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Senator Ted Kennedy's Life and Accomplishments Remembered; Controversy Over Kennedy's Replacement In the Senate; New Deficit Projections Mean Possible Future Tax Increases?

Aired August 28, 2009 - 17:00   ET



Happening now, the death of Michael Jackson now officially ruled a homicide. Findings from the autopsy have been released -- what do they mean for the investigation and the doctor who gave Jackson the anesthetic that killed him?

Also, Ted Kennedy's family, friends and colleagues are about to start gathering to celebrate the life of the late Senator after tens of thousands of people filed past his casket to pay their respects.

And the couple accused of kidnapping an 11-year-old girl and then holding her for 18 years now making dozens of charges.

As the investigation widens, was he a killer, as well?

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


And we'll begin with the breaking news. The man accused of abducting and holding Jaycee Dugard for 18 years now has been arraigned, facing 28 felony counts. Charges against Phillip Garrido and his wife Nancy include kidnapping and rape, with a maximum penalty of life in prison. And we've just learned that police are also now searching the Garridos' home in connection with a series of murders -- murders dating back to the 1990s.

They were just in court a short time ago.

Watch this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, on behalf or Mr. Garrido, we would waive (INAUDIBLE). Further advice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. You'd waive any further advisement of rights and his plea would be that of not guilty?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a denial of the special allegations?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. And on behalf of Mrs. Garrido, Mr....

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your honor, the same (INAUDIBLE). We would waive the formal reading of the complaint. She has been advised of her right to waive any further advisement of rights and we would enter a plea of not guilty to -- in every count and denial of the special allegations.


BLITZER: You heard them entering a plea of not guilty.

CNN's Brian Todd has been there watching this long journey and he's joining us now with more on what's going on -- Brian, do we have any idea of what this now woman -- she was only 11 years old at the time of the kidnapping -- this ordeal that she has faced and is about to face?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you talk to experts and you really get a sense that the psychological hurdles here are very, very daunting. Now, this is a woman who still potentially has many years ahead of her. But one psychologist says it may take many years for her to become a functioning adult.


TODD (voice-over): After 18 years, Jaycee Lee Dugard reenters the world. Readjusting, experts say will likely be overwhelming. First, they say there's a strong possibility she'll miss part of her life in captivity, including the people who allegedly held her in their backyard.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That's what she knew. That's the only thing she had. It's a little variant of what we call the Stockholm Syndrome, when you become identified with your kidnappers and, in many ways, you become attached to them.

TODD: Reintegrating with her biological family will have its own serious challenges. One clinical psychologist says her family will likely become very distressed if she starts revealing any physical or emotional abuse. And that's just the beginning.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They may be upset that she may not be moving quickly enough emotionally to integrate herself back into the family. She may feel that they're strangers and they may look at her as being somewhat of a stranger.

TODD: Dugard's parents will have to acclimate to grandchildren -- girls 11 and 15 years old, allegedly the offspring of Jaycee Dugard and suspect Phillip Garrido. Authorities say the girls have never been to school or the doctor. And in a jailhouse interview, Garrido, a registered sex offender, said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PHILIP GARRIDO: Having those two children, those two girls. They slept in my arms every single night from birth. And never did I harm them. I never touched them."


TODD: One expert says those children, because of their ages, may still have an easier time acclimating to normal settings than Jaycee Dugard will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a woman now who will have trust issues with others.

TODD: Elizabeth Smart, who was kidnapped and held for nine months, has this advice for Dugard.

ELIZABETH SMART: Set goals for yourself to continually be moving forward and to continuing on with your life and not letting this horrible event just take over and consume the rest of your life.


TODD: Now, experts told us the key for any therapist working with Jaycee Dugard is to move very, very slowly. Psychologist Jeff Gardir (ph) even recommended putting her, at first, in a place that may be similar to that backyard -- if you can believe that. He says that's because you don't want to shock her by putting her in an environment she can't handle just yet -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What a tragic story, every aspect of it.

Brian, thanks very much.

TODD: Sure.

BLITZER: I want to go back to the scene.

CNN's Dan Simon, who's been watching this story for us -- Dan, tell us what just happened in the courtroom.

We saw a little snippet of the tape. Both of these suspects now saying pleading not guilty.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Well, first of all, let me tell you, I'm at Antioch in front of the suspects' house. But the arraignment just took place there in El Dorado County.

We can tell you that both of the defendants obviously pleading not guilty through their respective attorneys. The wife being represented by a private attorney. The husband being represented by a public defender. We can tell you that both of the defendants did not utter a word. They were both dressed in red jump suits.

