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Obama Signs Order to Fund Abortion Education Abroad; Obama Plan to Close GITMO Sparks Debate

Aired January 24, 2009 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBEL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR, NO BIAS, NO BULL: Good evening, everyone.

The Obama White House just keeps unraveling the Bush White House.

Bullet point number one tonight, President Obama reverses another policy from the Bush era. But unlike earlier this week, the administration didn't want you to see this one being signed. It deals with abortion. We'll tell you what it means. We'll also look at how his staff is already trying to craft the image of a new leader.

Bullet point number two. The president takes a shot at corporate greed as he prepares to spend more money bailing out Wall Street. He speaks out just as we hear outrageous stories of lavish spending by the former head of Merrill Lynch.

Bullet point number three. He'll never get bumped from this flight, at least while in office. An amazing up close view as the president gets his first look at the world's most sophisticated aircraft Air Force One.

And bullet point number four. Does the president have the power to change more than government? Why some people are looking at what he could mean for a generation of African-American children when it comes to education.

First tonight, though, "Cutting Through The Bull." Just a couple of nights ago we heaped praise on the new president for announcing what he called a new era of openness, where in his administration, transparency would rule the day. And the lobbyists that he was so critical of during the campaign, well he told us they will now face even tougher new restrictions. Here's what he said.


BARACK OBAMA, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The executive order on ethics I will sign shortly represents a clean break from business as usual. As of today, lobbyists will be subject to stricter limits than under any other administration in history.

If you are a lobbyist entering my administration, you will not be able to work on matters you lobbied on, or in the agencies you lobbied during the previous two years. When you leave government, you will not be able to lobby my administration for as long as I am president.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: Now, that's what he said just a few days ago. But as we first told you the other night and, sadly, we're learning more about it this weekend, President Obama already wants an exception to his own rule. You see, what happened is there is this former lobbyist for a big defense contractor called Raytheon. His name is William Lynn. And President Obama wants him to be deputy Defense secretary. So the Obama administration now wants a waiver to its own rule, which basically means, it's saying we will mostly put tough new restrictions on lobbyists, except when we won't. Really? Is this how it's going to be?

Please, please don't make us all any more cynical than we already are, Mr. President. If you have no intention of abiding by your new rules, then don't make new rules. That would be actual transparency.

We turn now to the very latest out of the White House. President Obama has made no secret that the economy is job one for his administration. Today, he was selling his stimulus plan to top Republicans and Democrats in a West Wing meeting. The president confirmed he's added a daily briefing from a top economic adviser as he looks for a way out of what he called an unprecedented crisis.


I've asked Larry Summers to give me a daily economic intelligence briefing, so that we are monitoring what's happening. And, frankly, the news has not been good. Each day brings, I think, greater focus on the problems we're having, not only in terms of job loss, but also in terms of some of the instabilities in the financial system.


BROWN: And today we learned that the president will head to Capitol Hill next week to make an in-person push for his stimulus plan. Clearly this White House wanting us to think it's all business with the economy as issue number one. But what is actually going on behind the scenes now? Senior White House Correspondent Ed Henry has been talking to his sources for us.

Ed, President Obama's message of the day couldn't be more clear, focused on the economy like a laser beam. He's ready and willing to work hard with Republicans. What came out of the meeting today?

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I just got off the phone with a couple of my sources and we've got some new information this hour, which is there was sort of a contentious moment in this behind- closed-doors meeting.

The president was trying to end the week on sort of a bipartisan tone for the first time bringing in leaders of both parties, saying we're going to work together on the economy. He had a very optimistic, saying he thinks this will get done by February and start helping consumers, this whole recovery package. And Republicans started raising some objections behind closed doors saying they want to change things.

I'm told the president looked at their little checklist and said, look, I can agree with a lot of this. A lot of this can wind up in the bill, but other parts of it won't. And you know why? He said, quote, "I won." And this is coming form Democratic and Republican officials in the room. The president said, "I won." Basically, I won the election, so at the end of the day, when it comes down to these contentious provisions, I'm going to get my way. I'm paraphrasing that part of it, obviously. So it is interesting that the president is trying to show this bipartisanship, but at the same time behind closed doors he's playing a little bit of hard ball to get his way, Campbell.

BROWN: And, Ed, the president took care of another really significant piece of business today. And it has to do with a fairly touchy issue, abortion. This time, though, no fanfare, no cameras. It's almost as if the White House didn't want attention on this. Explain what was going on there.

HENRY: Offers a very interesting window on how the White House, very early here on the first week is trying to control the message, trying to show him as a bipartisan figure. This was a more partisan move, if you will. Basically he signed a presidential memorandum that reversed a Bush policy that prohibited international family planning groups from using taxpayer money to promote abortion as an option. So rather than bringing in the TV cameras -- initially told the media it would come in and witness him signing this. But at the end, they said actually the media is not coming in. He signed it behind closed doors without the media, without fanfare.

