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The Unreliable Hamid Karzai; Presidential Pile on Withdrawal; Pres. Obama Says Gay Couples Deserve Equal Legal Rights; FBI Most Wanted Captured at Last; Captured at Last; Senate Odd Couple Teams to Overturn Pot Ban; Should Marijuana Be Legal?; Open Mouth, Insert Foot; Land of the Free, Home of the Slave

Aired June 23, 2011 - 20:00   ET


TOM FOREMAN, CNN HOST: Good evening. And thanks for joining us IN THE ARENA. Eliot Spitzer is off tonight. I'm Tom Foreman sitting in.

Our top story, President Obama says it's time for American soldiers to start leaving Afghanistan. That country, he says, must now take care of itself.

Well, we can hope, but I can also tell you Washington is positively boiling with reactions to his plans, and let's be honest, the man who leads Afghanistan has not always inspired confidence.

American officials have described President Hamid Karzai as unreliable, dishonest, even mentally ill. Karzai has called us some names, too, like occupiers, but today it seemed all was forgiven. In an exclusive and fascinating interview with CNN's own Fareed Zakaria, the Afghan president said, in essence, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Take a look.


HAMID KARZAI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT: I can confirm to you today and I have had this confirmed by the local means, not by government or the means of NATO, that security in parts of the country has improved and life is better now.


FOREMAN: Now Karzai clearly says in this interview that he is happy but just minutes later in the same interview some of the old anger begins to emerge.


KARZAI: For a number of years we took casualties and we were silent. But then the war did not go in the direction that we -- that we advised, that we felt should go. But our casualties kept increasing. The Afghans need a return to normal life. The Afghans need to see progress and an end in sight. This war can't go on forever. No nation can take casualties forever.


FOREMAN: Hamid Karzai and his country, Afghanistan, are a study in contradictions. In a moment, Fareed will give us more impression from this exclusive interview. Don't miss it. But first, a look at some of the other stories I'll be drilling down on tonight.


FOREMAN: The president and gay marriage. Mr. Obama in Manhattan for a lesbian and gay fundraiser. Meanwhile, in New York's capital they are voting on same-sex marriage. Coincidence? In politics, there is no such thing.

And slavery. It didn't end with the civil war. Forty thousand slaves in America, many of them children. E.D. Hill asked is it time for a new emancipation proclamation?

Then the repeal of prohibition. In the roaring '20s it was booze. And this time around it's marijuana. You'll hear from one half of Cheech & Chong. Guess which side he's on.


FOREMAN: This is one of those nights when there's just so much going on. But let's get back to our top story first.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is the crucial factor and quite possibly the weak link in our success or failure in Afghanistan. That's just a fact.

In a worldwide exclusive interview CNN's Fareed Zakaria spoke to the Afghan president today, in an interview that will air Sunday morning on "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS". And I spoke with Fareed earlier.


FOREMAN: Fareed, thanks for joining me. Let me ask you first. What was President Karzai's reaction to the president's speech here?

FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA GPS: It was surprising in that he seemed completely comfortable with the drawdown, with the fact that American troops were going to reverse the surge.

I thought he might express some unease about it. But Hamid Karzai, I think, has realized that there is no purely American, purely military solution to his problems. And he's resigned to that.

FOREMAN: You say you're surprised by that. He's been pretty critical of the American presence there. Some might say, I'd expect him to be happy that we're getting out.

ZAKARIA: You know but he plays that game that when there is outrage about some kind of civilian casualties he says that. But then he asks for more American troops and greater endurance and -- so I don't think that he really is -- you know, look, the American troops are protecting his government. Obviously protecting him personally. Obviously I think he'd prefer more rather than less but seems to have come to grips with the fact that he's not going to have more. But I've always thought it has been a mistake for the administration to publicly condemn him, to constantly raise doubts about him.

Because look, the alternative to Hamid Karzai is not George Washington or Winston Churchill. The alternative to Hamid Karzai would be another Afghan leader of questionable competence and stability and -- you know, and high ethical standards. We are not choosing, you know, the ideal leader here.

FOREMAN: You have hinted at this notion, as others have, that a military solution to what's happening there really is not the end. There has to be more. Where does Hamid Karzai stand in terms of the more, the civilian outreach that truly results in peace that can outlive the presence of guns?

ZAKARIA: He seems to have come to terms with it. He seems to have realized that a negotiated political settlement with the Taliban is inevitable. I think there was a hope that you could crush the Taliban, and perhaps with, I don't know, half a million troops you could. I very much doubt it. Remember, the Soviets were in there for a long time as well.