And I'm not sure in terms of when the next court proceeding is going to be taking place, but they were made aware of the counts against them -- 28 counts and all very serious charges. The maximum they could serve in prison, of course, life imprisonment here, Wolf.

We're getting a lot more details today in terms of how this case unfolded. One of the things I told you about earlier is about a 911 call that came to the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Department in 2006. This was a -- apparently, a concerned neighbor who saw what appeared to her were some tents, some sheds in the backyard and people living in those tents. She was concerned about what she saw in her neighbor's backyard, actually called the sheriff's department. They responded. They talked to the suspects. But apparently no action was take.

And today, the sheriff of the Contra Costa Sheriff's Department essentially taking responsibility for that, saying that they missed the boat and that it was, "not acceptable" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Dan.

The arraignment has now taken place -- 28 felony counts, potentially life in prison for both of these suspects.

We're also following other breaking news from Los Angeles this hour, findings from the autopsy on Michael Jackson have now officially been released. His death ruled a homicide by an overdose of a powerful anesthetic. We're covering all angles of this major new development in this case.

Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and our CNN senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin, are both here.

Let me start with you, Sanjay.

Explain what the coroner now has concluded, because he's suggesting that this anesthetic, together with the other drugs, resulted in a mixture that turned out to be homicide.

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. What we're learning about this -- the term they use is acute Propofol intoxication. What that means in English is that they -- he received so much of this medication, Propofol, which is typically used as a general anesthetic, that it, in combination with some other medications, led to his death. I think that's the simplest way of looking at it.

Wolf, let me just tell you again real quick. We can talk about the various medications that Michael Jackson received that night. This has been part of an affidavit that we saw last week. I think we have a list of those things. And I just want you to take a look, for example, again, at the overall medications over that short period of time starting about 1:30 in the morning going until 10:40 that morning, over nine hours.

I don't know if we have that list. But in essence, it started with Valium, about 10 milligrams of Valium. Then he got Versed. He got Ativan. These are all sedatives -- medications that are used for anxiety, in combination can make someone literally stop breathing. They're called depressants of sorts and they stop your -- your breathing.

Propofol by itself, Wolf -- and you're seeing some footage there from the operating room, the operating room where I showed how Propofol works -- it, by itself, can cause someone to stop breathing on its own in a large enough dose.

So that's sort of what had been suspected for some time. And it sounds like that's what they concluded today, as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And the suggestion is homicide. And the suspect, Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor who was with Michael Jackson at the time -- and, Sanjay, just to be precise, he hasn't been charged with anything yet, no -- no formal charges, informal charges. But the suspicion clearly is on this cardiologist.

GUPTA: Yes. And when you talk about a -- a death certificate, Wolf, you know, I have a medical -- I am a examiner, as well. There are categories of death that are typically listed. In order of decreasing frequency, you have natural causes; you have accidental causes; you have suicide; homicide and then indeterminate. Homicide is, you know, in one of those five categories of death. That's how the -- the medical examiner typically puts it if they've ruled out the other possible causes.

So in Michael Jackson's case, it really probably came down to was this an accident or was this homicide?

And it wasn't natural causes. You could say that for sure. And they thought there was probably enough recklessness here that they -- they classified it as homicide.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by, Sanjay.

Jeff Toobin, our senior legal analyst, is here, as well. Valium, Versed, Ativan, Propofol -- they're all legal drugs that a doctor can administer.

And the question is, did he recklessly administer them and, as a result, there was, let's say manslaughter or homicide, if you will. This is by no means a slam dunk case for the prosecution.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: By no means because the medical examiner uses the word homicide in a different way than a prosecutor uses the word homicide. When a prose -- what a medical examiner simply says is he died at the hands of another person. He was killed. A prosecutor has to decide was that accidental in the sense of was it simply negligence or was it a crime, was it manslaughter, could it even be some sort of intentional murder?

Homicide is only the beginning of the investigation. It's not the end.

BLITZER: So what -- what do you suspect?

I mean is it for sure, even though the coroner says this is homicide, that the prosecutor -- the D.A. will go forward and charge homicide, murder?

TOOBIN: I wouldn't say it's for sure, but I would say it's very likely. Look at what the police have done over the past month. They've searched Dr. Murray's house. They've searched his office. They've searched warehouses that he controls. They are obviously focusing on him, it seems exclusively, as the suspect here.

Based on everything we know, Dr. Murray was the last person here. He apparently has acknowledged administering the Propofol. So it certainly seems like he is likely to be charged.

But, as you point out, this isn't a slam dunk case. Just because the medical examiner says it was homicide doesn't mean he couldn't argue to the jury -- his lawyers couldn't say look at all these other circumstances, it was an accident, it was not a homicide.

