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Fargo Prepares For Flooding; Operation Afghanistan: A Look at President Obama's New Challenges; Gun Rights Under Fire; Interview With Jack Cafferty

Aired March 27, 2009 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody.

We start with breaking news.

Bullet point number one: a race against time and rising floodwaters in two states, both North Dakota and Minnesota. Residents of Fargo, North Dakota, are filling sandbags, while emergency crews get residents out of danger, the mayor there vowing his city will -- quote -- "go down fighting." You're not going to believe some of the images we're going to show you tonight.

And bullet point number two: more troops to Afghanistan. President Obama unveils his plans, committing thousands of additional forces and billions of dollars to beef up the fight against terrorists.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The road ahead will be long and there will be difficult days ahead. But we will seek lasting partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan that promise a new day for their people. And we will use all elements of our national power to defeat al Qaeda and to defend America, our allies, and all who seek a better future.


BROWN: Our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, just returned from Afghanistan. We will get her perspective on what's really happening on the ground right now.

And bullet point number three tonight: the mayhem in Mexico. Tonight, Anderson Cooper comes face to face with one of the grisliest sides of the escalating drug war near our border, mass graves. Why are police so powerless to stop the killing?

And it is in Mexico where we're going to start tonight.

All week, CNN has had a team of correspondents taking you inside the bloody battle to try to stop drug lords from hijacking an entire nation's future. The casualties in the war next door, well over 6,000 just last year, and the bloody violence also spilling into our country.

Our Anderson Cooper joining us right now along the U.S.-Mexican border between El Paso, Texas, and Juarez.

And, Anderson, you have seen how savage this battle has become.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Yes, and we have all seen that, just in the last couple of days.

The investigation continued today, Campbell, into the execution- style slaying of a deputy U.S. marshal killed just over on the other side of the border in the city of Juarez. We're going to have more on that later tonight.

We also spent the day in Juarez, taking a look at the full effect the violence is having on the lives of people there, 1,600 people killed in Juarez alone in the past year, but that death toll doesn't give you the full picture. A large number of people are listed as missing. Some people simply disappear. We will have their story, coming up later tonight, Campbell.

BROWN: Anderson Cooper for us. We will check in with you in just a bit.

And now to the other breaking news we mentioned, the flooding in North Dakota. The Red River has already risen to levels not seen in more than a century of record-keeping. In Fargo alone, some 2,000 homes are in evacuation areas. So is a hospital and a nursing home right near the river's edge.

A short time ago, the military announced it's sending in 15 helicopters and active-duty personnel to help state emergency crews. The flood warnings now extend to the Minnesota side of the Red River.

Tonight, emergency workers are guessing at where the water will go and how bad things may get. Our breaking news coverage, we're going to start with Reynolds Wolf, who is in Fargo for us.

And give us a sense of how it's looking out there, how fast the river is rising.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, Campbell, I will tell you, that, earlier this morning, the Red River that we're standing on the banks of continued to rise.

It broke the record of well over 100 years, the record of 40.1 feet that was actually set back in 1897. And the forecast has got this river rising a bit more as we make our way into the weekend, possibly getting up to about 42 feet. Some forecasts have it going up to 43 feet.

And, trust me, Campbell, that kind of news has got many people just terrified in this area. A lot of people have been going out, been putting up sandbags, doing what they can to protect their communities, their neighborhoods.

It is an ongoing effort to stop these waters. And if you take a look right over there, you can see just the roadway on that side, over here, on one side, if you can get around the blinding sun, you can see this railroad trestle, where it used to be at one point a difference of about 20 feet to the surface of the water. Now the water and the trestle meet.

This certainly has a lot of families certainly terrified at this hour.

BROWN: I know you talked to one family as they were preparing to evacuate, to leave their home behind. What did they tell you?

WOLF: Well, it's funny. We were talking to the Fisher family, Skip Fisher and his family. They're putting up the sandbags. They're trying to remain optimistic.

And Mr. Fisher is going to stay at home. He's going to guard the fort, keep the pumps working. But Heidi Fisher she's got some other plans.


HEIDI FISHER, EVACUEE: The kids and the cat and I are going to go join another family member about an hour east of here. So family, we're OK. And my husband is going to stay here and man the pumps and do what he can. And, if he can't, then we're out of here. Then he will join us.


WOLF: Another big issue that we have, Campbell, is going to be the weather itself, where temperatures are expected to increase as we make our way towards the weekend into next week, which means a lot of the snowpack that we have is going to melt, going right into that river, exactly what we don't need. Let's send it back to you.

