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ISSUES WITH JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL
Eliot Spitzer Escapes Prostitution Charges; Couple Slain by Fellow Marines; Massachusetts Legalized Pot
Aired November 6, 2008 - 19:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE VELEZ MITCHELL, HOST (voice-over): Tonight, shocking new details in the case of former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, a man whose fall from grace stunned the nation. I`ll tell you what the feds now say about Spitzer`s use of a prostitution ring.
And angry protests about California`s gay marriage bans spill into the streets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Equal rights! Equal rights! Equal rights!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Equal rights! Equal rights! Equal rights!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Equal rights! Equal rights! Equal rights!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are all hurting today.
VELEZ MITCHELL: The very latest on the uproar sparked by the controversial Prop 8 ballot initiative. Why "Star Trek`s" George Takei says beam that new law out of here.
Those issues and more, tonight.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Good evening. Welcome to ISSUES.
Two self-proclaimed white supremacists arraigned today for allegedly plotting to kill our president-elect. We`re going to look at the dangers posed by hate groups right here in America and the latest security measures for Barack Obama.
Also, outraged gay rights protestors take to the streets after California passes a ban on gay marriage. Now, they fight and they vow they`re going to accelerate their fight in the wake of this stunning defeat. I`m going to talk to "Star Trek`s" George Takei about what happens to his same-sex marriage now.
But first, breaking news. We have just learned that Eliot Spitzer -- remember him, the former governor of New York -- will not face any charges in relation to his prostitution scandal earlier this year. That`s right. You heard right. He will not be facing any charges.
The U.S. attorney released this statement saying, quote, "We have concluded that the public interest would not be further advanced by filing criminal charges in this matter." Say what? Of course the public interest would be further advanced by filing charges against this hypocrite.
Here is my issue. This is always the way it is. The johns walk away scot-free and the little people are punished. In this case, four little people who ran the ring have pleaded guilty. One of the ring`s booking agents, a woman, is facing jail time. She is going to be sentenced later this month.
Now, she didn`t pay for sex. All she did was help run the joint.
This is an outrage. Clearly, sexism is alive and well at the dubiously-named Department of Justice. It has, actually, a long-standing policy of not bringing criminal charges against the customers, i.e., the men. Shame on you, DOJ.
Spitzer responded to the decision this way: "I appreciate the impartiality and thoroughness of the investigation by the U.S. Attorney`s Office, and I acknowledge and accept reasonability for the conduct it disclosed. I once again apologize for my actions."
OK. So he says, "I`m sorry" and that should be enough? Shouldn`t he face legal ramifications for what he did?
With me now is CNN`s Richard Roth.
Richard, bring us up to date. Dare we ask, what is the very latest?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the very latest, and some of it you`ve laid out, is that the feds are not going to be prosecuting former client number nine in the Mayflower Hotel, using prostitutes at the Emperors Club Agency.
The prostitutes are never, they are gone after, but the johns, not so, according to most procedures by the feds. They don`t go after the men.
And in this case, Eliot Spitzer, they say they concluded after an investigation, Michael Garcia, the U.S. attorney, saying there was no illegal use of campaign or public funds by the governor. He used his own personal money. Thus, they don`t feel there`s any interest in going after him further.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes, but you know, what about the fact that this girl, Ashley Dupre, took a train from New York to Washington, D.C., thereby crossing state lines, and it`s illegal to transfer somebody across state lines for immoral purposes.
ROTH: I know. It`s known as the Mann Act, and the feds never go after the johns in this case. And they did prosecute the booking agency, yes, and the Emperors Club. And one of the women is going to be sentenced this month. Her lawyer is upset, thought that Spitzer should be prosecuted. Just the way it is, Jane.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes, and you know, what`s fascinating is the U.S. attorney actually acknowledges in this statement that there is this double standard. And he says it`s a policy of DOJ; it`s long standing practice not to go after the clients. I thought laws were laws. And if you break a law, you`ve got to prosecute. You just can`t have a policy: "We`re just going to enforce this one particular law. Let that one go."
ROTH: We`ve seen double standards with a lot of laws. We -- New York state was also looking at whether the state troopers were misused in any way by Governor Spitzer. I believe they`ve tightened up those measures for future governors who might want to prowl around in a hotel. But that`s what we`ve seen with prostitutes. And unless there`s been some violence or other aspects of cases, that`s what`s going to happen.
He`s contrite. Spitzer apologized again to his family, and he`s apologized to those he`s hurt. And it seems like a year ago. It was the biggest story going until the election and the economic collapse. But this may be the end of the Spitzer affair.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes. And of course, when the little people go to jail, nobody`s really going to pay attention.
