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2016 Olympics in Chicago?; Gitmo Closing Unlikely by Deadline; Iran 'Deception and Lies' Test President

Aired September 28, 2009 - 16:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the president puts his prestige on the line to help Chicago become an Olympic city. Michelle Obama talks about their whirlwind trip to Denmark this week on behalf of their hometown.

Plus, Iran tests America's patience again by test-firing more missiles. This hour, growing tensions before a new showdown over Iran's nuclear ambitions.

And, well, you may want to think twice about where and when you pay with plastic. It turns out that credit card companies can cut your spending limit if they think your purchases are risky.

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux.


Well, right now, President Obama is set to jump feet first towards a daunting Olympic hurdle. But we learned today that he's personally going to try to persuade the International Olympic Committee to choose Chicago to host the 2016 summer games. Now, he leaves for Denmark Thursday night, and the first lady leaves tomorrow.

Mrs. Obama talked to reporters about the trip just moments ago.

I want to bring in our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry. He was one of those who was in the meeting with Michelle Obama.

It's quite amazing, Ed, when you think about it. We knew about Michelle Obama. We didn't necessarily have the official word on the president. But now these two, a powerhouse couple, are going to make a, what, 16-hour -- is that a 16-hour trip they are going to be on?

ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Essentially, Suzanne. You're absolutely right.

And what's fascinating about it, I just came out of the State Dining Room from this meeting with the first lady, and she really described a furious last-minute lobbying campaign. At one point, Mrs. Obama comparing this to last year's presidential campaign, saying just as voters decided in the final days, she believes the Olympic Committee members will also decide very late.

So, she laid out fact that the president is going to be getting on Air Force One late on Thursday night, basically sleeping all night on the plane. Then, immediately Friday morning, getting out there, jumping into a series of meetings to do that last-minute lobbying.

Meanwhile, the first lady will be there a couple of days ahead of him. She's already, she said, working the phones, as is Vice President Joe Biden, lobbying some of these Olympic Committee members, others around the process.

And I spoke a little earlier to senior White House aide Valerie Jarrett, who said that this is going to be having both Obamas working this, will be a powerful one-two punch.


VALERIE JARRETT, SR. WHITE HOUSE AIDE: What a dynamic duo they will be. I think it will be high impact. I think their presentation will be both very personal, given that they know and love Chicago so well, and I also think it will talk about the Olympic spirit and the Olympic movement, and why we think that Chicago really is the perfect place to host the Olympics and Paralympic games.


HENRY: Now, the flip side of that, of course, is I asked the first lady a couple of moments ago whether she may be raising expectations too high of getting both Obamas involved, focusing international attention like this. We're also going to have Oprah Winfrey there as well. The first lady joking about Oprah's popularity all around the world, saying it's sort of icing on the cake to have her there.

But I said, "Look, are you going to raise expectations too high? And if you fail, does this hurt your husband politically?" She said they are not worried about that, that instead they are going to pull out all the stops to try to get this done. And that, in the end, they believe it's not the president's bid. It's America's bid.

So, they're going to be in it together and she doesn't think there will be any political blowback.

MALVEAUX: Well, Ed, we know that's a lot of star power being sent overseas there. Obviously, you're going to be there. But I understand that Michelle Obama, she actually reached out to some other first ladies about trying to convince them to make this bid for the United States.

What did she say?

HENRY: Yes. She told kind of a funny story, almost talking a little trash, if you will, at the G-20 Summit in a good-natured way, I will stress, in Pittsburgh.

She said that she happened to sit next to the first lady, Mrs. Lula, from Brazil at a dinner Thursday night in Pittsburgh. And the way Mrs. Obama says it, she said, "I'm going to hug you now, but then I'm going after you." And she said that the first lady of Brazil said, look, me, too,. And basically, Mrs. Obama said the gloves are off now, so there may be some diplomatic niceties at these dinners, but they are going all out. And she also added, "It's a battle we're going to win. Take no prisoners."

Now, she said that with a smile, but Mrs. Obama is very serious about this, so it's really interesting to see her really jumping out maybe for the first time in this kind of a lobbying effort on the international stage -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And Ed, I think there are two words from Michelle Obama, and that is, "Bring it." I think we're going to see that on Friday. So, OK. It's going to be a great whirlwind trip for you, Ed. Thanks.

HENRY: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Ahead, I'll talk to White House adviser Valerie Jarrett about the Obamas' Olympic challenge and whether he is wisely using or wasting some of his political capital on that trip.

Well, not everyone in Chicago actually says that the Olympics are going to be good for the city. One Web site is actually pushing for the Olympics not to go there.

