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American Airlines Cancels Hundreds of Flights; President Bush Speaks Out on Iraq War
Aired April 10, 2008 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And they're moving east. Who has been hit and who is under the gun right now? And who is next?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And what does this mean for air travelers? It's probably not good. They're already fed up with thousands of flight cancellations. Boy, not a good place to be near.
Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon...
WHITFIELD: And I'm Fredricka...
LEMON: ... live at the CNN World Headquarters.
WHITFIELD: Sorry. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. You're in the NEWSROOM.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, you wish folks could smile about it, but it's been terminal misery. So many passengers, so few planes -- American Airlines cancels hundreds of flights for a third day in a row.
Our Deborah Feyerick checks out the frustration levels.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From Dallas to Chicago to New York, the scene was the same and the feeling universal.
UNIDENTIFIED PASSENGER: It's just crazy.
FEYERICK: American Airlines canceled more than 1,000 flights Wednesday, and nearly that many for today, leaving more than 100,000 people scrambling.
UNIDENTIFIED PASSENGER: Have to spend the night. I can't get out until tomorrow. My luggage is on its way to Detroit.
FEYERICK: While some rush to catch a new flight... UNIDENTIFIED PASSENGER: We need to get to Love Field in about the next 30 minutes.
FEYERICK: Others worked the phones or tried to relax. But for many, there was no getting over the feeling that the whole mess could have been avoided.
UNIDENTIFIED PASSENGER: They knew this was happening with the airplanes. So why do we, the common folk, have to suffer?
FEYERICK: This is the second time in just weeks that American has grounded the MD-80s. The problem is wires in the planes' rear wheel. If not properly secured, they could cause a short circuit, fire or even an explosion.
The airline thought it fixed the issue the first time around. But Monday, inspectors from the FAA said not all of the work was done to its exact specifications.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We felt and our mechanics felt they had greater latitude, they did not.
FEYERICK: Back in the terminal, the vouchers, snacks and juice did little to appease frustrated flyers.
UNIDENTIFIED PASSENGER: I have all my miles with American but I'm willing to sacrifice all of them to never have to fly on American for the rest of my life.
WHITFIELD: And now just a few reminders: Whenever you do fly, experts say it's a good idea to check the on-time performance of the flight you're thinking of booking. Keep the airline's number handy, and, in case you're stranded at the airport, you want to know what you're entitled to by way of compensation or accommodations.
LEMON: Well, Fredricka, come summertime, it may take longer for your packages to be delivered. The "USA Today" reports that's because the Transportation Security Administration plans to X-ray every last package that goes on passenger planes.
Currently, the TSA uses a computer to identify which packages to check. It also requires passengers -- passenger airlines to screen some cargo.
WHITFIELD: And disturbing new revelations are emerging after a week-long police search of a polygamist compound in west Texas. Among other things, beds were found in the group's temple.
Authorities believe male members of the group were using the beds to have sex with their underage wives immediately after their marriage ceremonies. Right now, 416 children removed from the compound in last week's raid are still in protective custody -- 139 women who left the compound voluntarily are being housed with the children. And a short time ago, authorities updated us on their investigation and on the 16-year-old girl who tipped them off, leading to this very raid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID DORAN, SCHLEICHER COUNTY SHERIFF: When you're dealing with a culture like this, they're taught from very on that they -- they do not answer questions to the point when you're asking them, like a dialogue between you and I.
And we may very well have her at Child Protective Services. All of that is certainly being sorted out right now. And the Rangers, Child Protective Services and everybody is diligently working on that to identify that person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Police are still looking for Dale Evans Barlow, a 50- year-old registered sex offender. Barlow is alleged to be the husband of the 16-year-old girl whose phone call actually tipped off authorities.
LEMON: China said today it has foiled a plot against the Summer Olympics that would have dwarfed the current turmoil surrounding the Games.
The public security minister there said dozens of people linked to a Muslim separatist group were arrested in faraway Xinjiang Province. The ministry says the group was plotting suicide bombings and kidnappings of Olympic athletes and others. Human rights activists suggest the charges are a ruse designed to bully the restive province that borders Tibet.
WHITFIELD: After three complete meltdowns in three consecutive cities, the head of the IOC conceded today the turmoil sparked by the Olympic torch tour is a crisis.
