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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. to Shrink Combat Role in Afghanistan; Flu Outbreak

Aired January 11, 2013 - 15:00   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour here in the NEWSROOM. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

An outburst of anger today inside this Colorado courtroom after a judge delayed the arraignment for the man charged with murdering 12 people inside that Aurora, Colorado movie theatre. In fact, the father of one of the victims shouted for alleged gunman James Holmes and I'm quoting him, "rot in hell."

CNN's Jim Spellman was inside that courtroom in Centennial, Colorado.

And, Jim, just tell me, what was the atmosphere once that was shouted?

JIM SPELLMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, Brooke, these family members sat in court and listened to three days of detailed testimony about what the prosecution alleges is this deliberate pre- planning by the us suspect, James Holmes, gunning down their family members.

So, the emotions ran high all week. This was the last time that they would have a chance to see him for at least a couple of months. And it was, like, this man, Steve Hernandez, let out what everybody in the courtroom had been thinking, "Rot in hell, Holmes."

His daughter Rebecca Wingo gunned down in the theater. He was surrounded by people who went through similar things. They really don't have an active voice during this. I think it was a lot of frustration over these last five, six months pouring out in the courtroom today, Brooke.

BALDWIN: You mentioned they wouldn't be seeing him in a couple of months. Quickly, do we know when Holmes is expected to enter a plea?

SPELLMAN: Yes, that will be in March. He will be officially arraigned and he will be expected to enter a plea. Some time between now and then, we may hear about a competency hearing just to determine whether he's mentally capable of going forth with a trial at this point.

Down the road, they will have to decide whether they pursue an actual insanity defense if it gets closer to a trial.

BALDWIN: OK, Jim Spellman for us in Colorado, Jim, thank you.

We will take you back to that story here in just a moment. But I want to get back to the White House, because just within the past hour, President Obama announced he will be scaling back America's military mission in Afghanistan, but, no, not cutting and running, standing right by Afghan President Hamid Karzai. The president said the United States will achieve its mission.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: At the end of this conflict, we are going to be able to say that the sacrifices that were made by those men and women in uniform has brought about the goal that we sought.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Wolf Blitzer joining me now, live from Washington.

And, Wolf, U.S. forces will shift this spring into an advisory role in Afghanistan. That's the word we heard from the president today. Does it look to you as though we're getting out faster than we thought?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: He said that there is a possibility of an acceleration. Remember, just to give some context, Brooke, there is about 66,000 U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan right now, part of a much larger NATO operation.

All U.S. troops are supposed to be out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, in other words, another two years. And they have been trying to work out the drawdown schedule. They had a schedule in mind. The president said, though, over the next several weeks he is going to be consulting with his commanders on the ground, including General Allen in Afghanistan, and see if they can accelerate that withdrawal a bit.

But I think it is fair to say that most of the U.S. troops will be out in the course of this year, early next year, and certainly by the end of 2014. Having said that, the president is leaving open the option of retaining a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan after 2014. And there have been suggestions maybe 3,000, 6,000, 9,000 troops as advisers, as trainers assisting the Afghan military.

He seemed to get some good words from the Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, today, Brooke, that U.S. troops would only stay in Afghanistan if they had immunity from prosecution and Hamid Karzai did seem to suggest he certainly was open to that, spoke about how the U.S. troops are -- potentially could have the kind of immunity. Remember, the Iraqi government refused to give U.S. troops immunity and as a result there are no U.S. troops in Iraq right now.

BALDWIN: Yes. And in terms of the U.S. troop presence, just yesterday, the administration sort of raised this idea of possibly bringing all, all of the troops home, which sort of sounded like a negotiating tactic.

And I just want to play a little bit more sound, Wolf. This is the president, again today, essentially negotiating with Karzai, in the public. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: From my perspective at least, it will not be possible for us to have any kind of U.S. troop presence post-2014 without assurances that our men and women who are operating there are in some way subject to the jurisdiction of another country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, Wolf, with regard to negotiations here on a post-2014 troop presence, who wants what?

BLITZER: I think they both want -- Hamid Karzai and President Obama want a limited, very limited U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan, maybe 3,000, 6,000, 9,000, whatever that troop presence is, provided they can reach an agreement on the legal status on those troops, they wouldn't be subject to Afghan prosecution.

