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THE SITUATION ROOM

Saturday Mail Ending; Military Pay Debate; Interview With Tony Bennett

Aired February 6, 2013 - 18:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: the end of Saturday mail, a pay cut for U.S. troops, an explosive surprise in that Alabama bunker. A lawmaker says the movie "Lincoln" got its history wrong. And Tony Bennett talks to Kate Bolduan and me about gun control.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The Postal Service's cash crunch is about to hit your mailbox. Saturday mail delivery will stop this summer. The drastic move comes after a nearly $16 billion loss last year alone, part of a financial crisis that started in 2006, when Congress required the Postal Service to fund health care benefits for future retirees.

That's a burden that no other corporation or government entity has to bear.

CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta is here. He's got more on what's going on with the Postal Service and it's not pretty.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a big change that affects nearly every American. The unofficial motto of the U.S. Postal Service is, neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds, but you can now add to that, except for letters on Saturday.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA (voice-over): You've got mail, but soon, probably not on Saturdays.

Starting in August, the U.S. Postal Service is halting delivery of letters and first-class mail on Saturdays, but package delivery will continue. It's all part of a plan to save the cash-strapped Postal Service $2 billion, after it posted a $16 billion loss last year. Customers saw this one coming.

AUTUMN NORMAN, POST OFFICER CUSTOMER: Five days a week is fine for me. I don't do a ton of business on the weekends.

ACOSTA: With more companies using private companies like UPS and Federal Express and shoppers opting to browse online, the postmaster general says the carriers just can't compete with convenience. PATRICK DONAHOE, U.S. POSTMASTER GENERAL: Since 2008, we have seen a steady decline in use of first-class mail. People pay their bills online. It's simple, it's easy, it's free. You cannot beat free.

ACOSTA: And while members of Congress love naming post offices...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: First Lieutenant Oliver Goodall Post Office Building.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Brigadier General Nathaniel Woodhull Post Office Building.

ACOSTA: ... they are in no mood for yet another bailout.

REP. HENRY WAXMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I think it had to be necessary, unfortunately, that the Postal Service can't sustain Saturday delivery.

ACOSTA (on camera): Even as Congress is trying to cut the fat at the U.S. Postal Service, lawmakers have easy access to their local post office. There are five, yes, five different branches just for the House of Representatives.

REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: Jim, that's a great point. The fact is that the post office has asked and we have told them to go ahead and close some of the House and Senate post offices.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Historians note post offices are forever stamped into the Constitution, but the Postal Service still suffers from a bloated bureaucracy and legacy costs, like paying for the health care benefits of future retirees. House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa says changes are long overdue.

(on camera): Is this the beginning of the end of the Postal Service, do you think?

ISSA: This is not the beginning of the end of the Postal Service. This is, in fact, the beginning of the reforms that will allow the post office to deliver a world-class product to every point in America for an affordable price.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Mail delivery is part of American cultural, from the Pony Express to Cliff Clavin.

JOHN RATZENBERGER, ACTOR: By my calculations, our next president has to be named Yellnick McWawa.

(LAUGHTER)

ACOSTA: But unless the Postal Service can keep up with the 21st century, layoffs could be delivered next.

REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: If they eventually lay people off, it's going to hurt my constituents. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ACOSTA: It's up to Congress to decide whether it wants to challenge the Postal Service's decision, but with both Democrats and Republicans aware they might have to pay for Saturday service, they may be unlikely to say return to sender -- Wolf and Kate.

BLITZER: It's a tough situation over there at the post office. Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

Also a tough situation over at the Pentagon.

Kate Bolduan is here. She's got more on this serious, serious, seriously tough.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: seriously, seriously tough stuff. Take a look at this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Daddy!

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: There are a few things are more joyful than when U.S. troops come home. We have all seen these images and it always warms our hearts. But now troops could be coming home to a rude financial awakening, an effective pay cut.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has been working the details on this.

So, Barbara, what's going on?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, there is nothing more sacred, maybe, then troop pay and nothing more risky when it comes to budget politics here in Washington, but those two things are about to clash.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): The troops usually are happy to see Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, smiles and handshakes all around. But days before he leaves office, Panetta has bad news. He's proposing less money in their paycheck next year.

Panetta, a savvy Washington operative in budget politics, is leaving it to Congress to figure out how not to cut pay and keep thousands of defense employees on the job.

