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JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS

Life & Death in Florida; Privacy vs. Justice?; 'Inside the Blogs'

Aired February 25, 2005 - 15:29   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
ANNOUNCER: Divisive social issues across the map from the right to die to gay unions to late-term abortion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need an attorney general, not an abortion general.

ANNOUNCER: The controversial attack on the AARP.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: AARP is the largest left liberal lobbying organization on the planet.

ANNOUNCER: Now the senior citizens' lobbying group is ready to fight back.

He's an NFL hall of famer. But is Lynn Swann's next play going to be in politics?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. Judy is off today. I'm Candy Crowley.

We begin with some of the hottest social issues as they unfold across America today. First, the right to die debate in Florida.

A short while ago, a judge extended an order which is blocking the removal of a feeding tube sustaining the life of a brain-damaged woman. For the latest on the Terri Schiavo case, we want to go to CNN's John Zarrella in Miami -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Candy.

Well, Judge Greer has in fact given Terri Schiavo at least three more weeks, saying today in an order released just a few minutes ago that he would set a time and date certain for the removal of that feeding tube. That time and date, three weeks from today, March 18, at 1:00 p.m.

The judge saying he is not issuing a stay, but in effect, it is a stay. What he is doing is giving the family time for -- to say last rites, to get things in order, and to appeal his denial of the stay to higher courts.

The judge, Judge Greer, saying he's really gotten tired after five years of issuing stays upon stays. So the family and -- and so both sides can continue to appeal rulings when there will always be new issues. So at this point the judge saying, any other stays will have to come from a higher court. Otherwise, March 18, 1:00 p.m., three weeks from today, is the date that the feeding tube would be removed from Terri Schiavo.

Of course we know that a year and a half ago the Florida legislature at the 11th hour, after her feeding tube had been removed, passed hastily Terri's Law, giving Governor Bush the authority to have her feeding tube reinserted. That law eventually overturned by the United States Supreme Court.

The governor a couple of days ago, asked what he would do this time if there was anything he could do, and he said, if he could, he would, it wasn't likely, but...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: I'm not going to grandstand. I'm not going to, you know, do something that would be completely inappropriate and disrespectful of the laws of the state of Florida.

And having said that, if there are good ideas that emerge that can be done through legislation, or if the executive has powers that have not -- that we're not aware of, and they bring them to our attention and they're thoroughly vetted, I will take action if it's appropriate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ZARRELLA: Now, the Catholic Church's Pontifical Council for Truth and Justice today is asking that Terri Schiavo not be removed from the feeding tube, saying that it is a further leading of the United States towards euthanasia. So the Catholic Church once again taking a stand.

Of course the family has been saying right along that Terri, being Roman Catholic, and that the church's stand is against the removal of any kind of life support or feeding tubes, would be against this. So a little bit of political pressure being applied by the Vatican today. Although it is -- did not affect the way the judge ruled.

And Florida's Department of Children and Families had gotten into the case as well a couple days ago, saying it wanted 60 days to investigate allegations of neglect and abuse during the last years. But the judge, again, did not take that up, saying that was for another day, another time. And so we don't know where that will go at this point.

So Candy, it looks as if, unless there are stays by higher courts in this case, that Terri Schiavo's feeding tube will be removed three weeks from today at 1:00 p.m. -- Candy. CROWLEY: So, John, just to clarify, this judge has said rightly that he's gotten a lot of these appeals over the past five years. So he is now done with it. What is the next court that it might go to, and has it been there before? Because this has been going on for some time.

ZARRELLA: Well, there are the other issues. Now, he has said no on -- guardianship is one of the issues that they would like, that Michael Schiavo should not be her guardian, that she did not get proper representation, no due process, because she herself was not appointed an attorney. Michael Schiavo, being the guardian, represented her.

So these will be issues that can be appealed, along with the Catholic Church issue, that she's Roman Catholic and that the church would not want her to die. All those can be appealed to the 2nd District Court of Appeals. Ultimately, could go up to the U.S. Supreme Court again. But it may well be that these decisions come fast and furious over the next two to three weeks -- Candy.

CROWLEY: John Zarrella in Miami. Thanks, John.

We want to remind our viewers that we do expect the parents of Terri Schiavo to have a news conference. We are watching for that, and of course we'll bring it to you.

Now to a new battle in the political battle over abortion. Two clinics that provide abortions are asking the Kansas Supreme Court to protect their patients' records from the state attorney general.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY (voice-over): The right to privacy versus a criminal investigation in Kansas. The state attorney general wants the medical records of nearly 90 women and girls who have had abortions. Some suspect the targets are doctors who provide illegal late-term abortions. But Phill Kline says he's investigating possible child sex abuse.

PHILL KLINE, KANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: As the state's chief law enforcement official, it is my obligation to investigate child rape in order to protect Kansas children.

