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Conflict in Israel; Avoiding the Fiscal Cliff

Aired November 16, 2012 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour, very serious news. I'm Don Lemon. Brooke is off today.

Urgent situation between Israel and militants in Gaza. Hamas aims rockets at Jerusalem. They miss, but the fact Hamas is going after what Israel considers its capital city shows how much pressure is building in the Middle East right now. Listen.

An I-Reporter captured air raid sirens going off in Jerusalem. Rockets from Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, landed just south of Jerusalem. More rockets aimed for Tel Aviv ended up in the water. No reports of damage in either case.

But Israel says, since midnight, 66 rockets from Gaza have blasted Israeli land and three of their own have died from it.

On the Gaza side, officials there say 27 Palestinians have died since Wednesday from Israeli strikes. This is Israeli Defense Forces video showing what they say are munition sites. Look at this. Israel points to the stockpiles as more proof Hamas is trying to escalate tensions. Hamas says Israel is to blame. People on both sides now share the fear of just how close attacks will come.

Listen to one man in Gaza just last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMED SULAIMAN, GAZA: I feel That life is at risk by merely being out in the streets. So, yesterday, when the escalation started by the assassination of al-Jabari, I was out in the street that the (INAUDIBLE) was coming on. And I literally felt that I could lose my life at any moment (INAUDIBLE) targeting (INAUDIBLE) targeting Israeli civilians. I might as well...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: He was able to reconnect with us moments later, though. Other nations are scrambling to try to get Israel and Hamas to take a step back in this situation. Egypt's prime minister and president arrived in Gaza today. A planned cease-fire for the visit never materialized while President Mohammed Morsi made it clear whose side Egypt is on.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MOHAMMED MORSI, EGYPTIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): We support the people of Gaza. We're with them in their trenches. What hurts them hurts us and the blood that flows from their children is our blood too.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Most of the West, including the United States, sides with Israel, but even in this country, opinion is divided. An iReporter recorded dueling protests in San Francisco last night.

So Israel says it is recruiting 16,000 reservists as fears of a ground war increase.

Want to turn now to CNN's Ben Wedeman in Ashkelon, Israel, which borders Gaza.

Ben, what is happening there now? Are you seeing the rockets and shelling going both ways?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Don, actually, we have been here for an hour-and-a-half and we have heard a lot of distant thuds coming from Gaza. Those, however, appear to be Israeli airstrikes.

The owner of this restaurant we're right next to said that about two- and-a-half-hours ago, they did hear some sirens going off to the north of here, but they didn't see any incoming rockets. And what is interesting, Don, is right behind me is a sushi restaurant that is operating. It is not full, but they're still people out, the owner of this restaurant telling us that they really just have to get on with their life.

He said that during the 2008-2009 war between Gaza and Israel he stayed open the whole time. So certainly people here somewhat accustomed to all of this now. What we are hearing from the Israeli media is that the security cabinet of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has authorized the Israeli government to now call up as many as 75,000 reservists and that certainly does point to the very definite possibility of an impending Israeli ground incursion into Gaza.

LEMON: Those are reservists, but just to be clear here, how close is Israel, do you think, is moving to -- how close are they moving to moving troops on the ground, Ben?

WEDEMAN: Well, certainly, they're stationing quite a lot of troops, quite a lot of armor around Gaza. It is very reminiscent of what we saw four years ago. The Israeli ground incursion into Gaza was preceded by a lot of airstrikes hitting targets within Gaza and then they went in.

So we may simply see a repeat of that scenario that we saw four years ago -- Don.

LEMON: And moving the fighting from the air to the ground changes this crisis how?

WEDEMAN: Well, completely, because it is one thing when they are striking targets within Gaza. It is another when they're sending in troops to fight in the streets.

And I -- having spent a lot of time in Gaza. I can tell you there is really nowhere to hide for people. The buildings are very flimsy, bullets go right through the cinder block that is used to make most of those buildings. And what we saw the last time around, there were a lot of civilian casualties when Israeli forces finally did go into Gaza. If you recall, during that war, as many as 1,500 Palestinians lost their lives in that three-week war -- Don.

LEMON: Ben Wedeman, thank you very much. Appreciate that.

