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Obama, Cheney Speak out about Gitmo, Security; Terror Suspects Appear in Court; Asian-American Businesses Targeted; Bus Passengers Help Injured Woman; Pittsburgh Steelers, Walter Reed and the National Naval Medical Center at the White House Today

Aired May 21, 2009 - 13:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you so much.

We are pushing forward on a battle of the titans: President Obama, former Vice President Cheney. Whom do you trust on Gitmo, terror suspects, and national security?

Schoolyard brawls are one thing, but a fight club at a school for the mentally challenged is an outrage. For the first time, we'll talk live with a resident captured in the infamous cell-phone video.

Sometimes humanity's worst brings out our best. On a city bus in Seattle, heroes emerge from outrageous brutality.

And a southern town synonymous with racial strife elects its first black mayor. You'll meet him live right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Protecting Americans, protecting American values. Competing visions from the man who bears those awesome responsibilities and the man who shared those responsibilities in the Bush administration. You heard them here live back-to-back: speeches by President Obama and former Vice President Cheney on terrorism, torture, liberty, secrecy, and the law.

The president spoke at the National Archives, home of the Constitution.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are, indeed, at war with al Qaeda and its affiliates. We do need to update our institutions to deal with this threat, but we must do so with an abiding confidence in the rule of law and due process, in checks and balances and accountability.

For reasons that I will explain, the decisions that were made over the last eight years established an ad-hoc legal approach for fighting terrorism that was neither effective nor sustainable, a framework that failed to rely on our legal traditions and time-tested institutions, and that failed to use our values as a compass. DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But in the fight against terrorism, there is no middle ground, and half measures keep you half exposed. You cannot keep just some nuclear- armed terrorists out of the United States. You must keep every nuclear-armed terrorist out of the United States.

Triangulation is a political strategy, not a national-security strategy. When just a single clue that goes unlearned or one lead that goes unpursued can bring on catastrophe, it's no time for splitting differences.


PHILLIPS: Well, helping us cover these weighty speeches, our own CNN's heavy hitters. CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry and, in our D.C. bureau, senior political correspondent Candy Crowley.

Well, the venues were different, but the backdrop for these talks was the same. A congressional revolt over Gitmo and flack over memos, photos, tribunals, much of it from Democrats.

Ed Henry, the president spoke to all these controversies and freely bashed the Bush administration, but he drew the line on a so- called truth commission. Why?

ED HENRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Because it fits right into his theme of not re-litigating, as he put it, the last eight years. He wants to move on. We've heard him say before, "Let's look forward, not backward."

The problem, though, of course, for him in part is that some in his own party, mostly liberals, are saying we need to look back to figure out whether laws were broken, and they do want a truth commission.

But I think that where this president was finding his voice somewhat in these remarks today was by taking that step back, talking about big themes, trying to, for the most part -- there were some partisan shots -- but for the most part, he was trying to take a step back and say, "Look, it's not black and white here. These are tough decisions." He vowed that he was going to solve these problems, that he was not going to pass them on to his successor.

That could resonate with a good share of the American public, who probably realizes that these are difficult questions. There's no easy answer about what to do with these 240 detainees at Guantanamo.

But where the president faces a big challenge, and you mentioned that, on the rest -- on Capitol Hill -- is if that you're going to -- if you're going to say it's gray, it's not black and white, why then on January 22 did this president issue that and sign that executive order saying, "I'm closing it within a year," without a plan to do it? If it's not black and white, there's certainly -- the critics are now raising questions about whether he moved too fast with that executive order, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right. Ed Henry at the White House. Ed, thanks so much.

Now, for Cheney, seven-plus years of no major attacks since 9/11 speak for themselves, but he still spoke for -- what, Candy Crowley -- 15 pages, and a lot of it sounded pretty personal.

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It did. Listen, and it is personal. I mean, this is not just about Dick Cheney. It is about the history of the Bush administration.

And he said in the speech and he's said it before, that he believes that the Obama administration is telling half truths, that they are not telling the other side of the story.

For instance, when they went ahead and declassified the memos that showed the justification for torture and what sorts of torture were used, but did not, Dick Cheney says, put out the other half of that, which is what sort of information did they get from those enhanced torture techniques?