Thank you so much, Richard. And I hope you come back to the show real soon. Good to see you.
We actually went to college together many years ago, believe it or not. And it`s good -- it`s always good to see Richard.
All right. What sort of message does the refusal to prosecute Spitzer send to women? My dear friend, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, political psychologist and sex therapist, and my fantastic colleague, Jami Floyd, anchor of "In Session" are both here tonight.
Jami, let`s start with you. Doesn`t this decision send a really toxic message about the differing legal status, almost, of men and women in this society?
JAMI FLOYD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": It`s fascinating, this case in general. Not just because of Eliot Spitzer, but because of the way we view prostitution in this country.
And the irony, Jane, and I know you know this, is that Eliot Spitzer recognized this and had initiated laws in his short term that would focus on the john and not on the girls. And I guess now we know why he may have had some affinity for the girls, the women who are in the oldest profession in the world.
But here`s the bottom line. The federal law is not designed, and the way our country is structured, federal government prosecutors are not focused on individual acts of prostitution or the acts of the john. They`re focused on busting up big-time prostitution rings.
The guys who should be going after Spitzer are state prosecutors because, fundamentally, it`s a state law. The Mann Act, the last guy I think prosecuted was Charles Manson under the Mann Act and before that, Joe Lewis.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I hear you what you`re saying, Jami, but it sounds like...
FLOYD: ... a strangely worded act, as you know, this whole structuring charge. It was hard for them to go after him under federal law.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I understand what you`re saying, but it always sounds like one excuse after another why they can`t do the obvious thing.
And now, Dr. Judy, what I find so fascinating from a psychological perspective is that when Spitzer was attorney general, he prosecuted at least two prostitution rings. He knows all the laws. Do you think subconsciously he wanted to get caught, in some way, shape or form? Because he had to know.
DR. JUDY KURIANSKY, PSYCHOLOGIST: Totally. There`s no question about it, but it`s such hypocrisy. That`s what made everybody so tremendously upset, besides what he did, is that here he is, going after the very things that he does.
But this is -- psychologically, makes sense. People do that. There are many people in politics and positions of power who point the finger at others who do the very thing that they are doing. It`s called projection. It happens a lot, and it is absolutely infuriating.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Yes, in fact, it`s almost -- you could follow the money in a sense. If you see somebody who`s constantly berating on one particular issue, chances are, if you spot it, you got it. Right?
KURIANSKY: That`s right. And actually, it`s like "methinks the lady dost protest too much," which is an old "Hamlet" thing. And that`s if you are really vehement about something, chances are, there`s something in your own life that is causing you to be that vehement about it.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I hear you. Jami Floyd, what are we going to do about all of this? I mean, if a guy like Eliot Spitzer can`t keep his pants buckled, is there any hope for the average Joe?
FLOYD: I have an answer.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Women should be running things. How about that?
FLOYD: Yes! Listen, here`s the thing. I don`t get it. I don`t understand. You`re in office for a short period of time. Can`t you keep it zipped up for that very brief window of time, which you`re supposed to be serving?
I completely agree with Judy, my good friend, also. And I hope you won`t mind me putting on my pop psychiatry/psychology hat, because I have no -- what the heck. I think it`s absolutely a self-destructive behavior.
And I agree with you, Jane, follow the money or follow the psychology. Every time we have one of these scandals, it`s somebody who`s been going after the very same people that he`s now consorting with. I think about Larry Craig. I think about Foley up on Capitol Hill. These are guys who are so virulently conservative and pro-family. And then ultimately, look what happens. Here we have the same thing with Spitzer. Member of a different party, but the same weird psychosis. It`s bizarre.
KURIANSKY: There`s something else that really bothers me about -- yes.
VELEZ MITCHELL: I have to jump in because I have to ask you this question, Dr. Judy. Why is his wife, Silda, standing by him? They have been photographed arm in arm. She`s standing by her man.
FLOYD: God bless her.
KURIANSKY: God bless her, as Jami said, for that. There are lots of reasons in the same way as Hillary Clinton did. Many times, Jane, the reason has a lot to do with the kids and not sending the kids a message.
FLOYD: What is the message to the kids, Dr. Judy and Jane? The message to three girls? If it`s my husband, I`m saying, "You know what? No man treats a woman like this and gets away with it."
VELEZ MITCHELL: You know what I think the message is? Legalize prostitution. Prop 8 in San Francisco just failed. So I think they`re not going to be doing that.
