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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Outrage over Superstorm Sandy Relief; Storm Victims Speak Out; Most Talked about in America; Petraeus Scandal; Reunited at Rose Parade
Aired January 2, 2013 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight Hurricane Christie, outraged over the deal Congress didn't vote for.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: New Jerseyans and New Yorkers are tired of being treated like second class citizens. Shame on you. Shame on Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Top New York Democrat Christine Quinn tells me what she wants now from the Speaker John Boehner.
Plus, a family still struggling after Sandy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAY MARTEN, FAMILY'S HOME BURNED IN SUPERSTORM SANDY: My politicians are going to hear from me and from my community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton out of the hospital, but that hasn't stopped the conspiracy theories. Why some of the right claim the secretary's illness is not what it seems.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KIKI MCLEAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: People who go out and generate rumors and lies are stupid.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And a star is born. Well, in about six months. The unending fascination with Kimye.
This is PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT.
Good evening, I'm Wolf Blitzer in for Piers Morgan.
It isn't often that you hear a politician, a governor no less, on the job react with the kind of anger we heard from Chris Christie today. He's a man who famously says what he thinks and what he thinks about John Boehner's failure to vote on Superstorm Sandy aid. Well, listen for yourself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: I was given no explanation. I was called at 11:20 last night by Leader Cantor and told that authority for the vote was pulled by the speaker. And our delegation asked for a meeting with the speaker at the time. They were refused. I called the speaker four times last night after 11:20 and he did not take my calls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Governor Christie isn't the only one fuming about the Sandy fumble.
Joining us now exclusively, Christine Quinn, she's the speaker of the New York City Council.
When you heard about that what went through your mind immediately, Speaker?
CHRISTINE QUINN, SPEAKER OF THE NEW YORK CITY COUNCIL: I was stunned. I mean, it's really unbelievable how Speaker Boehner and his party could just walk away from all the New Yorkers and people in New Jersey and people in Connecticut in need.
I don't really know how you just abdicate your responsibility like that. I mean we have countless people in New York and New Jersey who've been devastated by this storm and quite frankly, as Speaker Boehner told them, to just drop dead and it's just outrageous. And to promise us now a vote weeks from now? Why should we believe him at all? It's just shocking.
BLITZER: It's bean a pretty contentious 24 hours, if you will. We're talking about $60 billion at stake. Listen to Governor Christie, this is around 2:00 p.m. today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: National disasters happen in red states and blue states. And states with Democratic governors and Republican governors. We respond to innocent victims of natural disasters, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Americans, or at least we did. Until last night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: But at 3:30 p.m. or so, after about a 20-minute meeting with the Speaker John Boehner and the Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Congressman Peter King of New York met with reporters, listen to this, Speaker, and he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. PETER KING (R), NEW YORK: Bottom line is that between Friday morning and January 15th, those two votes, we'll bring $60 billion as absolutely necessary to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. So as far as I'm concerned, I think I can speak to all members of the New York and New Jersey delegations, it was an extremely positive meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Extremely positive meeting. Are you satisfied with the assurances that Congressman King got?
QUINN: You know, look, I have a lot of respect for Congress member King. But I'm not going to be satisfied until it's done. Really? I mean, Speaker Boehner, as I understand it, gave lots of Republicans, members of Congress, other leaders in this situation assurances that this would happen before this Congress left. It didn't.
Now it is certainly more positive that they said they're going to vote than saying nothing at all. But what message has Speaker Boehner sent to you that people who are the victims of hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, things of that nature, natural disasters, that we become pawns in a political game? What kind of a message does that send?
I hope he does the right thing between now and January 15th as he allegedly has promised Peter King. But I'm not going to believe it until I see it because any -- any assurances we've gotten until now have just been wiped away.
BLITZER: Why do you think it's taken so long to get this money approved because we've got some examples --
BLITZER: The landfall signing relief package 66 days, awaiting Sandy. Katrina landfall signing was 10 days.
BLITZER: Gustav and Ike was, what, 17 days? The Andrew was, what, 31 days? So -- why do you think -- why is it happening like this right now, taking so long?
QUINN: You know, I don't really know why it's happening so long. And why it's taken so long. It's hard to think it isn't anything but politics or quite frankly a lack of leadership or somehow a lack of concern. But you know what Speaker Boehner should do between now and when he says he's going to vote? He should come to New York and New Jersey.