Yesterday, in San Francisco, supporters and opponents of the Beijing government combined to cause such chaos that the pass of the torch relay was shortened. Some who had waited for hours never got to see it at all. Next stop for the torch, Buenos Aires. IOC chairman Jacques Rogge said today that future Olympic torch tours may be reconsidered.
LEMON: The Dalai Lama arrives today in Seattle to start a U.S. tour that will last about a week. At the same time, authorities in his native Tibet reportedly have reversed the decision to reopen the region in May. Among the concerns cited, security for next month's Olympic torch relay to the top of Mount Everest.
For his part, the exiled leader has tried to diffuse the situation with China, saying he supports holding the Games in Beijing.
WHITFIELD: The president says laying down some new troop numbers for Iraq is the way to go, but what about those benchmarks that the Iraqis were supposed to meet? Some were met. Some were not. We will break it down with our Wolf Blitzer.
LEMON: All right. So, President Bush in a White House speech today made two big points about Iraq. First, U.S. troops won't be coming home from the war in large numbers any time soon. And, second, Iran ranks alongside al Qaeda as a great threat to America.
The president says his commanders need more time before there are large troop cuts, and they will get it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The immediate goal of the surge was to bring down the sectarian violence that threatened to overwhelm the government in Baghdad, restore basic security to Iraqi communities, and drive the terrorists out of their safe havens.
As General Petraeus told Congress, American and Iraqi forces have made significant progress in all these areas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Response from Congressional Democrats was quick and pointed and unhappy with the president's Iraq approach.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We need better answers from the president. Certainly, he sent General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker to the Congress. We respect them for their service to our country. But we need answers from the commander in chief.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, Speaker Pelosi also directly linked the enormous costs of the war to the economic slowdown in the United States.
And we're also looking at progress that has been made and benchmarks that were set down for the Iraqi government to meet. Have they been met? Have they not?
CNN's Wolf Blitzer is here.
Wolf, how are they doing on meeting those benchmarks?
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, in the overall picture, there's been a reduction of violence, but there's still plenty of violence under way. And there's by no means a guaranteed outcome of what's going to happen.
We took a look at some of the benchmarks that the president laid out 15 months ago when he addressed the nation. And let me point out some of the things we found out. At that time, he said one of the benchmarks would be that the Iraqi government would take responsibility in all of the 18 provinces of Iraq by last November, November of 2007. They have improved their ability so far, but by no means have they achieved that specific goal, taking full responsibility for security in all of the provinces.
They also -- the president promised that -- the president said, promised to pass legislation to share oil revenues. And that certainly hasn't happened yet. Although they have passed some preliminary legislation, that is by no means a done deal.
On a couple other points that the president mentioned, that the Iraqis would spend $10 billion last year of their own money to try to go forward with some reconstruction of the infrastructure, they did allocate $10 billion of their own money, but, according to the Government Accountability Office, only spent 4.4 percent of that $10 billion. The White House said they spent about 24 percent of that money. They're promising they will spend more this year.
Last year, 15 months ago, the president said the Iraqis would hold their provisional -- provincial elections by the end of last year, by November of last year. That hasn't happened yet. Now they're saying those elections will take place by the end of 2008. So, we were trying to take a closer look at some of the things the president laid out 15 months ago that haven't exactly happened yet.
LEMON: All right. So, the Iraqi government was supposed to spend some of their own money, and it appears they have?
BLITZER: They have spent some of their own money. But they're getting a lot of money now. With oil at $110 a barrel, they're going to get at least $50 or $60 billion a year this year alone in oil revenue. And what the U.S. would like, certainly, a lot of members of Congress would like, and the American public, no doubt, would like is to see the U.S. expenditures go down, especially in the face of this windfall that the Iraqis themselves are getting.
And, Wolf, "SIT ROOM" what do you have for us today?
BLITZER: We're going to follow up on the president's remarks, what's going on. And our own Michael Ware spent some time with General Petraeus earlier in the day. We are going to talk to him about what he learned as a result of all this. We are going to also follow up on what happened yesterday in San Francisco with that Olympic torch that was run through at least some of those streets in San Francisco.
There's reaction on this day after. We will speak with the San Francisco mayor, Gavin Newsom, and get his sense of what he thinks happened. "The Washington Post," in their story on it, they basically said the city of San Francisco punted yesterday, which is not necessarily a flattering comment.
LEMON: Yes. And back to General Petraeus and Michael Ware, a very interesting interview. He came on just a little bit and shared some of it with us. And Michael doesn't pull any punches, Wolf.
