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Scooter Libby Sentenced; Woman's Death in E.R. Stuns Family; Sectarian Violence Restrained after Mosque Bombing; Hamas Takes Over Gaza Strip; Engineers Work to Repair Computers on Space Station
Aired June 14, 2007 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CO-HOST: Hello, I'm Kyra Phillips at CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
RICK SANCHEZ, CO-HOST: And I'm Rick Sanchez. Don Lemon still on assignment.
Thirty months. The question is starting when? We're awaiting a decision on Scooter Libby's bid to put off prison while he fights his conviction. The judge vows he won't be swayed by death threats.
PHILLIPS: Whom do you call when you're dying, bleeding and languishing in a hospital E.R.? Not 911, apparently. It's an outrage that only begins with a woman's death at a troubled big city hospital.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
The drama over the infamous leak of a CIA operative's name is nearing its final act, we think. Scooter Libby learns sometime this hour whether he'll go straight to prison or remain free while appealing his perjury conviction.
Tensions are high, and the judge said just a short time ago that he's received threatening calls and messages. He says the threats won't affect his decision, though.
Libby, of course, is the former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney. He was sentenced to 30 months in prison, not for leaking a name, but for hindering the investigation into who did.
Our Brian Todd is in the courtroom. He'll join us with the decision as soon as it's announced.
SANCHEZ: Someone else we're following. There's a new tactic to get the stalled immigration bill somehow moving again. It's called cash up front. President Bush says that he'll back an amendment that would essentially take some of the money, earmark it, billions of dollars, in essence, for immediate funding for border security, for things like a fence.
That's an answer to critics who say that the government has failed to live up to border control promises in the previous legislation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To answer these concerns, I support an amendment that will provide $4.4 billion in immediate additional funding for securing or borders and enforcing our laws at the work site. The funding will come from the fines and penalties that we collect from those who have come to our country illegally.
Matching our best marks with these critical funds, we're going to show the American people that the promises in this bill will be kept.
So, I call on the senators to pass this amendment and show the American people that we're going to do our jobs at securing this border once and for all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Want to let you know that there's something going on right now. See that? That's a live picture, obviously, Tony Snow, because there's a White House briefing where they're discussing this right now. Reporters and the White House press secretary are doing just that.
Now, remember, as we consider this bill, from the very outset, part of the legislation was that anyone who wants to become documented or obtain legal status in the United States has to come up with $5,000. So the question is, all right, what do you do with that $5,000?
It seems that part of the president's new recommendation that he's gotten after meeting with a couple of Republican senators is that we take that $5,000, or at least a good portion of it, and earmark it, billions of it, to perhaps build a fence.
The president seems to think that this is what maybe will jump start the bill again and get it back to the Senate and, you know, eventually to the house as well.
More details from our White House correspondent Kathleen Koch. That's coming up in just a little bit, so stand by.
Kyra, back over to you.
PHILLIPS: Well, this story is almost impossible to believe. A woman dies on the floor of a hospital emergency room because no one will treat her. This happened even after witnesses called 911 for help.
CNN's Ted Rowlands has this very disturbing story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife is dying.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): By the time her frantic boyfriend called 911 through an interpreter, Edith Rodriguez was on the floor in agony. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you mean she's dying?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's vomiting blood.
ROWLANDS: Her boyfriend begged for help, but to the 911 dispatcher, that request didn't compute because Edith was already in a hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why aren't they helping her?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're watching her. They're watching her there and just not doing anything. They're just watching her.
ROWLANDS: Witnesses say Edith Rodriguez collapsed on the floor of the emergency room at Martin Luther King Jr. Harbor Hospital in Los Angeles. Hospital staff, they say, didn't lift a finger to help, something the 911 dispatcher found hard to believe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Paramedics are not going to pick him up or pick his wife up from a hospital, because she's already at one.
ROWLANDS: Eight minutes later, another call comes in to the same 911 center from someone else at the hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your emergency?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This lady on the ground, in here in the emergency room at Martin Luther King.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want me to do for you, ma'am?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Send an ambulance out here to take her somewhere where she can get medical help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're at the hospital, ma'am. You have to contact them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have a problem. They won't help her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, you know, they're the medical professionals. OK? You're already at a hospital. This line is for emergency purposes only. This 911 is used for emergency purposes only.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is an emergency.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not an emergency. It is not an emergency, ma'am.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not an emergency.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should see how they're treating her.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, well, that's not a criminal thing. You understand what I'm saying. We handle...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Excuse me, if this woman all out dies, what do you mean this is not a criminal thing?
ROWLANDS: Less than a half hour later, Edith Rodriguez was dead. Her siblings say they are furious that their sister wasn't given the help that she needed.
