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CAMPBELL BROWN: NO BIAS, NO BULL

Credit Card Crackdown; Taliban Gaining Ground in Pakistan

Aired April 23, 2009 - 20:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ROLAND MARTIN, CNN ANCHOR: Folks, we have got a lot of news to get through tonight, and, as always, some smart folks who can't wait to talk about it all.

So let's get right to our number-one story, President Barack Obama's credit card crackdown. Is there anybody out there who hasn't looked at their monthly statement and been shocked by sky-high interest charges or fees? A lot of folks are outraged.

And our chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, breaks it down for us.

So, Ali, what exactly is the president's plan?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Roland, as you said, a lot of people are very frustrated with this.

We have been getting more and more calls about this in the last year, people who are troubled because they don't understand what is happening to their credit card rates, their credit limits, even people who haven't done anything wrong. So the president came out today after meeting with the CEOs of a lot of the nation's biggest credit card companies and said he wants some things changed.

There are two bills right now, one at the Senate, one at the House. But the president wants to do is ban what he calls unfair rate increases, abusive fees and penalties. A lot of people are finding their rates are going up, despite the fact that they haven't done anything.

Other outside influences may be affecting them. People who aren't using their credit cards are seeing their limits cut and their rates go up. He also wants plain language, in his words, no more fine print. We all have rules in our credit cards and in many cases, when those rates increase, it is actually tied back to something that was in those rules.

But who reads those? They are in that fine, fine paper. He wants it all very clear. And he wants contract terms online. He wants people able to see it. He wants people to easily be able to compare credit card rates and terms.

Now, part of this, Roland, is a degree of personal responsibility. If that information is going to be out there, individuals really have to take it upon themselves to study it and understand it. But the president is saying if you do study it and if you do understand it and it's accessible and easy to understand, then he wants people to be able to understand how much they are going to pay and not be subject to arbitrary increases for less than obvious reasons.

MARTIN: All right.

Folks, time to bring in the whole team here, to my left, Erica Hill, of course, CNN correspondent and anchor. You already heard from Ali. And of course Lisa Bloom, she is with's truTV "In Session." And my man Alfred Edmond, he's the editor in chief, as well as senior vice president for "Black Enterprise: magazine. Of course they provide business and wonderful news, frankly, to African-Americans, or audience geared to African-Americans.

Alfred, I want to go right to you. Who is really here to blame here? Because you have the president going after the credit card companies challenging them on their fees. But the reality is people are spending and overspending. So who is at fault with this credit card crisis?

ALFRED EDMOND JR., "BLACK ENTERPRISE": Well, both people are to blame.

Of course, most people, including me, can barely understand if you do read the fine print in credit card statements about what they can do and what they can't do. But the flip side is we got very used to getting access to easy credit. We treated it as free money. We didn't pay attention to how much it costs to borrow that money and many of us got in trouble.

MARTIN: Look, this whole system we have, Lisa, is based on credit. My goodness, if you want to get your credit score up, you have got to get a credit card. And so folks are frankly, caught in a catch-22.

LISA BLOOM, TRUTV ANCHOR: Yes. And let me tell you something. I'm a lawyer and I try to read that fine print. And it makes my brain hurt, all right?

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That makes me feel better.

BLOOM: I don't know how they can change the rules in the middle of the game.

Basic contract law is we enter into an agreement, that's it. You can't just send me a letter a few months later saying, OK, by the way, your interest rate is now 29 percent. So, Ali, I'm wondering, what is really the focus hire? Is it the fees and the interest rates or is it some clarity, so people actually understand what the deal is?

VELSHI: Well, I think it's clarity. And I think we heard this last year with respect to mortgages, which are also very complicated. We know what the rules are. There is a way to make these rules understandable. So the administration wants -- or the Congress, the bill before the House is to have 45 days of notice if they are going to increase your credit card rate and an ability for you to respond to that.

The one in the Senate wants even longer notice before they increase your rate. But the problem is, that's not the option that most people get. They get word that their rate's increasing, what are they going to do about it? So, you need to know the rules are ahead of the time and be able to sort of get yourself out of this trouble, because you are in debt, you're heavily in debt, the rates are going up. Your getting worse into debt. Your credit score is going down.

So, we need a system that actually works...

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: And we need it in plain English, right? How hard is that?

EDMOND: There's three groups that really need this information.

One is college students.

MARTIN: Absolutely.

EDMOND: Because we know they don't know as much. They're younger. They are less responsible.

Two are lower-income and lesser-educated people in general. You are a lawyer. We have been doing this for years and we barely get it. If you are a lower-income person, it's hard for you to get it. The third group, which I don't hear as much talking about, is small business owners...

MARTIN: Great point.

EDMOND: ... and new business owners, many of whom are financing their business using credit cards.

(CROSSTALK)

EDMOND: We have an entrepreneurs conference in Detroit next month, 1,000 entrepreneurs, the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Conference. And they are using credit cards to get their businesses off the ground.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: And, also, I think that that is one thing, too, that is interesting that would be in some of these bills, at least, the proposal would be not necessarily all college students, but this limitation on being able to market credit cards to children under 18, which is a really important provision, especially as you try to educate your children about finances. (CROSSTALK)

HILL: There's another thing we talked about in our meeting I know earlier today, though, a lot of people think about is, wait a minute here. These credit card companies, a lot of them owned by banks. Let's say you have a bank credit card. They got bailout money.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Big money. Big money.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: But now they are turning around and charging me more money out of nowhere. They're increasing me fees, my interest rates. They're dropping my credit limit, not giving me any reasoning.

So, Alfred, how does that work? How can these banks get the money and then say we need more money from you? Isn't there some oversight there?