BROWN: Yes, absolutely.

Reynolds Wolf for us tonight -- Reynolds, thanks.

The people living along the Red River will be the first to tell you, this is no ordinary spring flood, and not just because of how much of that icy water they're dealing with, but because of the reason why.

And to explain that, let's bring in severe weather expert Chad Myers for us.

And, Chad, talk us through the factors that led to this record flooding.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The biggest factor was a record snowfall over the winter. The snowpack was way above what anybody expected. And then last week, a big warm air event came in. Temperatures were in the 70s.

And then it rained. And all of that rain and all of that water all went in one place, all went right into the Red River, and it tried to go north. Now, there's a physical reason why the Red River is flooding like this. This Red River Valley, if you will, almost -- we won't even call it a valley -- only 12,000 years old. Now, you have got to think about that, because the Grand Canyon is 17 million years old.

This thing has never had time to scour out a nice river channel. And so because it's so flat, every time it rains, it fills in. And now it's not like it used to be. It's nothing like it used to be -- 1897, when the last big flood was, other than 1997, when they fixed some levees, but there was no buildings here -- 90,000 people live here nowadays.

So pictures, something -- some amazing pictures, Campbell, of what we saw about an hour ago in North Carolina as well, a tornado on the ground right on I-95. There it is from a photographer looking south. That's near Fayetteville, North Carolina, knocking a bunch of cars and trucks off the roadway, damaging buildings, 35 buildings so far we know scoured and damaged, but right now, at least, no fatalities, only just a few injuries -- Campbell.

BROWN: Chad Myers for us tonight. Chad, thanks very much. Appreciate it.

When we come back, the commander in chief sets the mission in Afghanistan.


OBAMA: We are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future. We are in Afghanistan to confront a common enemy that threatens the United States, our friends, and our allies.


BROWN: Fighting al Qaeda and Taliban terrorists. You are going to hear from Christiane Amanpour just back from Afghanistan on a crucial part of the president's new strategy.

And a lot of Americans think the president has a new strategy for them as well, taking away their guns. Check this out.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Show of hands here, who thinks President Obama wants gun control, wants to restrict the kinds of guns you can get? Really, why?


BROWN: So, what exactly has the president done that has gun owners so upset? Is their fear based in reality? A NO BIAS, NO BULL look at a new battle over the Second Amendment when we come back.


BLITZER: President Obama today unveiled his much-anticipated new plan to commit more troops and more money to fight terrorism in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Let's listen to what he said this morning.


OBAMA: As president, my greatest responsibility is to protect the American people. We are not in Afghanistan to control that country or to dictate its future. We are in Afghanistan to confront a common enemy that threatens the United States, our friends, and our allies and the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan who have suffered the most at the hands of violent extremists.

So I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan and to prevent their return to either country in the future.


BROWN: A closer look now at the president's plan, a walk through the numbers, 4,000 more American troops going to Afghanistan. That's on top of the 17,000 the president is already sending, and all of them are due in the country by the fall, more than 30,000 American troops, of course, already there.

Hundreds of civilian specialists, including educators, engineers, and agricultural experts, will also be deployed. And the plan calls for $1.5 billion a year in aid to for Pakistan, money that will be used to build schools, roads and hospitals.

Chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is here now to break down some of the huge challenges President Obama faces in fighting al Qaeda and the Taliban.

And, Christiane, you literally got back from Afghanistan today.


BROWN: Give us a sense of what the U.S. is facing.

AMANPOUR: In 12 days of talking and visiting around the country, not just in Kabul, with U.S. military, with Afghan officials, local people, what I have discovered, I think the most important is that it is not a nationwide anti-American insurgency that's going on there.

There are very difficult pockets in the south, in Kandahar and Helmand, but the rest of the fighting is mostly tribal and criminal. The U.S. uses the word insurgent for every gun fired in anger. Therefore, I think a little bit of a distorted picture is coming back here of exactly what's going on there.

What I did see is some progress, particularly in women's issues, although there's still some way to go. But the big, big thing I came away with is that I do not believe extremism is spreading. I believe the opposite, given the polls that we have seen, both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. I think there are encouraging trends, but I do believe that the president has a huge challenge to not just tamp out those remaining hard points of the insurgency, but also to fulfill the promises that America made, so that the people of Afghanistan come away with some hope.

BROWN: And that's the battle for the hearts and minds.


BROWN: It takes it another step beyond the military component.

AMANPOUR: It is, and it's absolutely vital.