LEON PANETTA, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: We will furlough as many as 800,000 DOD civilians around the country for up to 22 days. They could face a 20 percent cut in their salary. You don't think that's going to impact on our economy?

STARR: But the recommendation to slow the military pay raise will put troops in the middle of that political fight between Congress and the president over spending.

REP. HOWARD "BUCK" MCKEON (R), CALIFORNIA: He should be looking out for soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines that he sends into harm's way.

STARR: Panetta is proposing just a 1 percent increase in troop pay for 2014. According to internal Pentagon calculations, it should have been at least 1.7 percent, which was the increase this year. It may not be a huge deduction, but it's badly needed cash for strapped military families.

For a junior enlisted service member with two years in uniform, the basic pay is about $1,500 a month. Panetta's recommendation would mean about $130 less pay than planned. One official familiar with the plan says -- quote -- "It's a pay cut, no matter how it's explained."

Panetta, in his last major speech, did not hold back his concern about Congress failing to reach a deal on spending.

PANETTA: This is not a game. This is reality. These steps would seriously damage a fragile American economy and they would degrade our ability to respond to crisis precisely at a time of rising instability across the globe.

STARR: The military warns the Army, Navy, and Air Force will all see cuts in training and readiness.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: So when it comes to the pay of the troops in uniform, Panetta and the Pentagon say it's really Congress' fault. They say Congress is funding a bunch of old, unneeded weapons and it's costing them so much money, they have no alternative, but to trim the pay increase for the troops -- Kate, Wolf.

BOLDUAN: Yes. If the pressure wasn't on before, it sure is on Congress now. Thank you, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon for us.

BLITZER: Let's get some more now on those drastic, across-the- board spending cuts that are supposed to take effect within a matter of only a few weeks.

CNN's Tom Foreman is here with some details.

Tom, break it all down for us, Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Barbara's done such great reporting on this all day. It's really important to look at the details, as she has. Sequestration, what's it going to mean to the Pentagon?

Let's start by talking about how much money they spend in a year, $525 billion. And if sequestration kicks in on March 1, this is how much they're going to lose, about $46 billion. And as you heard the secretary say a moment ago, that's going to produce impacts both inside the military and outside the military. So who's going to get hit and how? Let's bring up the Pentagon here and look at this. If this represented the entire budget of the Pentagon, these cuts would only be about this 8 percent or so up here at the top. The question about that, that doesn't look like a whole lot right now, but the impact could be quite large.

For example, one of the cuts would be to 46,000 Department of Defense jobs, which would be endangered with men and women and enlisted families, in fact, facing lower pay raises next year than they would expect. What about beyond that? The civilian population, working for the Defense Department -- 800,000 civilians could face these 22-day furloughs, a forced furlough. It's a forced vacation. Essentially, they're losing an entire month of pay out of the year, big impact on a lot of those folks out there.

Beyond that, there could be a reduction in training and maintenance for many people. That would have a bigger impact, probably in forward bases, where people are deployed, like Afghanistan, for example. Beyond that, a reduction in naval operations. And finally, a reduction, in fact, in the number of hours that Air Force planes could even be flying, whether on missions or in training and on weapons maintenance, Wolf.

So a lot of things there are on the potential chopping block.

BLITZER: Tom, all of these cuts do not necessarily hit on the first day, so is there room for the Pentagon to adjust while this presumably gets worked out up on Capitol Hill?

FOREMAN: Well, the simple truth is, any time that a government agency faces changes like this, what they usually try to do is take the soft hits first. If they can furlough people a little bit, for some time, because this does trickle in throughout the year, if they can make some delays in maintenance, they can try to absorb the hits in the hopes that things will be stored down the line.

But, if it goes on long enough, and it's deep enough, that you actually lose personnel, and you actually have equipment and facilities that start falling into disrepair because they're not being supported a lot, that takes a lot more money and a lot more work to ever recover from -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Good explanation, Tom foreman, thank you.

BOLDUAN: We're learning new information this evening about that hostage standoff in Alabama. It turns out the pipe that police used to communicate with Jimmy Lee Dykes was packed with explosives and so was the bunker itself.

CNN's Martin Savidge is in Alabama for us.

Martin, what else are you learning this evening?

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the situation there, we're told by authorities, was considered to be and is considered to be so dangerous that they still have not removed the body of Jimmy Lee Dykes. He is still in the bunker in which he died, two days ago, because it's just too risky to send anybody in.