The Taliban represent in large part of the Pashtun community in Afghanistan, the Pashtuns make up half the population. So you're talking about a large indigenous force. These aren't foreign terrorists. These are homegrown Afghans. They're not going anywhere.

So if you look at every civil war, the way civil wars end is you negotiate with the other side and you bring them back in, in some way. Karzai seems to recognize that this is going to happen.

You know the trick is everyone seems to recognize it, nobody seems to want to make the concessions that will make it happen.

FOREMAN: You say that the Taliban is not going anywhere. One of the problems has been the Taliban has always been going somewhere across the border into Pakistan. Right now our relations with Pakistan are not very good. And if we back out of Afghanistan and they keep drifting back and forth playing both sides of the border, how do we not wind up in three years exactly where we were 10 years ago which is to say they now have a free range to do what they want?

ZAKARIA: Well, Tom, you hit it on the central dilemma which is why, in my opinion, the number of troops, the pace of withdrawal really doesn't matter. Because at the end of the day, the Pakistani military is the largest force in the region, 600,000 troops, very powerful military with deep connections to the Taliban.

So it really all depends on what their attitude is. And having more American troops there doesn't really change that because at the end of the day they know one day we'll leave. So do we have the ability to get the Pakistanis to play ball, to recognize that they should be a force for stability? That's -- that's in some ways far more important than whether we leave 60,000 troops in Afghanistan, 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, because at the end of the day the Pakistanis will always have this trump card. That they have the safe havens, they have the relationships with the Taliban.

And if they intend to play that destabilizing role, I don't know what we can do about it. You know it's a conversation between Washington and Islamabad, that's important, not Kabul.

FOREMAN: If you had to predict, do you think that three or four years from now we'll be able to say this is what we gained by being in Afghanistan? Or do you think we'll be saying, we don't know what we got out of this?

ZAKARIA: I don't think it will look -- Afghanistan will go back to a 2001 scenario. The Taliban are different from al Qaeda. They were sheltering them in 2001. I think they've learned their lesson. Al Qaeda is weak and battered. So I think we will be able to say we are safer now. Al Qaeda is a much diminished force and that those Taliban that have returned are very different and are not -- and do not have global jihadist aims. In other words, they don't want to kill Americans.

That will have to be enough because I don't think we'll be able to get more which would be a stable Afghanistan, that was a functioning democracy with a government in full control of its borders, and a shining example of nation building. None of that is likely to happen.

FOREMAN: And let's hope that is enough for all the American families and the other coalition forces' families who have been there fighting for all these years.

Fareed Zakaria, thanks so much for being with us.

ZAKARIA: Pleasure.


FOREMAN: Now to the reviews on the president's Afghanistan plan. They are not so good. In fact it's kind of like an old country song. The last thing you needed the first thing this morning was to wake up to headlines like these.

Take a look at some of these. Consider the feedback from the left and the right.

"I'm disappointed," that's what Joe Lieberman said. John McCain, "Not the modest withdrawal I'd hoped for." "Too little too late," Ron Paul. "We will continue to press for a better outcome," Nancy Pelosi. "Far too slow a pace," Barbara Boxer. Likely.

So this is not the kind of review you want to get and not to pie along but CNN senior analyst David Gergen has serious questions of his own about the president's speech. He joins us now.

Listen, in a nutshell, why is everyone so unhappy?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I know. It really is very strange, isn't it? Because I think the president and his people felt they're splitting the difference. This can be sort of the Goldilocks speech. Not too hot, not too cold, just right.

And everybody is strangling Goldilocks. I mean they're all piling on him. And I'm not at all surprised by the Republican side. Particularly the more hawkish people like John McCain because he did -- the president did reject the advice of his own commanders in the field.

What has surprised me about the Democrats, because they normally -- with an election just over the horizon, they'd normally try to swallow their differences and say, you know, I don't agree necessarily but he got bin Laden. He's been a great president.

FOREMAN: These are politically savvy people in the White House then. Why did they do it? Couldn't they see this coming?

GERGEN: I really think that they must have seen it before -- yes, because they did brief people, but they must have known what was coming. I think they feel it will play better in the long run.

And by the way, we have not yet heard from public polls. The public opinion may be stronger in favor of the president than the -- you know, the people in Washington. But I will tell you, I think that the way the Democrats have piled on this way is likely to lower the approval rating in the public.

FOREMAN: This looked for an awful lot of people like a political decision. And it seems to me that that's one of the kegs of the dynamite here to negotiate.


FOREMAN: Because in the campaigns, all the candidates -- Barack Obama included -- saluted the idea of the generals should decide.

GERGEN: Right.

FOREMAN: Now all of a sudden the generals were saying, we don't really want to do it this way and he's saying, yes, but we need to.

