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Mideast War, Controversy Swirls Around Tennessee RNC Chair's Offensive CD

Aired December 29, 2008 - 15:00   ET


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): This is what is making news right now: avalanche. Snowmobilers may have been buried and now there's a desperate search to find them. We are there.

Breaking news -- now it is -- quote -- "all-out war" between Israel and Hamas, as hundreds of civilians, including children, are caught in the crossfire. Is Israel overreaching, or is this proper self-defense?

"We Hate the USA," "Barack the Magic Negro," and "Star-Spanglish Banner" all on C.D? Is the Republican Party running out of people to insult? Or do liberals just need to lighten up?

What do you think? Tell me now on Twitter, MySpace, or

It's noon in San Francisco, 3:00 p.m. in Fort Lauderdale. This daily national conversation begins right now.


SANCHEZ: And hello, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez here from the world headquarters of CNN.

We have got a lot of moving parts to this story. So, we are going to be bringing you what's going on with reaction not just in Gaza itself, but also now what's going on all over the world. Jim Clancy from our international office is going to be joining us in just a little bit. He has been watching this story develop throughout the day.

But there's a couple of things that are taking place right now that I want to take you through. These are pictures of protests that have been occurring within the last several hours, some of them taking place as we speak. This one you're looking at now is from Athens. This is in Greece.

It's an impromptu protest that began about two hours ago. And we're told that it has been growing. It's a protest against the Israeli government for the incursion into Gaza.

Now, let's switch over to Berlin. No, let's go to London. You got the London pictures. This is pictures from London. Now, this one did at some time actually get extremely heated, with police trying to bring the crowd back. At first, they thought it was going to be a very manageable crowd, but then more and more people came.

In fact, we have got some video of that we're going to be showing you in just a little bit, so you can see some of these confrontations in their entirety.

Now let's go to Berlin. In Berlin, we're being told it's 2,500 people that have now taken to the streets, and they're blaming the United States and blaming the Israelis as well for this incursion into Gaza. We're taking you through the information as we look at the pictures.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak to the Knesset said today -- this is his term, and it's a direct quote -- "This is all-out war" -- 300 people have been killed there in Gaza, as a result of the 17 who have been killed by rocket fire in parts of southern Israel.

Now, think about that as we go through the story, and this just moments ago. I will read it to you. This was given to me just as we were getting ready to go on the air. It's an important part of the story itself. This is the ambassador Gabriela Shalev.

She says: "Israel's main goal is now to destroy completely" what she called -- Do you see it there, Johnny? -- what she called a terrorist gang. And I'm just being told that we're going to be able to talk to her. She should be sitting down at our bureau, I believe, in Jerusalem in just a little bit, and that hopefully we will be able to talk to her as we get going.

So, as we look at that and as we take you through the pictures of what's going on right now, imagine with everything else going on in the world for the United States, how will this affect the U.S. policy in the region and the war on terrorism around the world?

Jim is going to be bringing us in to talk about this.

But before we do anything else, let's show you. It's hard to get a sense of exactly where we're talking about when we talk about these stories in the Middle East. Sometimes it seems like one part of that world runs into another. Let's do this.

Let's go to our Telestrator, if we possibly can. I'm going to clear the screen. I'm going to try and bring those out a little bit more here. Jim, and you can help me out.

The area we're talking about in the Gaza is right there. Hold on. Let me fix this for myself. All right. That is the area we're talking about. That is the Gaza. This is where the Israelis say rocket fire has been shot into that area right there, if you can look at an arrow in that area. And also right there where I'm circling are where the tunnels have been found that lead into Egypt.

These are both points of contention, according to the Israelis, and one of the reasons that they are actually going into that area now with this -- quote -- "all-out war," as it's being described by Ehud Barak.

I'm being told now that we have a chance to go to the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev.

And, Ambassador, thank you so much for joining us. We certainly appreciate your time.


SANCHEZ: How would you assess this incursion at this point?

SHALEV: I think, in the meantime, we are achieving part of our goal, which is to show that we must be very determined about the infrastructure and the weapons that the Hamas has been gathering over the last so-called state of time and to stop the unbearable, intolerable situation, where a quarter of a million Israeli civilians are a hostage and they are sitting in shelters and suffer bombings and the rockets and mortars.

SANCHEZ: But, over the last two years, according to our count -- and you can correct me if I'm wrong -- I know these things sometimes are variable -- there have been 17 Israelis that have been killed as a result of those Kassam rockets, while, just in the last couple of days, according to reports, 300 Palestinians have been killed, 50 of them civilians who apparently were not a part of Hamas.

Is there a problem with proportionality there for your government?

SHALEV: No, there is no problem, because there is no proportionality.

We are talking about a state, which is the state of Israel, fighting a ruthless gang, which is the Hamas terrorists.

