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CNN Cameras Capture Space Images; Debating U.S. Troops In Afghanistan; Holmes Arraignment Delayed; Biden Meets With Video Game Industry; Teen Shooter Planned Attack; Mall Hostages Safe, Gunmen Escaped; Gun Control Differs City To City; U.S. Boeing Investigating Dreamliner; Richardson Explains North Korea Trip; Jay Rockefeller Calling It Quits; The Future Of Afghanistan; OBAMA & Karzai Meet

Aired January 11, 2013 - 13:00   ET


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: You can hear the sounds there from outer space. The camera was on a free fall 12 miles back to earth, and we didn't get the video, actually, until six months later because the GPS was somewhere off the terrain. (INAUDIBLE) didn't work because of it all breaking up. Someone found it in their backyard. And so we got it all back. That's it for me. NEWSROOM continues now with Don Lemon who hopefully will get well soon.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Much better now. Someone needs to check the weather balloons over at FOX and MS. I think we were sabotaged. Thank you, Michael Holmes, appreciate the good wishes. I'm Don Lemon, Suzanne is off today. This hour in the CNN NEWSROOM, winding down the war in Afghanistan and figuring out how many U.S. troops will remain there. President Obama meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the White House. They're discussing Afghanistan after the 2014 troop drawdown. The two leaders will hold a news conference in about 15 minutes and we'll carry it for you live right here on CNN.

The subject in the Colorado movie theater shooting won't be arraigned just yet. James Holmes was supposed to be in court today but the judge overseeing the case postponed it until March to allow Holmes' attorneys more time to go over evidence. The judge feared that the arraignment moved too quickly, the case -- if it moved too quickly, the case could end up in appeal. Prosecutor George Brauchler spoke a short time ago.


GEORGE BRAUCHLER, DISTRICT ATTORNEY, ARAPAHOE COUNTY: So far, the court has, yesterday, ruled that there is probable cause, as you know, to hold these charges and hold the defendant for these charges for trial. He's also found that there is proof evident presumption great and that is sufficient to hold him in custody without the benefit of bond throughout these proceedings.


LEMON: James Holmes faces 166 charges in the July rampage that left 12 dead and dozens injured.

More talks on how to curb gun violence at the White House going on. Next hour, Vice President Joe Biden will meet with representatives of the video game industry. He has been this week with people on various sides of the issue and says many groups are pushing for universal background checks and action on high capacity magazines, but the NRA described yesterday's talk as an agenda to attack the second amendment. And the former head of a movie industry group argued that had movies don't cause violence. Biden says his task force will deliver recommendations to President Obama by Tuesday.

And while Biden is talking guns, we're seeing new gun-related violence including an overnight hostage at a Los Angeles mall. Two armed men held 14 people inside a Nordstrom Rack store for several hours. An LAPD SWAT Team surrounded the area and put a theater with 200 movie- goers on lockdown until about 3:00 this morning but the armed men got away. Fortunately, though, the hostages are safe.

Also in California, students at Taft Union High school are being counseled today after a 16-year-old boy shot at two of his classmates. Authorities say the gunman planned the attack the night before and entered the school armed with a 12-gauge shotgun that belonged to his brother. He was apparently targeting two classmates because he felt he had been bullied. One student was shot and is in critical but stable condition. The other was not hit. Ryan Heber, a teacher, talked the shooter into handing over his gun. Heber suffered a pellet wound to his head during the shooting. He and the school's campus supervisor are being called heroes now.


DON YOUNGBLOOD, SHERIFF, KERN COUNTY, CALIFORNIA: This teacher and this counselor stood there face to face, not knowing whether he's going to turn that shotgun on them, and -- because they've seen the news media throughout our country in the last several months and they probably expected the worst and hoped for the best, but they gave their students a chance to escape and conversed and it worked.


LEMON: Well, parents of students at the school describe the gunman as a troubled youth who was expelled last year but allowed back. The school has an armed police officer but heavy snowfall in the area prevented him from getting to school that day.