KURIANSKY: Jane, I love you and your opinions, but legalize prostitution? Actually, this is a bit of a problem. The men contribute to this, obviously, by using this service, but I get extremely upset on all levels, including as a psychologist, that women sell their bodies. So this is something that shouldn`t go on, that mothers should treat -- teach their daughters.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Let me just ask you quickly. Jami, yes or no, legalize prostitution?
FLOYD: It`s really tough. I think on paper it sounds good, and it sounds like sort of a new feminism to legalize prostitution, but as a former public offender who cut my teeth on prostitution cases, it is not a crime of choice. These women, by and large, putting aside these high-end escort services, by and large, they`re desperate victims.
VELEZ MITCHELL: You are all so wise.
FLOYD: If you get down the street, you wouldn`t want to legalize it.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Please stick around. We`ve got this horrific story next. A white man and his African-American wife brutally murdered in their home. Authorities say money, but the family says no. It was something else again. We`re going to talk about that.
And we`re going to discuss the daunting task of protecting President- elect Barack Obama with a former Secret Service agent and a former FBI agent. Stay right there.
VELEZ MITCHELL: The apparent passage of a ban on gay marriage in California drove massive crowds of protestors into the streets of Los Angeles. I`ll look at the future of gay marriage. Is it the last frontier of civil rights?
But first, an absolute, and I mean absolutely horrifying story coming out of San Diego. A young Marine and his wife were found bound, gagged, and shot to death in their home on October 15. Look at this gorgeous couple. Four suspects have confessed to this gruesome crime, and you would never guess who they were: his fellow Marines.
The motives are questionable at this point, authorities saying it was financial, but both mothers of the slain couple -- and I believe you`re looking at the suspects there -- both mothers of the slain couple argued there is a lot more to it.
Now, word of sexual assault. This makes me sick to my stomach. What could have caused four Marines to commit such a horrific act against one of their own?
Joining me now, Tony Perry, a reporter at "The Los Angeles Times" based in San Diego.
Tony, what is the very latest in terms of what these four Marines have confessed to and what they`re charged with?
TONY PERRY, "L.A. TIMES": Well, authorities say they`ve confessed to murder, robbery and sexual assault. Now, we haven`t heard from the defense attorneys yet, so a lot has -- is yet to spin out. But Riverside County sheriff, which has been handling this case, along with Naval criminal investigative source, says frankly, the four have all copped to all the charges that one could levy against them.
VELEZ MITCHELL: And paint the picture of the relationship between the sergeant who was murdered, his wife and these four. What is their -- what was their interaction prior to this horrific crime?
PERRY: Well, what we know is that the sergeant, Jan Pietrzak and his wife, Quianna, they lived in a very tidy little suburb just outside Camp Pendleton, out the back gate. And the sergeant worked at Camp Pendleton. He knew these four Marines, who have now been charged with the murders. As a sergeant, he would have had supervisorial authority over them. He knew them. There is some indication they may have socialized together.
The sergeant met his wife at a party with a lot of Marines and a lot of girls. And they got married, bought a house, and were beginning their life together when this happened.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Now obviously -- and race could be an issue here. That`s the only reason we bring it up. The four suspects are African- American. The woman who was murdered is African-American. Her husband is white. Is there a racial motive here that authorities are looking into? Because you can`t just say it`s about money when there`s sexual assault.
PERRY: Indeed. But there is nothing in the papers that would suggest race, nothing the prosecutors have said, nothing the police have said, nothing that the Marine Corps has said that would suggest race.
If race had been part of this crime, one would think the hate crime allegation would be included in the allegations. It is not. So at this point, no one is saying, officially or even unofficially, on or off the record, that race is involved.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Thank you, Tony. Appreciate it. Great reporting there.
What could have motivated such a -- it`s just a stomach churning crime. It`s just horrible to even read about, much less think about. Could race be a factor? The couple, as we just mentioned, was biracial. Could war psychology, perhaps, have played a role?
Back with me, Dr. Judy Kuriansky, a political psychologist, and Jami Floyd, anchor of "In Session."
Jami, these four men were former Marines under the command of this sergeant they killed, along with his wife. I don`t think we can underestimate the fact that he was kind of their boss.
FLOYD: Yes. And the Marines, we all know it`s no joke. And I know many Marines, and it is -- this is a complete aberration, because they are fine servicemen. But I think you raise a good point, and that is the psychology of the battlefield and, I think, perhaps together with a racial component, there could be a factor here.
