Return to Transcripts main page


President Obama's Afghanistan Strategy; Tiger Woods Apologizes

Aired December 2, 2009 - 15:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez with the next generation of news. This is a conversation, this is not a speech, and, as always, it's your turn to get involved.

Thirty thousand American troops are today packing to deploy to Afghanistan. And that means more Americans will likely die in Afghanistan. That's a reality.

You just heard Senator John McCain express that reality a little while ago. It caught our attention this morning when we heard it. This is all going to happen pretty quickly, too. It's about two things, really, new numbers and a new exit plan.

Look, it's not just President Obama's vision anymore. It's the way it's going to be. Despite this debate, the debate that's already started on the airwaves and in the chambers of Congress, where party lines are already being drawn, sometimes blurred, plenty of Democratic lawmakers are not on board, not on board. Most Republicans are on board.

That's a live picture you're looking at right now from Capitol Hill. That's Foreign -- the House Foreign Affairs Committee. They're putting their opinions on the record. But watch this. This is from this morning's meetings with the Senate Armed Services Committee, not to be confused with the House committee, three administration insiders making clear where they stand on this.

Let's watch it together.


ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Defeating al Qaeda and enhancing Afghan security are mutually reinforcing missions. They cannot be untethered from one another, as much as we might wish that to be the case.

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The men and women carrying out this military-civilian mission are not members of a list or items on a PowerPoint slide. They are our friends and neighbors, our sons and daughters, our brothers and sisters. And we will be asking them and the American people to make extraordinary sacrifices on behalf of our security.

ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINTS CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Every military leader in the chain of command as well as those of the Joint Chiefs was given voice throughout this process, and every one of us used it. We now have before us a strategy more appropriately matched to the situation on the ground in Afghanistan and resources matched more appropriately to that strategy, particularly with regard to reversing the insurgency's momentum in 2010.


SANCHEZ: All right. That's Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

I just want to stop and show you something real quick, because we're going to be doing this moving forward here on the Sanchez show every day at 3:00.

Aside from the Twitter list, we're also going to be doing something called Rick's List. And you just saw Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mullen there addressing those members of the Senate. Well, look at this. He's also got this for us. This is a tweet that he sent out.

He says: "I fully support the president's strategy for Afghanistan. Ready to execute."

A lot of very important and relevant people are tweeting, and we are going to capture them on Rick's List. More on that in a minute.

All right, we knew that some of those folks that you just saw right there were going to be on board, right? But what about the troops and the commanders in the war zone, those who are either getting ready to deploy, or, look, are already downrange? I want you to check this out.

CNN is the only network to get this. So, I want to show it to you at the very top of this show. This is General Stanley McChrystal. He's the top commander of all U.S. and NATO troops, as you know. He's talking to his troops in Kandahar, today, this morning, after the president's speech.

CNN was granted unprecedented access by the general, so here it is.


GENERAL STANLEY MCCHRYSTAL, U.S. COMMANDER IN AFGHANISTAN: This will go on for quite a while, but it will be decided in my view in the next one to two years.

We are going to focus with additional forces in the south. The south is going to be the main effort. I believe that, by next summer, the uplift of new forces will make a difference on the ground significantly.


SANCHEZ: Now to the nitty-gritty, what is happening in the war zone itself. That's probably as important as anything else, isn't it? You know how fond I am of Michael Ware's honesty and his -- well, you saw him here with me the other day when we were discussing this, before the president's announcement. The guy's got spunk. He's got passion. I like that. Here he displays it once again.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What is most significant, just as a quick setup, about this map? You see most of the American flags down here, the NATO forces up here.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the flags say it all, John. This is an American war. Now, when NATO antes up with more troops, or not, which most likely it's not except in a tokenistic sense, look at the NATO flags. Where's the conflict? It's not there. The conflict is down here on the Pakistani border region.

Kandahar, the capital city, is under siege. Zabul, there's entire districts that the Taliban control right at this moment. Paktika, I mean most of that is under Taliban influence, if not control.

KING: This, of course, is Tora Bora, where they believe back in the early days Osama bin Laden escaped in Pakistan. Instructive not only to talk about past mistakes, but also, Michael, the terrain. This is not Iraq. This is not flat desert.

WARE: Absolutely not. Yes, I mean a very key lesson was learned in this battle in 2001. There, Afghan -- American special forces relied on -- American special forces relied on Afghan militia to do most of the fighting. Well, Osama paid them more than we did. So he just slipped through the back door, which you can see, you know, there's a myriad of back doors.

