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Mystery of Flight 447; Did President Obama Undercut U.S. Military?
Aired June 5, 2009 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, here are the questions we want answered.
Is blaming the media a cop-out? Conservatives on the attack after the president's big speech, saying reporters are given him a free pass. Do they need a new argument?
Plus, the "Great Debate." Did the president's words undercut the military at a time of war?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nine-eleven was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable. But, in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals.
BROWN: Also, latest on the mystery of Flight 447. How does a modern jet with 228 people on board just disappear in midair? It's been four days without a single piece of wreckage recovered.
And our choice for the most memorable and the most under-covered story of the week.
ANNOUNCER: This is your only source for news. CNN prime time begins now. Here's Campbell Brown.
BROWN: Hi, everybody.
We're going to tackle those questions. We have also gotten in the latest pictures of the Obama family, a rock star welcome they're getting in Paris.
But we're going to start tonight, as we do every night, with the "Mash-Up." This is, of course, our look at all of the top stories, those we believe are making an impact right now, the must-see moments of the past 24 hours. We're watching it all, so that you don't have to.
It reads like a Cold War thriller, a former State Department official and his wife under arrest tonight, accused of spying for communist Cuba.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PETE WILLIAMS, NBC REPORTER: The FBI says that while, Walter and Gwendolyn Myers were living in South Dakota in 1978, they took a trip to Cuba and agreed to become spies and met later with Fidel Castro.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This journal entry about the trip provides some insight into why Myers, 72, may have become a traitor. "I have become so bitter these past few months," Myers allegedly wrote. And he appeared to have great admiration for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. "He's one of the great political leaders of our time," he said.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kendall Myers, a career State Department analyst, went by an alias, Agent 202, perhaps a nod to Washington's area code. His wife was known as Agent 123 and sometimes agent E-634.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: They were using short-wave radio. They were also, as it's described in this press release from the FBI, the Justice Department, they were using shopping carts, changing shopping carts, to give information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The couple's capture played out just like a movie. They were approached back in April by an FBI agent posing as a fellow Cuban spy. The feds say they fell right into his trap.
President Obama is in Paris tonight preparing for a trip to hallowed ground. Tomorrow, he travels to Normandy Beach for the 65th commemoration of D-Day. This morning, a somber scene in Germany with a visit to Nazi concentration camp Buchenwald. The president told NBC's Tom Brokaw the world no longer has a place for Holocaust deniers like the president of Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TOM BROKAW, NBC REPORTER: What do you think Iranian President Ahmadinejad could learn from your visit to Buchenwald?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he should make his own visit. I was very explicit yesterday. I have no patience for people who would deny history. And the history of the Holocaust is not something speculative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: The president returns home on Sunday.
The mystery deepens tonight into exactly what brought down Air France Flight 447. Just yesterday, investigators believed they had discovered the wreckage of the doomed flight. But it turns out the pieces of debris floating in the ocean weren't from the jet after all.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN MIAMI BUREAU CHIEF: One turned out to be a wooden pallet that you would put cargo on. But it was not from Flight 447. Another piece they picked up was a flotation device not from Flight 447, apparently just sea junk that had been lost from other ships that had been passing by, you know, in the last God knows how long.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Now, as to what happened to the flight, investigators remain baffled and reporters transfixed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We don't know why. Like, this is the accident, Wolf. This is -- but we know what happened after afterwards. What we're desperate to know and what they continually need to know is what happened up to that point. So far, it's by no means clear that we have got that information.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: We are going to have more on this mystery, including an expert on hand to sift through whatever clues we have and try to give us a sense for what may have happened.
And now Sarah Palin. Did we get your attention? Well, great. You're going to want to hear what she had to say.
But, first, stay with me for some economy news. It all ties in. Today, the unemployment rate hit a 26-year high, nearly 10 percent. But hold on, a silver lining. It looks like far fewer jobs than expected were lost last month.
The White House credits the stimulus package. And that's where Sarah Palin comes in. The Alaska governor says all this big government is going to lead to Big Brother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. SARAH PALIN (R), ALASKA: And -- mark my words -- this is going to happen next, I fear -- bail out next debt-ridden states. Then, government gets to get in there and control the people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: Governor Sarah Palin.
And that is our "Mash-Up."
And now it's time for tonight's first big question. Is blaming the media a cop-out? There has been an outcry from the right that this president's speech to the Muslim world recycled a lot of what the former president said, and that reporters are embracing Obama just because he's not Bush.
We're going to talk about that right now with our panel.
We have got NPR contributor John Ridley back with us, Kellyanne Conway, president of The Polling Company, Gideon Yago, host of "The IFC Media Project," joining us tonight, along with CNN senior political analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Kellyanne, let me start with you on this. You have probably heard conservatives say over the last 24 hours that what we heard from Obama was very similar to many of the things that President Bush had said and -- before, that it was just a matter of different packaging, and you had a case where the media was criticizing Bush and applauding Obama.
What do you think? Do you agree?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, PRESIDENT & CEO, THE POLLING COMPANY: Well, to some extent, that's true of some journalists and some outlets, Campbell.
And the reason is very simple. When you're so besotted with the messenger, that spills over into how you cover the message. Even Pew has found that the coverage of Obama has been different from Bush and Bill Clinton in two ways.
