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THE SITUATION ROOM
U.S. Tries to Ease Mad Cow Fears; U.S. Braces for North Korean Nuclear Test; Military Accused of Dropping the Ball in Secret Service Investigation; Interview with Congressman Dana Rohrabacher; Murdoch and the British Government
Aired April 25, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now: the U.S. military is accused of dropping the ball in its investigation of an embarrassing prostitution scandal. Two veteran U.S. senators say Pentagon briefers wasted their time, and now, there's talk of subpoenas.
A U.S. congressman who's criticized President Hamid Karzai is asked to stay out of Afghanistan. This hour, I'll ask Republican congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, why secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, went along with Karzai's outrageous demand.
And the father of a 10-year-old boy with autism says his son was humiliated and tormented by his own teacher, and he's posting disturbing audiotapes on the internet to prove it.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Ever since the U.S. secret service prostitution scandal exploded, U.S. officials have been promising a thorough investigation, but today, we were told that the Pentagon's review of 12 military members linked to the scandal has been slow and sketchy and unacceptable.
Our senior Congressional correspondent, Dana Bash has the stories(ph) for us. Dana, senators held a public hearing on this scandal, as you know, you were there. There was also a private briefing as well. What are you learning?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know that infamous night in Cartagena, Colombia was two weeks ago tonight, and yet, today was the very first time members of the Senate Arms Services Committee got any kind of briefing at all from the Pentagon on its investigation of 12 individuals that it's looking into, and afterwards, there was bipartisan feeling that they were not happy.
In fact, even a threat of a subpoena to get more information, and there was a far different sentiment at the public hearing talking about the secret service aspect of this.
BASH (voice-over): How does Homeland Security secretary, Janet Napolitano, feel about the secret service prostitution scandal?
JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: The allegations are inexcusable. The conduct was unacceptable, it was unprofessional. Unprofessional and unacceptable.
BASH: Napolitano, who oversees the secret service, used the words unacceptable and unprofessional half a dozen times and made this vow.
NAPOLITANO: The investigation will be complete and thorough, and we will leave no stone unturned.
BASH: Senators seemed satisfied with her efforts.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER, (D) NEW YORK: I think the kind of investigation you and your department will do I have a lot of faith in.
BASH: What a contrast outside a private briefing nearby.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R) ARIZONA: It was a waste of time because they have no information.
BASH: Military leaders met with senators behind these doors about members of the arms services alleged misbehavior with prostitutes that same night in Colombia. John McCain, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, came out furious.
MCCAIN: The Pentagon is being totally uncooperative. They don't even know -- they wouldn't even have an information as to who was in charge on the ground in Cartagena. It was remarkable.
BASH: To date, none of the 12 arms services members involved in alleged misconduct in Colombia has been reprimanded or cleared, but secret service rules allow things to move faster. All 12 secret service members have either been forced out or are in the process of leaving or have been cleared of serious misconduct. And back at the Senate Judiciary Committee, the woman in charge had some answers.
NAPOLITANO: The first question I posed to the director was, was there any breach to the president's security in this instance, and the answer was no.
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE, (D) RHODE ISLAND: But there was a risk of breach along those lines if those connections existed, correct?
NAPOLITANO: There may be a risk, and that's why this behavior cannot be tolerated.
BASH: One key question Napolitano could not yet answer, whether it's cultural if inappropriate behavior with prostitutes has happened before.
NAPOLITANO: We are looking to see and make sure that this was not some kind of systemic problem, and most importantly, to fix it.
If it is, that would be a surprise to me, I must say, as someone who has been the service secretary for three and a half years now.
BASH (on-camera): Napolitano did say that the office of professional responsibility has gone through its files from the past two and a half years. That's 900 foreign trips and found no record of any reports of misconduct of this kind, prostitutes with members of the secret service. But Wolf, to be sure, if bad behavior like this is part of the culture, they likely wouldn't be reported.
BLITZER: Yes. I know you saw the story in "The Washington Post" quoting unnamed secret service agents as saying by no means unprecedented. There's a long history of supervisors tolerating this kind of behavior by secret service personnel who were on the road either before or after a presidential trip. Was there any specific reaction to this very damning story in "The Washington Post?"
BASH: The Homeland Security secretary was asked about that, and she really didn't have an answer. She simply said that they were still investigating whether this is a cultural issue, forgive me, and whether or not there are other incidents like this. She basically punted.