Our Internet correspondent, Abbi Tatton, she is here.

And Abbi, well, where would they rather see the Olympics?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Suzanne, this Web site is Chicagoans for Rio, a Web site set up anonymously to push the International Olympic Committee to choose Rio de Janeiro over Chicago because, they say, we Chicago residents, we don't want it here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I back the bid.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I back the bid.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I back the bid For Rio.







UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I don't care where it goes, as long as it doesn't come here.


TATTON: The reason, they say, and the Web site says, the potential cost of hosting the Olympic games in Chicago. They say that maybe there are better things that Chicago could be focusing on -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Well, who is actually behind this Web site? Are these people in Chicago? Are they outside Chicago?

TATTON: Well, this has been the stuff of intrigue over the last few days, because it has been anonymous. There's even been these online accusations flying that this Web site was actually coming out of Rio, some kind of sabotage.

Not true. A marketing executive in Chicago, Kevin Lynch (ph), today revealed himself to be the owner of this Web site. He said it was a side project and he says it's not that radical of an idea. He cited a recent "Chicago Tribune" poll that showed 47 percent of respondents favored the city's plan, but a full 45 percent opposed it -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right, Abbi. Thanks. We know the Obamas are going to be making a really strong case to bring the Olympics to Chicago.

Well, now to a very different and difficult challenge that's facing the president. He had pledged to close the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year after taking office, but his defense secretary is now acknowledging it's probably going to take a bit longer.

Our CNN's Brian Todd.

You've been digging into that, and what are we learning about Gitmo?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, there's been some real back and forth over this over the past few days. Right now, White House officials are being very cagey about that deadline, and experts say that illustrates just how difficult closing Guantanamo really is.


TODD (voice-over): Just days after taking office, a confident pledge from the president.

BARACK H. OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Guantanamo will be closed no later than one year from now.

TODD: Now, after a special task force has taken months to work out legal and logistical challenges, it's not clear that the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay will be closed by that January 2nd deadline. On Friday, two senior administration officials tell CNN it's unlikely the deadline will be met. On Sunday, CNN's John King presses Defense Secretary Robert Gates about it.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think it has proven more complicated than anticipated. TODD: Today, White House officials say they are doing everything possible to meet the deadline, but they are also hedging.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We're not focused on whether or not the deadline will or won't be met on a particular day. We're focused on ensuring that the facility is closed, and doing all that has to be done between now and the 22nd of January to make the most progress that we can that's possible.

TODD: What's the biggest challenge?

SCOTT SILLIMAN, DUKE UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: The biggest problem in closing Guantanamo Bay by January of next year is finding an acceptable place to send those people.

TODD: Experts say about a quarter of the more than 200 detainees left at Guantanamo will likely be tried by a federal or military court. A White House official tells us U.S. allies have agreed to take more than 30 others who can't be sent to their home countries. But for the rest, those who cannot be prosecuted or are too dangerous to be sent elsewhere, the White House official says the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security are locating a facility somewhere in the U.S. that doesn't threaten the community.

Still, that could run into heavy political resistance in Congress.

Another challenge, changing the mindset of some detainees. We asked Dr. Tawfik Hamid, a former militant who once knew al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, how that could be done.

TAWFIK HAMID, AUTHOR, "INSIDE JIHAD": If you can deliver for them some sort of peaceful message of interpretation for Islam, through some selected scholars who can teach them in a peaceful way, if you can guarantee something like that as well, this would be great to at least deradicalize them as well.


TODD: Now, that involves gathering as much intelligence as possible on the detainees still held, but a White House official tells us the previous administration failed to establish what it called a consolidated repository of intelligence and evidence on those detainees. And we tried to get response on that from the offices of former President Bush and Vice President Cheney. We've not heard back yet -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: And Brian, I spoke with a White House aide who says, look, you know, nothing gets done in Washington unless you actually move forward and say there is a timetable here.

Is there any sense of regret in people that you've been speaking to about setting this deadline?

TODD: They don't seem to regret it. As you mentioned, that's a real strong case to make. Robert Gates mentioned this yesterday. He said he argued for the deadline back in December of 2008, and he's sticking to that now, saying if you at least have a deadline and you're trying to make progress in meeting it, you're at least showing progress in trying to close Guantanamo. The question is, will the deadline be extended? They could be laying the groundwork for that now.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you very much, Brian. Appreciate it.

Well, a new round of missile tests by Iran on the brink of crucial talks about its nuclear program. Is this a crisis for President Obama much like John Kennedy faced decades ago?