He should walk with me and others in Queens. He should go to Belle Harbor, to Breezy Point. He should talk to those folks whose homes were burned to the ground.
I was standing there with Senator Schumer who worked so hard to try to get us this money. Standing there as people walked up to that area that had been burnt.
And you could tell, Wolf, on their face whether their home had made it or not. They would see whether their home was bunt to the ground or still standing.
I don't know why Speaker Boehner didn't do what he should have done. Why he didn't lead. But he needs to answer that question to those people in Coney Island, to those people in lower Manhattan, to those people in the Rockaways and in four Rockaway. And you know what? There really isn't a good answer for being speaker of the House of Representatives and being so devoid of any leadership or really responsible action.
And it sends not just a bad message to those of us who have been impacted by Sandy, this leaves a question mark for Americans about what Congress will do when they and if they are ever in need.
BLITZER: I know we're out of time but I know you sent a letter to Speaker Boehner today signed by, what, 47 of the 50 New York City Council members? Tell us what you wanted, what you wanted to have in that letter, why you felt it was so important to be heard.
QUINN: Because I want Speaker Boehner to know this isn't about politics, this is about real people who were Republicans and Democrats. Who were independents, conservatives. Who saw in some time -- some cases their entire life's work, their homes wiped away. People who lost family members. First responders who risked their lives.
And he couldn't take action to get us the money, the billions of dollars we deserve as Americans to rebuild and recover, and I want him to know what his lack of action, what his failure to lead, what his failure to live up to his responsibilities, the impact that has had on us.
Now, look, we're New Yorkers, we're tough, we'll get by but what he did was wrong and he needs to know that.
BLITZER: You want him to remain as speaker of the House?
QUINN: You know, look, I'm a Democrat. I want speaker of the House to be a Democrat. You know that's up to them to decide. I don't really care what title he does or doesn't have. I want the $60 billion that we are owed.
Speaker Boehner, whatever title he does or doesn't have, needs to restore the country and New York's faith in the federal government by getting us this money. We deserve it and we in fact paid to the federal government.
BLITZER: Christine Quinn, thanks very much for joining us.
QUINN: Thank you.
BLITZER: The battle over Sandy aid is about much more than politics, it's about real people trying to put their lives back together.
Joining us now is the Marten family, father Ray, mother Linda and their children, 8-year-old Matthew, 10-year-old Terrence, 13-year-old Lauren and 15-year-old Ray. Their home burned to the ground in Superstorm Sandy.
First of all, Ray, tell us how are you doing? What's going on with your family, with your community? It's been, what, a little bit more than two months?
R. MARTEN: Yes, it has. It's just over two months now. We're doing relatively well. After the storm, I was rather lucky. My mother lived 15 minutes away from me in Marie Park, Brooklyn. So immediately we had a place to go unlike many of my neighbors.
As you had mentioned my house did burn down. There were 25 houses in my neighborhood that did burn. But more so than that, there were hundreds, probably thousands of families, that have been displaced due to flooding. There was no electricity, there was no gas, there were no services down there so to speak. So the immediate aftermath was extremely difficult, it was basically a neighborhood on the move.
BLITZER: Lauren, tell us about the rescue. You were rescued by Dillon Smith, who was named one of "People" magazine's Heroes the Year. Unfortunately, he recently passed away in a separate accident. You had a chance to speak with his family. Tell us about what he did for you, the rescue.
LAUREN MARTEN, FAMILY'S HOME BURNED IN SUPERSTORM SANDY: I went across my street and I couldn't stand any more, so he came over and helped me on a surf board until I could stand and I wish I was able to thank him because he's, like, saved me. So I wish I could thank him.
BLITZER: Your older brother Ray, how are you doing? You're 15 years old.
RAY MARTEN, FAMILY'S HOME BURNED IN SUPERSTORM SANDY: I'm doing better. I've seen the better of people after the storm so it's good to see, you know, everyone getting together in Rockaway and Breezy, and everywhere to come together and just reform and, you know, get back to where we were if not better. So it's been tough, you know, at first, but I've had a lot of help, you know.
I had a family take me in for two months. And that -- you know, it was right on my school campus so it really helped me and then, you know, my friends have helped me. You know, I just -- can't thank them enough.
BLITZER: I know. Let me ask -- let me ask your dad how he feels all this bickering, this political bickering over the aid that is required to help your family, all the families, the communities in New York and New Jersey and Connecticut.