Hamid Karzai may not be around, though. Here is one of the issues that potentially could be on the agenda is there is supposed to be elections in Afghanistan next year. He says he's not going to stay on, he wants to retire as president. He's been in office now for more than 10 years as the president of Afghanistan. He's been the only president of Afghanistan since 9/11 back in 2001.

I don't know who the next president of Afghanistan is going to be. I know that the Afghan government of Hamid Karzai right now is talking to the Taliban in Doha, Qatar. And, remember, this gets really complicated and confusing because the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan to deal with the Taliban, to get rid of the Taliban, which was protecting al Qaeda and bin Laden, and gave them sanctuary there from which they could go ahead and plot attacks against the United States like the attack on 9/11.

So it is going to be a messy situation, I think it is fair to say. There are a lot of uncertainties. Will it in the end have a very, very positive ending? I'm not so sure it will. I hope it will because the U.S. sacrifice in blood and treasure has been enormous, but it's anyone's guess right now what is going to happen in 2014. Certainly, I'm not even sure what is going to happen in 2013.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: I hope it will as well. And, Wolf, you know as well as I, this is a busy day in the White House. Not only the president meeting with his counterpart from Afghanistan, but the vice president, again, these listening sessions, meetings when it comes to potential gun policy. And we have just gotten some video here of the vice president meeting with these video game makers at the White House. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me begin by thanking you all for being here. I know a lot of you came a long way and I know a lot of you have an awful lot you have got to manage and an awful lot on your plate. So thank you, first of all, for being here.

Secondly, I just want you to know what we have been doing, and then maybe we can have a longer and a larger conversation. As a consequence of what I think we all would agree is an incident that sort of shocked the conscience of the American people, unlike anything that I have seen or felt -- we have been around a long time -- all the time I have been in public life.

There have been a number of tragedies that have occurred and national catastrophes, but I have never quite have seen anything that has shocked the consciousness of the American people like 6- and 7-year- old kids being riddled with bullets in a classroom neighborhood, in an area that was considered to be immune to this kind of behavior and had done everything that seemed logically able to be done to protect children in that school.

And so the president asked me, because I had spent so much time on these issues relating particularly to guns and violence in my years in the Senate, whether or not we would -- and, admittedly, it is quick -- in a matter of less than a month put together a set of proposals or direction that we could move the federal government that would enhance the possibility that -- or lessen the possibility that this kind of thing could happen again.

We know that it is -- there is no silver bullet. There is no -- as one of my friends said, no seat belt that you can put on to ensure that we will not be in this circumstance again. But I asked the Cabinet to come together, the attorney general, Homeland Security, Department of Education, Health and Human Services, et cetera, because we know this is a complex problem.

We know there is no single answer. And, quite frankly, we don't even know whether some of the things people think impact on this actually impact on it or not. And so I want you to know you have not been -- quote -- "singled out" for help, but we have asked a whole lot of people.

Let me give you a sense of the meetings we have had so far. We met with the law enforcement community, which has obviously one perspective. And we met with -- and there is a wide range of those communities, and they don't always agree on everything from weapons to preventative action that can be taken.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Vice President Joe Biden there sitting around a roundtable in the White House, final day here of discussions with different groups, talking about curbing gun violence.

And then he made a good point saying, basically, look, it is a complex problem, not trying to point the finger at the video gaming industry, per se, but he was discussing this issue with them there at the White House.

And just to keep you updated, we now know the vice president will be proposing these certain ideas it will have for the president. That deadline will be Tuesday.

And now to this, the flu, the CDC announcing today that two more children have died from this widespread flu outbreak. It has been hitting all but three states, three states in the country. You see all the red there on the map? That total deaths here of kids nationwide now at 20, all of this from an illness that often needs just TLC to get a child through. So when does the flu cross the line from a sick day to a serious health danger?

Senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen has the signs to watch out for -- Elizabeth.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, kids are especially vulnerable to the flu. And parents really need to be vigilant.

I spent the day yesterday with a mom who got her son help in the nick of time.

(voice-over): Darius Carr is so sick with the flu, he's in the hospital. He could have died if not for the quick thinking of his mother. Robbie Carey was keeping a close eye on her son at home. He didn't seem all that sick then suddenly Wednesday night --

ROBBIE CAREY, SON HOSPITALIZED WITH FLU: He couldn't hardly breathe. He was, you know, gasping for, you know, breath, and that was real scary because I thought he was going to pass out at any minute.

