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THE SITUATION ROOM
Ebola Hunt; Ferguson Misconduct?; New Video May Show Intruder Inside White House
Aired October 2, 2014 - 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: urgent Ebola hunt. Health officials scrambling to find up to 100 people who may have had contact with the U.S. Ebola patient and face a possible infection risk. I will talk to the nation's point man on infectious diseases.
Air travel jitters. The Ebola patient flew on three planes en route to Dallas, Texas. He wasn't contagious at the time, but what about the next infected traveler?
And a Ferguson exclusive. A shocking claim of misconduct in the grand jury investigating the Michael Brown shooting. I will speak with the woman whose Twitter account suggests an illegal leak.
Plus, new intruder video. Watch as what appears to be the White House fence jumper not only running up to the mansion, but moving around inside. We will share this video with you.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get right to the breaking news. Health authorities are making an urgent effort right now to reach up to 100 people in the Dallas area who may have had contact with the Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan.
Officials say that number is expected to drop, but so far they're monitoring more than a dozen, including schoolchildren who did have direct contact with him. Duncan's girlfriend and three family members are now in quarantine. They have been ordered to stay home until the danger of the infection can be ruled out.
But, still, inside that home with them, the patient's contaminated sheets and belongings. Officials now say those will be moved. Duncan was not symptomatic and thus not contagious when he flew from Liberia to the United States.
But Liberian authorities now say he lied, yes, he lied about being exposed to Ebola patients when he left that country and became ill, by the way, on September 24. That's four days after arriving in Dallas.
Our correspondents, our guests, they are all standing by with complete coverage this hour. Even as health workers scramble to stay ahead of the Ebola threat in the United States, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says, and I'm quoting him now, "We cannot make the risk zero."
Let's begin with our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, let's talk about this quarantine. Is it being done properly?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You have to ask yourself what the objective of quarantine is. One of the objectives is to keep the public safe. We have said over and over again, unless you are sick yourself, you are not going to really going to get people -- you are not going to be able to transmit the virus and make other people sick.
We know the people that are in quarantine are not sick, so this isn't really so much about keeping the public safe, this is more about keeping them in one location so that they can be monitored. Apparently the health officials were concerned that they might not stay in one location, they would be difficult to monitor.
Quarantine was the way they chose to actually enforce this. But Anderson's reporting earlier today about the conditions inside this apartment where they're being quarantined, that's pretty troubling.
You have areas of the apartment that have been contaminated with -- the sheets and the towels contaminated by this man, Mr. Duncan. We don't know how much of the virus is actually on those sheets and towels or how much could actually cause an infection. But, nevertheless, it just hasn't been cleaned.
It's not certainly a very good place for quarantine. It's not very dignified, Wolf, or very humane, I would say. It may achieve the purpose, but I don't think in the way that anybody anticipated it, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. It sounds like there was blunder after blunder after blunder, beginning with the fact that the guy goes to the hospital, just came to the United States from Liberia, tells authorities there he just came from Liberia and he's got a fever and they say go home, here's some antibiotics.
And then we're learning about these sheets and everything else. It really -- it's looks like a -- look at this, Sanjay. Look at this video. We're going to show it to viewers. Just before he was taken to the hospital, he was vomiting on a sidewalk outside the apartment. And then some guy goes over there to clean it up with no protective gear whatsoever and just sort of washes it down the drain.
That's not supposed to be done that way, is it?
GUPTA: No, it's not supposed to be done that way.
There are protocols for this sort of thing. There are again two issues here as well. One is, what is the risk to this man that is not protected in any way, even with what is known as droplet protection, just drying to keep droplets off of his body.
And the second is, you know, is there a concern to the general public? I will say that, in the United States, you know, because of water treatment facilities and the fact that this Ebola virus is -- it's a pretty fragile virus, it doesn't seem like the general public, that there's really any risk to them. I don't know what the risk is to him.
But what you're witnessing there, that's not the way it should be done. There's ways to clean this up. Some of that is well-known and well-documented. Frankly, in the building behind me, they have been going over some of those protocols for months just in anticipation of this.
So I will say, in contrast to Western Africa, we have sewer systems here. Many times, it's open sewage over there. You're seeing some of the same situation playing out over there, but being a much bigger risk to the general public.