That's a sharp contrast to what he did earlier in the week. He made a big show about signing various executive orders, closing down Guantanamo Bay, the prison there, having this pay freeze on his high- paid White House staff. He brought in the cameras for all that but not this time. What's going on is they realized this was a more contentious issue. It really frustrates a lot of conservatives on this issue of abortion. That he's coming out more liberal on it.

And so it's interesting, because it shows that they're also doing it on a late Friday afternoon when it will just be buried in sort of the Saturday morning newspapers. They want to control this message. When it's something that makes them look more liberal, they want to bury it. When it is something that makes them look more bipartisan, like getting together with these Hill leaders on the economy, they put it front and center. That's the picture of the day they want to present to the American people. Campbell.

BROWN: Sure is. Ed Henry for us tonight on the stagecraft of what's happening at the White House. Ed thanks very much. Appreciate it.

Is it an ominous sign of things to come in the war on terror? As President Obama orders the prison at GITMO to close, we're going to look at how at least one former detainee is already back in the fight.

Plus, is this the newest example of what's wrong with Wall Street? The behavior of CEOs like the man who ran Merrill Lynch is not going unnoticed by President Obama.

And later more secrets revealed. We're going to watch the new first passenger come face to face with his new plane. Fasten your seat belts. Coming right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BROWN: Today in Washington, Senate Republicans pushed back against President Obama's new policy on Guantanamo Bay. The resistance comes one day after the president signed an executive order to close the detention center within a year.

Tonight people are asking what will happen to the roughly 245 GITMO prisoners. If they're set free, is there any way to guarantee they won't go straight back to the battlefield? At least one former prisoner has done just that and gone on to become a top member of Al Qaeda. Senior International Correspondent Nic Robertson has been following his tracks. He's in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, tonight.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INT'L. CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Al Qaeda is thumbing their nose at us with this video. Two of these guys spent time at the U.S. detention center at Guantanamo and are now out and back at work.

One of them, this guy, former prisoner 372, is probably the best example of why so many worry about what happens to the prisoners at GITMO. His name is Abu Sayyaf al-Shihiri. This deadly attack on the U.S. embassy in Yemen occurred a year after he was released. The U.S. is certain he was the mastermind. There is a paper trail detailing his release from Guantanamo.

The GITMO gates opened for him because he claimed he was a Muslim, not a terrorist. And that he wanted to return to Saudi to work with his family in their furniture business. He was freed in November 2007.

(On camera): Once he got here to Saudi Arabia, the interior ministry put him in what's called a Jihadi rehabilitation program. He would have attended classes with other jihadists, been lectured by government imams telling him it's wrong to kill, been screened by government psychologists to make sure he was safe for release. I know, because I met a Jihadi at the terror reeducation program.

He tried to blow himself up and kill Americans in Iraq. He failed. Was patched up, medevaced home to Saudi Arabia. At the time I wanted to know how he and the thousands others like him who have been through the program could be trusted to change. The answer from the government psychologist:

TURKI AL-OTAYAN, SAUDI GOVERNMENT PSYCHOLOGIST: We make sure they understand the dialogue. Make sure that he is responding, not just lying. So, it's not an easy job.

ROBERTSON: But prisoner number 372, Sayyaf Shihiri apparently was lying. Soon after he finished his rehab here, he slipped into neighboring Yemen.


BROWN: That was Nic Robertson reporting from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. So, NO BIAS, NO BULL, is President Obama making a dangerous mistake by closing Guantanamo, or is it more dangerous for the U.S. to keep it open? It's a question for our experts tonight. We have Jed Babbin, former undersecretary of Defense for the first President Bush, a CNN National Security analyst Peter Bergen with us once again. And Daily Beast web site columnist, Reza Aslan, who is also the author of "No God But God: The Origins and Evolution and Future of Islam.

Welcome, everybody. Peter, let me start with you, because you've actually been to the rehabilitation camps in Saudi Arabia, where some of the GITMO detainees go once they're released. I mean, give us your perspective here. Can a jihadist be rehabilitated? It seems like an awfully big risk to take.

PETER BERGEN, CNN NAT'L. SECURITY ANALYST: Certainly the Saudi government feels that way. You can't really accuse the Saudi government of being soft on terrorism. They've killed something like 150 terrorists since 2003. They incarcerated thousands of them. But also believe some people can be rehabilitated.

So this kind of rehabilitation program, hundreds of people have gone through it. The Saudis say the recidivism rate is low. They have had 75 Guantanamo detainees who have go through and been released. Obviously this guy al-Shihiri is an example of somebody who wasn't, who was lying essentially.