CROWLEY: In Kansas, it is illegal, with some exceptions, for doctors to perform an abortion after five-and-a-half months and illegal to have sex with anyone under 16 years of age. An Associated Press report says in court papers two unidentified clinics called the AG's request a fishing expedition, arguing unless the Kansas Supreme Court intervenes, the women's right to privacy will be sacrificed.

The papers indicate the women involved do not know their medical records are being sought because the clinics are under a gag order. There are no such restrictions for the Kansas legislature.

PAUL DAVIS (D), KANSAS STATE SENATE: I think there are more serious issues that the attorney general needs to be directing his attention to, and I think we need an attorney general, not an abortion general.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The state's interest outweighs the privacy interest when there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.

CROWLEY: Medical records could include details of a woman's sex life, her birth control practices, and a psychological profile. The AP says the clinics have offered to deliver edited information, excluding, among other things, names and addresses.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CROWLEY: This story will provide plenty of fuel for debate between Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile later on INSIDE POLITICS.

Connecticut's legislature is moving closer to legalizing civil unions for same-sex couples. A key committee approved a measure yesterday that could make Connecticut the first state to recognize civil unions through legislative action rather than court order. Proponents say they expect the measure to be approved by the state house and senate, but Republican governor M. Jodi Rell has not said whether she would sign it.

Here in Washington, there is always plenty of political controversy. Some Democrats are objecting to a Social Security administrator's role in a campaign to promote President Bush's plan to overhaul the system. "The New York Times" reports Deputy Social Security Commissioner James Lockhart has been joining Republican lawmakers at events advocating personal retirement accounts. Lockport told "The Times" he attended the events to provide information, not to endorse the key element of Mr. Bush's reform plan.

The Social Security debate took another negative turn this week in the form of an ad campaign targeting AARP. A conservative lobbying group called USA Next is going after the seniors group for its opposition to the president's plan to create the private retirement accounts. Yesterday, Judy discussed the ad with David Certner, the director of federal affairs for AARP.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID CERTNER, DIRECTOR, FEDERAL AFFAIRS, AARP: Well, this shows the absurdity of this debate, that someone would try to take a Social Security debate and somehow try to bring in the military and homosexuality. This has nothing to do with this debate and nothing to do with AARP's positions. AARP doesn't have a position on homosexuality, or, quite frankly, on the war.

JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: What about on the Ohio amendment to the Constitution?

CERTNER: There was an issue in Ohio dealing with heterosexual couples living together. As you may know, some elderly couples, men and women, do live together, have unions for different reasons, having nothing to do with homosexuality. And that was an aspect of the amendment that we had concerns with. But obviously it has nothing to do with the gay issue.

WOODRUFF: Well, and on the picture of the soldier, the rex "X" through that, Mr. Jarvis said the soldier was there because he said AARP doesn't take a position on veterans and combat and veterans health and support in expansion of their assets. What does he...

CERTNER: Well, I have no idea what he's even talking about. But to suggest that AARP members and the greatest generation somehow doesn't support the fighting men and women and their health care and pension benefits, that's part of what this debate is all about, quite frankly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: That was David Certner of the AARP. His group, we should note, is waging its own ad campaign on the Social Security debate. This print ad has run in major newspapers in recent days under the heading of "If you have a problem with the sink, you don't tear down the entire house."

The ad describes private accounts as an extreme measure. It also asks readers to call their legislators to urge them to oppose private accounts.

In other news of interest to seniors and others, questions about an FDA drug advisory panel that voted to keep three popular pain relievers on the market. "The New York Times" reports that 10 of the 32 members of the panel have served as consultants for the companies which manufacture the drugs. "The Times" reports that if the 10 had not cast votes on the continued marketing of Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra, the committee would have voted against returning Vioxx to the market and in favor of pulling Bextra off the market.

Critics say potential conflicts of interest are a longstanding problem on FDA drug panels. But a former agency attorney told "The Times" it's difficult to find panelists with the required expertise who are also completely free of potential conflicts.

Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy is among those criticizing the links between FDA panelists and drug companies. In a statement, Kennedy said, "The revelations about hidden conflicts of interest among members of the committee that reviewed Vioxx, Celebrex and Bextra emphasizes the need to restore public confidence in the FDA and its ability to protect the public health and safety of the American people."

Senate Judiciary Chairman Arlen Specter appears to be warning fellow Republicans that going nuclear in the battle over judicial nominees could be even more explosive than they think. Majority Leader Bill Frist has said his party might vote to declare filibusters out of order on judicial nominees if Democrats continue to block the president's choices for the bench.

Here is what Specter had to say on the subject yesterday, proving he's still willing to buck his party even after he made nice to secure his chairmanship. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R-PA), JUDICIARY CHAIRMAN: With respect to the so-called nuclear option, I do not know whether the 51 votes are present. You'd have to consult with the leader or the whip, Senator McConnell.

