Return to Transcripts main page


Tighter Borders; Floods Sweep Pakistan

Aired August 13, 2010 - 20:00   ET



Right now, we are standing by for President Obama. He's going to speak in this hour from the White House at a dinner marking the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Will he address the growing controversy over the ground zero mosque?

Plus, this --


KELLERMAN (voice-over): Here's what's making THE LIST in primetime:

On the day that the president signed the $600 million border security bill, a Texas family mourns.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The government failed my family.


KELLERMAN: Police have charged these two men, one was in this country legally, one was not, with murder.

The floodwaters are rushing, the money pouring in to help the victim, and so are Pakistani military troops. Maybe 15 million people affected. We'll go to Islamabad for the situation on the ground.

The controversy over an Islamic center near ground zero: a journalist who says Tea Party activists expressed the sentiments of Muslims like her. She's on THE LIST.

Immigration -- internal crisis? (INAUDIBLE) the lead.

What about Lindsay Lohan and her mom?



KELLERMAN: Tonight's national conversation begins with a story that's going to make you sad and mad. A 14-year-old girl named Shatavia Anderson, walking home from a party on the north side of Houston last weekend, when police say a man approached her and tried to rob her. Shatavia turned and ran and was shot in the back and killed. The suspected shooter and a suspected getaway driver were arrested and are both now charged with capital murder.

The accused trigger man is an illegal immigrant. His named is Melvin Alvarado. He's 22 years old, and after being convicted on drunk driving charged, he was deported to El Salvador. Then he got back into the country and was deported again last May.

Shatavia's devastated family has some questions.


JOE LAMBERT, VICTIM'S UNCLE: It's a big problem. Why is (AUDIO BREAK) coming over here, and they could do whatever they want? What you're doing is giving him a green light and say, hey, you come over and do what you want. Hey, man, we can kill anybody we want. (INAUDIBLE) send us back.

ROSE THOMAS, VICTIM'S AUNT: How do they get back in America when he's been deported twice? I want to know that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How do they get here? Why are they living here? How does he just come here and do that? The government failed my family.


KELLERMAN: Tonight, there is a vigil to honor Shatavia, and it's not hard to imagine this killing is the latest argument to strengthen our borders.

And just today, President Obama signed a $600 million bill he hopes will do just that. I asked our White House correspondent, Dan Lothian, to give us a list of where that money will be spent.


DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: This $600 million for border security is seen as just one piece of the overall puzzle to tighten security on the southwest border and ultimately lead to comprehensive immigration reform.

Now, how will all of this money be used? Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano briefed reporters on details, saying that 1,000 new border agents will be hired, 250 Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents or ICE agents. It will also pay for 207 border officials, already on the job. It will buy two additional unmanned aircraft to do surveillance, and also pay for communications technology.

Secretary Napolitano was talking about the difficulty that some agents have in even placing a cell phone call this should help there.


KELLERMAN: There is, of course, mixed reaction to the new funding. Let's go to the Twitter board.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn writes, "$600 million for border security is a step in the right direction, much more to do." And Senator Jeff Sessions adds, "Sessions calls for strong, sustained action on border security," complaining, it seems, more like an effort to receive positive press than to genuinely improve the border situation.

I'd like to welcome in now former FBI assistant director, Tom Fuentes. He's also a CNN contributor.

Tom, welcome.


KELLERMAN: How will this bill, in practical terms, help agents on the grounds do their jobs?

FUENTES: Well, it will be beneficial. I mean, the new technical equipment, the new agents, new task forces will all be a positive step in the right direction. Obviously, it's going to take a while to actually get agents hired and trained and deployed where they are needed. The task force has established, the equipment purchased, vetted and operational.

So, it's going to take time to implement even this bill, but it is a step in the right direction.

KELLERMAN: Tom, in your professional opinion, what does this bill not do that needs to be done to address the situation?

FUENTES: Well, the one thing I didn't notice in the bill was the ability to house many of the individuals. I mean, right now, you mentioned it was very tragic story coming out of Texas -- and our heart goes out to the family of the little girl. But, you know, we have individuals being arrested, being deported, and then they come back and they are re-arrested and re-deported. And I think that that inability to keep them just out in the first place or if they come in and commit serious crimes to keep them incarcerated is one of the problems we've been having.

But there isn't enough capacity to even house some of these people, and you see that with states -- you know, if you notice the Arizona fugitive case, they have more than 100 dangerous murderers housed in a medium-security prison. So, if they are doing that with medium security for violent criminals, you know, the thousands of people here illegally and then also may commit a crime, pose an additional problem.

KELLERMAN: You know, on the one hand, it's a border issue, right? Because one, it's an illegal immigrant who crossed over three times. On the other hand, the other guy, the getaway driver, was here legally, a permanent legal resident. Is this, in your opinion, a border issue, or is it rather a criminal issue, or is it both?