Plus, a new move to make Bernard Madoff's family members pay for his crime. Can they recover some of the millions of dollars that he scammed from investors?

And immigration officials seize one of the biggest loads of cash on record. Ahead, how they cracked a sophisticated smuggling operation.


MALVEAUX: Defense Secretary Robert Gates is accusing Iran of deception and lies regarding its nuclear program. And other top officials around the world, well, they are downright angry after Iran test-fired two types of long-range missiles. That's according to the state-run media.

Now, both have wide enough range that they could theoretically reach Israel, U.S. military bases in the Middle East, and even parts of Europe. Today's launches, they cap a weekend of missile exercises. And the issue of what to do over Iran's nuclear program, it's a major test for the still young Obama administration.

CNN's Jim Acosta, well, he's got more on the story -- Jim.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, the Obama administration is talking tough in what's sounding like a showdown with Iran over its nuclear program. It's the kind of test some in Washington predicted Mr. Obama would eventually face as president.


ACOSTA (voice-over): It was a show of strength from Iran, test-firing short-range missiles just two days after a stunning disclosure to the world.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: The Islamic Republic of Iran has been building a covert uranium enrichment facility near Qom for several years.

ACOSTA: And while President Obama is insisting on diplomacy over confrontation with Iran...

GATES: The intelligence people have no doubt that this is an illicit nuclear facility. ACOSTA: ... Defense Secretary Robert Gates is amping up the rhetoric.

GATES: This is part of a pattern of deception and lies on the part of the Iranians from the very beginning with respect to their nuclear program.

ACOSTA: Located near the city of Qom, the underground facility is Iran's second confirmed site capable of enriching uranium. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is all but warning the Iranians to start offering details at upcoming negotiations with the U.S. and five world powers set for later this week.

HILLARY CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We don't believe that they can present convincing evidence that it's only for peaceful purposes, but we are going to put them to the test on October 1st.

ACOSTA: And the pressure is on to get tough. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: They're trying to develop a nuclear weapon. And if they are successful, the Sunni Arab states in the region will want a nuclear weapon. Israel becomes much at risk, and we're walking down the road to Armageddon.

ACOSTA: At a congressional hearing last year, nonproliferation experts described Iran's nuclear ambitions as a historic challenge.

GRAHAM ALLISON, HARVARD KENNEDY SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT: I say in my testimony, and I have compared this earlier to something like a Cuban missile crisis in slow motion.

ACOSTA: The October 1962 showdown with the Soviet Union played out at the United Nations...


ADLAI STEVENSON, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N., 1962: I'm prepared to wait for my answer until hell freezes over.


ACOSTA: ... testing another young president in the early days of his administration, the kind of test that was predicted during last year's presidential campaign.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.


ACOSTA: But that was 1962, and unlike those missiles in Cuba, there's no evidence Iran has nuclear weapons. Nonproliferation experts believe Iran is one to three years away from that capability -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Jim.

From war games, to a financial scheme that is still shocking the world regarding Bernard Madoff's massive Ponzi scheme, a court-appointed trustee is on a worldwide treasure hunt, if you will. And what is he hunting for? Well, you might say it is gold from the family members who benefited from Madoff's schemes.

Our CNN's Christine Romans, she has more from New York -- Christine.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, the man tracking the stolen Madoff billions says if he has to, he will bankrupt Madoff's family to return money to legitimate investors. Irving Picard told "60 Minutes" he will sue Madoff's two sons, his niece, and his brother this week, seeking the return of $198 million.


IRVING PICARD, COURT-APPOINTED TRUSTEE: Whether or not they have a criminal problem, we will pursue them as far as we can pursue them. And if that leads to bankrupting them, then that's what will happen.


ROMANS: Madoff has insisted he acted alone. His family says they knew nothing of the scam.

Madoff's sons, Mark and Andrew, ran a legitimate trading operation, and Madoff's brother Peter was the chief compliance officer. Picard's team found, together, they took $80 million in compensation over the past seven years.


DAVID SHEEHAN, ATTORNEY, BAKER HOSTETLER: Clearly, they would have to have known what was going on given their own personal transactions, the longevity of what was happening, and the responsibilities as officers of the company.


ROMANS: Their investigations found Madoff's sons, Mark and Andrew, withdrew more than $35 million from accounts opened with almost no original investment. And over the past 15 years, Peter Madoff invested only $14 with his brother, but took out $16 million, according to Picard's investigation.