I have not made a judgment on it. As I've said before, I prefer not to come to that bridge. And I'm certainly not going to jump off the bridge until I come to it.

I'm going to exercise every last ounce of my energy to solve this problem without the nuclear option. If we have the nuclear option, the Senate will be in turmoil and the Judiciary Committee will be held.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: A footnote from Specter's news conference that may be of interest to Arnold Schwarzenegger. Specter says he supports a constitutional amendment allowing U.S. citizens born overseas to run for president.

Whether or not he can ever run for the White House, Governor Schwarzenegger already is gearing up for a re-election campaign in California. The "Los Angeles Times" reports Schwarzenegger plans a series of fund-raisers in California, Ohio, New York and Washington next month.

A new Field poll shows 56 percent of California voters say they're inclined to vote for Schwarzenegger in 2006. The polls suggest Schwarzenegger would beat all potential Democratic rivals, including actor-director Rob Reiner. In a hypothetical match-up, Schwarzenegger gets 52 percent support to 37 percent for Reiner.

Governor Schwarzenegger embodies the link between politics and Hollywood. Still ahead, our Bill Schneider will join the pre-Oscar hoopla with his political version of the Academy Awards.

And on a much more serious note, we are keeping a close watch on the pope's condition after surgery yesterday. We'll have an update ahead and bring you any breaking news as it happens.

Up next, our daily check of the blogosphere. You may be surprised to find out why the secretary of state is stirring things up online.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: It is time now to check in on what's hot in the blogosphere. Joining me to talk about the big topics discussed online are Jacki Schechner, our blog reporter, and CNN political producer Abbi Tatton -- ladies.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN BLOG REPORTER: Hi, Candy.

Well, the big news today is that Talon News, the controversial news site that employed Jeff Gannon is offline. They have a statement on their site that says they are offline while they redesign the Web site, perform a top to bottom review of staff, and address future operational procedures.

Now, have no fear, because JeffGannon.com is up and running. Now, he calls himself bruised, but not broken. He has some blog entries that date down to February 16, but they're mostly just links to articles about himself. And AmericaBlog.org, the blog that's been following this, just picked up on the blog yesterday.

ABBI TATTON, CNN POLITICAL PRODUCER: Interesting part of Gannon's site, down here, this was Gannon, who was reportedly in hiding a little bit there when the scandal broke. Now has an easy link for all your media requests of him.

Now, let's look at what people are saying, both about Talon News and Gannon. ModerateVoice here. This is a journalist who has his own blog. He thinks it's rather bizarre that Talon shut down.

He makes this point: "News operations don't stop because of controversies. Even those aimed at them, they thrive on them."

There is a lot of comment either way on the left sites and the right sites as well about where this story should go, whether it's had too much coverage or not enough. The liberal site Daily Kos, here is one of them.

They -- Daily Kos not really launching right now for me, but he's -- this is a very popular liberal blog. And he's saying, "What liberal media?" He's saying that this story hasn't been covered enough, and he's also linking to an article in Salon.com that makes that point today.

On the other side, this is InstaPundit right here. This is Glenn Reynolds, a University of Tennessee bloomer. He's more to the right, and he's saying that this is nothinggate, that this has been absolutely covered too much in the blogosphere.

And he makes this point: "I don't think this story is in any way comparable to the use of forged documents," referring to the CBS scandal, "in an attempt to swing a presidential election. And I think that anyone who does think so is pretty much beyond rational discourse."

SCHECHNER: Now AmericaBlog.org weighing in. It happens to be the site that has been covering the Gannon story the heaviest, but also mentioning something that you heard Candy talk about a little bit earlier, talking about "The New York Times" article, the 10 government drug advisers who are tied to drug companies, whose votes helped put Bextra and Vioxx back on the market, just weighing in a little bit.

Over to one we found with an interesting comment. It's responses to Political Garbage is the blog that we found, and you have to scroll down a little bit. But it says, "Should those who consult on issues affecting your health care more about the health of the industry or the public? Is it profit over people?"

So that's how they're weighing in on this story.

TATTON: Now, if you're looking at the blogs today, you're going to see a couple of pictures out there that are being linked to all over the place. This is Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her boots.

This was the picture that yesterday appeared on the front page of "The Washington Post." And today there was another column. There was a column about the choice of outfit in "The Washington Post" with a close-up. Look at those boots there: knee-high, black leather, spiky heels.

SCHECHNER: You have a pair of those, don't you?

TATTON: I've got a few pair of those. "Rice's coat and boots speak of sex and power," said the column in "The Washington Post."

Well, some people didn't react too well to that, this discussion of her outfight. Here is Outside the Beltway, a conservative blog. "The sexuality nonsense, especially the odd dominatrix angle, strikes me as not the stuff of a serious newspaper."