SANCHEZ: But how can you kill the Hamas terrorists without also endangering the lives or all-out actually killing other people who may not be members of Hamas, including women and children?

SHALEV: We're very sorry about all the bloodshed. We are sorry about every woman and every child.

Let me tell you, I really feel a lot of empathy and sympathy, as a mother myself. But it's not -- this blood is not on our hands. It is the Hamas' fault. They put -- they placed the terrorists inside Gaza, where their forces are located. This is part of their cynical strategy to put to put the terrorists inside densely inhabited areas.


SANCHEZ: How do you stop people from killing by killing?

SHALEV: We -- we want to stop the Hamas killing and firing over Israeli kibbutzim, towns and cities. Once this will stop, the bloodshed in the area will stop.

SANCHEZ: But, Ambassador, with all due respect, it never has seemed to have worked. Looking at it from the vantage point of the United States, it certainly looks, Madam, like this keeps repeating itself. And when you kill one side, whether it's as horrible as what they are doing to Israel, or what apparently Israel is doing now, you end up with people being killed who now need to avenge the death of someone that you killed.

When you kill my brother, I want to kill you. When you kill my daughter, my son, I want to kill you.

It's a pattern that continues and continues. How do you break that?

SHALEV: This is not a pattern. And this is no equation. And there is no proportionality.

The Hamas is trying to kill innocent people, to kill civilians in Israel. We, Israeli army, never try to target or kill or murder innocent civilians. It so happens that, because the Hamas placed their forces inside densely inhabited areas, this so happens that our bombs that come from the air, how much that we try to be surgical, they also injure civilians. But most of the casualties are terrorists.

SANCHEZ: Let me ask you a question that's being raised right now by many. And that is the possibility that this -- these airstrikes have been as much political as they have militarily executed, and that is because there's an election coming up in your country in just a short time, and those in power right now are in second or third place in that election, according to the polls.

And some are saying this may be a move to create a perception in the eyes of potential voters in Israel that this is a party that is, in fact, strong enough to do what it has to do and be as strong as, perhaps, Bibi Netanyahu's Likud Party.

How do you answer that?


SHALEV: I answer it as simple as.

Election has nothing to do with this military operation. This military operation is part of what we have the right to do, which is the right to defend and protect our citizens. The election has nothing to do with it.

On the contrary, all election campaigns, including the opposition's, are freezed. Nobody is taking advantage or doing anything -- nothing has to do with what's going on now in the south. The whole government and the whole people of Israel are united. Everybody knows that we must put an end to the Hamas cruelty and terrorism.

SANCHEZ: Let me get you on the record, Madam Ambassador, before I let you go, because we know that these airstrikes have been very severe, and we have already talked about the effect of some 300 people killed, maybe more.

What we don't know is, what's the next step? And there is a lot of hand-wringing and theorizing that the next step is actually going to be an assault. In other words, troops will cross into the Gaza.

Is that a possibility? What is your plan at this time?

SHALEV: There is a possibility. Of course, I'm not going to get into the plans. This is something that the government, the defense minister, and the army leaders will have to decide about.

Of course, this is something that we hope very much will not happen, because this will cause more bloodshed. We don't want our soldiers to get into Gaza and to be injured.

SANCHEZ: What would make you not do it?


SHALEV: If the Hamas will understand finally that they must stop, cease all kinds of bombing and the firings, and commit themselves to the peace process, and leave alone everything that is the suicide killing, terrorism, and...


SANCHEZ: So, you want a -- so, specifically, what, though? Do you want a statement from them saying, we will not do this?

SHALEV: We want Hamas to be -- to understand that this should be the end of it. You know, we are having a discourse and negotiations taking place even at this time...


SHALEV: ... a few days ago, between the Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel. This is our dream, to have two states living side by side, the Palestinian and the Israeli, in peace, security, and prosperity.

SANCHEZ: All right. One final thing, because I'm thinking it through, and my colleague has just reminded me of something.

There is a risk or a fear that, when all this is done, like what happened with Hezbollah in Lebanon, that Hamas will end up stronger as a result of this attack, as has happened throughout other parts of the Arab world. Are you considering that, Madam?

SHALEV: We're considering everything. We know that Hamas, as well as Hezbollah, is being -- is getting ammunition and training from Iran. This is a triangle that we have to be very much aware of it. But I'm sure that the authorities and our government is taking care of it.

SANCHEZ: Madam Ambassador, Gabriela Shalev, we thank you for taking time to take us through this story, as it develops. My thanks to you.

SHALEV: Thank you very much.

SANCHEZ: As the story develops -- well, you heard it first. It was certainly an important and comprehensive interview that she just provided us with, that information.

We're going to be taking this now to the other side as well and asking a Palestinian representative what their take is on this situation. We also have reporters there on the ground. And we will be taking you to the protests that are taking place around the world.

