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CAMPBELL BROWN

Terrorist Attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan; Could Joe Lieberman Derail Health Care Reform?

Aired October 28, 2009 - 20:00   ET

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


(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Tonight, here are the questions we want answered.

Was a massive car bomb attack really a message of terror for Hillary Clinton?

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: These attacks on innocent people are cowardly. They are not courageous. They are cowardly.

BROWN: More than 100 people killed in a brutal blast. Does the Taliban have the upper hand in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and can anything be done to stop them?

Plus, Joe Lieberman vs. the public option. Why is the Senate's odd man out tonight threatening to derail the health care bill?

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: If at the end it's not what I think is good for our country, I will join a filibuster and I will try to stop the bill from passing.

BROWN: And bowling for dollars at the White House. Are the biggest Democratic donors getting exclusive White House perks?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The RNC is calling for the White House to release the names of donors who have gotten special access to White House advisers and perks like the bowling alley.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Every name of every person that comes to this White House will be released.

BROWN: The White House says it's all above board, but is it the return of politics as usual?

Also, tonight's breakout, stopping pirates on the high seas. We will take you on patrol.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a crucial part of the deterrent, a wall of water that's blasts out from the gunwale to knock the pirates off as they try to scale the ship. It can also flood the pirates' boat. They can mix in bleach, pepper, oil, even soap to try to distract them even more.

BROWN: And you heard this from Valerie Jarrett last night? (on camera): Do you think FOX News is biased?

VALERIE JARRETT, SENIOR PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, of course they're biased. Of course they are.

BROWN: Tonight, I will have something to say about that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is your only source for news. CNN prime time begins now. Here's Campbell Brown.

BROWN: Hi, everybody.

We are in Los Angeles once again tonight, and we start as always with the "Mash-Up," our look at the stories making an impact right now, the moments you may have missed. We're watching it all so you don't have to.

And our top story tonight, a massive terrorist attack in Pakistan. This was just hours after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived for key negotiations. More than 100 people are feared dead. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigators say someone used a remote control to blow up a car bomb packed with nearly 150 kilograms of explosive.

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Condemning what she calls vicious attacks, Hillary Clinton says those who carry them out are cowards.

CLINTON: They are not courageous. They are cowardly. If the people behind these attacks were so sure of their beliefs, let them join the political process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The blast in the heart of one of Peshawar's busiest markets, popular among women. Scores of civilians were killed, many buried alive under buildings that collapsed. Children were among the dead.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Meanwhile, another deadly attack today in neighboring Afghanistan. A Taliban assault on a United Nations compound in Kabul killed eight people, including five U.N. workers. We're going to have a lot more on the chaos in the region tonight. CNN's Michael Ware is going to join me in just a little bit.

Turning now to Washington and a new report the White House is rolling out the red carpet for big Democratic contributors, special VIP treatment in exchange for big bucks.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: "The Washington Times" reviewed some documents by the Democratic National Committee and found that some donors were being offered access to the White House.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scoring invitations to exclusive White House affairs, access to senior officials, even the executive office bowling alley.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Democratic Party officials say there's absolutely no correlation between fund-raising and attending White House events.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But documents from the DNC, the fund- raising arm of the Democratic Party, spell out exactly what the deepest pockets can buy. Those who raise $300,000 before the 2010 midterm elections get quarterly meetings with senior members of the Obama administration, twice monthly conference calls and contribute to shaping policy agendas.

LOTHIAN: Other presidents have done this kind of thing. We saw President Clinton and the Lincoln Bedroom. President Bush used to invite top donors out to the ranch. But what's different here is that this is a president who said he was coming to Washington to shake things up.

CAFFERTY: The more things change, the more they remain the same.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: The story a bit of a headache for White House Secretary Robert Gibbs, reporters pressing him on why candidate Obama seemed to reject the politics that kind of President Obama now seems to practice. Here he is on message.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GIBBS: What this president has done is institute the very toughest ethics and transparency rules of any administration, changes several hundred years of precedent that hasn't been matched by any other White House. The president believes strongly in transparency. A stance of transparency and ethics. Our transparency policy. Our ethics rules. We're the first administration in history that will soon provide a list of each and every person that visits the White House, something that's never been done before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: We're going to have a lot more on this story coming up later as well our panel of political experts.

Meanwhile, some official business at the White House this afternoon, President Obama signing a law making it a federal crime to assault anyone based on their sexual orientation, the hate crimes measure a key victory for gay and lesbian activists. The law was named after Matthew Shepard, a gay Wyoming teenager who was kidnapped, beaten, and killed in 1988. His parents stood with the president at the White House today. And It was also named after James Byrd, an African-American man who was dragged to death in Texas. That happened that same year.

