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Finding Out Facts on Obamacare; Requiring Rear-View Cameras in Cars; Zimmerman's Wife Has "Revelation"; Laura Bush's First Ladies Summit; Chelsea Clinton Talks Her Competitive Family; Alert for "White Widow" in Kenyan Mall Attack; Thousands of U.S. Troops in Afghanistan; Interview with Afghanistan's Foreign Minister

Aired September 26, 2013 - 13:30   ET


BLITZER: Right now we're watching what's going on. Huge amounts of issues at stake here in Washington. Potentially a government shutdown as early as Tuesday. The nation's debt ceiling needs to be raised by October 17th. A lot of Republicans trying to link both of these issues to the funding - the lack of the - the defunding, I should say, of Obamacare.

The White House now beginning to build major support for Obamacare and it's moving into higher gear as we just heard from the president a few hours ago. The president touting the benefits of the law during a speech in Maryland, saying it will help the overall economy. Open enrollment, by the way, begins in five days, Tuesday, October 1st.

Right now the country is inching closer, though, at the same time, to a federal government shutdown. The Senate is debating a bill to keep the government running, but it would not include funding for Obamacare.

Also right now, the secretary of state, John Kerry is gearing up for his historic meeting with his Iranian counterpart. They'll be discussing possible compromise on Iran's nuclear program. This is the highest level exchange, formal, direct exchange between the two countries since the late 1970s, when the Iranians took Americans hostage at the U.S. embassy in Tehran for 444 days.

It's been one of the center pieces of the Obamacare sales pitch, assuring people that they will be able to keep their own doctor, keep their own health care plan, as the new law goes into effect. Let's bring in Tom Foreman right now. He's been checking the facts for us.

Tom, what are you seeing?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Wolf, we've been looking at a lot of different claims about Obamacare. And you're right, back when President Obama was trying to get health care reform passed, one of the big worries he had to address was from families that were perfectly happy with the way things were, who didn't want change, at least not in their health plans. So he made this claim, "you can keep your own doctor." He made it over and over again and he was emphatic about it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: First of all, if you've got health insurance, you like your doctor, you like your plan, you can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan. Nobody's talking about taking that away from you.



FOREMAN: The problem is, as Obamacare becomes a reality, it's not exactly playing out that way. Even the Department of Health and Human Resources seems to be hedging on the president's claim, saying, quote, "Depending on the plan you choose and the marketplace, you may be able to keep your current doctor."

So why this apparent waffling? Because, simply put, this is a seismic change in how health care is paid for and many, many big parts of the health care system are moving around. Companies, big and small, trying to make sure they don't get stuck with unmanageable bills as the country tries to cover all folks who are uninsured. Some of them are changing whom they cover, how much. And they may be changing health care providers in the process, meaning your doctor may no longer be part of the equation. Even the big unions that backed Obamacare are now concerned their plans may be forced to change and they won't keep their doctors.

So in the end, the problem with the president's claim, it was far too definitive. He insisted "you will" be able to keep your doctor. For a majority of people that may yet be true, but many others might be able to keep their doctors, and that's a world of difference -- Wolf?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The president also said, not only you can keep your doctor, that won't change, but if you like your health care plan, you can keep the same health insurance, you don't have to lose it, you don't have to go away from it, that won't change either, but that's not necessarily working out the way he envisioned.

FOREMAN: You're right, Wolf. It's a seismic change. You're changing everything in this massive, massive system. It's hard to imagine anything out there not changing some. For many people, in the end, all they're going to care about is, does my child, my husband, my wife get to go to the same doctor? That's the part they see. And for some people, that is going to change. And I'm sure a lot of people will be very frustrated because they felt they were assured by the president that that could not happen, and yet it will.

Tom Foreman, thanks very much. Good questions to ask.

By the way, Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, will be joining us in "The Situation Room" during the 5:00 p.m. eastern hour. I'll ask him to respond to what you just pointed out.

It's been six years since Congress ordered the Department of Transportation to require backup cameras on new cars. Today, it still has not happened. Safety groups are up in arms. They're taking it to court. We'll tell you what's going on when we come back. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The week on the "Next List," Dr. Miguel Nickolaless (ph), on the cutting edge of neuro prosthetics.