BLITZER: No. He's a good reporter. He's a courageous reporter. He spent five years in Baghdad. So, he's either courageous or he's nuts, as I have said to him myself.
LEMON: Or he could be both.
LEMON: And I'm sure he won't mind us saying that.
OK. Yes, it's a great report. And I can't wait to see all of it.
Thank you, Wolf.
And join Wolf and his team at the top of the next hour, 4:00 Eastern, for "THE SITUATION ROOM" right here on CNN.
WHITFIELD: All right, here's a question a lot of folks wonder as soon as they get in the car. So, how safe is your car, particularly on the highway? Some impact crash tests, we have got the results.
LEMON: And look at this huge flame and a tiny baby. We will have the story of courage from Tucson, Arizona.
LEMON: So, you think you use your cell phone a lot now, calls, e-mails, texts? Well, an emergency text on your cell phone, it could be coming your way soon.
The Federal Communications Commission has just approved a new emergency cell phone alert system. The messages could be used to warn of a terror attack, a natural disaster or a child abduction. T- Mobile, Verizon, Sprint, Nextel and AT&T say they will likely participate, although implementation could be about a year away. Subscribers could opt out if they don't want the messages.
WHITFIELD: All right.
And the latest midsize car crash results are in. And the word is today's cars are better protected in side-impact crashes than they were four years ago. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says the better ratings are due to side air bags and improved design.
Well, getting front in front- and in side-impact crashes were Chevrolet Malibu, Saturn Aura, Dodge Avenger, the Nissan Altima, Infiniti G35, and the Mitsubishi Galant.
Mixed results, though, for rear-end impacts. The Insurance Institute reports that the Kia Optima was the only car to get a top rating.
LEMON: My Pinto isn't on the list.
WHITFIELD: Uh-uh. It's not on anybody's list anymore.
WHITFIELD: It's a bit archaic.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, he's the commander of all forces in Iraq. And today, his boss, the commander in chief, announced major developments in the war -- a conversation with General David Petraeus straight ahead.
LEMON: And this story, I mean, it -- some people find it disgusting. It's a high school student whales on a teacher. And the teachers at school say it's just another day at Lewis High in Baltimore.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CHIEF TECHNOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yates Coley (ph) is looking for signs of an unhealthy house.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's some peeling paint on the windows. And that is a particular hazard.
O'BRIEN: She's part of a Duke University project to find neighborhoods where children are more likely to get sick.
MARIE LYNN MIRANDA, PROFESSOR, DUKE UNIVERSITY: On a house-by- house basis, we can tell you the risk that a child is going to get lead poison there.
O'BRIEN: Information on peeling paint, broken windows, glitter, even yard care, is noted, along with GPS coordinates. The data is uploaded into computers and displayed on a map. The idea? To make it easier for experts to find areas that need help before people get sick.
MIRANDA: What we're trying to do is produce those same very user-friendly, easy-to-interpret maps, except make those maps talk about public health, instead of just how to get so your son's baseball game or how to get to your daughter's soccer game.
O'BRIEN: This is just one of a handful of mapping projects the Duke scientists are doing nationwide. In some cases, they're charting outbreaks of disease.
Researchers say they're very careful not to make those maps too specific, as they could violate people's privacy. That's why you won't be seeing these maps online. They're designed to give doctors and policy-makers a road map to better health, not to stigmatize sick people in need.
Miles O'Brien, CNN.
LEMON: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
WHITFIELD: And I'm Fredricka Whitfield, in for Kyra Phillips. You're in the NEWSROOM.
LEMON: All right, we start with some breaking news.
We're going to take you now to Charlotte, North Carolina. And you look at this, this is a rescue going on at the top of a crane. And this is what we were told by our affiliate there in North Carolina, WSOC, from Charlotte.
They're telling us that emergency crews are on the scene of an uptown, what they call an uptown construction site, where they are trying to rescue a worker with a medical emergency from atop a crane. He had a medical emergency on top of the crane, so they're trying to bring him down on a stretcher . That's what the crews are doing. We're not exactly sure what happened up here. But they are gingerly bringing him down off this crane.
And you can see -- I mean we don't have control of these pictures. There we go. They're pulling out. Look how high that crane is. And they're somewhere -- they're at least much closer to the bottom than they were. They were all the way up on the top when we first started noticing this.