SCHECHNER: Over at Pursuit of Happiness, a blog that we found through VodkaPundit, it calls her "condilicious." And it says that he had a need for a cigarette after reading the column and looking at the picture.

Over to VodkaPundit itself, which I thought was very interesting, it just popped up a little while ago under the title "My Wife Won't Love Me Anymore." Here is the exchange...

VodkaPundit syas, "Did you see the pic I sent you of Condi?" She says, "Yes, I want the boots." He says, "I want Condi." And she says, "Fair Trade."

TATTON: My favorite one, I just have to get this one in. My favorite one right here, this is from PowerlineBlog, a right wing blog. He just has the simple caption, "God bless America."

SCHECHNER: Nice.

Hey, Candy, by the way, we hear that Jeff Gannon is vying for an invite to the White House correspondents' dinner. So if you've got an extra seat next to you, maybe...

CROWLEY: You're checking in with the wrong person. Sorry, not in charge of that.

He is best known as our nation's first homeland security director. But what does Tom Ridge do for an encore now that he's out of government? He's got a new job. We'll tell you about it.

Plus, will former football star Lynn Swann make a move from the sidelines to the state house? The answer when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CROWLEY: Checking the "Political Bytes" this Friday, former Homeland Security Secretary and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge has joined the board of directors at Home Depot. Ridge left his homeland security post at the beginning of the month and has made no secret of his desire to earn more money in the private sector.

Pro football hall of famer Lynn Swann spoke to a group of Pennsylvania Republicans last night and said he wants their input as he considers a run for governor. After his remarks, Swann told reporters he considers himself a conservative and that he opposes abortion. But he offered few clues about his opinions on other issues.

Howard Dean is making a two-day trip through the red state of Kansas, but his spokeswoman says the new DNC chair has no plans to discuss abortion rights or the controversy over the state attorney general's attempt to obtain records of some women who have had abortions.

And meanwhile, the Planned Parenthood Action Network is urging supporters to e-mail a form letter to Dean thanking him for his strong support for abortion rights. It reads, in part, "I'm aware that there are some in your party who are urging the Democrats back away from their unwavering support over reproductive rights as basic human rights. I know you won't let them succeed."

Well, he is back after a week in Europe. But how successful was the president's trip? Coming up, we'll get the take from the left and the right from Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan.

Plus, there is nothing like a winter visit to New Hampshire. We'll take a look at which 2008 presidential hopefuls are heading north to the Granite State.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: The markets are getting set to close on Wall Street, which means I am joined by Kitty Pilgrim in New York with "The Dobbs Report" -- Kitty.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Candy.

We had a nice close to the week. Stocks on Wall Street are logging their third straight day of gains. That does erase Tuesday's sell-off. So let's take a look at the numbers and in the final counting.

The Dow industrials up about 90 points right now. The Nasdaq is up about 1 percent higher.

And other good news, the economy appears to be growing at a healthier pace than the government previously reported. Fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product was revised up to 3.8 percent. That's up from 3.1 percent, and that's because of stronger exports of U.S.-made goods.

Wal-Mart once again managed to keep unions out of its stores. Employees at a Colorado Wal-Mart tire and lube center voted against organizing. They clearly have changed their minds since voting to have that election last November. But a lot has happened since them. Last month, workers at a Quebec store were near a union contract, but Wal- Mart claimed that the stores was failing and shut it down.

And an FDA advisory panel could be biased. That's according to a public interest group. The FDA panel said Celebrex, Bextra and Vioxx could stay on the market even though they were under investigation for links to cause heart attacks and strokes. Now the group says that almost a third of the FDA panel had worked as consultants for the drug companies, Merck and Pfizer, which make those pain killers. All but one of those people voted in favor of the drugs continued use.

Coming up on CNN, 6 p.m. Eastern on LOU DOBBS TONIGHT, warnings that terrorists could enter our country from Mexico. That's prompting changing in border security strategy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT BONNER, CBP COMMISSIONER: Al Qaeda and its associated terrorist organizations have, according to information we have, have contemplated using our border with Mexico to infiltrate in significant numbers of terrorist operatives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PILGRIM: In broken borders, we look at those initiatives intended to keep illegal aliens and potential terrorists out of our country.

Then in overmedicated nation, we investigate why U.S. hospitals are accepting doctors with substandard credentials.

And a look at how President bush's budget proposals will affect America's war heroes. James Nickelson will be our guest. All that tonight, 6:00 p.m. Eastern. But for now, back to Candy.

CROWLEY: Kitty pilgrim thanks a lot. INSIDE POLITICS continues right now.

ANNOUNCER: The European traveler in chief returns home. What does he have to show for his fence mending mission?

The crashes, the knockouts, the sweet sounds of success. Why wait until Sunday to learn the Oscar winners when Bill Schneider is ready to announce the year's best political performances.

Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.

