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The Sissy Boy Syndrome; New Questions about Benghazi Talking Points; Fiscal Cliffhanger; Interview with Sen. Kelly Ayotte; Interview with Sen. Richard Durbin

Aired November 27, 2012 - 20:00   ET


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

We begin the way Anderson does every night, "Keeping Them Honest." Not offering opinions or playing favorites. You can get that on the other cable news networks. We're just searching for the facts.

Tonight, the facts on a controversial practice called reparative therapy. Proponents say you can turn gay people straight. "Keeping Them Honest," a mountain of medical research says otherwise. And even though some people claim it helps them, even though practitioners may use it with the best of intentions, plenty of people say there's nothing reparative or therapeutic in what they endured.


CHAIM LEVIN, PLAINTIFF: I was manipulated into believing that I could change my sexual orientation. But instead I was subjected to terrible abuse that mirrored the traumatic assault that I experienced as a young person.

What I can tell you is that conversion therapy does not work. My family and I have wasted thousands of dollars and many hours on this scam.


BLITZER: That's Chaim Levin, one of four gay men filing suit today against a New Jersey counseling center, called JONAH, Jews Offering New Alternatives for Healing. These four men and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing them, are claiming that JONAH falsely promised cures and used tactics that sound less like therapy and more like mental torture.

Things like being made to undergo individual and group sessions in the nude. Being made to cuddle other same-sex clients and counselors. Being made to beat an effigy of one's mother. Going to gyms and bath houses in order to be nude, the lawsuit claims, with father figures. Being subject, the suit also claims, to ridicule, and I'm quoting the complaint here, "as homos," and other anti-gay slurs that start with the letter F but is too offensive to repeat here.

Sounds a lot like bullying, doesn't it? Experts say it amounts to quack science. This from the American Psychiatric Association. And I'm quoting now. "In the last four decades, reparative therapists have not produced any rigorous scientific research to substantiate their claims of cure. Until there is such research available, the APA recommends that ethical practitioners refrain from attempts to change individuals' sexual orientation, keeping in mind the medical dictum to first do no harm."

But stories of harm caused by reparative therapy are what prompted California to recently pass a law barring it for minors. And as the APA warns, the harm can include anxiety, depression, even suicide.

Randi Kaye profiled another young man, a man who went through so- called reparative therapy with traumatic results.

Here's his story.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Ryan Kendall was 13, his mother read his diary and discovered he was gay. That was the beginning of the most painful years of his life.

RYAN KENDALL, RECEIVED REPARATIVE THERAPY: For years, I thought that God hated me because I was gay.

KAYE: Ryan says his parents were determined to change him. They signed him up for what's called reparative therapy with the National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality, otherwise known as NARTH.

Reparative therapy, aimed at changing sexual orientation, has been used for decades as a way to turn potentially gay children straight.

KENDALL: Every day I would hear this is a choice. This can be fixed.

KAYE (on camera): And did you believe that?

KENDALL: I never believed that. I know I'm gay just like I know I'm short and I'm half Hispanic. And I've never thought that those facts would change. It's part of my core fundamental identity. So the parallel would be sending me to tall camp and saying, if you try really hard, one day you can be 6'1".

KAYE (voice-over): Ryan says he was treated by Joseph Nicolosi, a clinical psychologist who today is still associated with NARTH.

KENDALL: The constant refrain was the religious one, that this is something that makes God cry, that this is something your family doesn't want for you.

KAYE: At his office outside Los Angeles, we asked Nicolosi if he remembered treating Ryan Kendall about 14 years earlier.

JOSEPH NICOLOSI, CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGIST: I'm not familiar with the name at all.

KAYE (on camera): His parents have provided bills from your office.


KAYE: There have been checks written to your office but no record.


KAYE: He says that your therapy was quite harmful. He said that you told him to butch up, quote, unquote.

NICOLOSI: Never. That's not our language.

KAYE: When somebody says people like yourself, others are trying to get the gay out of people.

NICOLOSI: That's a terrible way of phrasing it. I would rather say we are trying to bring out the heterosexuality in you.

KAYE (voice-over): Nicolosi says he's kept hundreds of children from growing up to be gay. He credits this man, George Rekers, a researcher and big believer that homosexuality can be prevented.