FUENTES: It's both. It's a societal issue. We have people here that, you know, that are coming here to get jobs, and in some cases, they're coming here because they are criminals and it's the land of opportunity either way -- good, bad, or otherwise. We've had the recent case of the -- the serial murder who was here legally.

So, we have violent criminals here, whether they are here legally or illegally. They are committing acts of violence. We need law enforcement to protect us. We need the ability to stop these individuals from coming across the border at all costs.

KELLERMAN: Mr. Tom Fuentes -- thanks very much for your time tonight. Appreciate it.

FUENTES: You're welcome.

KELLERMAN: Ahead on our list: Alvin Greene back in the news. Why the mysterious Senate candidate is in big trouble with the law.

And, devastation in Pakistan. With more floods on the way there, are reports that the Taliban is stepping in to provide aid where the Pakistani government is falling short.

And waiting to hear from the president this hour. He's at a dinner to commemorate the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.


KELLERMAN: Now, for our "Round Up" list.

U.S. Senate candidate Alvin Greene -- you remember Alvin Greene, the unemployed guy who didn't campaign and didn't own a computer, but somehow came up with a $10,000 filing fee and won the Democratic primary in South Carolina? That Alvin Greene was indicted by a grand jury today on two charges, including the felony charge of disseminating, procuring or promoting obscenity. Greene was charged by police in November with showing pornography to a female college student.

His party has naturally called on him to withdraw his candidacy, but Greene says he's staying in the general election race against Jim DeMint. If convicted, Greene could face up to five years in jail.

Number two, Elias Abuelazam, the suspected serial killer who allegedly stabbed multiple man in Michigan, Virginia and Ohio, is being transported from Atlanta to Michigan after agreeing to face charges in the court there. Abuelazam, an Israeli citizen living in the United States, was arrested on Wednesday after trying to board a flight from Atlanta to Tel Aviv with an expired passport. He is suspected of slashing at least 18 men and killing five.

Number three: Arizona authorities are offering a reward of up to $35,000 for information leading to the arrest of the couple who become known as a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. John McCluskey escaped from an Arizona state prison with two other convicts on July 30th. Police think Casslyn Welch helped them break out of jail.

The two other escapees are in custody. But McCluskey and Welch remain at large and are considered extremely dangerous. They were spotted in Montana, last spotted in Montana.

Number four: finally, some good news -- a rare collaboration of science and industry has led to some exciting medical results. The National Institutes of Health, the FDA, and various medical professionals from drug companies, two universities, came together for an unprecedented joint mission: find the biological markers that show the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

This new way of doing things, and it's important because it's sharing of information about research with the whole world, ongoing, essential until real time, has paid off. More than 100 studies launched to test drugs that could slow or stop the disease and it's met with such success the thought is now that they can apply the same technique to fighting Parkinson's.

Pictures of the devastation in Pakistan tonight. After two weeks of deadly floods, a second wave is expected to wash through the southern part of the country this weekend. Hundreds of thousands of people have been stranded, at least 1,400 have died, 8,300 villages have been damaged or destroyed. The Pakistani government is struggling to manage an enormous humanitarian crisis.

Washington is also keeping a watchful eye on the situation and so is CNN's Reza Sayah who reports for us from -- to us -- for us -- for us -- from Islamabad tonight.


KELLERMAN: Reza, Pakistan is bracing for still more floods. I'm reading 14 million people affected so far. Can you give us a sense of the conditions in the hardest-hit areas and describe the toll this disaster is taking on the country?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the conditions are bad, Max, and the scope is vast. Keep in mind, a couple of weeks ago when these floods hit, the number of people affected we were being told was about 4 million. That number was big enough.

Now, you're hearing numbers like 14 million, 15 million, which really highlights what an immense undertaking this is for the relief groups in Pakistan's government.

Two weeks ago today, these floods hit. The Pakistan navy that has been working around the clock, using boats and helicopters to rescue people, say in parts of Pakistan's heartlands and central Pakistan, they've rescued 40,000. But there are still more people, maybe tens of thousands of people, still stranded.

So, it gives you an idea, the scope of this disaster, and how much work is left.

International aid is starting to come in. I think aid groups have pledged about $600 million. But when you take 14 million, 15 million people that need help, that comes to about $40 a person. With the type of things that they need -- that's not a lot of money, Max. KELLERMAN: Reza, Pakistani President Zardari is facing criticism for flying to Europe in the middle of the crisis before visiting the flood zone. What's his political situation in Pakistan at the moment?

