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Egypt Arrests "Terror Leader"; Legal Haze Over Marijuana; Egypt's President Cancels Decree; High Court Tackles Same-Sex Laws; Mandela Hospitalized; Dallas Cowboys Player Dies in Crash
Aired December 8, 2012 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
I want to get you up-to-speed on the headlines right away.
Egypt's president has canceled a decree that gave him sweeping powers and set off a wave of deadly protests. At the time, critics accused Mohamed Morsi of a power grab and adviser to Morsi says the government will push forward to a referendum on the new constitution, despite concerns from the opposition. We're going to go live to Cairo in just a few minutes here.
A well known Islamic militant, the leader of a terror network, is locked up in Egypt and there is an American connection. The FBI is working to figure out what role, if any, the man played in the attack on the consulate in Libya that killed four Americans, including the U.S. ambassador. A full report, everything we know about this man, coming up -- coming right up here on CNN.
Congress faces a so-called fiscal cliff and only 24 days. And it's what House Speaker John Boehner did not say that's drawing attention tonight. When questioned by reporters yesterday, Boehner would not comment on whether there is room for compromise on the president's demand for higher tax rates, on high income Americans. Boehner and the president spoke by phone this week, but in public comments, appear to have no -- made no progress.
Same sex couples are finally getting their day in court. This time, the U.S. Supreme Court. Justices have decided to hear two constitutional challenges to federal and state laws. One case involves the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same sex couples legally married in their own state.
The other is a challenge to California's Prop 8, which took away the right of same sex marriage that had been previously approved by state courts.
Florida Governor Charlie Crist has completed his political transformation. Crist was elected governor as a Republican in 2006, then later ran for the Senate as an independent. He campaigned for President Obama, and spoke at the Democratic National Convention. He's now officially a Democrat and is widely expected to run for governor again in 2014. South Africa's beloved Nelson Mandela is getting tests in a hospital. The country's president says no cause for alarm there. He says the 94-year-old Mandela is getting treatments consistent with his age. Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his long battle against racial segregation in South Africa. The Nobel laureate later became his nation's first black president.
The FBI wants to talk to a man in custody in Egypt. He's a well known Islamic extremist. That's why Egypt wanted him taken down. But American terrorist watchers think he might be behind the deadly attacks this year at the U.S. consulate in Libya.
CNN's Susan Candiotti has more from New York now.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don. Investigators have had this man on their radar for some time. And now, he's being called a possible suspect in the Benghazi attacks. Muhamed Jamaal Abu Ahmed was arrested by Egyptian authorities a couple of weeks ago and remains in custody while the investigation goes on.
U.S. authorities believe he may have been involved in the September 11th terror hit that killed Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans according to a U.S. official. The FBI which is conducting the investigation has not been able to talk to Abu Ahmed yet. The official would not comment on what led them to him.
Abu Ahmed is known as a radical jihadist, 45 years old, master degrees in Sharia law. He's also believed to be the driving force behind a new terror group seeking to align itself with al Qaeda according to our sources.
And Egyptian official says Abu Ahmed has denied any connection to the attack on the U.S. consulate, or being affiliated with al Qaeda. He's also believed to be connected to a heavily armed terror suspect that was raided in October in Egypt, when five people were arrested.
Now, our sources say they're looking at several people in the attack. The FBI has been covering a lot of territory, but they're still facing roadblocks.
We do know, for example, the FBI looks to question a Tunisian suspect, Ali Ani al Harzi. But after finally getting him face to face, al Harzi refused to speak.
That's just one suspect. Abu Ahmed is another. We don't know what role the five others in his alleged terror cell may have played in all of this -- Don.
LEMON: Susan, thank you very much.
Marijuana smokers gathered around Seattle's Space Needle counting down the seconds until the first legal puff of pot. (BEGIN VIDEO LCIP)
CROWD: Three, two, one!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right. Hold on a second before you go all Cheech and Chong on us. You can smoke pot legally in Washington state, but it's still illegal to buy marijuana or sell it or grow it. That's interesting.
A legal haze is drifting over Washington state's pot smokers. As Joe Johns reports, no one knows how the Feds are going to react.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There was euphoria the moment pot became legal in Washington state, but 3,000 miles away in Washington, D.C., the Justice Department and the White House are reviewing how the federal government should respond.