Rekers worked as a doctoral student at UCLA in the 1970s. In a government funded experimental program later called "Sissy boy syndrome," Rekers treated a boy named Kirk Murphy.

To turn around Kirk's so-called sissy behavior, Kirk was repeatedly asked to choose between traditionally masculine toys like plastic knives and guns or feminine ones like dolls and a play crib. If he chose the feminine items, Kirk's mother would be told to ignore him. Kirk's siblings told Anderson his outgoing personality changed as a result of the therapy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He had no idea how to relate to people. It's like somebody just walked up and turned his light switch off.

KAYE: George Rekers considered Kirk a success story, writing, "His feminine behavior was gone, proof," Rekers said, "that homosexuality can be prevented."

Kirk's family says he was gay and never recovered from the attempts to turn him straight. In 2003, Kirk took his own life. He hanged himself from a fan in his apartment. He was 38.

Our producers tracked George Rekers down in Florida.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you say to the family if they say that the therapy that you did with him as a child led to his suicide as an adult?

GEORGE REKERS, PSYCHOLOGIST: I think scientifically that would be inaccurate to assume that it was the therapy, but I do grieve for the parents now that you've told me that news. I think that's very sad.

KAYE (on camera): According to the American Psychiatric Association, the potential risk of reparative therapy is great, including depression, anxiety and self-destructive behavior. The association says therapists' alignment with societal prejudices against homosexuality may reinforce the self-hatred already felt by patients.

(Voice-over): Dr. Nicolosi says his therapy isn't harmful, and he only treats people who want to change. Not true, says Ryan Kendall.

KENDALL: It led me to periods of homelessness, to drug abuse, to spending a decade of my life wanting to kill myself. It led to so much pain and struggle, and I want them to know that what they do hurts people. It hurts children. It has no basis in fact. And they need to stop.

KAYE: Randi Kaye, CNN, Los Angeles.


BLITZER: Let's get back now to the lawsuit against that New Jersey counseling group called JONAH. We should note we invited them on the program tonight but they declined.

Joining us now, one of the plaintiffs, Michael Ferguson and Christine Sun, she's deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Michael, let me start with you. Earlier, I mentioned some of the specific allegations in the lawsuit. They are incredibly troubling. Tell us what you saw, what you went through.

MICHAEL FERGUSON, PLAINTIFF, SUING JONAH: Sure. There were a lot of very strange interventions that were purported to help change your orientation from homosexuality to heterosexuality.

You know, among them were of the bizarre exercises that I participated in was I formed -- I was part of a group that formed a human barricade and on the other side of that barricade were a pair of oranges meant to represent another man's testicles, and there was a participant in the exercise who was supposed to break through that barricade and grab the oranges and was instructed to squeeze them and drink the juice from them, and to shove them down his pants.

And all this was to symbolize that, you know, his homosexuality was related to his lack of masculinity or his lack of -- you know, these metaphorical testicles and that reclaiming them would help promote him toward heterosexuality.

BLITZER: I know, Michael, you want to get across that as disturbing, as sensational, some of the specifics certainly are. It's equally important to pay attention to the undercurrent of this so- called therapy, which is that there is something wrong with being gay. And you point out there's a tremendous amount of harm that comes along with this.

What did it do to you, to hear so-called therapists tell you you needed to be cured or fixed?

FERGUSON: Sure. Well, there's definitely this insidious trauma that is inflicted on a person when the repeated message is that there's something inside of you that's broken and that if you try hard enough, you can fix it. And so consequently, if you're trying and you're engaging in these practices and you're not experiencing change, then there's a tremendous amount of self-blame that befalls you.

You know, personally, it did lead me to a lot of dark places as far as anxiety and depression and, you know, as the previous segment was indicating, thoughts of hurting myself. Fortunately I was able to connect to licensed therapists, legitimate therapists, who were able to help me with a lot of these issues and come to a place of better emotionality and of psychological health and well-being.

BLITZER: Christine, this potentially is a landmark case. How likely is it that you will succeed, be able to put this group, perhaps other groups like it, out of business?

CHRISTINE SUN, DEPUTY LEGAL DIRECTOR, SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER: Well, we feel very strongly that we will win because JONAH's services are based on complete lies. This idea that people can change their sexual orientation by doing these absurd treatments like the one Michael just explained is just completely fraudulent on its face, and so we feel very confident that we'll succeed in this case.