So it is, first of all, about, he says, telling the whole truth about what happened. And also there's a legacy thing going on there. There's no doubt about that, and what did the Bush administration do. And you mentioned what their chief selling point is, and that is we didn't have another terrorist attack after 9/11.

But it is also, the former vice president tells us, as does his family, about what he deeply believes. And he deeply believes that the things that the Bush administration did, that the Obama administration is now undoing, were the things that kept the nation safe. Ergo, he believes the nation is now less safe, and they say he feels very strongly about that.

PHILLIPS: Candy Crowley out of D.C. Candy, thanks so much.

Now, before we move on, know that I'll be talking about national security and American ideals with senior White House advisor David Axelrod. That's minutes from now right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Well, they wanted to carry out a holy war against America. That's what authorities are saying about four men arrested in New York last night. They allegedly planted what they thought were bombs near two New York City synagogues.

Investigators say that they also planned to attack U.S. military plans with surface-to-air missiles.

There was a court hearing for three of the suspects just a short time ago. CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti standing by in White Plains, New York.

Susan, you were actually in the hearing. Tell us what happened.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, so far three of the four suspects have appeared before a U.S. magistrate, and each of them waived their right to hear the charges read in open court. They were brought in wearing handcuffs, shackled to their waist, and continued to shake their heads in disbelief, as if to say, "I don't know what you're talking" about as the prosecutor went ahead and read some of the charges.

Now, prosecutor Eric Schneider, in fact, said at one point these are men, quote, "who eagerly embrace any opportunity to bring a terrorist operation," and then went on to say, when speaking of their targets, in this case two Jewish synagogues, the prosecutor said, quote, "They are eager to bring death to Jews."

Now, during the course of this hearing, one of the suspects asked to be -- get some hospital treatment, because he said he was cut by some of the breaking glass that was shattered when authorities broke up the alleged plot last night outside one of the synagogues after the suspects, according to police, had planted explosives there.

The next step is a preliminary hearing scheduled for June 5, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: All right, Susan Candiotti, thanks so much.

Well, General Motors clears another major road block as it tries to steer clear of bankruptcy court. It's made a deal with the UAW to slash its costs and obligations tied to union workers and retirees.

We don't know all the details, and the rank and file still has to vote. And GM still has to deal with an even tougher crowd, bondholders, whom it's asking to swap $27 billion in IOUs for only 10 percent of the restructured company. Stay tuned.

Well, a mom who took her sick son on the run to avoid court- ordered chemo may have crossed into Mexico. Colleen and Daniel Hauser were spotted Tuesday in California. Police issued a felony warrant, a bump up from an earlier warrant and ensures she will be extradited back to Minnesota if arrested.

Hauser's husband says he didn't know about her plans to disappear with Danny.


ANTHONY HAUSER, FATHER OF CANCER PATIENT: She became fearful that, when she went to court, they were going to take the child. And I think it was kind of a spur-of-the-moment thing and she reacted, and that's what she did.


PHILLIPS: The Hausers say that chemotherapy is against their religious convictions. Instead, Danny has been on a natural healing regimen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The caller speaks in mandarin Chinese. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (speaking Chinese)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's threatening to kill Asian-American businesspeople and their families if they don't wire at least $10,000 to China.


PHILLIPS: They're being threatened with bombings, harm to their families, even death if they don't pay up. Some Asian-American business owners have fallen victim to a scam involving extortionists from China.


PHILLIPS: Carry out a holy war against America. That's what authorities are saying about four men arrested in New York last night. They allegedly planted what they thought were bombs near two New York City synagogues. Investigators say they also planned to attack U.S. military planes with surface-to-air missiles.

Just moments ago Mayor Bloomberg responded to those arrests.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY: There is no evidence whatsoever that they were part of a larger group, and this is an operation that the FBI and the joint terrorist task force have been carrying on for close to a year, I think, was my information I got. And if there was anything else, they most likely, certainly, would have heard about it.

And, in fact, I think you should walk away from this feeling better and safer about New York than ever before. Once again, look, we live in a dangerous world. The question is, do we have the resources and the management and the dedication and the consistency of purpose to make sure that we prevent and -- people like this from taking away our freedoms?