First, it's much more about the personality than the policies. And that's important here, because Obama the person is so far more popular than Obama's policies. And, second, that he just has much more positive coverage. Four out of 10 stories were positive. So many more were neutral, whereas, for Bush, 22 percent were positive, for Clinton, 27 percent were positive. So, it's not even partisan, so much as Obama.
BROWN: Is it -- but to the speech, particularly, Jeff, do you think that there was a friendlier spin put on things?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: I think you have to remember where we are in the Obama presidency, how early it is.
Early on, presidents get the benefit of the doubt. After 9/11, George Bush got the benefit of the doubt. Remember, he gave a speech in a mosque after 9/11 that got very good publicity, where he said many of the same things that Obama did.
But events matter. The war in Iraq changed everything about the Bush presidency and poisoned a lot. Obama is still so early in his presidency, that he's not really responsible for the bad things yet.
GIDEON YAGO, HOST OF "THE IFC MEDIA PROJECT": Well, I actually agree with Katty (ph). I think that you look at that Pew content analysis that they put out about a month ago, and it's spot on.
He is getting a free pass. Or he's getting somewhat of a free pass. And some of that is because I don't think that there's a bigger star in America right now than Barack Obama. He sells magazines. He sells newspapers. And he keeps eyes on the screen on broadcasts.
BROWN: But -- but couldn't you also argue that the Bush gave -- or the media, rather, gave President Bush a lot of leeway in the lead- up to the Iraq war? You could have said...
YAGO: Sure, just as they are giving President Obama a lot of leeway in his handling of economic policy.
You look at, for example, a story of this week like the collapse of GM and the double standard with which the auto industry and all of the deals of that bankruptcy have gone down, compared to kind of the free pass that someone like Tim Geithner has gotten.
And when you look at something like the Pew poll, and you say, well, you know what, four in 10 stories about this man are about his appointments, his family, his dog, I understand that this is a historical event, but, at a certain point, people do need to show up.
BROWN: Can I throw out something that may be controversy? I wonder to the extent to which he's getting a free pass on the economy issues and what's happening with the banking system is because very few reporters understand what is happening with the banking system, I mean, in all fairness.
JOHN RIDLEY, COMMENTATOR, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO: Nobody anywhere understands the banking system.
BROWN: Maybe no one in the administration understands, but...
TOOBIN: In makeup, we were talking about credit default swaps. And -- no, we weren't.
TOOBIN: ... what they are.
TOOBIN: But, a year from now, if the economy is at 10 percent unemployment, Barack Obama will be blamed. These events matter.
YAGO: That might not even be a year from now. That might be several months from now.
BROWN: Go ahead.
RIDLEY: Let's get back to the speech.
BROWN: Yes, yes, yes.
RIDLEY: ... and talking about how these two speeches -- President Bush's speech and President Obama's speech were very similar.
And I reached out to some people. And I asked, what was the difference between these two speeches? And one person got back to me, a young lady of Near Eastern descent. And she said, the difference between those speeches, with President Obama, the world wanted to listen. And that's the major difference.
So, whether he's popular or not, whether they're writing about different things or not, the reason we're all talking about this is because people are finally receptive to the message that American's putting out.
TOOBIN: But that's because of events. It's because of George Bush -- I mean, the war in Iraq, which poisoned our relationship with the rest of the world, and that's opened the door for Obama.
It's not because people like Obama so much.
RIDLEY: Well, I think that's part of it. I think people are ready for a new message.
But I do think the messenger is different. And I think that makes a huge difference. The person who is saying it has some compatibility with the individuals who are receiving that message. And I think that makes the difference.
A lot of what George Bush was saying, same thing, tried to make a good message, tried to do some good things through deeds, but different messenger.
CONWAY: Campbell, what you said is so important, though.
It's got a lot to do with the fact that some people don't want to do the math, frankly, on the banking crisis. They don't want to understand what the -- that -- bailouts mean. The glowing coverage by the major networks early on that Obama is a deficit-fighter, when his spending will -- his own government says will make the deficit $1.75 billion, trillion, all these zillions.
But the point is that I think what you say matters, because we all went through health care reform 15 years ago, too. And so many journalists kind of give up. It was just too complex. Social Security reform, I don't want to go there. It is easier to talk about what the first lady is wearing than to figure out health care reform.
YAGO: That's a miserable excuse...
CONWAY: No kidding.
YAGO: ... is, it's too difficult to wrap your -- I mean, what -- the job is try and make truth understandable for people who are watching. And we at this table have just played into the entire claptrap of what has been the dominant mode of coverage about Obama. We're -- we're talking about him. We're talking about whether or not the message and him as the messenger is significant.
What that Pew content analysis -- and I think it is really kind of the definitive piece of work out there on the beginning of the Obama presidency -- looks at is that no one is looking at the policies. And maybe that is a little bit tougher to do. But we're still sitting around, and we're having conversations about the significance of the man himself.
And I do not want to detract from the historical significance of the man, but, at a certain point, the job is to get into the nitty- gritty.
RIDLEY: But, at the same time, the American public has more of that nitty-gritty at their fingertips than ever before.