BLITZER: Yes. All right. Well, there are a lot of unanswered questions that are going to have to be answered in the days and weeks to come. Dana, thank you.
Other important news. U.S. food and health officials are trying to ease fears about beef safety now that a case of mad cow disease has been confirmed in California. At least one major South Korean company has suspended the sale of American beef despite reassurances that consumers aren't in any danger at all.
CNN's Paul Vercammen is near the facility in California where the infected dairy cow was discovered. What are you learning over there, Paul?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as you said, the infected dairy cow was discovered here. This is a rendering facility in Hanford, California. Again, health and safety officials saying that there is no threat, but this cow was brought in by Baker Commodities. Now, Baker Commodities goes up and down the San Joaquin Valley from Bakersfield to Modesto.
It serves some 100 dairies, and it picks up the cows that die at the various dairies and farms. It brought the cow back here. It was tested, and it turned up positive for what they're now terming to be atypical mad cow disease. Now, what goes on in here basically in these rendering facilities and this cow was going to be transferred to yet another Baker's Commodity facility in Kerman. The cows are basically carved up. They get their hide, and they use these products in pet food. They also use these animal products in food for chicken feed, and these are valuable in terms of paint and soaps and cosmetics. Now, again, I talked to the California USDA. They say there is no health or safety threat here and that, at one point, they will destroy the carcass.
And this just in, they now say that dairy where this came from is in Tulare County. That's about 15 miles to the east of here in Hanford -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Paul Vercammen on the scene for us. Thank you.
U.S. officials are insisting the current levels of testing for mad cow disease are adequate. Brian Todd is here. He's taking a closer look at the testing part of this story, whether or not American beef, dairy products are safe. What are you finding out?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, by all indications, it is mostly safe, Wolf, for the very most part. The safeguards in place have worked very well. We did learn of a small gap in the system, but it's not clear if that had anything to do with this case.
TODD (voice-over): In the wake of the discovery of the fourth case of mad cow disease in the U.S., the agriculture secretary reassures Americans their food supply is safe. How does he know for sure?
TOM VILSACK, AGRICULTURE SECRETARY: We know because of taking out of the feed and out of the food supply those parts of the animal that could potentially cause the mad cow disease in humans.
TODD: Tom Vilsack means they make sure the nervous system material of the cow, the brain, the spinal columns don't get into the food system. Those are the parts that can transfer the agents in the cow's body which carry the disease. Also, the government no longer allows feed from dead, ground-up cows to be used to feed other cows.
That's prevented potential transmission of mad cow disease. But the government does allow dead cows to be ground up and fed to chickens. Chickens eat it and excrete it. Experts say that chicken excrement has nutritional value, so sometimes, ground up and fed to other animals like cows. I asked Patty Lovera of the nonpartisan advocacy group, Food and Water Watch about that.
Should the U.S. government ban cow feed from being given to chickens?
PATTY LOVERA, FOOD AND WATER WATCH: We think so. We think that we didn't allow the cattle parts to be in any animal feed. It would really lower the risk of accidental happening of contamination of accidentally having that cattle part get fed back to cattles.
TODD (on-camera): But you don't need to worry about getting mad cow from eating chicken. Experts say even if a chicken eats feed from a sick cow, the agent that transfers mad cow disease doesn't infect chickens, doesn't contaminate the meat.
(voice-over) We asked Dr. Richard Raymond, a former undersecretary at the Department of Agriculture, who oversaw safety in the meat industry why take chances? There's still a slim chance infected proteins could make their way through the chicken population back to cows or ruminants as they're referred to in the industry.
VOICE OF DR. RICHARD RAYMOND, FORMER USDA UNDERSECRTARY FOR FOOD SAFETY: I do not believe a ban on poultry (INAUDIBLE) is necessary at this time. I do not believe there's any scientific evidence that our herd is at risk for eating poultry litter and the fact that the ban had been so effective, I think that shows we have the situation well under control.
TODD: So far, the safeguards have been effective. From a peak of over 37,000 cases of mad cow disease worldwide in 1992, only 29 cases were reported last year.
TODD (on-camera): And the agriculture department says, in this case, the animal tested positive for a very rare form of the disease, not generally associated with an animal consuming, infected feed. Still, we call the FDA which handles feed bans to ask why the government still doesn't ban the feed from dead cows from being used to feed chickens.
