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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

President Obama Talks About the 'Myth' About His Health Care Plan; Hurricane Bill Causing Dangerous Rip Currents; Counting Continues in Afghanistan; What to Do With the Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay; International Track Star Gender Debate

Aired August 22, 2009 - 08:00   ET

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


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center ...

T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: Hey.

NGUYEN: Good morning, T.J. How are you doing?

HOLMES: Well, we are ...

NGUYEN: I was just making sure you had your microphone on. I was going to get it for you.

HOLMES: Right. I see we're vibing well this morning.

NGUYEN: Yes. It's like clockwork in here.

All right, hello, everybody. Welcome to the CNN SATURDAY MORNING show. It is August 22nd. I'm Betty Nguyen.

HOLMES: And hello to you all. I'm T.J. Holmes. Glad you could start your day right here with us.

And coming up, the president is talking about what he calls the myth about his health care plan.

NGUYEN: Yes. And then, what to do with the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. There is outrage from some communities saying no, no, not in our backyard.

HOLMES: Also this morning a story that's kind of rocking the sports world right now.

NGUYEN: Take a good look, folks.

HOLMES: People are wondering is this a male or female athlete? It's a crazy debate going on right now about that international track star's gender. We're going to get into that story this morning.

NGUYEN: But first we want to talk about big bad Bill, yes, hurricane Bill whips up powerful waves. Look at this. Actually some dangerous rip currents passing between Bermuda and the east coast of the mainland U.S. although it's not going to hit the main land, we are told though, it is bringing 150-mile-per-hour winds and offshore waves up to 20-feet high. There are warnings out there today for boaters. Also U.S. beaches are a little jammed this weekend because it's one of the last weekends of the summer vacation before a lot of kiddos head back to school. Many are being told, stay out of the water.

HOLMES: It's unfortunate, really, this thing and Reynolds is going to tell us here in a second, but in effect, we're talking about warnings and people told to watch out, Reynolds. We're talking about from Florida up to Maine.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Florida to Maine.

HOLMES: That's everything. That's the east coast of the U.S. Everybody has to watch out.

WOLF: You know the weird thing is, you don't even have to be, you know -- let's get a camera shot just real low for a second, let me drop the camera a bit. You can be in the water up say just up to about right here, just around your knees, and a surge is actually strong enough or at least the under toe, you can actually get picked up and swept off your feet and get pulled in.

So this rip currents can be really dangerous things. So that's one thing we certainly want you to be advised about. As T.J. mentioned, we're talking all the way from Maine as far south as the Florida keys. The reason why is because it's kind of easy to see right here on satellite this huge storm, the largest one on the planet, hurricane Bill with winds of 105 miles an hour, gusting to 125 miles an hour, easy to see here on the scene and weather wall.

And again from Miami northward through Jacksonville beach over near Charleston and (INAUDIBLE) even to the Outer Banks, you're going to be dealing with issues with those rip currents. It's going to be something that may continue through Sunday, perhaps a little bit as we make our way up to the Jersey shore line all the way through Monday. So you're planning on going out there by all means, be careful.

The question is where is this thing headed? That's what everyone wants to know. The latest path we have from the National Hurricane Center brings us to a more of a northerly trajectory with winds around 110 miles per hour, possibly strengthening a bit more because it will be moving into an area with minimal sheer and at the same time warm waters around 80 degrees, some places a bit more.

So it may get back up to category three status, major hurricane status and into Sunday, let's see, 2:00 a.m. winds around 105. They forecast to drop a little bit as we get into Sunday afternoon. Two reasons why, it will then encounter some shears, with strong upper level winds and at the same time, cooler waters.

So it's going to be that double punch, it's going to cause this thing to weaken as it moves right past the Canadian Maritimes and then moving out towards again farther north and eventually making landfall possibly either in say Nova Scotia or back over near new Brunswick. It's anyone's ball game. But for the time being it does appear it's going to stay away from the U.S. coastline, so certainly some good news.

Reason is why is that happening? Why are we getting a break from the storm? That's pretty simple. You can see it right here on satellite imagery, we have a little bit of a front that's making its way off towards the east and it's going to be that frontal boundary that's going to keep that storm at bay.

So it's kind of funny if you're in say New York, you're dealing with the scattered showers and thunderstorms. You're thinking, man, what a drag this is. But think about it. It's going to be this blocking mechanism, this boundary that's going to keep that storm away from us, still dealing with the rip currents, got to stay on top of that, but certainly the situation could be far worse.

Just give you a quick update on the rest of the country, very pleasant for much of the southeast except for Atlanta and the Carolinas, scattered showers there. Relatively warm in parts of Texas, certainly not record breaking. We could see some high elevation thunderstorms in parts of the four corners and relatively mild for much of the west coast. That is a look at your forecast. We're going to have more coming up throughout the morning and, of course, the very latest on hurricane Bill.

NGUYEN: Absolutely. Good information there, too. Thank you, Reynolds.

WOLF: You bet.

HOLMES: Turning to the president now, he is starting a 10-day vacation, must be nice. He has a pretty tough job, nonetheless. He is on this vacation during what is really a make or break month for health care. He's still, of course, on the vacation going to be focused very much on the debate and also what he is calling phony claims out there about health care reform.

CNN's Elaine Quijano joins us now from Washington this morning. Elaine, good morning to you. So what is he talking about, phony claims?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, T.J.. The president is pushing back, trying again to debunk what the administration says are myths about health care reform. In his weekly radio and Internet address, the president stressed illegal immigrants would not be covered under a health care bill. Also, taxpayer dollars would not go to fund abortions.

And the president addressed a fear echoed at heated town hall meetings across the country saying his administration is not planning a government takeover of the health care system.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is an issue of vital concern to every American and I'm glad that so many are engaged, but it also should be an honest debate, not one dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things exactly as they are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now the president also pushed back against the notion of so-called death panels, an idea that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin mentioned on her facebook page weeks ago. President Obama called that notion offensive to him and the American people. T.J.?

HOLMES: Argue whether or not Sarah Palin still has a place in this debate necessarily, not exactly shaping policy for the Republican Party. So who is necessarily responding directly on behalf of Republicans to the president and his claims?

QUIJANO: As you know, Republicans are out with their weekly address and they said that the president was not being straight about his proposal. Here is GOP Congressman Tom Price of Georgia.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. TOM PRICE (R) GEORGIA: As opposition to the Democrat's government-run plan is mounting, the president has said he'd like to stamp out some of the disinformation floating around out there. The problem is, the president himself plays fast and loose with the facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now, Congressman Price continued the GOP line of attack against the idea of a government-run health care system. He argued that people may not get to keep their plan or their doctor if the president's proposal becomes a reality. T.J.?

HOLMES: Elaine Quijano for us in Washington this morning, Elaine, thank you so much.

QUIJANO: Sure.

NGUYEN: All right. So he may be all about health care today, but tomorrow, the president heads for a little R and R. The first family is renting a palatial estate on Martha's Vineyard from a Republican couple no less. Janet Hessher writes for the local newspaper in Martha's Vineyard and she joins us by phone. All right, Janet, six U.S. presidents have visited Martha's Vineyard. Tell us what the draw is?

JANET HEFLER, REPORTER (via telephone): Yes. Good morning. Well, it's a beautiful place and I think a lot of the draw is that people can come here and relax and they can get out of the spotlight and just enjoy themselves. So I think that's a big draw for a lot of famous people and people that just want to kind of have some down time.