Turning now to Richmond, California, an arrest tonight in a truly horrifying case, in custody tonight, two adults and three teenagers all suspects in the gang rape of a 15-year-old on the night of her homecoming dance.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is where the alleged rape took place back in this area where you see those picnic tables. The area has no lights, no surveillance cameras either.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Investigators say the victim was drinking with others in a school courtyard when she was attacked.

KATIE COURIC, HOST, "CBS EVENING NEWS": They believe as many as 10 people attacked the girl while perhaps two dozen others looked on, but did not call for help.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All while a crowd of up to 20 bystanders watched and often cheered.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was a group that was OK with it and observing, and then people that were sending messages and talking about it, and treating it as if it were something to be viewed, like an exhibit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a single one of the witnesses called for help. As disturbing as it sounds, police and psychologists say they have seen this sort of mob mentality before.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Police have posted a $20,000 reward for anybody with information leading to further arrests.

Moving to Capitol Hill and hearings tonight into whether major league football is caution irreparable brain damage to all-star athletes -- in the hot seat at the House Judiciary Committee, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. JOHN CONYERS (D-MI), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Is there a link between playing professional football and the likelihood of contracting a brain-related injury?

ROGER GOODELL, NFL COMMISSIONER: You're obviously seeing a lot of data and a lot of information that our committees and others have presented with respect to the linkage. And the medical experts should be the ones to be able to continue that debate. CONYERS: I just asked you a simple question. What's the answer?

GOODELL: The answer is, the medical experts would know better than I would.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: A bit of a dodge there. Still, Goodell assured lawmakers the NFL is doing all it can to protect the safety of its players.

Elsewhere, on Capitol Hill, some deep thoughts on a deep thinker, Congress grappling with tough issues in these trying times. Here now, your government at work.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: House Resolution 784, resolution honoring the 2,560th anniversary of the birth of Confucius.

REP. RUSS CARNAHAN (D), MISSOURI: He taught respect for one's elders. He taught that a ruler who is not righteous and humane would forfeit -- quote -- "the mandate of heaven."

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FLORIDA: The path to both virtue and success is led through the discipline of study, that a journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.

REP. AL GREEN (D), TEXAS: He preached that politicians must always represent truth and morality. Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Deep thoughts on Capitol Hill.

And turning now from the sublime to the ridiculous.

It is Levi time, people, Sarah Palin's almost son-in-law from hell on the CBS early morning show -- or "Early Show," rather, this morning, trashing the grandmother of his child. Levi Johnston accused Palin of mocking her son's Down syndrome and fighting with the first dude in front of her family, all of which begs the question, Levi, what exactly are you doing?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LEVI JOHNSTON, EX-FIANCE OF BRISTOL PALIN: If she's going to go out there and say stuff to me about me, I'm going to leak some things on her. That's just how it is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to continue saying things? Could you say more that you haven't said?

JOHNSTON: There's -- there are some things that I have that are huge. I have things that could -- that would get her in trouble and could hurt her, will hurt her. But I'm not going to go that far. If I really wanted to hurt her, I could very easily. But there's -- I'm not going to do it. I'm not going that far.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Things that could get her in trouble as far as what?

JOHNSTON: Just things she has done while she was governor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That are illegal?

JOHNSTON: Yes, I'm just not going to talk about them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But are they illegal or immoral or unethical?

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSTON: I'm not going to talk about them. You know, all the big things I got, I'm keeping them. And, you know, it's just something that probably will never come out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Sarah Palin fires back -- quote -- "Those who would sell their body for money reflect a desperate need for attention and are likely to say and do anything for more attention."

She is referring, of course, to Levi's upcoming spread in "Playgirl," reportedly full-frontal.

Levi, please, go away. It is over, really and truly. This is so pathetic.

And that is the perfect segue to tonight's "Punchline," brought to you courtesy of Conan O'Brien and another guy desperate for his own 15 minutes of fame. Take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONAN O'BRIEN, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH CONAN O'BRIEN": The other day, a man impersonating the Kentucky Fried Chicken founder, Colonel Sanders, managed to sneak by heavy security at the United Nations headquarters in New York and shake hands with a senior U.N. official.

Here's the actual photo on the Web site that talks about it.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: Yes, unbelievable. That's true, yes.

And, folks, if you thought that prank was crazy, check out this one. This just happened about an hour ago.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Conan O'Brien, everybody.