Peter Madoff's attorney tells CNN, "Any suggestion that Peter Madoff knew that his brother was engaged in this Ponzi scheme is absurd." And an attorney for Madoff's two sons notes they turned their father into authorities, saying in a statement, "By immediately turning him in, the brothers saved the victims of the fraud more than $170 million that their father was about to distribute."

The trustee also told "60 Minutes" that half of Madoff's investors took out more money over the years than they ever invested. They may have to pay -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Christine. Well, speaking of cash, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency says it has taken in one of the largest cash seizures in its history.

I want to get those details from our CNN's Elaine Quijano on just how this actually happened.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It's really fascinating. You know, this is no small thing, Suzanne.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, believes this money, $41 million, could have been used to fuel corruption and violence and to keep crime cartels in business. Instead, this cash is in the hands of authorities who say they are serious about cracking down on international organized crime.



QUIJANO (voice-over): In the shipping port of Buenaventura, Colombia, this month, authorities hit a mother load of smuggled cash. Wrapped in plastic and hidden inside shipping containers were meticulously labeled blocks of $20 bills.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven hundred thousand dollars.

QUIJANO: Each block worth $700,000. Officials seized $11.2 million that day alone, and that week in Colombia and Mexico seized more than $41 million in all.

JOHN MORTON, ICE: You're looking at the profits of crime. That's what this is.

QUIJANO: John Morton with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement says the smugglers packed the cash in ammonium sulfate, a sophisticated attempt to disguise it.

(on camera): Why ammonium sulfate? What's the significance of that?

MORTON: When it is packed in very large containers, it's extremely difficult to probe, it's extremely difficult to x-ray. And so, it was a very good means of concealing currency.

QUIJANO (voice-over): Officials call this one of the largest bulk cash container seizures ever recorded, and credit unprecedented cooperation among the U.S., Colombia and Mexico. They believe this haul represents a big victory against international organized crime.

MORTON: We were able to not just get the first shipment, we got the second shipment, the third shipment, the fourth shipment, the fifth shipment. And we did it in two countries at the same time.


QUIJANO: Now, we should mention, ammonia sulfate is a common chemical used in fertilizer.

Now, as for arrests, ICE officials say they are still investigating, along with the Mexican and Colombian governments. And they're not giving details about how they first learned of the cash or what criminal group might be responsible for it -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Elaine, you were saying there was $700,000 in just one of those blocks.

QUIJANO: Amazing. One of those blocks, $20 bills. And what was so amazing, it was like a bank, basically, is what John Morton was saying.

They are so accurate in terms of making sure that the money is labeled, is packed up this way, $700,000. Just amazing, in one of those blocks alone.

MALVEAUX: Too bad they didn't have that at the press conference.

QUIJANO: No samples.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks, Elaine.

Well, it is a chilling thought. You lose your job. You lose your home. And then are you forced to live in tents, grouped together like a camp of despair.

Well, this is happening so often, that some cities are allowing these so-called tent cities to flourish.

And a watery hell. A devastating toll of death and disaster in the Philippines in the aftermath of floods. And the threat not over.




Happening now, we are getting incredible insight into two men from their friends. One accused of plotting to detonate weapons of mass destruction in the United States, the other accused of trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper.

A 16-year-old honor student beaten to death by a mob. His final moments alive on video.

Why do large crowds often cause mob mentality?

And 32 years after having sex with a minor, famed director Roman Polanski could be brought to justice. How is a fugitive hailed as a hero among the Hollywood set?

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

There is unyielding violence that continues in Afghanistan, unyielding questions that still linger.

Will more American troops be sent to the war? It is a question that President Obama is going to have to answer and one that top military officials, they are weighing in on.

One consideration, what's actually happening on the ground in Afghanistan?

I want to bring in our CNN Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, to help us figure it out -- Chris.


When General Stanley McChrystal said the situation in Afghanistan was worse than he thought, we wanted to find out what that meant. We talked to analysts, congressmen, and especially a soldier who has been there on the ground. Senator Lindsey Graham says travel is a lot more restricted. When he was in Afghanistan, just getting off the base was a lot more difficult.

And analysts who went to Afghanistan to monitor the recent election there said there are not enough U.S. forces to control a wide area. He saw areas where the U.S. would control one town, but the Taliban controlled the town right next door, and they used that base to launch attacks on those U.S. forces.

We also spoke with a soldier who spent time in Kabul last year. He says he traveled to probably about a dozen other villages. And he talked about living that strategy of being out of those armored vehicles and walking among the population, and the kind of anxiety that that really puts under the troops of not knowing what's going to happen next.