So far, we've not gotten response. The USDA is still investigating how this one particular cow actually got the disease, Wolf.
BLITZER: How many cows do they actually test every single year for mad cow disease?
TODD: The USDA says it takes samples from 40,000 animals a year focusing on the groups where they think they're maybe the most danger of having it, but that's 40,000 head out of about 36 million cattle that are slaughtered in the U.S. each year.
Experts say government inspectors do inspect, you know, just visually, every single head of cattle for outward signs of it, but a watchdog group saying you've got to test more, actually, do the tissue testing of more than 40,000 cows out of 36 million.
BLITZER: Yes. I suspect they're going to increase that testing in the weeks and months to come.
BLITZER: I appreciate it very much, Brian.
Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, had the nerve to tell a United States congressman to stay out of the country, stay out of Afghanistan, even though the U.S. is spending billions of dollars there in U.S. taxpayer money. I'll ask Congressman Dana Rohrabacher about that and about secretary of state, Hillary Clinton's, shocking reaction to what Karzai was demanding. Stand by.
The Pentagon is bracing for North Korea to conduct a new nuclear test at any time. New information is coming in.
And a 10-year-old boy with autism bullied by his own teacher. His father posts shocking evidence on the internet.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to see any books in the library or are you going to look at sculptures?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Wolf, home prices are at their lowest in a decade. The S&P Case Schiller home price index of 20 cities shows an average decline of 3.5 percent from a year ago, and that's put home prices at their lowest level since November of 2002. Experts say foreclosures and other distressed property sales are the main challenge.
Some of the hardest hit housing markets include Atlanta, Charlotte, North Carolina, Chicago, Las Vegas, and New York. The worst is Atlanta, Georgia, where prices fell a whopping 17 percent in a single year. Home prices in Atlanta haven't been this low in 16 years. The numbers are scary.
For many Americans, their homes are their biggest asset, and it's hard to imagine how the nation can manage an economic recovery with the housing market still hurting so badly and things might not improve for a long time, a very long time. Yale University economics professor, Robert Schiller (ph), says a total recovery of the housing market in this country could take a generation.
Schiller says he worries, quote, "that we might not see a major turnaround in our life times." And it's not just home prices that are suffering. A new government report shows new home sales dropped 7.1 percent in March to the lowest level since last November. There's no rush to buy. Mortgage rates might be at record lows, but if people don't have the money to buy, it doesn't matter.
And in high unemployment, high gas prices, high food prices, uncertainty about the future of the health legislation and the overall economy, and the future including housing looks pretty grim.
The question, though, is this. Home prices are the lowest in a decade. How can this economy recover? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog or go to our post on the SITUATION ROOM's Facebook page. A generation, Schiller says, before this thing back to something approaching normal. BLITZER: Very, very disturbing. And you're right. This is usually the biggest asset almost all American families have, their homes. All right. Jack, thank you.
BLITZER: The United States is bracing for a new act of nuclear defiance by North Korea, a provocative test that could literally happen at any moment. Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence. He's got the latest for us. What are you hearing, Chris?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, satellite images are revealing some very specific activity going on in North Korea's test site leading some to believe that a nuclear test is right around the corner.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Traveling in South America, defense secretary, Leon Panetta, said Wednesday he is concerned about a potential war in the pacific. He warned that North Korean regime against conducting a new nuclear test.
LEON PANETTA, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We would strongly urge North Korea not to engage in any further provocations.
LAWRENCE: Experts are analyzing satellite images of the North Korean launch site and see indications a launch is imminent.
PAUL BRANNAN, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE & INTL. SECURITY: And you can see a growth in pile of material next to one of the test shafts at the nuclear test site, and that indicates to us that there is some preparation going on at the site.
LAWRENCE: Analyst, Paul Brannan, says North Korea may be excavating one of the test shafts and believes its next task could move it closer to the ultimate capability, delivering a nuclear weapon.
BRANNAN: We assess that North Korea's capable of making a nuclear explosive device for the no-dong missile, and one of the concerns is that this test may be associated with that.
LAWRENCE: North Korea test fired a long-range rocket less than two weeks ago. By most accounts, it failed. That's important because when the north conducted previous nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, they both follow closely after a ballistic missile test.