SAYAH: His political situation before these floods was very poor. I think his popularity rating was in the teens. It's worse now. This was, analysts say, a huge mistake for him to go to Europe, and what his advisers is calling a crucial foreign policy visit. But he took a beating last week when he was away in Europe and this country was facing its worst natural disaster ever.

He's back in Pakistan. He's been on sort of a public relations blitz to kind of change that perception. He's been visiting with flood victims. But critics say, no matter what he does, he's never going to make up for what happened last week in his absence.

KELLERMAN: There are reports that Islamist groups are stepping in with aid where government has fallen short. What are they doing, and what affect could it have?

SAYAH: Well, there is evidence that in some parts of northwest Pakistan, which used to be strongholds of the Taliban, and in some cases, still are strongholds of the militants, there are Islamist groups with suspected links to extremists that are doing charity work.

And these are groups that have been doing charity work for a long time. They are popular among people. They're able to mobilize and organize very quickly and get access to these areas.

Are they going to win more support? Probably. With that support, are they going to be able to push out the local government and establish themselves as the dominant force? Probably not.

But the problem is: with their popularity, it's going to make it tougher for the Pakistani government to go after them, which is what they've been charged with.

KELLERMAN: It does seem as though it's kind of a good time to be a bad guy in Pakistan right now. According to "The Wall Street Journal," U.S. officials are concerned that the Pakistanis my ratchet back counterterrorism operations as they redeploy troops to the humanitarian crisis. So, how does this flood affect U.S. interests in the region generally?

SAYAH: Well, Washington cannot be happy with what's happening here. I mean, you've heard Washington say over and over again that there will never be success in Afghanistan without stability in Pakistan's government going after militants. And with this flood, either the focus is shifted. Focus is shifted from the fight against militancy and extremism to the floods and these 15 million victims.

So, Washington is out there, supporting, giving as much aid as possible. But behind the scenes, they cannot be happy with what say definite step back in the fight against militants in this region, Max.

KELLERMAN: Reza, thank you so much for taking the time tonight. SAYAH: You're welcome.


KELLERMAN: Let's go right to the Twitter board. I got this tweet from the American Red Cross. "Flood waters move south, dams and embankments my breach, 12 million people already affected." We've heard as many as 14 million to 15 million. "Help"


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We all have to continue our efforts to do everything in our power to spur growth and hiring.


KELLERMAN: As the president himself knows, it's easier said than done -- tax cuts, more government spending, both? What's the answer?

And, will Mr. Obama speak out for the very first time tonight on the mosque being planned near ground zero? We are waiting to hear what he says at a dinner at the White House tonight.


KELLERMAN: So, how do we get America back to work again? That's the number one item on President Obama's to-do list this year.

But this week, there are signals that the problem is getting worse. New government figures show the number of people applying for unemployment benefits is at its highest level in six months. Analysts didn't call that one, they expected jobless claims would actually decline.

Let's go to the Twitter board and check this tweet from Nouriel Roubini, who sounded the alarm on the meltdown. He writes and this scares me, "The rise of unemployment claims is consistent if continued, with millions of further jobs losses per year. Market fugly and fuglier." There you have it.

Joining me now to explain it to me is Chrystia Freeland, global editor at large for "Reuters"; and Steven Moore, senior economics writer for "The Wall Street Journal's" editorial page.

Basically the two smartest people I could find to tell me about this.

Chrystia, the Obama administration set aside --

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, REUTERS: Clearly, it's a slow night in August if we were the smartest people you could find.

KELLERMAN: You two in the room would just about anyone. You know, how much smarter can a human being got? Stop it. Administration -- the Obama administration set aside $787 billion, right, essentially to put America back to work. We're still at 9.5 percent unemployment. It doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon from what I can tell, am I right? What happened?

FREELAND: Well, I think you're right, Max, and I think that there are a lot of signs as Nouriel said in that tweet that things are actually going to get worse. I talked to a very major investor this afternoon, and he said that he thinks that there is actually going to be a double-dip recession. I'm hearing a lot of people saying that. I do also think --

KELLERMAN: The dreaded double dip.

FREELAND: The dreaded double dip -- and we're seeing softness in Europe. We're even seeing softness in China right now.

One important thing, though, I think, is I think you have to be very cautious of people who have absolute confidence of what has to be done. There's a great line from Yeats that the best lack all convictions and the worst are full of passionate intensity. This is a very complicated moment in the global economy. It's complicated how you get out of this huge financial crisis that we experienced just two years ago.

So, I think it's a really tough problem.

KELLERMAN: Steven, that, you know, sounds right to me. I know economists like Robert Reich and Paul Krugman and many, many more say the problem is not that we're not spending enough money, in the short term anyway, it's that we need a second stimulus in the short term before doing any belt-tightening, right or wrong?

