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Acting OMB Director to Help Sebelius with Obamacare; New Jobs Report Released; Damning Report on Drone Attacks; Obama Administration Mistake in Arresting al Libi; New Rollout for Apple.

Aired October 22, 2013 - 13:30   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: This just coming in to CNN. The White House press secretary, Jay Carney, just announced they're bringing in the acting OMB director, the Office of Management and Budget, Jeff Zients, to help the Department of Health and Human Services manage the Affordable Care Act implementation, at least until January. That's when Jeff Zients takes over for Gene Sperling, as the head of the White House National Economic Council. Jeff Zients highly respected, someone being brought in to help Kathleen Sebelius in the Department of Health and Human Services deal with the problems that have affected the website. That was just announced by the White House press secretary. We'll have more on that. We'll see if he can get the job done together with the rest of that team. But they're bringing in heavy hitters. Clearly, they have a major problem with the website and they've asked Jeff Zients to help out Sebelius and company.

New numbers out today show the unemployment rate fell to 7.2 percent last month. That's the lowest level since November of 2008. But employers added fewer jobs than expected, just 148,000. Originally, they thought maybe 180,000, 190,000 might have been created in September. The report does reflect a job market that's healing from the recession, but, once again, very slowly. The Obama administration is weighing in on the jobs report.

And Jason Furman, the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors at the White House, is joining us right now.

Jason, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: It's gone down from 7.3 to 7.2 percent, 148,000 jobs created, approximately how many jobs a month would we have to create to see that number go down to, let's say, 6 percent?

FURMAN: You know, if we want to close the type of jobs gap we have, we'd love to see that private-sector job growth being a bit faster than we've seen it recently. We've seen policies that are subtracting from job growth, things like the sequester, likes the brinksmanship, like the shutdown. We want things adding to that job growth picking that pace up.

BLITZER: But basically, you'd have to have 300,000 or 400,000 jobs a month to make a major dent in unemployment, right?

FURMAN: Wolf, I think that's a little bit high. There's a lot of different ways to look at that. As we look at it, we'd like to see more. We'd like to see things moving us in a positive direction in terms of jobs. We are creating over two million jobs a year. We've created over 7.5 million jobs in this economic recovery. We're creating jobs at a faster pace than the last economic recovery. But absolutely agree with you. There's a lot more we need to be doing.

BLITZER: Are we going to create a lot of jobs if economic growth, let's say, is at 2 percent or 1 percent in this coming quarter?

FURMAN: You know, there's no question that the fourth quarter is going to suffer from the economic shutdown and from the brinksmanship associated with the debt limit. Private-sector forecasters are all marking down their forecasts for Q4 by a couple tenths of a percent. That translates into a substantial number of jobs. And we can't afford that type of self-inflicted wound at a time when we need faster job growth.

BLITZER: So if 148,000 jobs were created in September -- presumably, and we don't know -- it's going to be a whole loss less in October because of the 16-day government shutdown and the brinksmanship over the debt ceiling, right?

FURMAN: Yeah, we have initial indications about October. We know that unemployment insurance claims were declining steadily up till the shutdown but then they jumped up 50,000. We know Gallup does an index, a pretty good measure of job creation. That also was doing decently before the shutdown and it took a big blow in the first half of October.

BLITZER: What does it mean that there are, what, 852,000, nearly a million so-called discouraged workers who have simply given up hope of getting a job?

FURMAN: You know, look, Wolf, there's a number of different ways we measure the unemployment rate. The official measure has fallen from 10 percent at its peak, pretty steadily down to 7.2 percent now. There are broader measures of unemployment that count those discouraged workers as unemployed, count people working part time for economic reasons as unemployed. Those broader measures have also declined at roughly the same pace if not a faster pace. No matter how you're looking at the labor market, you see the same story, which is broad improvement over the last couple years, but a lot more needs to be done, and more needs to be done in terms of policies to get us there.

BLITZER: Because a lot of people have been focusing, Jason, as you know, on not necessarily even the unemployment numbers but the under- employment numbers, people who are accepting jobs for a lot less qualifications that they have or accepting part-time jobs because that's better than nothing. Of the 148,000 jobs that were created, how many are part-time?

FURMAN: You know, Wolf, we actually saw part-time jobs fall in the month of September, and full-time jobs, you know rise. And then the net was positive. Those numbers from month to month for part and full-time are pretty noisy. We like to look over the whole recovery. There you see more than nine out of 10 of the jobs have been full- time. If anything, that trend that is improved in the last couple months.

BLITZER: I've got one last question on Obamacare. I've seen all these estimates from various people, how much Obamacare, over the next 10 years, is going to wind up costing American taxpayers. Do you have a ballpark number?

FURMAN: You know, the Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, the CBO originally estimated it would cut the deficit by $100 billion in the first decade, over $1 trillion in the next decade. We've seen a dramatic slowdown in health costs growing at the slowest pace in 50 years. That's something helping employers on the positive side of the ledger when it comes to our overall economic growth.