That is the "Mash-Up."

Hillary Clinton gets a violent welcome to Pakistan, far more serious news coming up ahead -- a deadly car bombing underlines just how out-of-control the situation is on the ground. So, what, if anything, can President Obama do to get the Taliban under control?

Also tonight, shocking revelations, -- tennis great Andre Agassi admits he used crystal meth -- that when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: In just a little bit, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton begins the second day of her trip to Pakistan. Her arrival today was followed by a massive car bombing in a city about two hours away.

Pakistani TV ran pictures of the attack at the same time that Clinton was speaking. The explosion, which killed at least 100 people, is believed to be the work of Taliban. A Taliban attack today in Afghanistan as well claimed 11 lives, including five U.N. workers.

We have CNN's Michael Ware with us right now. We want to bring him in.

Michael, so, give us your take on what happened today. Was this a message to Hillary Clinton? What were the terrorists trying to accomplish here?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, I think -- I don't think the timing was by coincidence. It certainly makes it much more poignant to slaughter more than 100 innocent civilians on the day that the U.S. secretary of state is in country.

And just that visual image that you showed from Pakistani TV, that juxtaposition of the secretary of state and the slaughter on the same screen, achieves the Taliban's end. But there's something very, very important Americans need to bear in mind here, Campbell.

We mentioned two attacks, one in Kabul that killed at least five U.N. workers today, and the attack in Pakistan in Peshawar, which is on the edge of Afghanistan, on the Pakistani border, inside Pakistan, that killed more than 100. Now, these were carried out by Taliban, both attacks, but two different kinds of Taliban.

One was carried out by the Pakistani Taliban, almost certainly, the other one most certainly by the Afghan Taliban. I mean, there's any number of wars currently under way in Afghanistan and Pakistan where U.S. troops are based in that theater.

There's currently a war against the Pakistani Taliban being fought by the Pakistani military, which is most likely the trigger for this devastating car bomb in the marketplace in Pakistan that killed over 100. Meanwhile, you have got the U.S. war and NATO in Afghanistan. There, we see five U.N. workers slaughtered in their guesthouse in the capital, Kabul. That's most likely the work of the Afghan Taliban.

So, there's any number of wars that America finds itself involved with or tangentially associated with in that region. It's very complicated, Campbell.

BROWN: Well, to that point, Michael, as the president tries to decide what this new strategy is going to be in Afghanistan, it's clear or seemingly clear that the two countries are inextricably linked, and we have to think about that in deciding how to go forward.

WARE: Absolutely. There's absolutely no question about that, either at the military or policy-maker level.

If you remember, when Ambassador Holbrooke was name as the president's envoy for that region, I mean, it included Afghanistan and Pakistan. And to a degree, it also includes India, whether you like it or not, because that's the environment U.S. troops find themselves fighting in.

Afghanistan is a battlefield for influence between all the regional players, from Pakistan, to India, to China, to Iran. So, I mean, it's a very layered situation. And, as we all know, there's Pakistani Taliban, and then there's Afghan Taliban, both of whom are in Pakistan for two very different reasons.

And, as I said, it makes for a number of different wars that America has to be involved with, one way or another, whether you would like it or not -- Campbell.

BROWN: And, then, Michael, just focusing on Pakistan, on the plane ride over, Secretary of State Clinton told reporters how important it is to her to try to strengthen our relationship with Pakistan. I mean, can Pakistan be trusted right now as a reliable ally in all of this?

WARE: Well, that's also what Pakistan asks about America.

Now, let's not forget, Pakistan is looking after Pakistan. America is looking after America. And no one deludes themselves about that. Now, when the time comes that America's and Pakistan's interests collide, as they did so almost seamlessly during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s, it suited America and Pakistan to work together.

Today, it suits each side to work together on a level and it doesn't suit each other on another level, so, again, adding to further complication, Campbell.

BROWN: Michael Ware for us tonight -- Michael, as always, thank you.

WARE: Thank you. BROWN: And we are getting word right now that -- or from Detroit that the FBI has shot and killed an Islamic leader they were trying to arrest. Mike Galanos is going to bring us late-breaking details on that.

Plus, we all watched the life-and-death drama when Somali pirates captured an American ship captain. Well, there are new innovative ways to keep it from happening again. In a CNN exclusive, Brian Todd is going to show us some of them. Check this out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TODD: This is a crucial part of the deterrent, a wall of water that's blasts out from the gunwale to knock the pirates off as they try to scale the ship. It can also flood the pirates' boat. They can mix in bleach, pepper, oil, even soap to try to distract them even more.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Are top Democratic donors getting VIP treatment at the Obama White House? It's one of the questions that we want answered tonight. Our political panel is going to tackle that one.