BROWN: And give us a sense for that. As you say, if you don't win that battle -- and that's less about the Taliban, less about the al Qaeda.

AMANPOUR: Yes, and it's not just I'm saying that from my observation. It's every official who I spoke to, particularly the U.S. officials there.

Yes, they welcome the extra troops, but the key to this is the civilian component. And there's the so-called civilian surge with military and with civilians, Americans, who are trying to do their best to build up the education capacity.

We talked to Greg Mortenson. We traveled with him, the famous "Three Cups of Tea," which has been a bestseller here, about building girls and boys schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Listen to what he had to tell us about the vital business that that is.


GREG MORTENSON, AUTHOR, "THREE CUPS OF TEA": When I talk to any of the commanders here, they will say that what we need, we don't need guns, we don't need bombs, but what we need is education.

AMANPOUR: And why? Why would that stop the war or stamp out the insurgency?

MORTENSON: For example, an extremist madrassa could be set up down the road here, and if there's no school there, the kid -- they will send their kids to that extremist madrassa, without even knowing what is going to eventually happen.

AMANPOUR: You're a military man. How important is this compared to fighting?

MAJOR GARY KNOER, U.S. ARMY; This is a part of the fight a lot of people don't see, because if we can sway the civilian population and show them that we're here to support their children, to support them, and give their country a better way of life, then they are going to in turn not support the bad guys that are coming here and doing all the bad things to us and to them, too.


BROWN: And, ultimately, what's going to decide whether those children grow up to be our allies or our enemies?

AMANPOUR: Those children are schoolchildren sitting outside with no classroom over their heads, and yet they come to that desert location and sit in front of those chalkboards because they're desperate to learn.

Every single person we talked to, whether sophisticated, whether poor in some of the hinterlands of Afghanistan, each and every one of them said we need our kids to be educated, because that is going to make the difference, whether they become an illiterate fighter, because they have got no other way to earn a living, or whether they become a person who can work for Afghanistan's future.

And, again, I cannot emphasize more how much I found people who were saying, across the board, for $10, somebody will go and join the Taliban. It doesn't mean to say they're a Taliban. It means that they don't have a way to make their own living. And that's the real thing that the international community has to pay attention to.

And everybody is saying that 2009 is the make-or-break year for Afghanistan.

BROWN: All right, Christiane Amanpour, again, just back today from Afghanistan, we really appreciate it.

And we should let people know that you traveled to Gaza, as well as Afghanistan, for an in-depth report on the battle to win the hearts and minds of the next generation of Muslims. This is a two-hour documentary. It's going to be airing in August. We will have much more on that ahead.

As our regular viewers know, this is usually about the time we do "Cutting Through The Bull," but tonight "Cutting Through The Bull" is just a quick personal note.

I wanted to let you know that I'm going to be taking a little break from the show to take on another project. That would be baby number two, who is due to arrive in just about a week.

As much as I would love to hang in there until the bitter end, the crew would literally need to wheelbarrow me on to the set and behind this desk if I stay here one more day.

So, beginning Monday evening, Roland Martin is going to fill in for me until I get back. And a skinnier version of me, hopefully, is looking forward to getting back in this chair very soon.

We are going to have a lot more news tonight. We will get an update from Anderson Cooper in Mexico coming up in just a moment.

And, later, the Obama White House may have a slight case of egg on the face. The problem, of all things, is the White House Easter egg roll. We're going to tell why it has all gone wrong. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: As the president rushes help to the Mexican border, the drug war shows no signs of abating, and the casualties are mounting.

In Juarez, Mexico, 1,600 people were killed in drug-related violence last year. Anderson Cooper is live for us tonight in El Paso, Texas. That is just across the border from Juarez, where many of the victims are being discovered in mass graves there.

And, Anderson, you're seeing firsthand how grisly and violent the border war has become.

COOPER: Yes, we certainly have been, Campbell, all this week.

Today, we spent the day in Juarez. And that 1,600 figure, 1,600 people murdered in Juarez in drug-related violence last year, doesn't even really tell the full story. Hundreds of people are listed as missing just in Juarez itself. And many people just seem to simply disappear, never to be seen of again.

Take a look.


COOPER (voice-over): Recently, this man confessed to disposing of bodies for a drug cartel. He claims to have dissolved 300 people in acid. Many of the dead they do find are never identified. In Juarez, the morgue is full. New bodies turn up all the time.