(CROSSTALK)

EDMOND: Well, this is why this intervention, this legislative intervention is really necessary. The truth is credit card companies don't reward you for being financially responsible. They want you to be just responsible enough to make your minimum payments so you can carry a balance.

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: In fact, they love people who have recently declared bankruptcy. That's who their favorites are...

(CROSSTALK)

EDMOND: Because they want you to carry the balance. They don't really want you to pay your cards back, because they make their money off the revolving interest...

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: And that is part of the legislation as well.

MARTIN: But aren't we also having to confront the reality that there is this sense that it is patriotic to keep buying?

VELSHI: Yes.

MARTIN: Frankly, we created this sense that just keep spending, keep spending. After 9/11, what did the president say? Go shopping.

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: Yes, but don't you think that changed? VELSHI: Yes, it has.

And after 9/11...

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Because we're broke now.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: You had an identifiable enemy.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: Who is your enemy today? Who are you fending off by spending? Back then, you were fending off al Qaeda and they were saying, you know what? You are not going to ruin my life. Now who are you fighting? Wall Street, Washington? There is not that same patriotic duty to go out there and spend to...

(CROSSTALK)

EDMOND: The truth is, people have to get serious about understanding what affordability is for them. The people who have the money should spend the money.

(CROSSTALK)

EDMOND: The people who have the money should spend it.

BLOOM: And we're going to back to the old-fashioned idea of actually saving up for something before you buy it.

MARTIN: I got one. If it's not in the bank, don't buy it.

EDMOND: That's what my dad always sad.

HILL: Wise man.

BLOOM: That is not so easy for everyone.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: I understand. But, sometimes, your eyes see it, you say, I don't have it, keep moving.

Folks, hold tight for one second.

Of course, the president has announced a prime-time news conference for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday, his 100th day in office. That fits in perfectly with our special prime-time event that start at 7:00 Eastern that night, CNN's national report card on the president's first 100 days. We will be giving the president's grades and of course you will be giving them as well.

Now, Alfred, real quick, how would you grade the president on the economy?

EDMOND: I give him a B-plus. If you were grading him on a curve, I would give him an A, because I don't think anyone can get better than a B-plus in this environment. But I give him a B-plus.

MARTIN: All right, Alfred, thanks so much. We certainly appreciate it, Alfred Edmond with "Black Enterprise."

Before we move on, this has got to be the picture of the day, folks, the president meeting with the CEOs and of the major credit card companies. But look in the back and there is Larry Summers, the former treasury secretary and the head of President Obama's National Economic Council.

This is one of the president's top economic advisers. And he is sleeping.

HILL: Maybe he tried to read the fine print of his statement.

(LAUGHTER)

BLOOM: That's right. It puts you right out.

MARTIN: Larry, wake up.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: All right, folks, we have been hearing from you all day about this next story. The mom who got fed up battling, frankly, her 10- and 12-year-old daughters put them both out of the car and drove away. Was that a crime?

Listen to John in New York.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JOHN, NEW YORK: She does deserve jail time. A crime is a crime. And she endangered the welfare of that child.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MARTIN: All right. What do you think? Lisa is shaking her head. Call at 1-877-NO-BULL-0. That's 1-877-662-8550. You can also e-mail me, hit me on Twitter and Facebook.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: Folks, a dangerous situation in Pakistan tonight. The Taliban and Pakistani paramilitary troops are in an tense face-off just 60 miles from Islamabad. Every moment counts because this could be a turning point for an ally that America depends on in the world's most unstable region.

Erica, she lays it out for us right now.

So, Erica, what is the situation? HILL: Well, Pakistan is actually stepping up its efforts, it seems possibly to control or at least to try to contain the Taliban in this region.

Now, they sent four platoons of military troops, paramilitary forces into Buner. That's that region we talked about last night where the Taliban have now taken control, control -- about 25 percent control of the region, the same region that is just 60 miles from the capital, Islamabad.

Now, one of the vans though carrying those troops came under fire today, leaving one police official dead, another wounded. The Pakistani government continues to say it is monitoring the situation very closely.

Meantime, Taliban leaders meeting with community elders today, and they agreed, the Taliban leaders, not to openly carry guns. They also agreed not to interfere with police, courts, schools, or hospitals. Residents of the area of Buner though say the Taliban have now set up checkpoints, they are patrolling the streets throughout the district.

But they are not the only ones anxious as they watch the situation. And to get a better feel for why this has so many people across the globe concerned, let's take a look the at the map.

Pakistan obviously right here in a tense area. It's always been a tense battle with India. But it's also bordered by Afghanistan and Pakistan. And as we look a little closer, come on, magic map. The magic map and I are just getting to know each other. So, it might -- our relationship is still developing here.

So, we take a look. We talked a little bit about the Swat Valley. Now, this is the region that last week through a peace treaty with the Pakistani government, the Taliban took over control of this region and then stepped up into Buner here, which is the region we were just talking about.

So as you can see you come down 60 miles from Islamabad. But that is the not only issue here, because they started off with Swat Valley as you saw on the map there moving down through the mountains into Buner. And as we keep going here again -- oops. The map and I, we are getting to know each other. OK, as I'm pushing -- I'm going to get this for you, I promise. There we go, somehow.

We are going through the mountains. We are going through the mountains. Here is the issue. I'm going to back a little bit here. When you get to the edge of Buner province -- of the Buner region here, if Erica can do this correctly, you hit the flatlands, the Swabi flatlands.