GERGEN: Yes. We agree with the generals until we don't. Right? I mean that's sort of the view here. In -- I think that's what has caused the president some problems here. When he made the decision to make the surge he was listening to his military advisers and secretary of state and secretary of defense.

And he overruled Vice President Biden and a lot of the political people around him in the White House and went for the surge. And a bigger surge than they wanted. Now it's just the reverse. The people who've been persuasive as President Biden and the political advisers, and has lent credence to the idea that this is politically motivated. FOREMAN: And you wrote today that one of the problems with this is that this particular area -- foreign affairs, foreign policy -- is something that presidents have to tread very gently on in political terms.

GERGEN: Yes, I may be old-fashioned, Tom, but I'll tell you -- in the White House, since I have been engaged in this for the last 40 years, traditionally presidents listen to their international team on foreign policy issues, their military advisers and so forth. And they have the domestic people there. But the foreign policy team really determines the course.

And in particular in this case, here we've got General David Petraeus who is not just his commander in the field, but one of the most successful generals we've had in modern times. And by the way, the man who did turn around Iraq with a surge and was trying to turn around Afghanistan with a surge and that was -- that seemed to be working.

And Petraeus himself wants to wind it down. The question is how to wind it down. And he comes up with a set of recommendations that he thinks have the best chance of success. And the president says no. That is -- that's where I got off the train. I mean I just seem -- every president I know -- known would have said, I know the polls are not -- this is not popular.

I know it's costing us something. But this is what we've got to do for military purposes. I'm not going to bend with the winds of public opinion. I'm going to go out and try to persuade the public. This is what we must do.

And having just killed bin Laden, I thought he had a lot of -- I thought he had a lot of political capital to persuade the president -- the country to go with him with the Petraeus recommendation.

FOREMAN: I got to wonder if the president himself would like to get off the train this week. This has not been a --


GERGEN: Not his good week.

FOREMAN: This has not been a good week.


FOREMAN: I mean today he had the Republicans backing away from the debt talks and Ben Bernanke came out saying the economy is not as strong as it might be. He released the oil. We're going to talk about some of these things later on in the show.

GERGEN: Right.

FOREMAN: But this has been a rough week for Barack Obama.

GERGEN: It has been a -- no good news out there right now for him. And his numbers are sagging again a little bit.

I was most distressed. I mean we knew that the economic performance was going to go down. Everybody else has already been lowering the numbers. So when Bernanke lowered the numbers, that was consistent with what others were doing.

What was the surprise was that Republicans pulling out of these deficit talks with Vice President Biden. That was a big development, a bad blow for the country, frankly.

FOREMAN: Is it -- is that the Republicans jumping on the president in trouble or do you think that's something that would have happened anyway?

GERGEN: I don't think it was related to the president per se. I take them at their word that there were just a deepening and very stiff disagreements within the group. And you know, Eric Cantor pulled out and basically -- and then Jon Kyl pulled out, Senator Kyl. And they said basically, we're not -- we're leaving the talks until the Democrats stop pushing for all these tax increases.

FOREMAN: Let me ask you one other thing. I mean when you look at all of these issues -- these economic issues, the domestic policy issues, the foreign policy issues, everything else -- I keep looking at the numbers and saying, this is exactly the race that President Obama will be running on a year from now.

GERGEN: There is very little one can see out in the future that looks promising. In other words, the jobs are not going to come quickly. We know that so the rates are going to come down slowly. There is no stimulus out there that -- with the Fed or the Congress. He's going to have a hard time getting agreements on the deficits. I imagine what we're going to be in for is a series of short-term patches.


GERGEN: So where do you find the good news? Maybe the -- you know the bin Laden thing was -- if he gets a bin Laden in October of next year that could really change things.

FOREMAN: If there is such a thing.

GERGEN: A cover story.


FOREMAN: For now, I guess the good news is -- for him it's preseason. At least he can say, this is practice for what's coming up later.

GERGEN: Well, that's true. But I think the country right now is very -- you know, the country is in a funk. And you know the president's role is to sort of help lift people's spirits and give them hope. And he's got to do that.

FOREMAN: We'll see if he can pull it off.

David Gergen, always good --

GERGEN: I hope for the sake of the country, yes, that we can get back up on top again.

FOREMAN: And we hope you'll come back here again. Thanks so much, David Gergen.

GERGEN: Good to see you. OK.

FOREMAN: Coming up in a moment, breaking news. President Obama is in New York tonight at a fundraiser attended by the gay community and he has made what sounds like a statement in favor of gay marriage. But not so fast. Details in a moment.

First, E.D. Hill is with us to talk about what she's working on tonight -- E.D.