We are so lucky here at CNN to have someone like Jim Clancy who -- you have been covering this, what, since the 1980s?

JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Early '80s.

LEMON: He's right in the building with us. I thought it was interesting this morning you told me about Israel's tactics, the tactics they used in the past. Do you think they're viable now?

CLANCY: They're not working. It is obvious they're not working.

What we have here is a situation where there was Sharon, Lieberman and now Netanyahu strategy. The strategy was give the Palestinians Gaza. There is no water there. They get all their water from Israel. It's salty in the summertime. Hang on to the West Bank. Just move back the guard towers in Gaza and control that area. At the same time, take negotiations off the table.

And as we have seen during Mr. Netanyahu's stint as prime minister, Don, zero negotiations, real negotiations. So this is a strategy. The missiles are proving it is not going to work. They can go in again. But it is not going to accomplish anything. It just puts us back there. This is Cast Lead lite if you will right now.

LEMON: Putting the situation back to...

(CROSSTALK)

CLANCY: ... same place it was four years ago.

LEMON: Let's get the backstory on this region here, because there are two areas of Israel, I know you brought a map here to show us, under control of Palestinians, but not the same group. Hamas is only in control of Gaza. What do you have here?

CLANCY: Take a look. We get in here closer. The Gaza Strip, really tiny. There is no water there. All the water comes this way, the Israelis tap it before it gets there.

This is under the control of Hamas now. It was Palestinian controlled, but then Hamas wrested that control away from Fatah, that controls the West Bank. Surprisingly now, they have their own small jihadist groups that are inside Gaza define Hamas' authority there.

The West Bank, Mahmoud Abbas, there's some Hamas elements here as well, but this is where the Fatah stronghold -- they're the ones that want -- the only way they want to push negotiations is if they get elevated status at the U.N. That's why we saw Mahmoud Abbas in Europe this week trying to persuade them to get support.

The U.S. opposes this. Everybody says it is through negotiations, but the Palestinians say we're getting nowhere. They just announced another 1,200 homes to be built in East Jerusalem.

LEMON: We're looking at this, we're talking rockets going from here, right...

CLANCY: All the way to here.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: All the way to here. When we say it went towards Tel Aviv, but went in the water, this is why, they're so close to...

(CROSSTALK)

CLANCY: These are not missiles. In other words, they're not putting grid and a target on it and firing it with any accuracy. They're rockets thank you are sent up in a grid.

LEMON: How far are we talking here?

CLANCY: Well, you're talking more than 40 kilometers.

LEMON: Right.

CLANCY: And they're aiming for to increase the range even more. They're getting this technology from the Ukraine and from Russia. They have -- Palestinians have studied at the universities there. They have taken the technology home. This is widespread Grad rocket, Katyusha rocket technology.

LEMON: If this becomes a ground war, I asked Ben the same question this changes how?

CLANCY: Well, it changes in terms of civilian casualties. It is unavoidable if you put that much firepower in there. But, remember, there is still the question here. Post-Arab spring, everybody is looking to see Mohammed Morsi, Turkey. These are Muslim Brotherhood, if you will, governments.

They're looking for them, Don, to in one way or another bring Hamas under control, to calm this down. Nobody wants a full-blown conflict. Fatah doesn't want it in the West Bank. The Israelis don't want to see it. But they're feeling more insecure than they have in years. They understand the current strategy simply won't hold in the future.

LEMON: This man knows his stuff. Since the 1980s, you have been doing this. Thank you, Jim Clancy.

CLANCY: Good to be with you.

LEMON: I really appreciate it, sir.

Developing now here in the U.S., two people are missing after an oil platform exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, the platform about 20 miles off the coast of Grand Isle, Louisiana. It is not a drilling facility, 11 people sent to the hospital as crews launch a search-and- rescue mission. The Coast Guard says 28 gallon of fuel spilled creating an oil sheen about half a mile long. We're told it is not considered a major environmental threat. Updates as we get them here on CNN.

Up next, David Petraeus on the hot seat, testifying on the Benghazi attack, and it seemed to all come down to the distinction between classified and unclassified information. We will break that down for you.