CROWLEY: Welcome back. I'm Candy Crowley sitting in for Judy today. More political news in a moment, but, first, an update on Pope John Paul II. The Vatican says he is alert, breathing on his own and eating well after undergoing a tracheotomy yesterday. The 84-year-old pontiff needed the surgery to ease serious breathing problems after suffering a relapse of the flu. He is communicating only through writing since doctors have advised him not to speak for a few days to rest his larnyx. Back to politics in Washington and the post mortems on President Bush's tour of Europe. The White House appears to be rather pleased with the way things went, but not everyone agrees. We want to go to our White House correspondent Dana Bash. So, Dana, I'm guessing they think it was a resounding success.

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's a pretty good guess, Candy. Obviously, this is not the first time President Bush has gone abroad and met with opponents of Iraq and tried to talk about the fact that he wanted to move forward. But this time, you're right, in talking to White House officials there is a sense that they think the tone was actually a little bit different this time, perhaps because the wounds from the Iraq War are finally starting to heal. Perhaps it is because there are other big issues on the horizon beyond Iraq that leaders are having to deal with.

But the White House is very happy, for example, that France signed on to a NATO agreement to support Iraqi security training, even though, perhaps, it's symbolic, it's important symbolism. They say here at the White House. But the bottom line is the reality is that these leaders understand that the U.S. election has come and gone and they'll have to deal with Mr. Bush for the next four years.

But it is important to note, Candy, that there are some big differences that perhaps were exposed over the past week during this trip, things that were not resolved and that are going to be issues in the future. For example, differences over whether or not the EU should end the arms embargo with China. That's something the president made clear he very much opposes.

And, of course, Iran. The differences over how to approach them. Some European leaders want to give them incentives, give Iran economic incentives. For example, the president made clear he doesn't feel that comfortable with that, Candy.

CROWLEY: I want to talk about the last meeting and the one everyone was watching, that was between the president and Russian President Vladimir Putin. It seems to me that those relationships between Europe and then between Russia have been on different trajectories. Europe started out well and went downhill. With Putin it started out well and now seems to be going downhill. There were some things that the president talked about afterwards and he said when he talked about recent rollbacks in Russia he brought it up in, quote, "a friendly way."

BASH: That's right, he did bring it up and it seemed like a little bit of a friendly way. He certainly came out in his public news conference which was quite extraordinary with President Putin and said and made clear that he brought these issues up in private. The whole question of whether or not President Putin is backsliding on democracy, which is what there is a major concern, not only among conservatives here in the United States, but among democrats, even people inside the White House and President Putin said that he understands the importance of democracy and that Russia is not turning back. Mr. Bush said he took him at his word. Now, the reason why there was so much focus and one of the major reasons is because the president raised the bar in his inaugural address saying he will hold leaders to a standard of having liberties inside their countries and their relations will depend on this. That's why many saw this as the first true test of the bar he set himself. Now some saw it as perhaps not reaching that bar and Senator John McCain, for example, he co- sponsored a resolution threatening to suspend Russia from the G-8 because of the backslide on democracy. Here's what he had to say this afternoon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I personally would have been a little tougher, but I understand that the balance that the president tried to maintain and I hope and believe that the president sent a very strong message to President Putin that this is not acceptable behavior.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: Now, that is really the key, Candy. We do know that the two men met one on one in private with only their translators for a lot longer than had been anticipated -- for over an hour and even top aides say they don't know exactly what was said in that private meeting except that it was intense and that Mr. Bush sort of came out and wiped his brow, if you will, because there apparently were some frank exchanges as they like to say in diplospeak.

But a senior official said what they're focusing on now is they understand Mr. Putin is a proud man and, perhaps, he shouldn't be pushed too hard in the near term but where they're focusing on is not weeks or months but perhaps a year or two to see if he loosens his grip on having control too much in the Kremlin and that there are some future meetings, not in the distant future, for example, in May and June between the two men, they're going to keep this dialogue up. Candy?

CROWLEY: CNN's Dana Bash at the White House, thank you.

This just in, CNN affiliate KAKE News has learned a quote "person of interest" is being questioned in connection with the BTK case. Let's go to our David Mattingly at the CNN Center for the latest in this case.

DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Candy. Affiliate KAKE in Wichita, Kansas, is reporting a person of interest is being questioned in connection with the case of the BTK killer. This is a serial killer that has been killing on and off in Wichita since the 1970s. The last time this killer was believed to have killed was in 1986.

In the last year there has been a flurry of communications from this killer, a number of packages that have been showing up in public parks and at local media, including at the TV station KAKE. Everyone wondering why this killer decided to reemerge since 1986 with all these communications. A great deal of interest in this case right now, nationally and internationally as people wonder what this killer has been trying to say to authorities over this past year.