We now know, when it comes to gun control laws, there is a patchwork of very different restrictions from state to state. Sometimes even city to city. And CNN's Jason Carroll has a tale of two cities and the different ways they work with state government on gun control.


JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The new year under way and already in New York City three police officers shot in two different incidents. Philadelphia, Steven Johnson, a Temple University student, shot during an argument. He's among that city's first homicides of 2013. He was also Movita Johnson-Harrell's cousin.

MOVITA JOHNSON-HARRELL: Children are just dying on the streets for no reason whatsoever.

CARROLL: Even before her cousin's death, Johnson was mourning the loss of her son, Charles, shot two years ago. He was 19.

JOHNSON-HARRELL: Anger and rage rise to the surface because there has to be something that we can do as a nation to get these guns off the streets.

CARROLL (on camera): In order to battle crime, cities such as New York and Philadelphia have looked to strengthen their gun control laws. And New York has done so, it has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country, including a ban on assault weapon bans, restrictions on ammunition clips over 10 rounds and mandatory background checks for gun buyers, including buyers from gun shows.

(voice-over): Philadelphia's mayor supported legislation banning assault weapons and so-called straw purchases of handguns in his city. It passed but was overturned by a state court.

MICHAEL NUTTER (D), MAYOR, PHILADELPHIA: The state has taken the position that they should be the only ones who can legislate in the area of gun safety and gun regulations. Many of us have a very different position.

CARROLL: A key difference, New York City and New York state are on the same legislative page. Pennsylvania and Philadelphia, worlds apart.

RICHARD ABORN, CITIZENS CRIME COMMISSION: Philadelphia, unfortunately, has not had the same support from the legislature in Harrisburg. They have not been willing to pass strong gun control laws and we see the impact in Philadelphia.

CARROLL: In 2011, Philadelphia saw 17 gun-related murders for 100,000 people. New York City, four per 100,000. Mayor Michael Nutter says he will propose stricter gun control measures again. Those opposed to it, New York's may would say this.

MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), MAYOR, NEW YORK: Would be interesting to see if they have the courage to come with me and explain to the police officer who got killed, to their spouse or their child or their parents that it was the murder we could have stopped and we didn't have the courage to do.

JOHNSON-HARRELL: My son could still be here had it not been for someone with a gun. My cousin would still be here had it not been for someone with a gun.


CARROLL: (INAUDIBLE) for Mayor Nutter is will he be able to get the legislation to stick this time? We reached out to the governor of Pennsylvania, he released a statement. I'm going to read part of it to you, it says, if they were able to craft the gun laws in Philadelphia which were more prohibitive than the rest of the state, it would not prevent criminals from obtaining those guns elsewhere and bringing them into Philadelphia. Our state laws must be uniform when it comes to gun regulations. The translation there is, Don, the mayor is looking at an uphill battle.

LEMON: Certainly. And does it -- does it necessarily, though -- stricter gun laws necessarily translate into less crime or less murders? I mean, look at Chicago, very strict gun laws in Illinois.

CARROLL: And you know what? Chicago is a very good can example because if you look at Rahm Emanuel, I mean, I think a lot of experts would agree that he, too, would like to see stricter gun legislation enacted in his city, but he's looking at, you know, push back from the state as well.

LEMON: Right.

CARROLL: If you look at some of the statistics, New York comparing to Philadelphia, it would appear that the gun laws that we have here in New York City seem to work in terms of reducing crime when you compare it to another city like Philadelphia.

LEMON: Good reporting. Thank you, Jason Carroll, appreciate that.

Moving on now, U.S. and company officials are opening an investigation into the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The announcement comes after a series of problems with the aircraft in recent days. And just today, oil was discovered leaking from a generator on an engine of an All Nippon Airways Dreamliner at an airport in southern Japan. And a crack appeared in a cockpit window of another Dreamliner jet in flight over Japan. But transportation secretary Ray Lahood says there is no reason to worry.