STEVEN MOORE, WALL STREET JOURNAL: Look, I don't want to actually think it's all that complicated, Max. I mean, we just had a massive experiment, the biggest experiment in American history, virtually, in government spending, stimulus. And it was, you know, a demonstrable, massive failure.

And so, my point is: don't keep doing something if it doesn't work. That should be lesson number one. I do think it's a big mistake if we raise tax rates next year. You know, they're looking on January 1st, 2011, one of the biggest tax increases in 20 years. I think, given the shakiness of the economy right now, it just doesn't make any sense to be raising taxes.

I think that, on top of Obamacare and other kind of -- I talked to business leaders here in town, Max, and what they tell me is, they feel like this Congress has sort of declared war on business. That might be one reason businesses aren't hiring.

KELLERMAN: Chrystia, in spite of what Steven said, it does seem to me that there is a consensus of sorts, at least from what I can gather, that we do need to spend in the short term, though there are systemic problems that we need to address in the mid to long run.

Is there simply no political hope of doing what at least those people feel is right at the moment?

FREELAND: Yes, I agree with you, Max. I mean, I think that, you know, if we did a poll of economists, and we have to qualify by saying they haven't been so great at predicting things so far. But I think if we did a poll of the economists, the consensus would be: you need to stimulate in the short term, maybe particularly have some federal help from the states so they don't have to layoff people like school teachers, maybe have an infrastructure bank that did some of those infrastructure projects which we can clearly see be a good thing, and would not incidentally put a lot of people back to work -- but, at the same time, that you need to support that with a meaningful, binding, persuasive commitment to bring down government spending in the medium term.

And the difficulty there is, it's very hard to get the kind of bipartisan agreement that would take.

KELLERMAN: Steven, I know you want to jump in.

MOORE: But, you know, Chrystia, we --

KELLERMAN: I wanted you to react something, Steven, if you don't mind.

MOORE: I want to say this, though. Let me say this about what Chrystia just said.


MOORE: I think we do have a historical example of how you get out of this crisis. I worked for President Reagan in the 1980s. That was an incredible deep recession, perhaps even deeper that we're in right now. We cut tax rates. Actually, cut government spending, didn't increase government spending, and the economy boomed in the 1980s.

I'd like to see a total change in approach. And, look, if most economists think government spending --

KELLERMAN: Steven, I want you to react to something.

MOORE: -- leads to jobs, most economists are wrong.

KELLERMAN: I apologize for interrupting.


KELLERMAN: But I want you to react to a bit of sound.


KELLERMAN: Because the big debate, as you mentioned earlier is, where do you let the Bush tax cuts for the top earners expire at the end of year.

MOORE: Right. KELLERMAN: Listen to what CNN's Fareed Zakaria had to say about that.


FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": George Bush's massive tax cuts are the single largest chunk of our structural budget deficit. Were the tax cuts to expire, the budget deficit would instantly shrink by about 30 percent or more than $300 billion. But Republicans are now adamantly opposed to any expiration of the Bush tax cuts because they say that would weaken the economy.


KELLERMAN: Steven, my -- maybe my very favorite thinker in the media right now. Why is he wrong?

MOORE: He's dead wrong. I think that's probably the worst possible advice right now, to raise taxes, you know, given the economy does look like it might be headed towards a double dip. I really worry if we raise taxes and that raises the cost of investment, raises the cost of business spending, I think what you're going to see is investment leave the United States and go to places where tax rates are falling.

In fact, if you look at the rest of the world, most countries are cutting tax rates. If we're raising them at the same time, I think that's an ugly picture for America's long-term economic growth.

KELLERMAN: Chrystia, your reaction.

FREELAND: OK. I'm going to have to disagree with Steven there. I think that you should let the tax cuts, particularly on the super rich -- the people at the very top of the income distribution -- you should definitely let those expire. And Steven gave us one historical analogy.

I would like to talk about the Clinton years. You had robust economic growth, and taxes on the people at the very top were higher.

The other thing to remember is, when you look at what has happened with economic growth of the past decade, the lions' share say around 60 percent, has gone to the people at the top 1 percent of the distribution. Those people can afford to pay slightly higher taxes.

Having said that, I agree with Steven about one thing which is: business confidence is at a real low. The president has to do something to rally business, because corporate balance sheets are healthy right now.

KELLERMAN: Chrystia Freeland --

FREELAND: I think we should have a business summit in the White House.

KELLERMAN: Chrystia Freeland, Steven Moore, thank you very much, both of you, for joining us tonight.

MOORE: See you soon.

KELLERMAN: Coming up next: Lindsay Lohan's mother. See? How's that for a change of pace? Rushes to her daughter's defense. We'll tell you who she is blaming for all of the trouble. And could we all learn something from what she says? That story is trending online tonight and we're on it.