DR. MIGUEL NICKOLALESS (ph), ON CUTTING EDGE OF NEURO PROSTHETICS: The person wears the robotic vest and he or she will use his or her brain activity to control the movements directly of these vests. And the vest will provide some sort of tactile feed $back to the person. It's like temperature, fine touch. The concept is to get the signals translated into a language, electrical signals that the brain can interpret.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It went from an idea that was impossible when I was first injured 10 years ago to probable, to inevitable.

GUPTA: And designer, Dina Ang (ph) melds high-tech with high fashion. Using laser cutters and conductive threads, Ang (ph) lights up the showroom with her interactive designs.

Their stories on the "Next List," this Saturday, 2:30 eastern.



BLITZER: The federal government and safety advocates aren't seeing eye to eye when it comes to rear-view video cameras in new cars. The systems enable drivers to better see people or objects in blind spot behind them, a technology consumer groups say should be mandatory but that the Department of Transportation is just recommending.

Here's CNN's Renee Marsh.


DR. GREG GULBRANSEN, KILLED SON IN ACCIDENT: As I was backing up, I felt a lump, a bump.

RENEE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was October 2002 when Dr. Greg Gulbransen got into his car, checked the mirrors, looked over his shoulder and reversed.

GULBRANSEN: I looked down, there he is, a 2-year-old boy, blue pajamas, holding on to his blanket looking straight up, bleeding profusely from his head. As a pediatrician, I knew right way I'd lost him.

MARSH: He accidentally ran over his son Cameron.

In 2008, Congress passed a law in the child's name, requiring the Department of Transportation do something to prevent backup accidents. But more than two years pat the congressional deadline, still no action. Gulbransen and three safety groups are suing the government, calling for mandatory rear-view cameras in new vehicles. This PSA shows what a driver can miss without one.


ANNOUNCER: Behind the vehicle are 62 children and not a single one could be seen.


GULBRANSEN: You never drive a car forwards with the same poor visibility that we have going backwards without a camera.

MARSH: More than 218 people are killed and 18,000 injured every year in back-over crashes.

Gulbransen now has a video system in his SUV. He has no blind zone. But he says, until all new cars are required to have rear-view cameras, more children will suffer the same fate as Cameron.

GULBRANSEN: It's effective. It's available. And it is worth a fraction of what I would pay to have my son back.

MARSH (on camera): This week, the Department of Transportation recommended new cars have video systems, like this, installed in them. But the mandatory rule isn't expected until 2015. They're still analyzing what the impact of that rule would be.

Rene Marsh, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: The wife of the civil rights leader, the Reverend Joseph Lowry, died this morning. Evelyn Lowry was 88 years old. She suffered a stroke last week. She was here in Washington last month marking the 50th anniversary of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream Speech." Her husband, the Reverend Joseph Lowry, said in a statement -- I'll read a part of it -- "My beloved Evelyn was a special woman whose life was committed to service, especially around issues of empowering women. I was blessed having her as my partner, my confidante, and my best friend for close to 70 years." Mrs. Lowry founded the Women's Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a group that works to empower women and girls. Our deepest, deepest condolences to the family.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: The estranged wife of George Zimmerman has doubts about what happened the night her husband shot and killed 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was killed. Shellie Zimmerman was on the "Today" show, her first interview since a spat in which she called 911 claiming her husband threatened her.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SHELLIE ZIMMERMAN, WIFE OF GEORGE ZIMMERMAN: I believe the evidence, but this revelation in my life has really helped me to take the blinders off and start to see things differently.

UNIDENTIFIED TODAY SHOW CO-HOST: So I understand you doubt his innocence at least the fact that he was acting in self-defense on the night that Trayvon Martin was killed?

ZIMMERMAN: I think anyone would doubt that innocence, because I don't know the person that I've been married to.


BLITZER: Shelly Zimmerman says their marriage began to fall apart after he was acquitted in July, that he treated her like -- quoting her -- "like she was disposable." She has filed for divorce.

Former president, George H.W. Bush, an official witness at same-sex marriage of two longtime friends in Maine. Bush and his wife Barbara went as private citizens to the wedding of Helen Thorgelsen (ph) and Bonnie Clement (ph). Thorgelsen (ph) posted this photo on Facebook page of Bush signing their marriage license. Maine legalized same-sex marriage last year.

Former First Lady Laura Bush is in New York City today meeting with African first ladies in town for the United Nations General Assembly. She talked to CBS this morning about her presentation and what she's hoping to accomplish.


LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Barbara, our daughter Barbara's going to be there with Global Health Core fellows to recruiting smart, young, college graduates to work in the health field.