EDDIE SANCHEZ, BROTHER: You go there to get help and nothing happens. Like you get ignored, like you're nobody.
CARMEN RODRIGUEZ, SISTER: We're just devastated at the way she was treated, and the way she was left there, like an animal, you know. She's a person. You don't do that. Even animals are treated better.
ROWLANDS (on camera): According to the coroner, Edith Rodriguez died of a perforated bowel. There was a surveillance camera here at the hospital, which recorded the last 45 minutes or so of her life and, according to witnesses, she spent it on the floor, vomiting blood.
More than a month after this took place, it is still unclear why nobody was there to help her.
ZEV YAROSLAVSKY, L.A. COUNTY SUPERVISOR: The video is a lot more alarming than the audio.
ROWLANDS (voice-over): L.A. County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavski has seen the tape which, because of an ongoing sheriff's investigation, hasn't been released.
YAROSLAVSKY: Not one person out of a couple dozen, including citizens and staff and doctors and nurses, didn't lift a finger to help her, just ignored her. Even the janitors who were cleaning up the vomit from around the -- the woman who was on the floor did a very elegant job of cleaning up the vomit but didn't do a thing to help her. It was just -- indescribable.
ROWLANDS: The sheriff's department is investigating how dispatchers handled the two calls. According to a supervisor, they've never had a call for an ambulance from a hospital. They are concerned, however, that one of the dispatchers may have been rude.
The chief medical officer and a nurse are no longer employed as a direct result of what happened.
Since September of last year, the hospital has been undergoing a forced restructuring because of a long history of problems.
While no one from the hospital would talk to us about this case, a letter sent to the county board said in part, quote, "We have served thousands of patients well and a few very poorly."
Hopefully none as poorly as they seem to have treated Edith Rodriguez.
Ted Rowlands, CNN, Los Angeles.
PHILLIPS: There's much more to talk about. In just a little while, we're going to talk with an "L.A. Times" reporter who covered that case. We're going to ask him about conditions at this hospital and what's being done about them.
SANCHEZ: Samarra, one day after, religious tension simmers throughout Iraq after yesterday's attack on this mosque. Look at these pictures that have been coming in from some of the damage that we've been looking at.
This is a real holy site for Shiite Muslims. It's the second bombing there in 16 months, and now, as then, there's payback.
CNN's Karl Penhaul is embedded with U.S. troops. He's been following this story now for the second day.
Karl, bring us up to date.
KARL PENHAUL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Rick, we were out on a patrol with a U.S. military patrol today and we got to the site of the Golden Dome mosque. It's about a half a mile from here as the crow flies, but because of the security situation on the ground we had to take a very torturous route through some of the back alleys and the streets of Samarra.
Now the streets of Samarra are calm right now. The curfew was in place. We did hear sporadic gunfire coming from the insurgents. The insurgents have also been lobbing mortars and firing rocket-propelled brigades at Iraqi police and U.S. forces throughout the day.
But certainly, in terms of the civilian population, they had stayed indoors for most of the day, it seems, and there has been no sectarian backlash here.
It must be said, though, that Samarra is mostly a Sunni population, so we wouldn't necessarily expect to hear it. But certainly because of the symbolism of the shrine, what happened there on Wednesday, the bombing by suspected al Qaeda insurgents of the twin minarets, there have been reverberations around all of Iraq.
So far we've received reports of at least ten Sunni mosques that have either been bombed or burned in apparent revenge attacks by Shia militiamen, according to the authorities.
Now, one of those mosques was in southwest Baghdad. Five at least have been in Babil province. That's south of Baghdad. And another four right down south in the area around Basra.
Also around Basra there have been reports of sectarian clashes between different factions of gunmen. We do understand from authorities at least four people have been killed in those clashes so far. But what authorities have been doing constantly since these bombings is calling for calm and urging restraint so that there aren't the repetitions that there were in February 2006 after the dome of this mosque was bombed and that really did fan the flames of sectarian killings at that stage, Rick.
SANCHEZ: Was this or was this not an inside job? Because that's what we were reporting yesterday, that there was being investigated that actual Iraqi security forces, in other words, people tied to the government of Iraq, may have had a hand in this bombing. What do we know about that today?
PENHAUL: That is correct. That's what U.S. military commanders have been telling us. They say that everything points to an inside job.
When we went to take a look at the mosque, we saw that it was surrounded by a 25-foot high wall. There was no breach in the wall. There was no gun battle prior to the explosions of the two minarets, according to authorities. And that's what the U.S. military authorities are basing themselves on to suggest that this was an inside job, that this bombing was aided and abetted by members of the Iraqi security force that were put in place to protect the mosque.