To think that you're not going to -- that we don't live in a world that is dangerous is just not realistic. And that's all the more reason why our police department who devotes a thousand of its police officers to intelligence and counterterrorism. It's all the more reason why we have a strategy of having our police officers in a dozen-plus cities around the world.

All of this is part of our plan to work with the FBI, with the CIA. Here we had great cooperation, and I can't say enough good things about both of those federal agencies. And here you see it work. This is exactly what's supposed to happen.

I've always thought of our police department's primary job not as first responders, but as first preventers.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIPS: Well, here is another one of those "good news/bad news" news stories that we keep hearing as we try to figure out whether the recession has hit rock bottom.

The Labor Department says the number of new applications for unemployment insurance was down a little from last week, from 643,000 to 631,000. Unfortunately, the number of continuing jobless claims inched up to another record high: nearly 6.7 million.

Finding a job in the economy can be a real test. Do you have what it takes to put yourself out there and the endurance for what could be a long search?

The person doing our 30-second pitch today knows all about fighting battles. She's an ovarian cancer survivor, and she's been looking for a job since she lost hers last June. Amy Dawson joins me live from Nashville, Tennessee.

Amy, we appreciate your letter. I know you've been watching our newscast. You pitched us in order to do this pitch on CNN. We appreciate your letter. Why don't you give me a little background about what happened. And did you see the loss of your job coming or was it a surprise?

AMY DAWSON, JOB SEEKER: It was totally unexpected. I just walked into my last employer in June, and then I was told that I was let go. So it was a total shock, not only for me but also for my -- for my parents, as well.

PHILLIPS: What type of work were you doing? And did they come to you and say, "Look, we've just -- we have to downsize, because we're not doing so well financially?" Did they talk to you about work performance? I mean, how did they handle it with you?

DAWSON: It was quite unexpected. I -- my last job I was secretary and a receptionist. And then out of the blue I was told -- I was let go from my job. And it was just...

PHILLIPS: How have you been getting by day by day?

DAWSON: It's a lot of cutting back on my spending. Basically, I've been just buying only basic things that I need. And also I have a great support of my family and friends who can -- who have been helping with me during this time, as well.

PHILLIPS: Yes. We need our family and friends during these tough times. That's for sure.

So you ultimately -- you want to go back to school, get your bachelor's degree in management, right? But you're looking for work. Do you want to work and go to school at the time?


PHILLIPS: All right. Well, are you ready? You've got 30 seconds to give your pitch. Are you ready to start? DAWSON: Absolutely.

PHILLIPS: OK, here we go. Amy Dawson take it away.

DAWSON: My name is Amy Dawson, and I'm from Nashville, Tennessee. I have over ten years in office administration and with customer service experience in the retail industry. I am dedicated, hard-working, on time, and I rarely miss a day of work.

And I'm looking for an employer that will give me the support that I need to improve my career, not only on the job but also through education. I've been out of work since last -- late June of last year, and all I'm asking is give me a chance, and you won't be disappointed.

PHILLIPS: Boom. Right on the money. Boy, are you time efficient, and you've never missed a day of work. Now, that's impressive.

DAWSON: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: Amy Dawson, your gmail -- your hotmail address, rather, is right there on the screen. We ask employees to take a look at you, possible future employers to take a look at you. And will you keep us updated?

DAWSON: Absolutely I will.

PHILLIPS: OK. Terrific. Amy Dawson, thanks so much.

DAWSON: Thank you.

PHILLIPS: All aboard. With the recession cutting into train travel, Amtrak is reducing fares in the northeast this summer. Here's just a few examples.

The normal $72 fare between New York and Washington falls to $49. The New York/Philadelphia fare goes from $45 to $34, and the Boston to New York fare falls from $62 to $49. Well, these fares are for Amtrak's northeast regional trains. Fares for the faster Acela trains, they're a little higher.

Well, times, they are a-changing. Once known for the murders of three civil rights workers, Philadelphia, Mississippi -- Mississippi, has just elected its first African-American mayor, and we're going to speak with him live.



OBAMA: I took an oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution as commander in chief, and as a citizen I know that we must never, ever turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience's sake.