But the enemy of the perfect is not the reason we OK and I think this rehabilitation program is a general proposition -- which is also going on by the way in countries like Indonesia and Singapore, not only in Saudi Arabia - is a way to migrate people from to becoming members of the community.

BROWN: Just give us a little sense for what it entails, actually, Peter?

BERGEN: Surprisingly, it's art therapy, which you don't normally think of in the same sentence with terrorism. You know, it is sitting down with psychologists, sitting down with clerics. You're in a prison, but it's a very comfortable prison. The people who go into the program are already out of a high security prison into something more like a campus situation where they have spent a lot of time talking to clerics who say your ideas about jihad are wrong, etc cetera. It's experimental. This program is not perfect, but it is one way to migrate people out of this Jihadi path.

BROWN: Jed, what do you make of this?

JED BABBIN, EDITOR, "HUMAN EVENTS": I think it's a very optimistic and quite frankly not very reliable way to go. Mr. al-Shihiri is, according to my Pentagon sources is probably the 62nd person to be released from Guantanamo Bay to go back into the war. We know at least 18 of them have been captured or killed since they went back to the battlefield.

You have people who have to be kept in confinement for the rest of their lives because they're dead-enders. There are some who can be rehabilitated. That's why we released so many hundreds from Guantanamo Bay. But what we're seeing now with Barack Obama is the great disparity between campaign rhetoric and reality. He has an executive order that leaves all sorts of flexible room. He's going to make changes. He's going to change his mind, I hope. Because I don't believe deep down he wants to hurt America. Closing that camp and letting these guys go is exactly the way to do that.

BROWN: Reza, what do you think?

REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "NO GOD BUT GOD": I think Jed is making the same argument that's been made the last eight years and that has proven woefully inadequate.

The issue here isn't about what kind of possible short-term security gains we may or may not have by maintaining these prisoners in Guantanamo Bay. The issue is what kind of long-term security are we looking towards? And the fact of the matter is that the possibility of having a handful of these people go back to the battlefield and I -- and I'd say a lot of people in the intelligence community would question and have some skepticism about that number of 67.


ASLAN: But, regardless. Having a number of these people out on the battlefield, in and of itself, is by no means, as Peter mentioned, an excuse to continue to absolutely damage, perhaps irreparably so, any hope of a long-term solution to a stable and secure relationship with the larger Arab world and the Middle East.

BROWN: And Jed, you certainly heard the arguments, that these people can be tried and held prisoner indefinitely in the United States. They don't have to be at GITMO. And of course, the argument that it does more damage than good in terms of our reputation overseas.

BABBIN: Loo, what Aslan is saying is absolute nonsense. The people in the Pentagon who know about this stuff know these guys, some of them are dead-enders. The issue not creating some short-term or long-term issue here. The issue is the long-term problem these guys are a danger. And we know they're a danger and they go back to the battlefield and kill people. I would like to know who wants to stand next to the mother of a dead Marine who was killed by one of these guys?

BROWN: But, Jed, with all due respect, I don't think anybody disagrees with you on that point.

BABBIN: Well, apparently Aslan does.

BROWN: I think the question is why do you think Guantanamo is the only place that they could possibly be kept safe?

BABBIN: Well, I'm saying --

BROWN: Or safe from everybody else?

BABBIN: Well, what I'm saying is two things. Number one, if you bring them into the United States, they're going to end up in the civilian criminal courts. They are unable to handle situations like this because the classified information on which conviction of these guys relies can't be let out in a civilian court, or you end up having our intelligence sources killed.

BROWN: Peer?

BERGEN: That is -- I mean, that is nonsensical.

BABBIN: Oh, it's absolutely true.

BERGEN: Hold on a second. We've had many, many terrorist trials in this country.

BABBIN: Not foreign terrorists.

BERGEN: Terrorists when they're tried in this country, they go away forever.

Yes, the embassy bombing trial, four people convicted, life without parole. The first World Trade Center attack, Ramsey Yusef, 240 years.

BABBIN: Those people were not captured -

BROWN: Let Peter make his point. Let Peter make his point.

Go ahead.

BERGEN: The second point on the number of people who the Pentagon say have returned to the battlefield, they use the number 61. If you actually look at the names that they've released, there are now seven named terrorists who could be possibly construed to have gone back to the battlefield. The Pentagon includes returning to the battlefield things like getting involved in propaganda activities against the United States. Well, if I had been incarcerated at Guantanamo for eight years I might have a negative view against the United States.

So, if the actual recidivism rate of the Guantanamo releasees, in reality, is about 1 percent. Of course, that's too much. But the previous policies have been a moral catastrophe for the United States and its reputation around the world. We can either choose to be a totalitarian regime that locks people up or --

BABBIN: Oh, please.