George started PEPFAR, the President's Emergency Plan for Aid Relief when he was president. And it's really all over Africa now. So when we moved back home to Dallas we wanted to continue our work with global health there in Africa. And we're partnering with the USAID Department and Komen for the Cure and a number of the drug companies to add testing and treatment for cervical cancer to the AIDS platform that's already established.


BLITZER: The meeting in New York, by the way, part of the Bush Institute's first lady's initiative.

Besides the U.N. meeting, New York has been buzzing with activity from the Clinton Global Initiative. Chelsea Clinton sat down with our own Piers Morgan to talk about the competitive nature of the family.


PIERS MORGAN, HOST, PIERS MORGAN LIVE: Do you play board games with your parents, like Scrabble, and if so, who wins?

CHELSEA CLINTON, DAUGHTER OF BILL AND HILLARY CLINTON: We generally are a card-playing family. We do play some board games.

MORGAN: Which card games?

CLINTON: Oh, we play Pinochle, Spades, Hearts.

MORGAN: Competitive.

CLINTON: Deeply competitive.

MORGAN: Who wins?

CLINTON: It's an equal distribution. I think otherwise --


MORGAN: How would I know you say that?

CLINTON: It's true.

MORGAN: You all win 33 percent of the time.

CLINTON: In cards, probably. In Scrabble, my mother's very good in Scrabble. In Boggle, my father's probably better.

MORGAN: Your dad's a better Boggler.

CLINTON: Probably the best Boggler. My mom's the best Scrabbler.

MORGAN: You are.

CLINTON: Good at upwards, everybody's probably --


MORGAN: What are you best at?

CLINTON: I do well in traditional board games, Backgammon, Checkers.




MORGAN: Interesting. I could talk about this for hours.



BLITZER: I just wanted you to know they spoke about more than board games. Catch the entire interview, Chelsea Clinton, "Piers Morgan Live," later tonight, 9:00 p.m. eastern. I recommend you do just that.

Still ahead, a red notice for the White Widow. We'll tell you what INTERPOL's new global alert means and how it plays into the Kenyan mall attack investigation.


BLITZER: In Kenya, police are now on the lookout for a British-born woman who may be tied to the deadly massacre at the luxury mall in Nairobi. INTERPOL issued the alert for the woman called the White Widow.

Brian Todd is joining us now.

Brian, who is this woman? What do authorities think is her link to this Kenya mall attack?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm going to answer the second question first. Kenyan authorities and INTERPOL are not specifically linking her to the attack. They're saying the red notice calls for her to be picked up on possession of explosives and conspiracy to commit a felony.

What they're saying is -- they're hedging as to whether she was involved in the mall attack in Kenya or not. On Tuesday, a Kenyan official said they believed there was a woman involved in the attack, but the next day, another official said that they can't say much about who the woman was or what she might have been doing in the mall attack. So they're really hedging as to whether this woman was involved in the mall attack or not.

What we can tell you is her name is Samantha Lewthwaite. She's 29 years old, born in Buckinghamshire, England. She was married to a man named Jermaine Lindsay (ph). He was one of the bombers who blew himself up in the 2005 London subway bombing attacks. And after that, she vanished, and then reemerged in Kenya with a cell that was linked to al Shabaab. That's one of the reasons she may be linked to the attack in the mall in Kenya with a cell that was linked to al Shabaab. That's one of the reasons why she may be, may be linked to the attack in the mall in Kenya. She's well known as the so-called White Widow among jihadist circles. So a lot of interest in her, Wolf, and this red notice has just gone out a few hours ago.

We'll have more about her later on in "The Situation Room."

BLITZER: We'll look forward to that, Brian.

Brian Todd, reporting for us, thank you.

There are still tens of thousands of American troops on the ground right now in Afghanistan. And Afghanistan's foreign minister tells me he likes it that way. He wants thousands of American troops to stay well after the end of next year when they're all supposed to be out of there. My exclusive interview with the foreign minister of Afghanistan when we come back.


BLITZER: It's the longest war in American history. The long war in Afghanistan supposedly winding down, but the U.S. and NATO, the U.S. at least, has 60,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan right now. The withdrawal of all U.S. forces is supposed to take place by at the end of next year. The ongoing war on terror still dominating, though, U.S./Afghan relations.


BLITZER: And joining us now, Zalmai Rassoul, the foreign minister of Afghanistan.

