane is grateful to you. A lot of people are grateful to you and the others. Tony thanks very much for stepping up to the plate and doing what you did. You potentially saved a lot of lives, appreciate it very much.
ANTOLINO: Thanks, Wolf. You know it's really the copilot who is the hero here for recognizing that there was a crisis early on and getting him out of the cockpit. That should really be noted.
BLITZER: Yes, I think you're absolutely right and the other pilot who was off duty who went up front and helped bring that plane down safely under awful, awful circumstances. Tony Antolino joining us -- before I let you go, quickly Tony, what kind of work do you normally do?
ANTOLINO: I'm a chief marketing officer for Allaq Corporation (ph) where a technology company that does iris-identity management, so we were heading out to IEC West (ph) for the security conference.
BLITZER: You never expected that this would happen, but glad you stood up and did what you did. Tony thanks very much.
ANTOLINO: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: One soldier stands accused of a massacre, another died as a hero saving a child's life in Afghanistan. We have new information.
BLITZER: Flags are flying at half-staff in Rhode Island for a U.S. soldier who died saving the life of an Afghan child. The heroic story comes just weeks after another U.S. soldier was charged in a horrific massacre that took the lives of more than a dozen Afghan civilians. CNN's Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is joining us now with details of what happened. What are we learning, Barbara? BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf we want to tell you about Specialist Dennis Weichel (ph). He was traveling in a convoy in Afghanistan, eastern Afghanistan just a few days ago. There were some young children in the road. Specialist Weichel (ph) got out of his military vehicle to move the little ones out of the way. Very dangerous for them to be around these big, heavy Army vehicles and as he moved the children out of the way one little girl ran back into the road to pick up some brass shell casings.
Little kids in Afghanistan often pick up even garbage in the streets and they sell it for pennies. Their families badly need the money. The 16-ton vehicle couldn't stop in time. The little girl was safely out of the way due to Dennis Weichel's (ph) actions, but he was run over by the vehicle. It couldn't stop. He was killed saving this little girl. The father of three will be laid to rest on Monday in Rhode Island after a tough couple of weeks in the war, important to remember the courage and sacrifice of all of those who serve -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What a heartbreaking story that is and our deepest, deepest condolences to his family and his loved ones. Barbara thanks very much.
How will the U.S. Supreme Court decision on health care affect President Obama's chances for re-election? That's coming up.
Also, Trayvon Martin's parents are here in Washington, but it's what they're doing with their slain son's name that's making some headlines right now. Stand by for that.
BLITZER: A new protest OF the death of Trayvon Martin on the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Congressman Bobby Rush wore a hoodie while giving a speech condemning racial profiling. The Illinois Democrat and former Black Panther was removed from the House floor for violating a rule against wearing hats in the chamber. Trayvon Martin's death is being remembered in another way. The teenager's name is being trademarked. CNN's Athena Jones is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with this part of the story. A lot of people are saying what's going on --
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. Wolf, well this trademark has gotten a lot of attention online on Twitter and the like and so we thought we'd take a closer look.
JONES (voice-over): After taking their case to Capitol Hill, Trayvon Martin's parents continued pressing their cause in Washington, giving interviews and making public appearances.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We just appreciate the support that we've been receiving. We are thinking about the next steps and the plans that we need to take right now to try to get some justice for our son.
JONES: They've also had to explain that they're not trying to make money off their son's name by seeking to trademark the phrases "I am Trayvon" and "Justice for Trayvon" for use on CDs, DVDs and videos.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is about protection and not exploitation.
JONES: Lawyer Kimra Major-Morris who filed the application for Trayvon's mother, Sabryna Fulton (ph), said the family was worried that others could use the phrases to exploit the Florida teen's death, for instance by falsely claiming to be raising funds for the family.
KIMRA MAJOR-MORRIS, LAWYER FOR TRAYVON MARTIN'S FAMILY: There are going to be many as there currently are, people who don't have the family's best interest at heart. The purpose of the trademark filings is to predict -- protect against exploitation and to keep the heat on an arrest and that is really our goal and the family is not interested in a profit.
JONES: Major-Morris said Trayvon's family supports efforts like the public service announcement released this week by Grammy winning singer Chaka Khan (ph) and is not trying to bar people from using these phrases on t-shirts or hoodies, items they believe are helpful to their cause. In fact just two days after Fulton submitted her application, Marcus Singletary (ph), a Las Angeles guitar player seen here in his YouTube music video applied for a trademark for "Justice for Trayvon" hooded sweatshirts.
In an e-mail Singletary (ph) told us he would quote, "love to provide assistance to the family", end quote, assuming the product is successful. It's not unusual for people to try to exploit a famous name or event for their own profit. One reason Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s family has copyrighted his famous "I have a dream speech," among others.
UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (INAUDIBLE)
JONES: The problem one lawyer told us is that it usually takes a year or more for a trademark registration to be completed, making Sabryna Fulton's (ph) move largely symbolic when it comes to providing legal protection in the short-term.
MAJOR-MORRIS: It has no immediate benefit to the family. It just puts the public on notice.
JONES: Now Major-Morris told me that Trayvon Martin's family plans to set up a foundation in his name and wants to protect these phrases for their own use in the future.
BLITZER: And so this story continues. Is the family still here in D.C. or are they getting ready to go back home?
JONES: They are still here in D.C. They have an event tonight, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Athena Jones, good report. Let's check in with Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: The question is how will the Supreme Court's decision on Obamacare affect the president's chances for winning a second term?
Ed in Philadelphia, "I believe it will hurt because as his comments to Russian President Medvedev have shown, a second term promises to be a free for all. We also know that he will start over and this time the bill will be even more transformative. People are not going to want to have this fight again."
J. writes, "Let the court throw it out then run a few stories about how people who can and want to buy insurance are denied coverage and then go broke or die because of it. Run a few more stories about people who can buy insurance but didn't then end up in the ER and have the taxpayer and/or insured pay for their care. That ought to go over well with the voters."
Richard writes, "People will not vote for or against Obama based on the Supreme Court decision. It's the economy stupid all over again. If people perceive their lives are better or are getting better, Obama wins. If they perceive their lives are worse or are getting worse, Obama could lose. Killing bin Laden meant more to the everyday Joe than Obamacare."
Gary in Arizona writes, "If we are going to liken this to a game of chess, it would be similar to him losing his queen, since it's the most impressive piece in his game. For those unfamiliar with chess it would be the same as his horse throwing a shoe coming out of the gate at the racetrack and for those unfamiliar with horse racing, it would simply be a political setback of serious proportions."
Mike writes, "Against Mr. Romney care, the Supreme Court decision will make no difference in President Obama's re-election. None." And Matt writes, "Jack, probably the same as if gas prices remain high, people are unemployed. The Afghan war continues to go badly and on and on and on. He may be toast." If you want to read more about this go to the blog, CNN.COM/CAFFERTY FILE or through our post on THE SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you. Elephants, lizards, even monkeys, up next, what happens when animals use Smartphones?
BLITZER: These days, it seems like animals can do almost anything people can do, especially when it comes to the latest electronic technology. CNN's Jeanne Moos has a closer look.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Imagine your caller ID showed Peter the elephant calling from his Smartphone. Peter is the star of a viral ad for the Samsung Galaxy Note (ph). Note his favorites are the apps that make noise.
(SOUNDS) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It uses it (INAUDIBLE) like we use our fingers --
MOOS: Ed Robinson is co-founder of the ad agency, The Viral Factory that dreamed up this ad to go along with Samsung's "bigger is better" slogan.
MOOS: Look at him swipe. The ad was shot in Thailand with an actress holding the phone and the young elephant's Thai trainer alongside.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The elephant had no training (INAUDIBLE) turned up and presented to advise (ph) the elephant and it started interacting.
MOOS: Gees (ph), they shot for three days as Peter got more and more engaged. The ad agency was inspired by all those other Web videos of animals using touch screens.
MOOS: Who wouldn't find a tongue-flicking bearded dragon wizard inspiring as it plays "Ant Smasher" (ph)? Dogs are scratching like mad. Is this any way to treat an iPad? Make that an iPaw. Don't you sometimes feel like doing this to your device?
MOOS: During a morning talk show at radio station WMMR --
MOOS: -- a monkey named Bubba went nuts on one guy's iPhone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Easy monkey --
MOOS: Who cares about the phone? Bubba's big sin was stepping on a button and disconnecting a live call with Ryan Seacrest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED)
MOOS: Peter the elephant, on the other hand, was a gentle giant.
MOOS: They had to modify the stylist with a lump of wood so he could grip it. Is that a portrait of that other elephant?
(on camera): But at least all those creatures aren't dumb enough to do what we humans do. Excuse me.
(voice-over): Texting while walking, whether it be off this pier or into a shopping mall fountain.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is funny when it is not you.
MOOS: And if you think technology is intimidating, look what it did to this chameleon.
MOOS: These devices sure can take a licking but sometimes the owner isn't as smart as the Smartphone.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --
MOOS: -- New York.
BLITZER: Jeanne Moss. Thanks very much for joining us.
Don't forget to get to go to the CNN.com/SITUATIONROOM Web site. Check out my latest blog. (INAUDIBLE) a cautionary tale for some of these Republican presidential candidates right now and for President Obama, from the Al Gore experience and the Internet back in 1999 when I interviewed the then vice president. Check it out.
Thanks very much. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.