And now officials, according to KAKE have a person of interest that is being questioned in this case and also we're told that a home is being searched in Park City, Kansas, in connection with this person. That is all we know right now, but, again, this is a case that has been going on since the 1970s. There was a great deal of fear in that community back then because police just didn't know what was going on with this killer. He went by the name BTK, that was a name he selected in a letter he sent to a newspaper. He said to call him that which stands for "bind them, torture them, kill them." And authorities -- We are now going to go to KAKE for more on this story.

LARRY HATTEBERG, KAKE ANCHOR: Wichita police department in an investigation. Now KAKE's Janine Keesling (ph) has standing by at the scene in Park City, Janine, do we have you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Larry, I'm here.

HATTEBERG: What can you tell us so far? What was the timeline, when did the activity first start in Park City?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: According to neighbors, they were being asked to evacuate the homes immediately around this house around 2:00 this afternoon. Neighbors were being told there was a suspicious device found inside this home. Now, you can see right now the fire department is backing out and the ambulance just left the scene. Now, whether or not that means they have searched the home, have not found any suspicious devices.

If you take a look right over here where KAKE's Beth Jet (ph) is, you can see the Captain Haines (ph), he is with the bomb squad. He handles all the bomb squad. It looks like they have finished up or wrapped up that part of it so, that's what we know about that right now. Now, we also know the FBI, like you said, were out at the scene as well as Wichita police department. We are in Park City, but we have seen very few Park City police officers. It has been all Wichita police and FBI.

Also, something that is very interesting, people are not coming down. Captain Hanes not releasing a statement. Usually when we're out on scenes for bomb squad scenes or suspicious devices, they come down and they give us periodic updates. We have not been told anything as of right now. They're not talking. All they're saying is we cannot give you a statement.

Also, several lieutenants have been coming and going throughout the day. We also know earlier today there was a flurry of activity at city hall. Officers all around the exits at city hall. So definitely things have been happening all day long. We also heard the air section unit was very active today. So, certainly a lot going on right now, Larry?

HATTEBERG: Janine, I know you and i were talking earlier, too. Down around city hall and around that area, security has been upgraded there since this morning. Can you talk about that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, we went by the Epic Center this morning, late this morning and the FBI had a couple of the entrances blocked off, plain clothed investigators with the entrances blocked off, just for a short time. Also city hall, we know, has had extra patrol there all day long and right now, as well. Extra patrol has been there all day long. So security has definitely tightened up in the downtown area and, again, Larry, you have to know, it's very interesting that absolutely nothing has been said to us out here at the scene. You there are medias out here and nothing is being said to us at all.

HATTEBERG: Well, I think it's fair to point out that the Wichita police department does not want to have another incident like they did with the person last year or a few months ago who was taken into custody on some other charges but who many people did think could be BTK. That incident did not fair well for the Wichita police department.

So I'm sure that at this point they're being very careful. Now, they do have a subject who they are talking to, a person of interest who is being talked to by both the Wichita police department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. We know that he is either down at city hall or at another location nearby being talked to by both those law enforcement agencies. Exactly what they're talking to him about, that is the question. But our sources here at KAKE News has confirmed this is a person who is a person of interest in the BTK investigation. Obviously, obviously, a serious situation. Police are taking this very serious. KAKE News is on the scene, both in Park City and down at city hall and, of course, Jeff and Susan now join us in the studio for an update. Jeff and Sue?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, thank you very much, Larry. As Larry just said, a person of interest, a person being described as person of interest taken in for questioning in downtown Wichita at the downtown Wichita police department. What you're looking at right now is a live picture from Park City where that person of interest was taken from his home and we are told, like I say, it's a person of interest in the BTK case. I should tell you, we have been trying to contact the district attorney and I did get a hold of her assistant on her cell phone and she said we are very, very busy right now and we cannot talk. Whether that means something or not remains to be seen. Jennifer Bocchieri is live at city hall. As Janine mentioned before, there was extra security at city hall. Jennifer, tell us about that right now.

JENNIFER BOCCHIERI, KAKE CORRESPONDENT (on phone): That's right, Susan. Some unusual police activity down here at city hall. We have two officers stationed on the south side of the building. One to two officers stationed on the top deck of the parking garage, that is on the west side of the city hall and we have three officers stationed in the lobby. This is highly unusual. To give you -- put it into perspective, usually you only have two officers in the lobby there. I should now say there are five, three in addition to the usual two who sit at the desk in the lobby for security. So, there is, indeed, added security here around city hall. I have talked with the mayor, Wichita mayor. He says he has not been briefed on anything yet. He is looking into the situation. A lot of the council members I've spoken with said they thought it was very unusual about the police activity and they are also checking to see, in fact, what this is all about. Of course, we are down here and we will let you know as soon as we find out anything from down here at city hall. We're live at city hall, Jennifer Bocchieri, KAKE News.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jennifer, are you able to get inside police headquarters at all to see what kind of activity is going on there?