What would you tell your congressional leaders if they were watching you right now? R. MARTEN: It's disgraceful. It's unconscionable. It's two months since the storm has hit. I'm quite frankly amazed that it's taken this long to address. It should never have come to this point. It should never have been on the heels of the fiscal cliff. This is something that should have been addressed within days if not a week or two after the storm had hit.
The metropolitan area has one of the largest concentration of people in the United States of America. There were hundreds of thousands of people affected by the storm. Down in Katrina, if I'm correct, there was an aid bill that was passed 10 days within the storm hitting. Here we are at 60 somewhat days after the storm had hit and there is no aid bill.
It seems to me to be politics as usual in Washington, political bickering, and then the bill itself being loaded up with pork barrel and what have you. That's not what we need. Business as usual in Washington, life is not as usual where I live right now. The infrastructure is severely damaged. The beaches are eroded tremendously. It's going to take a tremendous amount to get the beaches back to where they were.
Small businesses, mom and pop shops, are destroyed. Unable to open their doors, to feed their families. This aid bill would go a tremendously long way in helping these people. And the mere fact that it's this far past without being addressed and tomorrow at noon, you know, is it going to be addressed?
It certainly seems to me like my politicians are going hear from me and from my community if this is not addressed by noon tomorrow.
BLITZER: It's going to be -- it's going to take a while longer than noon tomorrow when the new Congress is sworn in but we wish you only, only the best, Ray and Linda, thanks so much for sharing your story. You are blessed with a beautiful, beautiful family. As difficult as it has been I'm confident that the future days will be so, so much better.
Thank you so much and good luck to all of you.
R. MARTEN: Thank you.
BLITZER: When we come back questions and controversy. There are some wild conspiracy theories out there about Hillary Clinton's hospital stay.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COL. ALLEN WEST (R), FLORIDA CONGRESSMAN: I'm not a doctor but it seems as though that the secretary of state has come down with a case of Benghazi flu.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, SYNDICATED COLUMNIST: Apparently she's suffering from acute Benghazi allergy, which causes lightheadedness when she used the word Benghazi.
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Light concussion because it's like a tree falls in the forest, does it really fall if nobody hears it fall? Did she really have a concussion? Maybe she did. I mean, who knows.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So when you're a Clinton you're certainly no stranger to controversy. Today Hillary Clinton was released from a New York City hospital following treatment for a blood clot in her head. But that hasn't put an to end all those conspiracy theories out there about her illness.
Joining us now is Kiki McLean, Democratic strategist, also a senior partner at Porter Novelli.
Kiki, thanks very much for coming in.
MCLEAN: Glad to be here, Wolf.
BLITZER: I want to read the statement that the State Department put out about the secretary, "Secretary Clinton was discharged from the hospital this evening. Her medical team advised her that she is making good progress on all fronts and they are confident she will make a full recovery. She's eager to get back to the office and we will keep you updated on her schedule as it becomes clearer in the coming days."
What are you hearing? I know you're close to the Clintons. You used to work for them. What are you hearing about her condition?
MCLEAN: I'm hearing just what you heard, which is that she's recovering and it's on track to be a complete recovery. As Chelsea said in her tweet this evening, there's no doubt about it, that she got sick with the flu. You know, got lightheaded, fainted, hit her head, had a concussion. I think we all know concussions are serious business. You can you completely recover from them but you need to take your doctor's orders and rest, and do exactly what they tell you which is what she's done and I think that's why she's on her path to recovery.
BLITZER: I know she's always wanted to step down as secretary of state around January 20th when the president will be sworn in for his second term. Is that still her intention, do you think?
MCLEAN: I think all plans are as they were. I think ultimately whatever date the transitions occur have everything to do with -- Senator Kerry being confirmed as the nominee for secretary of state and very little to do with her current health prognosis.
BLITZER: What did you think of all those comments before we knew she had a blood clot in her head, all those comments from some of those conservative pundits out there suggesting she was faking it, making up this illness, if you will, so she wouldn't have to testify about the killing of the U.S. ambassador in Benghazi and three other Americans?
MCLEAN: Yes, you know what my really complicated analysis of that is, Wolf? They're stupid. People who go out and generate rumors and lies are stupid. And they shouldn't be doing so on national television, and they shouldn't be doing so at the real risk of someone else's health. And Hillary Clinton is somebody who recognizes not only the responsibility to the job she has, but her role in public life and that's why they've made sure folks knew what's been going on and for those guys to go out and do that, really, a former ambassador said that? A member of Congress said that? A national journalist?