PHILLIP: It's the story of the hour, maybe of our lifetime: protecting the nation while protecting its core ideals. David Axelrod, senior advisor to President Obama, he joins me from the White House to talk about what the president framed as a balancing act.

You know, David, it seems there's also a balancing act between past and future. He definitely didn't hold back from slamming the Bush administration, but at the same time completely opposing a truth commission.

DAVID AXELROD, SENIOR ADVISOR TO OBAMA: Well, I think, look, the bottom line is that we have a legacy that we have to deal with in the form of Guantanamo and how we treat these detainees in the form of how we deal with documents related to the policies of that time. And so we are forced to deal with those, and we will deal with them.

What we can't afford as a country is to re-litigate all these issues in the court of public opinion, to try and fix blame or justify the actions of the past. We have too many things to do moving forward, and what the president is saying is, "Let's not re-fight all those old battles. Let's solve the mess we've gotten here. And let's move forward in a way that keeps our country secure, consistent with our values."

PHILLIPS: All right. Let's push forward, then, and talk about Gitmo. You know, your party voted overwhelmingly not to give the president the money for Gitmo. I mean, 90-6. Is it the bad economy, or is there truly a huge divide in convictions on this?

AXELROD: No, I think that members of the Senate were asking for a plan. We'll give them a plan as to how we're going to move forward. I think the president offered a framework for that today, and we're going to work with the Congress on whatever path that we take here.

So, you know, we're going to resolve this problem. We're, in fact, mandated to, because each day there are court case that emanated from the opening, not the closing of Guantanamo, but the opening of Guantanamo that we are -- that we are obligated to resolve.

PHILLIPS: Now, David, I interviewed Republican Senator Lindsey Graham a couple of weeks ago, and he said, "You know, Kyra, you're going to have to build some type of Gitmo-type facility in the United States if you bring those enemy combatants into the states, because there just isn't a prison system or a military system that has the kind of security that needs to deal with these kind of alleged terrorists."

Do you agree?

AXELROD: Well, that may well be necessary. I think Senator Graham also said during the debate yesterday that it's insane to think that we can't do such a thing. We have hundreds of -- of convicted terrorists in facilities around the United States, and none of them have escaped. And certainly, if we need to do that, then we will do that. What we need to do is to run through the 241 cases that remain in Guantanamo and then, at the end of that process, we'll see what the disposition of the remaining cases are, and we'll decide how to deal with them.

PHILLIPS: So are you saying keep -- keep certain alleged terrorists at Gitmo until the legal process goes through for each one of those?

AXELROD: Well, our goal is to expedite this. As the president said, that was not true over the last seven years. Only three cases emanating from Guantanamo over the last seven years. That's unacceptable.

He set a deadline to close Guantanamo. We want to move these along. We want to begin trying the cases that we can, transferring those people that we can, doing the things we need to move this along, and then we'll make the decisions that we have to make.

PHILLIPS: So let me confirm something with you. Then this idea about Lindsey Graham coming forward and saying that we need to build a Gitmo-type facility, are you saying that's the answer? Or is the president still considering putting these alleged terrorists in -- on military bases in military detention facilities and/or prisons that already exist here in the states?

AXELROD: I am not saying what path we need to take right now, because that process is ongoing. What I am saying is that I don't think the debate over the placement of a facility is -- is -- should be a fundamental issue because...

PHILLIPS: So, David...

AXELROD: ... we already imprison terrorists in the United States. None of them have escaped. These prisons are very secure.

PHILLIPS: You -- but these are not terrorists that were involved with 9/11, the biggest terrorist attack to, you know, hit our country.

AXELROD: No, no, that's not true, actually. The 20th 9/11 hijacker was tried in U.S. courts and is in a U.S. prison right now. But go ahead with your question.

PHILLIPS: Sure. We're talking one, but now we're talking about hundreds of detainees, not just one. I think it might be a little easier to focus on...

AXELROD: Let me ask you a question, and I'm not saying that this is the route we're going to go, but when was the last breakout from a super max prison in the United States? And just a short -- because I know you have limited time, the answer is never. So let's move on to -- let's move on.

PHILLIPS: Let me ask you this. Can you put those types of prisoners with alleged terrorists? I mean, can you take enemy combatants and put them with prisoners? Are we saying that that's OK? That that's a possibility?

