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Government Shutdown; New Info on Capitol Hill Chase

Aired October 4, 2013 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now, we're learning more about a 34-year-old woman's state of mind when she rammed a barricade near the White House, leading police on a dangerous chase to the U.S. Capitol.

Miriam Carey's sisters spoke exclusively to CNN about her psychological problems and the questions they have about her death. Carey was shot and killed be police after causing panic right here in the nation's capital yesterday and forcing Congress into lockdown.

Anderson Cooper interviewed the sisters just a little while ago.

Anderson is joining us now.

Anderson, how did it go?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I talked to Valerie and Amy Carey. They're obviously stunned. Amy Carey says it still doesn't feel real, that the woman they knew, their sister, 34-year-old Miriam Carey, they were stunned. They didn't even know she was in D.C. She lived in Stamford, Connecticut, with her 1-year-old daughter.

They say at this point it still doesn't make any sense to them. I did ask Amy Carey about various reports that some schizophrenic -- medication to treat schizophrenia was found at Miriam Carey's house. Here's what she told me about her mental health history.


AMY CAREY, SISTER OF MIRIAM CAREY: I just know that my sister did experience postpartum depression with psychosis, they labeled it, which came along with treatment of medication and counseling, which she did. And she had her challenges with that.

That's what she was being treated for. She had her challenges as a new parent, and I always spoke closely with her. I am a parent. I have two children. She's just like anyone else. She had questions and we dealt with that as a family, but there was nothing out of the ordinary.

COOPER: Did she seem in recent days to be off medication, or to be unstable?

CAREY: No. She didn't appear to be unstable.


COOPER: Wolf, Amy also told me that her sister until a doctor's supervision had been tapering off her medication and had stopped her medication. She said it was under a doctor's supervision, that that was always part of the treatment plan for the postpartum depression with the psychosis.

Amy made a point of saying her sister was not schizophrenic, did not have bipolar disorder, at least had not been diagnosed with either of those things.

BLITZER: It must be overwhelming for the sisters. Anderson, my heart goes out to them, to the entire family. But do they have a clue about what may have been motivated her, put her little baby in the car, drive from the New York area down to Washington and show up at that blockade, if you will, outside the White House, and then get into this chase with the local police?

COOPER: They don't, frankly. I asked both sisters if there was a pattern in the psychotic behavior and the psychosis that her sister exhibited, whether she focused on President Obama or on politics, or anything like that. They said, no, that there wasn't a pattern, that it wasn't like that, that their sister wasn't political in any way, that she was a good mother, a good person, a caring person who, you know, stayed in touch with her family.

They said her sister -- it wasn't like wandering around incoherently at all, no episodes like that, that she sought treatment, she got treatment, and had tapered off her medication. They said frankly they still have a lot of questions, a lot of concerns, about how their sister's life ended. Here is more of what Amy said.


CAREY: We will never know what Miriam was thinking in those last hours before she died. We can only speculate, and our real concern is why and were things done properly? Like, was there some other way that she could have been helped, so that it didn't end tragically?


COOPER: And they are still trying to figure out what exactly happened. They're eagerly awaiting the results of the investigation, which is obviously still ongoing, Wolf.

BLITZER: The full interview will air later tonight on "A.C. 360" 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Anderson, thanks very much for that information.

Let's bring in the clinical psychologist Jeff Gardere, who is joining us right now.

Jeff, thanks very much.

COOPER: When you hear what the sisters are saying, when you hear what the reports are saying about the medications, the prescriptions that were found in her home, what goes through your mind?

JEFFREY GARDERE, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: Well, certainly, we know postpartum psychosis, which appears to be what she was experiencing, may have been a graduation from the postpartum depression.

Yes, we do treat with antipsychotic medications, along with antidepressants. They're saying, and I totally believe them, that she didn't act in a psychotic manner all the time, but yet it doesn't mean that there aren't delusional thoughts.