And for almost a week now, this animation is close to the infamous JetBlue incident as we've been able to get. But up next, we have the actual video.

Stay with us.


KELLERMAN: President Obama is about to make his first public remarks on the controversial plans to build a mosque near the site of Ground Zero on Lower Manhattan. CNN has just obtained an early copy of his remarks, and here is your news. The president will say he supports the planner's rights to build a place of worship in accordance with the local laws in ordinances. And here's a quote. "This is America and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable."

We're getting tape of the president's remarks coming in to CNN right now. The president speaking moments ago to a group invited to the White House in conjunction with the Muslim holy month, Ramadan. We'll play that tape for you as soon as we get it.

Time to see what's trending with Brooke Baldwin in the meantime.

Hey, Brooke, let me ask you this.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's no segue there, sorry.

KELLERMAN: When I told -- when I told Stephen Moore and Chrystia Freeland, my favorite thinker in the media, was it clear that I was referring to Fareed Zakaria?

BALDWIN: Fareed Zakaria.


BALDWIN: Now everyone knows Fareed Zakaria.


BALDWIN: Brilliant.

KELLERMAN: Now, from Fareed Zakaria. Is that a better transition to Lindsay (ph). It's just a transition.

BALDWIN: Yes, there's nothing. There's nothing. Lindsay Lohan, let's talk about it because guess how much time the "Today" show gave her mother this morning? Like 15 minutes. So people are talking about that today. And here's the word is that Lindsay Lohan may be getting out of rehab a little earlier. But how many times she's been in rehab may be up for debate if you watch the "Today" show this morning. The starlet recently spent a little bit time of jail. Remember she was sentenced to 90 days, and she actually spent less than two weeks for violating that probation after a drunk driving charge. But her mother, Dina Lohan, made this appearance on the "Today" Show this morning to essentially defend her daughter. And first things first, she said the judge, too tough on her daughter. Listen to this.


DINA LOHAN, LINDSAY LOHAN'S MOTHER: I think she went overboard and played serious hardball with Lindsay. And she just got really hardballed.


BALDWIN: Hardballed. OK.

KELLERMAN: She got really hardballed.

BALDWIN: She got really hardballed. But that's just the tip of the iceberg. The chunk that I'm going to play for you now -- this is what people -- I know, you're like almost crying. You're laughing so hard, Max. Wow.

Then the discussion got a little bit heated between Lauer and "mama" Lohan over the number of times Lindsay has been in rehab. And people are talking about this.


MATT LAUER, HOST: Lindsay's times in rehab, I said this was her fourth stint. This is not a gotcha moment, by the way. You said this is her second stint. I went back and looked and I just want to talk to make sure we're on the same page here. January 2007, she went to a place called Wonderland.

DINA LOHAN, LINDSAY LOHAN'S MOTHER: That was not court ordered.

LAUER: No, I'm not saying court ordered. I'm saying her times in rehab though.

LOHAN: Initially, you said court ordered.

LAUER: I meant this is her fourth time in rehab, correct?

LOHAN: Third actually.

LAUER: Now this is -- that's a lot of times to be in and out without some sort of success. And --

LOHAN: Oh, I wouldn't know what -- what do you mean by success? LAUER: Well, avoiding having to go back --

LOHAN: It's court ordered so --


KELLERMAN: When he said fourth, she said --


KELLERMAN: Like really low -- third, actually.

BALDWIN: Really quiet. Third. Third time.

KELLERMAN: I guess no one is going to fact check that.

BALDWIN: But you would think Matt -- of course, Matt Lauer did his due diligence and would have looked at the numbers right. Anyhow, mom says bottom line, Lindsay Lohan is focusing when she gets out of rehab, whenever that maybe, focusing on charity work and to quote her, she's trying to save the next victim of the tabloids. That's your Lindsay Lohan story for the night.

Got another one for you. I see your wedding bands. You have a wife.


BALDWIN: Has she read "Eat, Pray, Love"?




BALDWIN: Not that you know of.

KELLERMAN: "Eat, Pray, Love" is a book. I'm sorry.

BALDWIN: It was a book. It was a book. OK, so I read it. In fact, my fiancee stole the book from me and read it. Not to out him, he's a sensitive soul. He read it as well.

KELLERMAN: You can't say read "Eat, Pray, Love."

BALDWIN: He did. Look, it's not just a chick book. Anyway, let me tell you the story.

KELLERMAN: No, let me show you it's a chick book. But go ahead.