SPECIALIST ADAM BRYANT, IRAQ AND AFGHANISTAN VETERANS OF AMERICA: It makes it very hard. You could be driving down the street. You're looking at any number of Afghan civilians, but the question is, are they civilians, because the Taliban, the enemy, dresses just as the civilians do on a daily basis. They don't wear any type of uniform that you can recognize.

So, the question have you to ask yourself every single day is, am I surrounded by enemies, or is this -- are they friendlies? You just never know.


LAWRENCE: Yes, the specialist also said that the biggest challenge were these roadside bombs, that they were just either set in front of a convoy or just drive directly into the convoy. And that's borne out really by the statistics. The number of U.S. troops killed by roadside bombs, it's gone up 400 percent in the last two years alone -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Unbelievable statistics.

Thank you very much, Chris.

We want to talk more about what is happening in Afghanistan.

Joining me now, Senator Kit Bond. He is the Senate Intelligence Committee's top Republican.

Thank you, Senator, for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


MALVEAUX: You have been a very big supporter of General McChrystal coming before Congress to testify to explain what should happen next, including the addition of U.S. troops.

But, you know, we have heard from the president, have talked to White House aides, who say, look, we need to make sure we get the strategy right, instead of rushing it. Why the rush?

BOND: First, General McChrystal was sent over by the president to develop a comprehensive plan, which he did, which I read in detail last weekend. He has a plan. But he has not been able to talk to the president -- only once in 70 days.

Now, I think it's baffling that the president has time to travel to Copenhagen, to be on "Letterman" and every channel, except the Food Network, and, yet, he doesn't have time to talk with and listen to his top general.

MALVEAUX: Well, Senator, one thing that -- that we have heard from the president and we have heard from secretary of defense, Robert Gates, on "STATE OF THE UNION," he explains that this is a process, that this takes time.

I want you to take a listen to what he said on -- just yesterday.


ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I would like to remember -- remind people that that the debate within the Bush administration over the surge took about three months, from October to December 2006. It's very important that we get this right.


MALVEAUX: White House aides tell me that they -- that the president, he is talking -- while he may have talked to McChrystal from time to time, there are going to be more meetings, but he is talking with Secretary Gates regularly. He's talking with all of the members of the Defense team, and that is what they are telling them here.

BOND: I don't believe that. General McChrystal has a comprehensive plan. They have had it for many weeks. The president spends time doing other things. General McChrystal has said that the next nine to 12 months are critical. And even Secretary Gates has said that we must make the decision to get troops over there now.

If we don't have the right strategy or we delay too long, then the Taliban will come back in from Pakistan, to Afghanistan in large numbers, with their al Qaeda friends, and they will reestablish control over a country which was the launching pad for the 9/11 attacks in the United States. And it's time they get busy. There is a plan. If the president doesn't want to hear it -- Secretary Gates has said, we're not sending in the plan.

If he doesn't want to hear it, the people in Congress, folks like me, want to hear it, and I think the people of America have a right to know it.

MALVEAUX: But Secretary Gates says that it's not like a vacuum, like they are not doing anything here. They -- they are actually trying to figure out whether or not more U.S. troops would help in a different kind of strategy.

Here's what he said. I want you to take a listen to what he said.


GATES: Having the wrong strategy would put even more soldiers at risk. So, I think it's important to get the strategy right. And then we can make the resources decision.


MALVEAUX: Why not give him the benefit of the doubt? I mean, you're on the Senate Intelligence Committee, but, clearly, he's -- you know, this is a Republican who has a lot of experience in this area, and he says they still have a process to go through.

BOND: I think they have gone through the process.

And one of the key elements in any war is to listen to the commanders on the ground. Now I have heard a lot of different ideas from people who aren't there, maybe haven't even been there. Everybody's got an armchair view.

But General McChrystal has the -- not only the information from his top commanders under him in Afghanistan, the intelligence community, the State Department. He has come together with a very comprehensive plan. Let's be talking about that plan. Let's be talking about the resources we need and make a decision, because time is not on our side in Afghanistan.

General McChrystal says we have to act, and we must act quickly. And I -- I believe that Secretary Gates who has been told to -- he's going to wait a while. I don't think we have got a while to wait.

MALVEAUX: Well, Senator...

BOND: I think we -- I think the president needs to start paying attention, discuss the -- discuss the plan openly with Congress. And, if somebody who isn't a commander on the ground has a better view, I would be very surprised, because one of the...

MALVEAUX: Senator, I -- if I...

BOND: ... one of the key elements is to listen to your commander on the ground.

MALVEAUX: If I may interrupt very quickly, you mentioned the fact that he's going to Copenhagen to -- for the -- for the Olympics to pitch Chicago for the Olympics.

