Obama Criticized for Changing Stance on Terror Trials; Northrop
Grumman Will Not Bid on Refueling Tanker Contract - Part 2
|By Wolf Blitzer, Lisa Sylvester, Elizabeth Cohen, Gloria Borger|
<Show: THE SITUATION ROOM>
<Date: March 8, 2010>
<Head: Obama Criticized for Changing Stance on Terror Trials; Northrop Grumman Will Not Bid on Refueling Tanker Contract - Part 2>
<Sect: News; International>
BORGER: Sure.UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We go now live to another part of the studio where senior political analyst Gloria Borger will read a stranger's e- mail.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you. Wolf. This just in, Mike Dagastino from UC Davis writes, I think the real problem on campus is the food. Why I got to eat turkey burgers every day and why they don't serve dinner at 3 a.m when I hungry? And where my Frisbee at? Probing questions, Mike. Back to you, Wolf.
BORGER: Well, back to you, Wolf. Anytime Kristin can play me, I'm thrilled.
BLITZER: It was pretty cool.
BORGER: It was a lot of fun.
BLITZER: You're huge.
BORGER: My kids are thrilled.
BLITZER: I know. Good work. Gloria Borger will be back.
This note to our viewers, tomorrow major discussion here in THE SITUATION ROOM on education. Bill Bennett, the Reagan education secretary and Arne Duncan, the Obama education secretary, they're both here together. Is there areas of compromise, areas of bipartisan agreement? Differences? We'll talk about education, a major discussion tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We heard President Obama rail about Washington turning politics into sport. Does he have a point? We'll speak about it with James Carville and Ed Rollins. They're standing by for our strategy session.
The mystery and conflicting information surrounding an alleged al Qaeda operative arrested in Pakistan. Why there's so much confusion about who this man really is. Yet no one knows our name.
BLITZER: Let's go right back to Lisa. She is monitoring other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. A man charged with helping a terrorist organization in Somalia made an appearance in a New York courtroom this afternoon. A 13 page indictment unsealed today accused Mohammed Ahmed of training with the group al Shab, and providing material support. The state department lists this as a terrorist organization trying to impose strict Islamic law throughout Somalia. His lawyer says he'll plead not guilty.
A death row inmate in Ohio managed to overdose on pills just hours before his scheduled execution. Now Governor Ted Strickland is postponing the lethal injection for one week as Lawrence Reynolds, Jr. recovers at a hospital. The convicted murderer is said to be in stable condition. Now word on what kind of pills he took or how he managed to get them. An investigation is under way at the Ohio State Penitentiary in Youngstown.
And if a vaccine gives your child serious health problems, can you sue? The Supreme Court decided today it will take on the case. Parents in Pittsburgh want to sue Wyeth over the serious side effects they say their infant daughter suffered after she took the company's diphtheria tetanus and whooping cough vaccine, but an appeals court says a federal law bars their claim.
He's known by some as Rahm-bo. Are the tough politics of chief of staff Rahm Emanuel helping or hurting his boss's agenda? Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll have a good discussion on that with James Carville and Ed Rollins, Lisa. They're standing by for our strategy session.
Plus he started out as a comedian on Saturday Night Live so why is Senator Al Franken featured in a new comic book?
BLITZER: A developing story, significant developing story. Let's go back to Lisa.
Lisa, what are you picking up?
SYLVESTER: Wolf, this is a real significant development for anyone who has been following closely the story of the tanker. This is to build whether or not and where the next generation of air refueling tanker will be built, and we are just hearing that Northrop Grumman who was up against competition against Boeing, that Northrop Grumman has pulled out of the competition. We have a quote that we can read, this statement coming in from Northrop Grumman company CEO Wes Bush. He said the contract does not provide adequate value recognition of the added capability of a larger tanker precluding us from any competitive opportunity. To essentially break that down, what that means is Boeing was offering a smaller plane, the 767 as the model of what they would build. Northrop Grumman had a larger plane. Northrop Grumman was actually awarded the contract in 2008, but Boeing protested because they were opposing essentially the conditions, saying the pentagon changed some of the rules and requirements of what they were looking for. Boeing protested. Now in the end, you can see that Boeing is now the only competitor left so that this contract will likely go -- by the way, I should say Wolf, it's a $35 billion contract, really big win for workers in Washington state and Kansas, Wolf.
BLITZER: Significant story all around. Thanks very much, Lisa, for that.
The time for debate is over. When it comes to health care reform, President Obama is keeping Washington and the news media in the cross hairs. He was all fired up talking in Philadelphia earlier.
PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: Who won the news cycle? That's just how Washington is, they can't help it. They are obsessed with the sport of politics. And so that's the environment in which elected officials are operating. You've seen all the pundits pontificating and talking all over each other, yelling, shouting, and they can't help themselves. That's what they do.
BLITZER: Let's discuss what the president is saying with David Gergen, our senior political analyst and our CNN political contributors James Carville and Ed Rollins. James, you're smiling like that. In my many years here in Washington, whenever a politician goes after the news media like that, it's a sign of trouble for the politician.
JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It is. Maybe the president was surprised to find pundits when he came to Washington, but we've been around for quite a while. I don't know, we're probably not deserving of very much, but I don't know if we deserve all the attention we're getting from the president. But we're here and having here for a while and probably be around for a while.
BLITZER: He doesn't like that cable chatter. Ed, you're a part of that cable chatter.
ED ROLLINS, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: I've been -- I was in the white house when cable was in its infancy, but certainly it's had an impact. The bottom line he's the 44th man to serve in the oval office. Every single president at some point in time has complained about the media, whether it was pamphlet in the early days of George Washington or whether it's cable television in today. I've found the presidents have two great days in the white house, one the day they get inaugurated, and the second day is when they're out having their library dedicated and everything else between is trench warfare. I think if things aren't going well, there's no staff dissent. If things aren't going well, which they're not going well for this president, then there's a lot of staff dissent and they start a lot of finger pointing. I think this president comes off very whiney, and I think it's beneath him. He picked the agenda, he ran with the agenda. He's had a year to sell health care, he's not made a case to the American public, and at the end of the day, he can't whine about it.
BLITZER: David, if there was ever a president with favorable media attention, it was this president. He really did have a nice honeymoon as far as I can recall.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He had an extraordinary honeymoon as a candidate and the early days of his presidency. I think some points he's making are well taken. He and a number of his aides have been making these points incessantly for a period of weeks, but I think Ed Rollins has the bigger point. When you're president, you don't whine about these things, you learn to play the game well, and you master the game so that you get your things done. Everybody inherits politics in Washington that is imperfect. It's a terrible politics in Washington today. We believe the political culture is poison out, but the point is to learn to master it so that it responds to you. I think they ought to stop talking about these things and just get on with it.
BLITZER: I think that's an excellent point. Isn't that why there are David Axelrods or Robert Gibbs in the white house so they can whine about the coverage, but is it beneath the president to do so?
CARVILLE: He has the North Koreans to deal with, he's got the Iranians to deal with, he's got the Congress to deal with, he's got unemployment and collapse in the housing market. He's got enough to not worry about us flapping our jaws, but the truth of the matter is he's in a pretty good position to succeed. I think they're awfully close to having the votes on this health care thing which will be utterly historic, and if he gets this thing to his desk, we'll cover this thing like you've never seen. I think the economy a lot of people think it will create jobs before long, so look, Mr. President if you're coming in September with health care legislation and the economy is on the mend again, you'll be doing pretty good. Just give it a little time. Maybe this thing will may out your way, but we're not your problem.
BLITZER: You know, there's a lot of focus on Rahm Emanuel, the white house chief of staff, some people are saying the president should have listened more, others you say he's way out on the sides right now. How do you read -- what do you interpret this little battle over Rahm Emanuel.
ROLLINS: I've been on the opposite side of Rahm for a long time. He's one of the most able guys I've opposed. He has great skill, they're lucky to have him. At the end of the day when you're the chief of staff, no matter how able you are, whether Dick Cheney who was Ford's chief of staff or Jim Baker who was Ronald Reagan's chief of staff, you get beat up. He's getting beat up today. Part of it there's a bit of a profile problem. When you start getting front page stories saying how great you are, how smart you are, there's a bunch of people in the background who want to make sure they know you're not quite so smart. David and I have both fallen victim to this and probably did a bit of it, at the end of the day, Rahm has a tough job and I think he's been a real asset.
BLITZER: David, you worked with him in the Clinton white house.
GERGEN: I agree with Ed Rollins' assessment. I think the profiles are damaging in part, because they're doing so at the expend of the president. If the president had only been smart enough to listen to Rahm Emanuel, so goes the argument, he would be a much more effective leader right now. That's clearly not helpful. What he did the other day is call the aides and say stop this, he has to slam the gates shut on this conversation and then put his arm around Rahm Emanuel and the other aides, saying you're my guys, you're my team, let's go.