Why is this important? Because those lead directly to this highway right here, which connects, this four-lane highway, very important for NATO, everybody, heavily frolicked here by the Taliban. It leads directly from the capital of Islamabad to Peshawar, which is the capital of the Northwest Frontier Province. This is key for oil. This is key for travel. This is a huge issue. So, if they keep moving into these flatlands, that means there could be a confrontation. So the government right now poised for a possible confrontation or dealings at least with the Taliban. This of course is a country that has nuclear weapons. Let's not forget too that it is also bordered by Iran and Afghanistan.

And you can see, Roland, why this is shaping up to be such a tense situation in Pakistan, our key ally with nuclear weapons and for those across the globe.

MARTIN: All right, Erica, thanks a bunch.

Let's bring in CNN correspondent Ivan Watson, reporting live from Islamabad, and CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen, who is in Washington. Also Ali Velshi and Lisa Bloom are also here.

Ivan, I want to start with you.

You spent the day talking to lawmakers and people in Islamabad. How concerned are they about the Taliban's advance?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it depends on who you talk to here, Roland.

If you hear from the federal government here, they seem to suggest that they need time for this peace agreement that they signed with the Taliban to take shape. They are saying it's still a possible source of future stability in this region.

If you talk to the Pakistani military, they have been talking tough, threatening to throw the Taliban out of this Buner district that we just heard about. When you talk to some local politicians though as well as some of the provincial government officials, they are sounding the alarm.

They say this is a violation of this agreement. And they are warning that over these hills over my shoulder, just 60 miles from here, the Taliban is operating and possibly setting up a beachhead, that another domino is falling in Pakistan and it's giving the Taliban a safe haven far too close to the Pakistani capital -- Roland.

MARTIN: Hey, Peter, exactly what will the government and the military do if the Taliban, they get to the capital city?

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I don't think they are going to get to the capital city, Roland.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Hey, Ivan, hold tight one second.

Peter, go right ahead.

BERGEN: The capital city is right next door to the headquarters of the Pakistani military and was sort of designed by the military to be pretty defensible.

I think the Taliban's strategy is not necessarily to go after Islamabad, but to create a land bridge between Afghanistan on the west border of Pakistan with Kashmir on the Indian -- the other side, on the eastern border.

And they're already putting together the pieces of some of that already, Roland. So that would allow them to have continuous movement between Afghanistan all the way up to Kashmir on the Indian border. That seems a more plausible strategy for them than trying to attack the capital itself. That is a pretty difficult task for the Taliban.

VELSHI: And, Peter, Ali Velshi here. Let's just talk about this. I think there are a whole lot of people who don't understand how it is that a country's military, particularly large and powerful military like the one in Pakistan, can't control large swathes of the country, and in fact appear to be losing controls over other ones. We don't have a corollary here in the United States.

BERGEN: Well, I think the Pakistani army is set up for a land war with India and it in fact has to a counterinsurgency. It doesn't have the counterinsurgency capability or doctrine.

And basically they have tried two approaches. One is like the hammer and really go in hard. And that hasn't really worked. And then the other one is appeasement. And we have seen these peace agreements repeatedly, Ali, as you know since 2005. And these peace agreements have always had the same outcome, which is the Taliban consolidate that territory and then they move into the next part. And then the Pakistani government does another piece agreement and again we have the same outcome.

So, the Pakistani establishment just doesn't really know what to do and unfortunately has been in denial for a long time on this issue.

MARTIN: Hey, Ivan, Erica has a question for you about the folks there in the region.

HILL: Well, you were talking a little bit about the government, but as we're hearing more from people on the ground, I know you have been talking to a lot of people on the ground, is there a real concern there that, in fact, the Taliban could be moving in and could at some point overpower and take over further regions?

WATSON: I do think there is growing concern. In fact I was talking with a lawmaker right here. And he was pointing at these hills over my shoulder saying, this is far too close. The only thing dividing us from the Taliban are these mountains here protecting the city of Islamabad.

And I think one of the points that is very interesting here is this policy of appeasement. We had negotiations going on in that district of Buner between the Taliban and local officials and the mediators that were used there were representatives of a cleric named Sufi Mohammed. He helped broker the last deal in the Swat Valley which gave the Taliban effective control over that area. That man last Sunday addressed a huge rally in the Swat Valley. This is Sufi Mohammed, the mediator. And he challenged the very legitimacy of the Pakistani state. He said that the government system, the system of justice was un-Islamic and he demanded that Islamic Sharia law be expanded across the country.

That is a direct challenge. And that is the man that Pakistani government is trying to mediate with.

MARTIN: All right, Ivan Watson, Peter Bergen, we certainly appreciate it. Thank you very much.

Folks, a programming note. CNN's Special Investigations Unit reports tonight at 11:00 on conditions for women in Afghanistan.

Here's a preview of "Lifting the Veil."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHARMEEN OBAID-CHINOY, CNN ANCHOR: To understand how harsh the streets of Kabul are for women, my translator and I follow Bibigul as she goes begging that afternoon. I keep my microphone turned on.

(on camera): Oh, it feels really strange to be under this. Actually, I'm tripping all over myself, because it's very difficult to walk in this.

(voice-over): In today's Afghanistan, wearing the burka is no longer required by law. Most are forced beneath the veil by men in their families or communities. For the Afghan woman, there is little difference.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: Folks, "Lifting the Veil" from CNN's Special Investigations Unit airs tonight at 11:00, right after "A.C. 360" here on CNN.

Now, take a look at this, never-before-seen photos of President Obama at work in the White House and with daughters Sasha and Malia. They're from the latest issue of "TIME" magazine. And we will have more in tonight's "Political Daily Briefing."

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: Folks, did your mom or dad ever say, don't make me stop this car? Well, look, a mother in New York City not only stopped the car; she kicked her kids out and drove away. Police arrested her for it. Now, we are going to chew on this later. My sister, the mother of four, has already weighed in. She sent me a text. "OK, that is an ultimate time out. Momma needs some old-school discipline methods. Don't let folks' kids let it get to that."