So there's a lot still to know about this whole situation.

BLITZER: All right. Let me bring back Sanjay for a moment -- Sanjay, as you take a look at all these drugs -- Valium, Versed, Ativan, Propofol -- Propofol being the key one right now, because usually that's only administered in a hospital, is that right -- although it's a legal drug, a doctor can do what he -- what he or she wants?

GUPTA: Well, it's not a controlled substance, as Jeffrey accurately pointed out. What is interesting, if you look specifically at the language, this is a med -- medication that is typically in a hospital setting, but it can be administered as long as the proper monitoring equipment are there and as long as someone is trained in administering the drug.

So -- so, Wolf, that's somewhat vague language.

Does it mean it's illegal to prescribe it or use it outside a hospital?

I'm not sure on the legality of that.

If they had the monitoring equipment, if the person was trained to use it, maybe not.

So it's a little bit iffy.

BLITZER: Have you ever heard a doctor prescribing Propofol to help someone go to sleep?

GUPTA: No. And, in fact, I think it's worth pointing out this is not a sleep agent. There is a difference between sleep and what is essentially a medically induced coma. The type of sleep, quote/unquote, that you get with Propofol is not the restorative type of sleep that makes us feel good in the morning. This is like a medically induced coma that is used for purposes of general anesthesia.

BLITZER: So it's not -- it's not just a more sophisticated version of Ambien or something like that.

GUPTA: It is not at all. In fact, really, since we've been reporting on this case, that struck me as one of the more bizarre sort of details of this, that people would think of Propofol as a sleep agent. It is a medication, incidentally, that has been known to be abused among medical professionals. But outside the hospital setting, as you pointed out, Wolf, I -- I had just never heard of that.

BLITZER: Sanjay, thanks very much.

Strange stories, indeed.

Let's bring in Jack Cafferty right now for "The Cafferty File."

Have you got something less strange for us?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Based on the stuff we're hearing, it's a wonder the guy lived to be 50 years old.

BLITZER: I know. Did you see all that list Sanjay had...

CAFFERTY: Well, unbelievable.

BLITZER: At 1:00 in the morning, 3:00 in the morning, 5:00 -- he was taking all sorts -- he couldn't sleep, that guy. Finally, at 10:00 in the morning, they gave him the Propofol and he goes to sleep.

CAFFERTY: Yes. Yes, he did. He went to sleep.

BLITZER: He's still sleeping.

CAFFERTY: Yes, he's still sleeping.

With a $9 trillion deficit, Wolf, facing this country over the next 10 years, it's almost inevitable now that taxes are going to have to go up at some point. The questions are when and by how much?

The answers are soon and a lot.

As the government continues to spend more than it takes in, it keeps borrowing more, especially from countries overseas, places like China and Japan. They pretty much own us now and they can demand higher interest rates or decide to put their money someplace else.

The experts say if that happened, taxes would shoot sky high in the United States, the government would only be able to provide the most basic public services and the social safety net would evaporate. The problem with raising taxes now is we're still fighting our way out of this recession. And most economists think that's the wrong time to make people shell out more in taxes. For his part, President Obama promises to keep taxes low for most people. The question is whether he's going to be able to or not.

The president's plan to raise taxes on only the wealthiest is estimated to be able to raise about $600 billion over the next 10 years. That is a drop in the bucket when you consider a $9 trillion deficit during that same amount of time. Tax experts suggest that Congress is eventually going to have to take some drastic measures.

Why do we always have to get to the edge of the cliff before they do anything?

The drastic measures would make the entire tax system less complicated. Income tax revenue alone would likely not be enough to raise the money we need to cover the deficit. So some are suggesting we're going to have to eventually come to some sort of value-added tax assessed on all goods and services.

The question is this: Should the government raise taxes to deal with the deficit?

Go to and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

We're in real trouble.

BLITZER: When you think about it, took us 230 plus years to get to national debt of around $11 trillion and it's going to take another 10 years to double that.

CAFFERTY: Well, and before Bush took office, the national deficit was, what, $3 trillion.


CAFFERTY: So it's going from $3 trillion to $20 trillion in, what, 18 years?

BLITZER: Yes. Maybe it was closer to $5 trillion when he took office.

CAFFERTY: Maybe five. Yes, give or take a trillion or two.

BLITZER: Yes. Right.

What's a trillion?

CAFFERTY: That's -- that's a lot.

BLITZER: Real money.


BLITZER: Thanks.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: Celebrating Ted Kennedy's life -- the memorial for the late senator now less than two hours away. We're going live to the JFK Presidential Library, where tens of thousands of people turned out to pay their respects.