BERGEN: forever.

BABBIN: Or if I can get a word in here, Campbell.

BROWN: Very quickly, Jed. We're out of time here. But go ahead.

BABBIN: The law of war since the founding of the United States permits us, and the Supreme Court said in Hambaum (ph) Case, we can keep these guys in administrative detention indefinitely. As long as they're an identified threat we have to.


BROWN: Well, the president disagrees with you, Jed, so unfortunately, you're not going to get your way at least for the foreseeable future.

But it was a great discussion. Many thanks, gentlemen. We have to end it there.

Coming up from the white knight of Wall Street to the face of corporate greed, the spectacular fall of John Thain.

And then later -- he sounded so wonderful at the inauguration, so why are some people comparing Yo Yo Ma to Milli Vanilli?


BROWN: Now a closer look at the man who reportedly burned through more than a million dollars in company funds to decorate his office while Merrill Lynch itself was on fire. The reported extravagance of former Merrill CEO John Thain, who was forced out of his new job at bank of America yesterday, was only the latest outrageous example of corporate ignorance, arrogance and, well, just plain greed.

This kind of behavior is not illegal, but clearly it irritates a lot of us, including President Obama. He spoke out about this in the context of how to spend the rest of the Wall Street bailout money. Listen.


OBAMA: Some of the reports that we've seen over the last couple of days, about companies that have received taxpayer assistance, then going out and renovating bathrooms, or offices, or in other ways not managing those dollars appropriately. The lack of accountability and transparency in how we are managing some of these programs to stabilize the financial system, and a recent GAO report that speaks to some of the problems of waste in our government, those all have to be part and parcel of a reform package, if we're going to be responsible in dealing with this economic crisis.


BROWN: Now we should point out that Thain's office makeover did occur before any bailout money was released, but it took billions of federal dollars for bank of America to buy up what was left of Merrill Lynch and prevent its total collapse.

We want to bring in Chief Business Correspondent Ali Velshi on this, right now.

And, Ali, Thain would be the latest in a long list of corporate greed CEOS, I guess. But he wasn't always looked at that way, right?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: No. That's the sad part, because John Thain was thought of as a white knight. He was thought to be one of the smartest guys around. He was the chief operating officer, the president and the chief financial officer of Goldman Sachs, the gold standard of investment banks on Wall Street . Then he went over to the New York Stock Exchange, which had been reeling because of Dick Grasso and a pay package scandal at the New York Stock Exchange. He came in to clean that place up. He automated it, brought it into the 21st century.

Then when the banks were in trouble, when Merrill Lynch was in trouble, he was on the short list for Merrill Lynch. He was on the short list to head Citigroup. They brought him into Merrill Lynch in 2007. This man earned $83 million in total compensation because it was thought he was the guy who was going to save the operation. He sold Merrill Lynch to Bank of America to save it from heading into bankruptcy. He was really the white knight, Campbell.

BROWN: So, Ali, how does a guy like this become, then, the latest poster boy for Wall Street greed? How did the downturn take place?

VELSHI: I don't know where greed sets in, whether it started early with him. I think if I got $83 million, I would be OK with not pushing for all that much more. But I suppose you always want more. It was interesting to see what happened, if you look at the pattern. He moves into Merrill Lynch. I would assume the CEO's office a Merrill Lynch was pretty nicely appointed. but he goes ahead with $1.2 million, reportedly of renovations to that office, some outrageous expenditures.

Then, you know, we reported on this, that day that he wanted a $10 million bonus from Merrill Lynch for saving it from going into bankruptcy and selling it to Bank of America. Then it's reported now that just days before the official takeover of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America he pushed through what might be $3 billion to $4 billion worth of bonuses just so it would get through and those executives would be paid. It's a bad story, Campbell.

BROWN: Wow, Ali Velshi with all the details for us. Ali, thanks.

Coming up, a fascinating study that we're all talking about. Called, I guess, the Obama effect. Is President Obama so inspiring that he could close the black/white achievement gap for students? We're going to look at the provocative new study that suggests exactly that.

And then later, what do Milli Vanilli, Ashleigh Simpson and Yo Yo Ma have in common? Wait till you hear this.


DON LEMON, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Don Lemon live here at CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta. Here's a look at your headlines.

An attempted massacre of teenagers last night in Miami; it left two people dead and wounded seven others. Right now police are hunting for the gunmen. A small crowd had gathered on a street corner when someone with an assault rifle just opened fire.

A Brazilian model dead at 20 from a little known disease. Mariana Bridi was a healthy young woman just weeks ago, but a bacterial infection developed into septicemia, which can lead to organ failure. In a desperate bid to save her doctors amputated her hands and feet and removed both kidneys. Again, she was just 20 years old.