At some point, doesn't it become the responsibility -- aren't we, in a fashion, a road map? Here's what they're talking about, here's what's important, but if you are waking up to the same channel you went to bed with at night, then you're probably not doing your homework.
BROWN: Fair point.
TOOBIN: Unless it's CNN.
RIDLEY: Unless it's CNN.
And, on that note, panel is sticking around. We have got a lot more with you guys a little bit later. Stay with us.
The plane that vanished, tonight, we're going to try to get to the bottom of the mystery, at least of the details we know. Not a single piece of debris has been found. Lightning, terrorism, nothing has been ruled out at this stage.
Plus, the "Great Debate" -- did President Obama throw the military under the bus or undercut the military with some of the words in that speech? We will talk about that as well. That's our "Great Debate," when we come back.
BROWN: Welcome back, everybody. At the top of the program, we mentioned the mystery of the Air France jet that seemingly dropped off the face of the earth. Well, tonight, almost five days after it vanished, we still have no real answers.
Tonight's newsmaker is a woman nationally known for her expertise and concerns about air safety. Mary Schiavo is former inspector general for the Department of Transportation and a former federal prosecutor. And she's joining us from Charleston, South Carolina, tonight.
Mary, thanks so much for being here. I really appreciate it.
MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER TRANSPORTATION INSPECTOR GENERAL: Thank you, Campbell.
BROWN: So, help us work through this, no debris found. You know, theories abound as to what may have happened. You had the French defense minister saying that they haven't ruled out terrorism. It could have been a lightning strike. What in your view is the most likely scenario?
SCHIAVO: Well, going on the data that the French have released -- and it's actually surprisingly good data, because this plane itself, through satellite communications, was sending out messages, help messages, if you will, in its final spiral down to earth.
And first and foremost is indicated the Intertropical Convergence Zone, which is also known as the monsoon trough, not just because it has wicked winds and wind shear, but because it also has supercooled water droplets.
Those water droplets can actually wreak havoc on the air speed indicator tubes. Those are called pedo tubes. They're little tubes on the plane. And the air ramming into them gives you the indication of the speed.
The first distress call from this airplane is that these were not working. The plane didn't know how fast it was going. And so the plane was confused. The plane started shutting down...
BROWN: OK, Mary...
SCHIAVO: ... various systems.
BROWN: ... I just want to -- just honestly, for my sake, because I'm so a layperson on this, basically, what you're saying is they flew into really bad weather, and the weather did -- screwed up the computer system on the plane, right?
SCHIAVO: The computer system's ability to tell the plane how to fly.
BROWN: OK. All right. Go ahead. Sorry. SCHIAVO: Yes. That's OK.
And, so, once this happens, the computer then switches off the autopilot and it switches off a lot of automatic systems. So, the pilots have to hand-fly it, which pilots do all the time. But this was very sudden. And this was in very bad weather in the dark, in the storms. And all of a sudden, these systems will start one by one shutting themselves off. Even the automatic rudder shut down.
Then, as they're...
BROWN: So -- no, no, it just...
SCHIAVO: Go ahead.
BROWN: It sounds like what you're describing would create a pretty chaotic situation in the cockpit.
And that might explain why the pilots did not -- at least to our knowledge -- now, Air France may know more than it's saying and may be researching other things. But that might explain why, to our knowledge, the pilots were not able to get out a message, why they did not communicate and say what is going on or ask for additional guidance or instructions, because that cockpit was a very busy place in the four remaining minutes for that flight.
BROWN: So, in a situation like this, Mary, when you have that level of chaos, that they can't ask for help or anything, would the passengers have any sense at all for what was going on at that stage?
SCHIAVO: Sadly, they would.
Besides the weather, the pilots would be trying to set the air speed at a speed that's strong enough, fast enough to literally not stall in this horrible weather. So, the engines would have been revving up and down. There would have been a lot of fluctuation, a lot of porpoising of the plane.
And then, at one point in the four-minute spiral down to earth, they lost pressurization. Some people speculate it might be because of a hole in the plane. But, when a plane descends very fast, it can lose pressurization. And the system will -- will register a pressure failure.
BROWN: So, here's another question, though. If -- we're talking about a really bad storm, possibly. I was reading that about a dozen planes -- a dozen planes flew roughly the same route about the same time, and they didn't report any weather issues. So, why would that be?
SCHIAVO: Well, because these particular conditions can form very fast. And it also depends exactly where you were going. There were certain parts of this storm area that you could make it through, and then there were other parts that on the colored weather map were very red.
And, of course, the development of these updrafts with this supercooled water droplet condition can occur extremely quickly. And it also plays different effects on the planes. This Airbus 330 had this air speed indicator problem once before. In 2003, they ordered all these pedo tubes changed on this model of plane.
SCHIAVO: This one was built after that. And, so, this plane has had a vulnerability before. And it could be plane-specific.
BROWN: And, quickly, Mary, just -- they haven't found any debris at all. Is this just because we're talking about a massive search area here?
SCHIAVO: Well, a massive search area.
And I think people were so happy to have found some clues when the Brazilian navy reported the -- the debris in the ocean, that the search was -- was headquartered and focused there, and they were simply looking in the wrong place.
I think they need to go right back to exactly where it was when the -- when the airplane sent its last message, because those four minutes are exactly the amount of time it would have taken the plane to fall from its altitude of 35,000 feet.