But, first, more messy news happening right now, Mike Galanos here with tonight's download.

Hi there, Mike.

MIKE GALANOS, HEADLINE NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Campbell.

Want to pick up a story you had mentioned before the break, breaking news -- FBI agents say they got into a gun battle near Detroit with an imam who was then shot and killed. It happened when agents tried to arrest 11 suspects at a warehouse near Dearborn, Michigan.

Now, charges include mail fraud, illegal firearms. Agents say the imam resisted arrest, then opened fire on them. Now, he had led a group of mostly African-American converts to Islam and wanted to establish an Islamic state right here in the U.S.

(NEWS BREAK)

BROWN: Big developments in the fight over health care reform -- just as House Democrats are getting to make a big announcement tomorrow, one senator threatening to stop evening.

Plus, the ugly truth about Andre Agassi -- his crystal meth confession when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Major developments tonight in the health care battle. CNN has learned House Democrats have reached a deal. And they are planning to unveil their plan tomorrow, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi e-mailing out invitations to a big rally on the Capitol steps right now. The new bill will include the so-called public option, a government-run insurance provider to compete with private insurance companies.

But any deal on health care is bound to be a fragile one, exhibit A, the Senate, and the ever independent Joe Lieberman. It was just yesterday that Senator Joe Lieberman promised to filibuster any bill that includes a public option.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Joe Lieberman is poised to deliver a damaging blow to Democrats and to the health care reform bill they're trying to get passed in the Senate.

LIEBERMAN: If at the end it's not what I think is good for our country and most people living in our country, then I will vote against cloture, I will join a filibuster, and I will try to stop the bill from passing.

DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Lieberman says he will try to block any kind of government-run health care option from passing the Senate, even if it allows states to opt out.

LIEBERMAN: It's still a government-run health insurance plan that puts the federal taxpayer on the line, and I don't want to do that at this point in our nation's history.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Joining me now, CNN political contributors James Carville and Ed Rollins, and also senior political correspondent Candy Crowley with us as well.

Welcome, guys,

James, when you first heard Joe Lieberman threatening to filibuster any health care bill that includes a public option, what was your gut reaction as a Democrat? What did you think?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, in one sense, I'm not surprised. He was against the Clinton health care bill in '94. He has huge, huge health care, health insurance companies in his state, in Connecticut.

And, you know, the majority leader doesn't seem to be very upset about this. A lot of this stuff is posturing, is negotiating. And he's just going to have to deal with that as this bill -- when a bill gets to the floor. It's part of what happens in Washington. It's the way the Senate works. And he's got his hand. And Senator Lincoln may have her hand, and Senator Snowe may have her hand, and that -- we're just going to have to take this thing and come right down to the wire with it. BROWN: But, Candy, doesn't Lieberman's move to you show how fragile the Democrats' coalition is? I mean, Harry Reid needs all of his members on board to get 60 votes. And doesn't that give individual senators, whether it's Lieberman or anybody else, a whole lot of power here?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

Joe Lieberman is today's Olympia Snowe. They all have the power, really, to keep a bill from going on the floor, to block a confirmation, to block hearings. They can do that.

And I think you need to see this in light of, what does Joe Lieberman want in that bill; what will make it palatable? That's how bills are made. So, there will be others. And we know that there are other Democrats who are looking askance to the public option, and certainly Joe Lieberman has problems with it.

But there's something that they can use -- that's why they call them sweeteners -- that can bring these folks on board.

BROWN: Ed, what are the stakes for congressional Democrats here? Politically, is this too big to fail?

ED ROLLINS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think they're going to get something. Whether they get the public option or not, I think that's the critical test here. And that's obviously what the 60-vote fight is over.

A majority of Democrats, I believe, certainly Harry Reid and certainly Speaker Pelosi, a majority in the Senate, a majority in the House both want health care. This president wants it. I think the details are always what loses votes here and there. And I think the 60 vote is the real difficult margin.

When you have got a 60-vote majority, you have got to make sure every single one has, as Candy said, everyone gets to be a king or a queen, and I think to a certain extent, that's the majority leader's problem right to today.