He's famous thanks to his superior skills and support of his crew. Today US Airways Pilot Chesley Sully Sullenberger got a warm hometown welcome in Danville, California. That, just days after he was forced to land his jet in the Hudson River. All 155 people on board survived. Good news there.

I'm Don Lemon. I'll see you back here in the newsroom 11:00 p.m. Eastern. Campbell Brown NO BIAS, NO BULL right after a break.


BROWN: It's called the Obama effect. The theory that the election of the first African American president could actually cause black students to do better in school, get better grades, score higher on tests. Well, today a new study suggests the Obama effect may already be happening. Should we believe it? A lot of questions swirling around about this. So we asked Tom Foreman to put it to the NO BULL test. Tom, what did you find out?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's an intriguing situation. Black students as a group tend to perform worse than white students on tests. The puzzling thing is this happens even when the African American students know as much as the whites, have been taught the material, teachers verified that they understand it, but some still can't deliver it well on tests.

Sociologists say one reason is the stereotype threat. They say some black students are so worried about making their race look bad, they get distracted and test scores suffer. The same thing happens with women on math test. That's what they call the stereotype threat.

So the question, can an Obama effect counter that? When Obama won the presidency, African American students proclaimed a new age of confidence. Just listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Me personally, I think we are all little Obamas because just like he made change, we are making change.


FOREMAN: Little did they know that researchers from San Diego State, Northwestern and Vanderbilt were measuring the Obama effect. They lined up almost 500 adults of equal education levels, a mix of blacks and whites, and gave them four online tests on four different days. On two of those days, when Obama was just generally in the news, campaigning, that sort of thing, the blacks scored lower than the whites.


RAY FRIEDMAN, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: But in conditions where Obama was very, very prominent right after the convention speech, right after his election, things changed for black respondents. Their performance increased to the point where there was no difference between black and white respondents on the tests we gave.


BROWN: So was this a short-term thing? Or did researchers see any sort of lasting effect here, Tom? Or do we know?

FOREMAN: Well, it seems to be short term. In fact, Campbell, very short term. There doesn't seem to be any kind of lasting effect that they can measure so far. Without the intense spotlight shining on Obama, the old worries about stereotypes seem to take over again and the scores fell again, Campbell.

BROWN: And Tom, this was a fairly small number of people, a limited number -- numbers of tests. Can you really draw these sorts of conclusions from it?

FOREMAN: Conclusions, no. Remember we're talking in generalities here. Anyway, any given person, black or white, may be brilliant. We know that. And they may be unaffected by all of this. But Friedman says his sample was big enough that we should look at it, that there is something here worth examining a little bit more closely as a possible key to solving a long-standing general problem for educators.


BROWN: Tom Foreman for us tonight. Tom, thanks.

We want to dig a little deeper into this. So we have got two guests on the front lines of education reform to talk to us about it.

Jabali Sawicki it's the founder and principal of a charter school for boys in Brooklyn and most of his students are African American. Kevin Chavous helped start the charter school movement in the District of Columbia and he is a former DC city councilman and was on the Obama campaign's education policy committee. Chavis is also the author of "Serving our Children: Charter Schools and the Reform of American Public Education." Welcome, gentlemen.

Jabali, let me start with you here. You're a principal and you say you've seen the Obama effect firsthand. Give us some examples. I know it's anecdotal but tell us what you mean.

JABALI SAWICKI, CHARTER SCHOOL FOUNDING PRINCIPAL: So the -- What Obama represents for children across this country is hope and the definition of hope that all of us as educators need to be focused on is this notion of optimism and self identity and understanding with a black president, our scholars can achieve at the highest level.

Jonathan Mayer (ph) is a kindergarten scholar in our Dartmouth classroom. In a small reading group on the eve of Obama being inaugurated, he raised his hand and said his skin color is the same as mine, I can be president. And optimism has been proven via studies as the number one indicator of success at life. And Obama is a face, a concrete and tangible example of this hope and optimism we have to make sure we get across to our scholars.

BROWN: Kevin, is there a danger here that people will see this, hear this, a study like this and say, there you go, the problem is solved, Obama is president, black students are excelling, let's move on to other issues?

KEVIN CHAVOUS, CENTER FOR EDUCATION REFORM: Well, Campbell, first, I want to congratulate Jabali for his work with our children. And there's no question that the president is a transformative figure. He inspires many people, particularly African Americans. But the danger is when we overstate the significance of his presence in the White House.

I mean, keep in mind that the black/white achievement gap didn't get here overnight. And as the president said when he gave his inaugural address, we're the change that we're looking for, and it's going to take all of us assuming personal responsibility for all of the problems in this country to make a difference. And in education, frankly, it's going to take hard work. We have to do the tough duty to make sure that there's change in public education. We have to explode this one size fits all paradigm and we have to meet parents where they are.