So, the next big battle in similar terrain in March 2002 operate in (INAUDIBLE) that was American-led and fought. That was the first lesson.

The second lesson, look at this, mate. Look at this. This border region, this is the end of the Himalayas. These valleys swallow infantry divisions whole. How on earth do you ever expect anyone, let alone the Afghans, even the American military, to seal that? It's just not going to happen.

The true story of this Afghan war is that Saudi Arabia is playing a hand in here. Iran is playing a hand in here. India has enormous concern in Pakistan, because Pakistan and India are rivals. They're using Afghanistan as yet another battlefield.

So, where was any kind of consideration from the president about the regional approach, this broad chess game that needs to be played to get Americans home from there?


SANCHEZ: Tiger Woods apologizes. And I'm going to read to you what he says and tell you what he's really, really apologizing for. Also, I want you to take a look at this woman right there. She is a model. She is a mother. And she's just also become a fatality after a cosmetic injection. Wait until I tell you where she got that injection. You're going to say, "What?", much like I did.

Also, there's something else I got to tell you about. We're doing this Rick's List, which I think is extremely significant, because we're going to keep the conversation going with all of you on our major Twitter board and on Facebook and on MySpace, but now we're also defining relevant people to our stories and conversations of the day.

That's what Rick's List is. And we're cuing in Eric Kuhn, who is joining me here from Washington, on some of the people who are talking about the story today, would be Afghanistan, for example, and who better than the Joints Chiefs of Staff?

What's he saying here?

ERIC KUHN, CNN AUDIENCE INTERACTION PRODUCER: Well, he finished with his hearing on Capitol Hill with the senators, and so he tweeted to the senators -- or to his followers that he finished his first hearing and told senators, our approach to Afghanistan is as much about partnering with Afghan forces as it is about fighting.

SANCHEZ: This is about news. This is about Twitter and social media being used to make news and to seek comments from people on the air live.

KUHN: Absolutely. And because we had Rick's List set up, we were able to easily pinpoint what the newsmaker was saying and bring it to our viewers.

SANCHEZ: This is too cool. I'm so glad you're helping us get this...


KUHN: I love it. I love it.

SANCHEZ: It's working.

Thanks so much.

We will be right back. Stay with us. More from all of our social media and from "Rick's List" and the Tiger story.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back.

One guy you have heard me quote plenty on this show whose analysis is often spot, because it is, has weighed in on President Obama's war strategy here on CNN. "The New York Times"' Tom Friedman disagrees with the numbers, disagrees with the surge. He says the president has it backward, as a matter of fact, that he needs to go small in Afghanistan, not big.


THOMAS FRIEDMAN, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": What is the president basically arguing, is that we need to get a surge in Afghanistan like we got in Iraq. That's really what began changed the game in Iraq in our favor.

Well, what he says in Afghanistan to get that surge, what we basically have to do is rebuild the Afghan government, because right now the Afghan people don't trust their government led by Karzai. It's been corrupt, it's been venal, has not delivered.

So, the basic Obama argument is, we got to go in, rebuild the Afghan government. Then the people will support the government, join the army and they will in effect lead the surge against the Taliban.

It's not like I think, boy, I'm sure I have got this right, I'm sure he's got it wrong. This is about nuance. It's really me saying, in the balance of all these things, what we need here at home, what would be required to change Afghanistan, I would opt for small there and big here, rather than try to do big there and big here at the same time.


SANCHEZ: There's a lot of opinions. And obviously this is a very important story for all Americans, so this morning I asked the question right here on the Twitter board, directing it mostly to Rick's List, so I would get comments from people who are relevant to the story, people in Congress and people in the Senate.

And, Eric, we got a buyer just a little while ago, didn't we? I think we have got -- this is a senator from Utah, right, Jason Chaffetz. What's he saying?

KUHN: And you asked him whether or not Obama convinced him last night. And he said that the president didn't state moral and...

SANCHEZ: "The moral imperative for 100,000 in Afghan, did not define victory. Go big or go home."


SANCHEZ: "And God bless the troops."

He disagrees. He obviously doesn't feel like he was convinced last night.

KUHN: As you see, he responded, because he was on Rick's List, so he responded right there to your question.

SANCHEZ: We got a comment from Michael Moore that's going to be coming up in just a little bit as well

(CROSSTALK) KUHN: Absolutely. He's also on Rick's List.

SANCHEZ: That's on Rick's List. We will bring you that in just a little bit.

Meanwhile, here's what else is coming up.

"I have let my family down, and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart." That's a direct quote from Tiger Woods. It's a mea culpa, if you will, from, listen, to what is easily one of the most famous athletes, if not one of the most accomplished, in the entire world.