And, as mentioned before, Jim Clancy is going to be taking us through parts of this as well. He's sitting just to my right here.

Stay with us. There's a lot more to come.


SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez here in the world headquarters of CNN in Atlanta.

Just to bring you up to date on what we have right now, the latest reports are that there are 300 people that have been killed as a result of the airstrikes by the Israelis into the Gaza. These are some of the pictures that we have been getting in.

We have gone through them as best we can. Some of them are actually tough to look at. We just now spoke to an ambassador to the United Nations from Israel, Gabriela Shalev, who said: We understand. We feel terrible about the fact that some civilians have been killed, but this is something we feel that we need to do.

She also said and has been quoted before as saying: We want to destroy completely what she is saying is a terrorist gang. And that is how she is referring to Hamas there in the Gaza.

We will also be showing you, by the way, pictures of demonstrations that are taking place now in Berlin, in Athens, Greece, and in London. And we understand that there's also protests taking place in Rome. Haven't received those pictures yet, but, when we get them, we will turn those around for you.

Let me bring Jim Clancy into this.

There are 1.5 million people, more or less, in that area. It's about the size of, what, Washington, D.C., the Gaza...


JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, not even that big, I don't think. And you look at it, it is one city, Gaza City.


CLANCY: There's Jabaliya refugee camp. There's Rafah down on the border, very little open space there. This is one of the most crowded areas.

SANCHEZ: So, how do you do an airstrike in a place that's that densely populated without knowing that...

CLANCY: You're going to break some eggs. They know that. They know that going in. It's been -- past is prologue here. They had a strike that killed a prominent Hamas commander and also killed 15 family members, including I think about nine children. That's some years back. They took a lot of heat for that. They are going into this knowing that they are going to face that heat and it is going to get worse.

SANCHEZ: What is the impact going to be?

CLANCY: Well, the impact is going to be huge, demonstrations around the world. And in the view of some, it is going to be really a loss of credibility for the United States.

You know, we think we're a long way from this. Well, a lot of people don't. Let me give you a quote here. This is from Daniel Levy with the think tank the New America Foundation.

"Here's the bank news, folks. America is involved up to its eyeballs, actually."

Now, he's not just talking about the arms and the recent shipments of Hellfire missiles and things that are being used in this assault. He's talking about how recruiters -- this is a quote here -- "Recruiters to the most radical causes are cashing in. If Osama bin Laden is indeed a cave-dweller these days, then U.S. intel should be listening out for a booming echo of laughter."

SANCHEZ: So, the problem is that this could end up being of benefit to organizations like al Qaeda.

Let me hold that thought real quick, because I'm being told now we have somebody speaking from the Palestinian side of this story.

This is Diana Buttu, former legal adviser for the PLO.

Did you hear what Jim Clancy just said, that this could end up being a boon to...


SANCHEZ: Would you agree with that perspective that some may be saying around the world?

BUTTU: Well, I think it's important to put things in historical context -- 21 years ago, Hamas did not exist. And the reason that it does exist now is because of the fact that Israel has denied the Palestinians their freedom for the past 41 years.

With these airstrikes and with the military assault and the massacres that Israel is committing against the Palestinians and the fact that the world has remained silent, it is absolutely no surprise that you're going to see more radicalization in this region.

SANCHEZ: Well, how do you respond...


BUTTU: ... people have been urging the U.S. to get involved.

SANCHEZ: Let me just stop you for a moment and ask you how you would respond to the charges that were made moments ago by the ambassador to the United Nations from Israel who said, what are we supposed to do when people are lobbing rockets at our citizens? Can we not defend ourselves?

BUTTU: This is a really important question. And there's a great answer to it.

The reason that these rockets have been launched -- and I think it's important to add that none of these rockets actually have an explosive head on them, unlike the Israeli weaponry -- the reason that they have been launched is because of the fact that Israel has maintained a siege and a blockade against the Gaza Strip for the past three years, in addition to military operations in the Gaza Strip.

Since June of 2006, there have been 1,300 Palestinians killed in the Gaza Strip. This is excluding the figures from the past few days. So, if, really -- if Israel genuinely wants peace, which it claims that it does, then it will recognize the link between the Palestinians' lack of freedom and their lack of security.

And the only way that we will be able to move forward is when they actually end the occupation and the Palestinians are given their freedom. There's never been a situation in which you have had a peaceful occupation in history.

SANCHEZ: To be clear, you, as someone who has represented in the past the PLO, are probably not comfortable with the existence of Hamas. It doesn't portray the Palestinian cause well. I don't want to speak for you, but would you agree with that?

BUTTU: I think it's important to recognize that Hamas is a political organization that has its domestic roots.