For the five of you out there, maybe six here who do not know the plot line of the smash hit book turned film story, it's a memoir of the author, Elizabeth Gilbert, who travels through Italy, India and Indonesia in search of a dissatisfied soul activist's bad breakup. So the news here, the lead here in the film this is the lovely Julia Roberts, and she gave method acting a whole new meaning when she and her family, children, husband, recently decided to start practicing Hinduism. That's according to this interview now out that she gave with "Elle" magazine. So if "America's Sweetheart" now believes in reincarnation, here's one question that was post to her. What does she think the next life holds for her?

Julia Roberts' response is this. Take a look. "Golly, I've been so spoiled with my friends and family in this life. Next time I want to be just something quiet and supporting."

That movie comes out today.

And final item here, the infamous flight attendant.

KELLERMAN: I can't wait to do this.

BALDWIN: You're ready for this. Brace yourself, Max Kellerman. The video is now out. We've been talking all week long about the slide and now we have the video of it. Let's just go ahead and roll it, and I'll tell you the quick story.

You have to watch closely because it's really, really fast. You got to watch the outside of the plane. You see the slide. It's almost like there's a pole blocking it. But the slide moves, and hopefully we can do a little replay.

KELLERMAN: I saw that. I saw him.

BALDWIN: Hang on, there we go. And there he went. So that was Steven Slater sliding down that emergency chute. We all know the story. Finally, the video is the proof it, in fact, happened.

KELLERMAN: Excellent. You thought that was a hard transition. Try this one.


KELLERMAN: Breaking news. Word right now that President Obama is weighing in on the controversy over the planned mosque near Ground Zero. There is word he is coming out in favor of allowing the mosque. We're getting the video turned around. I'll have that.


KELLERMAN: It is now time for our list of the best video out there. Rick calls it "Las Fotos Del Dia." I'm embarrassed to say that although I did grow up in New York City, I do not speak a word of Spanish. Got some Yiddish, though. That's right. Yiddish.

So tonight, it's teglica bildev (ph).


KELLERMAN: The 15th time was the charm for 104 Polish skydivers who succeeded yesterday in linking up to create a formation in midair and broke a European record in the process. They've been trying for a while to pull it off. And what a site to behold when they finally did it.

Look at that. That's kind of cool. I was being sarcastic, but that's actually really cool.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Europe, a town in Bavaria, Germany, is being besieged by millions of day flies. They come here every year to mate. A nearby river provides the perfect breeding ground. After a few days they die, and their carcasses are left to be cleaned up. Believe it or not, town residents say this year, there are fewer than usual as a result of powerful lights installed under some of the bridges in town.

And back on this side of the pond, the all-American pastime took on another dimension. The Marlins Nationals game. The foul ball line drive. And oh, yes, saved by the brew. A woman gets a Miller Light shower but appears to be fine. No word on whether her beer was replaced really by Hanley Ramirez. He's the one who hit it. Not having a great year by his standards. He is making $7 million this year. I mean, he can afford to replace her beer.

That's "Fotos." Well, it's really teglica bildev (ph). And you can see them for yourself on


KELLERMAN: Still ahead, for the first time, President Obama weighs in on the controversy over a mosque and cultural center near Ground Zero in New York. The president is at a White House dinner tonight celebrating the Muslim holiday of Ramadan. We'll bring you the president's remarks.

And later, the man at the center of an international smuggling ring that may have left hundreds of terrorists into the United States. We're on the case tonight.


KELLERMAN: Tonight, you're looking at a live picture of the White House where President Obama is hosting a special "iftar" dinner as part of Islam's holy month of Ramadan, which began this week. The president tonight is endorsing the plan to build an Islamic center and mosque in New York City, just two blocks from Ground Zero, saying Muslims have a right to practice their religion.

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg just responded. He said, excuse me. I thought we had video. I applaud President Obama's clarion defense of the freedom of religion.

Tonight, tensions have been rising on both sides of the debate over the proposed Islamic center. Not necessarily about the right to build it. Right? Because what intelligent argument says that there's not right to freedom of religion in this country, but rather really whether it should be built. And we have an unusual voice in that debate tonight. Asra Nomani, author of "Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam." She's also a contributor to the "Daily Beast" where she wrote a piece this week questioning building an Islamic center near Ground Zero.

Asra, welcome, and thank you for joining us.


KELLERMAN: What do you mean when you write that you're a Muslim who shares the concerns of tea party activists when it comes to this Islamic center?

NOMANI: Well, I am a bleeding heart liberal on most issues, I'll be honest with you. But on this issue regarding Islam in the world, I believe that the tea party activists have it actually right when they say that there's a serious ideology that we have to be worried about. I fear that in this beautiful country that's America, for all of its pluralism and tolerance, we in the name of political correctness have really given a critical look at Islam a pass.