BLITZER: Michael, for viewers out there who might be considering this type of so-called therapy, for parents who might be trying to get their children into a program like this, what do you want them to know tonight?

FERGUSON: Gosh. You know, one of the real tragedies as well is the parental abuse that's secondary here in the sense that the causal model asserts that parents are largely to blame for their child being gay, that because a mother did what she was supposed to do in nurturing her child and loving her child, and being affectionate with her child, that she somehow made him homosexual.

And, again, this isn't just that there's a lack of empirical data, it's that every amount of empirical evidence that we have points to the exact opposite conclusions, that placing blame for homosexuality in the first place, to say there is something to be blamed for, and secondarily, to place that causation on parents who are already feeling tremendous guilt for social reasons, for religious reasons, is frankly cruel.

BLITZER: Christine, as I mentioned, we asked for a comment from this group, JONAH, on the show. They said that -- we didn't get any comment from them but how do you think they are going to defend their behavior in open -- in an open courtroom likely in front of news cameras? It's a lot different, different setting than what they're obviously used to. SUN: Sure. That's one of the points of our lawsuit. For way too long, conversion therapy has been operating in the shadows and one of the things that we're trying to accomplish with this lawsuit is to show -- to shed light on what the actual treatments are and so we look forward to having, through the legal process, a debate over whether there is any science behind conversion therapy.

And again, we feel very confident that we'll show that conversion therapy is just a fraudulent and dangerous practice.

BLITZER: Christine Sun, Michael Ferguson, thanks to both of you for joining us.

SUN: Thank you.

FERGUSON: Thank you.

BLITZER: Up next, we have some breaking news we're working on on the Libya consulate killings. And new questions about the Obama administration's story. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Breaking news tonight on the Libya mess. A new allegation that the Obama administration still cannot get its story straight after so much time, even as recently as this morning. Ironically, this latest charge flows directly out of an attempt at damage control.

U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice's trip to Capitol Hill, she and the acting CIA director, Michael Morell, meeting with Republican senators John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham, who were not pleased with what they heard.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It is clear that the information that she gave the American people was incorrect when she said that it was a spontaneous demonstration triggered by a hateful video. It was not. And there was compelling evidence at the time that that was certainly not the case, including statements by Libyans as well as other Americans who are fully aware that people don't bring mortars and rocket-propelled grenades to spontaneous demonstrations.


BLITZER: In a statement after the meeting, Ambassador Rice said that neither she nor anyone in the administration intended to mislead the American people. But the breaking news concerns the part in her Sunday talk show statements that substituted the word "extremists" for al Qaeda.

Remember, the administration said she was working from edited talking points. The question is, who did the editing?

Today, the senators say that Acting Director Morell told them the FBI did. They say they later heard from the CIA that Morell had, quote, "misspoken, and the CIA was, in fact, responsible.

So what's going on here?

CNN intelligence correspondent Suzanne Kelly has been working her sources. She's joining us now.

Suzanne, you just got a statement from the CIA. What are they saying?

SUZANNE KELLY, CNN INTELLIGENCE CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, you know, I've gotten a statement from an intelligence official who told me that it was in fact the CIA that made the changes which is more or less what the intelligence community has been saying from the beginning, that this was a collaborative effort within the intelligence community to get their language straight and that the reasons they were doing it had to do with, as you know, Wolf, classified sources.

I can read you what the U.S. intelligence official has just told me. There were literally just coming in on my phone. "There were several valid intelligence and investigatory reasons why that was changed. The information about individuals linked to al Qaeda was derived from classified sources and could not be corroborated at the unclassified level. Those links were tenuous therefore it made sense to be cautious before naming the perpetrator."

So that's kind of the reasoning behind it, Wolf. It doesn't necessarily go far enough to explain why Acting Director Morell perhaps misspoke is what it looks like this afternoon but that the CIA had made efforts as you reported to clarify the record with the senators on the hill.

BLITZER: A spokesman for the director of National Intelligence told CNN a week ago, Suzanne, that it was the DNI, in fact, who removed those references to al Qaeda. Now today the story has changed not once, but twice. This is getting awkward.