Now according to Iraqi police, at least a dozen of those Iraqi security force members have been arrested for questioning. They did move again last night to detain another 35 Iraqi security force members, but they are now on the run. There was no chance of capturing them, Rick.
SANCHEZ: That is a serious problem I'm sure we'll be hearing more about. Karl Penhaul, thanks so much for bringing us up to date on this.
Toxic claims about Camp Lejeune. How many Marines and their families were exposed to some of this tainted water? We're going to talk with the Marine Corps vet who lost his young daughter to leukemia and a congressman who's on Camp Lejeune's case about it.
PHILLIPS: And it's crunch time for Kellogg's. Why is the cereal maker revamping many of its most popular brands?
You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
PHILLIPS: One fourteen Eastern Time. Here are three of the stories that we're working on right here in the NEWSROOM.
Virginia Tech is allowing the media inside Norris Hall. You'll remember, that's where a student gunman killed 30 people and himself back in April.
In Illinois, three children and a woman were found shot to death this morning inside an SUV. A wounded man was taken into custody. And Lewis "Scooter" Libby learns this afternoon, maybe just minutes from now, whether he'll remain free while he appeals his conviction in the CIA leak case. You'll hear the decision first, right here on CNN.
SANCHEZ: What in the world is going on in the Gaza, where Hamas now appears to have some type of control? It controls the southern city of Rafah, and the green Hamas flag is flying, we learned today, over the main security headquarters in Gaza City.
Let's go straight to Jerusalem and CNN's Atika Shubert.
Atika, I mean, is it civil war-like?
ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is for residents in Gaza. They're describing this essentially as a civil war. And it seems to be one in which Hamas has won.
It has almost now complete control of the Gaza Strip. The Islamic militant group has been showing footage on its TV station of rival Fatah militants being marched out onto the street at gunpoint. And it's also been airing on its radio station threats against senior Fatah leaders, saying -- calling them traitors, saying they have to surrender themselves or face attack.
It's also interesting to note that Hamas spokesmen in -- on that radio station have been saying that Gaza is now under Islamic -- Islamic rule, as is the first step to becoming an Islamic state.
So, certainly for residents on the ground in Gaza, this feels like a civil war.
SANCHEZ: How does this square for Israel if Hamas is in control of Gaza?
SHUBERT: This is a very frightening scenario for Israel. Defense officials tell CNN they are watching this with grave concern. They are fearful now that Gaza is a haven for Iran-backed militants that are bent on launching attacks on Israel, so they're very concerned about that.
But they're also concerned that this violence could spread to the West Bank, the other part of the Palestinian territories. And if that happens, there will be a severe escalation in the violence.
SANCHEZ: What is the comment today so far, if any, from Mahmoud Abbas?
SANCHEZ: Well, that's the big question that Palestinians are asking: where is the Palestinian leadership?
President Abbas was due to make a statement. It has not happened yet. His aides say that he was supposed to make a decisive announcement on whether or not to dissolve the government and assume emergency powers, but it simply hasn't happened yet.
And clearly, from many of those residents in Gaza, it's a decision that's coming just too late.
SANCHEZ: Atika Shubert, watching that situation there for us carefully. We thank you so much for bringing us up to take -- up to date, Atika. Certainly, if anything changes, we'll get back to you -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, first stitches, now glitches. The outer space fix-it list just got a little longer. Details coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: Well, Detroit's big three have closed plants and laid off tens of thousands of workers. And now the embattled automakers are nearing a critical juncture: the start of labor talks with their biggest unions.
Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange to tell us what's at stake for both sides.
Boy, that's probably going to take a lot of time, Susan.
SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot of time, a lot of red eyes, a lot of cups of coffee. But it's important, for both sides, essential, really.
Contract talks between the nation's automakers and the United Auto Workers union formally begin next month. The big three reportedly seeking unprecedented concessions from their workers.
Published reports say the key issue for GM, Ford and Chrysler, eliminating most of the huge gap in labor costs between Detroit and its Japanese rivals. The automakers say they generally pay workers about $30 an hour more when wages, health care benefits and pensions are factored in.
The big three have eliminated more than 70,000 UAW members from their payrolls over the past two years in a desperate bid to improve efficiency. But they're still losing money, which is why these talks are so important -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Well, you and I have talked about these unions and also about how they've gotten weaker. Do you think the UAW has any leverage here at all?
LISOVICZ: Well, the UAW has given up an awful lot, so it has -- just when you think about how much of a reduced workforce it has, Kyra, and the UAW is arguing its workers shouldn't bear the entire cost of Detroit's restructuring. It's already agreed to work rule (ph) and benefit cuts for its retirees, designed to save the automakers billions of dollars a year.