And what's next for Senator Kennedy's seat in the U.S. Senate?

It could shape the fate of health care reform. Stand by.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: An important story coming out of the Persian Gulf area. North Korean weapons that were destined for Iran seized in the United Arab Emirates.

Our senior U.N. correspondent, Richard Roth, has been tracking the story for us -- Richard, what happened?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, tracking it is. It's a very complicated situation. One Security Council diplomat confirming the report that the United Arab Emirates seizing and then disposing of arms that were concealed as simple cargo in a vessel headed for Iran from -- involving North Korean arms.

Basically, you -- there's no "got you" moment. There's no way of right now saying this country the vessel was flagged under and the Sanctions Committee of the United Nations could go after it because, according to the Security Council diplomat, this was a ship called the AML-Australia, a ship sailing under a Bahamas flag, owned by an Australian company, a subsidiary of a French company run -- with the cargo coming from an Italian company with an office in China.

Still, the Security Council Special Sanctions Committee will want to investigate. It's the high pro -- the first high profile case of its nature since, Wolf, the Sanctions Committee passed a resolution authorizing any U.N. member country to seize and dispose of any illegal arms that involve North Korea -- Wolf.

BLITZER: To be precise, the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai and Abu Dhabi, authorities in the UAE took the initiative to seize this vessel, is that right?

ROTH: That's right. The first country to officially really report to this newly expanded Security Council Sanctions Committee. They were asking for guidance, what to do. While the Security Council diplomats were writing back, the UAE went ahead and disposed of it. They were arms. They were rocket-propelled grenades and ammunition.

BLITZER: Richard Roth watching the story for us.

Thank you.

We're just getting this into THE SITUATION ROOM, as well. The Libyan leader, Moammar Gadhafi, will not be staying in Englewood, New Jersey during his upcoming visit to the United Nations in September. Gadhafi puts up a Bedouin tent for entertaining when he travels and he wanted to do it on the grounds of an estate his government owns in Englewood, New Jersey.

But that outraged the community, in part because of the Libyan ties to the PanAm 103 bomber. And New Jersey officials were working to block the move.

Democratic Congressman Steve Rothman of New Jersey says the Libyan government representatives have told him that Gadhafi will not stay at the Englewood mansion. No word on where he will stay instead.

He'll deliver the opening prayer tonight at Ted Kennedy's memorial -- a priest who counseled the late senator for three decades. He talks to us about the depths of Senator Kennedy's faith.

And the Pentagon profiling reporters embedded with U.S. troops in Afghanistan -- raising questions about whether the military may be trying to micromanage news coverage of the war at taxpayers' expense.


BLITZER: Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Fred, what's going on?

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has declared a state of emergency, as wildfires rage in Los Angeles and Monterey Counties. Firefighters are battling two blazes in a national forest East of Los Angeles. They've gained the upper hand on another wildfire that forced 1,500 people from their homes. That fire in Rancho Palos Verdes is now 70 percent contained.

And more American troops are have now been killed in Afghanistan this August than any other month in the nearly 8-year-old war. This month's toll reached 46 when a service member was killed today in a roadside bombing. Forty-five troops were killed in July.

Iran's president says those who orchestrated the protests that followed the June 12th presidential election must face stiff punishment. The demonstrations sparked a crackdown that led to thousands of arrests, scores of injuries and at least 30 deaths. More than 100 people have been put on trial. Hard-liners have called for the top leaders of the opposition to be arrested.

And a court says the Pakistani scientist who spread nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea and Libya is free to move about as he pleases. A.Q. Kahn was released from house arrest in February, but officials imposed restrictions on his movements out of concern for his own safety. The U.S. says Kahn is still at risk to spread nuclear technology -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Fred, thanks very much.

On our Political Ticker, the Florida governor, Charlie Crist, has picked his former chief of staff to replace the retiring Republican senator, Mel Martinez. George LeMieux will serve out the remainder of Martinez's term which expires in 2011. Crist himself is running for the seat being vacated by Martinez in next year's election.

The New Mexico governor, Bill Richardson, won't be facing charges in an alleged pay to play scheme. But the state's top federal prosecutor said that doesn't exonerate the conduct of the people involved. The prosecutor says the federal investigation did uncover pressure from the governor's office in awarding a state contract to one of Richardson's political contributors. A spokesman for Richardson said the prosecutor's comments are "sour grapes."

And remember, for the latest political news anytime, you can always check out

To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, the death of Michael Jackson ruled a homicide -- why are the full autopsy findings still, though, a secret?