That's just stupid, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let me read to you a little bit what the conservative columnist Kathleen Parker wrote in "The Washington Post" column, in her column today, and I'll put it up on the screen.
"Immediately after the Benghazi attacks Clinton took full responsibility for the events and was accused by Republicans of falling on her sword to protect President Obama. Now that she's temporarily indisposed and unable to elaborate on her admitted responsibility, those same critics insist she's trying to avoid taking personal responsibility."
What -- you read that column. What was your opinion?
MCLEAN: Well, anybody who knows Hillary Clinton knows she would much rather have been at the Senate, at the -- on the appointed day at the appointed time answering questions, and she did take responsibility because she knows what her role is and she knows what she should do and she does it on a daily basis.
These other guys who -- tried to make a living out of really criticizing Hillary Clinton, they need to get a hobby. They really -- they show poor judgment, they show lack of intellectual, proper intellectual curiosity. And it's just wrong. And I think Kathleen says something important in there which is Hillary Clinton is damn if she does and damn if she doesn't to a certain of group of people, and that's their hobby. But she's going to be fine and she'll move forward even if they don't.
BLITZER: She's very popular, as you know, out there. Our recent CNN/ORC poll, we asked how is Secretary Clinton handling the job as secretary of state.
BLITZER: Sixty-six percent approval, that's pretty high, 30 percent disapproval. This illness that we all hope she recovers completely, makes a full and speedy recovery, are you going to be with her if she runs for president again in 2016?
MCLEAN: I will always support what contribution it is that Hillary Clinton believes that she can make and that will be her decision when the time comes.
BLITZER: I believe she still would like to be the first woman who becomes president of the United States. You agree with me?
MCLEAN: I don't think she knows what she wants to do. I certainly don't. And anybody who thinks they do is fibbing to you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Kiki, as usual, thanks very much for coming in and I think I speak for all of our viewers out there we wish her a very, very speedy recovery.
MCLEAN: Thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
Coming up the stories America are talking about, from John Boehner to Justin Bieber, my all-star panel covers it. That's coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTIE: New York deserves better than the selfishness we saw on display last night. New Jersey deserves better than the duplicity we saw on display last night. America deserves better than just another example of a government that has forgotten who they are there to serve and why. Sixty-six days and counting. Shame on you. Shame on Congress.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: We certainly have not heard the end of Governor Chris Christie's criticism of House Speaker John Boehner.
Joining us now to talk about that and more, CNN contributor and op-ed columnist for the "New York Times," Charles Blow, also Republican pollster and vice president of the Winston Group, Kristen Soltis, Leigh Lee Gallagher, the assistant managing editor of "Fortune" magazine and CNN contributor and Republican consultant, Margaret Hoover.
Margaret, let me start with you. Those are fighting words from Governor Christie. Should -- should he be commended for putting his people's needs really ahead of party politics, if you will?
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Sure he should. But he's also a governor of a state that's struggling and hurting. I mean they're down and out right now, and Christie has been lauded for being that guy since the election. Of course, a lot of Republicans really despised him for doing what he did during the election. Many still blame him for Mitt Romney's loss which, I think, is absurd. But this is Christie's job. This is what Christie does. He's a tough talker and he's fighting for his state.
Look, I -- you know, I'm really sympathetic to where Christie is coming from. I think we all are. It's not like John Boehner hasn't had anything else to do in the last few days. And what I'm hearing from House Republicans is Boehner's juice is gone. He didn't even necessarily have the votes to get another spending bill through his own House.
And so he basically ended up lying and deceiving House Republicans that he would bring this to the floor. And then he didn't. Which is why the outrage and why he's now been forced to put it into two parts, bring it to the floor on Friday, in part, the flood insurance part, and then the rest of it won't happen until the middle of the month.
BLITZER: Yes. You used the word lying, that's a pretty serious word. Let me bring Kristen in. This disaster relief as far as New York, New Jersey, Connecticut is concerned, it's become a hot political issue, Kristen. Why?
KRISTEN SOLTIS, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: It's become a hot political issue because even for folks who believe that the government is doing too many things that ought to be left to individuals and the private- sector when it comes to things like taking care of people who have been hit by a disaster, taking care of people in emergency situations, that's something that I think everybody ought to be able to agree on. So that's really what's causing a lot of questions about why hasn't this come to the floor.