However, the big three are still in bad shape financially. And according to the "Journal", the automakers say that if they don't get the labor concessions they need, they'll be forced to move more production overseas. GM tells CNN that it's, quote, "focused on removing those competitive gaps and prepared to work on tough issues."
Ford, Daimler-Chrysler and the UAW all have no comment.
LISOVICZ: In the next hour of NEWSROOM I'll tell you about two rental car companies making big moves toward greener fleets. Maybe it will bring some -- bring them some green in the process.
Kyra and Rick, back to you.
PHILLIPS: All right, Susan. See you next hour.
SANCHEZ: There's a big decision that's about to come down right now on Lewis "Scooter" Libby. That's where the decision is being made by a federal judge. It basically comes down to whether he needs to go to prison right away or whether there are going to be even more hearings regarding his case.
We understand a judge has just made a ruling in this case. We haven't nailed it down yet, but we're about to. There you see some of the video of Scooter Libby arriving this morning for it.
We understand that he will make a decision at any moment now. Let me clarify what I just said. We understand that the judge will plan to make a decision at any moment. We're covering it for you and we'll have it.
Let's go to a break. We might be able to get that for you as soon as we come back. Stay with us.
SANCHEZ: Should Scooter Libby go to prison right away, or should he be allowed to remain free while some of his appeals are being heard? It's a decision that's being decided by a judge.
And we have just gotten word that the judge is planning to make this decision very shortly. So, it may be a question of imminent.
There's Scooter Libby arriving this morning at this hearing. We are going to turn this decision around for you as soon as we get word. We'll take you live to this courthouse, and we'll be getting this decision.
We're also going to include some of our own analysts like Jeffrey Toobin to help put it all together for us. So again, as soon as that happens we'll take you to it -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Repairs and reboots. Not part of the planned mission of the Space Shuttle Atlantis at the International Space Station. Of latest concern, on-board computers on the frizz.
CNN's Miles O'Brien on the phone with the latest. Miles, what's going on?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kyra, we've all seen the blue screen of death here on Earth, and it makes you want to hit the machine or call the Geek Squad. Imagine what happens when the blue screen of death is occurring up in space, and the troubleshooting has to occur by engineers in Moscow, who have basically ten-minute windows to do all the work they need to do to bring these computers back to life.
And that is what's been going on all day today as the Russians try to bring their command and control and guidance computers on the Russian side of the International Space Station back to life.
So far they've made progress, and they've established some communication with those computers. They're not fully up to speed just yet.
Let's back up a little bit and tell you what happened. It was shortly after they installed those huge new solar arrays on the International Space Station that mysteriously, this entire Russian computer system shut down.
There are three pairs of computers that handle all the aspects of the Russian side, including the guidance and control and the attitude of the International Space Station. They only need one set of computers for it to operate. The others are redundant backups. And so to have a massive failure like this is unprecedented in space station history.
So as it stands right now this morning during their initial ground passes, the Russians can only communicate with the space station when it passes over the Russian land mass. During that first opportunity this morning, they were able to establish a link with one set of those computers and are continuing the troubleshooting as they try to reboot that entire system.
In the meantime what they have done on the shuttle side is made plans for possibly keeping the shuttle there one extra day, if need be, to provide additional thruster firing capability to keep the space station in the right position in orbit. As it stands right now, no decisions have been made to keep the shuttle there just yet. The hope is that the Russians can troubleshoot this and get their computers up and running in the next day or so.
Meantime, on the space shuttle side, they are busy with their mission, pressing ahead toward a space walk tomorrow to repair that torn thermal blanket and trying to retract some solar arrays. They have been pressing on with their mission. So we're watching it closely and the hope is that the computers will come back to life and the Russian geek squad can get rid of the blue screen of death.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: And hopefully eventually we will get all that solar power in our homes somewhere on earth.