At the moment, they're sticking to this statement from the U.S. attorney in Seattle, Washington, who would prosecute violations there. "Regardless of the state law, growing, selling or processing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The department's responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged."
But several former DOJ officials who spoke to CNN said that likely won't be the end of it.
Former attorney general under President George W. Bush, Alberto Gonzales, laid out the options facing Eric Holder and the Justice Department.
Option one: lock the users up.
ALBERTO GONZALES, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL: Go into Washington State and arrest and prosecute those in possession of marijuana, and then wait for the defendant to say, "Wait a minute, you know, I've got state law here that says this is not unlawful."
And at that point, the department can raise issue of preemption and say, well, the federal government laws preempt state law in this regard.
JOHNS: Option two: fight it out in the courts.
GONZALES: Sue the state of Washington and the state of Colorado. Take them to court and say -- just say outright that in this field, the federal government has preempted and that the law has to fall.
JOHNS: Option three: cut off federal money to law enforcement. GONZALES: You simply start withholding federal grants to the state because of the fact that they're not helping the state enforce federal law.
JOHNS: Gonzales didn't mention option four: do nothing. Listen to former federal prosecutor, Mark Osler.
MARK OSLER, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think they should stand back. I think the best course of action here is to employ prosecutorial discretion at that macro level and let the states do what they will.
JOHNS: And just why would the Obama administration balk at enforcing federal laws that have been on the books for decades? There's the political consideration.
OSLER: Here, you've got two states that went for President Obama. Colorado was, in fact, a swing state. The people of those states have spoken. And for the federal government now to come in and say, we want to quash your pocket on mandate, there are political risks to doing that.
JOHNS: And there's also some precedent from medical marijuana, which is already legal in 18 states and the District of Columbia.
(on camera): But don't think that even medical marijuana is exempt from possible Department of Justice scrutiny. A case decided by the Supreme Court during the Bush administration says the feds can go after that, too. President Obama also said earlier this year that we're not going to be legalizing weed anytime soon.
Joe Johns, CNN, Washington.
LEMON: All right. Joe, thank you very much.
Egypt's president is trying to diffuse the biggest crisis he's faced. About an hour ago, Mohamed Morsi canceled a decree giving him sweeping powers which ignited furious demonstrations.
CNN's Reza Sayah joins me now from Cairo with more on that.
Reza, is it enough? Will the protesters go home or is this about more than the decree?
REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For some protesters, for some opposition leaders, it is not enough, Don. The president made a move tonight and he could argue that this move is a concession made to the opposition. But some members of the opposition are already rejecting that argument.
Let's explain to you some background and explain to you what happened tonight. There was two red button issues that really angered and outraged the opposition. One were those controversial decrees announced by the president last month that gave them additional powers, made him immune from the judiciary until the parliament was formed. The opposition said this was a power grab.
And then you had the draft constitution. The opposition said was drafted by a panel that squeezed out the liberal voices, squeezed out the moderate voices.
Tonight, the president said, fine, I'm going to annul and cancel those decrees that you didn't like. However, the annulment doesn't seem like a full annulment. It's a conditional annulment. The president saying it's not retroactive to November 22nd. That means any decision he made, while the decrees were in effect still stand.
And, of course, one of those decisions was the controversial draft constitution and that draft constitution will be voted on December 15th -- the president has not made a move away from his position that the referendum will take place on December 15th.
That is why, Don, tonight some opposition figures calling this move by the president a farce, a joke, they're saying the protests will continue.
So, the intrigue, the drama, the conflict are not quite over here in Egypt, Don.
LEMON: Reza Sayah in Cairo -- thank you, Reza.
The Supreme Court takes up the same sex marriage battle. There are just two cases involved, but their decision will affect millions of people. That's next.
LEMON: The Supreme Court is about to tackle what could be one of the most important issues in its history. The court has agreed to hear two constitutional challenges to state and federal laws having to do with same sex marriage. One case involves a federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denies federal benefits to same sex couples legally married in their own state. The other is a challenge to California's Proposition 8, which took away the right of same sex marriage that had been previously approved by the courts.
The two men who will argue on behalf of same sex marriage are an unlikely duo. And as CNN's Gloria Borger tells us, the story plays out like a Hollywood script.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): It's a script that could have been written in Hollywood. The opening shot, a lunch in the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel.