BOND: Right.

MALVEAUX: In all fairness, it's a trip that's only 18 hours. He's got a lot on his plate. He seems to be handling quite a bit of that.

Why -- why -- you know, why slam him for Copenhagen, then, when it could bring some real -- U.S. some dollars to this to this country, to that city that's in desperate need of it?

BOND: He's got a lot of responsibilities, but his number-one responsibility is as commander in chief, to keep our country safe.

There's a plan lying out there that ought to be considered quickly and acted on. If somebody wants to override the views of the commander on the ground and all the people he has to listen to, let's hear it now.

I have heard nothing but some spotty things, well, we might do this, we might do that.


BOND: I want to know who has got a better plan than General McChrystal. Right now, that's the plan on the ground. He told General McChrystal, we cannot afford to lose it.

MALVEAUX: Senator...

BOND: We have not put resources and troops in that we need.

MALVEAUX: OK. We're going to have to leave it there.

Thank you so much for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM.

BOND: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Want to clear up that the president is not going to be on the Food Network. Just a -- just a clarification.

It is a grim sign of the economic times. They have jobs, but they don't have homes. It is a phenomenon in America's tent cities. In our "Strategy Session": The New York governor says that he is blind, but not oblivious to his political problem. David Paterson pushes back against voters and against President Obama.

And, later, the president's senior adviser, Valerie Jarrett, I will ask her how the Obamas think that they can score the Olympics for their hometown of Chicago.






MALVEAUX: We want to take you inside one of America's tent cities. They are becoming more and more common as more people, they are losing their homes in this devastating economy.

In Nashville, we found something that you really might not expect.

Our CNN's Sean Callebs, he is there. Sean, there are a good number of people who are living in these tent cities. And they have actually either just lost their jobs or they have jobs.

SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, without question. About half the people in those tent cities are living under those kind of conditions.

And a lot of cities, like Nashville, are basically allowing these tent cities to thrive because they have no other alternative.


CALLEBS (voice-over): They may be off the beaten path, but Nashville city leaders know they are here and know they have nowhere else to go, people like Reginald "Vegas" Watson.

(on camera): You have been homeless for a year.


CALLEBS: What -- what happened? How did you end up like that?

WATSON: Well, I lost my job, couldn't pay rent, so...

CALLEBS (voice-over): It's a familiar story. A sour economy has spurred the growth of the shantytown.

(on camera): Some folks here live down by the river. Many others live in the shadow of the underpass you can see in the distance. The folks in this tent city tell us that, at any given time, between 50 and 70 residents call this home.

For the most part, the city of Nashville tolerates this site, but only after public safety issues were addressed. For example, port-a-johns and even a makeshift shower were recently added.

(voice-over): Studies show a dramatic increase in the number of homeless this year, partly because of a record number of home foreclosures. It's difficult to determine the exact number of homeless because so many choose the streets over a shelter.

But the National Law Center on Homelessness puts the number across the country at 3.5 million, roughly the size of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and Saint Paul.

Here in Nashville, church groups are providing simple items to keep the area somewhat clean.

Clifton Harris works for the city and says it has simply stopped getting to oust folks.

CLIFTON HARRIS, DIRECTOR, METROPOLITAN NASHVILLE HOMELESSNESS COMMISSION: What we recognize is that, you know, we can't just keep moving people from one site to another site.

CALLEBS: He says about 50 percent of the people here do work, at least part-time.

HARRIS: No, I find people want to leave this environment. You know, very few people -- I know very few people that, you know, wake up and decide, you know, they want to be homeless.

CALLEBS: Wendell Segro (ph) says he's been here on and off for the past five years.

(on camera): You've got a -- a house here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a cottage.

CALLEBS (voice-over): He has a donated prefab structure he shares with his three pit bulls, and he pulls electricity from a massive billboard, and he says he wants to leave.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to get back up. I would rather have -- be worried about paying a mortgage.

CALLEBS: Segro (ph) says, some in this tent city have alcohol and drug problems or mental health issues.

Nashville has gotten about 25 people out of here and into permanent housing. But as Vegas gets ready for another night, he says that, as far as the city is concerned, out of sight is out of mind.

WATSON: Yes, they try not to think about us, I mean, because, they look at it like this. We're down here. We're not their problem.


CALLEBS: And Seattle, Fresno, Tampa, really all across the country, governments and city leaders are looking for solutions. But the bottom line is, more people are ending up on the street quicker than relief agencies are able to find them permanent housing -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: A big problem.