But, again, Wolf, it just seems haphazard, this situation you mentioned with the patient going to the hospital, being sent home, given antibiotics for a viral infection. Antibiotics don't treat viral infections. He wasn't isolated. He wasn't tested. What is happening at the apartment and then certainly this very rudimentary cleanup. It just doesn't seem very well-coordinated, Wolf.
BLITZER: Everyone knows they were preparing for this possibility for not only weeks, but for months. You would have thought authorities would have had a better handle when that first Ebola patient does show up in the United States. Sanjay, stay with us.
This Ebola patient developed symptoms only after arriving in Dallas. He was sent home the first time he went to the hospital. In a CNN exclusive, Anderson Cooper has spoken now with the patient's girlfriend in Dallas who is under quarantine with three relatives.
Anderson is joining us now.
It's pretty shocking what you heard, Anderson. Tell our viewers.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Her name is Louise. We're just using her first name, at her request.
She's very concerned about safety and very concerned how other people are going to react to her and to her family. She is under quarantine. I spoke to her several hours ago on the telephone. This was the first time we had actually heard directly from her. Significantly, and the headline really is she was telling me though the CDC had been to her house and other local or state health officials had been there the previous night, today when I talked to her this afternoon, she still had the towels that Thomas Duncan had used and the sheets he had slept on in the bed with her, and that he had sweated through the night in.
Also, he had gotten -- he was ill. He had stomach issues. He was running to the bathroom a lot. But those sheets are still on the bed. She stopped sleeping in the bed on Tuesday. She has been sleeping on the couch in the living room, she says, but obviously that is the situation that needs to be dealt with. They need to figure out how to get rid of those sheets.
She put the towels in a plastic bag. They're just sitting there in the apartment. I talked to her about bringing Thomas Duncan to the hospital that first time. She accompanied him the first time. She did not accompany him the second time when he was brought by ambulance. That was her daughter who helped bring him to the hospital.
But the first time, she brought him to the hospital, this woman, Louise, brought him to the hospital. She didn't think about Ebola, she said. Mr. Duncan didn't mention anything about Ebola. And the people at the hospital certainly didn't raise any red flags when she says she twice mentioned Liberia.
Listen to what she said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So just to be clear, that first time you went and twice you told them he's from Liberia, nobody said anything to you then about, well, has he had any contact with somebody who may have had Ebola, they didn't ask him about Ebola, it didn't seem to register, the fact that he had come from Liberia?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, they did not ask.
COOPER: How was he over the weekend?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Friday, he came home and Saturday he started with the diarrhea. Sunday morning, my daughter took care of him and he was off and on, off and on.
Sunday morning, when I went to work, my daughter came back to bring his keys. That's who he -- he was real sick. And she called the ambulance.
COOPER: So it was your daughter who called the ambulance. What made her call the ambulance?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said he was shaking, really shaking. He was shaking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Louise wasn't sure if her daughter, who lives apart from her, is also under quarantine or not.
Apparently, Louise either didn't know or didn't want to say. But Louise is quarantined with one of her children, a 13-year-old, and two of her nephews who are in their 20s. All four of them in that apartment -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You would have thought, Anderson, I would have thought that as soon as they diagnosed that he did in fact have Ebola, the second time they brought him to the hospital, that the medical professionals, cleanup crews would have immediately gone to that apartment and started throwing away stuff that could have been contaminated, whether sheets, pillowcases, towels, and done a thorough job cleaning, but they clearly didn't. Did this woman tell you what happened?
COOPER: She indicated that that did not happen. She said some people from the CDC came to the apartment, informed her that she was not allowed to leave the apartment, said that she would face legal action if she did leave the apartment.
The next day, last night, Wednesday evening, I actually called her on the phone for the first time. She said some other health officials -- she couldn't remember who -- were actually at that apartment right then. She seemed to indicate they were either local or state health officials from Texas or from Dallas, but she was anticipating the CDC also coming.
She said the CDC would come by every day, supposedly. They hadn't been there when I talked to her several hours ago. But it sounded like it was up to her to kind of clean up her apartment. She said she had some bleach, some Clorox, but the towels they were just sitting there in a plastic bag, not a secure plastic bag, not anything she had been given, apparently, and the sheets were still on the bed, this bed that she had slept in, that the patient had slept in, and clearly sweated through and had difficulty in throughout the night.
BLITZER: What a horrific, horrific situation. Hard to believe stuff can happen right here in the United States of America. Anderson, thanks very much for your reporting.
An important note to our viewers. You can see Anderson's exclusive interview with this woman later tonight on "A.C. 360." That's 8:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.