Within this bill, though, there's a lot of stuff -- you know, Congress seems to be unable to create a bill that doesn't have a bunch of junk thrown into it, and you have a lot of conservatives out there, they've been rumbling that they're frustrated because there are things in this bill that are not necessarily, you know, aid going directly to the victims of Sandy. In fact, I even heard at one point that there are things going into Alaskan salmon fishing, things like a new roof for a Smithsonian building.
So I think a lot of conservatives are hoping maybe to strip some of that out, which would -- and hopefully this can get passed so that these victims can actually get the aid that they need.
BLITZER: You know, Charles, a lot of people in New York and New Jersey, Connecticut, for that matter, they think if this were another part of the country, that it would be a lot more -- that the bill would pass a lot more quickly, but there's something about these three states that some Republicans in Washington don't like.
CHARLES BLOW, OP-ED COLUMNIST, NEW YORK TIMES: Well, there may be something to that because what we've seen is when you have natural disasters in other parts of the country and a lot of people have pointed to Katrina and New Orleans, and I'm from Louisiana, the federal government was able to act -- Congress was able to act in a much more quick way than they are able to act or been willing to act in the case of Sandy, which affected the northeast which is generally a very Democratic part of the country.
So I don't know if that is the overall impetus for them moving in a slower -- at a slower pace but it is a fact that people have been waiting for 60-plus days and this has not gotten to the floor for a vote and that is problematic. And the other part of that, I think, that you cannot stress enough is that these are parts of the country that send much more money to Washington than they get back. And the places -- you know, more southern places send less money to Washington than they get back, and we have been able to move in a more quick and expedient way to get aid to people who need it. I think we have to look closely at that disparity.
BLITZER: Leigh, you know, Congressman Peter King of New York, he's a Republican, he said that after the meeting he had with the Speaker John Boehner, that Boehner promised this vote beginning on Friday, then in the middle of the month, gave him an olive branch. Peter King had been very critical earlier in the day. All of a sudden he seemed to be reassured.
Do you think that reassurance is justified?
LEIGH GALLAGHER, ASSISTANT MANAGING EDITOR, FORTUNE: I'm not entirely sure. I mean, I do think -- look, I know John Boehner has been preoccupied. We all know that. But it seems to me that there's just a great miss of -- if nothing else a real moment to come out seeming a little bit like a hero, after all of this stuff. I mean, you know, it's just -- it just seems tone deaf on top of everything else.
Whatever the practicalities are that this involving Hurricane Sandy would get pushed aside. I mean, you know, look what -- look at the Martens. I mean the family you just had on. They lost their house. There are so many people here in New York still without power. You know, it's still an ongoing problem and it's been maybe people -- it's not in the forefront any more but it seems to me that there are just even the optics of it would be perceived by most people so that's what to me seems the most surprising here.
BLITZER: All right. Everybody, stay put, don't go anywhere. We have more to discuss when we come back. I want to get your take on one of the big stories of the day. Get this. Al Jazeera buying Current TV.
BLITZER: We're back now with our all-star panel. Charles Blow, Kristen Soltis, Leigh Gallagher and Margaret Hoover.
Guys, there was news today in the news business all of a sudden we learned that Al Jazeera is purchasing Current TV. A statement from Al Gore, the former vice president, one of the owners of Current TV, and Joel Hyatt, saying this.
"We are proud and pleased that Al Jazeera, the award-winning international news organization, has bought Current TV. Since its founding in 2005, Current has grown into a national network available in nearly 60 million homes offering thought-provoking commentary and Emmy and Peabody Award-winning programming. Current media has built -- was built based on a few key goals to give voice to those who are not typically heard, to speak truth to power, to provide independent and diverse points of view, and to tell the stories that no one else is telling. Al Jazeera has the same goals and like Current believes that facts and truth lead to a better understanding of the world around us."
I don't know about you, Charles, but I was pretty surprised when I heard about this earlier in the day. What did you think?
BLOW: Well, I wasn't -- I wasn't aware of the rumblings that this was going to happen, but you know, you have to look at Al Jazeera. Al Jazeera wants to be a major player in international news and to do that you have to have a bigger footprint in America. They've been struggling to get their distribution in America. Not on a lot of cable networks. And this is a way for them to deal with that issue is to -- is by buying Current.