On Wednesday, China said it will oppose any new nuclear test and warned its neighbor not to escalate tensions in the region. The U.S. state department had been urging China to exert more of its leverage on North Korea.
VICTORIA NULAND, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: So, obviously, public statements of this kind are most welcome, and we look forward to consulting with the Chinese on what more they think can and should be done.
LAWRENCE: Now if and when North Korea conducts this test, the first indication is going to come from seismic activity. Pentagon officials tell us that it is very difficult to measure the power of an underground explosion, but the last time North Korea conducted a nuclear test in 2009, they flew a special plane at high altitude to measure the radioactive particles in the air -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very, very sensitive issue right now. Let's see what happens, Chris. Thank you.
The media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, answering questions about his influence over British government officials. Stand by for his revealing testimony about his class with one prime minister.
Also, a volcano puts on an amazing, fiery display. You'll see it right here in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Pakistan announces the successful test launch of a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Lisa Sylvester is monitoring that story, also some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, the news comes just days after Pakistan's archrival, India, tested its own long range missile and on the same day that a U.S. delegation arrived in Pakistan for in-depth talks to repair tensions between the two countries. U.S.-Pakistan ties have been scarred by NATO air strikes, U.S. drone strikes, and the raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
Connecticut is now the 17th state to abolish capital punishment. Governor Daniel Maloy signed the bill into law. It goes into effect immediately but doesn't apply to anyone who has already been sentenced to death. The highest form of punishment in Connecticut is now life in prison without the possibility of release.
And the marine who used his Facebook page to criticize President Obama has been discharged. According to a spokesman, Sgt. Gary Stein (ph), who you see with his attorney, he came under scrutiny after saying he would not obey the president's orders and later called the president a liar.
He was accused of violating a military provision against conduct endangering good order and discipline.
And an amazing, fiery display. This is Mount Etna volcano in Italy spewing lava high into the sky. These amazing pictures. This is the seventh eruption since the beginning of the year. Residents aren't at risk, but do have to contend with ash showers that typically follow such an event.
And some teens have discovered an alarming new way to get drunk. Hand sanitizer. According to our affiliate, KTLA, six teenagers ended up in California hospitals with alcohol poisoning after drinking hand sanitizer. Doctors say it's essentially a hard shot of liquor.
And parents are being encouraged to buy foam sanitizer instead of gel, because the alcohol is harder to extract it. It's so hard to believe that there are kids drinking this stuff, but apparently, it is happening, Wolf.
BLITZER: Terrible. Terrible. All right. Thanks, Lisa, for that.
Get ready for an incredible story. A member of the United States Congress, he was told he was not welcome in Afghanistan because he's criticized the president, Hamid Karzai. I'll ask Congressman Dana Rohrabacher about this outrage and why the highest U.S. officials including the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, went along with this outrage. Stand by.
And did media mogul, Rupert Murdoch, use his power to manipulate government officials? Stand by for his testimony.
BLITZER: Media tycoon, Rupert Murdoch, answering tough questions today about his ties to British government officials and whether he used his power to influence them in a way that was improper or illegal. The investigation of alleged phone hacking has raised broader concerns about Murdoch's empire and journalism ethics.
CNN's Dan Rivers reports on Murdoch's dramatic testimony.
DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): His appearance was, perhaps, the most anticipated moment of the inquiry into press ethics. A man synonymous with ruthless journalism and political influence insisted he neither condoned nor knew about phone hacking at his papers.
RUPERT MURDOCH, NEWS CORP CEO: I don't believe in using hacking. I don't believe in using private detectives or whatever. I think that's such a lazy waive reporters not doing their job.
RIVERS: But much of the questioning centered on Rupert Murdoch's alleged influence over successive prime ministers. He met Margaret Thatcher secretly in 1981 to discuss buying two more British newspapers. So, did she go along with his deal in return for good press?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No favors excess were offered to you by Mrs. Thatcher, is that right?
MURDOCH: I never asked. I think if I'd asked for anything (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you wouldn't to be candid (ph) to have asked directly, would you, Mr. Murdoch?
MURDOCH: I hope not. I've never asked a prime minister for anything.
TODD: He robustly denied accusations his papers gave politicians favorable coverage in return for commercial benefits.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I take a particularly strong pride in the fact that we would never push our commercial interests in our newspapers.