The fact that the Texas Ebola patient flew to the United States just before he became ill is making some travelers pretty jittery right now about the possible spread of the deadly virus. Another concern, a Liberian official now says the patient lied about Ebola exposure when he left Liberia.
Our aviation correspondent, Rene Marsh, is joining us from right outside of Washington, D.C., at Dulles International Airport. That was one of the stops he made on his way to Dallas.
What's the latest? What are you hearing over there, Rene?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This was one of the stops, Wolf.
He had a three-hour layover here. What we know tonight is that United Airlines, he was on two United Airlines flights. We know the airline at this point they are reaching out to all of the passengers who were on board these two flights. We also know that the airline tells us that both planes were thoroughly cleaned with heavy-duty disinfectant.
MARSH (voice-over): Passengers at Washington Dulles International Airport where Thomas Eric Duncan infected with Ebola first landed in the United States. All three planes he flew on are still in operation. U.S. customs officers are giving this flyer to passengers arriving from Ebola impacted countries. It warns of the symptoms and what to do if they develop them.
The officers are trained to identify passengers showing obvious signs of sickness. But if there are no signs, they will be able to enter the U.S. without being stopped.
DR. WILLIAM SCHAFFNER, INFECTIOUS DISEASE EXPERT: We will have patients -- people, they are not patients yet -- who come over from West Africa. They're healthy but then become ill while they are here and present to a hospital.
MARSH: Experts say that means there's a reasonable chance another Ebola patient will enter the U.S. No symptoms of Ebola indicates the person is not contagious but that could change over a long trip or be missed by a screening.
SCHAFFNER: The most important thing they are doing is asking a question about contact. That's important, but could be faked. But then they are also taking their temperatures.
MARSH: In 2012, CNN went behind the scenes on a United Airlines plane and saw a quick cleaning. During quick turnarounds, the priority is visible dirt.
STEPHANIE BUCHANAN, V. P. , HOUSTON HUB, UNITED AIRLINES: We can have as little as 40 minutes and maybe as much as an hour and a half sometimes, but usually the lesser time. When the planes come in, everybody has to work as quickly as they can to get everything turned and ready for the flight to go out again.
MARSH: Longer layovers allow for different cleanings, which include disinfectants. There are also special international protocols for more hazardous cleanups, disinfecting after an event is also critical, as body fluids such as respiratory secretions, blood, vomit and feces may contain infectious agents that could be transmitted if not properly contained. The U.S. government has not told the airlines to stop flying to Ebola
impacted countries. And, United Airlines, which has a night to Nigeria, says they will continue to fly until the government says otherwise.
SCHAFFNER: I don't think people should be concerned about flying. In fact, I would hope that the airlines continue to fly to West Africa. Those countries' economies are fragile enough. We need business people going in. We need goods coming in.
(END VIDEOTAPE) MARSH: Brussels Airlines, which is the carrier which flew this
man from Liberia to Belgium, says that they will continue to fly to the area. They say it is their humanitarian duty to continue to fly supplies, medicine, and health care workers to the region -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Rene, just quickly. He had a seven-hour layover in Brussels before boarding that United flight and then another three- hour layover where you are at Washington Dulles, is that right?
MARSH: The times we have, we know it took him six hours to get to Brussels. Then he traveled for eight hours on that plane, a United flight, here to Dulles. He was laid over for three hours here at Dulles. Then he got on a two-and-a-half-hour flight to Dallas. And that was the final destination, Wolf.
BLITZER: Rene Marsh at Washington's Dulles International Airport, thank you.
Let's go in depth right now. Joining us now, one of the great experts on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci. He's the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at NIH, the National Institutes of Health.
Dr. Fauci, what do you make? You're a blunt guy and you understand what's going on. The fact that no one went into that apartment and got rid of the sheets and got rid of the towels got rid of the contaminated material, if you will, didn't clean it up, just allowed it to linger there while there were children and this woman that were living there, what do you make of that?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: Well, obviously if that indeed happened, that should not have happened.
So that needs to be corrected, not only for this particular situation here, but for any possible future situations. I don't know, Wolf. I'm not familiar with why that happened and why the capability of being able to remove that was not implemented. So I can't comment on it, except to say hopefully that gets corrected.
BLITZER: How long can that virus, for example, be contagious if it's allowed to linger from the sweat, let's say, on a sheet or pillowcase or a towel?
FAUCI: It's not a very hardy virus. It's pretty fragile.