And what are federal agents looking for in their own investigation?

Stand by.

And Senator Ted Kennedy's friends and family -- they're gathering in Boston for his wake. We'll take a closer look at the speakers and why laughter will be very appropriate at this celebration of life that begins in about 90 minutes.

I'm Wolf Blitzer you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

The public viewing is over and soon family, friends and colleagues of Ted Kennedy will arrive at his brother's Presidential Library in Boston for what the family has billed a celebration of his life.

Our chief national correspondent, John King, is standing by.

He's at the library -- John, tell us, folks are gathering for what's going to be a two hour celebration with some pretty prominent speakers.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it is a who's who of American politics and a who's who of Massachusetts politics and a reminder of the reach and the breadth of Senator Edward M. Kennedy's career.

Two hours tonight -- friends, family member, colleagues in the United States Senate and the vice president of the United States will each take five or six minutes to share their Teddy stories. That is the goal of tonight. We are promised there will be laughs, there will be reflection, as the State of Massachusetts and his close friends and family continue this mourning process.

But tonight will be a celebration of his life. And when you watch people come in, Wolf, there are state judges, there are federal judges, there are office holders. Stephen Breyer, the associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, once was an aide to Senator Edward M. Kennedy. He arrived a short time ago. Many of the people who worked on Senator Kennedy's campaigns. The vice president will be here tonight; many Senate colleagues, as well -- a reminder that the people of Massachusetts and the people of the country are both paying tribute to a senator who was two very different things -- a national political figure, the leader of liberalism nationally, and here, a senator known for doing the shoe leather work, of helping you with your Social Security check or your veterans' benefits. And 50,000 people came to visit during the public phase of this, invitation only tonight and, of course, for the funeral mass tomorrow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll have live coverage starting at 7:00 p.m. Eastern and then continue our coverage tomorrow.

John, thanks very much.

Senator Kennedy's death leaves vacant a crucial U.S. Senate seat. It falls on Massachusetts to fill it.

Our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin, is joining us with more on this part of the story -- Jessica, what -- what's going on?

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Senator Kennedy knew that the vote on health care was looming and one of his last wishes was that his seat be filled quickly. Some of the top Democrats nationwide are fighting now to make that happen.


YELLIN (voice-over): Before he died, Senator Kennedy sent a letter to his state's top officials writing: "I believe it is vital for this Commonwealth to have two votes in the Senate." He asked that state law be changed to allow the governor to appoint someone to Kennedy's seat as soon as it became vacant.

Massachusetts' new senior senator echoed that request.

SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: He's asking simply for a temporary ability to appoint someone who will not run, will not get in the way of other people who want to run, who will be there for a moment only.

YELLIN: Currently, the state is required to hold a special election, which would happen January 19th at the earliest. That's probably too late for a vote on health care reform, the issue Kennedy called "the cause of my life."

In this climate, Democrats need every vote they can get, and the math is not good. With Kennedy's death, Democrats are one vote shy of a 60-vote supermajority.

They could try to pass reform using a special tactic called reconciliation that requires only 51 votes. But Senator Robert Byrd is ill, and top Democrats worry at least six of their own senators, plus Independent Joe Lieberman, could vote no depending on the contents of the bill.

If they pick up no Republicans and lose all fence sitters, Democrats have barely enough votes to pass health care reform. Massachusetts' governor is pressing lawmakers to change the law and give Democrats that vote.

GOV. DEVAL PATRICK, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: I'm hoping that the legislature will turn to it and turn to it soon. If they send me a bill, I will sign it.

YELLIN: State say leaders have not made clear whether they favor a temporary appointment, but top national Democrats tell CNN they believe lawmakers will ultimately support it.


YELLIN: Wolf, if the law is changed to allow an appointment, many Democrats are hoping that the senator's widow, Vicki, would be willing to take the seat.

Sources close to the family have said right now she's not interested. Top Massachusetts Democrats also say if there is an appointment it would be temporary. They will still hold an election to permanently fill the seat -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you very much for that, Jessica.

Troops with a very somber duty will be in the public eye when Senator Kennedy is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery late tomorrow afternoon. We'll show you the pictures here in "The Situation Room" that you won't see anywhere else.

And Senator Kennedy said he had a complicated relationship with his church, but that Catholicism was much more than just his ethnic and cultural identity. We're taking a closer look at the faith that sustained him through personal tragedy.


BLITZER: Senator Ted Kennedy will be buried tomorrow at a private ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington. A motorcade will first carry the casket through the nation's capital.

Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton is here with more on where this motorcade will be stopping -- Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, it will be 4:00 p.m. tomorrow when the motorcade will leave Andrews air force base, which is in Maryland, just outside of the District of Columbia, heading then to the U.S. capitol here. We can show you the procession route.

Heading down to the U.S. Capital, entering on the House side, the motorcade will then pass along and make a pause here at the steps of the Senate chamber. It's here where former members of Senator Kennedy's staff, friends, associates, will be gathered to have a short prayer there, pay their last respects.

Then the motorcade will continue on through the streets of Washington, D.C., heading down Constitution Avenue alongside the National Mall, past the Washington Monument and the White House, making a loop around the Lincoln Memorial there, passing over Memorial Bridge into Virginia there to the Arlington National Cemetery.

The route the motorcade will be open to the public. The burial will be private -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Abbi, thanks very much.

Elite troop with a somber duty. They will carry Senator Kennedy's at Arlington National Cemetery. Our Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr got some exclusive access as they practiced for tomorrow's ceremony. Listen as they tell her what this honor means to them -- Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, these young troops are, indeed, making their final preparations to honor Senator Edward Kennedy.


STARR: CNN was given the extraordinary opportunity to watch these young troops practice out of the public eye the precision and dignity of folding the American flag for the burial of Senator Edward Kennedy.

All are honored to be chosen for this duty, but for one, this moment in history is intensely personal.

SGT. JOHN KENNEY, U.S. ARMY: When my mom was pregnant with me, I come from a very poor family, and she didn't have the money to get the medical care that she need.

And she wrote Senator Kennedy a letter and he made sure that she got the care that she needed. So it's a really big honor for me to be able to do this.

STARR: These troops will carry the casket to the grave site, and in a tradition hundreds of years old, hold the flag over the grave and then meticulously fold it into a triangle.

Marine Corporal John Smurr helped carry President Reagan's casket. For Senator Kennedy, he will make the first fold and the final tuck in the flag, a ceremony he has carried out many times.

CORPORAL JOHN SMURR, U.S. MARINE CORPS: I've performed over 700 funerals at the national cemetery.

STARR: Sometimes carrying the casket of buddies killed in Iraq. The corporal knows, once again, he marches in history.

SMURR: You get older one day and have a wife and have a kid, and you sit down and explain to them that, you know, hey, I was there.

STARR: Major Jerem Swenddal is the officer in charge of the grave. He wants everyone to know the military gives the same attention to the famous and those known only to friends and family.

MAJ. JEREM SWENDDAL, U.S. ARMY: I consider every funeral a special funeral. And ultimately, that's the goal is that every movement is precise, everything is right on.


STARR: As an enlisted soldier in the U.S. army in the 1950s, Senator Kennedy will also receive a volley of gunfire at his funeral and, of course, "Taps" will be played -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Barbara, thanks very much.

His shoes can never be filled, but his Senate has to be filled, and that could be a contentious matter. We'll talk about that and more with James Carville and David Gergen. They're both standing by live.


BLITZER: A little bit more than an hour away from Ted Kennedy's celebration of life at the JFK presidential library in Boston.

Let's talk about this with two CNN political contributors, the Democratic strategist James Carville and David Gergen, our senior political analyst.

You just came from Boston. What's the latest, based on what you can hear on this battle that's going on to fill the seat in the short term and then in the long term?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I think it's ultimately going to move in the direction that the senator wanted. There's been a pushback over the last 48 hours from Republicans and some Democrats because there is this argument from Republicans it's hypocritical. You guys only five years ago --

BLITZER: Allowing the governor to name an interim senator.

GERGEN: Yes. You took that power away from the governor five years ago in order to make sure a Republican --

BLITZER: Mitt Romney, a Republican.

GERGEN: Right, and now you're coming back. It's a power play.

But if you look at it, just look at the numbers, and James would to understand this so well, you know, the Democrats have in the state Senate, they've got a seven-one majority. And in the statehouse, they've got almost a nine-one majority.

BLITZER: So, they could do, James, whatever they want.


BLITZER: If the governor and the Democrats want to give the governor back this authority to name a senator for the next three, four, five months, they can do it.

CARVILLE: And the criticism is true. When you had a Republican governor you wanted to take the power away from him. Now you have a Democratic governor and you want a Democratic Senator, you want to give it to them.

That's a completely valid observation, but the voters in the Massachusetts have these overwhelming Democratic majorities, and I suspect it's not going to...

BLITZER: It reinforces the political cynicism that's out there that people suspect they do whatever's convenient for them at the moment.

GERGEN: It's a strict power play. But to push this, you know, for all those Democrats who are also saying we now need to act in the spirit of Senator Kennedy in terms of compromise and getting along together and comity and all the rest to it, this is a power play on the part of the Democrats for health care.