More of the apology and more on the women who may have forced the apology coming up.

Also, they were on the list. They weren't on the list. In other words, they were on a list, but not the list. All right, which is it? New e-mails revealed between this party crashing couple and a contact at the Pentagon -- we're going to tell you what it says.

Also, don't forget there's another way that you can join us in this discussion that we do every day for an hour, this national conversation, as we call it. All you got to do is call us at this number, 1-877-742-5751 and say, hey, Rick.


SANCHEZ: Friday morning, Tiger Woods crashed his car. Today, he offered us a glimpse into his own personal wreckage.

These six words pretty much tell the story, don't they? "I have let my family down." "I have let my family down." That is the start of a statement posted late this morning on Tiger Woods' Web site.

I'm going to read you more in just a moment, but let's go straight to the real context here. Let's not beat around the bush.

This woman, Rachel Uchitel, released a statement yesterday denying published reports that link her to Tiger Woods. Then came this, a cover story on "Us Weekly." A second woman, a cocktail waitress, alleges a lengthy affair with Woods, an affair that allegedly started when his wife, Elin Woods, was pregnant with their first child.

Then, this morning, it's reported that that cocktail waitress, Jaimee Grubbs, who appeared in VH-1's "Tool Academy," says she has Tiger's voice recorded on a voicemail. On the voicemail, you hear what appears to be Woods' voice asking Grubbs to adjust her telephone settings to prevent his wife from seeing her number on the phone -- quote -- "My wife went through my phone and may be calling you."

CNN has not independently confirmed the voice is Tiger's, but Woods made his admission only a few hours later, again, from his Web site -- quote -- "I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves. I am not without faults and I am far short of perfect. I am dealing with my behavior and personal failings behind closed doors with my family. Those feelings should be shared by us alone.

"Although I am a well-known person and have made my career as a professional athlete, I have been dismayed to realize the full extent of what tabloid scrutiny means. For the last week, my family and I have been hounded to expose intimate details of our personal lives. The stories in particular that physical violence played any role in the car accident were utterly false and malicious.

"Elin has always done more to support our family and shown more grace than anyone could possibly expect."

He finishes: "I will strive to be a better person and the husband and father that my family deserves. For all of those who have supported me over the years, I offer my profound apology."

Tiger Woods remains arguably the most dominant athlete in the world of his sport, and, by far, the most sought-after endorsement personality. How or if this sudden scandal affects that remains really to be seen, and, according to most experts, depends in large measure on how deftly he handles it.


RICHARD B. CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here's a guy without much experience who now travels around the world apologizing.


SANCHEZ: A guy without much experience is how he refers to the president of the United States. Did he hear what former Vice President Dick Cheney said about the president? And he didn't even wait for Mr. Obama to finish his speech before he slammed him. Is that out of line? Some might argue, yes. Some might argue no. So, we will get arguments from both sides.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Obviously, we never knew her life would be in danger. Otherwise, I never would have taken her to the clinic.


SANCHEZ: Just a glance at her and you would think that she had really just about everything, a family, fame, beauty. She went to get a simple cosmetic injection and she later died.

It's the type of cosmetic surgery, by the way, that frankly I have never even heard of. Maybe you have. We will go through this together when I come back.


SANCHEZ: All right a couple of things to check with. As you know, we call this a national conversation, so we like to have -- to hear what you have to say, as well as Rick's List. But we haven't forgotten you as well, those of you who may not necessarily be relevant to any particular story. And you know what? We're getting a lot of comments about Rick's List. People like it.

KUHN: We are. It's great. Check out this one. "I'm a huge fan of the new Rick's List, great merger of new Twitter technology and @CNN, always a leader of new integration."

SANCHEZ: See, the bosses are going to like us, Eric. This is good.

KUHN: And who is leading the way? At ricksanchezCNN. LOL.

Here's another one: "Finally, a constructive use of the list feature."

And guess who else is on Twitter list now?

SANCHEZ: Tell me.

KUHN: The White House -- @thewhitehouse is on Twitter list. Maybe they're picking up off what we're doing.

SANCHEZ: Tell me what's going on with Michael Moore as well. Do we have something from him.

KUHN: Yes, we do.


SANCHEZ: You want to hold off on that, or you want to see if you can get it now?

KUHN: Let's see if we can get Michael Moore.

SANCHEZ: All right. We got a Michael Moore comment coming in just a little while ago. He's commenting on what the president of the United States said last night.

And from what I understand, Michael Moore is not happy.

KUHN: Here we go.