You asked Anderson what may have set this off. I wonder if something having to do with the government shutdown and some of the delusions she had around President Obama, allegedly, around -- she heard President Obama may have been spying on her, and may have had Stamford on lockdown, thinking at one point she might have been a prophetess, so there was a lot of delusional thinking going on.

COOPER: What can you tell us, Jeff, about these two medications? She apparently had prescriptions. And I hope I'm pronouncing them right, risperidone and citalopram. I probably mangled both of those pronunciations.

GARDERE: No, no.

BLITZER: But tell me about these two drugs.

Well, the risperidone is used to treat people with schizophrenia, and also if they have what we call a bipolar mania. Sometimes, that mania may also take them into a psychotic state. The second medication, the brand name we use is Lexapro, and that is used just for depression mostly.

A lot of times, those combinations of medications are used in order to get the person to be much more stable, to bring down the delusional, paranoid thinking, but also to control that mania that we see that may be part of the psychosis.

BLITZER: And the sisters said, we may never know, given the fact this woman is now dead, of course.


BLITZER: Jeff Gardere, thanks very much.

GARDERE: My pleasure.

BLITZER: And once again, be sure to watch Anderson Cooper's exclusive interview with Miriam Carey's sisters. It will air later tonight, "A.C. 360," 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only, only here on CNN.

Up next, President Obama makes a statement about the government shutdown by going out to lunch.

And a huge defense contractor feels the pain from a shutdown, along with several thousand of its workers.


BLITZER: On this fourth day of the government shutdown, President Obama and the House speaker, John Boehner, they both found some new ways to get their messages across. One got testy. The other got turkey.

Let's go to our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. He has got more -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, day four of the government shutdown felt a lot like Groundhog Day, with the White House and House Republicans both trying to score political points and showing no signs of compromise, but then something unusual happened here at the White House.

The president decided to go for a walk.


ACOSTA (voice-over): With an appetite to deliver one more message on the shutdown, President Obama and Vice President Biden walked through the gates of the White House and down Pennsylvania Avenue to grab a sandwich. The president told reporters he selected the restaurant based on its discounts to furloughed workers.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And that I think, you know, is an indication of how ordinary Americans look out for each other.

ACOSTA: But the White House was clearly chewing on something else, namely this article in "The Wall Street Journal" that cited an unnamed senior administration official said of the shutdown: "We are winning. It doesn't really matter how long the shutdown lasts, because what matters is the end result."

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney jumped on Twitter to say, "We utterly disavow the idea the White House doesn't care when it ends," but by then the anonymous was already the quote of the day for House Speaker John Boehner.

REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: This morning, I get "The Wall Street Journal" out, and it says we don't care how long this lasts because we're winning. This isn't some damn game. The American people don't want their government shut down, and neither do I. All we're asking for is to sit down and have a discussion.

ACOSTA: It wasn't a winning comment with the president either.

OBAMA: There's no winning when families don't have certainty about whether they're going to be paid or not.

ACOSTA: As the war of words played out on Twitter, with the GOP using the hashtag #letstalk and the Democrats saying #justvote, the president insisted there would be no negotiations until Republicans end the shutdown and raise the debt ceiling. OBAMA: We can't do it with the gun held to the head of the American people. So, reopen the government, make sure we're paying our bills.

ACOSTA: The White House warned of the shutdown's impact, noting the president had to cancel a trip to Asia for a series of economic summits. The administration also pointed out nearly the entire staff of the Treasury Department that maintains U.S. sanctions on Iran and Syria has been furloughed. As he returned from lunch, the president said it's up to Republicans to get those and other government functions back up and running.

QUESTION: How long do you think it will last, Mr President?

OBAMA: It could end in about half-an-hour if they called the vote.


ACOSTA: And some late-breaking news here at the White House on the issue that really prompted this government shutdown. That's Obamacare.

Wolf, late this afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services did say to CNN and other news outlets that the online application part of will be coming down at times during off-peak hours this weekend for maintenance. That is to take care of some of the glitches in the system that a lot of people out there around the country have been experiencing.