RIVERS: But there were recollections of serious clashes with politicians, too, like his infamous decision not to back Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown in 2009 prompting a hostile call from Mr. Brown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said well, your company has made -- declared war on my government. And we have no alternative, but to make war on your company and I said I'm sorry about that Gordon. Thank you for calling.
RIVERS: Gordon Brown responded within hours describing that testimony as holy wrong, but the media tycoon repeatedly rejected any suggestions that all of his papers reflected his personal, political views.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't say that of "The Sun".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're perhaps the only independent newspaper in the business.
RIVERS: For his enemies outside that was simply outrageous.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Murdochs have corrupted British politics for a generation. Now we're beginning to hear the full truth and politicians need to take their distance from the Murdoch's and tell them to go home.
RIVERS (on camera): Rupert Murdoch's enemies are hoping this will be the beginning of the end of the Murdoch mafia. But the truth is Rupert Murdoch still maintains massive press interest here in the U.K. He is the biggest owner of newspapers with 36 percent of the U.K. market.
Dan Rivers, CNN, London.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And according to "Fortune" magazine, Murdoch's News Corporation is the second largest media empire here in the United States behind the Walt Disney Company, Time Warner the parent company of CNN is third.
If you've ever had to speak in public you'll probably sympathize with Florida Senator Marco Rubio, the Republican whose mentioned often as a potential running mate for Mitt Romney had one of those rather uncomfortable public speaking moments earlier today. Take a look and listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The 21st Century provides us the opportunity for more freedom, a world where more people are free to grow their economies, free to pursue their dreams, free to become prosperous. I left my last page of the speech -- does anybody have my last page? Did I leave it with you? Above all else the 21st Century provides us the opportunities for more freedom.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: It could happen to anyone. Nice comeback though, I guess there are certain advantages in having a teleprompter for a speech like that.
The Afghan President Hamid Karzai had the nerve to tell a United States congressman to stay out of his country even though Afghanistan gets billions of dollars in U.S. aid. I'll ask Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher about that and about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's shocking reaction. Stand by.
And a 10-year-old boy with autism tormented by his own teacher, a father posts evidence on the Internet and his own emotional commentary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He called my son a bastard. He made him cry. I heard him crying innocently and he's a bastard for that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
It's truly a shocking story. Shocking that a country that receives billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money can tell an American congressman he's not welcome to visit that country even for a few days. It's also shocking that the highest U.S. officials, even fellow members of Congress would go along with this outrage, but that's exactly what happened when the Afghan President Hamid Karzai made clear to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher of California, a key member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee would not be allowed into Afghanistan.
Congressman Rohrabacher is joining us now. Congressman thanks very much for coming in. When I heard about this, I was outraged. You were with five other members of Congress getting ready to board a U.S. military plane to fly from Dubai to Kabul when you got a call. Briefly tell our viewers what happened.
REP. DANA ROHRABACHER (R-CA), FOREIGN AFFAIRS CMTE.: Well first of all, you have to remember I am not just a member of Congress and not just a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, a senior member. I am also the chairman of the Oversight and Investigation Subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. So I actually, I think it's part of my job to make sure they I am going into places like Afghanistan and talking to people on -- from various factions and getting an understanding of what is going on and whether or not the strategy we have can succeed or not considering it's costing so much blood and treasure on the parts of the Americans. Well, I got on this CODEL (ph). It was a six-person CODEL (ph).
BLITZER: That's a congressional delegation.
ROHRABACHER: Right, congressional delegation and Louie Gohmert (ph) was the head of it. Well they already had six people, but two days before it left one of them decided not to go. So I told him I would be happy to fill that slot, and we flew commercial to Dubai. I might add I had to fly coach for 13.5 hours and when we got there we were supposed to go on a military plane to Kabul and we get this call from both the Defense Department which telling Louie that, I'm sorry, the military plane will not take off if Congressman Rohrabacher is on it.
BLITZER: Who called you from the Defense Department? Was it the Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta?
ROHRABACHER: I think -- I did not talk to Leon, but I think that -- yes, the answer is Louie was talking to Panetta --
BLITZER: And Panetta said that they wouldn't let that U.S. military plane take off if you were on it, a member of Congress?
ROHRABACHER: And the chairman of the Oversight Investigation Subcommittee was on it and that's me, and then when I said that's OK, Louie. I'll look into going commercial which there are commercial flights from Dubai to Kabul, at that point I got a call from Hillary and --
BLITZER: Hillary Clinton, the secretary of state.