And so now, getting as close to the bottom as that they've gotten. But there you go -- a huge crane there. I'm not exactly sure how big it is, but it is fairly high up and workers are trying to bring down a crane -- a construction worker with a medical emergency.
We're working on that story for you in the CNN NEWSROOM. As soon as we get more information, we'll tell you about that.
We're also working on this one. Hundreds of homes are damaged and thousands of power customers have lost their service as storms rumble through Arkansas, Texas and Oklahoma. A third day of frustration, also, we want to tell you about for American Airlines passengers. The nation's largest airline is canceling 900 more flights today as it continues to inspect wiring in hundreds of MD-80 jets.
President Bush has halted U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq until further notice. He says he doesn't want to endanger the progress that's been made since the surge began -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Well, the commander of all multinational forces in Iraq said further troop pull-outs will have to wait. And today, the commander-in-chief agreed. President Bush announced some new deployment and redeployment terms for combat troops in Iraq.
Our Michael Ware spoke about those terms with David Petraeus in Washington. He joins us again now from Washington.
Good to see you again.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Thanks, Fredricka.
Yes, sitting down with the commander of the U.S. war in Iraq, General David Petraeus, fresh from his two days of testimony here on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. . The general was sure to remind the American public of some of the grim realities of the war in Iraq.
This is a conflict that, whether you like it or not, is not going away any time soon. The president may have said it is not endless, but that end is not in sight.
Now, I know General Petraeus wishes he had a happier story to tell the American people, but, unfortunately, he doesn't.
And as we sat down, we talked about the nature of his testimony and whether he believes his message sank in to the members of Congress or not. He also spoke about the presence of militias in Iraq and how they may just be a political reality whether America likes that or not. And he also talked about America's enemy.
Now whilst he did say Al Qaeda is the wolves that must be watched, it's just one of many enemies. And he also gave us a sense that, indeed, the war in Iraq has really evolved and that the true dynamic of this conflict is now that America's competition with Iran and Iran's influence, perhaps, is much more dug in Iraq than most Americans would like to think.
Here's what General Petraeus had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WARE: You would know, as well, that many of your intelligence agencies say Iranian agents of influence stretch to the highest levels of the Iraqi government. We've seen the interdiction by the president of Iraq during the detentions and some of the Quds Force operatives.
GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: Yes, and...
WARE: Does that concern you?
PETRAEUS: Again, it's a reality and it is...
WARE: That there is that kind of infiltration and...
PETRAEUS: It's a reality, again. Look, as you pointed out earlier, but, again, for the -- for the listeners, your audience, these parties are products -- many of them -- of time in Iran. It's where a number of the current Iraqi leaders spent their time in exile, where they went when pursued by Saddam's army or his thugs.
So a lot of that is understandable and, again, it is a reality. And it's something that just has to be dealt with.
At the end of the day, though, there is -- as Ambassador Crocker occasionally terms it -- a self-limiting aspect to Iranian involvement in Iraq. And you do see that right now. You see leaders of parties that, again, have benefited financially, physically, all kinds of different ways from their relationships with Iran now being gravely concerned about what the special groups and, to a degree, the militias, are doing in Iraq. And they also realize that they have to -- again, this is going to take a very, very comprehensive approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WARE: And that comprehensive approach, like much else in this conflict, is going to take great patience from the American people.
So, it's not a pretty picture that General David Petraeus has to paint, yet it's one he feels he has no option but to show. And it just suggests that there really is quite some distance to go in this conflict -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And, Michael, just earlier we spoke with one Vietnam vet. And he's also an advocate of soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan now. And he said one of the stresses brought upon these soldiers is the redeployments. And he said perhaps if there were not the redeployments or perhaps even a draft, that perhaps there might be a more solid end game to this war.
I wonder if the general has ever made any comments that he's comfortable with saying publicly about the draft issue or about the issue of redeployments. Is that something he was willing to talk about?
WARE: Well, it's certainly not something that we touched upon today and it's certainly not something that he's ever commented upon in the past.
But here's another little reality check for you. America has never really fought this war, certainly not without one arm tied behind its back. The administration that's guided this conflict has wanted to have its cake and eat it, too.
Now, it's gone into Iraq and removed Saddam. It has not filled the vacuum. It's allowed Iran to fill that vacuum. It's allowed Al Qaeda to exist in Iraq where it never used to. And it's delivered a legacy of sectarian hatred that even General Petraeus said did not exist before this war.