KELLY: It is getting awkward and difficult to manage. I think -- but I have definitely heard from intelligence sources who tell me that the DNI did not change those talking points, that this was a collaborative process and I think we're starting to see now some of the mess that's created when all of these different agencies were affected by this, the FBI, the State Department, the director of National Intelligence, the CIA, that sometimes it's even difficult for them to get these points straight.

And I think that's why you're seeing the senators get so frustrated, Wolf, but again, from the sources I've spoken to inside the intelligence community, the DNI never changed those talking points, that the CIA, in fact, made those changes and took out the references to al Qaeda, because they said it would have compromised an ongoing investigation at that point.

BLITZER: Well, I just want to be precise because a week ago the spokesman from the DNI said that the talking points had been edited to protect sources in the investigation. Now, at least according to these senators, the CIA can't say why those talking points were altered.

KELLY: Well, again, from this source that I have been speaking with and what I'm reading to you off my phone right now is that there were reasons that the individuals linked to al Qaeda, that was in fact derived from classified sources, so that's consistent. And that it could not be corroborated at the unclassified level.

So that's the other issue with trying to tell the details very early on in this story that a lot of that information you get in those very early hours and days is classified, so there's a process that they have to go through in order to declassify that information and of course, also, it is an ongoing investigation. They are still trying to round people up at that point and the Libyans, as you know, the Libyan government rounded up quite a few suspects at that point.

They now have people that they're talking to. But, you know, the timing of this is what's so interesting, Wolf, and how everything happened so quickly and people were demanding such specific answers early on that I don't think people really had to give them. And that's my opinion.

BLITZER: Yes, and I'm surprised, though, at today's meeting they apparently screwed up once again. They're trying to fix it right now.

Suzanne, thanks very much.

As we said, all this just broke a few moments ago. A short time before that, I spoke with one of the three senators in that meeting today, Senator Kelly Ayotte.


BLITZER: Senator, you say you are more troubled now after your hour-long meeting with Ambassador Rice and acting CIA Director Mike Morell. Why is that?

SEN. KELLY AYOTTE (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: The big concern that I have is there was an impression left and I certainly went into the meeting with this impression that the unclassified talking points, that is what she relied upon, and certainly that's in part what she said on each of the major networks, but as part of her duties as ambassador to the U.N. she also reviews the daily intelligence briefings, including the classified versions.

It's already been reported, Wolf, that the classified version, of course, said that individuals with ties to al Qaeda were involved in the attacks. That was then removed from the unclassified version. So if you had reviewed those and then reviewed the classified, why would you want to go on and represent and leave out the al Qaeda portion?

And what's particularly of concern is that in the interview with "Face the Nation" and "Meet the Press" not only did that fact get omitted but also she said that al Qaeda had been decimated. So it really unfortunately left a misleading impression to the American people about what happened at the consulate in Benghazi. BLITZER: The intelligence community analysts or whatever, they were suggesting they -- they deleted the reference to al Qaeda because they were afraid that could give a tip-off to al Qaeda about some sources and methods and compromising the sources and methods. That's why they took that line out about al Qaeda from the declassified talking points. You don't buy that?

AYOTTE: I think it's really troubling because it left a misimpression to the American people. It's very different when you tell someone that individuals with ties to al Qaeda are involved in an attack and you omit that, and I just don't understand how -- who they were trying to protect with the reference to al Qaeda. I mean we're tipping al Qaeda off? I think that al Qaeda knows that we certainly have pursued them around the world and so I just -- this doesn't make any sense to me.

BLITZER: Is it your opinion, assessment, Senator, that Ambassador Rice deliberately on that Sunday morning misled the American public?

AYOTTE: Well, certainly she misled the American public. I think that she would say that. She'd have to say that because she began our meeting today admitting that representations about the video and the protests were wrong and the impression left with the American people was misleading.

You know, I don't know that I am in a position to question her motives but it's deeply troubling to me that someone of that important position would go on every major news network knowing that she had obviously previously reviewed other classified reports that left a different impression with the omission of the important reference to al Qaeda. So -- and also saying on those shows that al Qaeda had been decimated.

BLITZER: Bottom line, Senator, if the president nominates Ambassador Rice to be the next secretary of state or some other cabinet level position, do you -- do you intend to do whatever you can to block her nomination?