ROHRABACHER: Excuse me, the secretary of state, Clinton, and to be fair about it, you know, we didn't have time to work out these glitches before. I was -- it was a very short time before when I got on this CODEL (ph) and by the time we were going to have to leave --
BLITZER: Well, what did the secretary of state say to you?
ROHRABACHER: She basically said that she'd been through many -- a lot of mini crises there in Afghanistan with the burning of the Korans and our soldiers urinating on these dead bodies and then one of them going crazy and killing civilians and she just felt that another mini crisis which might erupt because Karzai hated me so much that he would create a crisis and she just thought it would be disruptive to our ability to get her job done.
BLITZER: And so a country like Afghanistan that receives about -- maintaining 90,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan and costs American taxpayers $2 billion every week --
ROHRABACHER: That's right.
BLITZER: -- $100 billion a year, so she would allow Hamid Karzai to dictate that an American congressman cannot visit his country?
ROHRABACHER: Well I think that she should have stood up for that, but however, she asked me to do that and I complied with her wishes. I thought she was asking me in a respectful way, but she was having to deal with this corrupt prima donna who heads that country and realizing that, look, members of Congress should be over there to see if the dynamics are such that we're not just wasting people's lives and money, and there are changes that need to happen for us to be able to succeed. They have pushed aside those people who defeated the Taliban originally. We need to get the Uzbeks (ph) and the Tajiks (ph) and the other people not -- that Karzai has kept out of his government and put them together with the Taliban and everybody else --
BLITZER: You know.
ROHRABACHER: -- but they won't -- that won't succeed if they don't have a change.
BLITZER: I write this on my blog today, Congressman. "It's 'A', an outrage that Karzai won't let you visit his country. 'B', it's an outrage that the secretary of state and the secretary of defense go along with this and tell you, you can't board a U.S. military plane to go inspect -- meet with the troops and see what's going on in Afghanistan, but to me it was also an outrage that the five other members of your congressional delegation went along with this. They decided to leave you behind in Dubai and they went off to Afghanistan --
BLITZER: And I called Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, and I spoke to her about that because she was on that delegation.
ROHRABACHER: But let me -- let me correct that. They actually offered to stay behind with me. They offered to say if Rohrabacher is not going we're going to stay here --
BLITZER: You were a gentleman. You were a gentleman, but to me it was pretty outrageous that they would allow --
BLITZER: They would participate in going along with this.
ROHRABACHER: Well, I don't think -- I would have to say my colleagues didn't go along with it. I suggested for them -- there was a special mission they had to accomplish in Afghanistan which is why Karzai was so opposed to me going and that was we had leaders of the Northern Alliance, opposition members and political leaders in that country who wanted to talk to American congressmen to make sure that we can -- we are not going to leave the Taliban in charge of Afghanistan. They needed to meet with these people and Louie led that, and I wanted him to go and have that meeting and they did. It's just that I wasn't able to be there to participate. BLITZER: Yes, well you were being a gentleman and you were being gracious I must say. And I told that to Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. And she is just as outraged, by the way, as a lot of folks, including myself are about the behavior of Hamid Karzai, behavior of the secretary of state, the behavior of the secretary of defense in allowing this kind of outrage to go forward.
BLITZER: Here's the question to you, Congressman.
BLITZER: Are you going to continue supporting assistance, military aid, U.S. taxpayer money to help Karzai?
ROHRABACHER: About a year ago I decided that unless they were willing to make changes that we should withdraw our troops as soon as possible because every one of our soldiers who dies now is dying for no reason. It's futile and how can we ask our people to make that kind of sacrifice? So about a year ago I decided it was time for us to get our combat troops out, but there is still time for us to make changes in the structure of the Afghan government so that we bring the Afghan government's most centralized system now in the world where they have a decentralized village and tribal culture.
We can make that change that will ensure that the population will not side with the Taliban once we leave, but changes have to be made. So I think I would vote to get the troops out right now, and I would vote unless there are some changes in the structure for us on to quit wasting billions of dollars on a crooked, corrupt administration, but it's crooked and corrupt because we insisted on a centralized structure eight years ago rather than a decentralized structure which we could have had.