It's portrayed differently in -- outside of the world. And there may be some positions that I don't accept or that I don't like, but I think that it's important to recognize that this is a homegrown organization. And the reason that it gets so much support is because of the fact that there has been absolutely no political movement when it comes to negotiations.

SANCHEZ: But here's what Israel...


BUTTU: ... and his negotiation strategy have failed.

SANCHEZ: But I don't mean to interrupt. BUTTU: Go ahead, please. Sorry.

SANCHEZ: But this is what Israel would say. Israel would say, we're in a war. In fact, Ehud Barak has come out and said that exact thing. He said, we are in fact in an all-out war -- is his direct quote -- with people who are trying to kill or harm our citizens. We feel bad that they are in this locale, which is so densely populated, but if that's where they are, that's where we have to go after them.

Are they not right? Do they not have the right to protect themselves, I guess is the question I'm asking you.


BUTTU: In other words, they are blaming the victim.

Israel has a right to protect itself. It doesn't have a right to protect its occupation. And what it has done is, it's protecting its occupation. This is an occupation that has been condemned worldwide by nations around the world. This is not something that we should be turning a blind eye to.


BUTTU: What Ehud Barak has declared is an all-out war against the Palestinian people. And while he claims that Hamas has not recognized Israel's right to exist, there has never been an Israeli leader that has recognized Palestine's right to exist.

SANCHEZ: You mentioned Ehud Barak. Do you think this is political? I asked that same question of the ambassador. I'm wondering what your response would be, since there's an election coming up and Ehud Barak is one of the candidates for the prime ministership.

BUTTU: Absolutely.

This is -- we have seen this song and dance before. Virtually every Israeli election has been proceeded by a massive incursion into either the West Bank or into the Gaza Strip. It's as though the only way Israelis can show their credentials is by showing how tough they can get on the Palestinians, rather than how much they want to show peace.


SANCHEZ: That's a heck of a charge. You're saying that they are killing people for political reasons. That's a hell of a thing to say.

BUTTU: It's been borne out in history. It's been borne out in history in terms of previous events. This is not something that is new. It's not something unusual.

I really wish that, rather than me having to spell this out, that we would get some international support and get the international community to actually condemn what Israel is doing. It's surprising to me that there hasn't been much more condemnation for what is happening and that there's a complete lack of recognition of the fact that the Palestinians are stateless and don't have an army.

SANCHEZ: Diana Buttu, a former legal adviser for the PLO, my thanks to you for taking time out to be able to take us through this explanation.

Thanks again for being with us.

BUTTU: Thank you, Rick. Thank you.

SANCHEZ: What do you make of this?

I almost get a sense that there are people -- and I'm going to be reading some of the responses now here on Twitter and MySpace and Facebook in just a minute. Americans have to listen to this conversation and say, I'm confused. How long can this go on, and who is right?

CLANCY: Well, Ehud Barak is saying it himself. He's been quoted by the Associated Press saying, we're going to have war to the bitter end.

Now, that seems to signal there's going to be a ground incursion. Remember, Hamas knocked over a wall between Egypt and the Gaza Strip, oh, it's got to be about six months ago, Rick. What came across? How much stuff have they brought in through the tunnels?

This could be very, very bloody, indeed. And you talk to everybody, and, you know, you ask them -- I talked to a Palestinian today who is in the middle. He's an independent. He's not with Fatah. He's not with Hamas. He's an independent in the parliament there, a very respected guy.



CLANCY: And he just said, Jim, you want to know who the casualty is here? He says, it's Palestinian democracy. As all of this goes, Hamas will build up its strength. We still don't have any talking -- we don't -- we still didn't have a place to sit down at the table and say, how do we end this occupation?

Everybody looks at the problem, but they don't look at the source. They don't look at an occupation and say, we have got to work on how to end this.


SANCHEZ: It's funny how both sides say they're negotiating and willing to negotiate...


CLANCY: Yes. Oh, no, they all do, yes.


SANCHEZ: ... ever seem to come out.

We have got -- we have got a correspondent who is standing at the border who is going to be joining us in just a little bit. It will be our way of connecting with those there in southern Israel, which is where she is standing by right now. We are going to go to her in a little bit.

And we're also going to be bringing you up to date on some of the other stories that are taking place. And Jim is going to be standing by to take us through this as we watch the story unfold and the protests that are now starting to build in different parts of the world.

Stay with us. We will be right back.


SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez here, along with Jim Clancy.

I just heard over the intercom here in CNN headquarters in Atlanta there are some new pictures that are coming in.

Chris and Angie, go ahead and get on that. Let me know what we're able to come up with. I don't know if he was talking about that Rome protest or whether there are new pictures that are coming in from Israel. Either way, let me know. And we will turn those around for you in just a little bit.

Meanwhile, what you're saying. Let's go to our tweets. This is Lots of comments have been coming in on this story from those of you watching.