And it starts where you might expect, with a Hollywood heavy hitter, director and actor Rob Reiner.
ROB REINER, DIRECTOR/ACTOR: Well, this was after Proposition 8 went the wrong way for us. BORGER: The launch took place in November 2008, a week after the election. Obama won the White House, but gays and lesbians lost the right to marry in California.
REINER: We're trying to figure out what we do next. And then we thought about the idea of a possible legal challenge to Proposition 8, and serendipitously, a friend of my wife's came by the table.
BORGER: The friend suggested they would find an ally in her former brother-in-law, who turned out to be Ted Olson, a towering figure in the conservative legal movement.
(on camera): So, that stunned you, right?
REINER: Yes, it more than stunned me. It stunned me, but I said, if this is true, this is the home run of all times. I mean, the idea that Ted Olson -- this arch conservative, solicitor general for George Bush who had argued Bush v. Gore and basically put me in bed for a couple days I was so depressed after Bush v. Gore was interested in gay rights. I thought, let's check it out.
BORGER: But didn't you have any doubts about Ted Olson?
REINER: You know, they say that politics makes strange bedfellows. Well, you don't have a stranger bedfellow than me and Ted Olson.
CHAD GRIFFIN, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: I was skeptical. Absolutely.
BORGER (voice-over): Chad Griffin was also at the Polo Lounge that day. He and Rob Reiner are old friends and political allies. They met when Chad was just 19 and a press aide in the Clinton White House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good morning, Mr. President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you today, Mr. Chapel (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fine. Thank you, sir.
BORGER: He gave Reiner the West Wing tour when the director was scouting for his film "An American President." They decided Griffin would be the one to make that first uneasy call to Olson.
GRIFFIN: Much to my surprise it was an issue he had clearly thought a lot about. But the moment I hung up the phone, I realized there was a chance I was talking to someone who overnight could become the most important, significant advocate for marriage equality that this movement has ever seen.
TED OLSON, LAWYER: We talked for a while on the telephone, and then he said can I come and talk to you in your office in Washington, D.C.
BORGER (on camera): Weren't you stunned?
OLSON: I wasn't so stunned. I'm a lawyer. I represent cases involving the Constitution. This is an important constitutional question. BORGER: One of the first things you see when you walk through your door in this office is a picture of Ronald Reagan.
OLSON: He was a wonderful, wonderful man to know and to work for. And, of course, President Bush is here, too.
BORGER (voice-over): That would be Bush 43. The president whose election Olson successfully defended before the Supreme Court in 2000, a memory that wasn't lost on Chad Griffin.
GRIFFIN: I knew I was in foreign territory, but I saw enough in that office to know just how Republican, you know, of a world that Ted Olson comes from, and my world could not be more different than that.
BORGER: Also on display was Olson's extraordinary legal track record with 44 Supreme Court victories under his belt.
(on camera): And here are the quills. Now, you get one of these every time you --
OLSON: Every time you argue a case in the Supreme Court at the desk is the quill.
BORGER (voice-over): Weeks later, Reiner says the deal was sealed here in his California home.
(on camera): Was this kind of like an out of body experience for you? I mean, here you are sitting and talking to Ted Olson, whom you probably regarded as --
REINER: Yes, the enemy.
OLSON: The devil, they say, the devil.
BORGER: Now, what are you to them?
OLSON: Well, I'm the devil to a different group of people.
ED WHELAN, CONSERVATIVE LEGAL ANALYST: It really is a betrayal that everything Ted Olson has purported to stand for.
BORGER (voice-over): Ed Whalen, a conservative legal analyst and former Olson fan, now, like many conservatives, feels betrayed.
WHELAN: He was viewed as someone who fought the good fight. I think most people assumed he was a man of principle. I thought it was a shocking act on his part.
BORGER (on camera): So do you think he has destroyed his reputation?
WHELAN: I think so.
OLSON: This is a case that challenges the status of individuals.
BORGER (voice-over): So why did Olson do it? OLSON: People say you must be doing this because someone in your family is gay. That is not the case. I'm doing this because I think it's the right thing to do.
BORGER: And once Olson made the decision, it became an emotional journey.