In the meantime, we have also learned that authorities considered a number of rescue scenarios. Here's what we found.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE (voice-over): As bomb disposal teams spent a second day searching the area around Jimmy Lee Dykes' bunker, CNN has learned that explosives weren't the only unstable variable that law enforcement had to deal with. There was Dykes' state of mind.

Neighbors described the 65-year-old as a paranoid anti-government loner fixated on a conspiracy involving horse racing.

THOMAS FOLDS, KNEW GUNMAN: He used to keep notebooks of horse races and he always said that Mafia run the horse races.

SAVIDGE: Sources close to the case say while talking to police from his bunker, a contentious Dykes would ramble on about his theory and wanted to get his message out.

WALLY OLSON, DALE COUNTY SHERIFF: Mr. Dykes, he feels like he has a story that's important to him, although it's very complex.

SAVIDGE: In the early hours of the standoff, local authorities even contemplated sending in a local reporter to talk to Dykes.

RICKEY STOKES, BLOGGER: I knew the school bus driver had been shot.

SAVIDGE: Local blogger Rickey Stokes was the first reporter on the scene, capturing this video. He says authorities approached him with the idea.

(on camera): And you were willing to go along with that?

STOKES: Anything they needed me to do, if it meant me showing them how to use the equipment or me going into the bunker, I was willing to do, just like everybody involved in the operation over there would have done.

SAVIDGE (voice-over): In the end, the plan was nixed and the FBI took over negotiations. Federal hostage rescue teams began training up on a model of Dykes' bunker behind a closed restaurant screened off by a blue tarp.

(on camera): That markup was located right over there next to the building. It's all been taken down now, but look at this. That secretive training was all taking place right next door to here, the media compound.

(voice-over): And that training turned into action Monday afternoon. Authorities say Dykes had become even more irrational, and when he was seen with a gun, the deadly assault began.

Rescuers blew a hole in the bunker's roof, but say Dykes armed with a handgun fired at agents, who returned fire, killing him, while leaving 5-year-old Ethan unharmed.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SAVIDGE: By the way, Wolf, 5-year-old Ethan is now 6-year-old Ethan. Today is his birthday. We're told he celebrated in private. Also, we should point out, as far as the future of that bunker, it's going to be destroyed -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Martin Savidge in Alabama for us this evening, thanks so much, Martin. It is still amazing how that all unfolded.

BLITZER: Happy birthday to little Ethan.

BOLDUAN: No kidding.

BLITZER: I'm sure his mom and his family are pretty happy. All of us are thrilled.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

BLITZER: The controversy over the Boy Scouts' ban on gay Scouts and leaders isn't going away. An expected vote today by the national organization's board has been postponed. It said in a statement, "Due to the complexity of this issue, the organization needs time for a more deliberative review of its membership policy." The decision will now be made at the Scouts' annual meeting, and that's in May.

BOLDUAN: He's a rising GOP star. Now the party is tapping Senator Marco Rubio for a very high-profile job. Plus, Tony Bennett lending his star power to the push for gun control. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM, talking with us about it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The Republican Party will make history just after President Obama's State of the Union address next Tuesday night.

Republican congressional leaders announced today they have picked Senator and possible 2016 presidential candidate Marco Rubio to give the GOP response to the president. We're told Senator Rubio will give two different versions of the response, a taped version in Spanish, a live one in English. All that is a first.

Let's discuss. Joining us now, the BuzzFeed editor, Ben Smith, who interviewed senator Rubio just last night, and CNN national political correspondent Jim Acosta, who's covered Senator Rubio extensively.

Were you surprised by this?

BEN SMITH, BUZZFEED: No, I mean, at this point, nothing about him is surprising. I mean, it's his first year in the Senate, he's the youngest member of the caucus, in a body where usually you really have to wait a lot of time before you have to do anything, and he's effectively the party's leader on the most important policy issue they're dealing with this year, immigration.

BOLDUAN: And the fact that you confirmed this, Jim, that he's going to be taping this address in Spanish and also doing the live version in English. I mean, does this just tell you that clearly, Republicans know that they are realizing their issue with the Hispanic vote back in 2012?

ACOSTA: This is about the state of the Republican Party more than it is about the State of the Union, quite honestly.

And Marco Rubio is going to help the Republicans in that regard. I mean, keep in mind, just a few moments ago on Twitter, his staff tweeted out that Marco Rubio will be the first member, elected member of Congress from either party to give a State of the Union response in both English and Spanish. So they're going to be touting this, but talking to his staff, our political unit noted that he's not going to be spending a great deal of time on immigration. He's going to be talking about economic issues as well.