BROWN: And, James, where is President Obama in all of this? If we're talking about getting Democrats on the same page, I mean, isn't he the best person to do that? Does he need to step up and say, listen, you know, this is what I want now. Go get it done?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: That's a very, very fair question. And I don't know the answer, but I know before long that he's going to have to get in the middle of it. I think that the majority leader knows his caucus pretty well, and I think it looks like he can get about 58 members of it. And the president at some point, I suspect, it going to have to weigh in and have a little mano mano with some of the senators. And that's the way it works. When you have the administration really want something badly, the senators know that that they're not -- they've been around for a long time and they're going to play a hand like this. This is real politics at work here. By the way, he can get something by this, too. But also there are consequences to be against it. If Joe Lieberman is the person that stops a vote on this bill, it's going to be, you know, stops the bill by one vote, it will be pretty tough consequences in the caucus. And I think he knows that, too.

So everybody's gearing up. And the president is going to have to weigh into this. There's no doubt about it. There are so many votes the majority leader can get and then the president has got to come.

BROWN: While we're talking about the president, Candy, let me ask you about the other big political story today. "The Washington Times" report that team Obama is rewarding big Democratic donors with trips to the Oval Office, with parties at the White House, in the bowling alley, meetings with top officials. Isn't this the kind of type of stuff that candidate Obama said wasn't going happen if he were elected?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He certainly if not on the specifics did talk about how the American people didn't want business as usual in Washington. And this is business as usual.

There's two things wrong with this story. One is, it's not a crime what's going on. And number two, no on is shocked by it. I mean, this is, as long as -- remember, this is the first presidential candidate from a major party to fund himself through the general campaign. So much money has to go into this.

Now, this is for 2010. But those are expensive races as well. So as long as you've got this kind of money, you're going to get this kind of stuff. And frankly, no matter how you look at it, the American public sits out there and goes, so if you raise $30,000 you get access to top administration officials. What does that look like? It looks like you're buying access because that's exactly what it is. But it's not a crime.

Many have done it before him. Many may do it after him. But you're absolutely right, that the stakes get a little higher for the president who kept promising it would be a different looking Washington, and that's not different.

BROWN: How cynical does this make people, Ed?

ROLLINS: I think it makes him cynical. I mean, I started in the Nixon administration when you had the campaign manager who's the attorney general. The finance chairman was the secretary of commerce, but we've come a long way. And once again, I think you've gone to the point where someone has to protect the president.

And when I was Ronald Reagan's political adviser, I limited the amount of things. Everybody always wants you to have a picture, an apartment visit or go to school with your kids. At the end of the day, you got to say, the president's got to be presidential. And I think that's -- you know, you can raise a lot of money through a lot of different ways. But at the end of the day, this president promised to be a little bit different and I would hope he would be a little different. He'll be more effective long term if he is.

BROWN: James, is it do as I say, and not as I do?

CARVILLE: Well, every time that they run, and Candy is a very wise woman, they run and they say, oh, gee, it's going to be different. And then they could end it, it's never different. It never was different. It's not different, and it's never going to be different. To tell our viewers anything else is to not level with them.

I think that probably when these candidates say this president said it and he probably meant it. But when President Bush said it, he probably meant it.

And, you know, March 10, 2004, they had 270 overnight guests at the White House. They had contributors. Certainly President Clinton.

We used the White House, you know, people would come in and fund- raisers would stay there, but that's happened. It goes on. Unless we changed the system our money is raised, there's just no stopping it. I hate to say it, but that's the way it is in Washington.

ROLLINS: In all probability, the court is going to change the system one more time. If it throws out McCain-Feingold, there'll be no limit. The $30,000 will be irrelevant. It will be big money and at the end of the day --

CARVILLE: We may have to pay more.

BROWN: Right.

CARVILLE: Maybe it will go up to $100,000.

(LAUGHTER)

ROLLINS: We could spend it, James. We could spend it.

CARVILLE: Yes.

Right, I was paid a long time by these campaign donations. I'm not so much against them.

BROWN: All right, guys.

CARVILLE: That fed my family.

BROWN: James Carville, Ed Rollins, Candy Crowley for us tonight, guys, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

The White House has taken aim at FOX News for bias, but what about MSNBC? Does the White House really care about media bias? Or are they just trying to silence their critics? We are cutting through the bull tonight.

Also, tonight's breakout story. An exclusive look the how the captains and crews of cargo ships are learning to fight back against pirates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ready? In position. Down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: A British couple is missing tonight off the coast of Africa, and the fear is that their yacht has been seized by pirates. It's another violent reminder that piracy is alive and well on the high seas. And we all remember how an American cargo ship captain was held hostage for several days back in April.