BROWN: All right, Mary Schiavo, thanks so much for that.
SCHIAVO: Thank you.
BROWN: It was very educational and enlightening for me. It's been such a mystery. We will keep tracking this.
SCHIAVO: Thank you.
BROWN: Appreciate your time tonight.
SCHIAVO: My pleasure.
BROWN: And, to everyone, be sure to tune in Monday night. Our newsmaker on Monday is going to be Wayne LaPierre, who is of the National Rifle Association, a lot going on right now with guns in this country. We will get into all that on Monday night.
Tonight's the "Great Debate." President Obama acknowledges mistakes after 9/11. Did that undercut the military?
And also actor David Carradine, the mystery death, unanswered questions tonight about what exactly happened in that Bangkok hotel room.
BROWN: Welcome back. We want to get a check on some of the other stories making news right now.
Erica Hill here right now with tonight's briefing.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campbell, Dr. George Tiller's murder is now a federal civil rights cases.
Tiller, who ran one of the nation's few clinics that performed late-term abortions, was gunned down in his church last Sunday. Federal laws protect physicians who perform abortions. The Justice Department now wants to know if his accused killer, anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder, had any accomplices.
And we will have much more on this story coming up tonight on an "A.C. 360 special, "Woman's Choice, A Nation Divided." That's tonight right here on CNN at 10:00 Eastern.
Thai police say actor David Carradine's body will be flown back to the U.S. tomorrow. But there are new details and new questions tonight about his death in a Bangkok hotel. Police -- police initially thought it was a suicide. His wife, though, disputed the idea. And officials now confirm Carradine was found with one rope tied around his neck and another tied around his genitals. A Thai official says autopsy results will take three to four weeks.
"LARRY KING LIVE" will have much more on this story coming up at the top of the hour.
It is a record-setting fine for selling toys with lead paint -- Mattel agreeing to pay a $2.3 million penalty for importing the toys from China. Now, the scandal forced -- forced the toy giant and its Fisher-Price subsidiary to recall some two million toys in 2007.
A church bishop in Arizona slapped with a 10-day suspended jail sentence for this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: You hear church bells; neighbors hear a nuisance. Neighbors in Phoenix say the bells ring too loudly and too often. So, they called the cops. It turns out they used to ring each our from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
Well, now a judge has ruled that the bells do violate the city's noise ordinance. And they're now limited to just two minutes on Sundays and holy days.
Finally, we have got a little hope for you on a Friday night. Learning that the winning $232 million Powerball ticket was sold in the town of Winner, South Dakota, not bad. Finding out that the winner himself is a 23-year-old rancher whose family fell behind on taxes and just had their mobile home repossessed makes this story much, much better. BROWN: Wow.
HILL: Neal Wanless is taking the lump sum, $88 million in change after taxes. He says he will continue ranching, but, Campbell, he will do it on a bigger piece of land.
BROWN: A much bigger piece of land.
BROWN: Yay. That is a good news story.
HILL: Good story, it is.
BROWN: I love hearing that.
Erica Hill, we will see you a little bit later.
Tonight's "Great Debate": Did President Obama undercut the military by admitting the U.S. made some mistakes after 9/11?
Apologize for the audio there. We will have that in a moment.
Also tonight, the most important and most under-covered story of the week. What do you think the media missed?
BROWN: Welcome back.
Every night at this time, the "Great Debate." Tonight's premise: President Obama undercut the military in his speech to the Muslim world.
And with us to argue that point, the man who came right out and said it, Marc Thiessen, who was chief speechwriter for President Bush. Also with us, CNN international correspondent Michael Ware, who was in Iraq for much of the war.
We also want your opinion. So, vote by calling the number on the bottom of your screen.
First, we're going to have an opening statement from each of you, 30 seconds on the clock. You will hear a bell at the end of 30 seconds.
Marc, the premise again, Obama's words undercut the military. Make your case.
MARC THIESSEN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: Well, certainly, what he did was, he used throughout the speech shameful moral equivalence.
He said that the Iranian Revolution was bad, but the overthrow of Mossadegh was bad also. The Holocaust was bad, but the use of -- but the -- but the occupation of Palestine is bad also. And then he turned to our military. And he said, let me read you what he said. He said, "Just as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles -- 9/11 led us to act contrary to our principles."
That is drawing moral equivalence between the men and women of our military and our intelligence community who stop acts of violence and the men and women...
THIESSEN: ... who commit acts of violence.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I listened to Marc and I have read his pieces. And, without hearing more, it's difficult for me to shake the feeling that -- that what's being said here is a gross disservice to the U.S. military and to the U.S. intelligence community.
I'm not sure that the military or intelligence communities would feel under attack. I mean, I don't know about the view from the Pentagon and the White House, but having spent far too much time in the foxholes with the American troops being shot at, I think they need less of platitudes in a speech in Cairo than of a strategic speech...
WARE: ... that tries to stop angry Muslims shooting at them in the first place. I think that we're really arguing a very good point.
THIESSEN: I heard a bell.
BROWN: All right, Marc, I will let you respond to that. Go ahead.
THIESSEN: Well, I mean, it's just clear what he said.