(on camera): We're pretty far out from the city of Juarez on the outskirts of town, a very deserted area. A couple of weeks ago, some workers were out here excavating land and they noticed a foot sticking up from the sand. They found a shallow grave. This one right here, this had four people in it, four men. One of them had been shot. The rest had all been beaten pretty badly.

And, just a few feet away, another shallow grave was found. Three men were inside here and two women. They had all been killed by cartels.

(voice-over): The police removed the bodies, but were never able to identify who the victims were.

Hundreds of bodies found in Juarez have never been claimed, according to the city's mayor, Jose Reyes.

JOSE REYES FERRIZ, MAYOR OF JUAREZ, MEXICO: Sixteen hundred people died during last year. About 800 of those, we buried in mass graves, unknown males, mostly from other cities, came in for the war. I'm pretty sure their families don't even know that they're dead.

COOPER (on camera): So, there's about 800 unidentified people who have been buried here.

REYES FERRIZ: Right. Yes. COOPER: And you still -- no one still knows who they are?

REYES FERRIZ: Nobody has claimed them. Nobody has come in to try and see if their family members are here.


COOPER: Now, we went out to the -- to that cemetery where the communal graves are, where these unidentified dead are. They're buried three or four to a grave.

And not only are there hundreds of graves that have already been sealed. There were also dozens of newly dug graves just waiting for new victims of the drug war to arrive -- Campbell.

COOPER: Anderson, do we know anything, really, about the people in these graves? Were they part of the drug trade, caught in the crossfire? Anything at all?

COOPER: You know, we really don't.

It's probably -- it's certainly a combination of both. The Mexican government says, of the 6,500 people killed last year, they say the majority of them were somehow involved in the drug trade, from rival gangs, killing one another. Hundreds of police officers and federal officers have also been killed in the war.

But a lot of people just get caught in the crossfire. It's usually, though, the people who go unclaimed and unidentified have some -- probably have some connection to cartels and their families are too scared to come forward and identify them or simply don't know whatever happened to them.

BROWN: All right, Anderson Cooper for us tonight.

And, of course, Anderson will have much more at 10:00 tonight as well.

The Mexican drug trade is big business. I mean big as in billions of dollars. But we wanted to find out just how the cartels operate. And Anderson interviewed a man who claims he is a mid-level member of one drug cartel. Two trusted sources confirm the man's claim, based on their longtime work in the region. We agreed we wouldn't use his name and that we would conceal his identity.

Take a look.


COOPER: What's it like working inside a cartel? Are you nervous? Are you scared?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's starts off nice and good, the money, the life, the fast life, the cars, the women, everything in it.

After a little while, it gets out of hand. And once you realize that it's a little bit out of hand, it's too late. And it's a little bit too late to -- for you to back out. There's only one way, and that's being killed.

COOPER: There are drug cartels operating in every state in America?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, they have certain states, but throughout America, yes, there is. But there are certain states where they operate the most.

COOPER: What states are those?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's -- talking about New York, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Chicago, North Carolina, South Carolina, (INAUDIBLE) states, East Coast, West Coast.

COOPER: How much does it cost to get somebody killed?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now? Across the border, it's $100.

COOPER: A hundred dollars?


COOPER: In Mexico, if you wanted to have somebody killed in Mexico, it's $100?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It costs a hundred dollars.

COOPER: What about in the United States?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe $500 to $1,000.


BROWN: And that is just one small glimpse inside the world of Mexican drug cartels.

Tom Foreman is here with us now to show us the big picture -- Tom.


This is a map of Mexico, as it has been sliced up by the drug cartels. Look at this. This is border of Texas down here, the U.S. border running all across here. And you can see where the cartels have settled in.

But there are two big ones that you have to look to, according to the Congressional Research Service and the DEA, first, the Gulf cartel, right down here, just below Texas. The Drug Enforcement Administration, which hit this group in a massive sting last year -- really, they captured more than 500 people in many states -- says this cartels calls itself the company.

It's known for beheadings, torture, kidnappings. Much of it is carried out by a group called Los Zetas, a group of deserters from the Mexican army. And they can be very, very violent indeed. So, that's the group that is right up here.

But further down here is the second group down here on the Pacific coast. And they are just as violent, just as big a problem. This is the Sinaloa group down here. And when you look at their group, they're right in this area. And they, like the cartel up here, have also made friendship with many groups along here, other cartels, to expand their overall influence.

The primary drug violence a few years ago was between these two groups, as they fought over this land leading up into the United States. They were going at each other the whole time back then. But, eventually, they realized that they were hurting their own business, so the DEA says the violence is now principally aimed at anyone who gets in their way -- Campbell.