Now, to really fight it, we all now know that America does not have enough troops. So if you really did want to occupy Iraq, if you really did want to change the dynamics, then many would say that, yes, you do need a draft. But there's no president, there's no politician in this country who's going to even utter that dreadful "D" word for the sake of their political career. So the fighters on the ground, the commanders, the ambassadors, have to deal with what they've got. And the heavy burden of all that, ultimately, will fall on the ordinary soldiers and their families -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Michael Ware, excellent reporting, as always. Thank you so much.
We'll expect to see and hear much more of that conversation with General Petraeus throughout the day and watch the full interview tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern. That will be "ANDERSON COOPER 360."
LEMON: Very interesting stuff. And also an interesting angle to this -- what administration calls the surge/withdrawal business. Word today from the Pentagon that the top commanders in Iraq and the secretary of defense might not be singing the same tune.
Straight to the Pentagon now and our correspondent there, Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie, are they not on the same page with this?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Defense Secretary Robert Gates appeared to contradict both his boss, President Bush, and his top commander, General Petraeus, in his Senate testimony today when he suggested that further troop cuts were likely later this year, despite the president and General Petraeus both not giving any indication that was the case.
Both Gates and his Joint Chiefs chairman general -- Admiral Mike Mullen -- testified -- and we can see they're still testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee this afternoon -- that they believed there was a very good chance that after this brief consolidation -- a period of brief consolidation, as Secretary Gates called it, there might be an immediate decision to withdraw some troops.
And, of course, it was just hours after President Bush said that he considered the term pause to be misleading because there was going to be no pause in operations. Secretary Gates used the term brief pause again in his testimony. And the Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Senator Carl Levin, immediately expressed some incredulity that that -- that he could be at odds with both the president and his top commander.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: General Petraeus refused to use the term "brief" or "pause." and he refused to use any -- any idea of a time period for that second period that began in September.
You're aware of the fact of his refusal?
ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, one of the benefits of being secretary of defense, I suppose, is that I'm more allowed to hope than the field commander is. LEVIN: Well, I hope that you're doing more than hoping. I hope you're giving a hard-headed assessment of what you are recommending to the president.
GATES: Well, what I've just described to you, Mr. Chairman, is what I've recommended to the president. And I believe it is consistent with the decisions the president has made.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCINTYRE: So while President Bush said that General Petraeus will have all the time he needs to decide about future troop levels and while General Petraeus has said he'll begin that process at the end of the 45-day period of consolidation, Secretary Gates indicated he believes that the decisions could come as soon as mid-September.
That's, by the way, when the first brigade will be leaving that the general could possibly not replace. And that's how they would accomplish troop drawdowns, not replacing some of the brigades as they come out. Three brigades are scheduled to come out at the end of the year. If they weren't replaced, that would reduce the number of brigades from 15 to just 12. But we'll have to see if that happens -- Don.
LEMON: All right. We'll see. Senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre. Thank you, Jamie.
WHITFIELD: All right, we want to update you on this developing story right there out of Charlotte, North Carolina. Take a look at this right here. You see a firefighter that's on this, I guess, you know, rappelled (ph) down, if you will, from this crane. And in a basket there is an injured worker that we understand had some sort of medical problem while working on a construction site there in the uptown area of Charlotte.
And here's a better view right here -- a better view of what was taking place a little bit earlier here of them trying to assist. And you see this is a real team effort going on here. It's still unclear exactly what was taking place with this worker, what precipitated this event.
But now you're seeing live pictures of them descending here from this construction site, trying to get him to some safety. Of course, we're going to get some more clarity on exactly what took place and how they were able to get to them in this manner, which is pretty remarkable, seeing these firefighters in the throes of their work here in Charlotte.
Much more straight ahead.
LEMON: Do you know what? How far is he from the ground? Do we want to go to a break before? Yes, we want to see them take this down. Yes.
WHITFIELD: Well, it looks like we're going to stay with it now. Well, it's kind of hard to tell in this kind of pushed in view here how many stores we're talking about. But they are starting to pull out maybe a couple more floors before they at least...
LEMON: It appears he's pretty close...
WHITFIELD: ...hit a landing.
LEMON: ...because you can see the street lights there. You see the -- yes. So...
LEMON: They've got a couple more feet, but then, you know what, he -- we were sort of in the same situation yesterday when they were rescuing the elderly people. It wasn't -- we weren't exactly sure of how far from the ground they were and we definitely don't want to put something on television, in case something happens, God forbid, something falls or what have you.