"Israel is acting like a spoiled child, and the U.S. is getting lots of anger for supporting Israel, no matter what they do."

Melissa says, "Hamas puts their operations in densely populated areas to make it difficult for Israel to fire."

Here's another one: "Israel has the right to protect itself."

Here's another one, upsetAtUSA: "Fighting, it's the human race way of living nowadays. Is anyone out there as sick of it as I am? Please say yes."

All right, let's take you to a correspondent now who is watching what's going on. She's in -- in fact, earlier today, she was there on the border with the Gaza Strip in southern Israel and now we understand she's back in Jerusalem ready to file this story.

Thanks so much for waiting patiently, Paula Hancocks, joining us. How do you assess? What are you seeing? And what are the Israelis saying there that you think that would lead you to believe that this thing is either going to be short-term or we might be in it for the long haul?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, looking at it from the border perspective, it didn't look like it was going to end any time soon.

The Israeli airstrikes came one after the other, not as significant as we saw on Saturday, but certainly as much as we saw yesterday. And, today, the -- the black plumes of smoke rising from Gaza and Gaza City were just continuing throughout the day.

But the -- the air assaults were not one way. We were also finding an awful lot of rockets still heading into Israel. Now, Israel says the reason for these airstrikes is to stop the rockets. Clearly, it isn't working. The Hamas militants do not feel that their ability has been dented.

Almost 75 rockets actually headed into Israel today. And we know that one person -- this has just been confirmed -- one person has been killed in a rocket attack just on the border, just exactly where we were, in fact.

And also two have been wounded in Ashdod. Now, Ashdod is 20 miles north of Gaza. This is further than these rockets usually go. So, they have new rockets. They have longer-range rockets -- Rick.

SANCHEZ: So, that -- so, if I'm hearing you correctly, that would mean that the threat is now bigger, right?

All right, hold on just a minute, Paula.

Tell me, Chris, in my ear what this is that we're -- are these the pictures that they had -- this -- oh, we're looking at a rocket attack in southern Israel. Don't know if there are any casualties. We do know it does appear that rescue officials are on the scene there, members of the military as well.

Paula, and that's what I was just going to ask you, as a matter of fact. We hear these stories about these Kassam rockets being fired into Israel. How big a threat do they actually pose?

HANCOCKS: They do pose a threat, and certainly for those that are living in the area. Now some of these rockets are pretty crude. They're home-made. But if they hit you, they will kill you. So they are a threat to those people who are living in these neighboring cities. And certainly some of these people have been having to put up with these rockets for going on seven years.

Now, obviously, it's nothing like, nothing like the power we see in these Israeli air strikes. It's not even comparable. But the fact is these rockets are random. They're not guided. They're going to land wherever they want to land. Each has an address. You don't know where they're going to land. And certainly a lot of these towns around Gaza have sirens. They know after the siren rings out, they have 15 seconds to find shelter.

As I say, one person just in the past few minutes, being killed by one of these rockets.

SANCHEZ: That may be that very scene that we're showing you now. Unable to confirm that at this point, but when we are able to confirm it, we'll take you back there and bring you the information. You are hearing the ambulances. Let's keep that picture up in the background. Let's bring Jim Clancy back into this conversation.

Two things that need to be discussed here, that we haven't talked about yet in this story: the Barack Obama effect, the fact that we have what amounts to a lame duck presidency in the United States at this time, and does that timing have anything to do or could it have anything to do with this latest air strike by the Israelis?

CLANCY: You know, I talked to one of the members of that security cabinet in Israel today, Isaac Heirtzog, son of Heim Heirtzog (ph), one of the first presidents of Israel. He says absolutely not, wasn't discussed. Barack Obama wasn't brought up. But inside the Bush administration, people have said they know how the Bush administration is going to reply, how it's going to respond.

SANCHEZ: Right. That's going to be automatic.

CLANCY: Secretary Rice gave them 30 days for the war against Hezbollah in 2006. And now they say, you know, they had a feeling. They had to do this. Plus, they don't want to stir up the relationship with the new president. It's thought -- it's thought on such a tense note.

SANCHEZ: Well, there's one other part of this story, and maybe this will be the last part of our conversation before we move on to other news, but this is important as well. The Olmert attack on Hezbollah in Lebanon has been seen by many, including people inside Israel, as a bit of a disaster. Things didn't work out the way -- could this be a way of saving face for that, as some are claiming it is?

CLANCY: I don't think so. I think, you know -- I think there were some lessons drawn from 2006. One of them clearly is -- and this was revealed in "Haaretz" today on the front page of the paper, how this was planned for six months, the strike. They said the whole problem with the Lebanon operation was it wasn't well-enough planned. It was a knee-jerk reaction to the kidnapping of three Israelis soldiers. They wanted to get them back and so they went in after Hezbollah.