Plus, here we go. As the U.S. faces a so-called fiscal cliff, the nation's most powerful leaders sit down together. Hear what happened behind closed doors.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: One week after resigning as CIA chief, David Petraeus testified today before Congress about the deadly attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

The hearings before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees were closed. Congressman Peter King says Petraeus testified the CIA quickly pegged the attack as terrorism, a conflict with initial reports from the Obama administration.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PETER KING (R-NY), HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: General Petraeus' testimony today was that from the start he had told us that this was a terrorist attack, or terrorist-involved from the start. I told him my questions. I had a very different recollection of that. The clear impression we were given was that the overwhelming amount of evidence was that it was a -- it arose out of a spontaneous demonstration and was not a terrorist attack.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So it was U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice who initially said the attack was a spontaneous reaction to the anti-Muslim film posted online. She was defended today by Senator Dianne Feinstein.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D), CALIFORNIA: What Susan Rice, Ambassador Rice did, was use talking points, put out originally by the CIA, signed off by the intelligence community.

And those talking points, as I understand it, were requested by the House committee, and all the intelligence community signed off on it. The key is that they were unclassified talking points at a very early stage. (END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: So, General Mark Kimmitt is in Washington.

General, help guide us through this. Thank you so much for joining us, by the way.

The distinction here seems to be between classified and unclassified information, talking points. What kind of information can be handed out early on?

BRIG. GEN. MARK KIMMITT (RET.), FORMER U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND DEPUTY DIRECTOR FOR PLANS AND STRATEGY: Well, I think in any case what can be handed to the people speaking on your behalf are the best facts that are known at the time. And you rely on the spokesman to understand what can be released because it is unclassified, and what can't be spoken about because it is classified.

LEMON: Are you buying this -- this is what could have been released, this is the unclassified information that she was speaking to? Does that argument hold water?

KIMMITT: I find it a little bit questionable, very simply because you don't take a piece of classified information and turn it 180 on its head. You can't mention it was a terrorist attack, but you can pretend it was a non-terrorist attack.

The fact is you should stand up there and say we can't give you the facts because they are classified and say no more. And you should say if you don't know, you should say, look, this is early in the process, we're developing the intelligence, we're developing the information and as soon as we understand and can release it to the public, we will.

But this notion of getting ahead of yourself before the facts are known or potentially even worse giving a deception story to the American people rather than the truth, I find that -- well, all I will say is what others should have said, which is I will wait to find out what really happened here before I draw a judgment on that.

LEMON: So you think they should have just said exactly what they knew, we're under an investigation right now, we don't know exactly what went on, but as details come out, we will release them to the American people?

KIMMITT: I think that the American people are would be very happy with that kind of explanation, and as the facts are known, as judgments are made, as analysis is complete, why rush to get ahead of the facts?

LEMON: Would you ever -- I'm trying to understand how the viewer would -- is thinking about this. In your job, or in other jobs like yours, and Ambassador Rice, did you ever -- can you talk about unclassified information or do you just go from the talking points that are given you by the administration or by whomever? And what process does that go through because the question is, what process did this information go through, these talking points and what was removed, what was added, who saw that? Who was in charge of that?

KIMMITT: Well, at the end of the day if you're going to be doing a television show, if you're going to be giving a major speech, if you're doing the Sundays, one would expect that initial talking points are given to you well ahead of time, so you can sit down and ask your people the questions.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: But I'm asking you who vets them. If there is classified information that has to go through a process, who vets that information so that you can then go or someone like Ambassador Rice can then go on television and say, here's what I know?

KIMMITT: I don't know the exact procedures. What I would have expected to have seen happen in this case is that the director of national intelligence would be responsible for establishing the initial talking points that would be presented to the public.

They would be vetted through the interagency process, State Department, Department of Defense, to make sure that they had the best available information, and consistent with the security requirements. Then once the interagency was satisfied with those talking points, they would hand them off to the spokesman and then the spokesman would go through a process of asking questions about it, where did we get this information, what if I'm asked this question, what is the proper response?

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: So there are many hands this goes through and it's not just the White House saying that you can't -- that this goes through a process where many people are looking at it? That's what I'm trying to get at.