AXELROD: What I'm saying is we'll dispose of these as we move along. And I don't know why -- we already -- we already -- as I said, we already have convicted terrorists in U.S. prisons, so I don't understand your question, really.

PHILLIPS: Well, I'm just wondering if we have the capability to put hundreds of alleged terrorists in prisons...

AXELROD: We've got -- we've got thousands and thousands and thousands of violent criminals, murderers and mass murderers, in prisons all over this country who are secure, who haven't escaped, so -- but we will deal with that when the time comes. This to me is a political side show, and right now what we have to do is go through an orderly process of disposing of these cases consistent with our law s.

PHILLIPS: OK. Let's say, since it looks like a decision hasn't been made but you want to expedite this process, and the president wants to expedite this process. But we still don't know where these detainees are going to go, hundreds of them.

There has been talk about possible these detention centers on military bases. And just yesterday Republican Senator James Inhofe voiced his concern because he doesn't think they have good enough security. I want to get you to respond.


SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: One of the 17 military incarceration areas is in my state of Oklahoma. It's in Ft. Sill. As soon as I heard that I went down to Ft. Sill. There's a young lady who is the sergeant major. Her name is Carter. And she's love to hear from you.

She said, "Senator, I don't understand why we can't take them down here because we have -- we cannot intermingle these terrorists with other prisoners that are down here. We're not set up to do it. We don't have any kind of an expeditionary legal complex, like they do at Guantanamo bay." She said, "Besides that, I was stationed twice -- I did two stretches for a year each in Guantanamo Bay." She said that is perfect. They get better treatment there. It's better suited for it, and so it just would not fit in.

Besides that, there's another problem, too. And that is 27 legislatures have passed resolutions saying, "We don't want them in our state. We won't accept them in our state."


PHILLIPS: Your response, David?

AXELROD: Well, obviously, I understand the potency of the issue, but it's a straw man. Nobody has suggested that we're going to move these folks to that facility in Oklahoma or any other facility. What the president did say today is that he will never put any of these folks in a position where they pose a danger to the American people, and that's the way that he will proceed.

PHILLIPS: And, David, just finally, because I'm looking back at my notes. You know, you heard Mueller, the head of the FBI, speak about this, as well. And he even said his concern about these alleged terrorists being put in prisons. You know, here they are mixing with those involved with gang activity and home-grown terrorism, and that could be a concern, as well, yes?

AXELROD: Well, as I said before, we already have hundreds of terrorists who are imprisoned in American prisons, and they've been dealt with effectively. So that's not -- you know, I don't think that's ultimately a concern. We will process these cases and we will handle them in a way that secures the American people. That is the president's commitment, and he will keep it.

PHILLIPS: Well, that's exactly what the American people want. David Axelrod, appreciate your time very much.

AXELROD: OK. Good to be with you.

PHILLIPS: All right.

What happens on this video is enough to turn your stomach, but wait. There is some good news coming out of this, and we're going to tell you about it.


PHILLIPS: They're being terrorized by cybercriminals. Hundreds of Asian-American business owners have gotten death threats if they don't send money to extortionists phoning from China through an Internet calling service. And some of them have lost thousands of dollars in the scam.

Here's CNN's Allan Chernoff.


ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The caller speaks in Mandarin Chinese.


CHERNOFF: He's threatening to kill Asian-American business people and their families if they don't wire at least $10,000 to China.

JAMESON PON, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE GANG TASK FORCE: One of the victims told me that they threatened to cut the limbs off their children in front of them.

CHERNOFF: This businesswoman, who would not identify herself on camera, got one of the calls.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He asked for money and I was very, very scared. He started to say that he was a mafia, and he said that his members were around my office.

CHERNOFF: She did not pay. But San Francisco police say others have.

HENRY SETO, SAN FRANCISCO POLICE GANG TASK FORCE: It's possibly over $100,000 that were wired over to China.

CHERNOFF: Police are investigating about 50 cases in San Francisco, and there are several hundred in the Bay area. In fact, according to the FBI, the scam is hitting Asian communities nationwide from California to Texas, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts. Police believe the extortionists, based overseas, are getting names and numbers through Chinese Yellow Pages on the Internet, and they're using Internet phone service to reach their targets.