BOCCHIERI: They are letting people walk freely through city hall. If you came here to pay a bill yesterday you probably wouldn't outwardly notice right off the bat that there is police activity everywhere, but just by being down here and covering city hall every day I can tell you this is more unusual, but they are letting people walk in and out of the building and do their daily activities.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I assume and maybe it's not fair to assume that these extra officers you're talking about, including on top of the parking garage and in the lobby, were because they brought this person of interest through city hall into the police department.

MATTINGLY: You're listening to the latest from KAKE in Wichita, Kansas, as they report a person of interest has been pulled in for questioning by Wichita police in the case of the BTK killer. One of their anchors at KAKE that you saw, Larry Hatteberg, I traveled to Wichita and spoke with him at length about this case several weeks ago. Larry was, in fact, a photographer at the time of the first murder back in 1974 and has been a part of the news coverage of this case since then.

He took the extraordinary step as an anchor recently by speaking directly to the killer recently and it did not produce any sort of dialogue, but he did let the killer know that the station was listening. That station, KAKE has been the recipient of numerous communications from the killer since he reemerged in January and began re-communicating with the public at that time. No one really knowing what to make of this development at this point, but, again, they are reporting that a person of interest has been called in for questioning in this case. Candy?

CROWLEY: David Mattingly, CNN, obviously, will continue to watch this story of a serial killer who stalked the Kansas area over a decade in the '70s, spanning the '70s and '80s and has haunted the area ever since. We want to take you back to another story, that of Terri Schiavo a judge earlier in this hour extended the block that had kept the removal of a feeding tube from coming out of Terri Schiavo a brain-damaged woman. We just recently heard from her father, Bob Schindler, who came out and spoke after the judge made his ruling.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT SCHINDLER, TERRI SCHIAVO'S FATHER: We're happy that we have at least three weeks before they'll kill Terri. We're unhappy that we don't have much time and as attorney Gibbs said -- I said that we're pleased that we have three weeks before, before they're going to kill Terri. We're not pleased that we don't there the time. The attorneys don't have to time to go through the procedures for as many things as we feel have to be heard in that court and they really limited the amount of time. So, we're very displeased about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CROWLEY: And that was Bob Schindler, who is the father of Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman who is being sustained by a feeding tube. We will also keep you up to date on that story.

Now, as we reported earlier, the Kansas attorney general is trying to get his hands on the files of nearly 90 abortion patients in the state. Up next, how does this story play into the always contentious abortion debate? Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan will go head to head on that.

And later, Hollywood stars know how to work the academy awards red carpet, but wait till you see our own Bill Schneider in action.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CROWLEY: With me now, former Gore campaign manager Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan, president of American Cause. Short amount of time and lots of stuff to talk about. As always, the Bush trip, how did it go?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT OF AMERICAN CAUSE: Extraordinarily well. There's no question the president has done -- You think all of them are cowboys now, they embraced him so quickly. The European leaders responded extremely well and most important is putting. I think it is important that the president has a close relationship with President Putin for no other reason that that is a place critically important to America that we have a working relationship with Russia.

CROWLEY: I'm tempted to leave the rolling of the eyes, but, go ahead.

DONNA Brazile, FORMER GORE CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Well, he broke the ice, but there is still a lot of thawing of relations to take place over the next couple years. This took four years of not talking of ignoring and, in some cases, really beating up on our European allies. So I think the president needs to send Vice President Cheney to do some follow-up. Work with the Europeans on issues that they agree, perhaps talk to them, have a conversation about climate control, they care about that. But, clearly, he scores just for showing up.

CROWLEY: Well, and for other issues came up, that tells you something, doesn't it?

BUCHANAN: Other issues came up and we have agreements. With Russia we have got the two agreements. He is going it work with us on Iran as well as we're going to work with him on the nuclear weapons in his country. These are very important issues ...

Brazile: These are very important, but again, I think this was a thawing of relations but more should be done and can be done to get old Europe and new Europe back on the same page with America.

BUCHANAN: There's no question that it's in the interests of Europe to be in close relationship with us or they wouldn't have been responding as quickly as they did.

Brazile: And we want them on our side to help stop the spread of terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction and those nuclear weapons.

CROWLEY: Domestically, Social Security. It strikes me that never have so many so fast and furiously discussed a subject about which we know nothing. There's no plan. They're already arguing about how the plan is going nowhere and we don't have a plan. Tell me what the state of play is.

Brazile: There is no appetite for any major fixes right now. The Republicans have not sold anything. They haven't sold the plan that they put on the table, the partial privatization. So I think what's happened is that the administration will find itself, once they talk to their congressional allies this week, saying, you guys, what should we do now? It's almost dead on arrival.