COHEN: Robbie immediately brought her 7-year-old son to the emergency room. It's just a short drive away, but by the time they got there, Darius was incoherent.

(on camera): How did you feel in your heart when your own son didn't know who you were?

CAREY: You don't want to think the worst, but as a parent you can't help it, you know?

COHEN: The flu had struck Darius hard, his asthma making it even worse. Doctors had to give him oxygen. Looking for red flags like Robbie did can save your child's life, difficulty breathing, getting better and then sick again, a sign that a second infection has set in, and refusing to drink. And a red flag Darius' mom noticed extreme fatigue.

(on camera): But kids are usually lethargic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, for a while and then usually, they'll perk back up.

COHEN: If there's no perking up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If there's a problem.

COHEN (voice-over): Kids with the flue can get very sick very fast. So when in doubt get your child to a doctor.

(on camera): I can't imagine if you hadn't brought him in.

CAREY: That's what I don't even want to think about and I'm just so glad that I did, follow that mom instinct and bring him in right away, you know, that may have saved his life.

COHEN (on camera): Brooke, last week, this children's hospital behind me had more than 400 confirmed cases of the flu, and that's just one hospital in one week. The flu is still out there. It is not too late to get your child a flu shot, so they don't end up here in the first place -- Brooke.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: A new warning about the pill that millions of Americans take to fall asleep. I will tell you the real threat behind Ambien.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. The news is now.

(voice-over): A shocking report about the secret life of TV star Jimmy Savile -- why investigators say he spent every waking minute as a predator.

Plus, a lawyer representing the graffiti artist accused of vandalizing a Picasso calls the case her worst nightmare.

And they're armed with clubs, machetes, and guns. The race is on in the hunt for pythons.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Back to the angry outburst in a Colorado courtroom today after a judge delayed the arraignment of alleged movie theater gunman James Holmes.

One victim's father shouted out lout for everyone to hear today, "Rot in hell, Holmes." Victims' family members and people wounded in the shooting have been in the courtroom all week long for what basically has been a preview of Holmes' trial.

I want to bring in clinical psychologist Dr. Paula Bloom.

Paula, good to see you.

PAULA BLOOM, PSYCHOLOGIST: Good to see you too.

BALDWIN: Just the idea of these family members, of those who were killed, and the survivors, sitting in this courtroom, however close to this man, running through the details, learning new things possibly of how people were killed, is that helping them or hurting them?

BLOOM: I think it really depends on the personality. Who you are and what you bring to the situation has an impact.

I want to take a quick step back, Brooke. To me, this isn't necessarily a mental health thing or psychological thing. This is the question we have been asking for thousands of years as people, which is why do bad things happen to good people? So you're sitting in that courtroom...

BALDWIN: Can you really answer that question?

BLOOM: You can't. There is no good answer. Spiritual leaders, theologians, psychologists, how do you answer the question of something absolutely horrendous?

You go to the movies in the suburbs and somebody comes and opens fire and kills you, injures you, kills your family member.

BALDWIN: Supposed to be a safe place.

BLOOM: Supposed to be a safe place. It violates our whole world order.

And so on some level, I know it doesn't bring your family member back if somebody is brought to justice, but what I think it does for some people, maybe this is why they're in the courtroom, is it helps them have a sense that, OK, if something bad happens, there is a consequence for that. And some of the relief comes from this feeling that, OK, there is some degree of order in the world.

BALDWIN: So you have this person shouting out rot in hell, right, which sort of proves your point, and speaks to this big underlying message. And then also as I pointed out, you know, there are these survivors in the courtroom as well. They were reacting to this outburst today.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YOUSEF GHARBI, SURVIVOR: I didn't know exactly what the outburst was, I thought maybe just like a scream or maybe crying. But when I found out it was "Rot in hell, James Holmes," I was kind of surprised.

QUESTION: Is it hard to hold your tongue during the procedures?

GHARBI: Me, personally, no, because I do not want to get in trouble. He could have gotten into a lot of trouble for what he did today, but he had his daughter die.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So what is your reaction to that?

BLOOM: My reaction is, OK, we're human beings, but we're also animals. OK. And what distinguishes us from animals is our ability to override an impulse. Right? You're hungry, but you're in a meeting, you're not going to go shoot an animal. You can kind of put that at bay a little bit.