AYOTTE: Bottom line, Blitz, is where I'm left is I'm still digesting what she has told me today. I have deep concerns but when you and I have talked about this before, I'll certainly hold the nomination until we get a full and complete picture of what happened here, and some of those questions have been answered today. But she has not been nominated yet. I will certainly listen to additional information, but I'm very concerned. So that's where I'm at but I haven't prejudged it.

BLITZER: Senator Ayotte, thanks very much for joining us.

AYOTTE: Thank you very much.


BLITZER: Coming up, "Raw Politics." The fiscal cliff debate shifts to capitol campaign style tactics. The president planning to hit the road to tout his tax plan. I will speak with lobbyist Grover Norquist and Senator Dick Durbin about what hangs in the balance. That's next.


BLITZER: Small town mayor in Mexico stood up to some of the worst gang violence related to the drug war. She survived several assassination attempts and vowed to keep on fighting but now her dead body has been found. Her story when 360 continues.


BLITZER: To "Raw Politics" now. And if you didn't get enough of campaign 2012, stay tuned. We learned today that the president will be hitting the road campaign style to push his plan to raise taxes on income above a quarter million dollars a year. He'll be speaking Friday at a factory in Pennsylvania.

The House Speaker John Boehner's office today announcing something similar. Congressional Republicans holding events in Washington as well as back in their home districts to frame the president's tax plan as a threat to new hiring.

But some Republicans as you know are already hinting they're open to eliminating deductions even if it means breaking that pledge that the lobbyist Grover Norquist has been getting lawmakers to sign for years.

Joining us now to talk about it all, Grover Norquist, he's president of Americans for Tax Reform.

Grover, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: The trend we're seeing now from members of Congress questioning or pushing back on the pledge. We've seen it before to a certain degree, but we're seeing a lot more of it I sense right now. There's a sense this movement is gaining some steam. Is this just more of the same, in your opinion? Is there something different going on right now? Does any of this surprise you?

NORQUIST: Well, so far, what we've seen is the same people who two years ago got in front of TV cameras and said let's make a deal when it was the Simpson-Bowles proposal, when it was the Budget Control Act, because of the debt ceiling.

It's the same collection of people with the same sort of statements. So I don't see any movement towards Republicans wanting to raise taxes or people wanting to break their pledge. In fact, to be fair to everybody, some of these people have had impure thoughts. No one has pulled the trigger and voted for a tax increase.

BLITZER: I know you've had some tough things to say about Congressman Peter King, for example, his comments about the pledge. But look specifically to his point. Some things do change over the years, the economic problems, for example, that we may have had 20 years ago, 40 years ago, they're different than the economic problems right now. So don't different problems call for different solutions?

NORQUIST: Well, what was odd about Peter King's comment was look, tax increases slow economic growth. Tax increases take resources out of the real economy and allow the government to grow and grow. That's always a bad idea.

That's not a good idea some years and a bad idea others. Leeches, doctors don't put leeches on people ever, it's wrong. Don't do it. It doesn't make people stronger. Raising taxes, taking money out of the economy, damages the economy, kills jobs, reduces opportunities.

BLITZER: You know, the latest CNN polls that just came out this week say you're wrong. Two or three Americans, including a majority of Republicans, say the fiscal cliff should be addressed with a mix, a mix of spending cuts, yes, but also tax increases.

And if there's no deal according to these polls, they're going to blame Republicans more than they blame the president. All the best evidence right now suggests the public wants to see the Republicans compromise on this tax question. So from a political standpoint, is it OK for lawmakers to ignore the pledge that they gave earlier?

NORQUIST: Well, the challenge is that the pledge that they made and that every two years comes up again in campaigns, this is not an ancient pledge, these are pledges that get discussed every election cycle.

Democrats in the last two cycles have attacked all the Republicans who took the pledge. So they have been reinforced in the fact that voters know that they made that commitment and they got elected making that commitment to voters.

BLITZER: I just want to be precise on what you consider to be a tax increase. We know an increase in the marginal tax rates, that's a tax increase, but what about capping deductions? From your standpoint of the pledge, would that be considered a violation of the pledge to cap deductions, as some republican lawmakers are now suggesting?

NORQUIST: This is not a trick question. The pledge says no raising rates, no broadening the base unless rates come down dollar for dollar. The pledge is only two sentences, but they are very clear.