BOLDUAN: Does that surprise you?

ACOSTA: I think it goes to show you they don't want Senator Rubio, or at least maybe his staff, they don't him to just be pigeonholed on this one issue.

BOLDUAN: That this is his one issue.

ACOSTA: That's right.

BLITZER: You have heard he's been working on this for a while?

SMITH: Yes. Certainly I think he's been working on it for a while. I think the way he looks at immigration, what he said last night certainly, is that it's kind of a threshold issue, that the party needs to prove that it's friendly to Hispanics, but that the way they win again is not by doing immigration, it's by doing other things, by making an economic case.

BOLDUAN: Let's look back just a little bit, because I found this really interesting. Four of the past five Republican responders to the president's State of the Union speeches, they're all kind of considered 2016 White House hopefuls. You see kind of a little box of them right there. But listen here to Governor Bobby Jindal's response. This was from 2009.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. BOBBY JINDAL (R), LOUISIANA: The way to lead is by empowering you, the American people, because we believe that Americans can do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Now, this went on and on and on, and it was widely criticized and panned as just being very stiff, very canned in response. I mean, doesn't this also, this honor of him, Marco Rubio made, doing this response, doesn't it also come with a lot of risk?

SMITH: It's a format that threatens make you just look so small. The president is up on a huge stage, addressing Congress, and then you're in Jindal's case, in somebody's it seems like in their foyer, Jindal who is, in fact, a very sharp, interesting, engaging guy.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: A rising star himself.

SMITH: Came across as Kenny from "30 Rock."

BOLDUAN: Do you think Marco Rubio can handle this responsibility?

ACOSTA: I do. I have interviewed Marco Rubio a number of times, and one thing Ben and I were talking about before we came out here is that he rarely slips up.

He will be prepared for the State of the Union address response, and I think this is a big moment for him. If Marco Rubio is going to be the Republican contender or one of the top tier contenders in 2016, I think a lot of people will look back at this speech and say, that might have been the moment, the springboard moment that put him on that path.

BLITZER: Ben, you had a long interview with him last night. We will play this little exchange, this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: You only get that big plane, like, at the end. The beginning of it, you're like in a rent-a-car in Iowa, in New Hampshire, in South Carolina, you're meeting the same 10 people over and over again and they're still undecided.

It's a long, gruesome -- I really believe that if I do the best job I can in the Senate, in a couple of years I will be in a position to make a decision about whether I want to run for Senate, leave politics and give something else a shot, or run for some other position.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He's clearly leaving the door pretty wide-open.

SMITH: Yes. A lot of these guys pretend they're not thinking about it, but he made no pretense.

(CROSSTALK)

SMITH: But also he called it grim and awful or something. He clearly gets that there's this long period of driving around Iowa in a small car that is totally unglamorous.

(CROSSTALK) ACOSTA: And I think it also should be noted, even though the Republicans have been taking many hits on this issue of immigration and their outreach to Hispanics, look at the Democratic Party. Right now, do they have a big Latino star in their ranks? Some might argue the mayor from San Antonio, Mayor Castro, but he's not really a Marco Rubio at this point.

So the Republicans, if they can continue to put Marco Rubio out there as kind of their standard-bearer, at least of the Latino community, that's a good thing for Republicans.

BLITZER: We will see what happens. Guys, good work. Thank you.

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.

Still ahead, Tony Bennett, World War II veteran and gun control activist. The singer is here to talk about how his war experience has shaped his views.

Plus, the congressman who noticed a mistake in the movie "Lincoln." Find out what it is.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWS BREAK)

BLITZER: An emotional interview with legendary singer Tony Bennett.

He's opening up to us about the Newtown school shooting and how it moved him to push for new gun control laws.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A group of celebrities is lending its star power to the push for more gun control. They spoke out today here in Washington. A mixture of young and old stage, screen and recording stars, but none more famous than our next guest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Tony Bennett. Yes, Tony Bennett is here in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Tony Bennett, thanks very much for coming in.

TONY BENNETT, SINGER: It's my pleasure.

BLITZER: Your son and manager, Danny Bennett, is here, as well. We're thrilled to have both of you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you both for coming in.