In tonight's "Breakout" story, CNN's Brian Todd has an exclusive insider's look at a new strategy to try to stop piracy dead in the water.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Using the crudest tactics, they've hijacked the shipping industry with grappling hooks, AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. They brazenly clamor on board massive tankers and cargo ships, taking crews hostage. They usually have little use for the cargo. It's ransom they're after and they often get it.

Pirates off the eastern coast of Africa have cost the industry billions of dollars in recent years. Military officials tell CNN they don't have the resources to cover the vast areas of those hot zones. And with monsoon season ending in that region, the pirates are back at it.

But this is what they could now encounter. A security team helps the crew get into a blast-proof bridge. A sniper takes position on deck, scans the perimeter. It's a drill on board the "SS Horizon Producer," a cargo ship making a run into San Juan harbor. The vessel is equipped with a new multilayered security system called triton shield.

It starts with long-range surveillance cameras to detect pirates further out. And if they do get close, loud speaker alarms. A few feet away, trained guards patrol the deck under simulated fire.

At sea and in port, with the help of the San Juan Bay boat pilots, CNN has exclusive access, as the captain and crew are trained how to scramble into their secured bridges and engine rooms. It's not always smooth.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I need the guy's name and mission.

TODD: But the captain says his crew needs this.

CAPTAIN STEVE PROCIDA, S.S. HORIZON PRODUCER: Well, you saw the drill. Guns going off and that kind of stuff. And it was a realism about it. And I think it woke up a lot of guys.

TODD: This is the brainchild of a company called International Maritime Security Network, IMSN. The firm provides everything. Security teams, fortification of bridges, sniper nets, training the crew how to react if pirates breach the vessel. I spoke to an IMSN instructor who asked that his name and face not be identified because he conducts training in high-risk regions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We show them how to detain that individual. We show them how to use handcuffs. We also in the course train the crew on how to be a hostage.

TODD: But there's another part of the system aimed at never letting it get that far.

(on camera): This is a crucial part of the deterrent. A ball of water that blasts down from the gunnels to knock the pirates off who try to scale the ship. It can also flood the pirates' boat. They can mix in bleach, pepper, oil, even soap to try to distract them even more.

(voice-over): I'm repeatedly blasted, and when I try to look up alongside the hull, I can't see a thing. Back on deck, I press the instructor about the effectiveness of all this.

(on camera): How confident are you that this wall of water, the blast-proof bridge, the loud speakers are going to really keep pirates from coming on the ship?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're 99.999 percent sure that we've got the answer here.

TODD: Is that really that certain, because the pirates and the criminals always stay one step ahead of the law. 99.9 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's true.

TODD: Why?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back in our factory, we're already making the next version of the next step up. We're going to one step them. Every time they make a move, we'll be ready for them.

TODD (voice-over): Why not just arm the crew?

CAPTAIN LARRY WILKINSON, CEO, INTL. MARITIME SECURITY NETWORK: You put a weapon in a man's hand who's not trained to use that weapon and should you have a target come alongside of you, he can just start opening fire. And it he could be a fisherman.

TODD: But this system is not cheap. A shipping line can choose any combination of security layers or just one. If is gets the whole package, the price starts in the mid 200,000 for a vessel. That includes highly-trained guards on board for the first voyage. After that, it's just under $5,000 for each day the security team is on board. But an official with Horizon Shipping Lines tells us what a hijacking could cost in delays or ruined cargo.

JACOB WEGRZYN, HORIZON SHIPPING LINES: In Puerto Rico, we have pharmaceutical loads that are worth, you know, $30 million, $40 million in a container. So if you have 700 or 800 containers on a ship, you can do the math.

TODD: What these security consultants are really aiming for is a true deterrent.

JOHN KLENIATIS, DEFENSE SHIELD INC.: The whole point is, they see this from the water and they say, these guys are looking for something. It's not worth hitting the ship. Let's go somewhere else.

TODD: This is the only vessel IMSN has outfitted so far, but we're told more are in line. In the coming months, this system is going to be deployed on another merchant vessel off the coast of Africa for a trial by fire.

Brian Todd, CNN, San Juan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: Tennis legend, Andre Agassi, making a bombshell admission about using crystal meth. What was he thinking? We have all the details coming up when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: A jaw-dropping revelation tonight from tennis great Andre Agassi. He has a new book coming out with a big confession.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tennis legend Andre Agassi now admits using crystal meth then lying to officials when he failed a drug test. In his upcoming autobiography, Agassi says he turned to the drug in 1997 when he plunged in the tennis rankings.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Agassi relates he was at home one day in '97, when his assistant Slim suggested they get high.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Agassi adds when he failed the drug test he just told tennis officials then he unknowingly drank a soda laced with the stuff.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So what drove Agassi to drugs? We're going to bring in Tom Perrotta who is a senior editor of "Tennis" magazine. Also with us journalist and sports analyst Stephen A. Smith. And then here with me in L.A., addiction expert Howard Samuels is joining me as well.