SANCHEZ: It says: "Did candidate Obama promise to have more troops in Afghanistan than the Soviets did during their occupation? Well, he's topped them now. Sad." -- Michael Moore, mmflint, commenting on the president's speech last night. We will continue to bring it to you.

Thanks, Eric.

KUHN: Absolutely. SANCHEZ: I have got some e-mails hot off the Associated Press I want to show you as well between a Washington aide and the reality star wannabes who deny crashing last week's White House state dinner. You remember that.

Tareq and Michaele Salahi tried to wrangle tickets through Michele Jones. Now, she's a special assistant to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, credible. Now, check out the timeline. Friday, before the dinner, Jones says she hopes to get arrival ceremony tickets and promises to get in touch as soon as she has an answer.

OK. Monday morning, Tareq Salahi asks Jones what time to arrive, which entrance to use. Hours later, Jones responds, "It still is not a done deal," she tells him. She hasn't stopped trying, but it doesn't seem likely.

Tuesday morning, day of the dinner, Jones e-mails Salahi, the arrival ceremony is moving to a smaller space. She will call or e- mail as soon as she knows whether or not she can get the tickets to the dinner.

So, obviously, as you can see, there's no deal done here yet, right? Later that day, Jones leaves a voice-mail, no entry, she essentially says. You're not going to be able to go. You're not cleared. Well, the Salahis respond after the dinner, claiming their cell phone battery was dead.

Listen to this from their e-mail. "We ended up going to the gate to check in at 6:30 p.m. to just check, in case I got approved. Since we didn't know, and our name was indeed on the list, we are very grateful. And God bless you."

Secret Service is saying that their names were not on the list. So, how did they get in? At this point, nobody seems to know. There is an active investigation and a hearing in Congress tomorrow. And, no, the Salahis still have not shown any proof that they were actually invited.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): She would tell me, no, I want a bigger behind. Look at me with my height.


SANCHEZ: "I want a big behind." Looking at her, you wouldn't think that she needed any kind of enhancement. She goes in for a simple cosmetic injection, it's called, and later dies. How does something like that happen? Well, we're going to tell you. We're looking into this story, which is by the way a huge deal in Latin America. She was a very famous woman.

Also, don't forget that you can join in the national conversation whenever you visit Atlanta. We will have you right here on the set with us, and we will have conversations during the show, and I will ask you to vote on things. There. The number is 877-4CNN-TOUR, 877- 4CNN-TOUR. Or check us out at

It's called Inside the Conversation With Rick Sanchez. I would love to have you here. Let us know.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. I like this hour. There's a lot of good stuff in this show.

According to the American Society For Plastic Surgery, there were more than 10 million cosmetic procedures performed in the United States in 2008. Did you know that? Ten million. It was down, though, from 11 million in 2007. And that's just about the time the economy started to slow.

So, the economy has slowed cosmetic procedures as well, but maybe not so much in Latin America, maybe not so much in Argentina, where a woman has died of a buttocks procedure. Now, this is the former Miss Argentina, beautiful woman. Her name is Solange Magnano, 37 years old, mother of twins and represented her country in 1994.

Today, she's dead. Reports say that she died of a pulmonary embolism after buttocks procedure. I can't believe I'm saying that on television. The story is getting a lot of play in Latin America.

And Rafael Romo is our senior editor of Latin American affairs.

My wife and I watched this the other day when it first came over, and we were wondering, what happened? Just fill us in. What do you know about this thing?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Well, she was getting ready for a show. She had her own modeling agency and was getting ready for a show in December.

And, so, she told a friend, listen, I think I need a little something back there. And there's this clinic in Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and I think I'm going to go there. Would you come with me?

And so they went together.

SANCHEZ: For an injection?

ROMO: For an injection. It was just an injection.

SANCHEZ: So an injection would make her butt more how she wanted it.

ROMO: Exactly. And you saw the video, this woman, if you called her beautiful, the word is not enough. She was very, very beautiful. But still...

SANCHEZ: Yes, yes...

(CROSSTALK) ROMO: ... she felt like she needed a little extra.

SANCHEZ: That's telling.

ROMO: And so she went to this clinic, three days later she was dead.

SANCHEZ: What are people saying down there? Have you got any sound from anybody over there talking about this?

ROMO: Well, this story is getting, as you can imagine, a lot of ink in Argentina. In Argentina, it's estimated that one out of every 30 people get some sort of procedure -- plastic surgery...

SANCHEZ: That's a lot. That's a lot.

ROMO: It's wildy popular.

SANCHEZ: That's a lot. That's amazing. Rafael (ph), thanks for bringing us up on that story.