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: You just can't leave them in the middle of town and drive off. I'm sorry, my friend.

(CROSSTALK)

VELSHI: They probably won't be acting up very much in the back of the car anymore.

MARTIN: There you go.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: They don't even want to get in the car anymore.

MARTIN: You got a little taste of what they think. We want to know what you think, 1-877-NO-BULL-0. That's 1-877-662-8550. Also hit me on Twitter and Facebook. Also check out the topic for tonight right here on the board -- back in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: Every Thursday, we do something special called "Money & Main Street," looking at how the economic headlines are affecting everyday Americans.

One of the big headlines out there is how this recession is impacting small businesses.

And one has found the recipe for success in the place where I live, Chi-Town.

Ali Velshi played a little music chairs here with Erica has more. He's going to tell us more about it.

VELSHI: Yes. I'm very into small business. They create more jobs than big businesses do in America. So, if we're going to get out of this recession, this is how we're going to do it, with small businesses.

One Hispanic businessman in Chicago has reinvented himself through his new restaurant business, managing to thrive, despite the economic downturn.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ALBERTO GONZALES, OWNER, 90 MILES CUBAN CAFE: How can I help you?

VELSHI (voice-over): Alberto Gonzales is doing well in this economy.

GONZALES: Two Cuban sandwiches.

VELSHI: Only six months ago, this former self-employed mortgage broker opened his first 12-seat Chicago restaurant.

GONZALES: Right here, this is kitchen.

VELSHI: And now, despite the downturn in the market, a second restaurant is in the works.

GONZALES: Very nervous. Very nervous. But then again, it's just -- it's all about risk.

VELSHI: A risk he is willing to take.

GONZALES: It kind of like fell in my lap. The location came available. A friend of mine brought it to my idea. Due to this recession that we have had, we figured this would be a good time to take advantage of everything that is going on.

VELSHI: But with a slew of small businesses closing each day, luck isn't a factor in Alberto's success.

GONZALES: I feel fortunate that I had a vision. I didn't hold back from doing it. I risked it all. It's kind of like going to Vegas, putting everything on red. And I kind of did that based on my research. And so far it's shown that our research is paying off.

How is everything, guys?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Real good.

GONZALES: You enjoyed it?

VELSHI: Do his friends think he is crazy for risking it all in an economic downturn?

GONZALES: Very crazy. It's OK. I feel the pressure. It just gives me that much more eagerness to succeed.

VELSHI: Gonzales was 11 when he left Cuba with his family. He helped his dad sell fish in Key West to make a living. And now almost 30 years later, after some struggles trying to make it in the mortgage business, he turned to old family recipes and opened his own restaurant. His expansion has a positive ripple for his suppliers, like daily meats.

MARIO JAILE JR., DAILY MEAT SUPPLY: It gives more volume for us, the pork products he buys and some of the beef products he buys. You know, volume goes up which is good. It's always good.

VELSHI: And it doesn't stop there. The Turano Baking Company supplies the bread for 90 Miles Cuban Cafe.

BILL CARLSON, TURANO BAKING COMPANY: Obviously, our sales rep on the street was extremely excited, because there is another new account. But, yes, it was outstanding to hear.

VELSHI: And his advertiser, Ernesto Reyes (ph) of Estec Design (ph), is also benefiting from Alberto's success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's good news for me in this economy.

GONZALES: We are going to be installing some ovens.

VELSHI: And it's even more good news for Alberto and his second Chicago location.

GONZALES: I like to believe that we are an inspiration to all those that is possible to make it happen in a downturn economy.

VELSHI: An inspiration that is having a ripple effect on the local economy.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VELSHI: All right, listen, there is one positive you need to know about the world of small business growth. I'm just -- my hat goes out to people like this. But the growth in Hispanic small business is remarkable.

Take a look at this. There are an estimated two million Hispanic-owned businesses. And that contributes about $400 billion in annual receipts from those companies. That's now. By next year, by 2010, the estimates are that a number of those businesses could grow to more than three million and that pushes receipts to about $465 billion going to Hispanic small businesses.

And that's just a portion of it. The bottom line, it doesn't matter what your ethnicity is or where you are from. Hats off to these people who put their money and their time and their blood and their sweat and their tears behind their own business. Good work.

BLOOM: And there are some advantages to starting a small business in a recession.

VELSHI: Absolutely.

BLOOM: Like good time to buy products and inventories, right, while prices are low.

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: .. are low. Good time to advertise.

VELSHI: And you are not giving up a big income somewhere else.

HILL: No.

MARTIN: But also one of the things that people don't understand is where these businesses are located are typically where you have high unemployment.

VELSHI: Yes.

MARTIN: And so you have young folks able to get jobs as well. And it's closer to where they live, as opposed to being far away.

VELSHI: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: So, small business... (CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: ... in this industry.

Folks, for more stories about how the latest economic headlines are affecting everyday Americans like you, go to CNN.com/money&mainstreet.

All right, a mystery has been solved. What killed 21 polo ponies just as a match was getting under way? Trust me, you will not believe it. All that in the news briefing up next.

Also, a mom kicks her bratty kids out of the car. Lisa didn't want me saying that.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: She is later thrown in jail. Our panel weighs in on whether the mom should have seen -- should have been charged with endangerment. I say no.

I have already gotten a slew of voice-mails on this. Here's Susan from Maryland.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

SUSAN, MARYLAND: I think it's just a mom disciplining her kids. And sometimes some children, you have to show them that you are not playing with them. And that is the problem today, is that the parents aren't allowed to discipline in the manner that they choose, without fear of jail. It's disgusting.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MARTIN: There you go. Great, Susan.