O'BRIEN: Yes, indeed. PHILLIPS: Miles O'Brien, thanks.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: President Bush, as you may know, has been getting hammered with his immigration reform package and some of those who have been criticizing him the most are members of his own party, Republicans, so now the president seems to have a new trick up his sleeve, a way of getting this package restarted and the plan is money up front. Here's what the president had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To answer these concerns, I support an amendment that will provide $4.4 billion in immediate additional funding for securing our borders and enforcing our laws at the work site. The funding will come from the fines and penalties that we collect from those who have come to our country illegally. Matching our benchmarks for these critical funds, we're going to show the American people that the promises in this bill will be kept. So, I call on the senators to pass this amendment and to show the American people that we're going to do our jobs of securing this border once and for all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Break away from the president just real quickly. We are getting word now, the drama over this infamous leak about the CIA operative's name (INAUDIBLE). We're talking about Scooter Libby, the president's right hand man. We have just learned the judge has ruled that he will go straight to prison and not remain free until the -- well, while appealing his perjury conviction. You remember Libby was sentenced to 30 months in prison after he was convicted in March on four counts involving perjury and obstruction of justice for hindering that investigation, how the name of that CIA operative was leaked to the media. We're being told now Judge Walton has decided he will not remain free while appealing his perjury conviction. Jeffrey Toobin joining us now by phone as this now just comes through. I think one of the interesting twists to this, Jeffrey, was that no matter what, the judge decided to stay tough on this, even while he said he was getting threats.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a very dramatic and to me surprising decision. Many white collar defendants do get bail pending appeal. Martha Stewart got it, a lot of the insider traders got it. Judge Walton has had it with Scooter Libby and he really not only threw the book at him in terms of sentencing which that 30 months, but said you got to go straight to jail. And if the court of appeals affirms this ruling and I expect this issue of bail pending appeal will be appealed itself shortly, this is going to put President Bush in a very difficult position regarding the question of a pardon.
PHILLIPS: Well, you know, it's interesting what you just said that usually guys like this get a break, right, but you brought up Martha Stewart, you brought up, you know, financial gurus, heck, we can look at Paris Hilton and how she was treated, but we're talking about somebody within the Bush administration side by side with the president of the United States, making major decisions that affect all of us in this country. I mean, you would expect judge Walton to be tougher and not cut someone like Lewis "Scooter" Libby a break.
TOOBIN: Well, you might. I mean, I have to say I'm not as, as confident as that. This case, what was certainly very serious case, but many white collar cases present significant appeals issues, but Judge Walton said this was an easy one. And the standard for deciding whether there's bail pending appeal is whether there's any likelihood of success in that appeal and Judge Walton said no. So off to jail you go, Scooter Libby. And unless the court of appeals steps in, that's where he's going, sooner rather than later.
PHILLIPS: What do you make of the death threats against the judge? That sort of surprised everybody when Brian Todd called in, he was inside the courtroom, and actually heard that and immediately called back to us. That sort of got us all wondering how this was going to turn out.
TOOBIN: I have to say I'm less surprised by it. Federal judges deal with very difficult and dangerous people and subjects and they do get death threats. Only rarely, fortunately, are, are they ever followed up on. But, you know, Judge Walton is a tough guy and I think appropriately he didn't let that influence him at all. I would hate to think that Federal judges could be influenced by a death threat. That would certainly create terrible incentives. So I think he just calls it like he saw it. Ever since this conviction came through, Judge Walton has made clear that he was appalled by Scooter Libby' behavior, he didn't think this was a close case, either factually or legally and one more time, he's ruled against him.
SANCHEZ: Hey, Jeffrey, we want to bring in Kathleen Koch at the White House, but before you go, we have just gotten word, as you pretty much predicted, that this would be appealed as well and we've just gotten word from the lawyers of Scooter Libby that they will, in fact, appeal. Take us through that process, if you would.
TOOBIN: Well, it gets a little bit complicated here because there are wheels within wheels. This is not the appeal of his conviction. That will come later. The issue before Judge Walton and the issue now soon to be before the court of appeals is whether he stays out on bail while the appeal is pending, and this is enormously significant.
SANCHEZ: Isn't that what this judge just decided, though?
TOOBIN: That's right. That is what Judge Walton decided, but that ruling is now being appealed by Libby and his lawyers. And, you know, those -- those rulings are not usually set aside on appeal but these cases that are politically charged often take mysterious turns. The DC circuit, the court of appeals for the DC circuit is where this case will go is one of the most politically polarized courts in the country --
SANCHEZ: Speaking of that Jeffrey, I'm getting word from our producers now that Brian Todd has just walked outside that courthouse and he's able to join us now to give us some perspective on what he was reporting on this morning. Brian, pick it up.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, as you have just been mentioning, the judge has just ruled that Scooter Libby does have to report to prison. He's going to voluntarily report. As soon as the judge made that ruling, one of Libby's appellate attorneys asked for that voluntary reporting to be stayed. The judge immediately denied that, so he then informed Mr. Libby that he has 10 days to appeal his conviction, to file that appeal and essentially adjourned court. There was very little emotion shown by Mr. Libby in the courtroom or his wife or any of his legal team. And that's where it stands now, as you guys have been reporting, the judge has denied the motion to set Mr. Libby free pending his appeal. This now goes to the Bureau of Prisons while this particular ruling is being appealed, as Jeffrey mentioned, a lot of appeals upon appeals here. But in the meantime, this is going to go to the Bureau of Prisons to decide when and where Mr. Libby should report.