BLITZER: We'll talk music in a little while. Let's talk about guns right now. Very serious subject brings you to the nation's capital. You were up on Capitol Hill today...

T. BENNETT: Yes.

BLITZER: ... urging greater gun control. Among other things, you said this. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. BENNETT: I still haven't gotten over Connecticut. And like the assault -- assault weapons to go to war, not in our own country, and I'd like assault weapons eliminated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right. So you want to get involved in this fight. What do you exactly want to achieve?

T. BENNETT: Well, the assault weapons should be illegal in the United States. They should be -- they were made for war. And they -- they don't belong in the citizens' hands in our great country.

BLITZER: That's the hardest part of this whole fight, getting these assault-type weapons banned; might be a little bit easier, expanding background checks, or magazines, if you will. The amount of bullets in a magazine. But the assault weapons, that's -- that's an uphill struggle.

T. BENNETT: Yes, well, it's dangerous, so -- it's very dangerous.

BOLDUAN: A lot of people talk about wanting -- a lot of people may talk about wanting to get involved in an issue, but why -- what brings you and your father to Washington? Why did you want to get out so front and center on this issue?

DANNY BENNETT, TONY BENNETT'S SON & MANAGER: Well, I was raised a pacifist. You know, Tony fought in World War II, at the Battle of the Bulge, liberated concentration camps, came back a pacifist, marched with Martin Luther King and Ed Solomon in 1965. A lot of people don't know this. He doesn't wear it on his sleeve. Feels that that's the citizen's responsibility. And we grew up with that dear to our heart.

This is a public safety issue for us. It's not about taking away guns. It's not a Second Amendment. It's controlling the kind of guns that, again, an uphill battle, but what isn't an uphill battle? Martin Luther King was an uphill battle. You have to -- you have to stand up.

Now is a time to act and the president's stepping up, and we're very proud of that. Mayor Bloomberg and those efforts. And we're here to support that, however we can.

BOLDUAN: Mr. Bennett, you've seen music and Hollywood evolve over the time of your career. Do you think the music industry, Hollywood, is partially to blame for the gun violence we're seeing in this country? Glorifying gun violence?

T. BENNETT: You know what? I really don't, because it's interesting that, you know, Canada is a great neighbor to us, and they really watch all of the television that we have in America. They watch all of it. So they see all of it. And they don't get into that, you know, we're a -- all these violent tragedies have happened in the United States.

They watch it, and they just realize, well, you know, that's -- that's films and magazines and all that kind of thing. But they don't -- they don't fly out of control like what is happening in the United States. This is our country; this is our great country.

BOLDUAN: So what do you say to your fans then, who say, they love you, they love your music, they love your career? But they really, they just don't agree with you on this issue?

T. BENNETT: Well, that's their ignorance.

D. BENNETT: Well, it's also their right. And I think that that's something that's important to say here. It's their right to have their opinion.

And you know, again, where a lot of people step up about Hollywood and saying, mind your own business, well, you know, the highest office that somebody can attain under a republic is that of the citizen. It's not -- I mean, we forget this. And entertainers are people, too. We're all citizens. And I think it's a responsibility of each citizen to raise their voice.

BLITZER: You served our country admirably, heroically in World War II, and we're grateful to you for that.

And I just want to play another clip from what you said up on Capitol Hill today. Because it brings back memories of World War II. I'll play the clip and I'll let you elaborate, explain what you meant.

T. BENNETT: OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. BENNETT: It's the kind of turn that happened to the great country of Germany, when Nazis came over and created tragic things, and they had to be told off. And if we continue this kind of violence and accept it in our country, the rest of the world's going to really take care of us, in a very bad way.

We should learn that we're the greatest country, because we're all different nationalities and all different religions. And we should show the rest of the world how to behave.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: That reference to the Nazis, what was that?

D. BENNETT: Well, he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. He's a war hero. So that's the reference.

BLITZER: So the fact that he was obviously dramatically influenced by World War II?

D. BENNETT: Exactly.

BLITZER: That's still -- that's still part of your life right now. And that's what -- and you see some connection with your experience...

T. BENNETT: Well, violence has to be stopped. War is the lowest form of human behavior. Killing is the worst form of -- you know, I just finished writing a book -- I'm not plugging it right now, but I wrote, life is a gift. We are blessed with being alive. We should enjoy it and enjoy our neighbors and help our cousins and relatives and friends, one another. We should all help one another. It's a gift. We have a gift with our lives.