RAY LAHOOD, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: I believe this plane is safe and I would have absolutely no reservation of boarding one of these planes and taking a flight.


LEMON: Boeing's Dreamliner first went in to service in October of last year.

We turn now to North Korea where visits by westerners are rare. It's a dangerously unpredictable government trying to develop nuclear weapons in a country where ordinary people barely get enough to eat. The former New Mexico Governor, Bill Richardson, and Google executive Eric Schmidt had just returned from North Korea. One of their messages to the country, open up access to the Internet and expand cell service. Richardson spoke to CNN just a short time ago.


BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER GOVERNOR, NEW MEXICO: We talked to students, we talked to software engineers, to teachers, to ordinary people. So, I think it was a very valuable visit because we don't talk to the North Koreans. I've negotiated with them for about 15 years successfully on a variety of fronts. They invited me, we went on a private humanitarian mission. We were only there two days, but we delivered our messages.


LEMON: Richardson and Schmidt travelled to North Korea despite objection from the State Department which call the trip ill timed.

Well, after five terms in the Senate, Jay Rockefeller calling it quits. The 75-year-old Democrat from West Virginia was first elected in 1984. He is Chairman of the Commerce Science and Transportation Committee and great grandson of oil billionaire John D. Rockefeller who once was the richest man in the country. The senator made the announcement a short time ago and he said, in part, as I approach 50 years of public service in West Virginia, I have decided that 2014 will be the right moment for me to find new ways to fight for the causes I believe in and to spend more time with my incredible family.

Republican Congressman Shelley Moore-Capito says she will run for Rockefeller's seat. As for Democrats, well, one source acknowledges their pool of candidates is not very deep.

And as I told you at the top of this broadcast, we're going to carry that joint news conference by President Barack Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, live for you at the White House. You see them getting set up there. It's been a busy morning for the Afghan president. He's met with reporters and also met with the secretary of defense, Leon Panetta. Now, meeting with the president. They'll hold a joint news conference shortly. Our coverage continues from Washington with Wolf Blitzer right after this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have sacrificed together, that has created a bond that will not be broken in the future.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. We're waiting for a joint news conference by President Obama and the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai. You're looking at live pictures from the East Room of the White House. It's expected to begin in just a few minutes. The two leaders have been meeting to discuss the U.S. military troop presence in Afghanistan after 2014, also the future security of the country.

Joining us now to talk about president Karzai's visit to Washington, what's at stake for the United States, what's at stake for Afghanistan, our White House correspondent Brianna Keilar, our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger, our Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence, and Richard Haass, he's the president of the council on foreign relations in New York. He's the author of the book "Foreign Policy Begins at Home," a foreign (ph) advisor, the then Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Let's go to the East Room of the White House first. Brianna, you're there, they've been meeting now for a while. Set the scene for us. I know one of the key issues involves any U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after all U.S. troops are supposed to be out by the end of 2014.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, and it has been a very cordial reception, I will say, for President Karzai here at the White House, as he comes here today for bilateral meetings that have already taken place as well as a working lunch with President Obama and the vice president. And then, he'll be wrapping up his day here with this press conference with President Obama. But that cordiality which we saw here today and also when Karzai met with Secretaries Clinton and Panetta bellies some tension in this relationship between the U.S. and Afghanistan over the past few years.

Some very serious issues that are being discussed today and that we will hear questions asked of both President Obama and President Karzai, and that does have to do, of course, with U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan beyond 2014. The question is, if any remain in the country. And if so, how many. And as the U.S. has sought to seek some concessions for Afghanistan in this process, they've floated the idea of their being zero troops in the country.

Of course, there's also a concern from the U.S. that this would leave the country vulnerable. But at this point, they also are trying to negotiate with President Karzai on the issues of Afghan troops -- or, pardon me, Afghan detainees that are under U.S. control. Something very much of concern to President Karzai. And also whether any troops remaining in Afghanistan beyond 2014 would be subject to Afghan courts and laws.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Brianna, stand by.