He stood on foreign soil in front of an Arab audience, in a foreign land, and said that the men and women of our intelligence community had committed torture. He said that he was closing Guantanamo Bay, without making any defense whatsoever of the good men and women who run that facility, who got vital intelligence to protect the American people, and did not commit abuse, did not commit torture.
In fact, Eric Holder, when -- when he gave a speech in Berlin, said that they were professional and that they treat detainees humanely. Just a single sentence defending them would have been sufficient. But he threw them under bus in order to curry favor with a -- with a Muslim audience.
BROWN: Michael, did -- should there have been some acknowledgement of -- of American troops and what they have done in the speech somewhere?
WARE: Well, I think that's implicit throughout, you know, all of this discourse.
And I would -- I would argue that President Obama and Cairo was not giving a Republican candidate's stump speech on the campaign trail. I mean, one needs to be aware of one's audience.
Now, the Arab Muslim world has its own firsthand appreciation of the U.S. military and intelligence community and its sons who are in Guantanamo, for better or for worse. And Guantanamo exists in its own right. I don't think we need to defend the merits of that here.
Paying lip service to the troops who have been serving there honorably anyway to the grunts who are in the field, bleeding and sweating, I don't think is going to play in a Muslim audience. I don't think that's what they were there to hear. I don't think the troops in the field or at Guantanamo need to be treated like such needy children, that they need someone to stroke their hand in every speech.
MARC THIESSEN, FORMER BUSH SPEECHWRITER: This is not about treating them like needy children.
WARE: Let's stop the Arabs attacking them in the first place. I think that's more important, Marc.
THIESSEN: Could I say something?
BROWN: Go ahead.
THIESSEN: It's not about needy children or that kind of condescending attitude from Michael. I think that's a terrible thing to say about them.
He went out and affirmatively said that they had committed torture, that Guantanamo was contrary to our ideals. So it's not that he didn't praise them, though he should have praised them. He criticized them.
WARE: Well, that's to your point and I do believe --
THIESSEN: Hold on, hold on, you said some things. Now, let me say something in response.
WARE: Yes, sure. Go for it, mate.
THIESSEN: The United States military what he should have said in his speech, and certainly it shouldn't be just a Republican that would say this, Michael. Any Republican or Democrat should both agree that from Iraq to Afghanistan, to Kosovo to Bosnia, to the first Gulf war, the United States military has done more to liberate Muslims and Arabs from oppression and tyranny and genocide than any force in human history. You're throwing them under the bus that way.
WARE: (INAUDIBLE) your article but the problem is you're not talking to a Veterans of Foreign Wars evening dinner. You're talking to the Arab or the Muslim world.
WARE: And to be honest, they don't feel terribly liberated by the U.S. military. Now, you and I might have views of that.
THIESSEN: Well, that's why the president has a responsibility to say something.
WARE: You and I may have our view of that. But when there's American tanks sitting in the Arab streets, when they see the killings in Afghanistan from our bombings, though they're not intended, that's not how they feel. When they see what happened in Abu Ghraib --
THIESSEN: The vast majority of Afghans support Americans --
WARE: You got to understand -- you got to understand, Marc, I mean, it might feel different in the ivory towers in the Capitol Hill and the Pentagon. But on the streets -- on the streets --
THIESSEN: Excuse me, I've been to Iraq and Afghanistan four times in each of those countries so I know what it's like in the Arab streets. I've been there.
WARE: Oh, I'm sorry. You spend how much time in Iraq?
THIESSEN: Oh, listen --
WARE: No, no, no, how much time, Marc? How much time, Marc?
THIESSEN: I've traveled -- oh, I know you lived there.
WARE: Right, I lived there for six years, right? I know the problem that President Obama is trying to address.
WARE: And I can tell you, I've spent more time in the trenches with your troops than I can guarantee you have. And I'm speaking for your soldiers.
THIESSEN: Michael, let me tell you something.
WARE: And I'm telling you, they don't need platitudes. They need a solution.
THIESSEN: I was under fire too. I was in the Pentagon in September 11, 2001 with our troops so don't tell me about being under fire with the troops.
WARE: Yes --
THIESSEN: And let me tell you something, the point is -- the point is -- WARE: Anyone who was there that day, but your point about the Arab street --
THIESSEN: Excuse me --
WARE: Marc, come on, mate.
THIESSEN: Can I get a word in?
WARE: Come on, Marc.
BROWN: All right. Hold on, Michael.
WARE: Let's discuss something real, Marc.
BROWN: Let Marc make a point. Let Marc make his point. Go ahead, Marc.
THIESSEN: The point is it's not that they have to be praised because for praise's sake is that he criticized them. He attacked them in a foreign land.
The president of the United States does not go to a foreign country, particularly to an Arab audience, where Al Qaeda's propaganda is echoing the things that you were saying just a moment ago about how we do all these terrible things and feed into that propaganda. That is a shameful thing for the commander in chief of the United States --
WARE: Listen, listen.
THIESSEN: Let me finish.
WARE: I understand what you're -- I understand what you're saying.
THIESSEN: It was a shameful thing for the commander in chief of the United States Armed Forces to do to the men and women under his command. He's not a left-wing senator from Illinois anymore. He's the president of the United States.
BROWN: All right.
THIESSEN: And he has responsibilities to men and women under his command.