BLITZER: What you're saying is Obamacare will not be a drain on American taxpayers? It will actually benefit American taxpayers?

FURMAN: Right. When it comes to taxpayers, absolutely, it's going to be reducing the deficit. When it comes to businesses, the Congressional Budget Office, their original analysis was that it would bring down costs, especially for small businesses and people in the individual market. Frees people up to be more mobile, moving from job to job, not locked in because of health insurance. I think it's good for labor markets and good for the economy as a whole.

BLITZER: Jason Furman is the chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers at the White House.

Jason, thanks for coming in.

FURMAN: Thanks for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: A damning report on drone attacks. Human rights groups releasing new details on U.S. efforts to attack insurgents and the growing civilian toll. Jim Sciutto is standing by, live.


BLITZER: The U.S. used drone strikes as an effective weapon against terrorism, but human rights groups now say some of those strikes in Pakistan and Yemen may be war crimes. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch may detail multiple drone attacks including several that have killed civilians. The highly critical reports come at a bad time. Tomorrow, President Obama is due to meet with Pakistan's new prime minister.

Jim Sciutto is joining us live from New York with more.

How is the Obama administration, Jim, reacting to these reports?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they're reacting very strongly, and say, one, they take civilian casualties very seriously. Two, they say they've taken measures recently to reduce civilian casualties and that is true. But to the legal question in these reports saying that the administration may be guilty of war crimes, the administration's reaction even more emphatic.

Here's how press secretary, Jay Carney, responded to shows questions today.


JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: To the extent these reports claim that the U.S. has acted contrary to international law, we would strongly disagree. The administration has repeatedly emphasized the extraordinary care that we take to make sure counter-terrorism actions are in accordance with all applicable law.


SCIUTTO: We spoke this morning with the new America foundation, a think tank here in Washington, which has done an exhaustive accounting of drone strikes casualties, and according to its figures, since 2004, more than 300 drone strikes had studied, there have been 2,000 to 3,400 militants killed and an estimated 200 to 300 civilians killed, a ratio of about 10-12. A commander would tell you that's a pretty good ratio. Still, those victims are mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and that sparks a very emotional reaction among people on the ground in Pakistan. I've talked to them about it in the past. But also from their leaders. And as you mentioned, President Obama meeting with the Pakistani prime minister tomorrow.

BLITZER: The new prime minister is not going to be very happy about all of this.

In general, the reaction to the U.S. drone strikes, trying to target terrorists and assassinate them with hellfire missiles from drones, whether in Pakistan or Yemen or elsewhere, generally speaking, the reaction from the folks out there is pretty negative.

SCIUTTO: No question. I was speaking with a diplomat this morning in fact about this, who said that drone strikes are the single most important issue when it comes to America's image in the region, and it's a negative indicator for U.S. image in that part of the world because it is so emotional. And you hear it from the leaders, as well. I heard the Pakistani prime minister speak this morning, and his words on this were that drone strikes are detrimental to our efforts to resolving relations, relations with the U.S. And he said, I would stress the need for an end to the attacks. So you can imagine he might be saying something very similar to President Obama tomorrow.

BLITZER: Jim Sciutto will have more on the story coming up later in "The Situation Room."

Jim, thanks.

Meanwhile, the accused terrorist, Abu Anas al Libi, is back in New York today. But new questions whether the U.S. got the right guy. Brian Todd is standing by with a report. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The accused terrorist, Abu Anas al Libi, is due back in New York for a hearing is at 4:30 eastern, later today. He's already pled not guilty to charges in connection with the bombing of the U.S. embassy in Kenya back in 1998.

Brian Todd is following the story for us.

Brian, what do we know about today's hearing?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, today's hearing is a conference between the judge and the attorneys involved in the case. It will likely have to do with his representation and probably other procedural matters. Abu Anas al Libi has pleaded not guilty to charges he conspired to kill employs of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya and Tanzania. Those bombings in 1998 killed more than 200 people, left thousands wounded.

Al Libi's wife says he is innocent and says he had left al Qaeda well before the attack occurred. Her name is Um Abdal Rackmon (ph).

Here is part of her interview with CNN earlier this month.


UM ABDAL RACKMON (ph), WIFE OF AL LIBI (through translation): The accusations against him are fabricated. It is true my husband was a member of al Qaeda, but he left al Qaeda in 1996, two years before the bombings. He did not take part in any part in any bombing anywhere in the world.


TODD: The U.S. attorney's office told me a short time ago it would not comment on those remarks. But the indictment says, and there are indications that Abu Anas al Libi did leave al Qaeda in the mid-1990s but it does not mean he wasn't part of the plot. A fellow al Qaeda operative testified at one point that al Libi was in Nairobi in 1993, allegedly surveilling possible targets, including the U.S. embassy. Again, this was in 1993. And the indictment states he was there in 1993 surveilling the U.S. embassy. Our terrorism expert says that it is alleged that al Libi took these surveillance photos to Osama bin Laden, who looked at them and then pointed to where the truck bomb should go. Now, al Qaeda apparently put that plot on the shelf for about five years. Then bin Laden gave the go ahead to attack in 1998. Wolf, so even if he left al Qaeda, it doesn't mean he didn't take part in this plot.