OLSON: A younger woman who works here is a lawyer. She came up to me, and she said, Ted, I want to tell you what I think about what you're doing. She said, I'm a lesbian. I don't think you know me. We haven't worked together.
My partner and I have children. I can't tell you what you're doing for us by taking this case, and she started to cry, and then I did.
BORGER (voice-over): Then Olson made another move right out of central casting. He wanted to hire a co-counsel. Of all people, the liberal David Boies, his former Supreme Court rival, the man he beat in Bush versus Gore.
The director loved it.
REINER: When he suggested that we get David Boies to be his co- counsel, I thought, wow, to get the two guys who opposed each other on Bush versus Gore to team up was saying that this is a nonpartisan issue.
BORGER: Not to mention irresistible public relations.
WHELAN: I think Ted recognized that this odd bedfellows combination, so to speak, would get a lot of attention.
BORGER (on camera): Some people call them the odd couple.
WHELAN: Well, it is a very odd couple, isn't it?
BORGER (voice-over): Or is it? Judge for yourself.
OLSON: As we were getting ready to argue Bush versus Gore --
DAVID BOIES, ATTORNEY: Right.
OLSON: We said some day someone is going to come to us who will want to get married, and they'll be gay, and we'll do this together. We actually talked about that.
BOIES: That second part I don't remember.
LEMON: That was Gloria Borger reporting.
So how do the former foes of one of the most tense battles of all time really get along? Just ahead from Gloria, about the -- we'll hear about the death of their friendship and how it fuels their drive on the newest legal challenge.
LEMON: We have been telling you about these two unlikely but powerful men who have teamed up to fight for same sex marriage in California. They say it's not a matter of being Republican or Democrat, and same sex marriage is simply an issue of civil rights.
CNN's Gloria Borger shows us how the story of this political odd couple began.
AL GORE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: We now need to resolve this election.
CROWD: Let us in! Let us in!
BORGER (voice-over): It was the historic case that decided the presidency and divided the nation. Olson and Boies were the ones on the steps of the Supreme Court battling it out.
That was then. This is now. On the streets of New York, they're talking anything but the law.
OLSON: It's called "Crazy Heart," Jeff Bridges.
BOIES: Oh, I know, I know.
OLSEN: Have you seen it?
BOIES: I haven't seen that. I want to see that, though, and "Avatar."
BORGER: They've come a long way.
BORGER (on camera): Let me just play a little game with you, OK? Great lawyer.
(voice-over): The adversaries are now friends, really good friends. And when we asked to meet with them, they suggested a personal spot -- David Boies' apartment in New York City.
BORGER (on camera): If anybody had said to me nine years ago that I was about to be interviewing the two men who fought each other tooth and nail in Bush versus Gore on the same side of a constitutional fight, I would have said, are you crazy?
OLSON: Actually, David and I talked about this in 2000 as we were getting ready to argue in the Supreme Court that some day, we'd like to be on the same side in the United States Supreme Court. And we said --
BOIES: -- actually in the chambers.
OLSON: Some day -- some day --
OLSON: Someone's going to come to us who will want to get married and they'll be gay.
BORGER (voice-over): It would take nearly a decade for that to actually happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do we want?
CROWD: Equal rights.
BORGER: Olson was recruited by a group of Hollywood activists who wanted to challenge Proposition 8, the controversial 2008 ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California.
OLSON: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for being here.
BORGER: He said, yes, which was startling enough. But he knew he needed some political balance on the team. So he picked up the phone.
BOIES: He told me what the case was about and I think it took me about 15 seconds to --
OLSON: No, it didn't even take you 15 seconds.
BOIES: Not that much?
OLSON: It took you less than one second.
BOIES: Yes, right.
BORGER: It was a case made for David Boies, and Olson knew it.
BOIES: I think it is, in some senses, the last major civil rights battle that we're fighting in this country, hopefully. This is not a liberal/conservative issue. It's not a Republican/Democratic issue. It's an issue of civil rights and human rights.
BORGER (on camera): Do you find yourself defending Ted Olson to your Democratic friends, when they say to you, how can you work with him?
BOIES: No. I find myself defending Ted Olson to my Republican friends. The Democratic friends are easy. It's the Republican friends I have the trouble with.
BORGER (voice-over): Politics aside, their wives joke that they're like an old married couple. They go biking together and both enjoy the finer things.