Give us a call, 1-877-NO-BULL-0, 1-877-662-8550. You can also hit me on the e-mail, Twitter or Facebook.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: You know, they walk around. He couldn't even stay seated.

VELSHI: So I'm just saying I have the conversation from here.

MARTIN: All right, folks, lots of news out there. Erica Hill breaks down "The Briefing" with us right now.

HILL: All right. We're going to start off with some new developments.

That growing political storm over interrogation tactics, far from over at this point. Senior White House correspondent Ed Henry is standing by with the latest for us.

Hi, Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, what's interesting is earlier this week, the president cracked the door open just a little bit about possible criminal prosecutions of top Bush officials.

Today, his attorney general, Eric Holder really kicked that door wide open on possible prosecutions over alleged torture, saying basically he promises this will not be a political witch hunt, potentially Bush lawyers, maybe even Vice President Dick Cheney. But he also vowed he's going to get to the bottom of all of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I will not permit the criminalization of policy differences. However, it is my responsibility as the attorney general to enforce the law. It is my duty to enforce the law. If I see evidence of wrongdoing, I will pursue it to the full extent of the law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HENRY: Now even as the attorney general is keeping that Justice Department investigation possibility wide open, White House aides here are trying to close the door on a second outside investigation of all this. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs saying today that the president contemplated a couple of weeks ago whether or not there should be sort of a 9/11-style commission on the allegation of torture, but then decided against it because he's afraid it will become a partisan tit for tat. There are some arguing that's already reached that stage, Erica.

HILL: Yes, I can imagine why that argument is already out there. Ed, thanks.

A state of emergency to tell you about in South Carolina tonight. Some pictures we'll about to show you are from our CNN affiliate WSOC. Check this out.

Wildfire closing in here on the state's cultural tourist area. At this hour, we're told 15,000 acres have already burned. Some 69 homes near Myrtle Beach destroyed. No injuries have been reported, but officials say the blaze is now 75 to 80 percent contained. So a little bit of good news there.

In Florida, an animal pharmacy admits it made a mistake that may have killed those 21 horses. The animals died just before a championship polo match in Florida on Sunday. The pharmacy says supplements given to the horses contained the wrong dosage.

A medical mystery in California and Texas where swine flu for the first time is apparently spread by human to human contact. Now normally it spreads from pigs to humans, hence the name. The Centers for Disease Control have found seven cases so far.

The symptoms for this are actually much like a traditional flu. All of the patients have recovered.

And you know, one way to deal with your high school reunion? You could just hire a stripper to go in your place.

VELSHI: I totally get that.

MARTIN: Hey. Hey.

HILL: Yes. And Ali hired a woman so it's really confusing for people. This happening at a 10-year reunion in California.

The well-coached stripper told skeptical classmates she had plastic surgery, which may be not hard to believe. The whole stunt was captured on camera for an independent film. The highlights, a strip tease on the dance floor, which we really can't show you very much.

Apparently, we've got little to show you, though.

LISA BLOOM, ANCHOR OF TRUTV'S "IN SESSION": Yes.

HILL: You can use your imagination, but you probably don't need to at this point.

It's wild. And the documentary didn't get picked up but apparently now, the woman is talking to, you know, possibly a reality TV show, whatever else, but it did make it to YouTube and surprised a lot of her classmates.

BLOOM: And everybody fell for it.

VELSHI: What a great idea.

HILL: Everybody fell for it.

MARTIN: OK.

HILL: And the camera crew there -- finally, though, hotel security shut it down -- the dancing.

BLOOM: Yes.

MARTIN: All right then, when we die, it's all over. Maybe for them it's right now. Or is it, folks?

We're talking not about the afterlife. See, the stripper story got us going.

Cloning -- that's story is up next. And also, we've got to deal with the mom busted for kicking her misbehaving kids out of the car.

Of course, Msnewsjunkie on Twitter says, "It's one thing to drive down the street or even around the block, but to get home and then report her missing, off to jail."

Brady on Facebook says, "Considering she abandoned her children, I think she deserves something of a wake-up call and punishment herself.

BLOOM: That's what I'm talking about.

MARTIN: Yes, OK. Thank you, Lisa.

All right, what about you? Hit us up on Twitter on Facebook. Also, give us a call 1-877-662-8550.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: Scientists have cloned animals. Now there's a doctor who says he's cloned human embryos.

Erica Hill, who is this guy and what in the world is he up to?

HILL: It turns out this is not the first time we've heard from him about cloning embryos. And for most of us when you think cloning, maybe you think Dolly the sheep, right?

MARTIN: Yes, yes.

HILL: We met her in '96. Well, in 2004, you may recall, a man named Dr. Panayiotis Zavos, who announced to the world he had created an implant of a cloned human embryo into a woman's womb. Now it was not a successful implantation, but today the same doctor is back. This time he says he implanted four women with 11 cloned embryos.

None of these were successful either, but he is talking more about this and at this point even putting a face on his view of the future, which he sees to be cloning.

This is little Katie (ph). She's seen here in a baby picture. She was killed in a car accident when she was 10 years old. Her parents are now working with Dr. Zavos, according to him.

Now, I want to be very clear here. These cloned embryos which he claims to have implanted in these four different women, as far as we understand it, none of them involved little Katie's DNA. These were not embryos that were cloned from Katie's DNA that was taken from her corpse, but still, has a lot of people thinking about what this means for the future.

MARTIN: Absolutely right. Now, folks, we want to bring Dr. Lisa Masterson. She's co-host of a syndicated daytime talk show "The Doctors." She's an Ob-Gyn and a fertility specialist. Also, the panel is here -- Lisa, Ali and Erica as well.