KIMMITT: My personal experience is a lot of people would take a look at some of the information that I would put out on the podium in Baghdad, but at the end of the day, I had the ultimate responsibility to ask the questions because the questions were going to be asked of me.

LEMON: It is reflected of you.

Thank you. Thank you very much, Mark. General Mark Kimmitt, we appreciate you.

Your paycheck and taxes depend on it, whether we go flying over the fiscal cliff. Today, President Obama tried to hatch out a plan with congressional leaders. But the big question, was it just all talk or are they closer to resolution?

We're going to take you live to the White House with the latest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: It's game on now for the fiscal cliff talks. President Obama and congressional leaders met today to kick-start face-to-face negotiations. The president says it is time to pick up the pace.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What the folks are looking for -- and I think all of us agree on this -- is action. They want to see that we are focused on them, not focused on our politics here in Washington.

So my hope is, is that this is going to be the beginning of a fruitful process where we're able to come to an agreement that will reduce our deficit in a balanced way, that we will deal with some of these long- term impediments to growth, and we're also going to be focusing on making sure that middle-class families are able to get ahead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: They have 46 days to cut a deal, just 46 days. Remember, the holidays are coming up. Otherwise, massive tax hikes and spending cuts kick in January 1. No pressure there, huh?

Let's bring in White House correspondent Brianna Keilar.

There she is.

Brianna, hello to you. What happened in today's meetings? Any big action?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No real big action.

Part of this, Don, is sort of like show business. It is setting the scene for these negotiations that will take place here in the coming weeks and sounding a positive note and obviously setting the expectations pretty high that they are going to get something worked out so people shouldn't be too nervous.

But make no mistake, there is still a whole lot of work here that needs to be done. It appears that this scene is kind of being set for these leaders to deal in the near term with the fiscal cliff, those spending cuts, those tax increases that are set to kick in at the new year, and then sort of set up a framework for the bigger issue of deficit reduction, including tax reform, perhaps entitlement reform, reform of Medicare, Medicaid, and deal with that in the coming year.

That seems to be the idea. But I will tell you today, I saw something I haven't really seen before, and that is these four leaders together in front of the microphones talking very positively about working together. It is something that you might only see on a day like 9/11, an anniversary like that. So this was very different. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We had a very constructive meeting with the president to talk about America's fiscal problem.

SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We all know something has to be done.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE MINORITY LEADER: It was good. I feel confident that a solution may be in sight.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We're prepared to put revenue on the table, provided we fix the real problem.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: The problem as Mitch McConnell sees it is spending. That's specifically on entitlements like Medicare. Obviously, Republicans would like to see more in the way of spending cuts. Democrats are more to favor tax increases.

The likely outcome of all of this is going to be a little bit of each, but the White House acknowledging, Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, in a statement, Don, there are differences, but they can work through them. And the real question I think now is how close are they going to cut it? Right?

Are they going to take it to the very edge? We heard from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and he said they won't wait until the last day of September, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said the goal is to get it done before Christmas. We should be so lucky.

LEMON: We should be so lucky. Holidays are coming up. And it is a beautiful backdrop there, Brianna, but you look kind of chilly out there in front of the White House.

KEILAR: It is a little cold.

LEMON: It is a little cold.

Brianna Keilar, thank you. Appreciate it.

What do fiscal cliff talks mean for your money, for your 401(k)? Wall Street investors might get nervous if talks aren't wrapped up quickly.

I want to bring in "TIME" magazine's assistant managing editor, Rana Foroohar. She is in charge of economic and business coverage.

Rana, you say some key people are worried next about what is coming up with stocks and bonds. Why is that?

RANA FOROOHAR, ""TIME": Absolutely.

A lot of the top investors in country see that the market has been down. There are major worries still about the fiscal cliff. I wish I could be as optimistic as some, but frankly I'm becoming a little bit worried. I think the issue of tax hikes for the rich in particular is going to be very politically contentious and there are worries we may not make that end-of-year deadline and that, in fact, if we go over it and we stay over it for a few months, that we could see the U.S. go back into recession.

LEMON: Do you believe a fiscal cliff solution will be agreed on quickly? You said there is going to be some politicization of this. But what is your recommendation for spending cuts here?