CARVILLE: Senator Kennedy asked them to do this before he died.

GERGEN: Yes, he did.

CARVILLE: And I suspect the people of Massachusetts say, well, if that's what Teddy wants...

BLITZER: Do you really believe that one Democratic seat in the Senate could be critical in shaping whether or not health care reform is enacted?

CARVILLE: I don't know, but it's a possibility.

GERGEN: Yes, whenever you're in that situation...

CARVILLE: You know what, a Senate seat means a lot. You look how hard the Republicans fought for that Senate seat in Minnesota. I don't know what the sort of value is, but it means a lot. And when something could be this close, it might.

GERGEN: The smartest thing they did, Wolf, in the request was to say that the person who serves cannot run in the special election in January, February.


GERGEN: That means, you know, it takes a lot of the kind of pressure off that they're going to put somebody in that through the governor and that person will then win the election, sweep in the election.

It also, by the way, opens up the possibility that a Kennedy could serve.

BLITZER: When you say a Kennedy could serve, which Kennedy specifically are you talking about?

GERGEN: In that case, you could start with Vicki.

CARVILLE: That would be my choice.

BLITZER: Do you think she will?

CARVILLE: I don't know, but she's a Louisiana girl. I'd like that.

BLITZER: She was very gracious, and you were there at the JFK library. She waited for hours. She was shaking people's hands. They were coming in.

GERGEN: She's been a class act throughout this. And I think there are a lot of people who look upon her. And she is in some ways a validation of the Kennedy story, the redemption story. Standing there as a partner to him in that good relationship that they had.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the celebration. It's a two-hour event tonight, and there are a lot of speakers, including the vice president. John McCain will be there, Orrin Hatch, two important Republican senators, close friends of Senator Kennedy, and others will be coming.

Is there any possibility, James, that this could be a repeat performance of that celebration of life of the late Senator Paul Wellstone in Minnesota that got a lot of people upset because it became so partisan?

CARVILLE: Well, just for the record, a lot of people say it really wasn't, but I'm not going to revisit that. It certainly was portrayed as such. I don't think that's going to be here.

This guy lived a very full life. And people really loved him. And it's a kind of tradition that -- are they going to talk about health care? Absolutely. This is the man's life cause. He said the biggest mistake he made in his life was not going along with President Nixon for it.

So, my guess is it won't, and people still dispute, and no sense revisiting what happened in Minnesota.

GERGEN: Particularly Orrin Hatch and John McCain, two leading Republicans among the speakers, I think that is going to affect the tone of the whole evening. It's going to be more bipartisan, more of the celebration of the life and his leadership in the Senate.

BLITZER: Yes, because you don't want to embarrass Orrin Hatch or John McCain, even though both of them have been rather outspoken in their criticism of the Democrats' strategy and plans.

CARVILLE: As I recall, I mean, he was elected to the United States Senate the same year I graduated from high school in 1962. And as I recall, he was a partisan Democrat.

BLITZER: Yes. He was a very partisan Democrat and he had good friendships with a lot of Republicans.

CARVILLE: I'm one too and I know a lot of Republicans. GERGEN: It is profoundly in the Democrats' interest to have a good night tonight.

BLITZER: Guys, don't go away, because we're going to be here covering all of this, our live coverage of this celebration of life, 7:00 p.m. eastern to 9:00 p.m. eastern. It's a two-hour celebration.

To monitor the scene at the JFK library with a memorial service for Senator Ted Kennedy is scheduled to start in a little bit more than an hour from now. We'll be watching what's going on.

But let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash to tell us a little about what the priest delivering who will be delivering the opening prayer will be talking about. That's coming up. Stand by for Dana and her report on Senator Kennedy and his Catholic faith.

Also, Michael Jackson's death is ruled a homicide. We'll go live to Los Angeles for the latest details on this explosive new development. Stick around, you're in "The Situation Room."


BLITZER: It's about an hour away from the memorial service at the Kennedy presidential library in Boston, celebrating the life of Senator Ted Kennedy.

The opening prayer to be delivered by a priest who knew senator Kennedy very well and counseled him through some of the most difficult days of his life.

Our senior congressional correspondent Dana Bash is here. She has spoken to the priest. His Catholic faith was very important to him, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It was. "Kennedy" is, of course, the best known Catholic name in the entire country, maybe even the entire world. But Ted Kennedy was not somebody who wore his faith on his sleeve. Still, people like Father Creedon, who will give the opening prayer tonight, say that Catholicism ran through every dimension of his life.