WARE: Marc, I think you protest too much. I don't think that your boys and girls in uniform would feel as aggrieved as you do.
THIESSEN: They're not boys and girls. They are heroes.
WARE: And as you said -- as you said --
THIESSEN: They are heroes, Michael. They're not boys and girls.
WARE: As you said at some point --
BROWN: All right, guys.
WARE: The president doesn't really have shortcomings (ph) on foreign soil.
BROWN: Let me -- hold on a second. We're treading the same ground here. Let me just ask for clarification if I can from Marc.
BROWN: Because, Marc, is it -- isn't President Obama attacking not the military or the troops necessarily, but the policies of the former president and the decisions he made, and President Bush? I don't think it's directed at the people who were doing their jobs in terms of carrying out those policies. Is that a fair assessment?
THIESSEN: I don't think so, no. Because the people who carried out those policies who could -- the policies were not to torture and not to commit abuse. And the people who carried them out followed the policies and did not commit abuses. There were numerous reports that have been done on this.
And, you know, Eric Holder -- a month ago, Eric Holder went to Berlin and gave a speech on Guantanamo. And in that speech, before he said they were closing Guantanamo, he said, "I went to Guantanamo. I reviewed the place. It is conducted -- it's run professionally. It is run ethically and the detainees are treated humanely, but it's become a symbol and so we're going to close it."
THIESSEN: All the president had to do was say that these people do the right thing before he started talking about closing Guantanamo and throwing them under the bus in a foreign audience.
BROWN: Michael, very quickly.
WARE: Marc, I think you're being far too precious. I mean, the point's taken.
Under the Bush administration there was legal authority given for what was done. Now, you wouldn't call that an extreme interrogation. You can call that waterboarding. You can call that torture. That's putting ahead. I don't think at any point there was a question about the honorable service of the troops or not.
BROWN: All right.
WARE: And to throw this up now just seems like cheap, you know, political point scoring.
BROWN: OK, guys, we're going to take a quick break. But we're going to do is we do every single night. We ask our debaters to find common ground.
I know you've got it in you. We're going to take a break and give you the commercials to think about it. When we come back, they're going to find common ground. Stay with us.
BROWN: Welcome back to our "Great Debate." Tonight's premise, President Obama undercut the military in his speech to the Muslim world.
Former Bush speechwriter Marc Thiessen thinks so. CNN international correspondent Michael Ware weighing in on the other side. After a vigorous debate, I'm asking them both to find some common ground here.
Marc, where do you think you can agree with Michael?
THIESSEN: Well, I'll propose some common ground. The church commission of 2005 which investigated claims of abuse in Guantanamo Bay, their findings were, and let me read this to you. "At Guantanamo, where there had been 24,000 interrogation sessions since the beginning of interrogation operations, there are only three cases of substantiated interrogation-related abuse all consisting of minor assault."
Michael, will you agree that the men and women in Guantanamo Bay did not torture people, did not abuse detainees, and that they acted in the -- upheld the principles of the United States of America?
WARE: Yes, Marc, that's an easy one. I mean, because you're opposing their political -- I mean, I just wish you'd stop playing political games in trying to score political points, mate.
BROWN: OK. Come on -- hey, Michael, this is the common ground part.
WARE: The bottom line and I can't blame you say this. Let me finish.
The bottom line is at no point do I cast dispersions on anyone who served in Guantanamo Bay. I think, Marc, the point of common ground that we have here is that we're both trying to stand up for the American military and intelligence community. I do so because I've been in that mud and blood and guts with them.
Now, I disagree with you that I think they would take slight from a president who failed to mention them or by referencing Guantanamo policy is discrediting them. Nonetheless, both you and I, in our different ways, are trying to say that these people are out there doing one of the hardest jobs imaginable, and they need and deserve respect. Anyone who faces those bullets in the Arab world deserves credit in my view, Marc.
THIESSEN: I agree with that 100 percent.
BROWN: I love it. Guys, thank you so much. It was a great debate, Marc and Michael.
WARE: Oh, I hardly use the word "great," Campbell. BROWN: All right. Have a good weekend. Appreciate your time tonight.
WARE: Cheers, mate.
BROWN: And we're going to see right now how you voted in tonight's "Great Debate." Thirty-seven percent agree that President Obama undercut the military with his Cairo speech, 63 percent disagree.
This is not a scientific poll. Just our snapshot of our viewers who called in tonight. And thanks to everybody who did make the call.
We're going to have a new "Great Debate" every night on the show. Monday's premise, the United States should embrace Cuba. That's coming up on Monday.
So much more news out there. You can't see it all, but we did. Check out the best and the most underreported story of the week. That will be coming up.
BROWN: We're covering all the bases tonight with our third big question, which is, what is the best story, the most memorable story of the week, and also the most underreported story of the week?
Our panelists have many thoughts on this and they're ready to go with their choices. See what you think as well. We've got them back. John Ridley, Kellyanne Conway, Gideon Yago and Jeff Toobin with me.
Gideon, you start. What for you is the biggest story of the week?
GIDEON YAGO, HOST, THE IFC MEDIA PROJECT: I think the biggest story of the week is --
BROWN: And let me just preface this by saying we all know that the Obama speech was huge, so we're skipping that one, right?