BROWN: Kevin, does a study like this, does it make you question I guess what's really behind the black/white achievement gap in terms of what role everything plays? Does confidence play a bigger role versus economics versus resources and quality of teachers? I mean, how do you make that determination?

CHAVOUS: The study, it's too early to draw any major conclusions. I will say, though, that it is clear that confidence is an issue. We can't ignore that. But just downright hard work and the change in the culture of many of these schools. So that in neighborhoods where there's the most need, you have the best teachers, the best resources. You have school autonomy. Parents have choices in terms of where they send their kids to school.

These are issues that have largely been ignored by many major school districts. I can tell you, if we put too much significance in these preliminary findings, what we'll do is we'll overblow the significance of the president being there as opposed to us rolling up our sleeves and fixing schools.

BROWN: And doing the work.

Jabali, clearly, though, there is this burst of excitement, hope and optimism, as you say, surrounding the election of Obama. It will fade with time, inevitably. So how do you capitalize on this moment to take advantage of that over the long term?

SAWICKI: The reality is that a school like Excellence Charter School which is taking a population of African American males which historically had been the lowest performing population in the country, for the past five years we as a school have been able to have our scholars consistently outperform the city average, the district average, the state average and the white student average. And the reality is we at Excellence have 40 Obamas in the classroom. And he is a symbol of great teaching and inspiration. So every teacher at our school has the ability to get kids excited about reading, to believe that college is a matter of when and not if. And we need to find ways to seize the momentum. But I agree with Kevin, there's a lot of work to be done and there are schools out there that have replicated the Obama effect.

But we have to understand what is happening in the classrooms. Whatever the Obama effect is, scholars had that in them. He brought it out of them. We as teachers, educators, need to figure out what it is and find a way to nurture it and bring it out every day.

BROWN: Interesting stuff to ponder here and a lot of work to do. Jabali Sawicki and Kevin Chavous. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, an African American mayor in a small New Jersey town steps down. Why? Too dangerous. He and his family are the targets of racial hatred, vandalism, even death threats. It's a story you'll be hearing a lot more about.


BROWN: Americans would like to think that this week's inauguration signaled the end of racial barriers in this country. Well, it did not. In fact, a disturbing case in one small town proves that racism can still have a chilling effect. Our David Mattingly has this stark example of hate and we want to warn you in order to tell the full story you'll hear language that many consider deeply offensive.


DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One year before Barack Obama's historic inauguration, Charles Tyson was making some history of his own. He was quietly sworn in as the first African American mayor of tiny South Harrison, New Jersey, a big moment in a very white small town.

CHARLES TYSON, FORMER MAYOR: And my family was beside me and we all hugged. And it was a great moment.

MATTINGLY (on camera): How long did those good feelings last?

TYSON: Not that long.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Before Tyson could do anything in office, he was hit with something he never knew existed here, hate. A defaced campaign sign appeared in front of his home with an unmistakable message.

TYSON: They painted in red KKK and on the other side, they painted nigger.

MATTINGLY: South Harrison rallied around its mayor, they put up a $24,000 reward for the person who made the sign. But no one came forward. Then things got worse. Bill White, one of the country's most notorious white supremacist, whose Web site once displayed a picture of Barack Obama in the crosshairs allegedly contacted Tyson.

(on camera): He knew where you lived. He knew your wife's name?

TYSON: Right.

MATTINGLY: He knew your phone number, your Internet address. He knew everything about you?

TYSON: Absolutely. Yes, did he.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): A federal indictment says white called Tyson's wife and e-mailed him, calling him unworthy to govern over any white man and hoping to see the day when white men could "run black officials out with tar and feathers."

MARK POTOK, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: There are many people who have been badly frightened by Bill White and the New Jersey mayor is not the only one of them.

MATTINGLY (on camera): White is also accused of posting the address of a federal juror, allegedly attempting to encourage someone to do the juror harm.

(voice-over): White's now in federal custody and his lawyer defends his words to Charles Tyson and others with the First Amendment.

NISHAY SANAN, ATTORNEY FOR BILL WHITE: There is no threat in the communication that he sends to the mayor. They're trying to pick and choose Mr. White's words to make it look like a threat.

MATTINGLY: But White's words did have an effect on Tyson. Fearing for himself and his family, Tyson quit as mayor to take a lower profile Town Council position. And he's now worried about another history-maker.

(on camera): Are you concerned about what might happen to Barack Obama?

TYSON: Very much so. Very much so.

MATTINGLY: Because of your experience?