FOROOHAR: Well, let me first say that I was more optimistic a few days ago in terms of getting this resolved by the end of the year. I'm now thinking there is a chance we could go over the cliff for a couple of weeks. I think there is still a large ideological gap between...

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Hang on, hang on, hang on. You said you believe that we could still go over the cliff for a couple of weeks. What does that mean, Rana?

FOROOHAR: I think that that's possible. I think that what could happen is you could see a nod to what the agreement might be, but that we won't see the actual details emerge until we are at that point where we go over the cliff and then you might have a better bargaining position. You have to sort of die to be reborn, if you will, so we can then talk about tax cuts for certain groups, for the middle class, for example, and talk about tax rates for the rich in a way that is difficult right now.

I hope that's not the case.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: Because that's painful for the American people if that happens.

FOROOHAR: Well, it would certainly be a concern for the markets. The reports that I'm seeing from Wall Street are starting to price that in.

LEMON: Wow. Rana Foroohar, very good information, assistant managing editor at "TIME" magazine. Thank you. Have a great weekend.

FOROOHAR: Thank you. You, too.

LEMON: Airstrikes and rockets rain down on Israel and Gaza. Egypt's prime minister tours Gaza and rallies behind Hamas as fears of a ground invasion by Israel grow -- a live report next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Rockets have landed near Israel's two most populous cities. Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, aimed two at Jerusalem. Others aimed at Tel Aviv, all missed.

Meanwhile, Israel intensified its own bombing campaign on Gaza. All this as Egypt's prime minister, Hesham Kandil, toured a hospital in Gaza.

A ceasefire scheduled for his visit crumbled. Egypt's role in this conflict growing as many countries across the Middle East tout Egypt as the potential peacemaker in all of this.

Straight to Reza Sayah now. He is in Cairo for us.

So, today, Reza, the Egyptian leadership met with Hamas, a group the U.S. Classifies as a terrorist organization. Should Washington be concerned about Egypt's role in this conflict?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, first off, we should point out that at this point it is not clear what Egypt's role is in this conflict.

It is not clear if what we're hearing is merely rhetoric or if there's something behind the rhetoric. And I think Egypt's role will be clearer and clearer in the coming days and weeks.

As far as the question whether Washington should be worried, it depends how you process and digest all these developments. If someone sitting in Washington and they buy into this very fiery rhetoric, sure, they could be concerned.

The rhetoric has been tough, rhetoric and tough condemnation by Mohamed Morsi, the Egyptian president, the prime minister, Hesham Kandil, but if you look at what is happening beyond the rhetoric, you can say Egypt has not taken any steps that can be viewed as extreme or radical.

They certainly haven't taken up arms against the Israelis. It doesn't look like they have given Hamas material support. They have come out and explicitly said that they're going to maintain the peace accord signed in 1979 between Egypt and Israel.

All these, Don, are indications that this government is taking a measured and diplomatic approach to maintain the alliances and that should come out as good news for the Israeli government in Washington.

But it's still too early in the process. We're going to have to wait and see how this unfolds.

LEMON: Are protesters set to take to the streets of Tahrir Square today to condemn the Israeli air strike?

SAYAH: Well, they certainly did. They come out, but it is important to point out that these protests were relatively small. They were nowhere near the numbers that we have seen in protests before and that could be because of the aggressive diplomatic maneuvers made by the Egyptian government to show that they want to play a central role when it comes to the conflict.

This delegation went into Gaza today. They loudly condemned the Israeli government. They say they want to play the role of the peacemaker, but if you look at the trip, it could be viewed by many as ineffective.

They went in there. They wanted to choose a ceasefire, even if it was a short one. They failed. The violence continued.

So, that doesn't bode well for what Egypt says it wants to do, says it wants to play the role of peacemaker. The violence continues at this hour, Don.

LEMON: Reza Sayah, appreciate it, sir.

Troubling news from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog. It concerns Iran. We're going to look at what it's raising new concerns, ahead -- why it's raising new concerns, ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: The standoff with Iran over its nuclear program is intensifying. A new report just released a few hours ago by the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog is setting off alarms with little evidence that Iran is backing down from its nuclear ambitions.