Thank you, Sean.

A so-called vast right-wing conspiracy against Democrats is said to be alive. Well, at least that is according to former President Bill Clinton, who says it is now targeting President Obama. Is the former president right?

And his final moments alive were caught on videotape, a 16-year-old honor student beaten to death by a mob. What is it about mobs of people that often causes mob mentality?


MALVEAUX: It's back and on the attack, a shadowy group of targeted Democrats -- at least, that is what former President Bill Clinton is saying. He says that the current target, Clinton says, President Obama.

Here for today's "Strategy Session," CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, and Republican strategist Rich Galen.

I want to take a listen real quick to what the former President Bill Clinton said about the so-called right-wing conspiracy and what is happening now. Take a listen.


DAVID GREGORY, MODERATOR, "MEET THE PRESS": Your wife famously talked about the vast right-wing conspiracy targeting you. As you look at this opposition on the right to President Obama, is it still there?

BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, you bet. Sure it is. It's not as strong as it was because America has changed demographically. But it's as virulent as it was. I mean, they are saying things about him. You know, it's like when they accused me of murder and all that stuff that they did.


MALVEAUX: All right, Rich, do you agree? Do you think it's fair?


RICH GALEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I mean, even when it was virulent, he still won, and he still won reelection, and we still lost seats in the second -- in the second midterm.

MALVEAUX: So, you're acknowledging that it exists now?

GALEN: There's always opposition, and that's the way it's supposed to be. We're supposed to have opposition on the right, opposition on the left. When George W. Bush was there, there was pretty virulent opposition from the far left. There's pretty virulent opposition from the far right. It's the nature of the beast. And, frankly, it makes for lively conversation, and it's healthy in the American system.

MALVEAUX: Would you give to the equivalent to the left, saying there was a left-wing conspiracy during President Bush?

GALEN: Oh, without question, sure, of course. They just weren't very good as it, but they tried like hell.


MALVEAUX: Donna, what...

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's why we came back in '06 and came back in 2008...

GALEN: Exactly my point.

BRAZILE: It was healthy.


GALEN: This vast right-wing conspiracy needs to be bigger.

MALVEAUX: Does the president have a point?

BRAZILE: Well, I'm not going to disagree with Bill Clinton on this, but I will say this. Rush Limbaugh today on his show said, we are working and fighting to make sure Obama fails.

There is a very small but vocal minority of -- of people who are opposed to the president they want to see him fail. They want to see him fail in fixing the economy and fixing health care and cleaning the environment and winning the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. So they want the president to fail. That's their agenda.

And President Obama will not fail. He will succeed.

MALVEAUX: Does it help that you have a former president pointing this out? Does that help or hurt President Obama?

BRAZILE: Well, look, he was asked a question, and he responded to the question. Look, he also has significant experience with being on the opposite end of a lot of nasty attacks. And I -- I -- I defended Bill Clinton for eight years, and I will defend what he said yesterday.


GALEN: Well, I defended George W. Bush, too, and sometimes it was just as hard as you defending Bill Clinton.

But let me say this about -- about a vast right-wing conspiracy led by Rush Limbaugh, an entertainer. And, as Donna said, it's a small group of people. And it does -- again, in the American system -- I really think this -- this is important -- it -- on both sides, you have to allow those people to have an outlet. You have to allow those really anti-government, anti-Republican, anti-Democrat, whatever it is, you need to let them have a voice, so that there's an escape mechanism, and that's how you get...


BRAZILE: But there are times when the entertainer goes too far and -- and trying to inject some real nasty topics out there.

GALEN: Well, that's...


BRAZILE: And the responsible leaders on the right and in the middle and left should call that entertainment into question...

GALEN: I don't -- I don't think people wake up in the morning...

BRAZILE: ... especially when...


BRAZILE: ... get the facts wrong.

GALEN: I don't think people wake up in the morning -- wake up in the morning on Capitol Hill, behind us here, and say I'm not going to vote today until I listen to Rush today.


BRAZILE: Well, there are lot who will not go against Mr. Limbaugh, because they are scared.

GALEN: Well, that's...

MALVEAUX: I want to -- I want to go to another topic, if I may, New York Governor David Paterson making it very clear, and I have spoken to...


GALEN: Vast right-wing conspiracy...


GALEN: ... right there.

MALVEAUX: ... quite a few -- quite a few White House aides, who -- you know, they understand and know that they do not want him to run again. They have made that clear.

Here's how Paterson -- here's how the governor responded over the weekend.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "MEET THE PRESS") GOV. DAVID PATERSON (D), NEW YORK: They have certainly sent a message that they have concerns. And I appreciate that. But let me just tell you at the outset I am running for governor in 2010.