So, apparently they're releasing something there, I guess, to cushion the drop or to assist them getting him down. And they're pretty close to the ground now. And so they're below the -- right there near the sign (INAUDIBLE) closed.
WHITFIELD: Oh, it looks like maybe a couple feet away.
WHITFIELD: This, so far, looks like a very successful rescue mission taking place.
WHITFIELD: It's hard to tell how the worker is doing. Pretty placid there, not moving. But, of course, you're seeing all the other emergency crews now trying to assist -- get him down very gently before being able to look at him a little bit closer, get him to an ambulance and perhaps you have the nearby medical facility.
LEMON: Yes. He's down.
WHITFIELD: That's good.
LEMON: Good news, yes.
All right. All safe. We'll try to get a condition on the worker and find out what happened in a moment.
WHITFIELD: And welcome back to THE NEWSROOM.
We want to update you right now on the situation there in Charlotte, North Carolina. There you see the live pictures of the ambulance in place because a construction worker was in trouble -- had a medical condition on a crane at a construction site.
And now, you're looking at images from a short time ago. And the firefighters were able to act very quickly and get to him -- very carefully get to the worker -- the construction worker who was having some problems there -- put him in a basket and then descend him many floors down, as you see right there, to safety on the ground right there.
Remarkable pictures. We don't know the condition of the worker or exactly what happened, just that a medical condition had occurred there while working on the crane right there in downtown Charlotte. More information as we get it.
LEMON: OK. Fred, we have been watching this video all day and I mean it is just shocking.
Let's take another look at something we showed you before. It is disturbing. It's cell phone video shot a week ago tomorrow at Baltimore's Lewis High School. That is a student on top and a teacher on the bottom. Other teachers eventually had to pull the student off. The teacher, who was beaten, says the principal has suggested that she brought this attack on herself.
Joining us now from New York, Lewis High School teacher Jolita Berry.
Are you still working there, Jolita?
JOLITA BERRY, TEACHER, BALTIMORE'S LEWIS HIGH SCHOOL: Yes.
LEMON: As I call you the Lewis High School teacher. She's a teacher who was attacked on tape. Thank you for joining us. How are you doing?
BERRY: It's crazy. I don't really know how to feel right now.
LEMON: What do you mean you don't know how to feel?
BERRY: It's just a lot going on right now. I just got through with the "Today" show not too long ago. It's -- seeing the footage is just disturbing me.
LEMON: Yes. You have been doing interviews. You mentioned that you were on the morning program on another network.
LEMON: And you are a sort of a reluctant person. You came forward. You didn't really want to come forward and talk about this. This is embarrassing for you.
BERRY: Right. You're absolutely right. I felt the need -- but I had to, though, because this has been going on for too long. Too many teachers have been the victim of violence at the hands of students. One of the biggest reasons is because there are no consequences and the students know that. They know that they are not being disciplined.
LEMON: What brought this on, Ms. Berry? BERRY: Well, the student and I had some words. She came over to behind -- she came over from behind my desk -- excuse me. And she got up in my face. And I told her, I said, you need to back up, you're in my personal space. And she told me, I'm going to hit you. She said it in a colorful language which I won't repeat here.
And I told her, again, you need to back up, you're in my personal space. She -- and I -- I'm sorry. And I told her that if she did put her hands on me, though, I would defend myself.
And I heard -- I heard her other -- her friends cheering her on, saying, you know, hit her, hit her. And I took my eyes off of her for a few seconds because that school, they will jump on just about anybody. It doesn't matter.
LEMON: OK. And you said they'll jump on anybody. And you say it's happened before, you've had words. And, obviously, students and teachers have words. It's nothing uncommon. You get upset. But to hit a teacher, what do you mean by this has happened before? Is this common practice in your school?
BERRY: Yes. There have been a number of teachers that have been attacked. One teacher of mine -- well, not mine but he is a colleague of mine -- I'm not going to put his name out there. But he did a local show last night. He was on the news in my hometown, in Baltimore. There was a teacher that was struck in the face twice by a student just for breaking up a fight. And absolutely nothing was done.
LEMON: And nobody does anything...
LEMON: Because if I had even looked cross-eyed at a teacher when I was a kid, my mom would have been all over me. I wouldn't be able to sit down.
BERRY: Exactly. My parents are from the South. They didn't play that. I didn't believe in that either.