There was a wonderful movie recently based on a true story, "Valley of Elah." And it is about another now-well-known case of post-Iraq soldiers who end up committing a horrific crime. It`s all about war psychology. And "The New York Times" has done a wonderful series on the impact over time of these repeat deployments. It is horrific beyond anyone`s imagination. But again, Jane, a true aberration for this.
VELEZ MITCHELL: And one of the things that we`ve just learned moments ago is that, in fact, these four Marines were not deployed but -- they weren`t deployed to Iraq. They were there at Camp Pendleton.
But, Dr. Judy, they still go through all sorts of training that teaches them how to kill. And sometimes, that has an impact. They`re shooting. They`re doing all sorts of other things.
KURIANSKY: Exactly. And we love our troops, as Jami said. And I`m an Army brat. I`m very patriotic, and I love the Army. And so it`s really very difficult for me to admit that, as a psychologist and knowing something about war psychology, when men are put in this position, where they are acting as a weapon, and they lose their judgment, which they`re not supposed to do. But something seeps through and with the group -- remember, there are four of them. So the group psychology here, then, acts as egging each other on. Then they can do things that are outside of what they`re supposed to do.
FLOYD: And Jane, I think we do have to think about the psychology of those who are subordinates and then you add that racial component of the white superior. And those these young men were not...
VELEZ MITCHELL: And the attractive African-American wife. Very pretty.
FLOYD: Absolutely beautiful.
VELEZ MITCHELL: And don`t underestimate that, either. Right?
FLOYD: Absolutely beautiful couple. And we may want to think that we`re in a post-racial society, but we`re not, entirely. And so it`s all very complicated. And while these young men may not have been deployed to Iraq, they are under tremendous strain.
So again, I think it`s complicated. Judy`s a terrific guest for it. It`s complicated psychologically, but I think there may be a little bit of all of the elements you raised, Jane, at work here.
VELEZ MITCHELL: You know, I agree absolutely. And I want to thank Dr. Judy and Jami. Thanks so much for coming on. And I`m so happy you`re here. Please come back. We really need your insights, because they`re so wonderful.
And I agree totally with Jami and Dr. Judy, is that while this stuff is multi-determined, who commits a crime like this? There is no rational reason. It`s all irrational. It`s all crazy stuff in the head that we, as a society, have to deal with now. We can`t let this go on.
Massachusetts voters say a little pot, no big deal. Police ain`t happy. Is this trend towards decriminalization going to last?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is stuff is primo. You want in?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don`t you want to go back to buying ditch weed from your house, I suggest you put away that open bag of pot and get your head out of your ass. What are you thinking?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ MITCHELL: That was a clip from the Showtime series "Weeds." All about suburban moms who sell pot. It just goes to show you pot is such a pervasive part of our culture it`s even the foundation for an Emmy- nominated TV show. And on Tuesday, Massachusetts became the 12th state in the nation to decriminalize possession of little, itty bitty amounts of marijuana. Getting stoned in Massachusetts is no longer a crime, but only if you`re caught possessing less than an ounce of pot. You do, however, have to give up your stash to the cops.
Joe Arpaio is the sheriff of Maricopa County in Arizona. Personally, I think it`s about time. And I think more states should decriminalize marijuana. But why do I suspect, Sheriff Joe, that you disagree with that?
SHERIFF JOE ARPAIO, MARICOPA COUNTY, ARIZONA: Well, it`s not my 30 years with the U.S. drug enforcement enforcing all the drug laws. This is ridiculous. We have 80,000 people that die over alcohol. We try to keep people from smoking cigarettes, and now we`re going to decriminalize, let`s say it like it is. Criminalize, not criminalize marijuana? It`s ridiculous. And I`m really discouraged with my home state of Massachusetts.
VELEZ MITCHELL: That`s your home state? You grew up there? Wow.
ARPAIO: Yes. Born and raised in Springfield. You know, I was head of the federal drug enforcement in Washington, D.C. They took me out to Virginia. Two guys shot at me nine times in the back of my head. Fortunately, missed. You know what?
VELEZ MITCHELL: Were they stoned? I mean, what`s the connection to the whole pot thing?
ARPAIO: Well, the connection is they were high on marijuana, they were high on. So marijuana does cause violence.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well you know, that`s the thing -- that`s where we kind of disagree. I think that a lot more crimes are committed when people are drunk, and I say that as a recovering alcoholic with 13 and a half years of sobriety.
Pot, you know, you think of people sitting around and eating munchies, basically. You think of people just sort of, you know, having potato chips. You don`t think of them going out and committing crime. Cocaine, crack, yes, absolutely. But not pot so much.