BROWN: And, Tom, that tells us a good bit about the cartels as groups, but what do we know about their leaders? Who is calling the shots in all of this?

FOREMAN: Oh, well, that's really interesting, Campbell.

Here's a typical example. This is one of the people that Drug Enforcement Administration officials here and in Mexico would most like to get, one of the most wanted traffickers. They Joaquin Guzman Loera is the head of the Sinaloa cartel, the group we mentioned right over here, one of the largest suppliers of cocaine to the United States.

"Fortune" has an interesting breakdown on this fellow. They say that he 54 years old, one of the richest people in the world, a self- made billionaire because of the drug business, came up through the ranks. He's an expert in using tunnels to move drugs in and out of the country. He was in prison for a while, but he escaped.

And his nickname is "El Chapo," which means shorty. But I don't think a lot of people call that to his face -- Campbell.



Tom Foreman for us tonight -- Tom, many, many thanks.

We're going to have much more on the drug mayhem in Mexico tonight. You will see it on "A.C. 360." Anderson is live, as we said before, from the Mexican border with an up-close look at drug trade violence, how it's threatening us here in the U.S. An "A.C. 360" special report, "The War Next Door," live from the border, that's tonight, 10:00.

And at the top of the hour on "LARRY KING LIVE," the passionate debate over legalizing marijuana, you will see that 9:00 Eastern time.

Two of the smartest guys in politics, James Carville, Bill Bennett, on the president's challenges and whether his message is on track -- when we come back.


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: This was the week President Obama tried to turn the corner. Battered by news of those AIG bonuses, struggling to harness the outrage of the American people, the president needed to get back on track. Well, did he succeed?

Earlier today, we invited two CNN contributors, Democratic strategist James Carville and conservative radio talk show host William Bennett, to rate the president's progress.


BROWN: Bill, let me start with you here. The president tried to reclaim control of the economic message this week. You had the treasury secretary rolling out a plan for the banks. The markets are up. Has the administration, in your view, weathered the storm?

WILLIAM BENNETT, NATIONAL TALK RADIO HOST: Well, no, he's still in the storm. I mean, he's pushing his agenda. It's his agenda, he was elected. He has a right to push it, but he has a right to get criticized too, and he's getting a ton of criticism, not only from conservatives, Republicans, but from the middle, from the left. I noticed the economists did this week jumped on him pretty good.

Mrs. Clinton during the campaign said presidency shouldn't be on the job training, and he doesn't seem to have a full grasp of it. He seems to be being pushed around a bit by the Democrats on the Hill.

BROWN: All right, James, Bill mentioned two things. He talked about what the economists had said and the fact that Democrats may be sort of the biggest problem for the president right now. Let me just read you a little bit of what the economists wrote.

They wrote, "The Democrats are messing him around. They are pushing pro-trade-union legislation, even though he doesn't want them to do so. They have been roughing up the bankers, even though it makes his task of fixing the economy much harder. They have stuffed his stimulus package and his appropriations bill with pork, even though this damages him and his party in the eyes of the electorate."

Do you agree? I mean, are congressional Democrats his biggest challenge right now?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: First of all, this is the magazine that got global poverty wrong, that got Iraq wrong, that predicted that we wouldn't have cell phones by this time. So, I mean, look, when you're president of the United States, you're going to take some heat. And there's no question about this. But this magazine needs to stop trying to promote, you know, promote this thing and actually look at what's been done.

The treasury's created an entire new market. And if you look at what's happening, there's some evidence that things might be getting a little better. I agree with the secretary, it certainly will -- you know, I can't say that it's all done or it's working or anything, but, you know, there's some evidence that things are getting a little better right now. Hopefully it will continue.

BROWN: Today, the president met with the major banks' CEOs, and these are the guys that Americans are directing all of their anger at right now.


BROWN: They hate these guys. I mean, politically, how does he make the case for the White House to be working with them to try to get us out of this mess given the anger directed their way?

CARVILLE: This is stuff that's very hard to communicate because taxpayers are having to pay for something that they really don't understand. And there are a lot of -- and I think these bankers need to understand, I was listening to a couple of them today, I think their message is getting through. There are a lot of people that actually don't think they did a very good job.

BROWN: Bill, let me raise an issue with you, with both of you, frankly, that's getting a lot of attention this week in particular because of the violence we're seeing down on the Mexican border. And just listen to this. This is from the president's online town hall meeting.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high, and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation. The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy to grow our economy.