YAGO: OK. Because of the media bias that Obama --
BROWN: Right. Exactly. OK, go ahead, Gideon.
YAGO: I think it's GM. You know, it's been part of the Dow since 1925. It's actually the first company in America that we're actually forcing to go through the pain of its financial decisions. We haven't really done that with the banking sector yet. We don't know what's going to happen with their toxic assets, and yet we're watching this incredibly large bankruptcy take place.
And I think it's going to be a little bit of the canary in the coal mine for what we can look forward to once we actually start to do this with the banks themselves. BROWN: Underreported story?
YAGO: The underreported story I think is about Euna Lee and Laura Ling in North Korea who are the two reporters for Current TV who are facing -- they were up on trial just two days ago.
YAGO: And they're facing five years of hard labor. And it is taking place in this incredible dance of North Korea just totally violating all of the negotiations to disarm, making these bold threats about how they're going to invade South Korea if we continue to blockade their ships.
YAGO: And it is, I think, unfortunately, always a curve ball to look out for.
BROWN: The much bigger issues at play here than just the people involved.
YAGO: And they're caught in the middle.
BROWN: And they are caught in the middle. Lisa Ling, of course, the sister of one of the people, was here on "Larry King" speaking out about it.
Let me ask you, Kellyanne, your thoughts.
KELLYANNE CONWAY, PRES., "THE POLLING COMPANY": My favorite story of the week was the botched robbery gone good.
BROWN: I love the story. Tell people very quickly what's that.
CONWAY: Sure. This is a clerk. He was being robbed with a baseball bat and suddenly he pulled out a gun so the would-be robber dropped his bat and sort of sobbing on the ground. The clerk instead of immediately calling the police or prosecuting him gave him $200, a loaf of bread and then proceeded to pray with him.
I think it's just, you know, it's redemption, it's forgiveness, it's mercy. It's the economic condition, it's the human condition, all wrapped up into one. I think it's a good lesson for all of us.
BROWN: And an underreported story.
CONWAY: The underreported story, unfortunately, is the job losses, I mean, somehow has been eclipsed maybe by GM, but I think also like things like octomom and "Jon and Kate."
CONWAY: People seeing the big speech in the Middle East. And this is very serious, Campbell, just because on February 9th, President Obama said an early measure of his success, of the stimulus package's success would be saving or creating four million jobs.
We've now lost 2.19 million according to his own government. And fewer job losses remain no doubt, but still over 350,000 of them. We're spending money. We're not creating jobs. Something is wrong here.
BROWN: All right. John?
JOHN RIDLEY, NPR CONTRIBUTOR: Let's start with underreported story?
BROWN: Whichever you want.
RIDLEY: OK, I'm going to start with underreported story.
About a week ago, Ursula Barnes becoming CEO of Xerox, taking over for Anne Mulcahy.
BROWN: A great story for women. Fabulous.
RIDLEY: All this talk of feminism, gender and empowerment and all that and this is going on very quietly. A woman passing a torch to a woman at the largest publicly traded company and also to an African-American woman, pretty big deal and I didn't hear enough about it. Positive story too.
BROWN: Yes, that's a great story.
RIDLEY: My favorite story of the week, I would say Newt Gingrich doing the walk back, saying that Sonia Sotomayor is not a racist and in doing so proving that yes, white males can come to better conclusions if you give them five days and polling numbers. I think that's the big story of the week.
BROWN: OK, Jeffrey. Jeffrey.
TOOBIN: Underreported story, Wednesday was the 20th anniversary of the massacre at Tiananmen Square. Because we are so dependent on the Chinese funding our deficits, we have given up on human rights pressure on China. They don't have freedom of speech.
BROWN: Hillary Clinton said as much basically.
TOOBIN: Right. I mean, the Bush administration, Obama administration have both given up on trying to impute (ph) human rights, freedom of religion in China, because our economic condition demands it, which is a sad, sad story.
BROWN: Fair point.
TOOBIN: The other story, major story of the week is the United States lost to Costa Rica 3-1 in soccer in World Cup qualifying and the key point about that is...
BROWN: Yes, I missed that entirely.
TOOBIN: ... no one cares. No one cares.
BROWN: And I don't really care.
TOOBIN: This is the thing. That's the thing. Every kid in the United States plays soccer.
TOOBIN: We still stink internationally. Not quite stink, but we are not very good. And no one cares. It's one of the great paradoxes of sports is everyone else and the rest of the world loves soccer. We don't love soccer. And we have all these kids who play and then they don't -- and then they don't become fans.
BROWN: How did you come up with this?
TOOBIN: Because I am a soccer fan. And my son is a very good soccer player.
BROWN: And you're the only one who cares. You're the only one who cares.
TOOBIN: I know, but that's why -- why don't people care?
RIDLEY: Because we can't win. How can we like something we can't be good at?
TOOBIN: But why don't we win? I mean, that's the thing.
RIDLEY: Because we don't care.
TOOBIN: We have all these kids who play but they don't get to the top of the game. I'm telling you, it's a big issue.
BROWN: All right, guys.
RIDLEY: We have a soccer czar? Is that what we need, a soccer czar? One more.
BROWN: All right. Many, many thanks to the panel for coming up with some fairly brilliant ideas there I have to say.