The problem is with Al Jazeera, and Al Jazeera is a fine news organization. The few times that I've seen it it's been really solid reporting. But there's a lot in a name and Americans have a long memory, and people are still kind of upset and remembering the fact that Al Jazeera showed those al Qaeda tapes or, you know, or video or audio right after 9/11, and I think that, you know, it still is to be seen whether America will warm to them and look past that happening post-9/11.
BLITZER: What do you think about all this, Margaret?
HOOVER: Well, I -- this is an explosion of far left wing network financially. I mean they -- Current TV was losing, according to some reports, 12 cents per subscriber per month. They financially were unsustainable as a model. I mean they -- there was a massive blow-out as we all know with Keith Olbermann, one of their star anchors. They ended up having to buy him out. Financially it simply hasn't been a plausible business model.
So this is probably the best thing to happen to Current TV, to have the Qatari government come along and offer them what is reportedly, you know, $300 million, potentially. I mean there's numbers all over the place. Of course it's an undisclosed amount. This is a good deal for Current TV. I mean they -- you know, no wonder they took it.
BLITZER: It underscores, Leigh, the -- I guess the influence that wealth that the government in Qatar in -- I've gone to -- I've been to Al Jazeera headquarters. They have a huge reach in Arabic obviously throughout the Arab world. They're trying to expand Al Jazeera English. But now this move on Current TV, that's pretty significant, underscores I think what the -- what Qatar really wants, more and more influence around the world.
GALLAGHER: Absolutely. And you know we're not seeing that many deals being done lately because, you know, things here have -- are still just kind of slowly recovering. So this is significant. And it's interesting. But I will say, you know, Al Jazeera may have an awakening ahead of it because all the money in the world can't necessarily navigate the intricacies of the cable business which is very complicated. They're going to learn very quickly about the wonderful world of carriage which is a very complicated way that cable networks have to get into American households. You know, it's a per subscriber basis. These fees are negotiated. They can't always get -- you know, they have to align themselves with the biggest carriers to get in the most homes as Margaret was pointing out. This isn't -- this isn't necessarily going to be a totally easy done deal for them to be suddenly every where.
BLITZER: The former owners now of Current TV may have had some money, Kristen, but I got to tell you, I know -- I'm familiar with the amount of money that exists in Qatar right now. The Amir has a lot of money. And if they want to spend a lot of money on Current TV they can have some influence.
SOLTIS: Absolutely. I mean, what you've also seen in Qatar, I believe they're getting the World Cup a couple of years from now, and there's going to be -- they are investing a ton of money in building stadiums, they are going to be climate-controlled. I mean, I really think what this is all about is it's trying to change the brand of an Al Jazeera. And with it maybe the brand of sort of Middle Eastern nations in the U.S.
There was an interesting opportunity, I think, for Al Jazeera during the Arab spring when you would start to hear stories about clashes between Al Jazeera journalists and sort of the rulers in power that were being -- were being protested or being deposed in some of these countries. I thought the Arab spring was an interesting moment where Al Jazeera could have established itself with a lot of credibility more mainstream in the U.S..
I don't think it did accomplish that there. I'm assuming that's what this Current TV purchase is attempting to do.
BLITZER: On a totally, totally different story, but a lot of people are talking about. Kim Kardashian and Kanye, they are going to have a baby.
Charles, what do you make of all of this? Are we going to be hearing all these details now for weeks and weeks and months and months?
BLOW: You would come to me first, Wolf.
You threw me for a loop here. Congratulations, Kim and Kanye. All the best to you. I mean, this is not something that I think ranks really highly on my news radar. But you know, I congratulate anybody if you're having kids and you're happy about it, I'm happy for you.
SOLTIS: You're not excited about America's royal pregnancy?
I'll tell you what, sometime in June a awful lot of tabloid newspapers are going to get sold because you'll have the actual royal baby over the UK being born hopefully, and a healthy pregnancy and a healthy child born this summer. And then in the U.S. we have the Kimye baby. I don't know what that says about us here in America.
HOOVER: Well, we'll probably, Kristen, as you know, and Wolf, I'm so glad you asked us about this. It just doesn't feel right if Wolf Blitzer -- not asking us about Kanye and Kim Kardashian. But it's -- Kristen, you -- Kristen has such a great point. You know, in the United States, you know, the Kardashians have made their wealth by completely displaying their private lives in a public way and then capitalizing on it, and it is such a contrast to what's going to happen on the other side of the pond.