And, doc, I got to start with you. I mean, why? Why would someone want to clone a child or another human being?

DR. LISA MASTERSON, CO-HOST, "THE DOCTORS": Well, really this human embryo cloning started for stem cell lines to be able to make cell lines to cure diseases so that they didn't have to destroy embryos. So that's really what scientists are supposed to do with this. He is abusing it by using it for trying to clone humans. This is not what it's supposed to be intended for. This is illegal and this is not allowed in the U.S.

MARTIN: This guy says he is a few years away from doing this. Are you offended by this effort he's undertaking?

MASTERSON: Well, the principle and the practice are still very far apart. So they're very long and even he says he tried to implant it, but it didn't go any further.

We also know that, you know, animals have been cloned and they've been abnormal. So the ethics of trying to do with this a human being is just abhorrent. As doctors, we have to uphold these ethics and practice medicine in an ethical way. So it's absolutely horrible what he's doing in trying to give hope to this family that he's going to bring back their child is just absolutely terrible.

HILL: We talked about in terms of the family, this is something that came up in our meeting earlier today. And the question posed is looking at this family, is this doctor also -- and, Lisa, I want to throw this to you -- is this doctor taking advantage of a family in a time of grief for his own personal gain?

BLOOM: Well, it depends whether full disclosure was made.

Oh, there's two Lisas.

HILL: Sorry, doctor.

BLOOM: Do not be confused Dr. Masterson.

(LAUGHTER)

MARTIN: Lisa the lawyer, Lisa the doctor. All right.

BLOOM: But Dr. Masterson is right because the ethical board, the AMA all think that cloning is unethical. And it clearly is because we have no guarantee that there's any safety of any cloned baby. There's going to be a lot of birth defects, a lot of medical problems.

But, what if we got to the point, Dr. Masterson, what if we got to the point where we didn't have those kind of problems anymore, the technology and the science advanced enough? What exactly is the ethical problem with cloning? Is it just the ick, weird, yuck factor?

MASTERSON: Well, as I said again, right now we don't have the ethnics we don't have. And the society for reproductive medicine has said we are nowhere near the legalities, all of the practicalities of that. So it's really -- it's abhorrent for anybody to start thinking about cloning humans because so much has to be thought about beforehand.

And also, you are not going to have the same person. And that's what really needs to be said. Hollywood likes to think about human clones. Really right now, what we want to use this human embryo cloning for is for stem cell lines. It is exciting to think for people who can't, who have infertility problems, who can't have children to think, you know, who use egg donors to be able to put their own DNA and egg and potentially have children that come from their own DNA. Is that still cloning?

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: But, Roland, we used to think it's a bad idea. We had the same objections generation ago to IVF, and this is going to be the equivalent of identical twins.

VELSHI: I was just thinking of the same thing. You're talking if it works and can the baby be unhealthy? Well, yes.

BLOOM: I don't really see what the big objection is if the science is advanced enough.

VELSHI: I'm wondering at the same time too. Dr. Masterson, what do you think? I mean, what if it did work? What if it wasn't about the health of the babies? Could there be some benefit to this?

MASTERSON: Right now, we can't even go there because what you have to remember is we're talking about human life. And right now, they have to harvest eggs from women and that's what's happening right now.

It takes about six to seven eggs. And this comes with egg farming and the ethics of that. They have to stimulate a woman to get enough eggs to make one human embryo. And that right now, are you going to pay a woman to take basically all of her eggs away to try and get one human embryo? There's a lot of ethics to that, as well.

It's not like we just take a cell, one cell just from anywhere and make a human being out of it. Basically, you take an egg from a woman. You take that DNA out of it. You take the nucleus out of it and put other DNA in it. But right now to get that, it takes about seven eggs to make one successful transfer.

HILL: Although we are seeing plenty of women and we've seen so many stories on this and even on a rise of women interested in selling their eggs.

VELSHI: Yes.

HILL: And so, you know, just in the grand scheme sort of logistics of it...

MARTIN: Right.

HILL: It may not be as difficult as it seems to get those women to offer up eggs.

MARTIN: I'll tell you what, it's an amazing story.

MASTERSON: But is that right?

MARTIN: Doc, real quick. Doc, real quick.

MASTERSON: Is that right to put the -- is that right to put women at risk to do that because they're risking their health for this, as well? So is the monetary -- and that's where fertility has so, so many ethical issues to it.

MARTIN: All right. Dr. Lisa Masterson, we certainly appreciate it. Thank you so very much.

Erica, Ali and Lisa, stand by for a moment.

Tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE," we've got one style icon talking about another. Check it out. Larry also talked to Beyonce.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": What do you think about everyone talks about her, the way Michelle Obama dresses?

BEYONCE KNOWLES, SINGER: Oh, she's so chic and she -- one thing about her, she knows how to dress appropriately. Wherever she is, she is just -- her lines are always clean. She knows how to dress for her body. Very timely. You see her pictures years from now, they will never be out of style or out of fashion. And she's very, very classy, of course.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARTIN: Hey, she could be describing herself.

VELSHI: Yes.

MARTIN: But she's also from Houston.

Don't hate on Texas. More of Larry's interview with Beyonce tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE" coming up at 9:00 p.m.

All right, folks, they're just your typical American family, except they live in the White House. Never-before-seen candid moments caught by "Time" magazine just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HILL: Hi, Roland.

MARTIN: (INAUDIBLE) Dionne Farris with "I Know."

Folks, time for our "Political Daily Briefing." And it's "take a child to workday" at the White House. Erica Hill is going to tell us all about it.