This woman in Maryland says an acquaintance evacuated his home after receiving one of the calls.

CORRINA SHEN, BUSINESS OWNER: He got really scared and didn't know what to do, and he took his family out and moved to the hotel.

CHERNOFF: But the FBI says not one of the threats has actually been carried out.

Allan Chernoff, CNN, New York.


PHILLIPS: Well, there's only one word to describe Florida, wet. The state's getting more heavy rain today. Reynolds Wolf watching it all for us in the CNN weather center. We're going on three hardcore days.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I know, and this is the Sunshine State, right? I think it's what they call it.

PHILLIPS: What happened to that?

WOLF: Yes, we're going to talk to the board of tourism and see what the story is. But right now, the story is all wet.


PHILLIPS: Well, yesterday we started a new segment right here in the NEWSROOM devoted to the good news that comes in every day but that sometimes gets overshadowed by the bad news. Well, today's story is from James Lynch of CNN affiliate KCPQ in Seattle. We want to warn you, though, just the first part is pretty hard to watch, but stick with it, and you'll see why we loved this so much.


JAMES LYNCH, KCPQ-TV CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It happened May of last year, just before 11:00 in the morning. It was an average day on Metro bus number 3684 on Route 18. That all changed near the corner of 15th Avenue West and West Armor Street, when this man got on the bus. He looks like a normal guy until he pays his fare. Then out of nowhere, he punches the victim, Jeannie (ph), square in the face.

CHARLES CAPIZANO, BUS PASSENGER: You could just see the force. Oh, my God.

LYNCH: Look again. Witnesses say the man shouted, "The sick must die" and let punches fly at an elderly defenseless woman.

CAPIZANO: His initial attack was just -- I mean, she didn't know what hit her, and she was -- she got hit pretty good.

LYNCH: Charles Capizano was sitting in the rear of the bus. He saw what happened and wasted no time to get to the front of the bus and stop the attack.

CAPIZANO: This guy was attacking everyone in his sight, threatening everyone in his sight, saying, "The sick must die. God told me the sick must die."

LYNCH: Capizano eventually had to grab the man and hold him back.

CAPIZANO: This guy is telling me to get off him, get off him, get off him, and I'm holding him. I have a leg wrapped underneath him, and the other guy next to me is helping hold him. And I believe that's when we were praying right there for him.

And we're just waiting, and we're just holding him. I'm not getting go for nothing. This guy was strong.

DENISE GUBERNICK, BUS PASSENGER: He hit her with a full-force fist to the side of her head that snapped her sunglasses. Flew off her head.

LYNCH: Denise Gubernick was also on the bus and is counted among the heroes. While the men restrained the bad guy, Denise hugged, covered and protected.

GUBERNICK: I'm a mother, so my instinct is to protect, and I just jumped forward to hold her.

LYNCH: There were six heroes in all that day. Sheriff Sue Rahr awarded them all for meritorious service to the community.

SHERIFF SUE RAHR, KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON: He walks onto the bus and (INAUDIBLE), and he walks up to Jeannie (ph) and just punches her in the face. And as I watched this, I said, oh, my God. That was my reaction. It was so startling what this guy did.

LYNCH: Jeannie (ph) was still too shaken to speak with us today for this story, but at the awards ceremony, she had this to say to her heroes.

JEANNIE (ph), ATTACKED ON BUS: It really restores my faith in humanity that these people did, in fact, join together and protect me, and I want to thank you all for what you did. God bless you.

LYNCH: And from one of her heroes, God bless her and all of us.

CAPIZANO: From what I understand is the guy had a mental past (ph), and to have someone out there that has that kind of ability to slip through the cracks is just...


PHILLIPS: It's a great point about those types slipping through the cracks. We're actually going to talk more about that later in the hour. Well, bad news turned into good news because of some pretty heroic bus passengers. Join us here in the NEWSROOM every day as we highlight such incredible stories and people.

Well, your son or daughter leaving the nest? Graduating from college and starting a new job? And they'll need health insurance coverage. We'll find out what they should look for when taking the big step.