NGUYEN: The Obamas are going to be enjoying themselves in a palatial estate. Tell us where they're staying.

HEFLER: Yes. It's called the Blue Heron farm and it is a 28 1/2 acre property that spans Tillmark and West Tisbury, two of the island's six towns and it's on Town Cove, which is a finger of the Tisbury great pond. It's a private residence, so most Vineyarders haven't even seen it, to be honest.

NGUYEN: So what's there? I imagine a pool, some horses too right?

HEFLER: Yes. They've got all the amenities. There's a beach area, of course, on the great pond, a boat house, swimming pool, tennis court and for the president, a small basketball court.

NGUYEN: He's going to get in a little B-ball while he's there. I understand that they are paying -- the Obamas are paying for this themselves, that rental. So how much would a place like that cost?

HEFLER: Properties similar to that one on the vineyard rent between $35,000 to $50,000 a week.

NGUYEN: Wow. But that may be on the low end when you're talking Martha's Vineyard, right?

HEFLER: I would say that's probably on the higher end.

NGUYEN: Are you sure? I've read in some places go for over $100,000 a week during peak season, of course.

HEFLER: That's true. That's true. It depends on which property you're renting and how close you are to the water.

NGUYEN: Right.

HEFLER: Of course, yeah.

NGUYEN: No doubt. It's a lot better than some of the vacations that I've had. I wasn't paying that much.

HEFLER: Me too.

NGUYEN: Exactly. The locals, I imagine they're throw outing the welcome mat.

HEFLER: They are. People are very excited. We've seen people making some pretty elaborate signs to put up in their yards. It's funny, the excitement is growing because I was talking to one of the police chiefs yesterday and he had stopped to talk to one of the state troopers and he looked up and people were starting to gather around him and saying, is somebody coming? Is there somebody here already? So I think people are definitely, you know, kind of attuned to being in the right place.

NGUYEN: Also reports that souvenirs have already been made and all kinds -- I'm sure we'll see T-shirts and what not. One last thing I want to ask you about, maybe this little vacation is in conjunction with perhaps Chelsea Clinton getting married. There is some rumor about that. What do you know?

HEFLER: That has been a rumor and all I know so far is that I haven't received an invitation, so ...

NGUYEN: Neither have I. HEFLER: Still waiting. But I did hear it's still going around, but the latest that I've heard is that it won't be this week, but maybe sometime soon.

NGUYEN: Wouldn't you see some preparations in place if there were to be a wedding there?

HEFLER: Not necessarily.

NGUYEN: No?

HEFLER: People are pretty close mouthed here, especially the catering companies that do work with people that are famous.

NGUYEN: That makes your job tough, as a reporter for the "Martha's Vineyard Times."

HEFLER: It makes it very tough.

NGUYEN: All right Janet. Well, thanks so much for giving us a little insight into the vacation that the Obamas are about to take. Thanks for your time. Not bad?

HOLMES: Not bad.

NGUYEN: $35,000 to $50,000 a week.

HOLMES: That's not bad.

NGUYEN: You could handle that.

HOLMES: But it sounds like -- you know I can't handle that. But it sounds like you get a basketball court. You got horses, you got all this stuff. That's just not some place.

NGUYEN: No, no, no. It's not just some place.

HOLMES: Not some hotel.

NGUYEN: It's very secluded. She said some 20-something acres there. But man, that's a lot of change.

HOLMES: And most haven't even seen it there on the island. So you know it's secluded. Enjoy your vacation, Mr. President.

We'll turn now to elections. Not elections here, because here in the U.S., during elections, we're used to getting results of those elections quite literally hours after we all go to the polls and vote and hours after the polling stations close.

However, could you imagine what it's like when you have to deliver ballots on donkeys? It takes a little while longer to collect them and to count them, of course. That's what's happening over in Afghanistan. European observers are praising Afghanistan's election for the most part being fair, but there are some shocking accounts of Taliban brutality. CNN's Atia Abawi joins us now from Kabul. I guess first thing here is just tell us when might we hear results of the elections?

ATIA ABAWI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do expect to see results trickling as you said because in some areas, they're coming in by donkeys. We certainly expect to hear some -- from some provinces on August 25th, preliminary results announced September 5th and final results in the end September 17th.

You mentioned Taliban brutality as well. Many Afghans did not head to the polls on Thursday because they were afraid through the Taliban intimidation did work and they attacked polling stations. They killed 26 Afghans in all. It was the lowest voter turnout since the fall of the Taliban regime, actually.

But today, we're hearing that the Taliban are still making good on their threats, including chopping off index fingers. In Afghanistan when a person goes to vote they have to dip their finger in ink and they said if they saw any ink on any fingers they would chop those off and this occurred in a district in Kandahar province.

And that's only the occurrences that we're hearing about, so unfortunately this might go on throughout the south and east of the provinces where the Taliban basically have their strongest hold -- T.J.?

HOLMES: And Atia, even though you said there were those pockets of violence and intimidation, will this still, people believe, be seen once the results come in as a legitimate election?

ABAWI: Certainly not to the Afghan people. You're going to have angry people, which ever candidate loses, they had thousands, if not millions, of supporters and they will be angry. We have heard allegations of fraud. We spoke to international observers at the polling station that we were at on Thursday where children were voting with fake registration cards. We ourselves in the polling station saw around 200 people show up to vote. When we were leaving they told us they were counting a thousand ballots.

These are small indications of fraud throughout the country and remote provinces we're going to be hearing more and more instances, particularly in the south and east where many Afghans did not go out and vote, but suddenly there are a lot of ballots that were cast. So when the election results do come in, there will be people that will be very, very angry and the scare right now is what kind of violence will brew afterwards -- T.J.?

HOLMES: Atia Awabi for us in Kabul, Atia thank you so much as always.

NGUYEN: This is such a talker, especially when you see the video and you're trying to decide for yourself. She trounced the competition, blew them away, to win the 800 meter race at the world athletic championships in Berlin. But is the 18-year-old a woman? That's the question that a lot of people are asking. HOLMES: The debate going on and what a painful thing to have to go through. I mean, you know, people just look at the build and that's what they have to base it on and also how much that athlete she was able to pull out of her female competition. We'll get into that debate this morning, what happens now? But certainly she picked up a gold medal at the world championships. We will see what comes of it.

Also our Josh Levs here talking about traveling and traveling on a budget. Good morning to you Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you. A lot of people can't make the kind of trip the president's family gets to make every year, but you might have a chance to take a little break coming up and we have the list of the five best travel websites that there are. Most of these you probably haven't heard of. We'll show you in just a minute, guys.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Hello, everybody. You might not be able to go to Martha's Vineyard like the Obamas but you might have a little time to squeeze in a little vacation before the summer weather is gone.

HOLMES: Got a little time. Not that much.

NGUYEN: Little bit.

HOLMES: Josh Levs here with some of the best travel websites to book and save on a trip.

LEVS: You know, guys, this is something I actually used cnn.com for. I'm not just saying it on the air. It's very convenient. Cnn.com/travel has all this information about saving money when you do travel. A lot of people don't realize, we have this thing called the travel companion and there's an article that I spotted recently, I pulled it out for today. It's from budget travel which partners with us and they list what they're calling five great travel booking sites.