I'm going to take it now to our medical expert, because, you know, as I look at this, Elizabeth Cohen, I'm wondering, I've never even heard of this thing, have you? Have you ever heard of injections to enhance the buttocks?


SANCHEZ: I keep saying that word, and I catch myself every time, the buttocks. But what is it...

COHEN: You say it really well.

SANCHEZ: No, tell us, seriously, what it is and how can somebody die from it?

COHEN: OK. Well, first of all, I want to be clear that we don't really, really know what kind of procedure Miss Argentina had. OK. And I don't know -- I haven't spoken to her doctors, I don't know, we're going off the reporting.

SANCHEZ: We know she died of a pulmonary embolism.

COHEN: OK. So we're going off of that reporting. So let me tell you a little bit about butt lifts, OK, that's what the plastic surgeons we talked to call them. They call them butt lifts. And what they said to us is, look, chances are the procedure that she had was where you take fat from one part of your body, let's say your stomach, and then you put it into the butt to make it sort of bigger and higher, to sort of bigger and higher, to sort of lift it up and make it bigger.

That's a surgical procedure. And so they said, when you have that, you can have a complication known as a pulmonary embolism, which is where a blood clot goes to the lungs and so the lungs can't work any more. She died, we're told, three day after the procedure, that would be about the amount of time that you would die from a pulmonary embolism after a procedure. It's a rare complication, but it's known, it does happen.

SANCHEZ: Should people who are considering plastic surgery be concerned about this? And I'm just wondering, you know, we hear of nose jobs and we hear of this lift and that lift, and sometimes it almost sounds like, eh, they had it done, big deal, it has become commonplace. Is this prevalent enough to be considered that way? Or does this go into the non-mainstream part of cosmetic surgery?

COHEN: No, I mean, people have surgeries like this, procedures like this all the time. And...


SANCHEZ: Really? Where they inject fat from one part of the body into another?

COHEN: Yes, or where they do some kind of injection or sort of moving the fat around. I mean, these plastic surgery procedures that sort of supplement or augment one part of the body or take fat away from one part of the body. There...

SANCHEZ: So what is the take-away?

COHEN: So the take-away is if you're going to do it, know the risks. You have to know that death is a possibility. A pulmonary embolism is a possibility. So I mean, you can do it, but know that that could happen.

SANCHEZ: Elizabeth, Rafael, my thanks to both of you. Interesting segment.


DICK CHENEY, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: This is a guy without much experience, who now travels around the world apologizing.


SANCHEZ: That's the voice of our former vice president. He's criticizing our current president and he did it just before last night's major foreign policy announcement. He suggests that Mr. Obama is making war decisions for the wrong reasons. Imagine that.

Also the holidays are here and I'm psyched because I've got four kids so it's a lot of fun around the house. So next, a story about 12 bouncers bouncing. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: All right. We have got some breaking news that we have just gotten in and I want to read it to you because certainly it is a significant story that we have been following about the accused Fort Hood killer. This is Major Nadal, you see him right there. Let me read to you what this says.

"Fort Hood, Texas: At 2:00 p.m. today, 32 specifications of attempted premeditated murder." Now listen to the language here, this just came in, folks, "32 specifications of attempted premeditated murder were proffered against Major Nadal Malik Hasan under Article 80 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice."

Thirty-two. That would likely mean that he has got 32 charges on him now for these. Our -- you know, Pam is a former prosecutor, and she happens to be producing our show today. Pam, is that right, is that what they are essentially, if we were looking at a civil court or a criminal court, those would be charges, right?

Charges, OK, so these are essentially charges. It's military language that we're using for you. But I'll continue. As with the initial charges, these are allegations only and the accused is presumed innocent until proven otherwise, the investigation of this matter continues and additional charges remain a possibility.

The victims in these "specifications" include 30 soldiers and two civilians, two Fort Hood police officers. So there you have it. This is what I'm reading to you from the form. This is coming to us right now from Fort Hood, apparently within the last hour-and-a-half, they have filed these charges against him. Obviously as there's more information coming out on this story, we will bring it to you.

Moving on. We're going to bring you more news in just a moment. let's go to break.


SANCHEZ: A couple of quick things to pass on here. Welcome back, I'm Rick Sanchez in the world headquarters of CNN. First back to our "Rick's List," where we bring you comments from people relevant to news stories who are commenting today. And this is a comment from Ambassador Edward Walker who has been saying a lot about the president's speech last night.

Eric, he was ambassador to?


SANCHEZ: Expert on the Middle East.