BLITZER: And if he did leave al Qaeda, as the wife claims, why would he live al Qaeda? What's the explanation?

TODD: It's an interesting story. According to terrorism experts, the Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, at that time, felt threatened by Osama bin Laden and by al Qaeda. At that time, Bin Laden and most of the top leadership were in Sudan. Gadhafi pressured the Sudanese government to get bin Laden to kick al Qaeda's Libyan operatives out of the organization. So Abu Anas Al Libi, according to experts, did leave al Qaeda, but then he later joined the Islamic fighting group which was trying to overthrow Gadhafi. So Gadhafi may have tried to get rid of him from al Qaeda, but he didn't get rid of him as a possible threat.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us.

Thank you, Brian.

Apple's next big thing, a lot like the last big thing only better, they say. Can it spur sales for the gadget giant? Stay with us.

So let's do a quick check of the markets right now. Reaction has been pretty muted to the delayed September jobs report. That's not moving the Dow today. Right now, the Dow trading up about 72, 73 points. Analysts say they expect the Federal Reserve stimulus program to continue a while longer. That's moving the markets. That's seen as good news, obviously, for investors.

In San Francisco, meanwhile, Apple is unveiling changes to some of the company's iconic products. It's Apple's second big rollout of the year after the new iPhones were introduced last month.

Let's bring in "CNN Money" tech correspondent, Laurie Segall, who's been watching.

We're watching for this -- whatever it's going to be -- this new event. It hasn't happened yet, right?

LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY TECH CORRESPONDENT: We're hearing announcements but everybody's waiting to hear about the iPad. We're hearing that they're going to release the new iPad 5, the new iPad Mini with the retina display. We haven't heard that yet.

But I can tell you what we have heard. They announced the price and release of Apple's new operating system. It's called Maverick. It was eye opening. They said they were going to release it for free, which is very new for Apple. They also introduced and updated the MacBook Pro line. They said it was going to be lighter, thinner, faster. We anticipated this was going on an announcement. They also announced the new Mack Pro desk top, which they've been handing out to artists like Lady Gaga. Everybody's loving this. They said it'll be available by the end of the year.

I will say Tim Cook kind of -- he was digging at his competitors a little bit in his opening speech. He said, our competition is different. He said, they're confused. He said they that chased after Netbooks. Now they're trying to make P.C.s into tablets and tablets into P.C.s.

So we have yet to hear about the actual iPad, which is what we're all waiting to hear from.

BLITZER: We're excited. There's a war going on, a tablet war going on right now, Laurie. So where does Apple stand in this war?

SEGALL: I would say Apple and the iPad are still leading the charge. But times have changed. You know, about a year ago Apple -- the iPad was 60 percent of the market share. Now you look at it, compared to this year, it's now 32.4 percent compared to Samsung, at 18 percent. You know, Apple, the iPod's biggest competitor is the Samsung Galaxy. There are also different tablets that are smaller and cheaper and they just keep getting better and better. They've got to keep up. I think that's why so many people are waiting to hear from them today and see what they're going to update.

BLITZER: Let's see if they can come up with something as sophisticated as this.


This is the Blackberry. You're familiar with this?

SEGALL: I know what that is, I think.

BLITZER: I have the iPhone too.


BLITZER: We'll see what they can do.

Laurie, as soon as you know what's going on, let us know.

SEGALL: I'm coming right back.

BLITZER: I want to see that new iPad.

Thanks very much.

SEGALL: Thank you.

BLITZER: Killer whales are being kept as theme park attractions. Nothing new. But over the past few years, we've heard more and more horror stories. "CNN Films" is taking a closer look at the issue surrounding orcas in captivity and the lives of these amazing creatures. Here's a small part.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They live in these big families, and they have life spans very similar to human life spans. The females can live to about 100, maybe more, males to about 50 or 60. But the adult offspring never leave their mother's side.

Each community has a completely different set of behaviors. Each has a complete repertoire of vocalizations with no overlap. You could call them languages. The scientific community is reluctant to say any other animal but humans use languages, but there's every indication that they use languages. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A reminder, "CNN Films" follows the 39-year history of killer whales in captivity, leading up to the death of a SeaWorld trainer in 2010. "Blackfish" airs this Thursday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, here on CNN.

I want to the leave you this hour with some news we're getting from Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of Health and Human Services. In addition to her announcing that they're bringing in Jeff Zients, the acting OMB director, to help out in this crisis involving the website, she goes on to announce other steps that they're taking. They're bringing in additional experts and specialists not only from within the government but also outside the government, including veterans of top Silicon Valley companies. These re-enforcements, she says, include a handful of presidential innovation fellows. Much more on this story coming up later.

I'll be back 5:00 p.m. eastern in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

NEWSROOM continues right now with Brooke Baldwin.