A health and human services spokesman tells CNN that the Web site will be fully up and running again on Monday for people to go to the site and fill out those online applications, and that the experience for consumers at that point should be better -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's an embarrassment for the administration. Hopefully, they will get all those glitches out of the way by Monday, if possible. They have only had, what, three years to get ready for this rollout.

Thanks very much for that.

One of the world's largest defense contractors announced today it plans to furlough several thousand workers because of the government shutdown. Ripple effects are being felt across the country, and it's closing -- costing the economy billions and billions of dollars.

CNN's Tom Foreman has been digging deeper for us.

What else are you seeing?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I was just talking to Lockheed Martin yesterday, and at the time they were saying they were still holding off on any decision, just like a lot of companies that rely on a lot of government trade.

But as the hours click by, that is changing.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Aerospace giant Lockheed Martin was holding firm against any furloughs among its staff, but with 80 percent of its revenue in government contracts, the company now says 3,000 employees will have to stay home starting Monday, maybe more if the shutdown continues.

The CEO issuing a statement: "I'm disappointed that we must take these actions and we continue to encourage our lawmakers to come together to pass a funding bill that will end this shutdown."

Far beyond Washington in dozens of states with significant numbers of federal offices, the ripples are hitting not just furloughed civil servants, but also private companies that rely on trade with the government.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's just a terrible thing. It's a terrible situation.

FOREMAN: Colorado, for example, is home to a large number of federal research labs studying energy, the climate, wildlife and more. They directly employed nearly 9,000 people. A University of Colorado study found that pours $1.2 billion a year into the state's economy, money that is not flowing now.

BRIAN LEWANDOWSKI, UNIVERSITY OF COLORADO-BOULDER: They spend their paychecks in their communities. They spend money at restaurants. They're spending money on their rents, car payments, entertainment.

FOREMAN: Some companies with longer-term business cycles say they can wait to see what happens, but at City View Bar & Grill in Baltimore, the impact has been immediate. This is close to a huge Social Security office, and the lunch crowd has been hijacked.

NAPOLEON ZAHAROPOULOS, RESTAURANT MANAGER: The last three, four days, it's very difficult. And if it continues, I'm not going to be able to survive, no.


FOREMAN: It is difficult to calculate exactly how many jobs are being affected at this point, Wolf, but it's not going to get any easier because for the time being, the government office that counts such things, they're not working either.

BLITZER: A lot of people are suffering right now. Tom, thanks very much.

Up next, there are also fears that America is at greater risk for a major online attack because of the government shutdown. We're taking a closer look at the gaping holes in cyber-security right now.

And did a Republican congressman try to blame a park ranger for the government shutdown, instead of members of his own party?


REP. RANDY NEUGEBAUER (R), TEXAS: The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves.



BLITZER: A major computer software company targeted for a cyber- attack, Adobe Systems, says hackers got access to personal information for nearly three million of its customers. This comes amid new fears about cyber-security because of the federal government shutdown.

Let's bring in our national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

What are you learning?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: We polled a number of federal agencies. The answer we got from all of them is the same, and that is that the federal shutdown has reduced the number of cyber-security staff across the federal government from the intelligence community to the Defense Department to infrastructure and all likely targets. The assessment I have heard from a number of officials is that fewer eyes means more vulnerabilities.


SCIUTTO:(voice-over): The government may be shut down for you and me, but for cyber-attackers, it is open, even more open for business. Adversaries from foreign governments to terror groups, says the former head of the CIA, are almost certainly looking to take advantage.

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I would have been anticipating this and I would have been saying, what is that we want to do against this adversary -- that's against us now -- what is it that would be helped by doing it while they're shorthanded? What gives us a higher probability of success?

SCIUTTO: Many government agency cyber-teams are relying on skeleton crews to police attacks in cyberspace. And a successful attack now could do damage even after full staffs return to work.

Tim Erlin, a cyber-security expert who advises agencies across the government, explained how.

TIM ERLIN, TRIPWIRE: What may happen as a result of the shutdown is that that first incident, which may have been detected previously with a full staff, might be missed, allowing the compromise to go deeper into an organization to get at more critical assets or critical data.