ARPAIO: Well, pot is more powerful, stronger now than it has been in the -- many years ago. And we just can`t legalize this type of drug. We have enough problems.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Well, sheriff, let me jump in here and say, look, we have more people in prison in this country than any other country in the world. And a goodly percentage are people who are there for non-violent drug offenses. We all know from watching the TV shows that the rich ones, the famous ones, they get sentenced to rehab, so it`s a double standard.
ARPAIO: Well, we have a drug prevention program in the jails, in the tents, where I put 2,000 inmates. It`s worked. Education in the jails, but you know, when you use drugs, you violate the day. You go to jail.
VELEZ MITCHELL: But the rich people and the movie stars don`t go to jail. Very rarely.
ARPAIO: Well, some of them get away with murder, too. Like O.J. Should we legalize murder because some rich people are going to beat the rap? That`s no excuse.
VELEZ MITCHELL: Touche, touche, Sheriff Joe. You know, it`s something that is really fascinating, I think. I think that what we need to do is allow corporations to weed out the drug users, because that`s where it can really be a problem, when they`re on the job. And I do think we need to look at decriminalization, but I appreciate you taking the time. And I hope you come back. All right, Sheriff Joe?
ARPAIO: OK. Good luck on your show. Thanks.
VELEZ MITCHELL: All right. White supremacists arraigned today. We`re going to tell you about this alleged plot.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was very sorry he did all this. He said, man, I was stupid; never going to do anything like that again.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL, HEADLINE NEWS ANCHOR: Well said, dad. That is the father of 18-year-old, Paul Schlesselman, defending his son who today was one of two self-proclaimed white supremacists who pleaded not guilty in an alleged plot to kill President-elect Barack Obama.
This death threat reminds us of the vulnerability of any president and it begs the question, how close is too close to Barack Obama and his family. Meantime, the popular Website TMZ is running this.
(VIDEO OF TMZ CREW GETTING CLOSE TO OBAMA)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: What a chaotic scene. TMZ then asked the question why were they allowed to get so close to Barack Obama? And if they can do it, who else can?
With us tonight, Mike Walters, assignment manager at TMZ. First, just to be totally clear, TMZ shot that video of Barack Obama on Monday night, just before election night. So was TMZ, Mike, surprised at how close you guys got to Obama?
MIKE WALTERS, ASSIGNMENT MANAGER, TMZ: Absolutely Jane. If you watched that video closely, I see two things. One, a job well done by our camera guy -- our camera guy in D.C. who`s great, period; but also, if you look real closely, when he hears TMZ, Barack Obama, you can see a little twinkle in his eye.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, but do you think it`s because do you guys have press credentials when you go out as TMZ or is it just the camera that might sort of provide a false assurance?
WALTERS: Of course, we have press credentials. All of our camera men have credentials in L.A., in D.C., in New York. But it`s like asking CNN, if you guys got that close to Obama with a reporter and a camera, would you back away or would you ask the questions. You would ask exactly like our guy did a question that we wanted to know here at TMZ, you`d ask the question that CNN wants to know. We want the answers.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I got to tell you. In my life, when I`ve lost my press pass, I`ve taken my old ski badges and I put them around my next and I`ve used my ski passes and I`ve never been stopped. And I hate to admit that, but I have done that. So you know, if the passes aren`t scrutinized, it can be anybody with a DVD camera.
WALTER: Jane, we`ve got McCain, we`ve got Obama, we`ve got Hillary Clinton; all that close. So this isn`t just Obama coming up all of a sudden, we`re there. No, we got all three of them within a week.
We were close. Our guy asked the questions he was supposed to ask. And like I said, when Obama heard it, he was answering the questions. At least we were getting the questions out, we were that close.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Anybody who has spent hours waiting in line at the airport assumes in this post-9/11 world, Mike that this can`t happen, that there`s some kind of an invisible ring around these candidates especially now that he`s president-elect.
But what you`re telling me, it`s disturbing.
WALTERS: I`ll tell you what, when I was in high school, I always thought that to shake the president`s hand was going to be, I had to be on the all-American football team. In this election it was close. And like I said, McCain and Obama came right up to the line of people. They were shaking hands over the top of the ropes; they came right up to the people that were there to see them at the rally.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Were you frisked at all or anything like that before you, was your camera man frisked before you got to that point?
WALTERS: He went through the normal security precautions; everyone did that`s a fan or that showed up at the rally but nothing unbelievable.