BLITZER: Wrap this up for us, James. I say that, knowing you're one of his best friends, we know that.
CARVILLE: Right. Right. You know what? He doesn't like these stories any more than other people in the white house like them. As soon as it runs in the paper in the morning, he can't eat breakfast. He knows they're not any good. They've taken a life on their own. The truth of the matter is realm's a compelling guy, and people like to write and talk about him. That's just the way it is. You know, just win, baby, get the health bill through, and get this economy on the mend, and you'll be a genius again and everybody will love everybody.
BLITZER: And more articles are on the way, including next Sunday's New York Times magazine has a major article by peter baker. Guys, thanks very much.
Dick Cheney's daughter Liz is getting heat from members of her own party. At issue, her group's criticism of lawyers who have represented terror suspects. Did she cross a line and undermine America's legal system? We'll hear what her critics and defenders are saying.
BLITZER: On our political ticker Senator Al Franken will soon be able to add comic book hero to his resume. Blue Water Productions says the comic Al Franken Political Power is due out in May and will trace his career from comedian and writer for Saturday Night Live to radio talk show host to junior senator from Minnesota. Other politicians featured in earlier comics include President Obama and President Reagan and the late Senator Ted Kennedy.
Karl Rove said he has nothing to do with the 2000 smear campaign against John McCain. The former aid to President George W. Bush insists he was not the source of the rumor during the presidential campaign that McCain fathered a black child out of wedlock, but Rove said he was an easy target for critics. That was a false rumor. The McCain's had adopted an orphan from Bangladesh.
President Obama welcomed the national championship University of Alabama football team to the white house today. He congratulated the Crimson Tide for their undefeated season and even joked about an aid not in attendance.
OBAMA: Welcome to the white house. Congratulations on your 13th --let me check that -- 13th national championship the first in 17 years. It's safe to say the Tide is back. I've got to tell you everyone was really excited about this team coming today except for my Press Secretary Robert Gibbs because he was born and raised in Auburn. He's hiding in his office right now.
BLITZER: The president received a football helmet and a jersey from the Alabama players.
An orphan pulled from the rubble who may not really be an orphan. We're going to earthquake-ravaged Haiti for the details of a complicated custody battle.
BLITZER: She was believed to be one of Haiti's many orphans. A baby girl dramatically rescued from the ruins of the deadly earthquake and brought to the United States. Now there are questions about whose baby this is. Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now, just back from Haiti where you have been investigating. What did you find out?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, this baby is very close to my heart. I was there in January watching as the doctors tried to rescue her. I never thought the story would continue like this.
COHEN: I was at this hospital in Port-au-Prince about seven weeks ago when I witnessed an incredible rescue of a tiny baby. She was just 2 months old when she was pulled from the rubble. She'd been there alone for five days. The baby girl was near death, barely breathing. Doctors from project Medishare at the University of Miami fought to stabilize her so they could fly her to a hospital in the United States. Doctors thought the baby was an orphan and told the ambulance driver they'd name the baby after her if she got to the plane on time and she did. The driver's name was Patricia. I thought it was a simple, happy ending, but it turns out the story is far from simple. A couple from Haiti has now come forward claiming that baby Patricia is their daughter. They say she's no orphan and that her name isn't Patricia, it's Jenny and they want her back.
We're told the parents live here in one of these tent cities. I'm going to try to find them.
What does that mean? It's beautiful.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time I think of Jenny, I want to go crazy. I lose my mind.
COHEN: This man and his wife say they are the baby's parents.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the baby's card.
COHEN: These are her vaccinations, doctors' notes.
You say this is your baby.
NADINE DEVILME: Yes, Jenny's my daughter.
COHEN: How does it feel as a mother to know your baby has just flown off without you to another country?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She said, I have a lot of problems, she said. I can't sleep. It's giving me a lot of problems. This is a bible I have had since the baby was born and the bible was under the baby's head always. She found the bible.
COHEN: So this baby says Jenny Alexis born November 1, 2009 at 10:00 p.m. I have told the story to many people and they say this is just a couple in Haiti that wants to get to the United States. They are claiming a baby that's not theirs. What do they say to that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We don't know about that, he said. We just have a baby that they took. They're helping us. They took the baby, but we're here and we're happy that they're helping the baby. But it's a help, but we need our baby.
COHEN: Wolf, I spoke with an official from the state of Florida just this afternoon. And he says there is no question in his mind that these babies are the parents'. He thinks the DNA tests will confirm it.
BLITZER: You will stay on top of this for us. Elizabeth, thank you so much.