MALVEAUX: Donna, the governor has spoken out. Paterson has spoken out. Should the White House step back?

BRAZILE: Governor Paterson should make this decision. The White House can clearly decide if they want to get involved in a primary campaign.

MALVEAUX: Do you think they should?


BRAZILE: That's up to the White House. I'm not going to advise them. They didn't ask me for my advice.

GALEN: I'm asking for your advice.

BRAZILE: If they asked for my advice, I would have told them. I would have stayed out of it.

Governor Paterson is a very smart politician. He knows how to conduct himself. And I think, at the right time, the appropriate time, if he decides to seek reelection, that -- he said he would -- we will see what happens. But I'm not going to get involved in...


BRAZILE: ... deciding or refereeing the White House vs. Paterson

MALVEAUX: Does it -- does it help Republicans, the fact that he's coming out and...


GALEN: Oh, yes, I mean, I -- of course it does. Sure.

But -- but I think this is -- the lesson that the White House is learning is that there are limits to presidential power, especially domestically, especially political power, whether it's Rahm Emanuel or the president. At some point, you have just got to say, you know what, this is what we would prefer, but this is a republic, and a governor gets to do what he wants to do. Members of the House and Senate get to vote the way they want to vote.

BRAZILE: Governor Paterson said that the president never explicitly told him to get out. So this might be someone else, but Governor Paterson...


GALEN: Yes, it's probably the vast right-wing conspiracy. (CROSSTALK)

BRAZILE: He will make the right decision at the right time.


MALVEAUX: We have got to leave -- we have got to leave it -- we have got to leave it there.

Rich Galen, Donna Brazile, thank you so much.

Well, he's an Academy Award-winning director and a fugitive from the United States. Now Roman Polanski is under arrest and facing extradition more than three decades after his crime. We will have a live report from Switzerland.

And, later, a CNN exclusive -- we take you inside domestic terrorism. A former member of a radical environmental group admits attacks, arson and millions of dollars of damage.


MALVEAUX: Academy Award-winning director Roman Polanski is facing extradition to the United States right now. He was arrested in Switzerland Saturday for a crime that he pled guilty to more than three decades ago, one count of having sex with a minor.

Polanski had been a fugitive all of these years living in France. There is an international debate now that is under way about whether he is getting what he deserves or if he's the victim of a setup.

Our CNN's Morgan Neill, he is in Switzerland.

And tell us what Polanski's peers are talking about. What are they saying about his arrest now?

MORGAN NEILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, here at the Zurich Film Festival, we talked to several filmmakers, and the -- the majority opinion clearly is behind Roman Polanski.

People -- the filmmakers we have talked to have said they are shocked and appalled that he's been arrested, when he came to this film festival to receive a tribute to his life's work. Now, one view very representative of that overall opinion, we heard today from Debra Winger, who is the president of the jury here and also, of course, the well-known actress.


DEBRA WINGER, ACTRESS: We came to honor Roman Polanski as a great artist, but under these sudden and arcane circumstances, we can only think of him today as a human being uncertain of the year ahead.

His life has always informed his art, and it always will. This fledgling festival has been unfairly exploited. And, whenever this happens, the entire art world suffers. (END VIDEO CLIP)

NEILL: And that's been very much the opinion we have heard from most of the filmmakers we have talked to here, with very few exceptions. But there's a very distinct point of view that we're hearing from prosecutors in the case.

And they say it would be a miscarriage of justice to drop charges against this man, a man they say drugged -- who drugged and raped a 13-year-old child -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you very much.

On our "Political Ticker": A pioneer of conservative journalism has died. William Safire was a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for "The New York Times." Before that, he was a speechwriter for President Richard Nixon. He was 79 years old. Wolf Blitzer spoke with Safire in January of 2005, when he wrote his last opinion column for "The Times."


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Is there one quick little piece of recommendation you want to give young columnists just starting out right now?

WILLIAM SAFIRE, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Number one, never retire. That's -- that's when -- when you're starting out, think, where am I going to go next? And if you're starting out, always kick them when they are up, not when they are down. And go against the grain whenever you can.

Be a contrarian. And don't worry about what -- what you say in terms of stepping on people's corns. Politicians are in this. You saw Ted Kennedy take a strong view against what the public policy and the public opinion is. And good for him. And, so, I will take a pop at him if I were writing a column.

BLITZER: All right.


MALVEAUX: Safire continued to write a weekly column about language until shortly before his death.

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