E.D. HILL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Coming up, well over a century after the civil war, slavery is flourishing here in America. People paid little to nothing to do a job instead of Americans. Who's guilty and is there anything we can do to stop it? That's coming up.

FOREMAN: Thanks so much, E.D. We look forward to it.

Stick with us. The president talking about gay marriage -- kind of -- here in New York tonight. That when we come back.


FOREMAN: A lot is going on and there is indeed tonight. Just minutes ago in New York, President Obama spoke at a fundraising gala sponsored by the gay community. And it was just the latest chapter in his confused relationship with the gay community.

It started in 1996 when he signed a questionnaire saying he supports gay marriage. When he ran for president in 2008 he said marriage should be between a man and a woman. And tonight, listen to what he had to say.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I believe that discrimination because of somebody's sexual orientation or gender identity ran counter to who we are as a people. And it's a violation of the basic tenets on which this nation was founded.

I believe that gay couples deserve the same legal rights as every other couple in this country.


FOREMAN: I'm joined now by someone who was at that gala tonight. LZ Granderson writes for and

Welcome, LZ. So I heard the cheer from the audience there. Was that the real reaction of the crowd? (LAUGHTER)

LZ GRANDERSON, CNN.COM OPINION WRITER: There definitely were people who were genuinely excited to hear those words. But I would tell you, I was in that audience and there were a lot of people sitting down, too.

FOREMAN: Well, you're -- listen, you're a wordsmith. You're a guy who does a lot of writing. I read those words and I thought, this is notable for what it's not saying as much as what it is saying, right?


GRANDERSON: You know he has to do this dance. You know if you think about it pragmatically, there are just too many swing states that he could lose those votes in if he says the words "gay marriage." And I think he understands that. I know that's very disappointing for a lot of gay people to hear, but he's playing this game and so he's pushing about as close as he can get without saying the word that I think will be the sound bite the Republicans will use the entire year.

FOREMAN: At the same time, at the same time, the reason that people go out and vote for somebody in any group is to say, when the moment comes, be bold. Stand up and say it.


FOREMAN: If it costs you the presidency, that's a good thing to lose your presidency for.

GRANDERSON: Well, you know, it all depends upon the topic. And I hate talking about politics like this because this is an issue that's close to my heart as a gay man. You know I want my president to support me fully and say, I support gay marriage. But I also know that if he doesn't get back in office there are several candidates that made it very clear during the GOP debates that they will reverse some of the good things that he's done for the GLBT community if he -- if they were to get into office.

FOREMAN: Let me ask you a question about the practical politics of this, though.


FOREMAN: With the way the nation's views have evolved on this -- the president himself says his views are evolving.

GRANDERSON: That's right.

FOREMAN: As the nation's views have evolved, do you really think even on the Republican side that they could make these things reverse? Even if -- just like he may not be able to push it forward, are you sure they can push it back?

GRANDERSON: I'm sure they can definitely get involved with a social issue discussion that will prevent us from doing some of the things that we all need to be concentrating on like creating jobs. They can definitely start to muddle things with Congress.

I mean look what happened when he got in right now in 2010. They were supposed to be focusing on jobs. What did they attack? Obamacare. You know so they're going after his policies and I think when they -- if they get into the White House they're going to go after his policies and that' why --

FOREMAN: In fairness he's supposed to be focusing on jobs, too. And he (INAUDIBLE) with Obamacare.


FOREMAN: You know what I mean?

GRANDERSON: That's very true. You know? And I think an argument could be made that by saving money through health care reform, you are kind of saving jobs and maybe not creating them but he's saving them.

FOREMAN: Let me ask you a simple -- in simple phrase. As a member of the gay community and somebody who's interested in this, has he been the president that gays and lesbians voted for?

GRANDERSON: I don't think he's fully been the president that any of his voters had voted for. Not just the GLBT community. I think there are a lot of people who have been disappointed with some of his policies, some of the compromises, some of the --


FOREMAN: Look, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", it seemed to take forever to finally engage that.


FOREMAN: Which I think a lot of people in that community were saying, we thought this would be right up front because it was easy. Just do it.

GRANDERSON: Well, but it wasn't because people weren't really concentrating on the political process. He couldn't just sign an executive order. He needed Congress. He needed that process. And so you've got to talk about -- when we talk about these social issues, you can't just say well, the president said it, so does it so.

We've got to remember there's congressional seats that are important. That's also an important part of 2012 as well. If you want gay marriage we've got to talk about the congressional seats as well. Because even if he comes out and says, I support gay marriage, if he has a Congress that doesn't, then he just has a statement.