One of the reasons why eliminating deductions and credits, Obama wants a trillion plus dollars worth of tax increase that way, is that if you do that, you've just got a tax reform for decades to come.

Because how do you reduce marginal tax rates so we can become competitive in the world on the corporate and the individual side, if you have already given away to the appropriators and spenders all the deductions and credits. BLITZER: One final question, Grover. It seems some liberals out there want to make this personal, more and more about you, about your role in encouraging these Republicans by and large to support the pledge.

Here's the question. Could the pledge, could your visibility holding lawmakers accountable on this, be more of a distraction maybe in the end wind up hurting the overall cause?

NORQUIST: It's a little bit bizarre that the leader of the Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid, attacks me personally. The American people don't want their taxes raised. They have kind of signaled that in the most recent Senate election where Harry Reid's guy lost and the anti-tax candidate won in Nevada.

So the tax issue is a powerful issue. I understand it comes with the territory, that people attack me personally. It doesn't bother me. I'm very comfortable in my own skin. If they want to waste their time personally attacking me, they're free to do so, but taxes are too high.

Spending is too high. This needs to be changed and I think the American people will make it clear as time unfolds that raising taxes is not where they want to go.

BLITZER: Grover Norquist, thanks very much for joining us.

NORQUIST: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's get another point of view right now. Joining us, Dick Durbin, the assistant majority leader and the senator from Illinois. Senator, thanks very much for coming in.

We just heard from Grover Norquist. Several Republicans on Capitol Hill this week have said they would consider defying his pledge, but for some of them, raising revenue just means getting rid of loopholes or capping some deductions, not raising tax rates or letting tax cuts expire. Is that good enough?

SENATOR DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Well, I can tell you the president has set a goal, $1.6 trillion in revenue or taxes over the next 10 years. That's about 40 percent of the $4 trillion deficit goal that we have. That's the same thing that Simpson-Bowles had 40 percent revenue.

So the only way you can reach that, incidentally, is to allow the rates to go up. Just this idea of we're going to take a look at the tax code, change some credits and deductions, you can't come up with enough money.

BLITZER: So any deal will have to include at least some hike in the tax rate.

DURBIN: I don't think there's any other way to approach it. That's why the president has taken this position. If we're going to make sure, for example, that we spare families making $250,000 a year or less from any income tax increase.

Then this idea that we're going to go into the tax code and find $1.6 trillion over ten years becomes almost impossible. We need to protect those middle income families.

BLITZER: You said today that Congress should deal with the fiscal cliff crisis now, but tackle entitlements, the entitlement questions, later. Yesterday, Senator Lamar Alexander said the only thing the president has to do to get an agreement from Republicans now is in his words, propose a reasonable way, a reasonable way to control entitlement spending. So is this a catch 22? Who bends here?

DURBIN: I don't expect us to have entitlement reform before December 31st. This is too technical, too important. Let's do it right. But I do believe and I said it, any long term deficit reduction will require entitlement reform for one simple reason.

Medicare untouched, unchanged, runs out of money in 12 years. We need to take a hard look at it to find ways to preserve this important program, have savings that don't hurt the beneficiaries, and actually do reduce the deficit in the process.

BLITZER: What about those Republican critics, Senator, who say it's not possible to make any real progress without -- on spending, shall we say, without seriously addressing the Medicare, the Medicaid, maybe even the social security entitlement program and to do it now?

DURBIN: Social Security doesn't add one penny to the deficit. It's a separate trust fund. I believe it needs reform over a long period, but it should be done separately from this showdown over the fiscal cliff. Medicare as I mentioned will run out of money if we don't do something.

It runs out in 12 years. Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor across America, is critically important. One out of three people in this country are going to rely on Medicare and Medicaid for their health insurance.

So we need to find ways to preserve these programs, not the Paul Ryan budget approach, which at the end of the day would have jeopardized the program, made it too expensive for many seniors.

We can find this. I do think there's a reasonable way for us to reduce the spending there without compromising the integrity of the program.

BLITZER: Do you favor raising the eligibility age for Medicare from 65 to 67 over the next several years?

DURBIN: Let me tell you, I'm concerned about that. What is a person going to do who retires at age 63 or 64, and they don't have the benefit of Medicaid or Medicare coming away at age 65? They're on their own.