PHILLIPS: So you wanted to know, so we're here to help. Since last week's Empower Me Friday segment we've gotten lots of questions about health insurance coverage for college grads who are starting out on their own.

Our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen joins us now with more of those tips.

I remember plugging it.


PHILLIPS: You got overwhelmed with questions.

COHEN: We do. We got overwhelmed with questions because it's -- you know, college graduation is such a happy time. I'm sure you remember your graduation.

PHILLIPS: I do very well.

COHEN: It's very fun, right?

PHILLIPS: Packing up and moving out and being on my own.

COHEN: That's right. And it was just five years ago so I'm sure you remember it really, really well.

PHILIPS: And I'm still paying it off.

COHEN: Right, exactly.

But the issue with graduating from college is that, well, now, you're on your own and that means you have to find your own health insurance. Well, a lot of college grads, they're thinking about other things and maybe they think that they're young and invincible. That's what they're called, the young invincibles. They think, who needs coverage? I'm healthy. Nothing could go wrong.

Let's take a look at some statistics. What a study found by the Commonwealth Fund is that 34 percent of college grads do not have health insurance for some period of time in the year after graduation. And actually some 2/3 of those then don't get the medical care that they need because they're not insured.

So what can you do if you're graduating from college and don't have a job yet that will give you insurance? First of all, know your rights. In some states your parents' insurance company has to keep insuring you even after you graduate. If you go to, you'll see a list of all those states.

Also, consider COBRA. COBRA can be pricey but since it's only the grad who needs to go on COBRA, it might not be that much. Also, shop around for a policy. This is so crucial. The folks at helped us out. You're insuring a young, hopefully healthy person and so it may not be as expensive as you think to get that college grad help on their own, to get them their own policy.

So, if you go to, you'll see all the links you need to start getting health insurance for your favorite graduate.

PHILLIPS: All right. What about the grad that's sure that he or she is going to get a job? You know, do they still buy insurance on their own?

COHEN: We talked to several on their own. They said, well it's May, but I'm going to have a job in September. I've already landed the job so do I really need anything?

Yes, you do. Because God forbid you got into a car accident over the summer or something terrible, you want to have insurance. Now, some people go for these little short-term insurances where you kind of buy it for just a month and then another month. We've heard there are some serious problems with insurance policies like that. And so you want to think twice. You might just want to get a regular insurance policy and then cancel when you don't need it.

PHILLIPS: Thanks, Elizabeth.

COHEN: OK, thanks.

PHILLIPS: Well, a bank's costly mistake is a jackpot for two customers. Now on the lam with all the loot. I think Steve Miller wrote a song about this. So, would you take the money and run?


PHILLIPS: Live pictures from the White House right now waiting for the President of the United States to step up with his special guest, the Super Bowl champions, Pittsburgh Steelers. They're actually there at the White House, along with 50 wounded warriors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Also the National Naval Medical Center and a number of their families. We'll tell you what they're doing for troops together.

We're also pushing forward on this morning's unique double take on America's national security. At the top of the hour, what President Obama and former VP Cheney had to say about Guantanamo, terrorism and how sacred -- or how scared rather, we all should be.

Plus, you've seen the video. Now meet one of the victims. Students at a Texas state school for the mentally disabled forced into a fight club by workers. Our exclusive interview coming up. And a related issue we've been covering this week are children with special needs facing shockingly abusive practices behind some classroom doors. We're going to talk with an inspirational educator, a woman who teaches teachers to be the best that they can be with kids with special needs.

Well, in New Zealand -- all right. Here comes the president.

We're going to take that live from the White House to see what he, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers, also members from Walter Reed Army Medical Center and National Naval Medical Center as well, what they're going to be doing to assemble care packages for our troops.


I, first of all, want to just acknowledge a few people that are here. First of all, some of my cabinet members, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, who grew up as a maniacal Pittsburgh Steeler fan. He is here.


Secretary of Veterans Administration Eric Shinseki, a war hero and somebody that is doing an outstanding job on behalf of our veterans.


We have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Mullen -- Mike Mullen, as well as his lovely wife are here. Please give them a big round of applause.