They said, this time they spent six months planning. There was a lot of, you know, disinformation as they made their strike. And in the early hours in the going here, they were looking at success. But how it unravels, how it plays out in the end, that's going to be the test, Rick. That's what's going to make all the difference in the world for the Israelis, for the Palestinians, and for the Americans.

SANCHEZ: It's interesting because even if it -- if it was intended to be a make it good, it's not good unless it turns out good.

CLANCY: Yes, and they have been under pressure. There is an Israeli election coming up. There's a lot of factors here. The question is, what are you going to gain from this? How many people are going to lose their lives?

SANCHEZ: The most famous words in American journalism, remains to be seen. Thanks so much.

As we go to break, I want to do this. Let's show the viewers, if we can, that situation earlier in the day that developed in London with that huge protest. Let's go ahead and do it with natural sound up, so they can hear the confrontation between police there in London and some of those protesters as it grew. Let's take you to break on that.


SANCHEZ: This is interesting, the reaction that's coming in. I want to share two things with you as I welcome you back. First, let's go, Robert -- or Johnny, let's get the response here on MySpace that we picked up moments ago.

"Rick, this is not an Israel or Palestinian thing. It's a humanity thing. The leaders of both sides are causing their citizens to be killed and we all just watch. People will continue dying for as long as their citizens don't speak up. In the end, the one who has the better PR rep will prevail, in spite of the excessive casualties on the other side." Interesting perspective.

Let's go to the Twitter board, if we can. Let's flip that thing around. "This is all political. Maybe it's time for the U.S. aid to be taken away from them. Quit giving them our tax money."

Let's go to this one now. "Anon 4321 is right. You didn't let her get away with anything. Good reporting, Rick. Not sure who they're referring to, because I tried to pose difficult questions to both representatives on both sides."

"In the past, support of Israel was the right thing to do. No longer. They are wrong."

All right. That's some of the perspectives. No consensus at this point. We're getting reaction coming in on both sides of this argument. And this story that I want you to see now, the history of home invasions in the United States, this may be equalled with the story that you're going to see right now. It's about a man who lives in Clinton, Maryland. He had home invaders take over his home and actually hold his family hostage.

But it didn't stop there. They wanted even more. How does this end? Watch this report from WJLA's Jay Cork.


JAY CORK, WJLA (voice-over): With the arrest of 23-year-old Joseph Tadele, police believe two of the three people responsible for a wild kidnapping bank robbery plot are now behind bars. And James Sproule's (ph) courage helped land one of those suspects.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't believe I'm a hero.

CORK: Friday night, Sproule and two of his young sons were inside their Clinton, Maryland, house when his wife arrived home from this Sun Trust Bank in Silver Spring where she works as a manager.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think they was casing the joint and they just picked at random.

CORK: Police allege it was Tadele, who drove two of the suspects to the Sproules. They believe that those two suspects then barged in and tied up the couple. Authorities say the next morning, one of those men, 24-year-old Johana Surofel (ph), ordered the Sproules at gunpoint into the family car, forcing the father to drive to the Sun Trust Bank so his wife could get cash for the suspects.

But en route, while driving on 495, Sproule started swerving to get a state trooper's attention. It worked. After being pulled off, he lunged into the back seat and held down the suspect's hand while yelling about a gun. Moments later, the suspect was in custody. A father's decisiveness saves the only thing that he says matters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot was going through my mind, man. You know, that's my family, man, my wife and my kids. Like I said before, I'd die for my family.


SANCHEZ: Imagine signalling police without the bad guys knowing what you were doing. Now imagine this, being buried alive in an avalanche. There's a search going on right now for some who may be in that exact predicament. Stay with us.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. There's something else I want you to take note of today. This one, by the way, is for all of you who feel like you have been taken for granted at some point by your boss. Let's take it a step further. That boss fires you. How do you get back up? Yesterday, we got the answer. You keep your head up and you prove him wrong.

This is one of those stories that transcends sports, even though it's a sports story. OK, I'm a huge Miami Dolphins fan. So I'm a little partial. Chad Pennington was cut by the New York Jets' head coach, Eric Mangini. He wasn't good enough anymore. They wanted a big name, so they signed Brett Favre. Pennington didn't cry. He didn't complain. He didn't name call. Instead, he just went to play for a respectable but horrible competitor at the time, the Miami Dolphins, the worst team in all of football last year, one and 15.

What a difference a year makes, though. Yesterday, Pennington played against the team that threw him away, the team with a famous quarterback. And guess who won, Pennington and the Dolphins. And guess who's going to the playoffs, Pennington and the Dolphins. And guess who's staying home, the New York Jets.