Howard, let me start with you and this bombshell admission.

HOWARD SAMUELS, EXECUTIVE DIR., WONDERLAND CENTER: Right. BROWN: He says in 1997 he used crystal meth. He wrote, "It was periodic for a year or so. I can't speak to addiction. But a lot of people would say if you're using anything for an escape, you've got a problem."

And clearly, he had a major problem, right?

SAMUELS: No question. I mean, people just do a line of crystal meth and that's normal. It is not normal to be using crystal meth. I mean, obviously, he's an addict. And he just didn't start with crystal meth, he had to have been doing things beforehand because you just don't, you know, pick it up one day and that's it.

BROWN: So, I mean, how bad do you think it was based on what he's telling us about this sort of off and on year-long use.

SAMUELS: Well, I think that, you know, people have to understand that drug use is a part of American culture. I mean, it really is. And we're talking about hard-core drugs.

I've dealt with Major League Baseball players who have taken hard-core drugs to play, to come down, the whole thing. So, yes, it is surprising that Agassi was using crystal meth. But it's not surprising because it's such a part of our culture. And obviously, Agassi has that addiction issue in his life.

BROWN: Right.

Stephen, I guess why it feels so shocking to a lot of people is he had a squeaky clean image to most of us. Were there rumors that he did drugs during his career? Were you surprised by that?

STEPHEN A. SMITH, JOURNALIST: There were no words and it comes across as a bit surprising to say the least. But if you really think about the history of some of these athletes, it's not surprising at all.

Consider this, that in 1997, Andre Agassi was ranked number 141 in the world. Around this time, notice, he didn't give specific dates as he's, you know, recalling his sordid history he didn't give specific dates. But for 1997, he was ranked number 141.

Then the next year, he had elevated to the top ten, winning the French Open. By 1999, he was ranked number one in the world. Think about the endorsements and everything else that came his way following that level of success. So if you're talking about crystal meth, the high that it gives you, you're feeling energized which is something that he alludes to. In excerpts of the book, it's clear why he was doing this, because he was gaining some kind of advantage and that's the kind of thing that we've been talking about in baseball.

We've talked about it to some degree in football. But, clearly, we need to look at a whole bunch of other sports as well and a whole bunch of other athletes who, by the way, don't happen to be African- American in this case. BROWN: Tom, what did you think? I mean, what was your reaction when you first heard about this? And, you know, put it in a broader perspective here, I guess given that he retired with so much goodwill, what does this mean for his legacy?

TOM PERROTTA, SENIOR EDITOR, "TENNIS" MAGAZINE: I actually don't think it's going to hurt his legacy all that much. I wasn't too surprised just in the sense that 1997 was the low point of Agassi's career. Professionally and personally, he was having a lot of trouble, too. He was not wanting to be married to Brooke Shields that was coming up, and he wanted to postpone it or call it off. And in terms of his legacy, I don't think it's going to hurt it that much because he's come out, he's admitted it, and he's probably going to be a better role model for it because he's dealing with a lot with underprivileged kids who have problems.

Now, he can say to them, look, I had a problem, I solved it. I made something of myself. And I think, you know, if it was steroids, it would be a much different issue. But since it's -- I think he was doing it for recreational use, it's not going to hurt.

SMITH: Recreation? Is that what you just said? Did you just say recreation?

PERROTTA: I did, yes.

BROWN: Yes.

SMITH: Yes. I'm just thinking about it. I mean, professionally speaking, he benefited tremendously on a financial level while this kind of stuff was transpiring, much like Mark McGwire did as well. I mean, it's just very, very interesting and it's more than a mere coincidence that these kind of things have been taken place.

And again, I'm talking about, look at the numbers, Campbell. In 1997, ranked 141 in the world.

BROWN: OK.

SMITH: Then all of a sudden, he was back to number one.

PERROTTA: But that was the year he was using crystal meth in his worst season.

BROWN: Let me get Howard -- all right, very quickly, let me get Howard's take on this. I mean, is it something that can help you physically in terms of --

SAMUELS: It can help you short term. I mean, you feel invincible. You feel like a superman. OK? But there is such destructive, physical and emotional --

BROWN: Over the long term?

SAMUELS: Over the long term that it's not worth it. You're not going to take this drug and be successful for two years. I'll tell you that right off the top.