BORGER (on camera): Well, what do you like about each other?
BOIES: Oh, well, where should we start? Should we start with the wine or the bike trips?
BORGER: Yes, let's start with the wine.
OLSON: Yes, start with the wine.
BORGER: So after a long day, a glass of --
BOIES: Oh, gosh, definitely.
OLSON: Or a short day.
BOIES: Or a short day, exactly.
BORGER (voice-over): They have known each other for decades as super lawyers practicing in a rarified legal stratosphere. Then came Bush versus Gore, the hottest case of all -- a case that to this day they don't agree on.
BORGER (on camera): Do you still think you were right?
OLSON: Well, he wasn't, obviously. The Supreme Court decided. Furthermore, by the way, the journalists all went back to Florida and counted these votes about 12 different ways and it all came out the same way. But I will say this about --
BOIES: Well, they didn't all come out all the same way.
OLSON: Well --
BORGER (voice-over): They'll never resolve that professional argument, but ironically that case brought them together personally.
BOIES: Something happens in a sense that you get so deeply involved in a case that about the only person that really appreciates what's going on is the lawyer on the other side, who is just as deep into the weeds as you are. They can appreciate all these little nuances. And so, it's a natural kind of affinity.
BORGER: That affinity was strengthened by tragedy. A year later, on September 11th, 2001, Olson's wife Barbara was killed on Flight 77, the flight that crashed into the Pentagon. Boies knew his friend was suffering and reached out to him.
BOIES: I was being given an award by the lab school in Washington. And it was an annual award that they give. I'm dyslexic. And they give it to somebody who has achieved. And I said, well, if you could get Ted Olson, I'd like to have Ted Olson give me the award.
OLSON: I'm very honored to be here with my colleague, David Boies, because he is the best.
And I can hardly talk about it because it was such an emotional event. That gesture of David asking me to be with him on the stand receiving that award in front of the 2,000 to 3,000 people was a wonderful gesture by him. It's 10 years ago now I can hardly talk about it.
BORGER: That strong bond is still there a decade later as together they take on the fight for gay marriage.
JEFF ZARRILLO, PLAINTIFF: They're the wonder twins. They're not the odd couple.
BORGER: Paul Katami and Jeff Zarrillo are one of the couples that Olson and Boies are representing.
ZARRILLO: I can tell you that both those guys, they put their heart and soul into this. And when they're fighting for our equal rights, they are on the same page. And they are doing it together.
OLSON: Our nation was founded on the principle that all Americans are created equal.
BORGER: Their legal strategy is simple. Olson and Boies argue that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, period. They expect the Supreme Court to be the ultimate decider for the nation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be the Roe versus Wade of our generation.
BORGER: They have their critics, conservative legal analyst Ed Whelan.
WHELAN: There's nothing in the Constitution properly construed that remotely supports a right to same-sex marriage.
BORGER: And even some of those who agree with Olson and Boies say that same-sex marriage should be left to the states.
(on camera): There are lots of skeptics out there who say that you're going to quickly here. And you're asking the Supreme Court to do a pretty heavy lift.
BOIES: Every civil rights struggle, there have always been people who have said, you're moving too fast, the country's not ready for it.
How many people in 1954 were saying, the country's not ready for desegregation? Brown against Board of Education is just too soon.
BORGER: But everyone says this is a conservative court. So, why are you doing it now? It's a conservative court.
BOIES: Well, everybody says Ted is a conservative guy. I mean, there are lots of conservative people -- I mean, the idea that civil rights and human rights is exclusively a liberal preserve, I just think it's flat wrong.
BORGER (voice-over): Their clients have faith their lawyers will win. (on camera): Will David and Ted be at the wedding?
PAUL KATAMI, PLAINTIFF: They better be.
ZARRILLO: They just might officiate the wedding.
KATAMI: That would be interesting.
BORGER: Or they could be best --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
BORGER: Best man.
ZARRILLO: Man and man, right. Yes.
ZARRILLO: In our wedding and in life.
BORGER (voice-over): But in the end, that's likely to be a decision for the high court.
Last time you went to the Supreme Court, didn't go so well for you. What is going to be different this time with the two of you together?
ZARILLO: Well, one thing, this time, I've got Ted on my side.