We do know from experience of people getting infected at funerals that a dead body, for example, when you have materials such as body fluids still on the body, when you're getting, cleaning it or touching the body during a funeral ceremony, that it can be transmitted there.
But it's not something that stays for days and days. It's probably a matter of hours or so. That has not been specifically tested, so there's no real definitive data on that, except to know that it isn't a particularly hardy virus. It's rather fragile. BLITZER: I asked the question because I'm sure this woman who
was left in that apartment, those little kids who are in the apartment, the older people who are in the apartment, how worried should they be right now? And we won't know for up to 21 days whether or not they were infected. But realistically how worried should they and their loved ones be?
FAUCI: Well, you can't quantitate how worried they can be.
They certainly constitute someone that is a contact. They were in the apartment with Mr. Duncan, so they are a primary contact. So what will happen is that hopefully they will get the room cleaned up so that any further danger is essentially eliminated.
But they will have to be watched as a primary contact for at least 21 days to make sure they don't get a fever or they get symptoms. And if they do, then they would have to be isolated in the sense of making sure that the people who take care of them do so with the proper protective equipment if they get symptoms and if they get AIDS, but -- Ebola.
But, hopefully, that whether -- they will get through this without having gotten infected.
BLITZER: Hopefully, indeed. We can only hope that that happens.
I want you, Dr. Fauci, to stand by. We have much more to discuss, the breaking news unfolding on this Ebola crisis that is unfolding in Dallas, Texas, right now. More with Dr. Fauci right after this.
BLITZER: Let's back to the breaking news, an urgent hunt to find up to 100 people who may have had contact with an Ebola patient in Texas, even as family members exposed to the patient are in a lockdown situation in a Dallas home right now.
We're back with Dr. Anthony Fauci. He's the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Dr. Fauci, I spoke earlier in the day with Mr. Duncan's half- brother, Wilfred Smallwood. He lives in Phoenix, but he has a 21- year-old son who was in that apartment with Mr. Duncan when he got ill from Ebola. He's clearly very, very concerned about his son and the other people who are in that apartment. Listen to what he told me.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILFRED SMALLWOOD, HALF-BROTHER OF THOMAS ERIC DUNCAN: Everybody is skeptical. This way, we're hearing the information he was sweating all along and the house has not been cleaned and they are quarantined there, that's a major problem to us, to everybody. That worries me now.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: "That worries me now," he says, understandably so.
And I will repeat the question. How worried should this individual, Mr. Smallwood, be right now about his 21-year-old son who is in that apartment?
FAUCI: Well, Wolf, when you say how worried should they be, they clearly are at a risk because of the contact with Mr. Duncan when Mr. Duncan was actively very ill in that apartment.
So there is a risk. You can't quantitate it and give a percentage, but the person will have to be watched very, very carefully, monitored for symptoms over a period of at least 21 days, which is the outer limit of the incubation period. So you don't want people to get overly worried. But there is a concern that he may have been infected and that's the reason you monitor people, either under a quarantine situation, or if you monitor them where they're on their own and they report back to you with either a temperature determination or symptoms.
BLITZER: I want to play another clip for you, Dr. Fauci. This is from Thomas Frieden. He's from the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. This is what he said about how many people may be involved, may have been in some sort of contact with Mr. Duncan after he came down with Ebola symptoms. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION: I think handful is the right characterization. We know that there are several family members. There may have been one or two or three other community members and we're there to do additional investigation to identify any other possibilities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Here's the problem I have, Dr. Fauci. It went from a handful. Yesterday, they were saying maybe 18 or 20. Today, they're saying they got to take like 100, maybe 100-plus people. What's going on here?
FAUCI: Well, there's nothing that's really incompatible there, Wolf.
What Tom Frieden, what Dr. Frieden was saying was that the people who are really the absolute contacts are probably going to be about 18 to 20. The 80 to 100 number is a much wider net that isn't necessarily everybody that you're going to follow on a daily basis for 21 days.
But you want to, out of an abundance of caution, identify people and determine if they really are a true contact or not. So they're not saying that there are 80 to 100 absolute verified contacts. They're going to throw the net out to make sure they don't miss anybody. And out of that 80 to 100, it is very likely there will be a much smaller group that are true contacts. So Dr. Frieden didn't say anything that was inconsistent.