SANCHEZ: Well, what was the argument? What was the holding? What did the attorneys say to the judge? Why did they explain that this should not happen? What was their argument for Libby staying out while this is being appealed?
TODD: The one argument that they kept focusing on was the appointment of the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald, essentially arguing in many different ways that he was given way too much authority to prosecute this case, that he didn't have to follow a Department of Justice policies, that he did not have to report to anyone of political accountability in the Justice Department. They hammered at that all morning. The judge is essentially ruling that he does not think that's going to necessarily stand up on appeal. It's not grounds for him to release Mr. Libby pending that appeal.
SANCHEZ: Jeffrey Toobin, how about that, going after Fitzgerald as a strategy?
TOOBIN: I can see Judge Walton's point. I think it's a pretty weak argument. The Supreme Court has upheld the independent counsel law which is a far more constitutionally problematic structure than assigning a case to a sitting U.S. attorney. Pat Fitzgerald is the U.S. attorney from Chicago. He's not some hybrid prosecutor. That's all he is, the U.S. attorney from Chicago. He's in charge of this case. I don't really see a very strong legal argument that he didn't have the right to bring this case. If that's the main argument that Scooter Libby's lawyers are relying on and apparently it is, I can see Judge Walton's point that, hey, it's just not that strong an argument so off you go to jail.
PHILLIPS: Jeffrey Toobin, Brian Todd, stay with us. Kathleen Koch at the White House, reaction from there, Kathleen?
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just an hour ago at the regular daily White House briefing, Press Secretary Tony Snow was asked outright, does Scooter Libby deserve a pardon? Should he get a pardon? And Snow repeated basically what he had said many, many times before from the podium in the briefing room. He said at this point what the president has said is let the legal process work itself out. We're not talking about what -- we're just not engaging in that right now. So, that's where things stand. We are trying right now very much to get some reaction, but certainly Scooter Libby was someone who, when he served as chief of staff for the vice president, was very highly regarded, very well thought of. He's married, a father of two, two young children and certainly there is not any pleasure here at what has happened to him and certainly at the judge's ruling today. That's the sort of thing we expect to hear but we haven't gotten any direct reaction to the ruling just yet.
PHILLIPS: All right. Kathleen, stay with us as we're following this breaking news about Lewis "Scooter" Libby, a U.S. judge saying that he would not delay the two and a half year prison sentence for the former aide to the Vice President Dick Cheney. He will go to prison. We're following this. We've got another developing story, Rick?
SANCHEZ: Yes, we were talking to Atika Shubert just a little while ago about what's going on there in the Gaza and that Hamas seems to have taken control. It's being described by a lot of folks out there as an all-out civil war. We have just gotten word on something that may amp this up somewhat. Abbas, Mahmoud Abbas, the leader of the Palestinian faction and president is now planning to declare a state of emergency as a result of what's been going on there this morning. There's even word, this being reported by the Associated Press, that he will dismantle, that he will dismantle, the Hamas-Fatah coalition that has been in place. So certainly this does not fare well for the future of the area there in the Middle East. As we get more information, we'll bring it to you. But the upshoot is that the Palestinian president is saying there is now a state of emergency and that as a result he's dismantling the coalition that had earlier been formed. Kyra back to you.
PHILLIPS: And I'm told we've got Ben Wedeman on the line now from (INAUDIBLE) Ben Wedeman, as this comes across the wires, what can you tell us?
VOICE OF BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, we just got it from a source close to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, that he's going to declare a state of emergency and dissolve the Palestinian government. You will recall that government is a unity government between Fatah and Hamas. This is going to give the Palestinian president essentially dictatorial powers for a period of 30 days. It is significant on one level, but on the other hand, given that the Gaza strip is now firmly under the control of Hamas, it probably isn't going to make a lot of difference because Mahmoud Abbas is not only the Palestinian president, he's also the leader of the Fatah faction and Fatah has been roundly defeated in Gaza. So whatever Abbas decides, it's not going to make much difference on the ground there.
PHILLIPS: You are talking about making much difference on the ground there politically, correct? But what about security-wise? Ben, no matter what happens within -- with the government, which side from this side to the Israeli side, there always seems to be a spark in violence when something like this happens. Is that your sense, that this could create more of a security issue?
WEDEMAN: No, because essentially the Palestinian government has ceased to function in Gaza. And that's been for quite some time now. Essentially, there is sort of a government functioning in the west bank, but in Gaza itself, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, can issue as many decrees as he likes, but Hamas runs the place and, therefore, it's not going to make much difference. Militarily the battle has been fought and has been won by Hamas. In a sense, this is a decision too little, too late for the Palestinian president.