Here's what I'm going to do, I'm going to bang you through these five really important sites to save you money. You don't need to write them down because at the end I'm going to show you one easy place where I've listed them all for you. Let's go right to it. This first one here is duhop.com. They say they love this one for booking flights outside the U.S. They save a lot of money.

This one I hadn't heard of, kayak.com. They call this the all- time best site for finding the cheapest plane tickets in the U.S. instead of some of the other ones you've heard of. A couple more here, priceline.com. Budget travel folks a big fan of that. They say it actually works. You make these negotiations, actually do save a lot of money. Tripadvisor.com, this is the best place they've seen where people give each other advice about how to save money when you're traveling.

And finally this one, which I think is venere.com. They say this list is independently owned properties around the country and around the world that don't show up on a lot of other sites and that you can save money that way. So here is where everything is listed.

Let's go to this graphic. We're putting all these links for you in one page and it's at the blog here, cnn.com/josh and as soon as I get off the air, we'll post it there. Also I've got it going at facebook and twitter/joshlevscnn. I'm going to give you links to all these things.

While we're here, I'm just going to show you two more things just because it's fun. First of all, one of the articles we have cnn.com, I think you guys will enjoy, seven ways to annoy a flight attendant, getting the truth from some flight attendants. We're talking about annoying facebookers earlier, now annoying people on planes.

Finally, I'm just going to end with this because I can. They have ranked the cutest zoo babies that you can travel around. And I know T.J. always likes when we show animal babies on the air. So let's just scroll through a few of these all from cnn.com. Folks at budget travel. Go to the panda.

We got to go. I'll give you links to that too. Check it all out, cnn.com/joshlevs. If you know of sites that we didn't name here that you like a lot for travel let us know those. We'll be back with those.

NGUYEN: Cute animal babies.

HOLMES: Love that.

NGUYEN: I like the pandas.

HOLMES: Why does everybody love the pandas?

NGUYEN: Although, seven ways to annoy your flight attendant, really? Be kicked off the plane for that.

LEVS: Hopefully thinking what you shouldn't do. I think it's more of a warning.

NGUYEN: OK. We need useful information. All right. Thank you, Josh.

LEVS: Thanks, guys.

HOLMES: I annoyed some fellow passengers recently, though.

NGUYEN: I did too. Yeah. That was an interesting plane ride. Anyway ...

HOLMES: Reynolds? How are you doing, Reynolds?

WOLF: Go from annoying things to me, how is that for a transition?

HOLMES: No.

WOLF: Are we sending some kind of signal here?

HOLMES: You can always save us from ourselves.

WOLF: I don't know about that. I'm a lost cause.

NGUYEN: That's a difficult job. I don't think anyone would want that.

WOLF: Absolutely. We were talking about travel. We've also been talking pretty much the morning with the issues we've had on the eastern seaboard, give you an idea of some great travel spots. Let's go to the other side of the nation.

Let's go to the west coast for this weekend's getaway. We're talking about a spot that's about two hours south of San Francisco. We're talking about Monterey which makes for a great weekend getaway.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF: Monterey, California, has beautiful views of the coast and a world famous aquarium.

KEN PETERSON, MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM: We are very fortunate to be located right on the edge of Monterey Bay. It's the heart of the largest marine sanctuary in the continental United States.

STIRLING KELSO, TRAVEL + LEISURE: The Monterey Bay aquarium's mission is to inspire ocean conservation and how better to do that with 200 galleries dedicated to 25,000 plants and animals.

WOLF: Step out of the aquarium and on to the pages of a John Steinbeck novel.

KELSO: Believe it or not, the aquarium sits on Cannery Row in what used to be a fish packing plant.

WOLF: Cannery Row is now filled with dozens of restaurants and plenty of places to shop. Just outside town is the scenic 17-mile drive. The road skirts Pebble Beach and offers places to stop, take a photo or even have a picnic.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF: That's one of the cool things that you really don't have to spend extra money to do those things and take those great jaunt at Pebble Beach or whatever sound a digital camera makes, just to the north, you got San Francisco, so you can go to pier 39, you go to fisherman's wharf. Farther to the south you've got 101, highway 1, go to Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, a lot of cool things.

HOLMES: Seventeen mile drive. You got to do that in a convertible. I've done that a drive a ton of times.

WOLF: It's the longest 17-mile drive you'll ever have because you take your time. You stop and you take pictures and it's really beautiful.

NGUYEN: All right. Good ... HOLMES: Very nice, Reynolds.

NGUYEN: Time and money, both are running out.

HOLMES: Running out of the cash for clunkers program. We'll tell you how much longer you have left to make that deal. It's not long.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Want to catch you up now on some of our top stories this morning. First hurricane Bill, it's churning up powerful surf and dangerous rip tides in the U.S. east coast today. It's passing between the U.S. and Bermuda this morning, top winds at about 105 miles per hour.

NGUYEN: President Obama trying to clear the air on his overhaul of health care laws and in his radio and web address today, the president called all the chatter about death panels offensive and phony.

HOLMES: And the world, 1.5 billion Muslims marking the holy month of Ramadan. It's a time for prayer, fasting and charity. President Obama restated his hope for, quote, a new beginning between the U.S. and the Muslim world.

NGUYEN: Want you to stay tuned to CNN this morning because at 9:00 we have a half hour that is dedicated to the health care debate, health care separating the facts from the fictions. This morning, at 9:00 Eastern, don't miss it.

HOLMES: Also ahead, a closer look at the short list on where Guantanamo Bay's prisoners may be headed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: The cash for clunkers program officially ends Monday night but a key group of car dealers asking the government to give them another week to file all the paperwork.

NGUYEN: It takes a little time to do that. The National Automobile Dealers Association says problems with the government's computer application system means many clunker deals cannot be submitted on time. They say the extra week will allow them time to keep the program running through Monday night.

HOLMES: They say this takes forever, it's taking up so much time to file all this paperwork.

NGUYEN: Some of it's getting rejected so you have to wait and re-file it.

HOLMES: Some of the dealers are saying even the overtime you now have to pay to get it done is eating up the profits.

NGUYEN: And if they don't qualify, these are people who have already taken off in the vehicles. So they're driving them right now. Say they don't qualify, well then they're going to have to bring that vehicle back and it has miles on it and then what does a dealer do?

HOLMES: Sometimes the dealer is on the hook for that cash as well. So it's got the sales up, but, you know, a few problems with the program. Still, time now for a look at what's coming up on "YOUR BOTTOM LINE." Poppy Harlow is in this week for Gerri Willis and she has a look at what's coming up.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

POPPY HARLOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The downward spiral of America's housing market hasn't been easy on anyone and for Bravo TV's Jeff Lewis, frustration with his home flipping business means his assistant Jenny who's bearing the brunt of his recession aggression.

JEFF LEWIS: I need an assistant that is prepared.

JENNY: And I'm not prepared?

LEWIS: No, you're not prepared. You don't have the numbers. You don't have ...

JENNY: One day I made a mistake and I'm not prepared.

LEWIS: You're not prepared.

JENNY: Great, and you need an assistant that's prepared.

LEWIS: Yes, I do. What is so hard to understand about this? Every day, not -- every day I need you prepared, every day.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Wow. Poppy is speaking with Jeff about his show "Flipping Out", I wonder how it got that title. How he's dealing with the housing downturn and how you can deal as well. Plus, health care, the public option versus co-ops, we'll actually be getting to the co- ops around 9:00 this morning as well. And how to stand out in your job search, that's all ahead on "YOUR BOTTOM LINE" at 9:30 Eastern time.