FOREMAN: Let me ask you one other thing that's just a strategic thing that always interests me. Often I think that when any group gets in the pocket of one party they lose all their power because the party then says, we've got the gay and lesbian votes sewn up. We don't have to do a damn thing for them, because they are not going to go to the Republicans. Is there any moment at which you guys sit around and talk, and you say, you know, for political purposes maybe we should be considering talking to the Republicans about what they might do because maybe that puts pressure on the Democrats to say, do something? Don't just take our votes for granted.

GRANDERSON: Well, I certainly can't speak for every -- you know, person in the GLBT community.

FOREMAN: Of course. Of course.

GRANDERSON: But there are really are facets like the Log Cabin Republicans --


GRANDERSON: -- which were very instrumental in getting "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repealed. So those conversations are already happening. They aren't just completely selling out to one party, thus, as you're saying, sacrificing political leverage, if you will.

But at the same time the GOP I think is missing an opportunity here as well. Because there are a lot of independent voters who don't necessarily like the social politics but don't agree with some of the economic things that President Obama has done.

And if the GOP were at least cognizant enough to say, you know what, maybe if we said this language without saying gay marriage, maybe we can get those voters as well.

FOREMAN: Right. Well, about a quarter of the GLBT vote went to the Republican candidate last time. John McCain got it.

GRANDERSON: Yes. Yes. Absolutely.

FOREMAN: In which I've heard some people who voted for Barack Obama that GLBT community said, I can't believe it. But yes.


FOREMAN: Bottom line here. Listen, would you be a happier guy tonight if the president had even said the words "gay marriage"?

GRANDERSON: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Because there is only so much -- so many times you can applaud a policy for second class citizenship. And even though as I said before I'm pragmatic, I understand why he's doing what he's doing. At the end of the day, at the end of all these fundraisers and rallies, which you're applauding for is him publicly saying you're a second class citizen. And that will always rub me the wrong way.

FOREMAN: All right, LZ Granderson. It's great to have you in here to talk to us about all of this tonight. And I'm sure we'll talk a lot more as this all goes on. Thanks for coming by.

GRANDERSON: Absolutely. FOREMAN: When we come back, the wise guy from south Boston finally gets nabbed. There he is. The long, strange story of James "Whitey" Bulger. You've got to stay around and hear this.


FOREMAN: Welcome back. I'm Tom Foreman sitting in for Elliot Spitzer.

After 16 years the FBI finally got their man. And they did it by tracking down his woman. I'm talking about James "Whitey" Bulger, maybe the last of the big time gangsters, implicated in at least 19 murders.

He was finally found last night in Santa Monica, California, along with his girlfriend, a half million in cash and a few dozen guns. His is a story of FBI corruption, FBI persistence and the long-time vice grip he had on most of the crime in south Boston.

Joining me to help with this remarkable story is David Boeri, an award-winning reporter at WBUR in Boston who has been on Whitey's trail for two decades.

David, thanks for joining us. Why did it take you so long to track him down?

DAVID BOERI, WBUR: You know that's a good question. And that's the question that's been asked ever since he left this town. And it's because he corrupted the FBI here, that their spectacular un-success in finding him drove a cynicism that they really weren't serious in their purpose, intent or in their energy to find him. Some thought that they were protecting him. A lot of cynicism. To give them their due, they finally got their man, but it's been a long, long run.

FOREMAN: This is unbelievable. You brought up one of the key parts here. That he was an FBI informant in addition to being a gangster and along the way he started working all these ties very much to his advantage, talk to me a little about that.

BOERI: Well, this is what makes him much, much different than most mafia bosses. It also makes the treachery intense because his big career move was to understand that if he helped the FBI take out the Italian faction, the mafia, which was the national directive to take it out that he would put out of business his rivals.

In return, he got from the FBI protection. It was both legal and illegal protection. He corrupted the bureau. Basically, Bulger would like to say that he turned the Federal Bureau of Investigation into the Bulger Bureau Of Investigation.

The tentacles went inward. It was working for him. There were corrupt agents that tipped him off to investigations by their police agencies.

But even more stunning was they tipped him off to informants who were going to inform on him. That led him sometimes with the help of FBI agents to eliminate those informants -- murdering.

FOREMAN: This is astonishing. So he was actually using the FBI to essentially do his intelligence work so he could cement his own position, warned by the FBI to take off when they were coming to get him. In effect, how did they finally catch him?

BOERI: You know, that's a good question. The FBI is saying it was on CNN as it happens that somebody saw news coverage of their promotional campaign to find him and the calls came in.

There was something like 250 calls that came in, tips that night. They were not airing the promo campaign. They didn't air those spots in Los Angeles. It was somebody that called in and said, I know where he is.

FOREMAN: And this highlighted his girlfriend, right?