One more question. Guess who just lost his job. Head coach Eric Mangini, who got rid of Pennington; he was fired today. Pennington proved his boss wrong. And today, even New Yorkers would agree he did it the right way; he did it the old-fashioned way. And so it goes.

Coming up, the "Star Spanglish Banner?" "We hate the USA?" These are songs. Oh, and "Barack the Magic Negro." It's a controversy. It's next.


SANCHEZ: Everybody seems to be talking about this story. I tend to think there may be more than one way of looking at it. The songs you've probably heard already, right? "Barack the Magic Negro," "Star Spanglish Banner," and "We Hate the USA." Those are songs that were put out in a CD that was delivered to other members of the RNC, the Republican Party, by somebody who wanted to be the leader of the Republican party. That's Tennessee GOP Chairman chip Saltsman.

He sent these CDs out to RNC members. They're satirical songs that had already been heard on the Rush Limbaugh show. Saltsman said it was just a light-hearted political parody at the time. He's got another statement out now. We'll bring you that in just minute.

But first, let me introduce my guests on this segment. These guys combined probably have as many people listening to their radio shows as any two guys I know, even maybe Rush Limbaugh, believe it or not, Neal Boortz and Ed Schultz. Ed Schultz is joining us live. There's Ed now. By the way, Ed Schultz is from North Dakota. I think he's aware of the fact that I've done a lot of ice fishing about this time of the year in Minot (ph), because I went to school in Minnesota. And Neal Boortz, of course, who can forget Neal. He's joining us by phone in Las Vegas. Hint, hint, wink, wink.

All right. Let's start with this. This is a statement from the RNC chair, Mike Duncan. This is his reaction. I think we can put that up. He says, "the 2008 election was a wake-up call for Republicans to reach out and bring more people into our party. I am shocked and appalled that anyone would think this is appropriate, as it clearly does not move us in the right direction." Neal Boortz, is he right?

NEAL BOORTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: Oh, yes. He's absolutely right. By the way, thanks for not sending the satellite truck. I wouldn't want my face next to that handsome mug of Ed Schultz out there.

SANCHEZ: That's just down-right mean.

BOORTZ: I cannot compete. I mean, this Chip Saltsman guy, this is his announcement to the world: I do not wish to be the RNC chairman. This is one of the most brain dead, stupid, idiotic stunts I've seen pulled by a political operative in a while. SANCHEZ: But listen to what Chip Saltsman says, for his part -- I think we've got this one up too. I'll throw this to you, Ed: "I firmly believe that we must welcome all Americans into our party and that the road to Republican resurgence begins with unity, not division." This is a guy who actually sent these things out. Then he goes on to say, "but I know that our party leaders should stand up against the media's double standards and refuse to pander to their desire for scandal."

You know, Ed, he actually makes an interesting point at the bottom of this. And that is when I watch "Saturday Night Live" and I see some of the satires of Republicans, they could be just as offensive and just as mean, right?

ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST": Well, you know, they can, Rick. Well, the big difference is that you just can't go out and endorse this kind of stuff. It's definitely in a gray area. I mean, this is more damage control for the Republican party that is already having an identity crisis with people of color in this country. It was stupid for the -- a party official to send this around. It endorses it in a sense. And then to try to run from it after doing it, it's just ridiculous.

I'm all for freedom of speech in this country, and I don't think that people should be harnessed to what they say and how they do it. But when you're representing, quote, all the people, or at least trying to in this political generational fight that's going on, you don't do something like this.

To the credit of Chairman Duncan, he did denounce it. That was a smart thing to do.

SANCHEZ: You're absolutely right. Is this an example though, Neal, that there's a fracture going on right now in the Republican party between the -- I think "Newsweek" called them the intellectuals and the social conservatives, many of which live in the southern part of the United States, where you're very familiar with the turf.

BOORTZ: Well, you certainly wouldn't put Chip Saltsman on the intellectual side, would you? First of all, his actions were mindless, OK? But I think that we have to recognize something that we are going to see. Putting Chip Saltsman aside, over the next four years, no matter -- no matter what the motivation, if you criticize Barack Obama or his administration for a policy objective or something, there are going to be people out there on the other side who are going to say, your criticism is all based on race.


BOORTZ: You're a bigot; you're a racist. We're going to have to learn that that is -- that's going to be the mantra. We're going to have to live with it. And we don't need idiots like Chip Saltsman out there feeding that stuff.

SANCHEZ: Exacerbating the problem. You make good points. Man, I wish we had more time. Two of the best guests a guy can have. BOORTZ: I've got all the time in the world.

SANCHEZ: We've got this Israeli thing going on so we've got to go. Thanks to both of you. Ice fishing in Minot, you and me, Ed, in the future.

SCHULTZ: Rick, you've got to the give credit for the Pennington move to the General Manager Bill Parcells. It was brilliant.