I even called the Secret Service today, Jane, on a side note to see now that Barack is president-elect, if there`s going to be any changes in his beat. Who`s going to secure him on a daily basis; just for another story. They said no, right now it`s the same.
And like I said, in this election, we got two different, actually, the two main ones, they`re going across the line, shaking hands. You can hear the Secret Service, hey back up. Watch out. Don`t push. But they were right there in the middle of it.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, Mike, excellent work and good investigative journalism, as always.
WALTERS: We`re trying.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Thank you Mike.
With me now to talk about presidential security, Don Clark, former special agent in charge of the Houston FBI and Rich Roth, former Secret Service Agent, himself an executive director and chief operating officer for CTI a security firm.
Rich, let me start with you. The Secret Service has reportedly investigated more than 500 threats targeting Barack Obama during the presidential election. Is that unusually high? How does that compare, for example, to other presidential candidates?
RICH ROTH, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: Well, I know President Carter was not all that high profile during his election campaign and he had 350 or more threats for him himself. It`s not that high now.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So it`s not that high. That`s certainly good news.
You know, here`s the thing. Some of these people are yahoos. We`re talking, Don Clark, about the skin heads who are now charged with threatening a presidential candidate, possession of a sawed-off shotgun, taking firearms across state lines. But you know, looking at their story, how they went and graffitied and shot a bullet through a church, they seem like yahoos. They don`t seem very dangerous, per se. How do you separate the dangerous ones from the yahoos?
DON CLARK, FORMER FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE OF HOUSTON: You can`t take a chance, Jane. What they may not appear to be, sometimes they grow into something even better. So while they`re clumsy looking and it appears that they don`t have any clue what`s going on with them, I don`t think that any law enforcement component, the law enforcement community, the Secret Service or any of the other agencies are going to take that lightly.
I really think that they are going to have to really crack down on the distances that people are getting to a presidential candidate and I think they will. I have the utmost confidence in the Secret Service to be able to keep them secure. But intelligence collection and really trying to weed out these groups that you just talked about because that`s were incentive for these people to want to do something will come from, from these hate groups.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you raised the whole issue of crowds. One of the reasons Obama is so popular is he`s of the people and with the people.
But I want you take a look at this. Here, we see Obama and his security detail and some random guy getting too persistent and security -- we`re going to see this in a second -- having to pull this guy away. As you take look at this video, let me ask you, Rich, how much of a concern is this kind of a situation?
ROTH: First off, I can`t see the video, but the agents around him are making security assessments about what`s going on around them at all times. If there`s somebody dangerous there, they`re going to get hold of him.
But before even that, there`s a ring -- there`s multiple rings around the president. I`m a security specialist; I`ve dealt with explosives and bombs for the most part. And there`s multiple rings around him.
The intelligence folks are in one of those outer rings. If there`s somebody who`s looking suspicious that fits a profile, they`ll jump him long before he even gets that close.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: How do you explain TMZ, then?
ROTH: Well, TMZ had press credentials and actually, I`m sure the threat assessment that the agents did as they look at him wasn`t one that was going to make this guy a threat to their protectee.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, you never know.
Don Clark, that`s the point. I told the story of how I used to put the ski passes around my neck and nobody ever checked.
Who`s a threat and who isn`t in this crazy, mixed up, upside down world where you have the white supremacists here nationally? And then you got the foreign threats of the terrorists? How do you know who`s the bad guy?
CLARK: You don`t know, Jane, and you have to go with intelligence. And I really do think that we`ll probably see a crackdown on distances, on security passes because just that TMZ special that we -- even that we saw, you`re going to see some changes in that. That`s too much criticism, too many chances and opportunities for someone to have phony badges. It`s also very difficult to tell what`s a realistic badge or whatever but at least someone` going to have to check to make sure that if the person is there that they should be there.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: One hint, if you see me with a ski cap and gloves and a couple of poles, you know that`s probably not a realistic press pass.
Rich Roth, I want to ask you this. We`ve heard this James Vaughn story, that right now, the Secret Service and the agencies in charge of protecting the president are testing a super-duper limousine that is capable of withstanding bombs. And they`re doing the test on this to have it ready in time for Barack Obama taking office. Does that sound realistic to you? Or is that some kind of James Bond tale?
ROTH: No, it`s actually pretty realistic. We did tests out of Quantico on a number of the limousines years ago and I`m sure they`re conducting new tests all the time.
I think one of the things that came out is Hinckley didn`t look that bad and he`d gotten mixed in with the press crowd. I think what you`re noticing is that these people have actually been vetted long before they get as close as the person who could actually do damage to them.
Another thing you had to look at is --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We only have a couple of seconds here.