TYSON: Very much. Racism was here yesterday. It's here today. And it's going to be here tomorrow.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Tyson plans to testify in the federal case against White, but says he no longer has the ambition for higher office. David Mattingly, CNN, South Harrison, New Jersey.


BROWN: And still ahead tonight, the oath of office wasn't the only do-over from the inauguration. We'll explain whether or not the famed Yo-Yo Ma may have faked out a worldwide audience. We'll tell you about that when we come back.


BROWN: As we head into the first weekend of the Obama presidency, it is time to reveal yet another secret of the White House. Tonight, Air Force One, the mythical jet of the commander in chief. There are two Air Force Ones in service right now, both Boeing 747s. And our Randi Kaye gives us a very rare look inside using video from an upcoming special on the National Geographic Channel. Take a look.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's as tall as a six- story building and longer than a hockey rink. It's also President Barack Obama's newest means of transportation. Air Force One.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon. I'm Tom Turner (ph). Good to meet you.

OBAMA: Good to see you. You're the pilot of Air Force One?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes sir. It will be my privilege to serve you as pilot.

OBAMA: You know, I have to say you're out of central casting. You're exactly what I want the pilot of Air Force One to look like. You look like you know how to fly. You look like Sam Shepard in "The Right Stuff."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, sir.

KAYE: That's Mr. Obama stepping inside the plane for the first time. He was flying from Chicago to Washington before the inauguration. National Geographic's documentary about Air Force One captured the moment.

PETER SCHNALL, PRODUCER: He was as excited as his staff, who had already boarded the plane and were sort of like kids in a candy shop in a sense.

KAYE: The documentary focuses on Air Force One, who and what it takes to move the president around the world. Obama's flight took place in the final days of shooting, so the film crew witnessed the onboard transition, too. Every new president gets a new pilot. Colonel Mark Tillman flew President Bush on Air Force One for eight years.

COL. MARK TILLMAN, FORMER AIR FORCE ONE PILOT: He has the ability to run the country from air force one, so he has everything that's available in the White House available to him at 45,000 feet.

KAYE: Including a gourmet meal, though Obama stuff stuck with the basics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to start with dinner tonight, I don't know if you had dinner already. This is a menu we have available.

OBAMA: How about you guys do a burger? Make it medium well, if you can.


OBAMA: Cheddar cheese if you have cheddar cheese.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, you know I got it. Cheddar cheese? We have it.

OBAMA: And I think some Dijon mustard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dijon or Grey Poupon?

OBAMA: That's fine. Lettuce, tomato.


OBAMA: If you have like salad or vegetables.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, sir. No fries or anything like that?

OBAMA: I'll still take the fries.


KAYE (on camera): Will President Obama be able to exercise onboard?

TILLMAN: The president has the capability to exercise on the aircraft. He can watch football games, sporting events. He's big on watching sporting events. He's got that capability.

KAYE: No basketball court for Obama?

TILLMAN: No basketball court. He'll have the ability to ride a bike or something, something small up in his office for sure.

KAYE (voice-over): An hour and a half later when Obama touched down at Andrews Air Force Base, he said his good-byes to the crew, told them he'd see them in a couple of weeks after he was sworn in.

SCHNALL: You could sort of feel this sort of air of awe. I think even in him, because he was very quiet as he walked out. And his face kind of got very quiet.

KAYE: A rare moment of peace, perhaps, to soak up the wonder of it all. Randi Kaye, CNN, New York.


BROWN: And that is fascinating stuff. On board air force one this Sunday, January 25th at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on National Geographic Channel.

Tonight, new items on store shelves that have Michelle Obama pretty angry. These dolls. She is way unhappy about the manufacturer cashing in on her daughters. The first mom protecting her children. That's coming up. Part of the "Political Daily Briefing" after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: What would Friday be without another blustery news conference with disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich. You remember him. The feds say he tried to sell Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. Well, his impeachment trial gets under way on Monday which gave the governor the excuse he needed to gather reporters today and complain that the rules aren't fair. Actually, the analogy he used is a whole a lot more colorful than that.


GOV. ROD BLAGOJEVICH, (D) IL: There is an old saying in the Old West. There was a cowboy was charged with stealing a horse and some of the other cowboys, especially the guy whose horse was stolen were very unhappy with that guy. One of the cowboys said let's hang him. The other cowboys said, hold on, before we hang him, let's first give him a fair trial and then we'll hang him. Under these rules I'm not getting a fair trial. They're just hanging me.


BROWN: As if the governor doesn't have enough problems, CNN has confirmed his lead defense attorney in the criminal case is quitting. As we said his impeachment trial starts on Monday.

And they've had almost as much fun filling the U.S. Senate vacancy in New York. And to tell us who finally got the job, Erica Hill is here with the "Political Daily Briefing."