BLITZER: All right, let me ask you one final question, Dr. Fauci. This experimental Ebola drug, ZMapp, as it's called, you know it was given to those two Americans who were brought back from West Africa with Ebola , Dr. Kent Brantly and Nancy Writebol.
It may or may not helped in saving their lives. They're both OK right now. Why aren't they giving this experimental drug to Mr. Duncan?
FAUCI: Because there isn't any left, Wolf. It's as simple as that.
This is a drug in which there were very few doses that were available. They have essentially all been used up. The company is now trying to manufacture and is manufacturing more. But there won't be any available for at least a month-and-a-half to two months. The fact is, there's just no ZMapp to give to Mr. Duncan.
BLITZER: Do you believe that ZMapp works?
FAUCI: I can't tell. I don't know if it worked.
And certainly we don't have definitive proof that it worked. It looked pretty good in an animal model and it was given empirically to people just on an emergency basis. When you have so few people getting it and nobody to compare them with, it's very difficult to say. Anecdotally, people say, well, you felt good. But a couple of the people who got the ZMapp actually died.
So at this point, Wolf, it's impossible to say whether ZMapp is very effective, slightly effective, or not effective at all. We just can't say.
BLITZER: We know in West Africa, there's been almost, what, 7,000 cases of Ebola and about at least half of the people who came down with the disease are now dead. Those are pretty awful odds. Are there reasons that younger people, kids may be more vulnerable to death than older people; is that a factor?
FAUCI: No, we don't know that for sure.
But like any other viral illness, if you have infants who don't have a very well-developed immune system or the elderly, who have an immune system that is now getting old and is now as efficient as in a young, healthy person, those are the kinds of people that generally do more poorly with serious viral infections. We see that clearly every year with the influenza, and that really spills over into other viral infections.
BLITZER: Dr. Fauci, we always appreciate having you with us here with us in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thank you very much.
FAUCI: Good to be with you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, a CNN exclusive. Prosecutors are investigating new allegations of misconduct by the Ferguson, Missouri, grand jury and the woman at the center of the probe is now speaking out to CNN. The interview, that is coming up next.
And our panel is standing by to weigh in on her comments and debate what happens next in the Michael Brown investigation.
BLITZER: We know in West Africa there's been almost, what, 7,000 cases of Ebola and about at least half of the people who came down with the disease are now dead. Those are pretty -- pretty awful odds. Are there reasons that younger people, kids may be more vulnerable to death than older people, is that -- is that a factor?
FAUCI: We don't know that for sure. But like any other viral illness, if you have infants who don't have a very well-developed immune system or the elderly, who have an immune system that is now getting old and is not as efficient as in a young, healthy person, those are the kinds of people that generally do more poorly with serious viral infections. We see that very clearly every year with influenza, and that really spills over into other viral infections.
BLITZER: Dr. Fauci, we always appreciate having you here with us in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thank you very much.
FAUCI: Good to be with you.
BLITZER: Just ahead, a CNN exclusive. Prosecutors are investigating new allegations of misconduct by the Ferguson, Missouri grand jury, and the woman at the center of the probe is now speaking out to CNN. The interview, that's coming up next.
And our panel is standing by to weigh in on her comments and debate what happens next in the Michael Brown investigation.
BLITZER: Prosecutors in Ferguson, Missouri, they're now investigating a shocking new claim of misconduct in the grand jury that's hearing the Michael Brown case.
There are now new allegations that a juror actually discussed evidence in the case with a friend, who then posted those details on Twitter, saying there isn't enough evidence to indict the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown nearly two months ago.
CNN's Sara Sidner has an exclusive interview with this woman, with this friend. Sarah, tell us what you learned.
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we did talk to the woman. We actually found her before the prosecutor's office found her. And this is what she told me when we knocked on her door.
SIDNER (voice-over): This is the tweet that's prompted an investigation into the grand jury deciding whether or not to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson, who shot and killed unarmed teenager Michael Brown. The tweet was sent from a St. Louis woman's account and says, "I know someone sitting on the grand jury of this case. There isn't enough at this point to warrant an arrest. #Ferguson"
The tweet sparked suspicion that someone on the grand jury had broken the law and leaked information from proceedings that are supposed to be secret until a decision is made.
The prosecuting attorney's office wouldn't give details of the investigation, but we found the owner of that Twitter account. She is denying to CNN she sent the tweet and doesn't want to be identified.