BOLDUAN: Well, Mr. Bennett, Danny, Tony Bennett, thank you both for coming in. If you won't sing, we're going to play some clips that we love to hear from you.

BLITZER: I love this video. I love it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

T. BENNETT (singing): She gets too hungry for dinner at 8.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm starving.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much for coming in.

D. BENNETT: Thank you.

T. BENNETT: Thanks, sweet. Thank you. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: It's a pleasure.

T. BENNETT: Thanks so much.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: It's a hit film nominated for a dozen Oscars, but one lawmaker says "Lincoln" has its history wrong. Details of the scene he wants changed, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: "Lincoln" is a major hit with critics and fans alike, nominated for 12 -- yes, 12 -- Academy Awards. But the film contains an historical error that raised the ire of one Connecticut congressman. Brian Todd has got the details; he's here.

So why is this lawmaker challenging the film "Lincoln"? BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf and Kate, he says his state really takes a hit in this movie. You know, Joe Courtney says he loved the movie "Lincoln" overall, that Daniel Day-Lewis was terrific in the lead role, but when the film's climatic scene came, the vote to abolish slavery, the congressman from Connecticut says he was a little shocked.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Congressman Joe Courtney finally got to see the movie "Lincoln" in recent days. He was riveted by the scenes showing the debate in the House of Representatives over the 13th Amendment, outlawing slavery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congress must never declare equal those who God created unequal.

TODD: Later, the climactic scene, the actual vote. We're not allowed to show you the clip, but here's what the character said.

The clerk of the House, quote, "We begin with Connecticut, Mr. Augustus Benjamin. On the matter of this amendment, how say you?" Benjamin: "Nay." The clerk: "Mr. Arthur Bentleigh." Bentleigh: "Nay."

So two congressmen from Connecticut voted against abolishing slavery?

REP. JOE COURTNEY (D), CONNECTICUT: Something's wrong here. I mean, this just cannot possibly be correct.

TODD: Courtney, who represents Connecticut's Second District, was bugged about it all the way home. When he got home, he Googled the information, thought he was on to something.

(on camera): Then Courtney got with the Congressional Research Service, part of the Library of Congress, asked them to check the historical records. They did and quickly got back to him with the news that he was right, that all four members of Connecticut's House delegation had voted in favor of the amendment.

(voice-over): Courtney's written a letter to director Steven Spielberg, saying, "I could not believe my own eyes and ears," that the movie wrongly depicted Connecticut's delegation as being on the wrong side of history.

COURTNEY: That's a source of information that a lot of people may never get any other source in terms of the history of the Civil War or the 13th Amendment.

TODD: The names of the Connecticut congressmen, like most names for congressmen in the movie, were made up. But we found no other voting inaccuracies in the film. I spoke about it with Lincoln historian Christian McWhirter.

CHRISTIAN MCWHIRTER, LINCOLN HISTORIAN: Hollywood movies frequently have these kind of errors in them. And "Lincoln" is an exceptionally good Hollywood historical film. So I think we have to have a certain amount of tolerance for a certain amount of error.

TODD: Indeed, the movie isn't a documentary, doesn't claim to be one. It's historical fiction and doesn't have to be 100 percent accurate.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: But Congressman Courtney has asked that that part of the movie be corrected before it's released on DVD later this month.

CNN has reached out to representatives for director Steven Spielberg, for screenwriter Tony Kushner, and the distributor, Disney, asking for a response to Congressman Courtney's complaint and asking if the DVD version will have a correction. We have not heard back yet, Kate and Wolf.

BOLDUAN: It's really fascinating and interesting. And there -- this isn't the first time. This isn't the only part of the movie that historians are picking on.

TODD: They've been kind of picking it apart a little since the movie was released. Nothing really major, but a couple of things they say: that Mary Todd Lincoln would not have been in the House of Representatives, monitoring the vote and everything like the movie depicts.

They say that, you know, slavery was not abolished just by this one vote. There was a lot of other things going on at the time.

But they do say it gets a lot right. The arm-twisting, the ranging, the horse-trading in Congress. That's very accurately depicted, and of course, the portrayal of Lincoln by Daniel Day-Lewis, very accurate.

BLITZER: Yes. If you get a response from either Spielberg or Kushner or any of them, let us know.

TODD: Will do.

BOLDUAN: You can see how closely people are paying attention to this movie.

BLITZER: That's an important nugget.

BOLDUAN: It is an important nugget.