NGUYEN: It should have been a joyous win, but a major victory for a South African runner has really been marred by questions of gender. Is she a she?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: In about three months, the Guantanamo Bay prison is set to close and some of the detainees will likely be moved here to the U.S. Right now, though, two facilities on the short list, one is in Leavenworth, Kansas, the other in Standish, Michigan, which is a small town about 150 miles outside of Detroit with a population of about 1500.

Now most of the people that you saw at this town hall meeting really don't want the detainees at their prison.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are all for any other state wanting their prisoners here. We do not want the terrorists in our backyard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NGUYEN: They don't want the terrorists in their backyard. Well, terrorism analyst Karen Greenberg joins us now from Connecticut this morning via Skype. First thing I want to ask you in light of that kind of concern, should people be worried about having Guantanamo detainees in their backyards?

KAREN GREENBERG, TERRORISM ANALYST: I think that they should be concerned about whether or not they'll be safe and I think they should realize rationally that they will be quite safe. An interesting contrast to this, is how the original community that received the Guantanamo detainees reacted.

They knew and they believed at the time that the worst of the worst were coming to Guantanamo Bay. It was a community of families, of many children, hundreds of families, and they thought about this question and they decided that they would be perfectly safe with the detainees there.

We were talking at the time about four months from 9/11 when people were truly justifiably and understandably worried about the prospect of how dangerous it could be. So I think it's an apt contrast to now. I think that our bureau of prisons knows how to handle dangerous criminals. I think that we have no indication ...

NGUYEN: OK Karen, there are prisons that know how to handle dangerous criminals, but is there an added risk of bringing terrorist detainees to the U.S. soil? Does that just invite al Qaeda to, you know, give them more incentives to attack the U.S.?

GREENBERG: Right. They never tried to attack Guantanamo Bay, which is a visible target.

NGUYEN: That's not the U.S.

GREENBERG: A target you can get to by air or sea or land. If you talk to al Qaeda experts, and I think they will tell you that they do not think there is a heightened risk given the way al Qaeda operates. There's also no indication that these detainees will be going to one place. Maybe we'll disperse them among a number of prisons, as we already have.

We have terrorist convicts all around the country. We have them in Terra Ought, Indiana, we have them at the Super Max, as you know we have some in New York and probably will have more there. To pretend that we don't already have detainees among us would be a misunderstanding of the situation.

NGUYEN: But what needs to be done differently when we are talking about terrorist detainees to make sure that they are kept in not only a maximum security facility, but that ensures the safety of those who live around them?

GREENBERG: The best thing we could do -- first of all, what you do within the prison is different for kind of high valued detainees or high-valued convicts. Within our federal penitentiary we have special units for individuals who we believe have to be controlled and monitored in a way over and above our regular criminals.

So, for example, they are let out of their cell for very little time, let's say an hour a day. When they move at all, they are escorted by three people and one of them is usually of a high rank. They are shackled and bound, hand and foot. These people are not going anywhere.

In order to reassure the community, this is about leadership and rational trust in our authority. We have a bureau of prisons that know how to handle prisoners, we have a military that know how to handle prisoners now because they've had experience.

And I think we need, as did the original families at Guantanamo Bay, to trust in our officials to be able to, A, keep those in the prisons in the prisons, and, B, keep us safe as a country, which I think is one of the things we lost after 9/11 was trust, that we would be kept safe. And I think if anything, once we have these detainees here and we handle it, we're going to feel a lot better.

NGUYEN: All right. Karen Greenberg, thanks so much for your insight today. We really do appreciate it.

GREENBERG: Thank you.

NGUYEN: Let's get to this story, something that has a lot of people talking, even questioning this athlete's sex -- the gender of this athlete in fact. A South African sprinter's stunning performance has triggered a gender-bender of sorts. Critics point to her muscles and her deep voice, but mainly just the appearance.

HOLMES: They're asking that question based on all that, could she actually be a he? Now a lot of this for a lot of folks may seem as simple as quite frankly just take a peek, you know, but it's a little more complicated than just checking out a few parts here and there.

Here now, CNN's sports correspondent Larry Smith.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LARRY SMITH, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After Caster Semenya posted a world best time at the African junior championships three weeks ago, track's governing body, the IAAF, asked the South African Athletics Federation to administer a gender test.

Then on Wednesday the 18-year-old unheard of until the summer pulled off a stunning win in the women's 800 meters at the world championships, further fueling speculation. The IAAF confirmed there are currently two investigations under way, one in South Africa and one in Berlin where the world championships are taking place. PIERRE WEISS, IAAF GENERAL SECRETARY: I am not a doctor. I am not a specialist of genetic. But all the doctors who were contacted who were consulted told us very clearly, this kind of investigation is days and even weeks before we can come to a conclusion. There is one question we can clear, if at the end of this investigation it is proven that the athlete is not a female, it will be (INAUDIBLE) for the reserve of the competition (INAUDIBLE).

SMITH: Semenya is reportedly unaffected by the gender question. Family members say she was teased as a child about her appearance. Her father is outraged. Jacob Semenya told a Soweto newspaper quote, "She is my little girl. I raised her and I have never doubted her gender. She is a woman and I can repeat that a million times."

Caster Semenya isn't the first female athlete to have her gender questioned. Indian runner Santi Soundarajan had her silver medal in the 2006 Asian games stripped after failing a gender test. Her genetic makeup reportedly showed a male chromosome.

Sprinter Eva Klobukowska of Poland won two medals in the 1964 Olympics but three years later she failed a gender test and was banned from professional sports. Polish American Stella Walsh won gold at the 1932 Olympics but a post mortem exam after her death in 1980 revealed she had male sex organs as well as male and female chromosomes.

South African Olympic officials and the African National Congress are rushing to Semenya's defense and she seems to have the support of her countrymen and women as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They shouldn't do this to her because it will discourage her. In order to encourage women in sports, and also to encourage, they shouldn't be doing investigations like this.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe she is a woman. I don't think our athletic committee would have allowed her to go there if she wasn't a woman. I just -- honestly I think the whole IAAF thing is a serious violation of human rights.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She does look very manly, but I don't know. I don't think it would be that dumb to let a man run in a woman's race. I think she'll get to keep her gold medal.

SMITH: Until the investigation is complete Semenya will continue to compete and questions will continue to swirl.

Larry Smith, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Let's bring in our sports business analyst Rick Horrow with us this morning. Rick, this is, you know quite frankly, for this young lady, again no reason to believe, her daddy says she's a little girl, so nobody has a reason to believe otherwise, no matter what she may appear to be, but I mean your heart has to go out for her to be going through this right now. RICK HORROW, CNN SPORTS BUSINESS ANALYST: Her family is consistent in saying this is how God made her and she qualifies under any kind of testing or any kind of scrutiny. This family's position, South Africa's position, bottom line though as far as the testing is concerned, it was discontinued in 1999 because scientifically, it's hard to identify unequivocally.

There are some sexual ambiguity issues that are hormonal and chromosomal, such a word, there's not, but the bottom line is you're very careful about what you do when you take a medal away. The stakes are incredibly high. That's what we're dealing with right here.

HOLMES: Explain, and again I know we'll get Gupta in here if we need to get too complicated, but it's not as simple as the intro said, as just taking a peek. This is some complicated testing that has to go on now that she's going to have to go through.