BROWN: Now, Bill Bennett, I'm quite sure that this is an area where both you and the president agree, at least that specific point. But what do you think about the policy overall?

BENNETT: Well, look, the big issue is Mexico. I was glad to see Secretary Clinton there. And I'm glad to see Secretary Clinton and the administration saying something I was saying endlessly when I was drug czar, which is that people who use drugs in this country are not victims. They are perpetrators of a lot of bad things and contribute, provide the fuel that leads to the fire which you're now seeing in Mexico.

The cartel people have their responsibility as well, but $20 billion a year goes down there to feed this nation's drug habit. You're going to hear the legalization thing come up. We don't have enough time to debate it. Happy to come on and debate it some time. But, remember, about 70 percent of what's coming across the border, Campbell, is not marijuana. It's cocaine and heroin.

CARVILLE: I think that the secretary's right. President Obama says we're not going to do it.


CARVILLE: And I think we've got a lot of things that we need to focus on this country and the legalization of marijuana, we can put that on the, I guess the back burner, if you will.


BROWN: Our thanks to Bill Bennett and to James Carville.

And coming up next, the truth about what happened the day two NFL players and a friend were lost in a boating accident off Florida. Investigators have figured out the fatal mistake. That's when we come back.


BROWN: Lots of other news tonight. Joe Johns joining us right now with "The Briefing" -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, more than 20,000 people, including police from all over the country, attended today's memorial service for four Oakland police officers. They died last weekend during a routine traffic stop when it turned into a shoot-out. The gunman, a prison parolee, also died.

We now know what caused the boating accident that took the lives of two NFL players and another man last month in the Gulf of Mexico. Florida Fish and Wildlife officials say the boat's anchor got stuck in the ocean floor. When one of the men throttled the boat's motor to try to break free, the boat flipped over. A fourth man survived.

Sad story there, Campbell.

BROWN: I know. Joe Johns for us. Joe, thanks very much.

President Obama gave one part of our economy some stimulus without even trying. We've got a NO BIAS, NO BULL look at what's triggering a sudden run on guns and ammo by people who think the president wants to take away their gun rights. That's just ahead.


BROWN: As drug violence on the Mexican border rages out of control, administration officials warn that the flow of drugs isn't the only problem. They are pointing to the flow of illegal guns as well. And that has some American gun owners fearing a ripple effect, that by clamping down on guns heading south into Mexico, the government will try to take away Americans' gun rights. Our Sean Callebs tonight has a revealing look at the freedom they say is under fire right now.


SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is Tyler, Texas, one of those places all over America where a kind of quiet call to arms is getting louder and louder. Just ask Attorney Sean Healy and Jimmy Moore, who's a nurse.

(on camera): A show of hands here. Who thinks President Obama wants gun control, wants to restrict the kinds of guns you can get?

Really? Why?

SEAN HEALY, ATTORNEY: If you look at what he said in the past and look at his actions, that if he and the people in control of Congress right now could have what they want, they would heavily restrict or eliminate guns from this country.

JIMMY MOORE, REGISTERED NURSE: He voted for a 500 percent increase on the tax on guns and ammunition, doubling, basically, the cost of my hobby and my passion.

CALLEBS: So here in Tyler and other parts of the country, there's been a run on ammunition. One man ran into a Wal-Mart and said, sell me all the ammo you have. Guns, they're also flying off shelves. Those highly prized semiautomatic rifles are becoming more and more expensive.

This is $2,200. Why is it so expensive?

STEVE PRATER, LOCK N' LOAD MANAGER: Well, right now they're just about impossible to find. They're just hard to get. Everybody kind of got scared, the market got depleted.

CALLEBS: A run on guns because of President Barack Obama. But since he has been president, he has said, quoting here, "I will not take away your guns."

It couldn't be more clear, but listen to his secretary of state. She sounds as though she has a different message.

(voice-over): This is what she said in Mexico when asked why the administration isn't fighting the sale of semiautomatic guns.

HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: I'm not going to, you know, sugarcoat it. It's a very heavy lift. I think that's a mistake. I think these assault weapons, these military-style weapons don't belong on anyone's street.

PRATER: It is her intent to see gun legislation passed.

HEALY: It's a little bit ridiculous to blame Americans for the fact that people in foreign countries are trying to ship illegal drugs into our country and they're committing violence against each other.

CALLEBS: Back in the gun store --

(on camera): why would someone own a semiautomatic weapon like this? I mean, is saying it's my right, is that enough?