BUCHANAN: I'll tell you, you hit the point, you hit it right on it, Candy. The problem is, the concept, there is support for the concept. Conservatives very much like the idea of private investing, it's better return on your money, you own it good for a lot of good reasons. The whole system is better. The problem is the devil and the big devils are in the detail and the president hasn't given us the detail. How are we going to pay for this? As a conservative, I like the concept, but if you raise our taxes, the taxes of working Americans, I'm opposed to it. So if you want to tax the Chinese I'm in favor of it.

Brazile: If you're going to raise our retirement age, if you're going to reduce future benefits. Look, people are saying, not so fast. This is not a crisis. Let's work on this in the future. Democrats are very much opposed to all of these proposals.

CROWLEY: Let me take you to Kansas because we've been talking about it a lot on IP. You have the state attorney general, he wants the record of 90 abortions in the state. He says he's looking at child abuse, they suspect he is looking at doctors who are performing illegal late-term abortions. Does this play at all into the -- Howard Dean is in the state, which I find really interesting. Does this present a problem for Democrats? Is there any sort of national implication for this or is this just a bursting up of a state problem?

Brazile: This is attorney general who has been on the witch hunt now for a couple of years trying to get the medical records of women in his state who had abortions or reproductive health services. I think the state supreme court should not allow the subpoenas to go through. If he needs this information to see what 16-year-olds or younger have had an abortion, perhaps there's another way. I'm opposed to that myself, but this is an unwarranted intrusion in the private lives of women. BUCHANAN: We do not know that. This is an investigation, the attorney general has gotten the approval of a judge, that means there's reason to believe that crimes are being committed and he has a right to those records. You have 90 people he has identified as having late-term abortions that is not allowed in that state unless the health of the mother is involved.

Brazile: He didn't ask for the age - I know, we'll put a pencil in it.

CROWLEY: I'm sorry, come back, put a pencil in it, I promise we'll be hearing about this. We have to scrabe (ph). Bay Buchanan, Donna Brazile. Always fun.

It is almost time for Hollywood's biggest night which means it's also time to go live to the red carpet and check in with our own Bill Schneider in Hollywood. Bill?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: Candy, movie stars are like politicians. They can make you laugh or cry or choke on your popcorn. Well, we're here in Hollywood to celebrate the past year's achievements with coveted awards from the academy of political arts and science. And here's the best part. No tacky musical numbers or bad jokes. Well, maybe a few.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The envelope please. The academy of political arts and sciences presents the award for best actress to -- Hillary Clinton. This was a difficult role for the New York Senator. Did she really want John Kerry to win? Clinton's performance was utterly convincing.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: John Kerry is the man we need to be our president and commander in chief.

SCHNEIDER: The award for best actor goes to George W. Bush. He stayed on message from early March when it became clear that John Kerry would be his opponent.

BUSH: Senator Kerry has been in Washington long enough to take both sides on just about every issue.

SCHNEIDER: To the night before the election at his final campaign rally.

BUSH: And then he entered the flip-flop hall of fame.

SCHNEIDER: For best screen play the academy honors Barack Obama for a star-making performance with a great script.

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: The hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too.

SCHNEIDER: For best supporting actress, who can forget Teresa Heinz Kerry delivered this immortal line. TERESA HEINZ KERRY, JOHN KERRY'S WIFE: You said something I didn't say, now shove it.

SCHNEIDER: The award for best supporting actor goes to former Georgia Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat. You can't get more supportive than what he said about President Bush.

ZELL MILLER, FORMER DEMOCRATIC SENATOR: I have knocked on the door of this man's soul and found someone home. A God-fearing man with a good heart and a spine of tempered steel.

SCHNEIDER: The award for best song goes to this little ditty that became a big hit on the Internet.

(MUSIC - "This Land is Your Land" parody)

SCHNEIDER: The best director prize goes for too the man who directed the winning campaign.

BUSH: The architect, Karl Rove.

SCHNEIDER: A great director knows exactly how he wants his movie to turn out.

KARL ROVE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: He increased his popular vote total by 11.6 million votes since 2000. That's 4.5 times the increase that President Clinton got between '92 and '96, as a matter of comparison.

SCHNEIDER: And finally, for best picture of the year, it's -- oh, my God. A tie! Not only that but the political award goes to the movies. Two movies by filmmakers of opposite political persuasions who turned the nation's red/blue division into box office gold. Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" and Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11."

MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: This is Michael Moore, I would like to you read to you the USA PATRIOT Act.

SCHNEIDER: The cultural divide define politics in 2004 and two controversial movies define that cultural divide.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Notice how the folks at the other academy snubbed Mel Gibson and Michael Moore. These folks in Hollywood may be better dressed, but we in Washington can teach them a thing or two about good politics and maybe something about good shoes as well. Candy?

CROWLEY: Well, give the camera some time. So you have on red shoes, Bill. Whatever you do, don't click them, you'll land in Kansas. See ya.

SCHNEIDER: Thanks Candy. OK.

CROWLEY: That is it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Candy Crowley. CROSSFIRE starts right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com


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