TED OLSON, LAWYER: I would say the one thing that would be different is this time we got all the votes that I can persuade, and all the votes David can persuade. There will be no votes left on the other side.
BORGER: No recount?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No recount.
OLSON: No, recount.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No recount necessary.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Again, Gloria Borger reporting. The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments beginning in March, a ruling expected in June.
We have been watching Egypt where recent move by their newly elected leader has led to angry demonstrations and protests. Just a short time ago, an announcement that may finally diffuse that powder keg. That's next.
LEMON: We're on the other side of half past the hour. Want to get a look at your headlines right now. Egypt's opposition is dismissing a move by the president to calm protesters. Mohamed Morsi said he will cancel a decree that gave him sweeping new powers, but that's not enough for his critics. They point out that the president is still pushing for a referendum on the new constitution, one that they say is flawed.
House Speaker John Boehner says he has no progress report on fiscal cliff talks because there is no progress to report. He told reporters yesterday, President Obama needs to drop what Boehner called his my way or the highway approach. Boehner and the president spoke by phone this week and aides are talking behind the scenes. The fiscal cliff just 24 days away.
And a tragedy in pro football to tell you about. A Dallas Cowboys player has been killed and another has been arrested after an early morning car crash. CNN's Mark Mckay joins me with the very latest in this developing story in just a minutes here on CNN.
South Africa's beloved Nelson Mandela is in the hospital. But the country's president says the 94-year-old anti-apartheid icon is doing well and there is no cause for alarm. Mandela spent 27 years in prison for his battle against racial segregation and later became his nation's first black president. Robin Curnow is reporting on Mandela's health problems from Johannesburg.
ROBIN CURNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: South African President Jacob Zuma has announced that Nelson Mandela is in the hospital for tests. Now the presidency has issued a statement aiming to reassure the South African public. It says that Mandela is well but there is no need for concern and the medical attention he's receiving is consistent with his age. Mandela is 94.
Now, these are the latest images taken of Nelson Mandela by CNN during his birthday celebrations in July this year. He's rarely been seen in public and we know he has around the clock medical attention in his rural home in Kuno, Eastern Cape. So his doctors must have been sufficiently concerned about his health to fly him across the country, to a hospital in Pretoria.
Robin Curnow, CNN, Johannesburg, South Africa.
LEMON: All right. Robin, Nelson Mandela's last public appearance was in 2010 when his country hosted the World Cup soccer tournament.
Fiscal cliff grabbing the headlines in Washington. But hat's not the only big event in the nation's capital. Next month, President Obama will be inaugurated for a second term. That means plenty of turnover among his top advisers. Emily Schmidt has a first look at the upcoming changes in the president's cabinet.
EMILY SCHMIDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A late November White House photo- op.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is a wonderful opportunity for me to meet with my full cabinet.
SCHMIDT: Maybe the last glimpse of this picture, an imminent cabinet shuffle is expected.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The president has got a lot of very, very good people to choose from. But he wants to put together a team, especially in international affairs, a team overall that going into a second term does not look like a second team, does not look like a group of second stringers.
SCHMIDT: The likely short list to succeed secretary of state Hillary Clinton is already politically charged. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, is thought to be a leading contender. But some Republicans have been highly critical of Rice following the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.
OBAMA: When they go after the U.N. ambassador, apparently because they think she's an easy target, then they got a problem with me.
SEN. JOHN KERRY: Senator McCain.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: Thank you very much, Mr. secretary.
SCHMIDT: Sen. John McCain jokingly gave the cabinet post now to Democrat John Kerry, the Senate foreign relations committee chairman.
SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I think John Kerry would be an excellent appointment and would be easily confirmed by his colleagues.
SCHMIDT: Kerry is also listed as a potential defense secretary to replace Leon Panetta. It's a list that includes Michelle Flournoy who held what's considered the number three job at the Pentagon. Senior Democrat say Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is on the list, and former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel, a Republican, could represent a reach across the aisle.
TIMOTHY GEITHNER, TREASURY SECRETARY: We're in a much stronger position today as a country than we were in '07.
SCHMIDT: Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has said he will stay at his post until at least inauguration. President Obama's chief of staff Jack Lew is often named as a potential replacement.