Hi, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: That's right. This very famous Senate seat at this point across the country. It's been a long time coming. We can tell you while it is not Caroline Kennedy, the Governor Paterson's choice still has managed to ruffle some feathers in the Empire State. He appointed conservative Upstate Congresswoman Kirsten Gillibrand to Hillary Clinton's Senate seat. Several prominent Democrats are backing this appointment but Democratic Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy called it a very bad choice.

Of course, we should point out here McCarthy did push to get the job for herself. One major sticking point for her, Gillibrand has the backing of the NRA, McCarthy is a strong advocate for gun control.

There were some light moments at today's announcement especially when we learned the president had been burning up the soon to be senator's cell phone. Take a listen to this.


GOV. DAVID PATERSON, (D) NY: President Obama is trying to reach our senator in waiting and ...


PATERSON: That's what I was -- I hope someone else talked to him in the interim.


HILL: The two did eventually speak. He wasn't ignoring the president, Campbell. She was a little busy.

BROWN: Got a lot on her plate. New information on the inauguration, too, yet new secrets revealed about what we didn't hear on Tuesday. Apparently some lip syncing although not quite the right word.

HILL: Not really lip syncing but I'm not sure what you call it when it's a string instrument. We'll call it string lip syncing perhaps. It was too cold for those string instruments or even for the clarinet to stay in tune.

So "The New York Times" now reporting that a recording was made earlier in the week in case the mercury dipped too low. This what not a total Ashley Simpson event though, here, folks.

The musicians were actually playing, but it turns out only the people right next to them could hear it. Everybody else in the stands and on the Mall heard the recording. That's one reason, by the way -- I don't know if you noticed during the concert on Sunday they were playing black violins and cellos because they're made of carbon and those instruments can withstand these temperature changes. Although they don't sound exactly the same as a wooden instrument.

BROWN: Who knew?

HILL: Fascinating stuff.

BROWN: Other big news on tchochkes. Everything Obama was for sale when we were down there for inauguration. Everything. But apparently there's something that has emerged Obama inspired that has Mrs. Obama, the first lady, very upset.

HILL: Absolutely. She's not happy about it at all which is what we hear. Ty, which is the company behind the Beanie Babies from the '90s that you might remember. They have two new dolls on the market, Marvelous Malia and Sweet Sasha. Interesting name choices. Also we should point out these two dolls were the only two African American dolls out of a collection of 30. Don't jump to any conclusions here, though. A Ty exec told CNN the names are beautiful and, quote, worked very well with the dolls we were making.

As for whether the Obama girls were the inspiration for these dolls, that same executive hesitated when speaking with one of our colleagues for several seconds before saying the development process was considered, quote, "proprietary".

Mrs. Obama, however, doesn't seem to be buying those answers. In a statement released by the first lady's spokeswoman she said, quote, "We believe it is inappropriate to use young, private citizens for marketing purposes." Something, Campbell, that probably most mothers would agree with.

BROWN: I'm with her on this.

HILL: Me, too.

BROWN: Erica Hill for us tonight. Have a good weekend.

HILL: Good to see you.

BROWN: Tonight's "Cutting through the Bull" looked at exceptions to the new administration's ethics rules. But the new president says everyone in his administration needs to take an ethics class. Coming up, a NO BIAS, NO BULL preview of Ethics 101, what it really means. We'll have that. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: President Obama said this week, quote, "The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable."

And we have talked about holding the new administration accountable on ethics rules. But tonight the Obama White House does get our "Bull's Eye" for actually requiring staffers to go to ethics school. So we wanted to know just what that means, how it works. National political correspondent Jessica Yellin has been digging into this for us all day. So, Jessica, what exactly does one learn in ethics school?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Campbell, if you were a White House staffer working for Obama, you would have gone to a multi- hour question and answer session in their ethics class where you would have learned a lot of the rules that have been the same for administrations for years. For example, one of the rules is you cannot accept gifts that are worth more than $20. There are no political calls allowed from your office phones. You've got to do that on a separate phone.

But there are also some new rules that the Obama team put in place. For example, his staffers also had to agree not to accept any gifts from lobbyists. That they'll hire people based on their ability, not just because they're loyal. Also, if you leave, you can't lobby your old White House buddies for the entire time Obama is in office, Campbell.

BROWN: And Jessica, we know President Obama has taken this class. Who else has to do it?

YELLIN: Well, everyone in every position from the top to the bottom. In fact, we're told anyone who didn't take the class last week has been buttonholed, cornered by the White House lawyers who are walking around the White House talking to anyone who hasn't already taken it. They all have to pass. The last thing is I'm told the general rule is in the White House they're saying if it's fun, you can't do it. Campbell.

BROWN: Jessica Yellin. That is it for us tonight. LARRY KING LIVE starts right now. Have a good weekend.