HORROW: Dr. Gupta could probably reiterate this too, but the doctors who administer the test and comment about this stuff, the geneticists, say that humans like specific categories, clearly. But nature is a slob. Those are the words they use. And it's an imperfect science and imperfect test and all of those examples Larry Smith used, it seemed to be much clearer than this case is today.

HOLMES: Is this fair to just really the only thing is simply somebody looking and say hey, wait, her voice is a little deeper than this other lady, her body is a little more toned, is that all it takes to trigger an investigation?

HORROW: It's more than that because the IAAF, the track federation saw some results that were skeptical and they want to be clear. Problem with that is, it takes six, seven months or longer some say, maybe a little less, but this doesn't happen overnight. When the medal ceremony was there, you had an official saying, we're not sure what we need to do yet and that causes a lot of problems in track and field clearly.

HOLMES: All right. Let's say then, is this going to really take away from what many would say was a great feat by this 18-year-old, again she's still a young woman, a child, a lot of people would say, but she blew out the competition, is that just forever going to be tainted?

HORROW: Well, not forever. We're going to have to see what the results say.

HOLMES: But still she's going through this after what should be a celebration of her feat, we're talking about this.

HORROW: Yes, but the bottom line of it is, they have to be very careful as far as the testing is concerned and nobody's jumping to conclusions. The finality is on the side of people that say, let's give her the medal, let's make sure it happens and strip her of the medal later if the tests prove it. They're moving the other way, they're saying we're uncertain, let's do the testing first. HOLMES: All right, I'm going to let you go on this one on an up side, positive note. Maybe takes away from what else is going on at the world championships, and that's Usane Bolt, the gold medal winner from the Olympics, keeps breaking -- is there a limit to how fast a human being can run? Do we just get to a point where you can't run faster in the 100 meter than nine seconds or eight seconds. He just keeps breaking this record which he has owned for the past year or so.

HORROW: I don't know. Why don't you ask him. He's the one who says he wants to be a legend. He got the $200,000 check. But it's not only the 100, it's the 200. He is way above what everybody thinks.

HOLMES: All right, Rick Horrow, our business sports analyst in Dallas for us this morning, I know you're at the new stadium, we want to hear about -- we tried to let you go.

HORROW: Not that easy. Biggest stadium in the history of the world. Amazing opening last night. Biggest scoreboard, et cetera. Kudos to Dallas Cowboys, everybody.

NGUYEN: Of course it's the biggest and the best, it's in Dallas, come on.

HORROW: Yes, and the Cowboys won last night and Romo looked pretty good. You can fit three Texas stadiums in that building last night. I'm done.

HOLMES: Bye.

HORROW: Bye.

NGUYEN: Rick is feeling the Texas love, just let him have it for a minute.

HOLMES: What is wrong with you all in Texas?

NGUYEN: It's almost like it's own country. It really is sometimes.

HOLMES: You're a foreigner actually, Betty?

NGUYEN: In many ways. It is the last weekend to hit the beach before many kids head back to school, but hurricane Bill may ruin the fun in the sun.

HOLMES: Yes, some rip currents people need to be watching out for. What happens if you get caught in one?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOLF: The key is don't panic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do not panic. Never panic and do not swim against the rip, you're not going to win.

WOLF: Sounds easier said than done. We'll have to try it out for ourselves.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: He tried it out. Reynolds, look at Reynolds there.

NGUYEN: Yes.

HOLMES: Olympic swimmer out there. He hit Miami Beach, boo hoo, tough assignment, Reynolds.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Hurricane Bill, is this thing ever going to go away?

WOLF: Yes, yes it will go away.

NGUYEN: Soon?

WOLF: Well, fairly soon, by Monday it's going to be moving on to the Canadian maritime.

NGUYEN: Oh, just in time for the weekend to be over.

WOLF: Exactly. We have what, one, two weekends left for people to get out there really enjoy the sunshine before everybody goes back to school. The thing is weird about the storm although it's not expected to make landfall in the United States and many people along the coast are going to see the sun, they're going to see the waves, it's going to be beautiful, you can still be affected by the storm in a very adverse way.

Now we're talking about of course the rip currents. There are a couple of things you need to do to keep in mind when you're out there swimming around, enjoying the waves during these times with storms. Here's the latest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF (on camera): Here in Florida's east coast conditions couldn't be better. You've got partly cloudy skies, people out here enjoying themselves. You would never know that roughly a thousand miles away we have a major hurricane that's brewing. And although we don't have the wind and, of course, the heavy rainfall here, there's still the threat from that storm. We're talking about rip currents.

So the question is, what is a rip current? To get an answer we're going to go over to this guy, this is Gio Serranno, and Gio, what is it, what's a rip current?

GIO SERRANO: Rip current is a channel of water, usually happens when we have easterly winds 10 miles plus sustained. We have a lot of water accumulate against the shore line and the channel of water pulls all that water back out to sea.

WOLF (voice-over): When an increased volume of water is pushed toward the shoreline by a tropical system or a nor'easter it retreats rapidly back into the surf creating channels an unsuspecting swimmer caught in this conveyor belt of swift water is at the mercy of the current. The key for survival is to remain calm.

(On camera): The key is don't panic.

SERRANO: Do not panic. Never panic and do not swim against the rip. You're not going to win.

WOLF: Sounds easier said than done. We're going to have to try it out for ourselves.

(Voice-over): Five minutes later and 50 yards offshore there is a definite ebb and flow of the ocean's rhythm but not a strong outflow current. Lifeguard Larry Cox is with me and he says that if carried away from the beach, the best course of action is to swim parallel to the shoreline, out, not against, the rip current. When free from the current's grip, slowly swim to shore. Larry also says the best way to avoid problems is to use common sense.

LARRY COX, FT. LAUDERDALE OCEAN RESCUE LIFEGUARD: Look at the flags that the lifeguards have up so they're aware of the water conditions. Always swim near a lifeguard tower. If you're not a strong ocean swimmer on a rough water day, steer clear of the water.

WOLF (on camera): So basically, when in doubt, don't go out.

COX: Exactly.

WOLF: All right, there you go.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WOLF: Weird thing about this is that we often hear the issues of the rip currents when it comes to tropical storms. And mostly along the eastern seaboard but these things can occur in the Gulf of Mexico, they can even occur in the Great Lakes. Any place where you might have a big wind event being a storm, say moving across Lake Superior, you might have issues with rip currents.

NGUYEN: Yes, we never thought of it in a lake though.

WOLF: Yes, it can happen any place and it usually happens in spots ...

NGUYEN: And it doesn't take a lot of water either to pull you out.

WOLF: Doesn't take a lot. It can be -- these things happen in spots where you don't have lifeguards. The thing you have to do is just try to stay from panicking. I know it's easy for me to say that but -- and try to go against your instinct. I mean instinctively when the water is pulling you out, you would go right against the current. You would go with it then swing parallel to the shore and then you're fine.

HOLMES: So still when you're in it, I don't think I've ever been caught up in one before.

WOLF: Unmistakable. It is like being on a conveyor belt just being pulled right back. I mean just think it would be now as you're trying to run up an escalator while the escalator's going down and you're constantly working two forces against each other. So what you want to do is just try to swim parallel, break that current and then it's a different ball game and just go onto shore.