PHILLIPS: Ben Wedeman by phone. We appreciate it. Following a number of developing stories this hour.
SANCHEZ: Yeah, we're obviously going to stay on top of this Libby decision and try to find out as it plays out what the next avenue is for Scooter Libby's attorneys.
Also, continue to work our White House sources to try and find out if the president who, by the way, has been getting a lot of pressure from some members of his own party, members of the Republican party, who are saying you should go ahead and pardon him. Will he actually lead in that direction? Of course, we'll have the latest on what's going on with the Palestinians.
PHILLIPS: Also coming up after the break, we're going to talk about putting lives on the line. U.S. Marines do it willingly, right, but should their families face deadly risks for living on base? Straight ahead in the NEWSROOM, Camp Lejeune under fire for claims of toxic tap water causing cancer.
SANCHEZ: Two big breaking stories we are following for you right now and you see them both on your screen. The left of your screen is Scooter Libby, that's him arriving at a hearing this morning where a judge is going to make a decision whether he would need to go to prison while his appeals are being heard. The judge has decided, in fact, yes. Scooter Libby should go to prison while his appeals are being heard. Two parts, though, still out on this. A, his lawyers are going to appeal this decision. Now it brings into the question whether the president will try and pardon him as some in the GOP have asked him to do.
Then you have the story of Mahmoud Abbas on the right. He has just ordered that the coalition, the Palestinian coalition between the two factions there be abolished or dismantled. He also says there's now a state of emergency in the Gaza as a result of the civil war-like state that is taking place there. Updates on both stories as we get them. Kyra, over to you.
PHILLIPS: Thirty years, that's how long the water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, was contaminated with toxins as much as 40 times higher than today's limits. At a hearing this week on Capitol Hill, Marines and their families said that the tap water they drank, cooked with and bathed in on base gave them cancer and other illnesses. Federal health officials say as many as one million people were exposed over the decades to water that was contaminated with industrial solvents. The Marine father of this little girl, Jany (ph) Esminger, told Congress that the water gave her fatal leukemia.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JERRY ENSMINGER, MARINE CORPS VETERAN: Every time she got stuck with a needle, I was there holding her. She was screaming in my ear. Every time they stuck a needle through her bone in her hip, to pull out bone marrow, I held her. And she screamed in my ear. Daddy, daddy, don't let them hurt me. The only thing that I could say to her was, honey, the only reason they're hurting you is they're trying to help you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Marine officials say that Camp Lejeune provided water consistent with industry practices of that time. Joining me now is Marine veteran Jerry Ensminger whose daughter died at age nine and Congressman Bart Stupak, the chairman of the House committee that's investigating all of this. Gentlemen, I appreciate you both being with me. Jerry, I got to tell you, it puts a lump in my throat just listening to you testify there. You were a U.S. Marine for 24 1/2 years. Semper fi is what you believed in. It means always faithful. What happened to that allegiance?
ENSMINGER: It got lost somewhere along the line. These people have not -- certainly not lived up to their motto, nor our slogan which is we take care of our own. I realized that down at the unit level, our motto still does mean an awful lot, but when you get up into the hierarchy and the bureaucracy levels, these people up at these levels here, they -- they've seem to have forgotten our motto.
PHILLIPS: Congressman Stupak, how can our men in uniform and their families be let down like this and for such a long time?
REP. BART STUPAK (D) MICHIGAN: Not only were they let down back in the early '80s when they first discovered this problem but all the way through, even until today. Yet today they still refuse to notify those people who are exposed to this poisonous water at Camp Lejeune, even today, we're still fighting to try to get to the truth of it. And after our hearing yesterday, thanks to Jerry and the other witnesses who appeared before our committee hearing, we have many, many more questions. This matter will not go away. We're going to get to the bottom of this because the least this country owes people like Jerry Ensminger and others, is an honest answer as to what happened, why was it a cover up, basically, for 30 years and why does it continue. What are they trying to hide?
This is the world's worst toxic well you can find, 18,000 parts per billion when acceptable right now by today's standard is only five parts, not 18,000 parts per billion. Why do we have to continue to scratch and claw for every shred of truth as to what happened here at Camp Lejeune and why weren't people like Mr. Ensminger and others notified and told?
PHILLIPS: We did get a statement from the Marines and according to the statement, the Marine Corps does admit that in the early 1980s two solvents, TCE and PCE unregulated at the time were detected in two water systems that served base housing areas, eventually specific groundwater wells were identified at the source -- as the source of those chemicals and they were shut down in early 1985. They say the water is OK now. The question is, why did it take so long to pursue this? And, Jerry, did you have any idea that that water was toxic? Was there ever a warning, anything to you or your family in the '80s?