Don Clark, what about the family? I understand that when the presidential family enters what they call the D.C. Bubble, they`re lives completely changed. And when you`re talking about two young daughters, what impact does that have on the family of Barack Obama?
CLARK: Well, clearly, it`s going to change everything, Jane. Those kids are going to be in a totally different world. I think it will be in large part, based on how the family treats them and monitors them and guides them through this because they won`t be able to run out and play like they have been.
But I think they`ll be able to accept that, but they`re going to have security with them as well, every one of them, every place that they move. And so they`re certainly going to be protecting them but it`s definitely going to alter their lifestyle without a doubt.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, gentlemen, thank you so much.
And of course, we were just looking at the video of when Barack Obama came out to accept his victory and right then, it began with the glass panes that you saw. It was very futuristic and it was really stunning that he -- it was a total change, that one moment. We knew history was being made.
Thank you very much gentlemen.
The anger spilling on to the streets of Los Angeles; gay activist outraged that California`s voters approved a ban on same-sex marriage. A very famous gay man who married another man will join us in a moment to talk about what he`s going to do, next.
RICHELLE CAREY, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: I`m Richelle Carey, this is your "Headline Prime Newsbreak."
Sources tell CNN someone hacked into the computers of Barack Obama and John McCain`s campaign headquarters right in the middle of the campaign season. A foreign entity or organization attacked the computers in mid- summer. Authorities say they believe they know who`s responsible but they aren`t releasing any more information.
The source who confirmed the cyber-attack says the hackers may have been targeting foreign policy information they could possibly use for future leverage.
Californians voted to ban same sex marriage, but the issue may not be over yet. Thousands of people crowded the streets to protest. Three groups have already filed lawsuits. They`ve petitioned the state Supreme Court overturn Proposition-8 because they say the decision to outlaw same- sex marriages is an illegal constitutional revision.
A staggering loss for the stock market; $1.2 trillion over the past two days; trillion with a T. The Dow finished down 443 points Thursday; it has dropped 10 percent in the past two days. But why? One reason given Wednesday that said investors were anxious about President-elect Obama`s choice for the next treasury secretary. Now experts are reporting that Friday`s job report is expected to be pretty grim; also, the steady stream of negative economic and corporate earnings reports.
At Northfield, Township, Michigan, telephone poles fell and livewires land on top of three cars on Thursday. Firefighters rescued six people who were trapped including a mom and her three kids. Crews say the wires contained 13,000 volts of electricity which could have electrocuted anyone who tried to get out. Nobody was hurt. Local stations are reporting a garbage truck hit a power pole and that tore down those wires.
And a car that crashed on a parkway embankment during heavy rain landed in a tree in Bellevue, Washington. Firefighters hoisted the driver to safety on a ford. He was conscious and talking to them during this whole thing. The crew then loaded him on to a stretcher and into an ambulance. Wow, it`s amazing.
Those are your headlines. Keep it here, I`m Richelle Carey.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re looking at a California protest. People are furious over the passage of Prop 8 in Los Angeles. Under this proposition, the California Constitution will be amended to define marriage as a heterosexual only institution. The two sides fighting over Prop 8, spent - - this -- $74 million in the nation`s costliest ballot measure.
Amazing to think it was just a few months ago that Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi cried tears of joy on Ellen`s show after the state`s Supreme Court decision came down that yes, they could legally marry in California in June. And as we all know, they got hitched.
Now, just five months later, this couple -- this very famous couple and about 18,000 other people are in legal limbo. Is their marriage still valid?
Actor George Takei is in a similar situation after marrying his partner of nearly 20 years, Brad Altman. George, this has to be devastating for you. Give us a sense of what you went through emotionally as you realized this thing was passing.
GEORGE TAKEI, ACTOR & ACTIVIST: On election eve, as I was getting the information that our side on Proposition 8 was going down to defeat, Barack Obama came on the screen to make his victory speech and that made me so proud to be an American. It was stirring. And to know the long, hard road that the civil rights movement and tortured history of African-Americans; that just galvanized me on our issue of equality in marriage.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: It must have been a bitter-sweet moment though, George.
TAKEI: It was.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Because here you were elated over Barack Obama`s election and then at the same time word is coming in that your civil rights are being taken away.
TAKEI: It was bittersweet, but the issue is still the same - equality. African-Americans were not equal for the longest time and now, we have the president of the United States. The Supreme Court of the state of California had ruled that there is a fundamental right for all people, including gays and lesbians, to marriage.