And it's also a contrast, too, to a lot of other high-profile Americans in the same field. Look at Beyonce Knowles and Jay-Z, you know, had had a baby. They are a very high-profile couple. A very high net word couple. And we're very, very quiet and very, very private about theirs. So there's a lot of contrast and a lot of questions about, you know, the Kardashian way, and apparently there's a reality TV already in the mix for the unborn child.
BLITZER: May surprise all of you to hear I actually met Kim Kardashian at the White House Correspondents Association dinner. She couldn't be nicer. She was lovely. I met her mom as well. So I wish her and Kanye, only, only the best.
Leigh, you have any final thoughts in this?
GALLAGHER: Well, you know, this is going to be a major, major Twitter moment because Kim Kardashian is -- I mean, I don't know the numbers but she's one of the top people on Twitter. And so Twitter has had a hard time monetizing its business model. So maybe there's a way in the next seven, eight months, whatever, however far along she is, to figure it out so that this could be some sort of bonanza. Because it is going to blow up as they say.
BLITZER: She only has 17 million followers on Twitter. So when she tweets those 140 characters or less that goes out immediately to 17 million and I got to tell you many of those people will re-tweet her right away so --
HOOVER: Hey, Wolf, do you follow Kim Kardashian?
BLITZER: You know, I got to go check. I actually -- I probably do.
Hey, guys, thanks very much.
When we come back we're going switch gears. David Petraeus, some unfinished business. How he changed America's military.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: From my perspective at least, he has provided this country an extraordinary service. We are safer because of the work that Dave Petraeus has done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Before the scandal, before the headlines General David Petraeus was on a mission to remake America's military but all that fell apart when he broke his own rule about publicity, never become your own front page headline.
Joining us now a man who knows a lot about General Petraeus, Fred Kaplan. He's Slate's national security columnist and author of the important book "The Insurgents."
Fred, thanks very much for joining us.
FRED KAPLAN, AUTHOR, "THE INSURGENTS": Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: You added a post script to your book about the Paula Broadwell affair. Were you surprised as I was, as all of us were, when we first heard about this affair. How stunned were you?
KAPLAN: I was pretty surprised. But as you know, Wolf, I never met an unassuming four-star general. And General Petraeus was a lot more assuming than many. You know, this was a guy who when he was commander in Iraq he just did things on his own. When he was occupying Mosul and there was no command anywhere in Iraq, otherwise, he opened up the border to Syria, he set up economic enterprises, he held elections, all of this on his own. When he commanded all of Iraq he basically set up this thing called the Sons of Iraq which paid ex- militants to come over and fight on the American side against the jihadist using the commander's discretionary fund.
Again on his own authority. He didn't tell his superiors back in Washington about this. And these kinds of enterprises, he did this, he had to do it, because that was the only way that he could succeed on the battlefield. But, you know, once you do this sort of thing enough maybe you get used to it.
BLITZER: Yes, and I spent a little time with him in Baghdad in 2005.
BLITZER: And I saw him -- I saw how he operated and obviously he was very self-confident, very unique, and he did things exactly the way you point out, the way he thought was best for the country.
Did you, in your research, you did a ton of research did you meet Paula Broadwell? I know you interviewed over 100 people in connection with the book. KAPLAN: No, I -- I never interviewed her. I mean I know who she is. I know people that know her. This affair was widely rumored but nobody really believed that it was happening until it was discovered.
BLITZER: Yes. So do you believe he did the right thing by resigning?
KAPLAN: Well, you know, here's the thing that people don't realize. You know, adultery -- it's a crime in the uniformed code of military justice.
BLITZER: Even if you're retired?
KAPLAN: Well, you know, there's an old saying -- generals retire only when they go to bed at night. I think he still felt bound by that code. I am told reliably that President Obama sat on his resignation letter for a full day. He didn't want to accept it. But Petraeus insisted on resigning that that was really the only way that he could deal with the scandal.
BLITZER: Do you think the president should have accepted that resignation?
KAPLAN: Well, I think he -- you know, the CIA is kind of a weird place when it comes to moral stands, too. And I think -- I don't think he would have got along. But, you know, the thing to -- to keep in mind about Petraeus is that aside from all this, that same personality that might have led to the scandal also led to a genuine revolution within the United States Army and the story of David Petraeus is the story of that revolution, and this is a matter, you know, of life and death, of war and peace.
It affected the way the army fought in Iraq and Afghanistan for better and for worse. It meant the difference between life and death for thousands of people. Again, one way or the other.
BLITZER: In your book "The Insurgents" you outlined some of those dramatic changes. Give us one or two examples of how he changed the United States military.