(on camera): A CNN-ORC post election poll asked if people thought President Obama would pick good cabinet members. 58 percent said they thought he would. 42 percent said he would not.
Emily Schmidt, CNN, Washington.
LEMON: I want to tell you that you can read more about the president's potential choices for his top cabinet post on your security clearance blog. Go to security.blogs.cnn.com.
A Dallas Cowboys player is dead and a teammate is under arrest after an early morning car crash. Linebacker Jerry Brown, who is a member of the team's practice squad, was pronounced dead at a hospital. He was riding in a car driven by Josh Brent, the Cowboys starting nose tackle.
I want to bring in now CNN's Mark Mckay for more on this. So Mark, do we know anything more about this accident?
MARK MCKAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, it unfolded in the very early morning hours Saturday morning, Don, in Dallas, just after 2:00 a.m.. As you said, a car driven by Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Josh Brent crashing after hitting a curb and flipping. His teammate, not only with the Dallas Cowboys, but at the University of Illinois, Jerry Brown Jr., a practice squad linebacker with the Cowboys, was killed. Police arrested and booked the 24-year-old Josh Price Brent into the Irving County jail. One count of intoxication manslaughter against Brent. Here now is a spokesperson for the Irving Police Department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ARGUMANIZ, IRVING, TEXAS POLICE DEPARTMENT: Our officers on scene felt as if alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident, so Mr. Price Brent was asked to perform some field sobriety tests.
After he performed those field sobriety tests, based on his performance of those tests, along with our officer's observations and the conversations that they had with him, he was placed under arrest for driving while intoxicated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKAY: That is a degree, a second degree felony charge, with a potential sentence of two to 20 years in prison, maximum fine of $10,000. The Dallas Cowboys receiving news of this - of both teammates, one being arrested and one being killed before they boarded a chartered jet to Cincinnati, Don, to play the Bengals on Sunday.
LEMON: Having to live, knowing that you killed your teammate and friend or that died under your guise when you were behind the wheel.
This is a second week in a row that we have been reporting on a tragedy in the NFL. Last week it was the Chiefs player who killed himself and then his girlfriend. What is going on here?
MCKAY: Jovan Belcher, that played out in Kansas City. So tragically last week, before the Chiefs were scheduled to play as well. Back-to- back weekends of tragic news involving two separate NFL teams. And, might we add two separate - very separate incidents here. Just goes to show that, you know, life and sport, when they collide, very difficult to take, especially when it has a tragic (INAUDIBLE) to it as we've seen now in back to back weekends in the NFL.
LEMON: You said it. Thank you very much, Mark McKay. Appreciate that.
He is a sports legend and a best-selling author. Ahead, former NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar talks about his battle against cancer and his own mortality.
LEMON: He is without a doubt one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, he talks with me about his battle against a rare form of blood cancer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREEM ABDUL-JABBAR, FMR. NBA PLAYER: I was - I thought about my own mortality a number of times, especially since I've been diagnosed with leukemia. That's the first thing you think about, all of a sudden you realize that there is a clock up there with your name on it and the clock is ticking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Not only do we tackle that, but we also talk about more light hearted topics like his huge collection of jazz music and his role as Roger Murdoch, the undercover pilot from the movie "Airplane." Make sure you set your DVR and catch my full interview tonight, 10:00 Eastern, here on CNN.
Classified secret service information lost. It contains stuff about undercover agents and sensitive investigations. Unbelievable. That's next.
LEMON: Somebody in the Secret Service has some explaining to do. A couple of computer tapes are missing, lost and the Secret Service has good reason to want them back. CNN's Brian Todd has more now.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Law enforcement and congressional sources tell CNN the U.S. Secret Service is being investigated for potentially damaging loss of information. The data was on two backup computer tapes, which contained very sensitive personnel and investigative information, according to our sources.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You lost the driver containing the identity of every agent.
TODD: It might remind you of the new James Bond movie "Skyfall" where the villains steal a device with top secret information on British agents.
But in this case, our sources say the tapes were left by a contractor on a train in Washington's metro rail subway system. The incident occurred in February of 2008, but is now the subject of an investigation by the Department of Homeland Security's inspector general. That office has not commenting on why the probe is going on now.