Chris Lawrence, our Pentagon correspondent, is here.

Chris, there are right now 66,000 U.S. troops, part of a larger NATO military presence in Afghanistan. U.S. taxpayers still shelling out billions, maybe $100 billion a year to keep that military presence in Afghanistan. Question, they're all supposed to be out by the event of 2014. The pressure, though, is enormous to accelerate that withdrawal and get them out even more quickly for financial reasons and other reasons. Is that likely to be accepted by sources you're talking to over at the Pentagon?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, and I think one thing as I look at this statement that's going to come out, the word "sustainable" keeps popping up over and over again. And "sustainable" means money. Can we pay for this over the long run. I think when you look at the fact that the U.S. is going to be kicking in about $2 billion a year to sustain the Afghan forces, that's in addition to any other aid that the U.S. gives, this could very well be a fairly sizable commitment if President Karzai is going to get what he wants, which is a lot of support for a long number of years.

BLITZER: And given the financial interests right now, Gloria Borger, given the fact that the U.S. has got some major budget deficits, is there an appetite, a political appetite, here in the United States to continue to shell out $2 billion a week to keep that strategic presence in Afghanistan?

GLORIA BORGER, CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: In a one word answer, no. The president is facing the prospect of mandatory cuts in Pentagon spending. If you look at the polling, over half of the American public believes that things are not going well in Afghanistan. There's no real appetite to continue to spend that kind of money there.

And I think the question that the president is asking his advisers, and will be talking to Karzai about, or has talked to Karzai about, is just how large a force do you need to carry out the objective. And the objective is training and counterterrorism.


BORGER: And do you need 3,000 to 9,000 troop, do you need 15,000 troops, do you need no troops and just kind of a minimal force there? And what can you do -- how large a group of people do you need there in order not to alienate the people of Afghanistan, right?

LAWRENCE: And what's more important to the United States? Is it training more Afghan forces or is it battling counterterrorism? And I think that's going to be a key question because the interests of the United States in Afghanistan may somewhat diverge on this. I've heard from some sources that President Karzai would prefer that any troops that stay focused on training his forces which bolster the Afghan army, consolidates his power and the power of the government somewhat. Whereas the U.S. may want to focus more on a counterterrorism piece. And, Wolf, when you look at it, I mean, for every year that a soldier or Marine is in Afghanistan, it costs $1 million per man. So even a small force of 3,000, that's $3 billion a year.

BLITZER: And Richard Haass, give me a quick thought right now. If the U.S. were to completely pull out of Afghanistan after 2014 with a zero troop presence in Afghanistan, just like the U.S. has a zero troop presence in Iraq right now, what would be the difference?

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: In terms of counterterrorism, not a whole lot. We could always use drones or special forces, much like we do in other countries. I thinks the biggest effect would be, it would work against the training up of Afghan police and army. And probably even more important, it would be a psychological and political blow to the Afghans. It would be a little bit of a fill up to the Taliban. And just like we've seen Iraq in some ways get worse without any U.S. presence, my hunch is Afghanistan's going to get worse no matter what the size of the U.S. presence is. But if there's zero American presence, it will probably accelerate the downward trend in that country.

BLITZER: All right, I want everyone to stand by. We're waiting for the president of the United States, the president of Afghanistan. They've been meeting in the Oval Office at the White House. They're about to walk over to the East Room of the White House for a joint news conference. They'll both be making opening statements and then they'll be answering reporters' questions. Our special coverage continues right after this.


BLITZER: We're back. We're awaiting the president of the United States and the president of Afghanistan. They've been meeting in the Oval Office, but they soon will be holding a joint news conference in the next few minutes in the East Room of the White House. They've been discussing the future of U.S./Afghan relations, the future of the U.S. military presence, economic assistance, all sorts of important issues involving Afghanistan.

Our own Brianna Keilar is over at the White House.

Are there top aides yet in the East Room, Brianna? I don't know if you can see, because usually that's a sign that the presidents are about to walk in.