KUHN: Yes, for 35 years and he writes: "is McChrystal on the same page? Obama is focused on terrorism, McChrystal talks of war for the Afghans, are they the same?" Interesting question he raises, especially with some much experience in the region.

SANCHEZ: And especially with all of that has been written and said about the disparity at times between the general and the president.

KUHN: Ambassador Walker is on the list.

SANCHEZ: He's on "Rick's List"? KUHN: He's on "Rick's List."

SANCHEZ: Happy to have him. Thanks so much.

During the Bush administration, Dick Cheney was referred to as among the most powerful vice presidents in history. But certainly not the most public, right? I mean, he stayed in the background and he let President Bush get all the pub. Well, now under President Obama, as ironic as this may seem, Dick Cheney can't seem to get enough air time.

He's on the radio, he's on TV, he's giving speeches, but this week he may have done something that leaves even his supporters wondering if it was really the right thing to do. He did a 90-minute interview blasting, really undermining, in many ways, President Obama's plans for Afghanistan. And he did so just hours before the president's speech -- on the eve of the president's speech.

Here's a part of it.


CHENEY: There's talk about exit strategies and how soon we can get out, instead of talk about how do we win. And those folks watch enough of that will begin to move away from what I would describe as the U.S. position, and they'll begin to look for ways to accommodate their enemies.


SANCHEZ: At one point he says, this guy has no experience. which in and of itself, referring to the president on the eve of such a major speech as "this guy."

Tony Blankley is a Republican strategist. Maria Cardona is a Democratic strategist. And we welcome both of them for what I hope will be an engaging and spirited conversation about this.

Tony let me begin with you. You know, my dad always said, son, timing is everything in life. And I'm wondering if the timing here was right? What are you saying?

TONY BLANKLEY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think there are two questions, one whether what he said was appropriate and one whether he saying it was appropriate. Now nothing that he said is not -- I haven't seen in The Washington Post or The New York Times in their political assessments in the days leading up to what -- and in fact a lot of the assessments of the retired generals on cable have been making have made the same points.

So the question really is, as a former vice president, should he have held his tongue? And the tradition...


SANCHEZ: Yes, he's not a pundit. he's not a -- I mean, he's not a pundit, he's not a guy -- I mean, a vice president shouldn't be the guy going around cable stations giving daily comments on stuff, or are they? I don't know.

BLANKLEY: Well, keep in mind that the current administration has ordered criminal investigations of Bush employees regarding interrogation which the vice president was involved in. This is unprecedented and I can understand why the vice president is more vigorous in his defense of what his administration did than others have been.

SANCHEZ: That's a good point.

BLANKLEY: Although Jimmy Carter -- Jimmy Carter has been pretty tough obviously. I was in the Reagan administration, we badmouthed Jimmy Carter and he badmouthed us back. So there is some precedent for it.

SANCHEZ: You know, that's a good point, what he's actually doing is defending himself against a possible -- his own possible prosecution.

Maria, what do you say to that?

MARIA CARDONA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that's exactly right. But I also think that he's trying to cover for what he knows were eight years of completely ignoring the war of necessity, which we needed to do in Afghanistan. And it's exactly the reason why we're in the situation in Afghanistan that we are in today.

It's also completely laughable that he is slamming President Obama on this when he was the one, if everybody remembers, the enforcer. When anybody ever dared -- tried to even try to criticize the Bush administration, he would call them unpatriotic and would claim that he was -- they were giving aid and comfort to the enemy. So it's ironic and it's laughable.

SANCHEZ: Do you think he's helping himself politically by doing this? Because I just saw a Washington Post poll, Tony, and they asked, who are the Republicans who best reflect the Republican Party. and one -- not 1 percent of more than 1,000 people, one chose Cheney as their role model. That's not good, right?

BLANKLEY: Well, look, I don't think he is -- I mean, he took himself out of the presidential campaign in 2000 because of his heart condition. So I don't think he aspires to office. I think he's talking for history and he's going to very vigorously defend, obviously we have heard on this show the criticism of the former administration continues. They have every right to criticize...


SANCHEZ: But what about -- what about -- let's go back to my first question...

BLANKLEY: And I think he has every right to defend him.

SANCHEZ: Let's go back to my first question. Should he have done it on the eve of his president -- because this is his president too, on the eve of his president giving a momentous -- or announcing a momentous decision about how we're going to fight a war in Afghanistan? Because, again, certainly he has the right to do it? Was that the wrong time, Tony?