I asked former FBI counterespionage agent Eric O'Neil about the loss. ERIC O'NEILL, FORMER FBI COUNTER-ESPIONAGE AGENT: Some of the information could cause lives to be at risk if someone wanted to get at the families of a high level government worker or someone they perceived as someone who could work against say a terrorist cell.
TODD: O'Neill is the agent who took down Robert Hansen, the FBI official who spied for the Russians. O'Neill is depicted by Ryan Philippe in the movie "Breach."
The Secret Service says no lives were endangered by the 2008 loss, no fraud occurred as a result, but how did this happen?
(on camera): According to our sources, the contractor was transporting two tapes from a pouch from Secret Service headquarters in Washington to a now-closed data facility in Maryland.
The sources say the contractor got off a train, later realized the pouch had been left behind, the secret service and metro police were contacted. An aggressive search took place, but one source tells us the tapes have not been recovered.
(voice-over): In a statement, the Secret Service says, "These backup tapes were not marked or identified in any way and were protected by multiple layers of security. They could not be accessed without the proper equipment, applications and encoding."
(on camera): Still, why put sensitive information about agents or anything else on a removable disk?
O'NEILL: Well, part of the reason I think, and once again this is conjecture that in 2008 when this occurred, some of the information might have been on removable disks because that's how they transported information. We have leapt forward in technology since then.
TODD (voice-over): But O'Neill has his own questions.
O'NEILL: Why did the contractor have it? Why wasn't it chained to his wrist with a handcuff and a case that the second he stood up think, I need to grab it.
TODD: I put that to a Secret Service official who didn't answer directly but did say that protocols have been put in place to make sure this doesn't happen again.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
LEMON: All right. Brian.
One of the world's newest pop stars now explaining himself for some old statements he made about U.S. soldiers. That's next.
LEMON: Oh, my gosh, enough with this song already. Could it be the end of "Gangnam Style?" Korean pop star Psy, you know, the guy who does "Gangnam Style" has apologized for a performance from 2004. The performance resurfaced on CNN's I-report and was circulated widely on line.
The lyrics calling for death of American troops serving in Iraq not long after news of a brutal slaying of a South Korean hostage by Iraqi insurgents. Psy's performance at the Christmas in Washington event will go on as planned.
A suspect in a bank robbery gives new meaning to the phrase "self incrimination." That's next.
LEMON: Here's one that was almost a gimme for police. Jeanne Moos shows us why.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Note to accused bank robbers. It doesn't help your case to put yourself on Youtube waving around cash and holding a sign saying I robbed a bank while the band Green Day blares appropriately lyrics.
MOOS: And you might want to reconsider titling your video "Chick Bank Robber." Nineteen year old Hannah Sabata was arrested one day after the Cornerstone Bank in Waco, Nebraska was robbed. According to Sheriff Dale Radcliff, who had to keep a grip on Sabata as she jerked away.
SHERIFF DALE RADCLIFF, YORK COUNTY, NEBRASKA: No gun was ever shown inside the bank. She just said that she had a gun with her. The note said she had a gun.
MOOS: The suspect seems to like writing notes like the one that said, then "I stole a car," and indeed a stolen car was used in the bank heist.
(on camera): We're not exactly sure why, but all of the signs in the video are backwards. Not to worry. She helpfully supplied subtitles.
(on camera): So while you need a mirror to read "then I robbed a bank," there's the subtitle in case you don't happen to have a mirror handy. And she wrote not only that she stole a Pontiac but that it was a shiny one. She dangled the keys as "Green Day" played on.
MOOS: She displayed the green, even supplying an exact count, $6,256, money the sheriff says was recovered from her home, along with the sunglasses and backpack police say she wore in the bank surveillance photo. Her defense attorney wouldn't comment. Sabata wrote, "I told my mom today was the best day of my life. She just thinks I met a new boy." Instead she met these boys. SABATA: They didn't read me my Miranda rights!
MOOS: What led to Sabata's arrest wasn't the Youtube video but rather tips from people like her ex-husband who recognized her in the bank photo and in the video Sabata brandishes a pipe she says is full of weed and complains that the government stole my baby as she makes a cradling gesture. Records confirm she did lose custody of a child. The sheriff said she wore the same outfit in the bank, at her arrest and in her YouTube video. A YouTube that's now evidence that could send her down the tubes.
Jeanne Moos, CNN.