Straight now to CNN's Matthew Chance. So, Matthew, what did the U.N.'s nuclear watchdogs find.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first, Don, it criticized Iran for continuing to fail to cooperate with U.N. inspectors in terms of answering the questions about the alleged military dimensions of Iran's very controversial nuclear program.

There's still lots of nuclear scientists the U.N. wants to interview. They're being prevented from meeting. There's still lots of sites that the inspectors want to inspect to see what activities have been taking place there and they've been essentially denied access to those locations.

And, so, the report on the one hand was very critical of that.

It also sent alarming messages according to diplomats I spoke to who have expressed this alarm and concern that Iran has increased significantly its capacity to enrich uranium just over the past three months since the last report was set out.

It's doubled the number of centrifuges inside one nuclear facility at a place called Fordo, which is buried inside a mountain to protect it from air strikes. And it's doubled the ability of its scientists to enrich uranium.

That means it will be able to produce nuclear material much quicker than it could previously and that's something that is of great concern to countries like the United States that view Iran's nuclear activities with very deep suspicion, Don.

LEMON: Absolutely. And, speaking of the United States, the U.S. President Barack Obama just said this week that he believed there was a, quote, "window of time" to peacefully resolve this with Iran.

But what are the implications now, Matthew?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, the implications are that if Iran were to make use of its new increased capacity to make nuclear material for weapons -- and it hasn't said that it will do this. It's said quite the opposite, in fact -- then that would mean that that window of opportunity that President Obama was talking about would get narrower. At the moment, though, I think it's important to point out that Iran is still staying well clear of the sort of line in the sand, the red line, that it would cross to provoke any kind of military response.

It still doesn't have the kind of nuclear material or indeed the other technologies necessary to build a nuclear weapon, at least not for some significant time in the future, Don.

LEMON: Matthew Chance, thank you, sir.

As Sandy ripped through the Northeast, these were among the first images that gripped the nation, newborn babies being evacuated from a New York hospital.

Now, CNN gets an exclusive access inside, a look at what these little patients escaped, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: There's no doubt that they were the pictures that captured the world's attention, sick babies taken from incubators, carried down flights of stairs, evacuated from the NYU Langone Medical Center during Hurricane Sandy.

Now, the cleanup is under way at the cost of hundreds of millions of dollars.

CNN's senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen takes us inside the hospital for an exclusive tour of the damage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: After the rain fell and the river overflowed into NYU Langone Medical Center this is what was left, a hospital ruined by more than 10 million gallons of floodwater.

Now, two weeks later, Richard Cohen is my guide to see the damage.

So, we're in the cellar right now.

RICHARD COHEN, NYU LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER: We're in the cellar. We're at the lowest portion of the building.

E. COHEN: Down here, the filthy river water went up to the ceiling. It's been pumped out, but it still smells bad, so we have to wear masks.

R. COHEN: This was an MRI suite. We had four MRIs down here. Unfortunately, they were all flooded.

E. COHEN: Oh, my God. How expensive is that machine?

R. COHEN: It's probably several million dollars.

E. COHEN: And kaput. R. COHEN: This is caput.

E. COHEN: The water continued rising up to the first floor. This lecture hall became a swimming pool.

So, if we were standing here while this place was filling up, the water would come up to our ...

R. COHEN: It would almost cover your head and come up to my neck.

R. COHEN: I would be underwater.

R. COHEN: Almost.

E. COHEN: Ken Langone, the medical center's chairman of the board, was there as a patient.

KEN LANGONE, CHAIRMAN, NYU LANGONE MEDICAL CENTER: I was on the 11th floor.

E. COHEN: How did you get down?

LANGONE: I walked.

E. COHEN: And you were recovering from pneumonia.

LANGONE: They woke me up and said, we're evacuating. And I said, fine, and I got up, brushed my teeth, put my clothes on and I said, let's go.

E. COHEN: Three-hundred-and-twenty-two patients were evacuated.

Now, this once-busy emergency room is empty.

LANGONE: This place took a hell of a hit.

E. COHEN: NYU Langone has brought in hundreds of cleanup workers, some with special skills from around the country.

Hot air in these tubes is drying out the ceilings, floors and walls.

Cleanup is 24/7, expected to cost around $700 million.