BLANKLEY: Well, I mean, I think the etiquette has sort of been gone a long time ago. I mean, The New York Times did a slashing piece against President Obama while he was still in Asia, slashing -- on the front page. That sort of surprised me a bit. But I think these days timing is no longer what is used -- the proprieties that we used to honor really have gone by the board now.

SANCHEZ: Ten seconds, Maria, take us out, do you agree?

CARDONA: I think it's completely inappropriate for a former vice president to have been doing this, especially one who, when he was in office, would criticize those that would criticize his administration.

SANCHEZ: My thanks to both of you, Tony and Maria, you're great guests. I appreciate the conversation.

CARDONA: Thank you, Rick.

SANCHEZ: I'm going to be talking much more about the president's decision on Afghanistan with my friend Roland Martin in our famous "R&R" segment. Roland and Rick. He makes me say it that way, in just a little bit.

You know who that is? That's video of Marilyn Monroe, believe it or not, yes, the screen legend. It has never been seen before, we found it, we're going to share it with you, just to put things in perspective. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez, here in the world headquarters of CNN.

Two weeks ago, the cover of Golf Digest that I'm about to show you would have been so cool. It would have made me and most guys who golf like me envious. It would have made the president of the United States look really cool too. That was two weeks ago. This week, when it actually comes out, not so much. Here's "Fotos."

This is the January cover of Golf Digest. It shows a PhotoShopped image of Tiger Woods leaning over an image of President Obama on the putting green as if they're reading the putt. The headline, "Ten Tips Obama Can Take from Tiger." Insert your own jokes here, of course. Ten tips the president should take from Tiger. Incredible.

This president, it seems, can't buy a break. Chaos erupts at a rapper -- rapper Jay-Z's (INAUDIBLE). Oh, somebody mis-wrote -- OK. At a rapper's nightclub in Atlantic City. It's Jay-Z. The club's DJ reportedly captured this video that shows a vicious street fight between two patrons and up to a dozen colossal bouncers. Guess who lost? That's right. The two now-bruised patrons were hauled off to jail for disorderly conduct inside the club.

One of the men tells AP they did nothing wrong. Police are now looking at this video to see if they should charge any of the bouncers. The club tells us it's the first time that they've had an issue and they're working with police.

And this, a never-before seen home movie clip of actress Marilyn Monroe has surfaced, the film, which was shot by friend in the late 1950s, shows the former big screen bombshell smoking and laughing with friends. But this small clip comes with a big price tag. The collector paid around $275,000 for it and plans to auction it off on eBay some time this week.

That is a glacier melting over the course of two years, documented by a nature photographer who wants us all to know what's happening around the planet. That's tomorrow at 3:00 p.m. Eastern. We will bring you that story. Also, it's Wednesday, so it must be time for a little mid-week "R&R." Roland Martin and Rick Sanchez. See how his name always comes first? That's how I get him...


SANCHEZ: That's how I get him back every week, folks.

MARTIN: Don't hate.

SANCHEZ: He has got plenty to say about the president's strategy, about Afghanistan, maybe even something about the former vice president as well. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: You've got to love that animation. You've got to love Roland Martin. He joins us now.

Did you listen to the speech? Did it convince you, Roland?

MARTIN: Actually, Rick, your audio just went down just a little bit there.

SANCHEZ: Oh, I'll ask you a question.

MARTIN: There we go. There we go.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Did you listen to the speech and did it convince you?

MARTIN: Well, I was on CNN all night, Rick, of course I listened to the speech. Here's the deal -- here's what I thought was the most important thing. A lot of people were so focused, Rick, on the president laying out what the war strategy was going to be that the president had to remind Americans why we are in Afghanistan.

9/11 took place eight years ago. Second paragraph of his speech, he went to that point. You go back and look at the speech again, three or four times during that speech he went back to that whole point of why we have to be in Afghanistan.

And so I think that really was the most important part of it in terms of why we have to be there. He made the point also that, look, we have stopped several other terror plots that were actually hatched in Afghanistan.


SANCHEZ: Let me tell you why I asked you the question the way I did. I've been asking that question today on Twitter all day long and I've been asking it of -- we've got this new thing called "Rick's List"...

MARTIN: Uh oh.

SANCHEZ: ... where we seek real relevant people, politicians, people in Congress, people in the Senate and others, Michael Moore, for example. We've been communicating with him today and reading what he has been writing.


SANCHEZ: And we got Russ Feingold to send us one a little while ago. Here's his impression and his answer to the question, did you watch the speech, and were you convinced? Eric, help us out with this, this is Feingold from Wisconsin. Democrat, right?