SANCHEZ: I knew I'd get you with that. My thanks to both of you. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Boy, take a look at this picture. This is Harvey Pass. It's in British Columbia. Imagine being buried alive in snow. The good news is some folks have been rescued, but not all. Eleven snow- mobilers hit with not one but two avalanches. We have on the phone now from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Sergeant Tim Shields.

Sergeant, thanks so much for being with us. What's the situation now with those that you're trying to rescue?

SGT. TIM SHIELDS, ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE: At this point, our first priority had to be the safety of the rescuers, since there have already been two avalanches. We wanted to make sure there wouldn't be a third that would take out the entire rescue team. At first light, we went in with a helicopter and dropped handheld avalanche bombs in order to break off some of the very large overhanging cornices at the top of this particular bowl where the avalanches occurred.

After the slope was made safe and stabilized, then we brought in a number of trained volunteer searchers, accompanied by police dogs that are trained in avalanche recoveries.

SANCHEZ: How do you find them? I mean, I guess let me ask you this, do they have beacons that would lead to you them?

SHIELDS: Absolutely. All of the snow-mobilers were doing the right thing. They had shovels. They had avalanche probes. They had beacons. And, of course, the beacons are the best way in order to find somebody who is buried. It can take time, because when we're talking about people who might be buried under three, four, five, six yards of snow, that's very heavy, dense compacted snow. Many people who have been buried and survived --

SANCHEZ: How long can they survive? Wouldn't they run out of air?

SHIELDS: Yes, typically, people who are fully buried do run out of air. We're fighting against time here. You know, we have to be realistic, but we also have to hold out hope we might be able to recover someone or some of these riders still alive.

SANCHEZ: You guys do a heck of a job. Thank you, sir, for taking time to take us through this. We'll be watching and getting back to you. If there's any new information, we'll be sharing it with our audiences.

What if your expertise is political satire? What if you're a comedian? What would your take be on that story we brought you moments ago with Neal Boortz and Ed Schultz about the "Barack the Magic Negro" CD? We'll get that for you because we have a comedian and a political satirist when we come back.


SANCHEZ: A lot of people are making a lot of hay out of this situation with this CD "Barack the Magic Negro" and the Spanglish line and "We Hate the USA." But it's in original form political satire. It wasn't meant to be distributed as a political tool. Joining us now is a comedian who is engages in political satire. He's good enough to join us, Justin Mcclure.

What do you make of that, the line for example, the "Barack the Magic Negro" meant to be funny, but seems to be backfiring?

JUSTIN MCCLURE, COMEDIAN: It's awful. It's terrible. The people I think that are most upset are probably magicians. I think they're really, really upset.


MCCLURE: There's a few magicians out there who are like Barack, he could not pull a rabbit out of his hat to save his life. It took him three days to do that three ball trip. I think they're the maddest.

SANCHEZ: I just got it. OK. How do you criticize a guy like Barack Obama, by the way? You know, there was just approval ratings done on him. He ranks as high as any other president-elect ever, with the exception of Eisenhower, who had won World War II. As a comedian, how do you make fun of a guy like this without ending up with egg on your face?

MCCLURE: The thing about Barack is he hasn't done anything yet. He's kind of like the guy in high school who is most likely to succeed. But, you know, five years from now, that guy is working at Jiffy Lube. The thing about Barack, he hasn't done anything yet. He could be that Sports Bus guy, the guy taken right before Michael Jordan, but really didn't last three years. That's kind of like where Barack is. We have high expectations, but what has he done.

SANCHEZ: As a comedian, do you wait to go after a guy like this? Until pitfalls?

MCCLURE: Yes, there's nothing about Barack not to like. The only thing I don't like are his ears. He's got funny looking ears. That's all I can go with. And he's a secret smoker. That's all I can do. What else is he secretly doing? Is he secretly playing Dungeons and Dragons? Those are the only things -- if that's all you have to go with, you're off to a pretty good start, because if you can only say you don't like ears, he's doing pretty good.

SANCHEZ: I've got one for you though. I'm not a comedian. I would imagine they would say this is the gift that keeps on giving. Even just name, Blagojevich.

MCCLURE: Right. It's quite a name, yes.

SANCHEZ: Go ahead, be funny. You're a comedian.

MCCLURE: The name is really funny. I don't have anything else on the name though.

SANCHEZ: This guy's a governor of the state of Illinois.


SANCHEZ: Essentially saying, according to federal prosecutors, of course, that he wants something in return for selling the vacated seat of Barack Obama. Maybe not funny but certainly opportunistic.

MCCLURE: I would like to know what he wants in return. Like what does he want?

SANCHEZ: What do politicians --

MCCLURE: I'm not sure.

SANCHEZ: All right. Listen, we'll get you back. Enjoyed the conversation. Political satire, interesting thing. Suzanne Malveaux standing by now.