KELLERMAN: You've called for the brutal honesty -- for brutal honesty about Islam from the Muslim community itself. What is it that Muslims need to say to each other on the one hand and what is it the world needs to hear from Muslims that we're not hearing?

NOMANI: You know, after Major Nidal Hasan did his shootings at Fort Hood, I can't tell you how many Muslims I heard say he's not a Muslim. Or about the 9/11 hijackers, they said they're not Muslims. But the truth is, all of these people are acting the name of an interpretation of Islam in which they firmly believe. And we have to be really honest about the fact this interpretation exists out there. Not just declare these beautiful platitudes like Islam is a religion of peace or this is a religion that has been hijacked by the terrorists. Islam is what we make it. Religion is what we make it in this world and there are some people out there who are making it violent and extremist. And if we pretend that those folks don't exist in our community, I think all we do is enrage the world. And we create more fear by people like the tea party activists who say come on, aren't you all awake? Don't you see that you've got a problem and you need to do something about it? We need to wake up and acknowledge this problem.

KELLERMAN: Something that I read that shocked me in your article was that there's only one mosque in the United States that's in Toledo, Ohio, that allows women to pray in the front row.

NOMANI: Right.

KELLERMAN: In fact, we checked that with CAIR earlier today. Council on American Islamic Relations. They told us that they're actually other mosques in the U.S. that do allow women to pray in the front row. But it seemed to me your point was that even in more moderate Islam, more liberal Islam, the kind of Islam ostensibly that would be whose face would be shown to the world in this Islamic center, there are still cultural values that are at odds with more progressive western cultural values. What do you think about that? NOMANI: Yes, I'd love to hear about that second mosque that allows women to pray in the front row because a survey by CAIR revealed that in the early 1990s, half of the mosques in America required that women pray behind a partition, and that number has only increased to two-thirds. So there's been growing conservatism. And that growing conservatism is part of this larger, global ideological movement that is bringing ideologies like Wahhabism and Salafism into our shores here in America. I know it because my little mosque in Morgan Town, West Virginia, was taken over by Wahhabi and Salafi ideologues who believed that women had to take the back door, sit in a balcony. And for these last seven, eight years, I've been going around the country, getting thrown out of mosques, because they don't want women in the main halls. And so the women --

KELLERMAN: Miss Nomani, I would like to interrupt you just for a second because we're running out of time.

NOMANI: Yes. Sure.

KELLERMAN: I really want to ask you this. The imam, we've heard different things about him.


KELLERMAN: You know him. Tell me the imam for this proposed cultural center, what is he about? What's your evaluation of him as an imam?

NOMANI: Well, you know, just like the Christian and Jewish faiths have had their reform movements, I do believe the imam Feisal Abdul Rauf and his wife, Daisy Khan (ph), are part of this reform movement in America today and that they believe in progressive principles. I haven't seen any serious evidence of any kind of the links that are suggested out there, regarding extremism. I'm a journalist, and so I always, you know, am skeptical and cynical. But I believe that if there is going to be a response to the fears that we have, perhaps this couple could guide us, and that if this mosque is built in the shadow of this devastation that was 9/11, then if it can be consistent with the principles of American values of tolerance and women friendly --

KELLERMAN: Asra, I don't mean -- I don't mean to interrupt.

NOMANI: -- we can make something beautiful happen.

KELLERMAN: I'm so sorry for interrupting. We're totally out of time.

NOMANI: No problem. Thank you.

KELLERMAN: Thank you so much for joining us tonight.

NOMANI: Thank you.

KELLERMAN: Still ahead, an international smuggling case against a Virginia man, and it's his cargo that has authorities so concerned tonight.


KELLERMAN: Tonight, the story of one man who may have helped hundreds of Somalis enter the U.S. illegally, and now many of them have gone missing. Could they have ties to terror? Why would an American sneak them in illegally, and why is he not behind bars tonight? Deborah Feyerick got an exclusive interview with the man in the middle of this very strange story.


DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Driving about two hours west from Washington, D.C. to a small town in Virginia, I find Anthony Tracy, an international businessman. His business just happened to be getting Somalis to Cuba, and from there, according to court documents, he encouraged them to enter the United States illegally.

Three months ago, Tracy took a plea deal, admitting just that. Thereby not only violating immigration law, but potentially exposing the U.S. to a terror attack. Why? Because the Somalis, anywhere between 100 and 300 of them, say prosecutors, are still missing. The case is shrouded in mystery, so sensitive that much of his trial was behind closed doors. And yet, Anthony Tracy is a free man.

ANTHONY TRACY: A lot of people they're saying I'm a terrorist and a homegrown jihadi, and I helped smuggle all these terrorists here, and you know. But this is all false. These individuals are not terrorists.

FEYERICK: But the U.S. government is not sure who those Somalis were. So where are they now, and just who is Anthony Joseph Tracy?