People's lives were saved in this room and now it sits idle. How does that feel to you?

LANGONE: Well, it feels like I can't wait for it to start saving lives again.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LEMON: Interesting stuff. Elizabeth is here now.

They lost emergency power during the storm. Is the hospital doing anything to change as it rebuilds so that it doesn't happen again? E. COHEN: Right. So, this is a hospital that sits almost on a river. It is so close to the East River. So, they're doing a couple of things differently.

So, first of all, they had their generators on the roof, so when they lost backup power, the generators themselves were not the issue. They were fine. They were on the roof.

But some of the circuitry that you see here that distributes the power involved with the generators, those were in the basement. So, those got flooded. So, you're seeing flooded generators right there.

They're going to be moving those up so that hopefully this won't happen again, and then another thing, Don, they have been talking about, even before Sandy, is they're going to make their own little mini-power supply station. They're going to make their own power.

So, they'll have Con Ed and then they'll have the backup generators and then they'll have a backup to the backup, which will be their own power facility.

LEMON: Yeah, we've got to run, but their hospitals are still closed. There are a number ...

E. COHEN: Six in New York. Six, total. This is just one of six. So, there's five others that have to do the same thing.

LEMON: Yeah, and they are learning a lesson and hopefully will improve.

Thank you very much. Appreciate it. Good reporting.

You can find more on Elizabeth's reporting at CNN.com/empoweredpatient -- CNN.com/empoweredpatient.

All week, here on CNN, we have been putting "Veterans in Focus."

Like many veterans, Roman Baca struggled to readjust to life after returning home, but now he is turning his combat experience into a ballet that shows the realities of the Iraq war.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROMAN BACA, FOUNDER, EXIT 12 DANCE COMPANY: I'm Roman Baca. I'm a U.S. Marine, Iraq war veteran. I'm also the artistic director of Exit 12 Dance Company.

I started dancing at a smaller studio and that led to transitioning to larger studios.

Make sure your fingers are articulating.

As a typical American, I took a lot of things for granted. I wanted to see if I could do something totally different than being an artist. I had something to prove to myself and I also wanted to serve my country. And, so, I joined the United States Marine Corps. In 2005, we were called to deploy to Fallujah, Iraq.

So, we got back in '06. Six months after, my girlfriend sat me down and she said, you're not OK. You're not the same person that I knew before the war.

If you could really do anything in the world, what would you do?

And beautiful (INAUDIBLE) ...

I had this interest in choreography. I would start a dance company.

Nice.

It wasn't a primary goal to talk about the military, but it just wasn't me not to put that part of myself in that work.

And then she goes and you pull back ...

The whole tie-in is extremely important and it's allowed us to do community service outreach to veterans.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Imagine all the sadness and the grief of the hero who isn't true.

BACA: The Warrior Writers is a group of military veterans that write about their experiences.

We brought together a couple of veterans. They were very skeptical at the beginning, as was I, but in the end, they were so emphatic about giving their stuff and seeing how it came together in movement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your life after death and message lives on.

BACA: I get up every morning and I, again, like when I was in the Marine Corps, know that I'm making a difference in somebody's life.

Nice job. Yeah.

I didn't go to Iraq with 60 Marines that just wanted to go down and level a city. I went with 60 Marines that wanted to improve a city, so why would it stop overseas?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: Thousands of protesters back in the streets of Jordan, clashing with riot police over rising gas prices that they say they just can't afford. Protesters you're looking at right now began after Friday prayers.

Demonstrators say they struggle enough with high unemployment and poverty. They believe the government under King Abdullah is corrupt and has mishandled the country's money. I want to bring in now CNN's executive editor, Mr. Tim Lister. So, let's go deeper into what provoked these latest protests. What happened?

TIM LISTER, CNN EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Initially, it was rises in the price of fuel and food. Jordanians are poor. The average per capita income in Jordan is $6,500. They can't afford a 50 percent rise in the price of cooking oil and heating oil.

They take to the streets. It's happened before. It happened this time. But it comes at the end of a sequence of events, both political and economic, that have really made Jordanians suffer in the last 18 months.