BALDWIN: You want to yell obscenities at the person that probably killed your loved one.

BLOOM: Exactly. You just can't always control it.

Sometimes the ability -- like what that man said, that he didn't want to get in trouble. The ability to know there would be a consequence for what you're about to say, and being able to keep it down, is an ability many of us have, but sometimes things are so overwhelming that we just think what we feel.

We just say what we feel. We cannot. It is like beyond our control, which is why it's probably a good idea why family members are not in juries, why family members have a certain role to play, but they're not the ones doing -- in the justice system because, you know, we can't be trusted to get rid of our emotions. We shouldn't. We're human beings that have been affected.

BALDWIN: We will talk again once this goes to trial and all these people are sitting in the courtroom and I imagine it is just like this horrible wound that gets reinjured and reinjured.

Dr. Bloom, thank you very much.

The jet of the future, they're calling it, plagued with problems. Boeing's president responds to critics about the 787 Dreamliner. Richard Quest has some thoughts. He's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: It's been dubbed the jet of the future, but recent troubles now prompting the FAA to investigate the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL HUERTA, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: I believe the aircraft is safe and what we're seeing are issues associated with bringing any new technologically advanced product into service. And we want to address all of those issues to ensure that people can feel confident flying this airplane.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: No wonder confidence was shaken. Nearly every day this week, the 787 had some kind of problem. Today, All Nippon Airways in Japan found an oil leak in an engine and a crack in another plane's cockpit window.

Wednesday, same airline had to cancel a flight because of an error message on the brake system. Tuesday, a Japan Airline's Dreamliner leaving Boston, had to stop takeoff because of a fuel leak. And, Monday, another Japan Airlines plane in Boston had an electrical fire. Still, federal officials say this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Richard Quest, let me bring you back here as we talked earlier in the week about these different issues with the Dreamliner and now we know about this, you know, review on the electrical system. What do you make of this? Had to be done?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely.

There is simply too many little things and snags and glitches and even though there may be no more than in previous cases, we have now got to the stage. As journalists, we often call it the stage of dog bites man. It is where you have one case and then you have the next. And then even though there may be no more than normal, suddenly everybody is reporting them, and you start to see more of them and it seems as if just wherever you look, there are dogs biting people.

And so it is with this plane. There are 50 of them or so in service. It seems like every day there is another -- these are little minor glitches which by and large do not endanger or threaten the safety of the aircraft. That is the core point to remember. For Boeing -- I know you're going to you're going to say, what do you mean? A fuel leak and a fire.

BALDWIN: Yes, all these little minor glitches, all these dog bites, what is Boeing saying about all this? They don't like us talking about this.

QUEST: No, they don't.

I have followed Boeing for many years. And their planes are absolutely superb. But this will be an embarrassment for the company because this probe is looking into the design, the manufacture and the assembly. And what Boeing has done with the 787 is revolutionized it, a different way of designing, carbon fibers, new avionics, outsourcing, composites, putting it together in a different way.

And what is clearly being shown is that something went slightly awry in this process.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: So how do they then prove to the consumer it is OK to use?

QUEST: I think because the bar is set very high. There is a huge difference between a valve here, a brake light there, as what we call something that will put the aircraft on the ground, that will cost the airline money, and anything that might endanger flight.

And the other crucial thing to remember, Brooke -- and this is why in some ways it is so difficult -- there is no commonality between what we have seen, between an electrical generator, and a fuel leak pump, and a valve and a cockpit window. What it says is that maybe that the Boeing needed to have been tighter in the way they manufactured and assembled the aircraft.

That's what this investigation, this probe will look into. But I'm going to join the secretary of transportation and say this.

BALDWIN: Yes.

QUEST: You buy me the ticket, and I will board the 787 tonight going anywhere in the world, crossing the Atlantic, crossing the Pacific. That plane is safe. It is a nuisance for the airlines, for the passengers delayed.

BALDWIN: But it is safe.

QUEST: And it will be seriously expensive for Boeing.

BALDWIN: You're in. Richard Quest, thank you.

Ambien, it is a pill many, many Americans take to fall asleep. But now a new warning suggests a threat. I'm about to get the real story from a sleep doctor here.

Plus, pythons, folks are gearing up to hunt them with machetes and clubs and guns this weekend. Wait until you see this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)