BASH: Ted Kennedy's family chose this church for his funeral mass because he prayed here every day when his daughter Kara was diagnosed with cancer, an example of his quiet but deep Catholic faith.

BASH (on camera): Did you consider him a religious man.


BASH (voice-over): Father Gerry Creedon counseled Kennedy for more than 30 years. CREEDON: This is an old picture. It probably goes back to 1980.

BASH: He says Kennedy not only attended Sunday mass but sought him out to discuss the tenants of Catholicism.

CREEDON: Most people sat there either disagreeing with me or sleeping. I would walk out of church and Ted Kennedy would come up to me and continue the theme I was preaching on.

BASH: Kennedy often said it was his mother's Catholic faith that guided his famous family ac family's political agenda. He used scripture in his push to end poverty and discrimination.

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: My favorite parts of the Bible are Matthew 25 through 35, "And I was hungry and you gave me to eat, and thirsty and you gave me to drink."

BASH: But Kennedy's support for abortion rights flew in the face of Catholic credo.

KENNEDY: The Roe V Wade made a very clear declaration that is the law of the land. I support that law of the land.

BASH (on camera): Senator Kennedy once told me he had a complicated relationship with the Catholic Church because he was for abortion rights.

CREEDON: I think he would wish that he could have found a middle ground, a common ground with our church institution. I pray for him at mass yesterday morning, and I got an e-mail saying, you scandalize the faithful by praying for Ted Kennedy.

BASH (voice-over): Father Creedon says Kennedy often came to him for spiritual guidance during well-publicized low points in this life. And in the last year, too ill to go to church, Kennedy asked him to come give Communion at home and never asked others to pray for him.

CREEDON: When it came to the prayers of the faithful, it's the times normally people make petitions, and oftentimes his wife would make a petition for his health and so forth, he never made a petition. But he always had two or three prayers of thanksgiving, gratitude.


BASH: One of the last letters Ted Kennedy wrote in July was a letter to the Pope, which he asked President Obama to personally deliver when he visited the Vatican last month. Wolf, neither the senator's aides nor the Vatican will disclose what that letter said.

BLITZER: Interesting stuff. Thanks very much.

Only about an hour away from the start of this memorial service. We will have complete coverage. That's coming up.

Also coming up, Jack Cafferty and "The Cafferty File." We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?

CAFFERTY: Matters monetary, Wolf. The question this hour: Should the government raise taxes to deal with our exploding federal deficit?

Paul in Canada: "We had a similar debt problem here in the early '90s. Our liberal government began raising taxes cutting back programs specifically to pay down our debt. It took over a decade to reap results, but now, our economy is back on stable footing. We had some leeway to absorb the cost of our recent stimulus bill.

It takes time, but the only course of action is to honor your debts and start paying them back or else you'll start running out of creditors. That's called realism."

Ken says: "Taxes need to be raised to the pre-Reagan era levels, 60 percent for incomes from a quarter of a million to $1 million, 75 percent for incomes above $1 million. In addition, we need to cut military spending 10 percent, eliminate farm aid, cancel all NASA space flights, remove the $100,000 cap on Social Security payroll taxes, and stop providing Medicaid for persons who own homes and have IRA accounts above $1,500.

We are a sinking ship, and we'll go down unless politicians take immediate, drastic action."

Denny writes: "Raise taxes? Absolutely not. Government should manage with the taxes they collect." Good luck with that. "There is too much mismanagement and waste going on already. Increasing taxes will only give government more money to mishandle. They need to make do with what they have."

Phil says: "Yes, taxes out to be raised, and it should be a value added tax or a sales tax. That would catch billions that are lost in the underground economy."

And Charles says: "Of course government should raise taxes. It should start by immediately repealing tax reductions passed during the Bush years. If you want to fight foreign wars, finance farm welfare, help people buy Japanese cars and attempt to give everybody health care, you have to pay for it.

It's unbelievable so many Americans think all this stuff is free."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to my blog at Look for yours there among hundreds of others and I will look for you in a week or so.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Good to see you. BLITZER: Appreciate it.

Happening now, a celebration of Senator Edward Kennedy's life. These are live pictures coming in from the JFK library in Boston. Family and friends are arriving for an evening dedicated to Senator Kennedy and his love of music, laughter, and stories. We are going to carry the memorial service live. It starts in one hour.

Plus, breaking news, Michael Jackson's death is ruled a homicide this hour. We are digging deeper into the coroner's just released findings with our medical and legal experts. Could criminal charges be next?

And she spent 18 years, yes, 18 years isolated from the world in her abductor's backyard. Shocking details are emerging about the life of a woman kidnapped at the age of 11.