(on camera): Was that your account that the tweet was sent from?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, it was my account, but I haven't used it. So I'm not sure if someone had hacked into it, because it had been hacked before. But, you know, sending out a bunch of spam mails or whatever they call it. And so it's like I quit using it, because I'm like this is, you know, it's silly.
SIDNER: Did you know someone, though, on the grand jury?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, I didn't.
SIDNER: Have you talked to the prosecuting attorney's office?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I left a message with his assistant. I'm not sure what her name is, because when I called, I got the voice mail.
SIDNER: Have they contacted you and said anything to you and told you how important this is?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. No, they haven't.
SIDNER (voice-over): Both the tweet and the Twitter account were deleted by Wednesday night.
The St. Louis County court administrator told CNN in a statement concerning the tweet, "The matter has been referred to the prosecuting attorney for investigation. The court will hear the matter and take appropriate action if the prosecutor finds cause to believe misconduct has occurred."
But the tweet itself has already done some damage, enflaming suspicions over whether the justice system will be fair and impartial in a case that inspired protests, which continue nearly two months since the shooting of Michael Brown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bless his soul. Police shot this boy outside my apartment.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SIDNER: And we have to tell you that, before that tweet was
deleted and before the entire page was deleted, hundreds of people shared that tweet, and people are talking about it here. The only thing that's keeping the protests from getting bigger is the rain, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Sara, thanks very much. Sara Sidner joining us from Ferguson.
Let's dig a little bit deeper right now with our panel. Joining us, our CNN anchor Don Lemon; CNN legal analyst Sunny Hostin; and John Gaskin, he's a board member of the NAACP. Guys, thanks very much.
Don, what's your reaction to this? Like me, you're pretty active on Twitter. Do you believe her Twitter account was hacked?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: I believe it in the same way that Anthony Weiner's Twitter account was hacked, and that it wasn't Anthony Weiner's private parts on the Internet. Listen, anything is possible, innocent until proven guilty, but everything that I've heard her say seems a bit suspicious to me. And that's been the problem the whole time for people with this grand jury process.
BLITZER: Sunny, if this is true, does that mean the whole grand jury has to be officially investigated right now? What happens next?
SUNNY HOSTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No question about it. I mean, the court will make a determination as to whether or not it's true. And you really have to err on the side of being very careful, because grand jury proceedings are supposed to be secret. That's the rule; that is the very nature of the grand jury.
So yes, they will have to be polled, each and every grand juror. And in my view, Wolf, if this is true, if one of the grand jurors sitting in this secret proceeding, talked to someone else about the proceeding, that means you have to start from scratch. You don't just bounce that grand juror and bring in another one. It means to me that the entire process has been tainted.
But what has bothered me about this case from the very beginning is this is not a case, Wolf, that needed to go in front of the grand jury. This is a case that a prosecutor, if anything, would just make the charging decision, as prosecutors do often.
Remember, in the Zimmerman case, Angela Cory did not bring that case in front of a grand jury. She charged George Zimmerman, and it went to trial.
BLITZER: John, how concerned are you that this incident could stoke tensions, frustration within the community?
JOHN GASKIN, NAACP BOARD MEMBER: We're very concerned. You know, we think the prosecutor's office should proceed with an abundance of caution, because as tense as things are in Ferguson, as leery as people are about the justice system and this process, they don't have very much confidence, if any at all, in it. You know, this is very volatile. It has the potential to be very dangerous. And we can't afford for this type of investigation, for this type of process to be compromised.
I certainly hope that they can get to the bottom of what happened, and if necessary, take the necessary steps to ensure that this investigation moves in the proper direction, because people are very impatient. We're looking for answers, and we need this thing to head in the right direction as soon as possible.
LEMON: Wolf -- Wolf, why not start another anonymous Twitter account from an undisclosed location from a computer that no one uses or a coffee shop? Why would you hack some -- a random person's Twitter account? That, to me, is what doesn't really make sense here. There are many ways that you can put out this information on Twitter without hacking. As I said, it is possible, but it just sounds a little bit odd.
BLITZER: And Sunny, correct me if I'm wrong, but members of the grand jury, they're not even supposed to discuss the case with each other, let alone with outsiders, right?
HOSTIN: That's correct. I mean, they shouldn't be speaking to each other about it until they have -- until the decision needs to be made as to whether or not they will indict. And they certainly shouldn't be speaking to anyone. They shouldn't, outside of the grand jury process.
And Wolf, they're not supposed to be watching television. They're not supposed to be reading the newspaper. I mean, this is a secretive process on a very, very high-profile case.