And for a group of people to put an initiative on the ballot and get 50 percent plus one, I don`t think is the legitimate way to amend our constitution. What that requires is two-thirds vote of both houses of our legislation, the senate and assembly.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: You`re talking about something that you feel, but this is the initiative system in California. And now, there`s going to have to be a legal challenge. I understand that one of the bases for the possible legal challenge are the petitions that were collected to get this on the ballot.
I know a little about this, because I collected a lot of petitions myself -- signatures -- more than a thousand for Prop 2, which was the initiative that did pass, saying farm animals should have the room to move around, so I know that it`s a very specific process. You have to get everybody`s correct signature, their address, all the information right.
TAKEI: However, the difference there is they`re not amending the Constitution. There`s a very definite way to amend the Constitution. And as I said, two-thirds vote of both houses of our legislature and then it goes on the ballot and two-thirds vote of the electorate is how you amend the Constitution.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: So you`re saying that this is going to be one of the legal -- in other words, I think there`s going to be a whole bunch of legal challenges to this.
TAKEI: One of them is going to be on the signatures the other one is going to be is this even correct constitutionally. But let me ask you a question. I want to --
TAKEI: The fundamental issue --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to peak into your heart; I want to know how you felt. You were being very diplomatic, George, and I appreciate that. But was there anger? What was your reaction when you saw something that you`ve worked 20 years to achieve being taken away from you at that moment?
TAKEI: Well, it`s something that`s very precious to us. Very personal to us and that just galvanized me.
And there I am watching Barack Obama, knowing that tortured history and the struggle that African-Americans have had. I was part of the civil rights movement too. And so it just made me more determined that we will overcome; THAT we will eventually prevail.
And I know we will, because the numbers had been growing. And their numbers have been going down because in 2000, as you know, the same issue is on the ballot; they got 61 percent. Now it was only 52 percent. And when you look at the numbers, the older people were the ones that favored Proposition 8. But the younger people overwhelmingly were against Proposition 8.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Here`s the key fact -- 83 percent of weekly churchgoers voted for this proposition to ban gay marriage; that pretty much says it right there.
Hang on right there, George --
TAKEI: No, it doesn`t. You want me to comment on that about church goers?
VELEZ-MITCHELL: When we come back. Two seconds, two seconds, we`re going to come right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MAGGIE CASSELLA, IREPORTER: I would just like somebody to talk to, an African-American gay person from California, or any gay person from California, and ask them, what it feels like to have your rights to be an equal citizen taken away concurrent with this great day in history. My guess is, it doesn`t actually feel so great.
After all, civil rights are civil rights; I don`t care what anybody says. And it just seems ironic to me when on such an historic day one civil rights movement another civil rights movement had to get a kick in the metaphoric nether region if you know what I`m saying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELEZ-MITCHELL: And iReports like that flooding CNN and that person referring to the fact that the exit polls show 69 percent of African- Americans who went to the polls in California voted for the ban on gay marriage.
Back with actor and activist George Takei. Before we get to that, you waited two decades to marry your partner. How did you finally pop the question or did he, I hear you were both watching CNN?
TAKEI: We were watching CNN. And when the word came down, I had to be eating lunch; my mouth was full of sandwich. I had intended to propose to Brad. But because his mouth was not full, he got down on his knees and proposed to me. So, he beat me to it.
But we were talking about faith-based people. I have respect for church-going people and African-Americans certainly are very heavily church going. But what they need to recognize is that we live in a pluralistic society. I`m Buddhist. We have Christians that support same-sex marriage. We have Jews and Hindu friends. There`s pluralism. And what is essential in a society that has many, many different faiths is mutual respect.
And what these people who voted on Proposition 8 don`t have is respect for others. Because no one faith group has the right to write their personal religious values into civil law that applies to everyone. That`s religious oppression. And as you know --
VELEZ-MITCHELL: I agree with you. And we`re just about out of time. But just I want to thank you for coming here. I hope you come back.
Quite clearly, George, this issue is not going to go away.
TAKEI: No it isn`t.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Promise me you`ll come back?
TAKEI: I will promise.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, because we`re going to keep this discussion up.
TAKEI: We will live long and prosper.
VELEZ-MITCHELL: We will live long and prosper.
I love it. Thank you very much. And I think you definitely want to beam that law right out of here.
All right, you know, there are two kinds of conversations, one that happens on TV, the other kind that happens everywhere else. I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell and I`m just trying to keep it real for you tonight.
Thanks for being part of this. We`re discussing so many issues that we`re going to continue to revisit back with some real "ISSUES" tomorrow.