NGUYEN: So when you're being pulled out that's when you try to swim parallel?

WOLF: That's when you try to swim parallel.

NGUYEN: And then when it breaks you swim toward the shore.

WOLF: Swim towards the shore. They say diagonal is always the best thing. But what's weird very quickly, you know a lot of surfers are very familiar with these currents in places like say Hawaii they will actually use the rip currents to their advantage to get out to deeper water where the bigger waves break. But again, we're talking experts. Don't do this on the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

NGUYEN: What did you say, when in doubt, stay out.

WOLF: When in doubt stay out.

NGUYEN: Yes, good advice.

HOLMES: Reynolds, appreciate you as always.

NGUYEN: We do invite you to stay with us because we have a special half hour dedicated to health care and the debate surrounding it. Health Care in America's Truth Squad as well, we're going to get you some answers, that's this morning at 9:00 Eastern, about five minutes away. Don't miss it.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Hello everybody.

HOLMES: Hello there. It's 9:00 half hour we're talking health care.

NGUYEN: And health care alone. It's a really important issue, we've heard the debates, we've heard the town hall meetings, seen the scuffles. A lot of people want answers.

HOLMES: Yes, a make or break month this is for the Obama administration when it comes to health care. We're going to be bringing that to you this half hour here from the CNN Center on this CNN SATURDAY MORNING. Hello to you all, I'm T.J. Holmes.

NGUYEN: Yes, good morning everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen. Thanks for starting your day with us.

And as we mentioned we have dedicated this entire half hour to the health care debate. So here's what you can expect. What would health care reform be without the public option? Also, health care co- ops. What are they? How would they work and who benefits the most from them?

HOLMES: Then of course our truth squad will be along at work on a question about eye care. Do you really have to go blind, at least in one eye, to get health care? Those are some of the questions that are out there. We're going to try to get you some answers to that this morning.

We do at least, because it's an important story, we have to get in a little weather here because hurricane Bill still causing some issues. Rip currents in particular. It's not going to hit the U.S., hurricane Bill, could have been a lot worse here, but still causing some issues. Reynolds Wolf, go ahead and give us the update, what people need to keep an eye on this weekend.

WOLF: Well for that we're going to turn to CNN's weather wall that you can only see here obviously on CNN which shows a great shot of Bill. Hard to miss it even if you're up in space in orbit, you can see this thing unmistakably moving right past Bermuda still moving to the north and the latest we have on the storm, winds of 105, gusting to 125. So this is still just a powerhouse.

You'll notice the eye wall actually collapsing now in the process of reforming and the storm may actually strengthen as it makes its way to the north. Although the latest we have from the National Hurricane Center keeps it as a category 2.

Still a strong storm, moving a bit more to the north and the forecast path as we get into 2:00 A.M. on Sunday brings it more to the northeast at a northeast jog and very rapid pace, 2:00 P.M. Sunday and then by Monday moving way up and farther to the north right near the Canadian maritime, but away from the United States.

Certainly some good news, but we've been talking all day about the rip currents and the effects we're going to see along parts of the eastern seaboard. Case in point what you're going to see on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. This live imaging you see, compliments of hurricane track and our friend (INAUDIBLE) shows we have just a process of erosion that we see time and time again on the Outer Banks.

You have the shoreline right here, water coming up to this point. You see, of course, the docks you have along the water and there's your hotel. If the storm made a direct hit, you never know on the Outer Banks with something like this, maybe take the entire thing out. Certainly a rough call to say the very least.

And the reason why we're seeing this storm well off shore is actually pretty simple, we've got this frontal boundary that continues just to push its way, almost like a wedge or maybe even like a blade, if you will, just pushing everything, this whole storm way off the coast. But still, heavy showers and storms going to be expected from say D.C. northward to Portland, Maine.

And of course, the heaviest action well off shore, which is certainly some great news. But still, those rip currents -- keep in mind, you can go out there along the coast, you can have the sun, it may look beautiful. But right below that water, those currents can pick you up and carry you out. So, you have to be really careful. If you're not a strong swimmer, stay out of the water.

Back to you guys.

NGUYEN: Yes, when in doubt, stay out.

WOLF: There you go.

NGUYEN: OK. Thank you, Reynolds.

Back to this, President Obama begins a 10-day vacation at Camp David, but with just 10 days left in this make or break month for health care reform, it isn't all rest and relaxation on that trip. He took time off, in fact, this morning to explain some of the biggest concerns about his reform proposals.

HOLMES: And Elaine Quijano is with us this morning again from Washington. So, where does the president go from here?

QUIJANO: Well, T.J. and Betty, the president is pushing back, trying again to debunk what the administration says are myths about health care reform. In his weekly radio and internet address, the president stressed illegal immigrants would not be covered under a health care bill.

Also, taxpayer dollars would not go to fund abortion. And he addressed this fear echoed at town hall meetings across the country saying his administration is not planning a government takeover of the health care system.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This is an issue of vital concern to every American and I'm glad that so many are engaged, but it also should be an honest debate, not one dominated by willful misrepresentations and outright distortions spread by the very folks who would benefit the most by keeping things exactly as they are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

QUIJANO: Now, the president also pushed back against the notion of so-called death panels, an idea that former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin mentioned on her Facebook page weeks ago. President Obama called that notion offensive to him and the American people -- Betty and T.J..

NGUYEN: All right. CNN's Elaine Quijano joining us live today. Thank you, Elaine.

QUIJANO: Sure.

HOLMES: From conservative talk radio "The New York Times" editorial page, if there's a venue, there's President Obama talking health care reform. Is he making headway in this make or break month for health care.

Paul Steinhauser, CNN's deputy political director and a friend of our show here on CNN SATURDAY and SUNDAY MORNING, joins us now from Washington. Paul, hello to you, kind sir. I know you've been looking at a lot of these polls and they have been kind of trending a certain way, if you will, over the past several days and weeks. Where are we now?

PAUL STEINHAUSER, CNN DEPUTY POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, T.J., I guess in this debate, the big question is does the president have the clout to get this done, to pass health care reform through Congress. The best way, I think, to gauge the president's clout, is to take a look at his approval rating. So check it out. These are the four most recent national polls on the president's approval rating and actually this is not that poll. But that's OK.

You can see right there that a lot of people are saying that these health care debates are not making a difference. But when it comes to the president's approval rating, T.J., it's in the low to mid 50s right now. That is a little bit lower than what we saw in June. It has dropped over the last two months, specifically on health care.

Well, specifically on health care, because that's what we're talking about, slightly more people disapproved of how the president is handling health care than approved of how the president is handling health care. But T.J. that does not mean that people are putting more faith in the republicans. Still by a two to one margin in most polls, the suggestion is that they think the president would do a better job on health care than the Republicans, T.J..

HOLMES: And those numbers you just mentioned, even though we couldn't put up that graphic, but still we get it, has certainly this month and a lot of the coverage of a lot of these town halls and the debate just ratcheting up, has that been hurting the president? Do we see a trending downward still?

STEINHAUSER: You know what, there has -- some polls indicate that his numbers have dropped a little bit on health care and also support for the public option stuff like that, we've seen a little bit of a drop in the numbers over the last couple of weeks. But you saw that poll number I just gave you there..

Six in 10 said that they say, at least according to that one NBC poll, that it is not making a difference what they're seeing, that they're still -- their minds are still pretty made up on health care, T.J..