KUHN: A senator, yes, absolutely. He said: "The president was right to take his time on the Afghan decision but a troop increase is counterproductive to our fight against al Qaeda."

SANCHEZ: And that's what a lot of people are saying at this point, Roland, especially from the left. How big a problem...

MARTIN: Not shocking...

SANCHEZ: How big a vulnerability is the president is going to have here?

MARTIN: Not shocked at all because you have the left, frankly, they staked their position out against the war in Iraq. They don't want to see an escalation. But here's the problem the left has. And we have to be honest about it. The left, Democrats have always been portrayed as weak on national defense.

Like it or not, if you're on the left, there has not been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil in the eight years since 9/11. If you're a Democratic president, you go to bed every night hoping and praying it does not happen on your watch. Democrats have to also understand that you can sit here and say, ignore Afghanistan, pull troops out, but that was the epicenter, that was ground zero of what took place on 9/11.

And if there is a terrorist attack on this soil with a Democrat in the White House, the Democratic Party can forget control of Congress and the White House for a generation.

SANCHEZ: Sounds like you're agreeing with Dick Cheney. Let me read you what he says.

MARTIN: No, no...


SANCHEZ: Well, hold on a minute.

MARTIN: I remember -- I remember how we all felt on 9/11, and I'm not one to say, hey, let's just walk away...

SANCHEZ: Yes, but you're saying that there are political motivations for making this decision to make sure...

MARTIN: No. No, no, no. I'm...

SANCHEZ: That's what you're saying?

MARTIN: No, i didn't say that. What I'm saying is that there are human motivations. What I'm saying is Americans -- we can sit here and say, well, that was eight years ago, nothing has happened, but we are always a reactionary people. We have to be on the offensive against terror around the world because we don't want to relive what took place eight years ago. No one wants to go through that again.

SANCHEZ: I begin to get nervous when I see the commander-in- chief making decisions apparently for what I would describe as small "p" political reasons, where he's trying to balance off different competing groups in society. Dick Cheney...

MARTIN: But he's a politician. That's what -- look, look, we see this every single day, Rick. We see it with members of Congress, we see it with people in the White House. That's not a shock. A politician is a politician.

SANCHEZ: This is a war. People's sons are dying though.


SANCHEZ: Why should politicians or politics even play into this thing?

MARTIN: Because that's what they are. in order -- a politician makes a statement, politics is involved. Why? The root word of politician is politic, so you can't divorce that. The CNN poll shows half of America says send troops, the other half of America says don't send troops. There are political realities to every decision.

When the president bailed out the banks, people said, no, this is saving the economy. Guess what, that was politics. You cannot divorce politics from decisions made in Washington, D.C. You simply can't. That's reality.

SANCHEZ: The imperative though ends up being someone might die in this decision. Is that not something that -- that a, quote, "politician," whether he's a councilman or a president of the United States, needs to take into account at the expense of any political decisions?

MARTIN: Rick, didn't you -- you asked the question, did I hear the speech? The president spoke directly to that in his speech. He said -- he talked about making the decision to send men and women to war. He said that if he was convinced that we could somehow confront this issue without sending troops, he wouldn't send any.

So he spoke to that. He spoke to the real cost of war. So he talked about that, so it's not like he divorced it. He also spent the time to say, this is why I took so much time in making this decision, to make sure it was the right one.

So all of that was there. What's interesting to me is when I hear people say, well, he was going back and forth, trying to please everybody, but the reality is you have people who say, I want to see an exit plan. He gives one. They say, I want to see an escalation of troops, he gives that.

So what is he to do? Not tell Americans, Rick, we're going to make this thing open-ended, we're going to spend as much money as possible? That was a criticism of the last guy, and we saw what happened to him.

SANCHEZ: You know, it's interesting. We're going to continue with Roland now on, which oftentimes gets even more exciting. I don't know why. Maybe it's something about me or maybe it's something about Roland.

should we put him on "Rick's"...

MARTIN: Because we have more time.

SANCHEZ: Should Roland be on "Rick's List"?

KUHN: Let's do it. Roland, we're going to add you to "Rick's List" right now.

SANCHEZ: And he's made it. You're...

KUHN: All right. Ready, you are on "Rick's List."

MARTIN: All right. Cool.

SANCHEZ: Yes, yes, now you're going to be -- we're going to follow you and we're going to be able to find... MARTIN: Rick has been on my list.


SANCHEZ: No, but we're not talking on TV about that list, Roland.


SANCHEZ: My thanks to you, man. We'll see you again later.

Here now...

MARTIN: Absolutely.

SANCHEZ: Here now, we take you to THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Rick, thanks very much.