BLITZER: You want to be precise.

BOLDUAN: That's right.

BLITZER: Important vote on the 13th Amendment of the Constitution. Thank you, Brian.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, Brian. BLITZER: The former treasury secretary, Timothy Geithner, may get the last word on America's financial meltdown. Take a look at this.

BOLDUAN: A source says he plans a book on the crisis with publication targeted for 2014, and the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations has announced that Geithner will join the think tank this month.

BOLDUAN: So it didn't take long for folks on Twitter to have some pretty good fun with possible Geithner book titles. So here are some of our favorites that we wanted to share with you.

BLITZER: Good luck reading them.

BOLDUAN: This one is fun: "What to Expect When You're Expecting a Bailout."

Another person suggests, "The AIG of Innocence."

Or how about this one: "Crime and No Punishment."

And then there's, "Heart of TARPness."

Along with probably a lot of people's favorites, "Larry Summers' Nights Dream."

And lastly, "The Goldman and the Sea."

I particularly like the first one. What do you think?

BLITZER: I don't like any of them.

BOLDUAN: You don't like any of them. We'll see what his actual title is probably very soon. You can see many more of these online, of course. Just search the has tag #geithnerbooktitles. There you have it.

BLITZER: How about "Timothy Geithner's Memoirs."

BOLDUAN: If you want to be boring, sure.

BLITZER: An Army veteran about to be honored for heroism. How he led a small band of soldiers against hundreds of Taliban and incredible odds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's a battle destined to go down in U.S. military history. An American camp in Afghanistan overrun by hundreds of Taliban fighters. One soldier led the counterattack in a brutal and deadly 12-hour battle that ended in victory.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent Jake Tapper is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Among other things, he's the author of an excellent book entitled "The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor."

In it, you profile among other things, Clint Romesha, who is going to be the recipient of the Medal of Honor on Sunday. Tell us a little bit about him.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR/CORRESPONDENT: Picture this, Wolf. You're in the worst, most vulnerable outpost in Afghanistan, surrounded by three mountains. And one morning, at 5:58 in the morning, there are roughly 400 Taliban attacking the camp, all from the high ground. That was Clint Romesha and 52 other Americans. That was their October 3, 2009.

And Clint Romesha tried to lead a squadron of men to fight back against unsurmountable [SIC] odds. And I interviewed him in North Dakota a few days ago, and we talked about one of the worst moments during that battle.

At some point, the worst possible thing that could happen, happened.

SGT. CLINT ROMESHA (RET.), U.S. ARMY MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: Yes.

TAPPER: The Taliban were inside the camp.

ROMESHA: Yes.

TAPPER: It's a pretty audacious plan, considering you had enemies strolling through the camp. You want to take it back, save the guys in the Humvee, save the guys in the water pit.

What made you think you could do that?

ROMESHA: It was time to find our guys. It wasn't time to sit there and worry about stuff out of our control. We had the tools, we had the training, we had the spirit. And we had the support of each other. It was the time.

BLITZER: He's a genuine hero. What did his fellow troops say about him?

TAPPER: It's remarkable. We interviewed a few of them, obviously, for the book. I interviewed almost all of them. They say they don't know that they would have survived, had it not been for him. He's the kind of person, he's the kind of leader that said, "This is what we're doing. We're taking the camp back."

And he and some other troops devised a plan where one squadron would take the north side of camp back, even knowing there were Taliban in the camp. The other group would take the south side back and they would -- they were going to double back.

Not everybody made it out alive. Eight U.S. troops were killed that day, but it would probably have been much, much worse, had it not been for Clint Romesha, who ran right into danger, right into the place where others had been killed just minutes before.

BLITZER: Tell us a little bit about this man.

TAPPER: He's -- he's short; he's kind of wiry and intense. He's from a Mormon family in northern California. He's now getting used to North Dakota, where he lives with his wife and three kids. He is just a quintessential laconic archetype. You might see him in a cowboy movie.

But he's the kind of guy that he doesn't suffer fools gladly. He stands for what he stands for: selflessness, brotherhood, excellence, working hard. And if you don't stand for that, he doesn't have much patience for you.

BLITZER: He's about to be given the Medal of Honor. And we applaud all of what he has done.

And I want our viewers to know that you have a special coming up Thursday night here on CNN, "Jake Tapper Reports: An American Hero." Our viewers can watch the one-hour special, 10 p.m. Eastern. I recommend that they do.