If it means that they have to go out and try to find health insurance when they have a bad health record, it becomes impossible or way too expensive. I want to make sure there are no gaps in coverage for those who have retired, waiting for Medicare to kick in.

BLITZER: How confident are you, Senator, we are going to see a deal before the December 31st deadline?

DURBIN: I know we can do it. I absolutely know it. What we need to have is a commitment from Speaker Boehner that whatever we come up with will be considered on a bipartisan basis in the House.

It will be in the Senate. That's the way we work over here. If we get a bipartisanship commitment from both Speaker Boehner and from the Senate side, I know we can come to an agreement with the president.

BLITZER: Senator Durbin, thanks very much for joining us.

DURBIN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: One of the true heroes of Mexico's drug war paid the ultimate price for her bravery. She fought to protect those around her until the very end. We have her story and will take a closer look at what it means to stand up to Mexico's brutal drug cartels, next.


BLITZER: Newly released photos of General David Petraeus' mistress. What Paula Broadwell's family is doing to rehabilitate her image that's straight ahead on 360.


BLITZER: Mexico's drug cartels proving yet again those brave enough to stand up against them all too often are the ones to pay the ultimate price. Maria Santos Gorrostieta was a small town mayor dealing with some of the worst gang violence.

She survived several assassination attempts, including one that claimed the life of her husband. She posed for pictures showing off her scars and told residents she would keep fighting as long as God allows her. She lived to see the end of her term as mayor, but the cartels caught up with her earlier this month, kidnapping her in broad daylight as she drove her daughter to school.

The last people to see her alive say she pled with her abductors to leave her daughter alone before willingly going with them. Her remains were found just last week. The danger never ended for her. She died nearly a year after leaving office.

For other mayors along the border, they understand the risks of the job and that means becoming a very visible target. Gary Tuchman traveled to Juarez, Mexico and filed this report in 2010.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The mayor of Juarez, Mexico, hates the drug cartels that have turned his city into a dangerous and violent place, the city with the highest murder rate in the world. The cartels want him gone permanently.

MAYOR JOSE REYES FERRIZ, CIUDAD JUAREZ, MEXICO: The threats are real. They're not just intimidating. They're real and I have to take it very seriously.

TUCHMAN: Mayor Jose Reyes Ferriz was told two weeks ago that if he didn't quit his job by today, he would be assassinated. For added emphasis, a bloody animal head came with the note.

FERRIZ: I know I have a lot of people that not only don't like me, but would like to do something to me.

TUCHMAN: That's why his driver carries an automatic rifle with him at all times. And in public like at this patriotic celebration, the mayor has elaborate security and he's not backing down. Not only does he continue to appear at public events, he talks a lot about how the bad guys have ruined his city.

FERRIZ (through translator): Juarez is a lover of peace and peace is what we are lacking.

TUCHMAN: During his three-year term, the mayor has fired hundreds of cops. He believed they were in bed with the NARCO traffickers. The city's police force is considered much less corrupt and that angers the cartels and has led to assassinations of police and several threats against the mayor including this very specific one involving the animal head.

(on camera): Mayor, how scared are you personally?

FERRIZ: Well, I take all the necessary precautions I can take.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): I asked the mayor if it's safe to tour the city a bit. So we go to a skateboard and bicycle park. It's not crowded, but there are some kids having fun. Nevertheless, even in this environment, he doesn't go anywhere without an armed guard although here, the rifle is left in its case.

FERRIZ: It's hard to have a normal life. It's extremely difficult. I love playing tennis. I haven't played in a couple years. I love going to the movies. I haven't gone to the movies in a couple years.

TUCHMAN: He's a family man, a lawyer by trade. The mayor could quit tomorrow and live a less stressful, financially lucrative life. As we travel in his armored vehicle, he says he's well aware a killer could target him at any time so I asked him about quitting.

(on camera): Do you have any thoughts about that possibility?

FERRIZ: No. I won't step down of my position. It's a very important position. What we're doing is extremely important for our city. If we don't do it today, it's going to be very hard to do it tomorrow. It's going to be double hard.

TUCHMAN (voice-over): The contrasts in his life are surreal. The law-abiding citizens of Juarez want him to succeed. The cartels want him punished. They want him dead. Gary Tuchman, CNN, Juarez, Mexico.