I was there last year. I was amazed by how people were ready to speak out against the monarchy for the first time. Never happened before in Jordan.

LEMON: Interesting. And we have seen so much unrest in the Middle East and North Africa these days. Why does Jordan matter?

LISTER: Jordan matters because it's in a rough neighborhood and it's one of the last Arab states that's a reliable Western ally.

You've got Syria to the north. There are already 200,000 Syrian refugees on Jordanian soil. You've got Israel and the West Bank on one side. You have Saudi Arabia. You have Iraq. It's a difficult place to be in.

LEMON: That is a rough neighborhood.

LISTER: It is a rough neighborhood. And the monarchy there has always been pro-Western, always been reliable, has allowed U.S. and U.K forces to stage there on various missions in the region. So, it's an important if poor ally. It's just strategically very important.

LEMON: You mentioned the monarchy, which is interesting. Is it at risk? I mean, is there anything that the king can do?

LISTER: There's plenty the king can do. And Jordan has an intensely loyal and very efficient set of security services, the military, the intelligence services, very loyal to the king. So, it's not a sort of regime that would crumble overnight.

What he has to do, according to people I've spoken with in Amman in the last couple days, is come up with some grand political initiative that allows the opposition to say, yeah, you will take part in parliamentary elections.

At the moment, they're boycotting them. They saying you're not giving enough power to constitutional government. You're keeping everything to yourself.

He has to come up with a deal that satisfies the political opposition and at the same time he has to find a way out of the economic crisis and get the sort of credit, the sort of aid that Jordan really badly needs at the moment to recover from this really terrible economic crisis.

LEMON: So, this is how I know Tim Lister's executive editor. If we want to know anything about anything that happens overseas, we say, can I borrow your mind for a little bit? Can you talk to me about this, guide me through? And you're here explaining to our viewers, which is great.

LISTER: Glad to help.

LEMON: Thank you.

LISTER: Cheers.

LEMON: Cheers to you.

It's something most children can't imagine living, not in homes, but in prisons with their parents. That's a reality for more than 140 children in Nepal.

A top ten CNN Hero works to save them from a life behind bars. She's going to join me next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

LEMON: One of my favorite parts of this job, talking to our Heroes.

This week's CNN Hero is from Nepal. Pushpa Basnet was horrified when she discovered innocent children forced to live in prison with their convicted parents and now she is doing something about it.

She's made it her life's mission to make sure no child grows up behind bars. She joins me now by phone from Nepal.

Pushpa, thank you. How are you doing?

PUSHPA BASNET, 2012 TOP TEN CNN HERO (via telephone): I'm good. How are you?

LEMON: I'm doing very well. Again, thank you for joining us.

You started your children's center back in 2005. Tell us about it and how it helps these kids who are behind bars.

BASNET (via telephone): Now, I think, we have more than 140 children. We have (INAUDIBLE) and 100 have already gone back to their parents.

We try to give them education like a normal child should have. You know, a better life. Children should not live in the prison with their parents. So I hope I am giving them a better life. Definitely for children this life never come back. I want the best thing for them to have.

LEMON: Now that you've gotten this attention, you're on CNN all over the world talking about this, people are hearing about you, what would you like to do with this experience and the momentum for the future of your organization? BASNET (via telephone): Now, like after coming to CNN like CNN have definitely changed my life and changed even my children's life, you know.

(INAUDIBLE) like people used to call them, like, you know, by the parents. Like, look at those children whose parents are in prison.

Now,. things have changed. Now, the people have started to feel like, look at those children on CNN, too. So, things have changed. Even lots of people (INAUDIBLE) and lots of places.

People just come to see our work and visit to do their education which is a big thing for us.

LEMON: Yeah and you do such great work. All of our CNN Heroes, but this is really important.

Pushpa, thank you. We wish you the best of luck, OK?

BASNET (via telephone): Thank you. Thank you so much.

LEMON: And you can go to CNNHeroes.com to vote for your favorite hero. All ten will be honored live on December 2nd at our CNN Heroes, an all-star tribute hosted by our very own Anderson Cooper.

That's it for me. Thank you so much for watching.

I'm going to hand it over now to my friend, Mr. Wolf Blitzer, in "THE SITUATION ROOM."