HOLMES: And some, this is a question, there will be some debate about this, and some say, you know what, Mr. President, you got the White House and the people voted in Democrats and they voted you in because they want Democrats to push forward with their agenda and the president said he doesn't want to just have an all-Democratic bill.

If he had to, he could get it that way because he has the numbers in Congress, but he wants Republican support. What happens then if he does go ahead and just say, I'm going to just do this thing my way, republicans be dammed.

STEINHAUSER: Good question. Check out this number. This is from Quinnipiac University. This is also a national survey earlier this month, and it suggested Americans aren't crazy about that idea about of the Democrats going it alone. About six in 10, six in 10, according to this national survey, said that no, the Democrats shouldn't push their own bill through Congress when it comes to health care. They want to see a bipartisan bill. I don't know if we're going to get that, but that's what Americans are suggesting.

HOLMES: All right. I'm going to ask you one question that we do not need a graphic for, and that question is, when do they get back to work? When do they -- I know the work never really stops, if you're a member of Congress. But they're on vacation, on recess, I should say but they still have been working on this debate. When do we actually see the work start back up in trying to come up with a bill and get one out of Congress?

STEINHAUSER: We got two weeks left of this summer recess for Congress and then right after Labor Day, both the Senate and the House are back in session. And the work will continue even though you've said it is kind of continuing right now, but it will really continue in earnest both in the House and the Senate, especially the Senate, because the Senate finance committee, that's where there's the effort towards the bipartisan bill.

So the idea is that the House and Senate work together to try to come up with two bills and then try, try to reconcile and come up with one bill that maybe the president could sign by the end of the year. T.J., that is going to be a tall order.

HOLMES: All right. Paul Steinhauser, we're going to -- our graphic person was on break. We'll get those graphics for you next time around, buddy. Thanks so much. We'll talk to you again soon.

STEINHAUSER: Thanks, T.J..

NGUYEN: Yes, we're a little short staffed this morning. Truth here. OK. So things got pretty hot at a town hall meeting up north this week. Really hot, actually.

HOLMES: Hot in a lot of places. This one kind of stands out in a lot of ways. Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank firing back at the crowd at Dartmouth. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why do you continue to support a policy as Obama has, expressly supported this policy, why are you supporting it?

REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Let me -- I will ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A real solution.

FRANK: When you ask me that question, I am going to revert to my ethnic heritage and answer your question with a question. On what planet do you spend most of your time? Do you want to answer the question? Yes, as you stand there with a picture of the president defaced to look like Hitler, and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis.

My answer to you is, as I said before, it is a tribute to the first amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated. I'm trying to have a conversation with you, would be like trying to argue with a dining room table. I have no interest in doing it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: OK. There are, as we know, critics out there that weren't just critics at this particular event, he made a mention of her, plenty of critics out there, not all do the type of things -- I didn't get to see the picture but he said she had a picture in her hand of the president dressed up like Hitler. That I think most would agree is a little too far. There were some other things out there, some swastikas painted on congressmen's office doors.

NGUYEN: Her microphone was cut or we couldn't hear that.

HOLMES: We couldn't hear her after her initial question.

NGUYEN: Right.

HOLMES: Who knows what happened there. But he did say, he answered a lot of questions. He was there for a couple of hours, but that one particular person didn't rub him the right way.

NGUYEN: Yes.

HOLMES: As we know.

NGUYEN: Like arguing with his dining room table.

HOLMES: Yes.

NGUYEN: Wow.

HOLMES: All right. Well, the health care reform debate continues. Our conversation here continues as well. Talking about a public option.

NGUYEN: Yes. And what would that look like? CNN's Jim Acosta reports, the answer may be found in Massachusetts.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Washington wants to reform health care with bipartisan support, consider what former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney did as governor in Democratic Massachusetts.

MITT ROMNEY, FMR. MASSACHUSETTS GOVERNOR: You don't have to have a public option. You don't have to have government get in the insurance business to make it work.

ACOSTA: Three years after enacting its own version of reform, Massachusetts now has near universal coverage. Taxpayer watchdogs say it's affordable.

MICHAEL WIDMER, MASS. TAXPAYERS FOUNDATION: There is this widespread assumption that has now created this fact that it's breaking the bank in Massachusetts.

ACOSTA (on camera): And is it?

WIDMER: It's not breaking the bank at all. It's not even costing much at all relative to what we were spending four years ago.

ACOSTA (voice-over): And health care experts say it's popular.

ROBERT BLENDON, HARVARD UNIV. SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Seven in 10 people in the state support the program and no more than one in 10 would repeal it.

ACOSTA: Unlike Democratic proposals that would give Americans the choice of joining a government-run health care plan, Massachusetts has no public option. Instead, people in the state are mandated to buy private insurance. The poor gets subsidies, analysts say Romney care is basically Obama care minus the public option.

(on camera): If the president drops the public option, will you come out and support him?

ROMNEY: Well, it depends on what's in the rest of the bill.

ACOSTA (voice-over): Romney says Democrats only have themselves to blame for those rowdy town hall meetings.

ROMNEY: I think any time you're dealing with people's health care and their ability to choose their doctor, their ability to decide what kind of health care plan they want, you're going to find people are going to respond very emotionally.

ACOSTA: As for that other former governor's debunked claim the reform would lead to death panels.

(on camera): What did you think when you heard Governor Palin talking about death panels?

ROMNEY: You know, I had read that into the bill.

ACOSTA: You think it's OK for the governor of Alaska to be talking about death panels and pulling the plug on grandma.

ROMNEY: I'm not going to tell people what they can and cannot talk about.

ACOSTA (voice-over): But Romney does warn the president, bipartisan is the only road to health care reform. ROMNEY: I think the right process for the president to pursue on health care on an issue is that is so emotional and so important to all Americans is to go through the lengthy process of working at a bipartisan basis. He promised that.

ACOSTA (on camera): The Massachusetts model does have its problems. Experts say it does not control rising health care costs. Something Mitt Romney admits has to be tackled on a national level.

Jim Acosta, CNN, Boston.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

NGUYEN: Here's something that we want to tackle, those health care co-ops. What are they? You know, we've heard the term thrown around lately but again, what are they and how exactly are they is supposed to work?

HOLMES: Well, standing by to talk to us right now is someone who has been a member of one of the most successful co-ops in the country. Co-ops has been set up for about 60 plus years, we're talking to her after the break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: There are only a handful of established successful health care co-ops in the U.S. yet, as the debate rages on over health care reform those co-ops have become center stage. The thing is, do they really work? Well, it is a make or break month for health care reform and it is a question we intend to answer.

We're going to get the answer right now from Dr. Barbara Detering, who works for one of the oldest health care co-ops in the country, Group Health in Seattle, Washington, kind enough to get up early for us out there and join us. Ma'am, thank you for being here.

Let's start and just break this down as simple as we can for our viewers. They've been hearing this thrown around. What exactly is a co-op? How it works? Essentially people can buy-in, become members of this group and they get what in return?

DR. BARBARA DETERING, FAMILY MEDICINE: In return, members get actually to vote for the board of trustees and the board of trustees is in members of the cooperative who actually get their health care through the cooperative and they are able to hire and fire the CEO, they set direction and strategy for the insurance company as a whole, and so the patients themselves are actually the ones that are sort of directing the company.