BOERI: That's right. His girlfriend went on the road with him. When he took off in 1995, tipped off by his former FBI handler, he took off in 1995. He was on the road with his old girlfriend, decided to exchange her for a new girlfriend and a new car. Came back, went back out on the road again.

There he's been for 16 years. The fugitive hunters often said he would be found in sunny climates. California was one spot they believed he might be going. There were a number of leads there.

I have been to California chasing leads in the past. I have been to a place, Venice Beach not far from Santa Monica. They thought it was a place he'd likely be found there. He was with stunning as he apparently has been there 16 years and under the nose of the FBI.

FOREMAN: Listen, tell me about what kind of guy this was. I have seen every episode of "The Sopranos." We have all seen "The Godfather." We have a romantic notion in this country of what this guy --

BOERI: There is no Tony Soprano in this guy unless you get to the bad part. This is a psychopath you're talking about. Somebody that unlike mafia dons liked to kill, liked to be involved up close and personal.

He strangled women. He blew people's brains out. He garroted people. It's stunning the cruelty of the guy. He was insane at what he did. He liked to look out at Boston from South Boston and say, I own this town.

In many ways, he did. People were terrified of him. He got his way. Law enforcement protected him. He was a killer on the loose here.

FOREMAN: I could talk to you all night, David, but we're almost out of time here. Can you tell me very briefly, with all the intricate relations he had with the FBI he was on the run for 16 years. Do you think he had help?

BOERI: This is the big question when they bring him back. In court he was smiling, joking with reporters. That tells me one thing. He's ultimately very confident he can come back here and say, you know what, if I was such a bad guy why did they tip me off?

The question for him, my first question for him would be, were you protected by the FBI? How many people warned you? Who called you when you fled these different places when people thought you might be hiding out and were on your case?

So if he comes back and talks, he could explode this case even more and we'll have several more series not of reruns, but of new shows on the Bulger case.

FOREMAN: David Boeri, thank so much for your insights and talking with us tonight. Just a fascinating story.

Coming up, so you're looking for a new growth industry. Well, you might want to try marijuana, seriously. If Ron Paul and Barney Frank have their way, the states could legalize pot. This is new news tonight. Tommy Chong, one half of of Cheech & Chong is all for it and he's not blowing smoke when we come back.


FOREMAN: This is probably the most surprising story of the day, an unlike pair of political bedfellows stepped into the war on drugs today.

Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul and Democratic Senator Barney Frank of all odd couples announced a bill that would, in effect, legalize marijuana by doing away with federal laws and leaving the pot problem up to the states.

Ron Paul legalizing marijuana. Go figure on that one. The feds will continue enforcing international and interstate drug smuggling laws. But states would decide for themselves whether citizens could grow and sell it.

This is undeniably a long shot in terms of legislation, but it is creating buzz. So should we even consider legalizing pot?

Here to take sides are actor and marijuana advocate Tommy Chong. You all know him from the movies and Paul Chebeau, former senior adviser on drug policy to the Clinton and second Bush administrations.

Welcome, gentlemen. Tommy, let me start with you. As far as I can tell, you have waited a lifetime for this to come along. How much confidence do you have that it will make it now?

TOMMY CHONG, ACTOR, MARIJUANA ADVOCATE: I don't have any confidence whatsoever. I think it's political. It's like the rest, you know? It's already legal.

We have medical marijuana laws in California. We already have dispensaries. We are already buying pot, you know, legally as far as the states go. So to me it's another -- it makes me mad is what it does. FOREMAN: Hold on. Let me ask you a little bit more about that and I will turn to Paul here. Look, you're wearing a shirt right now that's a friend of yours, right?

CHONG: Yes, a friend of mine. He's a Canadian - briefly he's a Canadian that the DEA went into Canada and arrested him for selling marijuana seeds over the internet or hemp seeds as they used to called.

FOREMAN: You went to prison yourself for drug paraphernalia.

CHONG: I went to prison for paraphernalia. It wasn't really for paraphernalia. In the indictment it said, it was because I made movies like "Up in Smoke "that made fun of law enforcement agencies. Yes, I went to jail for that.

FOREMAN: So you're saying, nonetheless, I mean, you don't think this legislation has much of a chance and frankly, I think you're probably right. But at the same time, do you like the idea that the discussion continues to happen at the federal level?

CHONG: Well, definitely. You know, but I would like to see it -- you know, it could be done in a blink of an eye. All President Obama has to do is sign an executive order rescheduling marijuana from Schedule 1, which says it has no medical use whatsoever to a schedule 2, which would allow it to be sold by prescription only. Then we'd be all done.