PRATER: Yes, I believe it is. Yes, I believe it is. It's what sets us apart.

CALLEBS (voice-over): Remember Jimmy Moore, he owns an AR-15.

MOORE: I'm not a freak. I'm a registered nurse. I'm a responsible individual. I'm a law-abiding citizen. I've been one my entire life.

CALLEBS: A nurse, an attorney, not the usual portrait of Second Amendment diehards. And the man who owns the Lock N' Load gun shop, he's a cardiologist who moved here from New York.

Are you kind of profiting on this fear right now?

SCOTT LIEBERMAN, LOCK N' LOAD OWNER: I think we are. Again, I don't know how rational it is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon, Lock N' Load.

CALLEBS: In fact, it may not be rational at all. It might even be paranoid. But one thing is certain. Many gun owners believe this president is somehow out to curb their rights and they're stocking up just in case.

Sean Callebs, CNN, Tyler, Texas.


BROWN: And let's get into this a little more right now. We've got CNN senior legal and political analyst Jeff Toobin joining me right now. And set the record straight for us. What are the president's views on gun control, and given what is on his plate right now, is this anywhere on his priority list?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: It's zero. In fact, in the '90s, James Carville and others said to the Democratic Party, look, if you ever want to win a national election again, if you want to win Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Michigan, you've got to give up on this gun control stuff, and the Democratic Party has given up on gun control with the possible exception of certain assault weapons, but even that is way off the agenda right now.

BROWN: So why are we seeing this kind of thing?

TOOBIN: Well, I think there's a tradition of skepticism about the Democratic Party on guns. And I think there is a kind of whipped up frenzy that is completely not based in reality, but it happened under Clinton, it's happening under Obama. The extreme version, not these people, was the sort of Timothy McVeigh militia movement, but, you know, that is always part of American life. It has no basis in what this administration is trying to do.

BROWN: All right. A reality check from Jeff Toobin, appreciate it. Good to see you.

TOOBIN: And one more thing.


TOOBIN: Good luck.

BROWN: Thank you.

TOOBIN: I'm going to miss you.

BROWN: Thank you very much.

TOOBIN: That is very --

BROWN: I'll be back soon enough. Yes. This does take priority at the moment.

TOOBIN: Indeed, indeed.

BROWN: All right. Thanks very much, Jeff.

Coming up, a side of our Jack Cafferty you might not have seen before.


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN COMMENTATOR: I just get up every day and I say, OK, I've got a certain number of things I have to do today. One of them is, I'm not going to have a drink.


BROWN: Next, an emotional Jack. You're not going to want to miss this.


BROWN: You know Jack Cafferty is a frequent contributor to "THE SITUATION ROOM." Well, he's out with a new book called "Now or Never: Getting Down to the Business of Saving Our American Dream." Yes, mostly political with some pretty tough words for President Bush, but you may be surprised at how much of it is very personal. I talked with him the over day about the unexpected death of his wife, Carol, and why he wrote about it in the book.


JACK CAFFERTY, CNN COMMENTATOR: I didn't feel it would be honest to put the book out without including it, and it was a hard decision to make. The book came to a grinding halt, as you can imagine, for about three months last fall when she died. I didn't do any work on the book for a long time. But it changed everything about my life. And since we're talking about change, and I just felt like it would be dishonest to exclude it.

And, you know, there was something unburdening about being able to sit down and say, this is what happened to me and I miss her and I'm sad and I'm lonely and I'm all those things, but it was helpful to me on a personal basis. BROWN: Writing about it, it was?

CAFFERTY: Yes, yes.

BROWN: You were very open about your struggle with alcohol.


BROWN: And you wrote that she was the one who inspired you to get sober. How do you inspire yourself now to stay sober?

CAFFERTY: You know, that's a good question, and I'm not sure I know the answer. I just get up every day and I say, OK, I've got a certain number of things I have to do today. One of them is, I'm not going to have a drink. And it's been long enough, 20 years, that I sort of know how to live without the booze now.

So when these kinds of things -- if this had happened 15 years ago, I'd have been off the charts. It would have been all over. But I've been sober for a long time. And I have some children who depend on me and look to me, hopefully, and so you try to be an example for them. And you know, like the Nike ad says, you just do it.

BROWN: Well, you wrote about your children and being an example. I want to read a little excerpt.

You wrote that you sat both of your younger daughters down and you told them, basically, "alcoholism is in your genes, it's in your DNA on my side. You've got to be careful because if you get to playing around with this stuff, you don't have the same tolerance that your buddies have."