SCIUTTO: Another risk, while staff that monitor computer networks are still on the job, many staff who maintain them are not, meaning those networks are not being updated to resist new kinds of cyber-attacks, which can change by the second. The shutdown comes as cyber-attacks are transforming from spying on computer networks to destroying them.

The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee says it's a serious concern across the intelligence community.

REP. MIKE ROGERS (R), MICHIGAN: It's very concerning to me that we would allow any part of our national security structure knowing what's coming at us every day, not just from cyber. None of that is going away. And you can imagine the tour adversaries are trying to fill the hole.


SCIUTTO: We asked a cyber-security firm that advises many government agencies if there's been an increase in the number of attacks since the shutdown started, and the answer we got is telling. We're told they just don't have the staff to count. They're focused, Wolf, on putting out fires. And I think that is something that is happening across the government.

BLITZER: Yes, it's pretty telling, indeed.

All right, Jim Sciutto, thanks very much.

We have also heard Republicans and Democrats blame one another for the government shutdown, but one Republican congressman stirred outrage when he appeared to point blame at a government worker.

CNN's Chris Lawrence has the story.


CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Is this any way to treat a Park Ranger?

NEUGEBAUER: The Park Service should be ashamed of themselves.


NEUGEBAUER: You should be.

LAWRENCE: That's Congressman Randy Neugebauer, a Republican from Texas, berating a Ranger for keeping veterans out of the World War II Memorial closed by the shutdown.

NEUGEBAUER: How do you look at them and say -- how are you going to deny them access? I don't get that.


NEUGEBAUER: Well, it should be difficult.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is difficult. I'm sorry, sir. LAWRENCE: Congress and the president gave the military a special exemption to get paid. FEMA called back furloughed workers because of a tropical storm, but across the country, others in uniform have to work and can't get paid until the government reopens.

JOHN APEL, NATIONAL PARK RANGER: We don't know how long it's going to last.

LAWRENCE: That Ranger kept searching for a hiker lost inside a national part in Idaho, doing his job with no guarantee the next check will arrive on time.

BRIDGET GARDINER, OUTRAGED AT SHUTDOWN: I think that's messed up. And I don't think that Congress should get paid while they're in a shutdown.

LAWRENCE: They do, but the U.S. Capitol Police, the cops who put themselves in front of an out-of-control car Thursday, all they get is an attaboy.

REP. ERIC CANTOR (R-VA), HOUSE MAJORITY LEADER: I know all of us want to extend that thanks, and just to let them know we really appreciate it.

REP. STENY HOYER (D-MD), HOUSE MINORITY WHIP: I know that I join the majority leader in expressing our gratitude to the Capitol Police.


LAWRENCE: That Ranger at the memorial was only doing what she was told.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This woman is doing her job, just like me. I'm a 30-year federal veteran. I'm out of work.

NEUGEBAUER: The reason you are is...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's because the government won't do its job and pass a budget.

LAWRENCE: But now the congressman is trying to clarify that confrontation.

NEUGEBAUER: My beef was not with the Park Ranger. My beef is with the Parks Department and this president, that they would deny these American heroes access to the World War II Memorial.


LAWRENCE: So after a whole lot of online criticism, the congressman now says basically what he meant was the Parks Department should be ashamed of itself, not the ranger personally.

Look, in any case, while the military personnel here have got their guarantee, there's still a lot of folks in uniform who are really putting up with a lot and don't have any idea when they're going to get paid, Wolf.

BLITZER: No one does. All right, Chris Lawrence, thanks very much.

Meanwhile, there's some more fireworks over at the World War II Memorial here in Washington. Listen to Republican Senator Ted Cruz speaking to CNN about the government shutdown just a little while ago.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The reason we have a shutdown right now is because Harry Reid and President Obama want a shutdown. And they have refused to compromise at all, and, unfortunately, Harry Reid and President Obama believe this shutdown benefits them as a partisan political matter.

And that's why you're seeing these sorts of cynical decisions.


BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching.

"CROSSFIRE" starts right now.