FOREMAN: OK, let me bring Paul in. What's wrong with this legislation coming forward? We keep seeing little rambles about this. We've seen medical marijuana approved in many places. What's wrong with all this?

PAUL CHABOT, FORMER ADVISOR TO W.H. DRUG CZAR: It's very disappointing to have two grown adults pushing a marijuana agenda. Look, we have a lot of kids today that are falling into the trap. This is a fringe movement and we're not going to see it go anywhere.

But let's address the point here in California. We don't necessarily just have marijuana dispensaries. These are domestic marijuana cartels. Over a thousand on the streets of L.A., more than Starbucks, 7-11th and McDonald's combined.

We have more kids entering rehab for marijuana than every other drug combined. We know the research. It leads to testicular cancer, schizophrenia, depression and many other anxities.

This is not 2 percent ditch way to the 1960s, pretty potent marijuana today and shame on Barney Frank and Ron Paul, a very big disappointment for American leadership.

FOREMAN: Paul, let me ask you something though. You yourself had a problem with this. When you were 12 years old, you went into rehab because of drinking and marijuana use. Your own life is proof that the laws don't really stop the illegal trade in this. What do you make of that? CHABOT: Well, let me address that. First, I grew up watching Cheech and Chong when I was kid smoking out and that negative influence. I grew up and I got helped.

The problem is today, 90 percent of those who enter into treatment don't quite make it. They are still addicts. I'm 36 today, 26 years of great sobriety, but I'm fighting in the trenches.

Look, I'm a dad. I have three young kids at home. It's what kind of community, what kind of country I want my little ones to grow up in. I'll tell you what.

Look at California. We defeated marijuana legalization here last go around. We have woken up to the medical fraud marijuana problem that's skirted all around our nation. Times are changing. It will be back to community and family values.

FOREMAN: Tommy, let me ask you about this. What is the thing --

CHONG: First of all, let me ask him a question. Do you know who Montel Williams is?

CHABOT: I'm very disappointed -- I'm sorry.

CHONG: Do you know Montel Williams? Montel Williams has MS. It's a debilitating disease that he keeps under control by using marijuana.


CHONG: Melissa Ethridge, Melissa Ethridge suffered from cancer and she survived through the use of marijuana.

CHABOT: Got it.

CHONG: Shut up for a minute. Let me finish.

CHABOT: Very disappointing.

CHONG: It has medical use. That lie you just said where it had no medical use whatsoever, it's a lie.

FOREMAN: Hold on, Tommy.

CHONG: The reason you tell the lie is because you're being paid to tell that lie.

FOREMAN: Tommy, hold on.

CHONG: Like the rest of the liars.

FOREMAN: Hold on a second here, Tommy. Just one thing here though. Look, the medical community has long said there are medical applications for it, but I think the concern for voters is not the medical application.

CHONG: We are talking about life threatening disease. FOREMAN: It's not the medical application, but it's about the other uses.

CHONG: Listen, the kids die -- more kids die from obesity, from alcohol use, from traffic accidents. How many people have died from marijuana? Tell me.

FOREMAN: I understand what you're saying.

CHABOT: Tommy, look, two wrongs do not make a right.

CHONG: Where's the wrong here? No one died from marijuana.

CHABOT: Tommy, listen.

CHONG: Where is the wrong here?

CHABOT: First off, my heart goes out to you because you're an addict. You've got a marijuana addiction. Part of those --

CHONG: I don't smoke it.

CHABOT: But let me address this point.

CHONG: I'm not smoking it. I've got proof that I don't smoke it. I haven't for two months. I quit for three years when I went to jail.

CHABOT: Maybe you should put something in your mouth to be quiet for a few minutes.

CHONG: The thing about pot is you don't have to do it. You can quit without any medical help whatsoever.

FOREMAN: Tommy, you had your say and I appreciate it. Paul, you get the last word here.

CHONG: Let him have the last lie. Come on. Let's hear some more lies.

CHABOT: Thank you. I appreciate that. Look, we have a huge problem here in California. We have over a quarter million people that have medical marijuana I.D. cards. We already know there is a product called Marinol, which is approved by the FDA.

It's THC in concentrated form. There are other drugs coming outside of that. Less than 2 percent of those in California use medical marijuana for any significant debilitating illness. Most people use it in my state of California are young, healthy, under 25-year-olds.

It's a disappointment because we need to get them help and not send them mixed messages coming out of certain leaders in Washington, D.C. today.

FOREMAN: OK, Paul should go. Thanks for being here. Tommy --

CHONG: Go get your paycheck. FOREMAN: Thanks for being here. We have to go. Tommy and Paul, we appreciate the conversation. I'm sure we'll have more as it goes on.