HILL: That's right. All across the country your kids to work day, right? Nothing different at the White House. It must be nice to be a kid there today. More than 100 kids and grandchildren of White House employees on hand, including Vice President Joe Biden's granddaughter. Everybody got a special tour of the White House. And then talk about a big chance, they could ask the first lady anything they wanted.

And Mrs. Obama answered pretty candidly. She even let them in on one of her secrets about how she likes to spend her free time.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Every now and then I have this thing that I like to do with some of my staff members and we sneak out without telling anybody and we go and test out all the fun places to eat in D.C. Like I went to Five Guys and nobody knew it. It was good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HILL: A burger place, of course, Five Guys.

MARTIN: Oh.

HILL: I got for that. Good burger place says Ali. Restaurant reviews tomorrow night...

MARTIN: I'm now hungry.

HILL: ... on NO BIAS, NO BULL. The first lady also told the kids about the new puppy, Bo. She says he's a little crazy, in a good way probably and he likes to eat feet. Pet dogs can do that.

My dog can eat feet.

VELSHI: All dogs do that.

HILL: My dog does it. He'll lick your feet.

BLOOM: Yes, that's not eating.

HILL: That's a story for another day, too. Anyway, here's something else --

VELSHI: A lot like a fetish.

HILL: OK. We're moving away from Bo's foot fetish now, and we're moving on to pictures of life inside the White House.

Everybody with me? Here we go.

"Time" magazine's new issue is featuring the president's first 100 days. And they've got these incredible pictures they're showing us, so we want to share some with you.

A number of them show the president interacting with his daughters at the White House. This photo was apparently taken when the president had just congratulated Sasha on finding her way to him in the Oval Office because everybody was still getting lost at the time.

In this next photo that we have for you, Malia had just returned home from school when the president ran into her and the first lady in the White House residence.

A shared meal here between the president and vice president in the private dining room of the West Wing. They apparently try to meet for lunch at least once a week.

And then check this out. We know this is a president who loves sports. There he is.

MARTIN: A football.

HILL: A little pig skin in the Oval Office.

MARTIN: Normally it's basketball.

HILL: Well, apparently he's often seen with either a football or a basketball in hand.

MARTIN: Wow.

HILL: Mostly in between --

VELSHI: I've got a question. I've got a question. So he's got this picture where he's congratulating Malia for finding her way to the Oval Office.

MARTIN: Right.

HILL: Sasha.

VELSHI: Was he -- was it Sasha?

MARTIN: Sasha.

VELSHI: Was he endangering her...

BLOOM: Thank you.

VELSHI: ... by leaving her alone somewhere where she had to find her way to the White House?

BLOOM: Yes, with 97 guards around her.

MARTIN: Folks, there you go. We'll hear about that story coming up next. Trust me, it's a story everybody is talking about.

I want you in on that story, the mom who left her kids on the side of the road because she got tired of them.

Hit us up 877-662-8550. 877-662-8550. Back with the mom in a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) HILL: It's 8:00 on CNN.

MARTIN: That was Prince. "Get Wild there."

Some wild children with this next story, folks. This is a dinner table conversation, trust me.

Madlyn Primoff, a law partner from Scarsdale, New York, ordered her misbehaved and bratty, bad, butt, 10 and 12-year old daughters to get out of the car.

HILL: Oh.

BLOOM: Oh, boy.

MARTIN: Then she drove away without letting the 10-year-old back in. A stranger found the girl, took her for some ice cream, then to the police. The mom is charged with endangerment and spent a night in jail. So the question is the mom nuts or is she fed up with these bad children?

Time to talk to our panel. We also want to hear from you by phone, e-mail, Twitter or Facebook.

All right, Lisa, you've been sitting here ready to go.

BLOOM: Yes. Roland, yes. First of all --

VELSHI: All shows have been waiting for this one.

BLOOM: First of all --

MARTIN: Did she break laws? What's wrong?

BLOOM: My first objection is that you're assuming facts not in evidence. You're throwing in all this bratty, no-good -- I mean, these are a couple of kids, as far as we know, two little girls, 10 and 12 in the back of the car who were squabbling. All right? This is normal, childhood behavior.

MARTIN: OK.

BLOOM: And we can't judge it by what our generation did. Our generation didn't have helmets and knee pads. We've evolved. We understand their ways to protect children now.

MARTIN: Helmets?

BLOOM: Better than we did -- yes.

MARTIN: Is that riding bicycles?

BLOOM: Yes, but we do things better now than we did a generation ago. We don't abandon 10-year-olds three miles from home.

(CROSSTALK) MARTIN: No. I think we do things worse today.

BLOOM: By the way, what if it was 10 miles from home? What if it was 25 miles from home? You think that's acceptable?

VELSHI: In White Plains, New York.

MARTIN: Yes.

VELSHI: Not --

BLOOM: Yes, at dusk.

MARTIN: It wasn't the South Side of Chicago.

BLOOM: But the girl did not know how to get home. She's found by a stranger and the police say it's child endangerment. And I think most people think that is child endangerment.

MARTIN: All right. Let's go to the phone lines. Let's see what Beth in Bloomfield, New Jersey has to say -- Beth.

BETH, NEW JERSEY (via telephone): Hi, how are you?

MARTIN: Great.

BETH: I just think it's galling what this woman did. And the amount of attention is warranted, but a lot of sympathy she's getting is so unjustified. That 10-year-old could have been picked up by a killer, a child molester. A stressed-out woman, I understand it.

BLOOM: That's right.

BETH: Just a parent but she did the wrong thing.

BLOOM: Thank God that didn't happen.

MARTIN: All right. Thanks a bunch, Beth.

John Scott in Richmond, Virginia. John, what say you?