I think what is just so odd, though, about it, again, is the fact that this prosecuting attorney is bringing so many witnesses in front of the grand jury. It's taking a very, very long time to put all this evidence in front of the grand jury. And this is just simply not how it is done.
I have prosecuted, you know, many, many cases and presented cases in front of the grand jury. And basically, you generally just put one investigating officer in front of the grand jury and ask the grand jury to decide on whether or not there is enough information, probable cause to go forward with an indictment.
So the way this is being done is so highly unusual and -- that I'm not surprised that people have lost confidence in the system. It's just simply not done this way.
BLITZER: And this grand jury apparently only meets once a week. And if they have to start from scratch, right now they were saying it was going to be January at the earliest they might come up with some sort of decision. If they have to start from scratch, who knows when they'll come up with some sort of decision. A very, very worrisome development.
Guys, thank you very much. Don Lemon will be back later tonight, 10 p.m. Eastern, "CNN TONIGHT." You want to catch his show, only here on CNN.
John Gaskin, Sunny Hostin, thanks to you, as well.
Just ahead, we'll have much more coverage of the breaking news out of Dallas, including the urgent search for up to 100 people who may have been exposed to the Ebola patient.
And a stunning report that the agencies meant to protect all of us from an outbreak like Ebola may be wholly unprepared to handle one after years of budget cuts. Stand by. We have new information for you.
BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news: authorities are hunting for up to 100 people that may have been exposed to Ebola by a patient who became ill after flying from Liberia to Texas. And there's new concern right now that federal spending limits are hampering the urgent Ebola public health effort.
Chris Frates of CNN Investigations has been looking into this.
Chris, what are you discovering?
CHRIS FRATES, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I'll tell you, Wolf, lawmakers and public health officials say that years of budget cuts have hurt their ability to respond to threats like Ebola.
FRATES (voice-over): As officials race to contain the threat of Ebola, a top lawmaker says years of budget cuts have made the job harder than it should be.
REP. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D), MARYLAND: There's no doubt that the deep health care cuts that we've seen have made it more difficult to respond in a rapid and comprehensive way to the Ebola outbreak. They're doing everything they can with the resources they have now. But the cuts they've seen in past years are like -- they were like eroding the foundation, and it clearly meant that they were starting from behind.
FRATES: Two of the main players in the fight against Ebola have seen hundreds of millions of dollars cut from their budgets in the last few years. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention saw their discretionary funding cut by $585 million between 2010 and 2014. And a National Institutes of Health saw their budget slashed $446 million over the last four years.
When across-the-board budget cuts in 2013 slashed the CDC's budget by $289 million, officials said the impacts included reduced ability to ensure global disease protection. In alarming testimony on Capitol Hill, a top NIH official recently spelled out in stark terms how dire the situation has become.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIR., NATL. INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY & INFECTIOUS DISEASE: I have to tell you honestly, it's been a significant on us. In my institute particularly that's responsible for responding on the dime to an emerging infectious disease threat, this is particularly damaging.
FRATES: Now, Wolf, when I talked to Congressman Van Hollen, he said to expect a big battle next year over these spending cuts. And you can be sure that the Ebola crisis and how we respond to it will definitely be part of that debate.
BLITZER: They spend money for a lot of other stuff. This is a pretty urgent matter.
Chris Frates, thanks very much for that report.
Let's dig a little bit deeper now with our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger.
Gloria, how much of this is Congress' fault?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: A lot of it is Congress' fault, but I think there's plenty of blame to go around. You know, in 2011, you remember, and, Chris, you remember, Congress couldn't make the tough decisions.
So, what they -- on the budget. So, what they decided to punt and come up with a plan that they felt was so draconian that Congress couldn't possibly keep it going, and that is across the board spending cuts.
So, social welfare, defense, whatever it was, gets cut the same amount. They were like, even in Congress, we couldn't possibly keep this going. Well, guess what? They did keep it going, because it's the path of least resistance. It's the easiest thing to do.
Until, of course, you come up against a crisis like this with Ebola, and you dig deeper and you realize -- wait a minute, we don't have the resources that we would have had, had we been able to go over the budget line by line the way they're paid to do.
BLITZER: You know, the president delivered a speech today on the economy, trying to tout how it's improved over the past six years in a whole different range of categories. But when you have all these other problems, people aren't focusing on what the message he's trying to do five weeks before the midterm elections.