BLITZER: All right. Yes, what the secretary of state and the secretary of defense just have said to Karzai, Mr. President, with all due respect this is unacceptable. A Democratically-elected representative of the United States Congress, something you don't have in Afghanistan, something we've worked on for 10 years to try to achieve wants to come visit your country. You may have been critical of him. He's critical of you, but this is democracy in action. They should have stood up to him and said you're on that plane and if you don't like it, lump it. But that's something --
ROHRABACHER: I agree.
BLITZER: -- continue this conversation down the road. Congressman, thanks very much for coming in.
ROHRABACHER: Thank you.
BLITZER: Obviously, I'm upset about what happened.
A child diagnosed with autism brutally mocked by teachers for talking to himself and catches it all on tape. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Another horrifying case of bullying exposed. This time a child diagnosed with autism targeted not by other kids, but by his own teachers. They didn't get away with it, though, thanks to the recording device he was wearing when it happened. Let's bring in CNN's Mary Snow. She has got the details for us. Mary what happened here?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a New Jersey father who couldn't explain why his son's behavior suddenly changed at school felt like he had to take matters into his own hands. Now his son has difficulty expressing himself, so the father decided the only thing to do was to try and record what was going on inside his son's classroom and what he found is disturbing.
SNOW (voice-over): Ten-year-old Akian Chaifetz (ph), says his father, was diagnosed with autism seven years ago. His father says his son's biggest struggle now isn't his condition, but bullying by the classroom staff entrusted to care for him. Stu Chaifetz (ph) is documenting the bullying in a very public way online, hoping, he says, that other children won't suffer the same cruelty. Chaifetz says problems started this year when he was told his son had punched a teacher and an aide.
STUART CHAIFETZ, NO MORE TEACHER/BULLIES: I have never seen him hit anybody. That just didn't make any sense.
SNOW: Frustrated by a lack of answers, Chaifetz put a recording device in his son's pocket during the school day. He was horrified to hear what was on it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, boy. Knock it off. Go ahead and scream because guess what? You're going to get nothing --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- until your mouth is shut. Shut your mouth.
SNOW (on camera): What was your reaction when you first heard that tape?
CHAIFETZ: Well when I -- that night when I started listening to it I just shattered inside.
SNOW (voice-over): More than six hours were recorded. Chaifetz says the toughest part was listening to Akian ask if he could see his father.
CHAIFETZ: My son when he transitions back from his mom and I -- he lives with me full time -- he just has a little natural anxiety. He says may I see dad after mom which is his way of asking to be reassured he's coming back home. AKIAN: May I see dad after mom?
TEACHER: Did you go to see any books in the library or you just looked at sculptures?
TEACHER: Oh Akian, you are a bastard.
AKIAN: May I see?
TEACHER: You can't see.
SNOW: Chaifetz says he went immediately to his son's Cherry Hill School (ph) and credits administrators with acting quickly. In a statement the school superintendent said "In February upon receiving a copy of an audio recording the district undertook a thorough and rigorous investigation and responded swiftly and appropriately." She said there were specifics she couldn't legally address, adding, "I want to assure our parents that the individuals who are heard on the recording raising their voices and inappropriately addressing children no longer work in the district." Chaifetz says he felt he had no choice but to go public.
CHAIFETZ: Every child is worthy of defense and respect. And that no one deserves to be treated with cruelty and to be humiliated, and that we need -- we who can speak for them need to stop it by changing the law, by exposing people who bully kids, and by publicly shaming them.
SNOW: And Stu Chaifetz isn't completely satisfied with the district's disciplinary action. He says he went public because he claims one of his son's teachers wasn't fired, just sent to another school. Now, the superintendent's office wouldn't address that question, referring us only to the statement it had previously sent out. And Wolf, by the way, since Stu Chaifetz posted his story on YouTube on Monday, it's had nearly a million and a half views.
BLITZER: Wow. So they won't explain why these individuals are still teaching in this school district after this kind of behavior?
SNOW: Right, well, the district says that the teachers have -- no longer teach in the district, but Stu Chaifetz says that he has discovered that one of them still does, but in a different school. And that's what the district wouldn't answer questions about.
BLITZER: But in the same district, a different school in that district, is it the same district?
SNOW: Right. He says it is, yes.
BLITZER: And the school district says it's not? SNOW: Correct.
BLITZER: All right. If you get some more information let us know -- Mary Snow doing excellent reporting for us, thank you.