JOHN SCOTT, VIRGINIA (via telephone): Doing great, Roland. We loved your piece on Miss California. But I was actually abandoned, kicked out of the car as a child.

BLOOM: Wow.

VELSHI: And how did you turn out as a result of that?

JOHN: Well, actually, I was fine. My sister and I were squabbling in the back seat much like these two children were, and, you know, we were kicked out. Then my mom, you know, five, ten minutes later picked us up. We're like on the side of the highway.

BLOOM: Yes, but that's different.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: Hey, John, I got to ask you, John.

BLOOM: (INAUDIBLE) a lot different in this case. She didn't come back and pick her up. She called the police and reported her missing.

MARTIN: John, I got to ask you. Did you and your sister learn your lesson?

JOHN: Oh, absolutely. I'm a much better person for it. And I think she is completely justified in kicking her daughter out.

(CROSSTALK)

BLOOM: Roland, Roland, what if he dropped her off 100 miles from home, would that be OK with you?

MARTIN: First of all, John, thanks for your phone call.

BLOOM: Would that be OK with you?

MARTIN: Here it is. I certainly (INAUDIBLE) Chris Rock (ph) when I say I'm not saying it's right, but I understand.

BLOOM: Oh, well, we all understand.

MARTIN: You've got some bad kids out there.

BLOOM: We all understand. God made some (INAUDIBLE), you know, I'll kill them. I got two teenagers. I get that.

VELSHI: But she did go back. She went back. She went back to find her daughter who wasn't there, then she called the police.

BLOOM: No, no, no. She didn't go back. She went home.

The girl gets found by a stranger. Mom decides, you know what? I better call the police and report my child missing. That's a little fishy, isn't it? She doesn't go looking for her 10-year-old three miles from home.

(CROSSTALK)

MARTIN: But how do you know those details? You're talking about the details.

BLOOM: Because I read the research.

MARTIN: Oh, I'm just checking. All right, fine.

All right, folks, we've got Tara from Texas. Tara -- here's what she says.

All right, no Tara? OK.

All right, here we go.

DESIREE, FROM GEORGIA (via telephone): I never drove off, but I kept, you know, the children in the rear view mirror to be able to see them. But it scared them and they straightened out.

MARTIN: That's Desiree from Georgia there.

BLOOM: You see, that is a common scare tactic. I think it's one thing to say if you don't shut up I'm going to do this.

MARTIN: OK, so you don't mind scaring the kids, right?

BLOOM: And even let them out -- you can even let them out and look in the rear view mirror, like Desiree said, but you can't leave them there and go three miles home. The kids can't find a way home.

HILL: So it would be OK. So you wouldn't think that she would just, I mean, just out of threatening to appear to prosecute her if she did say, OK, that's it. Girls, out of the car, and then she just stays there.

BLOOM: The keyword is endanger.

HILL: OK.

BLOOM: You can't endanger your child by leaving her in an unknown area and she doesn't know how to get home, and she's all by herself. You can teach her a lesson.

VELSHI: What happens to this woman? What happens to this woman now?

MARTIN: Right.

BLOOM: It's a misdemeanor.

VELSHI: All right.

BLOOM: That means one year or less. She served the -- by the way --

VELSHI: But is it going to serve anybody for her to go to jail?

BLOOM: Well, she's already been to jail for one night. Yes, she served longer?

VELSHI: Yes, one night. But I mean, is it going to serve anybody?

BLOOM: It might serve the children.

VELSHI: So these kids are going to learn the lesson that when your mother disciplines you, she goes to jail.

MARTIN: All right.

BLOOM: By the way, this is a very well-to-do woman. She could have hired a babysitter if she's frustrated with those kids.

MARTIN: Well-to-do bad kids. Hold on, hold on.

HILL: We can't pass our kids off for other people to parent though.

MARTIN: There you go. I want you to pick up on that point. Pick up on that point.

BLOOM: If you're frustrated, you could buy a little mommy break.

MARTIN: Pick up on that point when we come back, Lisa (ph). Back in a moment.

(LAUGHTER)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MARTIN: So the mom who kicked her kids out of the car, all right? We've been talking about that particular story. The panel has been all fired up about it.

So, Erica, Lisa is saying it's OK to threaten your kids? It's OK to kick them out of the car.

(CROSSTALK)

HILL: I like to even kick --

VELSHI: It's OK to look at them in the rear view mirror.

MARTIN: Look at them in the rear view mirror.

HILL: Not drive away.

BLOOM: That endangers them.

MARTIN: So that's your advice. You can do that.

BLOOM: You cannot -- and that's not my advice. I'm talking about the law. You cannot endanger them.

VELSHI: Did you walk around the street when you were a kid?

BLOOM: Yes.

VELSHI: And you are OK.

BLOOM: But how did I turn? That's not the -- I also rode a bike without a helmet and played sports without knee pads?

VELSHI: And you're still OK.

BLOOM: But we evolved. Can't we learn better ways to treat our children than a generation ago?

VELSHI: We can.

MARTIN: If it works, stick with it.

BLOOM: Well, it didn't necessarily work.

MARTIN: Oh, come on.

BLOOM: You know, some people have some emotional problems.

MARTIN: OK. That's just some crazy, bad kids, I'm sorry.

BLOOM: These people who were abandoned.

MARTIN: All right, folks, that's it for us. Great, great conversation. A lot of you have written us and called in. We certainly appreciate it. You can visit us on Facebook and Twitter. While you're doing that, visit Ali Velshi, as well, because he's a little lonely these days.

HILL: We just started (INAUDIBLE) between you two.

MARTIN: All right. Yes, who gets the most.

All right, folks, we've got to go. That's it for us tonight.

Time for "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.

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