Mr. Minister, thanks so much for joining us.


BLITZER: Yesterday, we heard President Obama say at the United Nations General Assembly that, "The United States has achieved its mission of dismantling the core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan." Is the core of al Qaeda in Afghanistan destroyed?

RASSOUL: Absolutely.

BLITZER: The Taliban is still powerful in Afghanistan. That has not been destroyed?

RASSOUL: Taliban is not powerful enough in Afghanistan, but they continue to disturb our security. One thing that we're focusing on now is the peace process to convince. Those in Taliban to come to the peace process, join Afghanistan and stop fighting.

BLITZER: There are still 60,000 U.S. troops and other NATO troops in Afghanistan. They're scheduled to stay there at least until the end of 2014. That's when U.S. troops are supposed to be out. Is that schedule OK with you?

RASSOUL: Absolutely. The schedule has been decided and there has been a meeting, a NATO meeting, a summit meeting in Lisbon. That's something they want. And at the same time, our security forces now are not as strong to take place. Today, in Afghanistan, 95 percent of Afghanistan is comfortable --


BLITZER: Why do you need U.S. troops to stay until the end of 2014? Why not let them all leave now?

RASSOUL: As I mentioned to you, the transition of the security has been fairly finished. The third phase has started. We need not a sudden disruption of the security. By the time our security forces are fighting and replacing the NATO forces, we need their training and equipping the Afghan security force.

BLITZER: Do you want an accelerated schedule or withdrawal as scheduled? RASSOUL: Withdrawal as scheduled.

BLITZER: What about after 2014? Do you want U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan?

RASSOUL: Yes, we're in discussions with United States on a security agreement to which a number, a limited number of United States forces and also other NATO forces would stay in Afghanistan.

BLITZER: How many?

RASSOUL: We don't know a number.

BLITZER: Give me an estimate?

RASSOUL: It's not up to Afghanistan to decide. Somewhere around 10,000.

BLITZER: About 10,000 U.S. troops, U.S. and NATO troops. Would they have immunity from prosecution?

RASSOUL: We are discussing about this, with the security agreement, training, equipping, and advising the Afghan security forces.

BLITZER: Would they be immune to that?

RASSOUL: We're discussing with the United States and we're trying to find a line that hopefully by the end (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: There are no U.S. troops in Iraq now because the U.S. and Iraq couldn't reach an agreement on --


BLITZER: -- immunity for the United States.

RASSOUL: We are taking into consultation this issue.

BLITZER: How is the U.S./Afghanistan relationship right now?

RASSOUL: Basically, solid.



BLITZER: Foreign Minister, thank you for joining us.

RASSOUL: Thank you very much, Wolf.

BLITZER: Good luck to you and all the people of Afghanistan.

RASSOUL: Thank you very much.

BLITZER: Thank you.


BLITZER: I asked the foreign minister, by the way, if he might run for president. Hamid Karzai, his term is over with next year. He said he's not running again, can't run again. The foreign minister told me he would make up his mind by the deadline, October 7th. But a lot of people think this foreign minister will run to be the next president of Afghanistan. We'll see what happens.

By the way, as U.S. troops are on the ground now in Afghanistan, 60,000 American troops, it's costing American taxpayers billions and billions of dollars, roughly about $2 billion a week to maintain that troop level between now and the end of 2014. The U.S. will probably spend at least another $100 billion maintaining that troop level, withdrawing those troops from Afghanistan. And if there's an arrangement worked out as you heard the foreign minister say, to keep another 10,000 troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014, beyond the end of next year, billions more will be spent in Afghanistan.

And the question is, is that money being well spent? Should the U.S. be spending $100 billion, let's say, between now and the end of next year, on keeping that troop presence in Afghanistan or take that $100 billion and spend it here in the United States, whether on education, infrastructure development, or even simply reducing the national debt?

These are serious questions that a lot of national security people are asking right now because they wonder, when all is said and done, will there really be a democracy, stability in Afghanistan, despite this huge investment that U.S. taxpayers, the American people, have made in blood and treasure over these past many, many years. Lots to digest right there.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer, here in Washington.

Later, in "The Situation Room," we'll have continuing coverage of what's going on. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, will join us. Republican Congressman Pete King. Also, the deputy prime minister of Britain, Nick Clegg, will be in "The Situation Room" as well.

The NEWSROOM continues now with Brooke Baldwin.