We've got some Pennsylvania folks around here. Senator Bob Casey. Senator Arlen Specter. Teresa Heinz Kerry. Representatives Tim Murphy, Mike Doyle, Glen Thompson, Tom Rooney and Charlie Wilson. Give them all a big round of applause.


Welcome to the White House, everybody. Before we begin, I want to offer a special welcome to the wounded warriors who have joined us today from Walter Reed and from the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda. Thank you for your service. (APPLAUSE)

And welcome back, Dan Rooney, and the entire Rooney family. For nearly five decades, Dan has been a tremendous ambassador for pro football and for the city of Pittsburgh. And in the years to come, all Americans will be fortunate to have his service as our United States Ambassador to Ireland.


Just a personal note -- I had occasion of meeting a lot of people during the course of my campaign for the presidency. I can tell you that I don't know anybody who is more of a gentleman, who is more loyal, who is more committed to excellence, than Mr. Rooney. And he and his family have just been such an extraordinary pillar for the city of Pittsburgh -- I'd like everybody to give them a big round of applause one more time.


And he's humble.


This kind of attention embarrasses him, but he has no choice.

Congratulations to the Super Bowl Champion Pittsburgh Steelers -- (applause) -- for the NFL-record sixth Lombardi Trophy. Some are calling it "Sixburgh" these days.


Congratulations to all the fans of the Steeler Nation who wave that Terrible Towel every Sunday.


Now, I already told these guys, no matter how big they are, I am a Bears fan.


But it's no secret that I was pulling for the Steelers during the Super Bowl last year, and that's part of the reason why this is so much fun for me. This isn't me trying to have it both ways -- everybody knows I'm pretty serious about my sports teams -- but growing up in Hawaii when I was a kid, we didn't have a local football team. And when I started playing and I started paying attention to football, it was guys like Terry Bradshaw and Franco Harris and the Steel Curtain and Mean Joe Greene, who is here. Where's Mean Joe? There he is, right there.


Those were the guys that were playing, and so I became a Steelers fan. And last March, I actually got to hang out with Franco and The Bus, Jerome Bettiss, at an event in Pittsburgh. And Jerome even joined me when we went to meet some steelworkers on a shift change. And I got my own Terrible Towel. But this is a new team for a new era. And that's embodied by Coach Tomlin, who's here with his lovely wife. And I want everybody to give Coach Tomlin a huge round of applause.


He didn't just win the Super Bowl; he also happened to be NFL Coach of the Year -- the youngest coach ever to win a Super Bowl.


And there's the new Steel Curtain -- the NFL's best defense last year, thanks to Dick LeBeau, who I think everybody acknowledges is one of the greatest defensive coordinators of all time.


Where's Dick? There he is over there. We've got the team captains up here -- Big Ben Roethlisberger. Give him -- come on, give Big Ben a round of applause here.


James Farrior, a Pro Bowler who made 133 tackles this season.


Jeff Reed, who was clutch in the Super Bowl.


Hines Ward, who was the Super Bowl MVP four years ago, who's always the happiest man in football.


Hines is always happy.


And we've got this year's Super Bowl MVP, Santonio Holmes, who made one of the greatest touchdown catches I've ever seen.


That means two of the last four Super Bowl MVPs hail from the Pittsburgh wide-receiving corps. Now, I pointed out that that was a heck of a pass that Ben threw. But then one of linemen pointed out that was some blocking on that play. (LAUGHTER) So that just reminds you, that's what Steeler football is all about, it's a team effort.


PHILLIPS: All right. I guess we can figure out that the President is a big Pittsburgh Steelers football fan. He's pointing out all the players, all the great moves that they've throughout the season here.

But actually, the football team is there with also the 50 wounded warriors from the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. Also the National Naval Medical Center and their families. They're all going to working together to assemble packages for the troops. But I do want to point out too, that Art Rooney, his son Dan, the owners of the Pittsburgh Steelers, were big supporters of President Obama when he was campaigning. They helped support him to win the state of Pennsylvania. So, he's got his heart in football, and also support from the Rooney family.

But, we'll follow up on those packages they are going to put together for the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan and follow those efforts.

Well, being black could get you killed just four decades ago in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Now the town has elected its first African-American mayor. We're going to go live in Philadelphia, to find out how James Young won that race.