BLITZER: Jose Reyes Ferriz finished his term as Juarez's mayor. Juarez has a one-term limit. He now lives here in Washington, D.C., where he is working as a security consultant to state and local governments in Mexico.

Our next guest also knows all too well what the drug cartels are capable of doing. Eros Hoagland is a photojournalist. He is joining us live from Tijuana in Mexico. Eros, thanks very much.

Recently, by the way, Eros was featured in the HBO documentary miniseries, "Witness." When people think of the drug wars, people think of major border cities like Juarez, Tijuana, but the brutal murders like that of Maria Santos shows that the drug war is much more far-reaching right now. What's going on?

EROS HOAGLAND, PHOTOJOURNALIST: Well, that's exactly right, Wolf. I mean, you have Maria Santos was abducted and murdered, and to the south you have Guerrero, I mean, you see this extreme violence all over Mexico now.

BLITZER: You spent some time in the valley of Juarez, where 20 bodies were found just over the weekend. So what's life like there for residents?

HOAGLAND: Well, I was in the Juarez valley earlier this year, where it's basically a string of small pueblos about an hour southeast of the city of Juarez. In 2009-2010, there had been basically a scorched earth campaign that forced probably most of the residents out.

A few years later, I'm there and the fear was palpable. There were no police whatsoever. Basically there were few residents left, military soldiers and the big black pickup trucks of the cartel's foot soldiers. It was extremely tense.

While the general mood in the city of Juarez has gotten much better as the murder rates declined, these outlying communities are still petrified with fear because there is basically no law except for the law of organized crime.

BLITZER: There are reports out as you know that violence has calmed in some parts of Mexico since the height of the drug war a couple of years ago, but you make the point that even with the decrease, the death toll is still shockingly high. Explain.

HOAGLAND: Definitely. Take Juarez was a great example. In 2010, there were probably about 3,000 some murders but now this year, there have been at least 750 documented murders. That's no small number.

We're talking probably twice the amount of murders that happened in Philadelphia last year. And that's one of the leading murder capitals of the United States. The numbers have definitely decreased but nothing is solved. There's no peace still. It's a very serious situation.

BLITZER: Yes, I know that over the past six, seven years, more than 50,000, maybe 60,000 people have died, have been killed in this war on the drug cartels. Eros Hoagland, thanks very much for joining us.

HOAGLAND: You're very welcome.

BLITZER: Up next, the affair that led to the resignation of the CIA director, General David Petraeus. New insight on his ex-mistress, Paula Broadwell and new photos of her as well.


BLITZER: A lot more happening tonight. Isha Sesay joins us with the "360 Bulletin" -- Isha.

ISHA SESAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, two of the women at the center of the Petraeus scandal are working to defend their reputations tonight. CNN obtained a letter from Jill Kelley's attorney claiming the government violated her privacy by leaking details of her personal life to the media. The letter questions whether the Justice Department will investigate the matter and her lawyer suggests he's considering legal action.

Family and friends of General Petraeus' mistress, Paula Broadwell, are releasing photos they say show the person they know and not the one seen in the media. Broadwell's brother says she is still in shock over the incidents and is working to repair her relationship with her husband.

The puppeteer who provided the voice of Elmo on Sesame Street is now the subject of a second lawsuit alleging sexual relations with a minor. He resigned from the show earlier this month after the first suit was filed.

Wolf, time is running out to get in on tomorrow's Powerball drawing. The jackpot is now $500 million. Making it one of the largest lotto prizes in U.S. history. I already paid by $20. I am in it to win it.

BLITZER: I haven't done it yet, but I got all day tomorrow, right? I can still do it tomorrow.

SESAY: Get on with it.

BLITZER: Although you hear all these stories about these people that win these millions, but their life makes a turn for the worse. They're not happy as a result.

SESAY: I'll be OK.

BLITZER: Maybe we shouldn't get -- if we get $400 million or $500 million, maybe it will turn out to be bad.

SESAY: Give me your share if you're worried about that if you win.

BLITZER: I would give some of it to charity, a lot of it to charity.

SESAY: You're a good man, Wolf Blitzer.

BLITZER: Thank you, Isha. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: That does it for this edition of 360. We'll see you again 10:00 p.m. Eastern, an hour from now. "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" starts right now.