HOLMES: And what do those patients get? I guess we're all used to going to the doctor and doing a co-pay and things like that and some people don't even go to the doctor that often, maybe as often as they should because they worry about having the out of pocket expense every time. So is that different with a co-op?

DETERING: Well, I think that it's definitely different with our cooperative in that we're not only providing insurance through our cooperative, but we have a whole system that provides the health care to our members, which I really think is the key. If we were just an insurance cooperative, where we just paid for health care out there on the open market for any doc, for any hospital, we, I don't think, would be any different than just about any other not for profit insurance provider.

What really makes us unique is that we've also organized how we provide care to people and we provide the medical care, physical therapy. We have the nurses. We have the clinics, and so we really provide the whole stream of care to our patients and because of that, we have an incentive to keep them as healthy as possible, not just to give them more visits and more procedures and more hospitalizations because we don't make more money that way.

HOLMES: So I guess, can you possibly run out of money? I guess there's only so much that people are put in, you only have so many members, I guess, you need so many to make it a viable option anyway.

DETERING: Definitely.

HOLMES: But can they -- you essentially run out of money? And I guess people wonder, some of the doctors and the co-ops really have an incentive to keep people away and not give them the care because you're worried about making sure you don't run out of money essentially for the year?

DETERING: Well, I think that it's not necessarily about the thing to be having in mind the affordability of every time we make a health care decision, but we as an insurance company, any insurance company, any health care delivery system has to think about their budget and how much do you have enough left at the end of the year to be able to reinvest in the organization. I think all companies have to run that way.

HOLMES: Now, can a co-op operate on a huge national scale, first of all, but secondly, can a co-op like yours essentially if it become more of an attractive option for people, essentially put those insurance companies out of business because you're there not for profit, you're competing with these insurance companies and I guess that's been some of the argument for the national or a government run option, is that it's not for profit so it will be more attractive than an insurance company and you can put those folks out of business. Do you think that's possible?

DETERING: Well, I have to say I guess I wish that were a possibility out here, but it's not. We haven't put any other insurance company out of business by being here. Let me just say that. You know, you -- many insurance companies in America are non- for-profit. So a lot of people aren't trying to make a lot of money. There are for profit health insurance, certainly, but there are a lot of not for profit.

And I don't think we provide very good competition to those companies in some ways more because of how we deliver health care, not necessarily just because of our insurance structure, and I think that competition is really good and that competition is what's necessary, the idea of how we provide health care, not just how we write the checks.

HOLMES: Can yours work? Do you think, on a national scale?

DETERING: I think that it would have to be -- I don't think you could have small, little cooperatives in every little city or every little town. I think you would almost have to have a regional system where you had a fairly large cooperative in many regions of the country and that might work because you could get economies of scale from just the insurance part of it.

I think that from getting all the doctors to sign up and getting the -- and the hospitals to agree to certain rates and to practicing a style of medicine, where really the savings is and really the affordability is, I think that's really questionable and you would have to have a lot of bargaining power and I think you would have to have the rules changed a little bit about how we pay for health care in the United States.

HOLMES: Well, we are hearing co-ops and cooperative thrown around quite a bit in this whole debate. If anybody wants to know how it works they should check in with you all out in Seattle. You've been doing it a long time and a lot of people is saying it's doing quite well. So I'm sure you will be getting a lot more phone calls. Dr. Barbara Detering.

DETERING: Yes.

HOLMES: Thank you again, so much, for getting up with us this morning. Even though you say you're an early riser, we appreciate you coming in for us this morning.

DETERING: Yes, thanks so much for having me.

NGUYEN: Yes, we appreciate her taking our phone call. So she can break it down for us.

HOLMES: Yes.

NGUYEN: We know a lot still have questions about the health care reform and the plans out there. So the CNN truth squad is on it. We will have your answers right after this break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NGUYEN: Well, here's a look at our top stories today. Hurricane Bill churning up powerful surf and dangerous rip tides on the U.S. East Coast today. A storm passing between the U.S. and Bermuda this morning and winds, get this, up to 105 miles per hour. So be careful out there.

I want to take you to Afghanistan right now because votes from 30 of the 34 provinces have been tallied from Thursday's national elections, but official results will not be released for some time. President Obama and European observers are praising the election as largely fair. Just days before the election, though, U.S. Marines and NATO forces battled the Taliban to free up Afghans to vote.

And it was a hero's welcome in Libya for the convicted Lockerbie bomber. But for family and friends of PanAm flight 103 victims, anger, outrage and confusion. Some questions are being raised about whether lucrative oil contracts of Libya sweetened the deal.

CNN's senior international correspondent John Vause spoke in an exclusive interview with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair about that very issue and that is coming up during our next hour.

HOLMES: All right. To health care now. We've been getting a lot of questions from you out there. You hear things about health care and asking us whether it's true or not. You're hearing so much.

NGUYEN: Yes, Josh Levs with the truth squad and he's been joining us all morning long, trying to break this down. Because there are a whole lot of questions out there, Josh.

LEVS: There are. And it's amazing. And the reason I want to show you guys, this one right now, is it gives us a sense of the anatomy of a falsehood. I'm just going to give you a sense of what we're getting. One thing we're doing with the truth squad is try to answer viewers' questions.

I'll show an example that we got at Facebook right here just the other day. Lawrence Mackie wrote us this. This is not the first time we've heard this. I got a disturbing e-mail that said the new health bill would not help a person with macular degeneration until they lost the vision in one eye first. And then we started looking around. There are other's hearing the same thing.

Let's get straight to the verdict. I'm going to show you. Because that in and of itself is false. There's nothing like that in the health care bill at all. But I want you to understand where this kind of thing comes from and what kind of a role e-mails are playing.

Let's check out the next screen here. This what is we have here. This is kind of how all this began. There are some conservative commentators who pointed out to something that happened in Britain, and Betsy McCaughey is there. She is the former lieutenant governor of New York. She wrote in "Bloomberg News," an opinion piece saying that back in Britain, the "health board had decreed that elderly patients with macular degeneration had to wait until they went blind in one eye before they could get a costly new drug."

So what happened is, people pointed out something that happened in Britain, other people started sending it in e-mails and all of a sudden it took on this whole new life of its own and that's what happened here. In fact, let me just show you this before we go, the White House has been saying that viral e-mails are one of their biggest concerns. This is the White House website that they set up called Reality Check, the return of the viral e-mail.

Obviously, it's not always that simple to say falsehoods. Sometimes you see things the White House says that aren't completely accurate either and we want to show you how you can see all of these. Cnn.com/healthcare, your one-stop shop for it right there. You just click on the fact check. It gets you all the latest from the truth squad. And guys, we have been coming out with new truth squads every day throughout this. And we're going to keep it going as long as the battle over health care is raging.

NGUYEN: All right. Yes, we need the difference between what we're hearing and what's really in the bills out there. OK. Thank you.

HOLMES: And, of course, we start here at the top of the hour, we're covering pretty much exclusively health care, covered quite a bit, of course, obviously. We still got some questions. Couldn't get it all in 30 minutes.

NGUYEN: Yes. Not at all. So this afternoon at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, you can hear uninterrupted town hall meetings. All sides in their own words, and you can get the questions as well as the answers on town hall raw. That's today, 2:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: All right. Betty and I will be back at the top of the hour with more live news at 10:00.

NGUYEN: Yes, but right now "YOUR BOTTOM LINE" with Poppy Harlow starts right now.

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