Jake, thanks very much for coming, and thanks for writing the book and doing this special report.

TAPPER: Thanks, Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: CNN's Erin Burnett is going "OUTFRONT" tonight on the Boy Scouts' decision to put off a vote on its gay membership ban. She's joining us now with a preview.

What's going on, Erin?

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: You know, Wolf, what we've been looking at is the incredibly tight and long-standing relationship between Mormons and the Boy Scouts. I mean, the numbers are pretty stunning. You're talking about a half a million Boy Scouts in America who are Mormon. A very powerful group.

And today, of course, the Boy Scouts was supposed to vote on whether gays would be allowed in the Boy Scouts. And then today, suddenly, they came out and said, "Look, we're not going to vote for a few more months."

We're getting to the bottom of why, what role Mormon faith may have had in that. I can tell you that we have looked into it, and one of the biggest Scout troops in the country, out of Salt Lake, 95 percent Mormon came out today and said they are adamantly against gays being part of the Boy Scouts. So we are going to go out and investigate.

And we're going to have the details on the rescue in Alabama. We have new details tonight that are pretty stunning and amazing, and of course, it's a great day to talk about it because of the little boy, Ethan, having his sixth birthday. Just a wonderful thing.

Back to you.

BLITZER: We, of course, wish him a happy, happy birthday. Erin, see you at the top of the hour. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: So, the folks who make the famous board game Monopoly, they just announced something that is literally -- get excited -- a game changer. That sounds like an assignment for our Jeanne Moos.

BLITZER: Nice.

BOLDUAN: You want to play?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Whether it's online on your computer or just on a game board like this one, all of us have certainly played Monopoly over the years, but now there's a game changer coming. One of these iconic tokens is about to go away. CNN's Jeanne Moos shows us which one and what's replacing it.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There's nothing ironic about the end of the iron. No more iron landing on Park Place. No more iron passing go and collecting $200. Makers of Monopoly are sending the iron to jail and replacing it with this.

(on camera): The iron has been replaced by a cat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Really?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's very tragic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She irons a lot.

MOOS: It's the toymaker Hasbro's latest has-been. Among the eight Monopoly tokens, the iron had the least support in an online vote. One guy even mistook it for...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A cuff link.

MOOS: Among the replacement choices, the cat got the most votes. But what do you expect with a Facebook face off? The Web is cat crazy. So the cat played the iron off.

Posted one supporter, "No, no, no, no. You keep the ugly, stupid boot and the stupid wheelbarrow, but you get rid of the iron? The awesome, mini, totally functional iron? Screw you, Hasbro."

(on camera): I don't know about the totally functional part. Is that steam?

(voice-over): At least the iron got along with the other tokens, but will the scotty dog coexist with the cat?

This was all a big promotion stunt for Monopoly, who even made the announcement on "The Today Show" with a larger-than-life-sized cat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have it right here on the set. Nice.

MOOS: Hasbro gave the public five choices: guitar, robot, helicopter, ring, cat.

(on camera): But not everyone was content with those five choices. Thus was born hash tag #betterMonopolytokens.

(voice-over): Among the suggestions: Twinkie, Predator drone, AR-15. Space monkey, IKEA monkey, Chris Christie eating a donut, and naturally, Donald Trump's hair. But instead of running your fingers through that...

(on camera): Would you like to touch the iron?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sure.

MOOS (voice-over): Hasbro's using the new versus old token to try and pump up sales of Monopoly, but watch out, kitty. That iron is steamed.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: I used to play Monopoly. Did you ever play Monopoly?

BOLDUAN: I will beat you so bad at Monopoly.

BLITZER: Twenty dollars -- $20.

BOLDUAN: Look, I work in the $500 range.

BLITZER: Wow.

BOLDUAN: This is how I roll.

BLITZER: You must be a professional Monopoly.

BOLDUAN: You can't escape that one. You go to dinner and you're going to give me 40.

BLITZER: Give me $0, and I've got 1,000 for you.

BOLDUAN: We don't yet have the cat here, though. You know what? You should keep this. This is going to be a collector's item now.

BLITZER: That's not the iron.

BOLDUAN: That's the iron. You can make it into a cuff link. You could fashion a pin. You do not get to pass go. BLITZER: We've got to end this show. Thanks very much for joining us. Remember, follow us on Twitter. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts...

BOLDUAN: Right now.

BLITZER: Right now.