Let's get back to Jack Cafferty right now for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour, home prices the lowest in a decade. They went down again an average of 3.5 percent in the last year. How can the economy recover in light of this?
Kevin in California "Jack, news flash, there is no recovery. This is a permanent reset in the standard of living and income of the average American. Get used to it."
Frank writes, "The economy can't recover until the inventory of foreclosed and underwater homes has been reduced to pre-crash levels. But it's hard to sell a house that has a property tax burden that's higher than the sales price. When the economy adjusts to these less- expensive properties, the economy will recover."
Jane in California writes, "A lot of contractors and real estate people in southern California buying up lots of houses cheap, fixing them, upgrading them, and then reselling at higher price points. Lower house prices mean new buyers will have more money to spend on other things, thus spreading economic growth through several areas, not just the home builders. High growth rates were never sustainable. You'd think we would have learned that by now."
Herman in Oregon writes, "The current regulations on the banks are hindering the housing recovery. We need to create jobs and get the government out of the auto, housing, banking, and health care industries."
Ken writes, "Spend a few trillion on defense, wars, entitlements, state grants, pork barrel and you name it, like we did for decades. Isn't that what made us the richest country in the world or am I missing something?"
And Ralph in Illinois, "When you go to sell your home it's worth 25 percent less than you thought it was. The good news is the home you buy is 25 percent less expensive than it was in 2008. Home prices are just one aspect of our economy. The stock market is on the upside. American car companies are building better cars. My iPhone is really cool. The wars are ending, and Mitt is not going to be the next president."
If you want to read more about this, you go to the blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile or through our post on THE SITUATON ROOM's Facebook page -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jack, thank you.
Here's a question for our viewers out there. What's better than hamburgers and pizza? How about hamburgers in your pizza crust? Up next, Jeanne Moos on the delicacy most Americans are missing out on.
BLITZER: So what's better than hamburger and pizza, how about hamburgers in your pizza crust? It's a new delicacy that may have your mouth watering, but if you live here in the United States, you may be missing out on it. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): America's status as a haven for junk food is under attack.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hail Pizza Hut's royal masterpiece.
MOOS: Because the masterpieces of junk food are being sold elsewhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new crown crust pizza, made with perfectly grilled mini cheeseburger gems, nestled in golden crown crust.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That looks delicious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Maybe if you're really drunk.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring it in Pizza Hut.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would definitely try it.
MOOS: Well, you can't, because cheeseburger crust pizza is only available in the Middle East, and that other delicacy you heard about a few weeks ago --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Monstrosity.
MOOS: Easy for him to sneer, he lives in Britain where hot dog pizza crust is now available, but not in the U.S.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, in the crust, wow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks good. I like it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I like it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I like it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just does nothing for me.
MOOS: That's good because you can't have it. South Korea got its version years ago.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pizza Hut (INAUDIBLE).
MOOS: So did Japan, so did Portugal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)
MOOS: Hot dogs may be as American as baseball, yet the U.S. is being left behind as Pizza Hut is pushing the envelope of edibility elsewhere.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must reclaim the throne by cramming hot dogs into every available wiener-shaped food area. Jam one into a Cannoli (ph). Put one in a banana.
MOOS: And to think that just a few years ago "Mad TV" was mocking America's pizza prowess (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nothing goes better with pizza and soda than a bag of Lay's potato chips, a bucket of KFC chicken.
MOOS: That was the practically prophetic. All that's missing is the bucket.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The new chicken filet crowned crust pizza.
MOOS: But the chicken filet crust is another novelty product Pizza Hut is introducing in the Middle East, so for now the U.S. has no need for Bill Maher --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: New rule, if you order the new Pizza Hut pizza with the hot dog-stuffed crust, you have to pay more for health care.
MOOS: Pizza Hut says there are no plans to bring either the hot dog or cheeseburger crusts to the United States. Although due to the overwhelming response, we might consider it.
(on camera): In the meantime, can I just have a hot dog without the bun? Americans are just going to have to resort to make your own hot dog pizza crust.
(voice-over): Being denied all those calories, all that fat, it's like an arrow through America's heart.
Jeanne Moos, CNN --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pizza Hut!
MOOS: -- New York.
BLITZER: Getting hungry, going to go have some dinner. That's it for me. Thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. The news continues next on CNN.