KAPLAN: Well, you know, Wolf, you recall at the beginning of the Iraq war nobody knew -- when the occupation began anyway, nobody knew it was an insurgency. There is a rule in the Pentagon. Donald Rumsfeld, the secretary of defense, really prohibited anyone from even using the word "insurgency," because an insurgency would mean that you would have to come up with a counterinsurgency strategy and that would mean that you have to stay there for a long time and get involved in nation building which was a curse word to him.
So -- and it wasn't just Rumsfeld, the army, they had a code. What was a war? They define war as a major conflict involving tanks on tanks. In the latest military manuals before Petraeus became commander this kind of war, a counterinsurgency war, it was called a military operation other than war. It wasn't even called a war. They called it MOOTWA and General Shalikashvili, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, was once known to have said, real man don't do MOOTWA.
So the idea that an army, a conventional army, going to a city and helped set up economic enterprises and try to win over the hearts and minds of the people, in other words to recognize that the insurgency actually had a cause and there were injustices against the reigning government and therefore to defeat the insurgency you had to deal with these causes. You had to build up the economy, you had to help make the government more legitimate.
This was something that the conventional army had absolutely no interest in doing whatsoever until he came along and changed that.
BLITZER: Five years from now when -- as we look -- when we look back on the whole operation in Iraq going back to March 2003 when the U.S. went in, got rid of Saddam Hussein, and then eventually 10 years or so later got out. Will this have been worthwhile for the United States?
KAPLAN: Well, that's a very good question. You know, one thing that Petraeus said many times was that the whole point of the surge and the shift to the counterinsurgency strategy, both of which he maneuvered into being, through some pretty amazing bureaucratic politics. This was to give the Iraqi government some breathing space. This was to give them an opportunity to work out their own politics.
If it turns out that the Iraqi government has no interest in reconciling with Sunnis, for example, and they have no interest in working out a division of oil revenue or working out property divisions in Kirkuk, then yes, it might have all been for naught because it worked tactically but the strategic purpose of the war might very well go down the drain.
BLITZER: And if Iraq becomes a strategic ally of Iran, obviously, that's a game changer as well.
Hey, Fred, thanks very much for joining us.
KAPLAN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Fred Kaplan is the author of the book, "The Insurgents."
Up next, a soldier comes home. I'll talk to the family behind this heart-warming reunion at the Rose Parade.
BLITZER: A heart-warming way to start the new year, Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pazz returned from Afghanistan to surprise his wife and 4- year-old son when he stepped off a float during the Rose Bowl Parade. There were tears, smiles and one happy little boy.
Sgt. Pazz, his wife Miriam, and his son, Eric, are joining us now.
First of all, Sergeant, thanks so much for your service, thanks for joining us. You certainly surprised your wife and son three months before your re-deployment date. How did you keep it a secret?
SFC. ERIC PAZZ, SURPRISED FAMILY AT ROSE PARADE: It was -- it was very difficult to keep that a secret from them. Basically any time they -- my wife brought it up, brought up the fact that, you know, I entered them in a contest, and any time anything was brought up about this I just immediately changed the subject.
BLITZER: Miriam, how did you feel when you realized that that was your husband?
MIRIAM PAZZ, WIFE OF SFC ERIC PAZZ: I was just so excited and overwhelmed to see him. It's -- it was great.
BLITZER: Is this the best Christmas present you could have received, Eric -- Eric, Jr.?
E. PAZZ: He's talking to you, buddy?
BLITZER: Eric, what do you think? How happy were you to see your dad?
So happy he doesn't want to express in words how happy he was.
What's your wish, Sergeant, for other military families right now who are away from their loved ones?
E. PAZZ: The only thing I can even say is -- Natural Balanced Pet Foods and, you know, Army Public Affairs Office, they had done such a great job here. I just really hope that, you know, all the military members that are deployed still around the world, wherever they are, that, you know, they get to experience, you know, what we just went through at some point in the future as quickly as possible because it truly was a life-altering experience.
BLITZER: You've got a -- you've got a lively and very excited son there who is having a good time with all of us.
Let me thank all of you for joining us. Thank you once again, Sergeant, for your service. I wish all of you only a very, very excellent and happy and healthy new year. Thanks.
E. PAZZ: Thanks, Wolf.
M. PAZZ: Thank you.
BLITZER: That's it for all of us tonight here tonight. "AC 360" starts right now.