Look at this video, for example. This is video. This is Omar Gonzalez. He was running in the White House. He's the fence jumper, running in the White House.
You can see there, he's -- then he gets into the East Room. Take a look at this. Look at that arrow. You can see it. He get suppose the East Room.
So, you have issues like the Secret Service scandal, issues like Ebola, issues like ISIS, it's distracting from the president's message.
BORGER: Sure. You know, it's interesting to me today, too, Wolf, because let me point out that the president's message today, part of his economic message is that the deficit is going down. One of the reasons the deficit is actually going down is because of these draconian, across-the-board cuts that nobody wanted and that nobody says, oh, that was a great idea.
However, Wolf, taking a step back, this is a president, second term, thinking about his legacy, wanted to do things like immigration reform, wanted to tackle energy issues in a big way. And instead, he's got all these other issues, not to mention Iraq and Syria, in addition to these issues on the home front now with Ebola, questions with the Secret Service, that go right to the question of, what's your legacy going to be? And, by the way, the competency of your administration?
And he sees his popularity kind of flatting out, you know, and it's -- he's having difficulty in the midterm elections. He's not being asked to go campaign for a whole bunch of people, raising a lot of money, but not out there as much as he probably would like to be on the campaign trail.
BLITZER: He's got some political problems, to be sure.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Gloria Borger, helping us better appreciate what's going on.
Just ahead, he's been all over the world, but in his new season, CNN's Anthony Bourdain finally checks out one country on his bucket list. Which one is it? We'll tell you.
There he is. Anthony Bourdain standing by live. He'll join us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Anthony Bourdain is back.
CNN's Emmy and Peabody Award-winning show is returning this fall with episodes from Shanghai to the Bronx, and way beyond and special stop in one of the world's most isolated societies, at least for now, Iran. The host of "PARTS UNKNOWN", Anthony Bourdain is joining us right now.
Always good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Let's talk about Iran, because you went there. We're going to see the episodes in a few weeks. But after -- you spoke with two Iranian journalists, and what happened to them after you met with them in Iran?
ANTHONY BOURDAIN, HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": Well, one is an American, an Iranian-American, a "Washington Post" correspondent, Jason Rezaian. Shortly after we left Iran, they were both arrested or have not been seen, or as far as I know, heard from since.
And two lovelier people you could hardly imagine, two people more proud of Iran, who they identify with their country very closely, in no way did by word or deed did they say or do anything that reflected badly on the country. They were happy to have me and talk about this little known culture, an ancient empire of misunderstood country and culture. It is beyond logic that they should not be with us and free.
BLITZER: It's so frustrating because these are excellent people, excellent journalists. They didn't do anything against Iran. If anything, they're trying to help Iran, and yet they simply speak to an American reporter who goes there to do a piece about Iran, and all of a sudden, they get picked up and they disappear.
What do they say to U.S., European, other authorities, and a lot of people I know have tried to intervene on their behalf?
BOURDAIN: First, there's really been no -- there's been no accounting of why they were even arrested, or what they've been accused of. It's unmanageable to me. Two better ambassadors for understanding could hardly be imagined.
And I have to say, I'm particularly dismayed as our time in Iran was shocking, surprising, confusing. People were lovely to us everywhere. Seldom have I walked down the street with a group of other Americans and being treated so well by total strangers at every level of society. It seemed like a hopeful time. People were happy to see us and we were happy to see them. The food was fantastic and Jason and his wife were supportive and enthusiastic that the world would get to see this.
What's happened and why, I will leave to smarter people than me to speculate. But I'm -- I hope that our time there was not just a blip in a moment of history. It felt like an opening of a window and I hope that window hasn't shut.
BLITZER: We hope so too. And know this has deeply impacted you. You usually come back from someplace impacted by the food. But in this particular case, it's a very, very serious issue and we hope these two journalists are freed and freed quickly.
Tony, thanks very much.
BOURDAIN: Thank you.
BLITZER: And to our viewers, important notes. You could catch "ANTHONY BOURDAIN: PARTS UNKNOWN" later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. His episode on Shanghai. And all new episode this Sunday night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only here on CNN. And he goes of all places, to the Bronx in New York City. You're going to want to catch that amazing work.
Remember, you can follow us on Twitter. Go ahead and tweet me @WolfBlitzer. You can tweet the show @CNNSitroom. You can always watch us live, DVR the show if you don't want to miss a moment.
Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.