BROWN: All right. We've got to leave it there.

Howard, Stephen and Tom, thanks for your time, guys.

When we come back, a lot of talk these days about White House officials lobbing verbal grenades at FOX News. They say FOX is biased, not a real news organization. They don't seem to have a problem with left-leaning MSNBC, though. Is the Obama administration just trying to squash dissenting voices?

We are cutting through the bull tonight when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: The White House war with Fox News has gotten a lot of attention lately. According to the Pew Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism, it was among the top-five most reported stories last week.

Now, I have largely ignored it on this show, mostly because I thought it was silly. I mean, really, the White House is only just now figuring out Fox in prime-time has a conservative bias? Really? I think our friends at Fox News have been pretty upfront about it, and frankly, pretty unapologetic, for that matter.

What confuses me is that if the White House is really so concerned about bias in the media, then why are they only targeting Fox? This week, I interviewed Valerie Jarrett. She's one of the president's closest advisers. And I asked her about the White House charges of bias at Fox News, but I also asked her about bias at MSNBC. Listen to what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: Officials have been very public about their feelings about Fox News and what they believe Fox News is and represents. And they made a point of coming out and saying it.

(CROSSTALK)

VALERIE JARRETT, ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: That's a different issue. I think what we're saying is that we want the public to understand what's going on. When we saw the kinds of distortions this summer, particularly directed at seniors over health care reform, it was really outrageous. And I think what the president said in his message before Congress is we're going to speak directly to the American people and make sure that they understand the truth. And so certainly, if we see somebody distorting the truth, we're going to call them on the carpet for that. But we don't want to take our focus away from the core issues that are so important to the American people. Now, when there's all that chatter and distortion and false information, we have to disseminate -- we have to distinguish between truth and fiction.

BROWN: Do you think Fox News is biased? JARRETT: Of course they are biased. Of course they are.

BROWN: Do you also think that MSNBC is biased?

JARRETT: Well, you know what, this is the thing. I don't want to -- actually, I don't want to just generalize all Fox is biased or that another station has bias. I think what we want to do is to look at it on a case-by-case basis. And when we see a pattern of distortion, we're going to be honest about that pattern of distortion.

BROWN: But you only see that at Fox News. That's all...

(CROSSTALK)

JARRETT: I think what the administration has said very clearly is that we're going to speak truth to power. When we saw all of those distortions in the course of the summer, when people were coming down to town hall meetings and putting up signs that were scaring seniors to death, when we've seen commercials go up on television that are distorting the truth, we're actually calling everybody. So this isn't anything that's simply directed at Fox. We really just want the American people to have a clear understanding.

There's so much at stake right now. We really don't have a lot of time for nonsense and distortions. The American people are also smarter than that. Let them reach their own judgments based on the facts. Let's just take health care, for example. Reasonable people could differ about the right approach, so let's have a conversation about that. Let's not scare people by telling them that things are going to happen that are actually not even on the table. Let's just talk about the facts.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BROWN: So I am stating what I think is the obvious here. Jarrett seems loath to admit that MSNBC has a bias, and that is where I think the White House loses all credibility on this issue. Just as Fox News leans to the right with their opinionated hosts in prime- time, MSNBC leans left. I don't think anyone at Fox or MSNBC would disagree with that. In fact, both Fox News and MSNBC are doing quite well in the prime-time ratings by doing partisan opinion.

Look, if the White House wants to lead us in a conversation about bias in the media and how we define journalism today, I would love that. Times have changed. It would be great to talk honestly about how we draw important distinctions between the various media outlets.

Some of us, like my colleagues here at CNN, are still trying to do journalism. I believe that journalists do have a crucial role to play in challenging our leaders no matter what their political persuasion, and in holding them accountable.

Opinionated cable news hosts have a valid but very different role. They either cheerlead or criticize. And in doing so, they connect with those who agree with them. They validate the opinions of those on the left and on the right. They provoke one another; they fight with one another, and, yes, they entertain us. And in a polarized country, that gets big ratings.

I'm not critical of what my friends at Fox News and MSNBC do, but it is apples and oranges when compared to what we at CNN do. And we should all just acknowledge that. And if the White House wants to leap into this debate, as they have, and talk about bias in the media, then great. But White House officials should elevate the conversation and talk about bias on the right and on the left. Because when you just target one side, you reveal your own bias, that you are only critical of those who are critical of you.

And that's all for tonight. I will see you back in New York tomorrow night. Thanks for watching.

"LARRY KING LIVE" is up next.