CAFFERTY: Well, I think, you know, we didn't know that years ago, but there is a genetic predisposition to addiction. And science has kind of confirmed that now.

So I thought, you know, kids grow up. They're going to have a drink. They're going to smoke a joint. They're going to do all the things that we did, but maybe, you know, you want to give them a little heads up that you're not playing with the same advantage that the kid across the bar is, so watch it.

BROWN: I also have to raise this, because it's on my mind a bit these days.


BROWN: You write a lot about parenting in the book and you're pretty hard on this generation. And you wrote this. "Some parents still have this attitude that their kids are too special to be burdened by discipline and the rest of us are supposed to put up with their little mutants. I hate to break it to them, but the kids aren't special, and I don't have to put up with their behavior. If you can't control your obnoxious little brats, leave them home."

CAFFERTY: What problem do you have with that? (LAUGHTER)

BROWN: Come on, your kids never misbehaved in a restaurant or something?

CAFFERTY: I'm sure that they did, but not regularly, and not often, and not to an extreme, because I wouldn't put up with it, and neither would their mother. You know, you're in a public place where other people are trying to have dinner and I just never thought it was fair to -- plus, it's not good for the kids to allow them to just run amuck and do whatever the hell they want.

Ultimately, that's not good for them. I think, you know, children want some sense of where the fence is, where the boundary is. And so, you know, yes, they probably got out of line once or twice, but we made it pretty clear, this is unacceptable and you don't do that and if you don't like that explanation, then you can stay home with the babysitter and we'll go out without you. So, and that has some leverage too.


BROWN: And again, the book is called "Now or Never." Our thanks to Jack Cafferty.

President Obama installed his new attorney general today. There was some ribbing, and of course, the subject was basketball.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said, "I'm not sure he's ready for my New York game." We will see about that, Mr. Attorney General.


BROWN: More on this tonight in the "Political Daily Briefing."


BROWN: Time for our Friday edition of our "Political Daily Briefing," including troubling new developments in the planning of the White House Easter egg hunt. Tom Foreman with tonight's "PDB."

Tom, though, we begin with President Obama publicly rebuking his attorney general's game. What happened?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know there's one thing President Obama won't stand, and that is trash talking about his basketball game. It's no secret the attorney general, Eric Holder, likes the game too, so let's tip off the friendly rivalry.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In fact, several months ago, Eric even had the audacity to comment to a reporter on my basketball skills. He said, and I quote -- that's what he said, he said, "I'm not sure he's ready for my New York game." We will see about that, Mr. Attorney General.


FOREMAN: Holder admits on the court he can't keep up with the younger president these days, but off the court, that's called a little move, buttering up the boss.

BROWN: Yes. Absolutely.

And, Tom, we've also -- we've heard, let's see, Watergate, Memogate, and now I understand there is Easter "egggate (ph)." What is it all about?

FOREMAN: Oh, Campbell, the move to create more access to the White House, this Easter has left some in the administration with egg on their faces.

Last week the White House announced tickets to the Easter Egg Roll would be available online instead of in person. An online frenzy broke out that left many Easter egg rollers boiling over.

Tickets were snatched up in hours and, of course, in the true American spirit, many decided to scalp their tickets. Take a look at this eBay posting that sold six tickets for nearly $1,000. The White House says it's working with sites like eBay to prevent the sales of any further tickets. We'll just have to see -- Campbell.

BROWN: A thousand bucks!

FOREMAN: That's a lot.

BROWN: It kind of defeats the purpose. All right, Tom Foreman for us tonight. Tom, thanks very much. We'll be back in just a moment.


BROWN: Before we go, I want to tell you about a pretty cool new project we got going. We need your help. If you've heard about CNN's iReports, then we've got an assignment for you. We're calling it class project.

Whether you're a student, a teacher, or a parent, your ideas matter. We want to know what's going right or what needs fixing in your schools. Upload your videos to We want to show your video here on NO BIAS, NO BULL.

And don't forget, later tonight Anderson Cooper, Ali Velshi, and the CNN money team search for hints the economy could be turning around. We gather the sharpest minds to help you make sense of it all on the "CNN Money Summit." That is tonight at 11:00 p.m. Eastern time.

Once again, just a reminder, Roland Martin is going to be in this chair come Monday. I am leaving for a few weeks to have this baby that I've been hiding behind this computer for the last many, many months.

Yes, there it is. There it is. No hiding it now.

I'll be back in a few weeks. Take care, everybody.

"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.