ENSMINGER: No ma'am, there was never any warnings issued. I -- I find it almost humorous that the Marine Corps continues to state that their water today meets all standards. That's what they were saying back then, too. The only thing is they weren't telling us what else was in there. I mean, they knew it was there for nearly five years before they ever did anything to, to rectify the problem.
PHILLIPS: Jerry, tell me about Jany. Tell me about your little girl. Tell me what she went through.
ENSMINGER: When Jany was diagnosed, you know, I basically went into shock. It was an extremely -- I would imagine any parent that goes through such a thing has the same reaction. And then there was the hustle and bustle of getting her to a treatment facility. And, you know, after I had a chance to ponder it, you know, that -- that one question came into my mind. Why? And I looked and looked and looked. And I couldn't find any other child in her mother's family history or mine that had ever had leukemia. But anyhow, Jany, she went through the only way that I can explain it is she went through hell. That child got poked and prodded so much, she went through so much chemotherapy. Her veins become so rotten that they couldn't even get -- find a vein in her. They stuck her 28 times the last time she had an IV put in and that was so that they could surgically implant what is known as a broviac (ph) catheter. She -- she really -- she really suffered.
PHILLIPS: And as I read your testimony, I mean, you held her, she looked you in the eyes, you looked her in the eyes. You were her source of strength from what I've seen.
PHILLIPS: What was the last thing she said to you? Do you remember?
ENSMINGER: She told me to stop it. I started crying. And I had never cried in front of her before. When I had to cry, I left the room because like you said, she drew her strength from me. And I couldn't -- I couldn't look weak. I -- you know, I -- and that day I started crying. And she said, stop it. I said stop what? She said, daddy, stop crying. She said, I love you. I said I know, honey. I love you, too. She said, I know. That was the last words Jany said. Thirty five minutes later she was dead.
PHILLIPS: Congressman, wasn't there funding allotted to clean up this water? And if so, where did that money go?
STUPAK: Well, there's been plenty allotted to start the cleanup. You have about 39 wells that have to be cleaned up at Camp Lejeune. 1998, 1999 and 2000 they refused to even request funding for Camp Lejeune. They spent very little money on clean up Camp Lejeune. They drilled some new wells to say the water is safe. PHILLIPS: What about the EPA?
STUPAK: Well, we have a lot of questions there. A criminal investigator was there and he said that -- well, he made some recommendations, there was definitely obstruction of justice because even the Marine Corps statement they put out today saying that they followed all standards is not true. In 1972 the standard was 3 parts per billion. That was the Navy's own regulations and they violated that. But the, the criminal investigation by EPA CID is very questionable. We have more questions. We are going to look closer at this investigation because we do believe there was obstruction of justice for Jerry and all the rest of the people who lived on Camp Lejeune. We are requesting more documents, more files. This is just starting to unravel. We promise Jerry and others who lived in these terrible conditions at Camp Lejeune we'll get to the bottom of this.
PHILLIPS: Congressman, we will definitely follow that investigation. Jerry Ensminger, thanks for sharing your story. I know it's probably got to be one of the most difficult things you've ever done, probably tougher than fighting in the U.S. Marine Corps.
ENSMINGER: I would like to add one thing.
PHILLIPS: Go right ahead.
ENSMINGER: What most people don't realize is that our United States Department of Defense, I mean, this -- this lends to a larger issue, this Camp Lejeune situation. The Department of Defense is our country's largest polluter, by far without exception. I mean and the surrounding communities around any military installation, they, they -- they genuinely have a reason to be concerned. And for the last six years, the Department of Defense has been trying to acquire immunities from environmental regulations. Geez, I just can't understand -- they run around and ask everybody to support our troops, but at the same token behind the scenes, they're seeking immunities so that they can do harm to the very people they're asking everybody else to support and not be held accountable for it.
PHILLIPS: Well, Jerry, your story and your perseverance, I can see, is going to go much farther than this case involving your daughter. I can see it's going to affect a lot of other cases and issues and I can promise you we will stay on top of that. You are an incredible father and also U.S. Marine. Bottom line, we should be taking care of our men and women in uniform no matter what the cost. Congressman, we will stay in touch with you with regard to the various investigations. Gentlemen, thank you so much for your time.
STUPAK: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: What a story.
First stitches now glitches. The outer space fix-it list just got a little bit longer.
We're expecting a news conference from NASA in the next hour to explain all of this for you. There is a lot of breaking news this afternoon and we are trying to be all over it for you. So stay with us. We will be right back.
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