Up next on Southwest Airlines, they don't charge you for your bags or for the insults apparently. A pilot you may not want to fly with. That is when we come back.


FOREMAN: Another airplane incident has some members of the public shaking their heads in disgust tonight. The Flight Attendants Union threatening to sue in obscenity-laced rant against women and gays.

An unidentified Southwest pilot aired his complaints about flight attendants. The cockpit microphone was stuck and the offensive audio was broadcast over an open frequency, to air traffic controllers and across the skies. You just have to hear it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Chicago crews, 11 out of 12, there's 12 flight attendants, individuals, never the same flight attendant twice. Eleven (inaudible) over the top (inaudible), homosexuals and a granny, Eleven.

I mean, think of the odds of that. I thought I was in Chicago, which is party land. After that, it was just a continuous stream of gays and grannies and grandes. Six months I went to the bar three times. In six months, three times.

Once with the granny and the (inaudible) and I wish I hadn't gone. At the very end with two girls, one of them that was probably doable, but we ended up going to the bar and then to the crew room at St. Louis.

And all these two women wanted to do was one wanted to berate her sister and the other wanted to (inaudible) about her husband.


FOREMAN: Southwest Airlines apologized and they say they have suspended him, but after diversity training he's now back on the job. We'll be right back.


E.D. HILL, CNN ANCHOR: In depth, tonight a shocking report on slavery here in the U.S. it is almost unimaginable, American businesses enticing foreign workers to the states and forcing them to stay without pay or even decent living conditions, all to avoid paying a fair wage to workers here at home.

Officials estimate as many as 17,000 slaves, half of them children, are trafficked into the U.S. each year. From Hawaii and California to Texas and Mississippi, they toil as domestics, farmhands and prostitutes facing constant abuse with little hope for a better life.

Kevin Bales is President of Free the Slaves and he joins us now as part of CNN's continuing freedom project. Thanks for being with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great to be here. Thank you.

HILL: Is that estimate about right? 17,000?

KEVIN BALES, CO-FOUNDER, FREE THE SLAVES: To the best of our knowledge it's a hidden crime, very difficult to count. But we think there could be something like 40,000 to 50,000 slaves in the United States at any one time. Something like that number coming into the country each year.

HILL: And who are they?

BALES: They're anybody who really who's searching for an opportunity. You know, the way you enslave someone in the United States is to offer them a job and a chance of a better life.

HILL: We know there are plenty of people who sneak across the border, sneak into the country each year, but are some of these people brought here, paying a huge sum to brokers as well?

BALES: Absolutely, there are a number of legal ways for people to come into the country. Though, if they are treated that way, if they're enslaved after they arrive obviously that's not legal.

But we've got some pretty serious loopholes in some of the visa systems, the ones that help people to come here for the jobs that we actually need workers for.

HILL: What about the types of companies that target these illegal workers? Are they larger ones or are they the smaller ones?

BALES: There are -- I have to say all sizes from mom and pop operations to pretty good-sized corporations. But they tend to be these companies that are called labor recruitment companies and to say to a big farmer, I can take care of all your labor problems. You just let me have a contract to contract out to these workers. They go out, lure people in and enslave them when they arrive.

HILL: Is there anything that we can do as consumers? You know, you go into a grocery store. You want to buy something that's made in America. Oranges are growing in Florida. How can you tell? Is there a way for us to tell, use our pocketbook to try to help this problem?

BALES: There is not a way to tell by looking at, say the produce in the grocery store. But if you live in a part of the country where you might well see workers in the fields or people for that matter possibly in the back of a restaurant, say a Chinese restaurant.

That's another place where they can end up or different types of low level, tough, dirty jobs, look again. You know, those are the people like maids in hotels that we tend to treat as if they are almost invisible.

HILL: You know, we have this trafficking victims protection act. I know it's up for renewal. Clearly, there's been an attempt to address the problem. How did it not go far enough?

BALES: I think for a long time, anything to do with those visas, which allow foreign workers to come in have just not been a priority.

But we have come to understand lately how that visa system is being abused and particularly why it needs more inspection and oversight to make sure that people who use it legally aren't bothered that the people who use it illegally are arrested.

HILL: All right, Kevin Bales, thank you for helping us understand more about this problem. Appreciate it.

BALES: I'm very happy to. Thank you.

HILL: Now, this Sunday at 8:00 p.m., join CNN's Freedom Project and actress Demi Moore for the world premiere of "Nepal's Stolen Children."

A story of thousands of young girls bought and sold for sex And the amazing woman who rescues them. CNN's 2010 hero of the year.

On behalf of Tom Foreman and the vacationing Eliot Spitzer, good night from New York. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.