"LARRY KING LIVE" just minutes away who has the latest on a very bizarre story that's been getting a lot of attention, of course, the strange death of actor David Carradine.
Larry, tell us more.
LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Campbell, you're right, we got breaking news about that death.
Attorney Mark Geragos is going to join us. He represents Keith Carradine. Tonight, he's got some incredible developments. You know, the FBI is now involved.
And there's more. Peter Falk's daughter is here. She's gone public with a private family matter. She and her stepmother are locked in a bitter battle over the ill "Columbo" star. It's not pretty.
And the ultimate honeymoon horror. A newlywed wife dies. Her husband goes to jail. Why is her family outraged? Next, Campbell, on "LARRY KING LIVE."
BROWN: All right, Larry, we'll see you in a few.
We will be back with tonight's breakout story. It is really the picture of the day. This is a heartwarming moment that was caught on camera. Not a dry eye in the newsroom when we saw this. Stay with us.
BROWN: Welcome back everybody. This is the part of the show where every night we're going to bring you a breakout story from around the globe, the kind of story that breaks through all the noise out there.
And tonight, it is a wonderful surprise for a little girl whose dad spent nearly a year on duty in Iraq. Here's Tiffany Wong of CNN affiliate KABB in San Antonio, Texas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really is. He's not on the computer.
TIFFANY WONG, CNN AFFILIATE KABB (voice-over): He's been in Iraq for the past 350 days. Master Sergeant Joseph Myers was anxious to make it home to his daughter, Adison (ph).
MASTER SGT. JOSEPH MYERS, U.S. AIR FORCE: I missed my daughter's first steps. I missed her first words.
WONG: That wasn't the only daughter he missed. Hannah thought today was going to be a regular school day.
J. MYERS: Where's my daughter? Come here, baby.
WONG: That was anything but.
J. MYERS: Come here. God, I love you. Oh, I missed you so much. Oh, I missed you. Surprise.
WONG: It was a surprise Hannah wasn't ready for.
HANNAH MYERS, REUNITED WITH DAD: I was just so excited. I couldn't believe it. And I don't really remember what happened because I was so happy.
J. MYERS: Hi, Hannah's class. How are you? I'm sorry I missed fourth grade.
WONG: Master Sergeant Myers says his biggest hero is his oldest daughter.
J. MYERS: And the things that she's done, you don't think a normal 10-year-old would do, stepping up to the plate, changing diapers, getting up in the middle of the night when mom's sick and baby's sick to help mom out.
J. MYERS: My daughter.
H. MYERS: I love you, daddy.
WONG: For Hannah, it's all about having her daddy home.
H. MYERS: I want to go to Fiesta Texas with him because that's what -- that's the thing that we used to always do together.
WONG: The Myers family is just grateful they can see each other again.
J. MYERS: Every one of us in uniform and out of uniform think about you every day and we know the sacrifices that you've -- that you've had to take on, and I'm sorry.
BROWN: Just a killer there. Our breakout story from Tiffany Wong of CNN affiliate KABB in San Antonio.
When we come back, if the White House isn't magical enough for the Obama girls, they've got a whole new playground tonight -- Paris. We have got the pictures in tonight's "Political Daily Briefing."
BROWN: Time for the "PDB," our "Political Daily Briefing." Erica Hill is back, and the first family making a big splash in the city of lights.
ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, not a bad way to spend a Friday for the Obama girls. Malia and Sasha flew to Paris today with the first lady to meet their dad, the president.
One of their first stops, the Eiffel Tower with a personal welcome while they're there from the mayor of Paris. They took a 30- minute tour of the famous structure, leaving just as the tower's lights began sparkling.
BROWN: And, of course, speaking of Paris, there's something going on, a little something with France's first lady, I guess?
HILL: Something with France's first lady, that's right, or nothing, depending on how you'd like to read this one.
A nude picture of the former model selling for just under $20,000 yesterday at auction. The buyer, anonymous, although there is now speculation that, in fact, it may have been her husband, President Nicolas Sarkozy who snatched up the 15-year-old shot. And while that is far above the initial appraisal for this picture, between $3,500 and $5,000, it's actually a far cry from the $91,000 an anonymous bidder paid for a different nude photo of Bruni Sarkozy last year.
HILL: More than one out there to be had.
BROWN: Yes. OK, on to more dour, I guess, boring --
HILL: Not boring, serious. I don't think this is boring at all.
BROWN: Senator Reid cracking down on Congress.
HILL: I think this is great. I think there are plenty of American people out there who would love this too.
Imagine this, sit back, relax for a moment and strap on your seat belt because Congress could be working five days a week this summer.
HILL: Yes. I know, that's why I wanted you to make sure that you were in a safe place when you heard the news.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid warning his colleagues today they should expect to put in full weeks between July 4th and that August recess. We're talking about a month here in order to get health care reform, a health care reform bill on the president's desk.
Now if they do follow through, it would be quite a change from the days of the so-called do nothing Congress. Remember those days, 2006?
BROWN: He is so mean. I can't believe he would do that to them over the summer.
HILL: It is horrible to make people work five days a week.
HILL: Yes. That's why I'm going to take the rest of the summer off in protest.
BROWN: Me too. Erica Hill. Have a great weekend.
"LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.