Born in Pennsylvania, Tracy spent more than a dozen years in prison on drug charges. He converted to Islam while inside. Changed his name to Yousef (ph) and married a Somali. Somewhere along the line, Tracy became a paid government informant, working for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. When and for how long is unclear. ICE is prohibited from confirming or denying who it uses as informants.

TRACY: I reformed my life.

FEYERICK: In an exclusive interview with CNN, Tracy said he's a patriot, not a traitor.

TRACY: For the last eight years, I've been doing a lot of positive things, and a lot of -- I'd say great things.

FEYERICK: Last year, Tracy moved to Kenya, to a part of Nairobi, known as little Mogadishu for its large Somali community. He was still on the government's payroll. But in what capacity, the government won't say. While there, Tracy set up Noor Services and began obtaining Cuban visas for people.

TRACY: We would help the individual prepare the documents. We would take them to the embassy. We talk on their behalf.

FEYERICK: But some of those documents were falsified. Tracy admits bribing Cuban embassy officials in exchange for tourist visas. He arranged flights for his clients who traveled from Kenya to Dubai or Moscow, ultimately arriving in Havana. From there, the Somalis would travel to Belize or Mexico with the possibility of entering the U.S.

TRACY: I suspected and I heard rumors that, you know, they were traveling long before. But then I actually think they would make it into the U.S.? No, I did not.

FEYERICK: Hundreds cross our borders illegally every day. So why the fuss about a few hundred Somalis? Because of the terror group Shabaab, an affiliate of Al Qaeda. It was Shabaab that set off bombs in Uganda last month and has pledged global jihad. The United States, its sworn enemy.

Tracy says he refused to help at least two men he believed had links to Shabaab.

(on camera): You had said in an e-mail that the government allegedly took from one of your computers, quote, "I helped a lot of Somalis, and most are good, but there are some who are bad. I leave them to Allah."

TRACY: What I meant by bad, I mean in character, in conduct, not as far as being terrorists or part of terrorism in that context.

FEYERICK (voice-over): But sources tell CNN, federal agents are working round the clock to find the missing Somalis. Texas Congressman Michael McCaul serves on the Homeland Security Committee and has been tracking the case.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL (R), TEXAS: They are moving more to one to two men operations, small-scale operations. So even one to two Somalis getting in Al Shabaab, that's a serious concern.

FEYERICK (on camera): This is the Virginia courthouse where Anthony Tracy pleaded guilty to encouraging people to enter the U.S. illegally. But if he did help as many as 270 people as court documents suggest, why did he get just four months, time served?

(voice-over): That remains a mystery. Conspiring to bring people illegally into this country carries a maximum sentence of 10 years. Immigration officials won't talk. Tracy insists agents were aware of his every move.

TRACY: From May '09 until the close of my business, there was correspondence through e-mails, telephone calls, and I never was -- never was at one time directed to stop.

FEYERICK: The prosecutor says when agents became aware of his activities, he was told to stop and return home immediately. Whatever Tracy did or did not do, the case has disturbing implications. MCCAUL: How many other Tracies are out there? Like manufacturing fraudulent visas with corrupt embassies and corrupt governments to get terrorists or potential terrorists into the United States, that's the great unknown.

FEYERICK (on camera): No terrorism charges have been filed against Tracy. He says he's cooperating with an ongoing investigation and that there's much more to be told.

Deborah Feyerick, CNN, New York.


KELLERMAN: No time for a tease. We'll be right back. It will be good. Stick around. It will be good. I promise.


KELLERMAN: Time for "The Laugh List," the three funniest jokes in late-night comedy.


JAY LENO, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO": Well, let's see what's going on. In Austin, Texas, President Obama told an audience, if you want to go forward, you put your car in "d." If you want to go backward, you put your car in "r." But you know something, either way, the economy is still f'd. OK. I don't think it makes any difference.

JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Let's get right to the news, here, guys. Listen to this. "The Wall Street Journal" says there's a movement growing to replace Joe Biden with Hillary Clinton on the Democratic ticket in 2012. In response, Hillary says, come on, that is just silly. Make it so.

JON STEWART, HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW WITH JON STEWART": The plan to return the tax rate for any household making over $250,000 a year in 2010 is an active socialist plot to ruin the economy. And we all know there's only one way to counter a socialist plot.

NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Do you want to create jobs as rapidly as China? The Chinese pay zero capital gains tax. If we had zero capital gains tax in the United States, we'd be dramatically better off.

STEWART: So that's the Republican plan. To fight socialism, with us becoming communists.


KELLERMAN: That's our show for tonight. I'm Max Kellerman. Thanks for joining me.

Rick Sanchez is back Monday, and "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now.