LEMON: Yes. OK.
Well, here's what the -- this is what the public school says. It says: "Our schools must be safe and supportive places to learn. This is a fundamental commitment to our students, teachers and parents. We take any disruption of the learning environment extremely seriously and respond immediately and forcefully to any disruption."
How do you feel about that? Do you believe in that? Do you feel that way?
BERRY: Perhaps to a point. But, again, whoever it is that is running that particular school has to be going to file the documents to make sure that the documents reach the proper authorities. Without that, if the principals turn a blind eye, nothing gets done.
LEMON: Well, you bring up a good point, because -- and, again, we reached out to the principal. The principal said he's not -- he didn't want to make a comment and was unavailable to CNN. But the principal said you brought this on yourself, meaning with your language, with -- how did you bring it on yourself?
BERRY: Well, her exact words was I used "trigger words." She told me that by telling the student that I was going to defend myself, I triggered her. That is absolutely ridiculous. It makes no sense to me. It's right there on the tape. Nobody, nobody -- it doesn't matter what anyone says, they don't deserve that. They don't deserve that.
LEMON: Yes. What would you like to see done?
BERRY: I would for -- I would like for everyone to realize that this is not a joke, this is not a game. Teachers, not only in Baltimore City, go through this, they go through this all over the city, all day every day and nothing is being done. So people need to realize that it's real.
I'm not out here to blame the parents or anything like that. It's just something has to be done. I wish this hadn't happened to me. You know, as devastating and embarrassing and upsetting as it is, I do believe that everything happens for a reason.
If I had to go through this in order to make schools safe for my colleagues all over the school system and the students that want to learn, that are sick and tired of going to class and not finding a teacher or having their learning disrupted by a gang fight or whatever, if I can make a change in that system, then I guess I'm stepping forward.
LEMON: Jolita Berry, we hope that's the case. And we thank you for joining us.
Real quickly, before we let you go...
BERRY: Thank you.
LEMON: ...have you heard anything about what happened and has anything happened to the principal? Anyone else been disciplined in this?
BERRY: Well, you know, I'm not quite sure on that. And I don't want to be the one to speak on that one.
LEMON: OK. Thank you.
LEMON: Best of luck to you. And I hope you do help teachers.
BERRY: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right.
Also, shocking straight ahead, huge flames and a tiny baby. We'll have a story of courage from Tucson, Arizona. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
WHITFIELD: A dramatic rescue in Tucson, Arizona -- this one right here, where two bystanders braved this inferno to rescue a baby in this burning car.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DAVID FRENCH, RESCUER: And I ran up and the seat belt was strapped to the baby. And I ran over and tried to pull that door ajar and finally got the baby out and then ran over here. And lucky that thing didn't blow up.
SUE GEORGE, RESCUER: And it was hard to unbuckle to get the baby out. But she's safe. She's good.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Oh, my gosh, they are remarkable. Firefighters actually got to the scene after the rescue took place. They were held up in traffic. Thank goodness those bystanders were there.
LEMON: Bystanders and good Samaritans.
The closing bell and a wrap of all the action on Wall Street straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: The closing bell right around the corner.
LEMON: Ah, Stephanie Elam standing by with a final look at the trading day.
Look at her -- hi, Stephanie.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there.
WHITFIELD: With a tan.
LEMON: Yes, what's up with the tan?
WHITFIELD: You went somewhere balmy.
ELAM: I'm always this color.
WHITFIELD: Yes. You're a couple shades deeper today.
ELAM: In my mind, I'm always this color. But, no, I was hanging out... LEMON: You can't fool us with that.
ELAM: Yes, no, not you two, anyway.
WHITFIELD: You went somewhere (INAUDIBLE).
ELAM: Not you two.
ELAM: Yes, I picked up a little bit of a tan in Florida. I just got back yesterday and then ran into some -- some traffic and I almost missed being here and hanging out with you guys today.
ELAM: But luckily I made it, so...
WHITFIELD: There's a story behind the traffic.
ELAM: Yes, there was. But Microsoft is introducing this new Web- based service for driving directions. And it helps drivers avoid traffic jams. The software works on any mobile device with an Internet connection and it's called Clearflo and will be available in 72 cities in the U.S. and Canada. Pretty cool.
(STOCK MARKET REPORT)
WHITFIELD: Time for "THE SITUATION ROOM."
LEMON: And Mr. Wolf Blitzer.
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