KEILAR: I don't see any at this point.

BLITZER: I don't know if Brianna can hear. Obviously Brianna can't hear me. But I see a lot of empty chairs right in front of you, so clearly they're not there yet. Once those chairs are filled, then it will only be a few minutes, I suspect, that the two leaders will be walking in.

Chris Lawrence, you're our Pentagon correspondent. And one of the most depressing things that we've seen in Afghanistan from the U.S. perspective, more than a decade after the U.S. went in there to try to clean out al Qaeda, destroyed the Taliban if you will, the Taliban leadership, is that all of these years later, so many billions of dollars spent, so many lives lost, U.S. troops can't even go out on joint combat maneuvers with Afghan officials because they don't trust them because so many of these Afghan military officers and regular troops have killed Americans and other NATO allies.

LAWRENCE: That's right. I mean, to be fair, Wolf, the number of those so-called green on blue attacks, it has dropped since it hit a high at the end of the summer. But, you're right, I mean --

BLITZER: Have they resumed joint maneuvers?

LAWRENCE: They have. But in a lot of cases, the U.S. forces now have what they call sort of guardian angels in which you have troops specifically set aside to sort of watch over those who are working with the Afghans. It's just an unfortunate byproduct of those attacks.

BORGER: You know, an important part of all of this, which Brianna alluded to earlier, is the really tense relationship that does exist between the president of the United States and our foreign policy apparatus and Hamid Karzai. There has always been problems with corruption in that government. With fraud. Neither side considers the other side reliable enough. LAWRENCE: Trustworthy.

BORGER: Trustworthy. And so that will have an impact on what -- on what occurs today, because how much money, how much blood and treasure do you want to spend over there, even in a support role, when this president doesn't have the support of the American people for that. And when in fact there have been these kinds of issues even when we do train their forces.

BLITZER: Richard Haass, I've interviewed President Karzai on many occasions going back to 2001 when he was just getting ready to take over. He always says the right things to me, says the right things to westerners, but I know there's deep distrust among top U.S. officials very often of President Karzai. Just walk us through why that distrust exists.

HAASS: Well, there's enormous distrust. And in full candor, I should say, I was one of those American officials who was involved at the beginning, because after 9/11, President Bush appointed me as the U.S. coordinator for the future of Afghanistan. So, like you, I knew him before he was the president and I worked with him fairly closely for years since.

He's under enormous pressures. The problem is, he often does and says different things to assuage different audiences -- domestically, the Pakistanis, ourselves. And at the end of the day, he obviously cares most about his survival. And if that means working with us, great. If that means, however, opposing us or undermining us, he's prepared to do that as well. So we have to be very careful about using the word partner or ally or anything like that.

Plus, to be perfectly honest, he's got also a little bit of palace syndrome. He's been isolated for a long time. He's erratic, to be generous. And he's an extraordinarily difficult person.

That said, I'm not quite sure what the alternatives are in Afghanistan. It has to be someone from the dominant Pashtun tribe. And Karzai is obviously from there. And if he were to leave office one way or another, putting that country on a trajectory where in any way it's functioning well, I think's an enormous question, which calls into question even more fundamentally, what is it the United States is going to have to show for this enormous investment over the past decade of lies and money.

And no matter again, Wolf, whatever it is we do or don't do with the residual force, I would argue that historians are going to be extraordinarily skeptical and critical, not of the U.S. decision to go in -- to get involved in Afghanistan right after 9/11, but of the decision made by President Obama to triple U.S. force levels and to try to get ambitious to try to nation build in that country and build up a self sustaining country. I think that entire decision and policy is going to prove to be extraordinarily controversial.

BLITZER: He didn't only double down in Afghanistan, President Obama, he tripled down in terms of tripling the number of U.S. troops.

HAASS: Absolutely.

BLITZER: This has clearly become, over the past four years, President Obama's war. So he's got a lot at stake in how it emerges as well.

Let's take a quick break. We'll await these two presidents. We'll continue our special coverage right after this.