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President Obama Signs Stimulus Bill Into Law

Aired February 17, 2009 - 15:00   ET


BLAKE JONES, PRESIDENT, NAMASTE SOLAR ELECTRIC: But, now, because of the stimulus bill that the president will sign today, our pessimistic outlook has been injected with new hope and optimism.


And this weekend, I called CEOs of other solar companies to compare notes about what we saw in the stimulus bill.

And the overwhelming consensus is that this stimulus bill will immediately benefit companies like ours.


Now, demand for solar is almost overwhelming. It's been growing very rapidly; it continues to grow. But despite this, over the past six months, we've had dozens of projects that have been on hold, almost entirely due to the uncertainty and instability in capital markets.

Among many other things in the stimulus bill, there are provisions that will directly address this; that will open up the markets again and harness the power of the private sector to finance these projects, these wrench-ready projects so that they cant move forward right away.

We're -- this in turn will allow us to not only maintain jobs that otherwise would have been lost this year, but it will also allow us to begin hiring again. And this is for a company that was hiring an employee a month. The hiring freeze has been strange for us, but we will begin hiring again. And we now have plans to increase our work force by 20 percent this year and 40 percent through 2010.


Now, we're just one small business creating one to two dozen jobs. But the point I want to stress is that there are thousands of small businesses just like ours that will be doing the same thing.

Our trade association, the Solar Energy Industries Association, estimates that as a direct result of this stimulus bill, U.S. solar companies will create 69,000 good-paying jobs this year and almost double that number over the next two years.


And we're hoping that the thousands of carpenters, plumbers, electricians, roofers, sales people, marketing people and executives that have been laid off by the building industries, that they'll consider joining us in the solar industry to help us install millions of solar panels on homes and businesses throughout the United States.


Now, it's -- it's important that we talk about the creation of all types of jobs. But in this day and age it's particularly important that we're talking about the creation of green jobs, because green industries are going to be some of the most important and fastest-growing industries in the 21st century.

And we're at a crossroads. We cannot afford to be left behind. We must seize this opportunity to make sure that United States takes a leadership position in this movement.


And, furthermore, there is a unique claim that we can make about green jobs, and that's that green jobs aren't just good for those of us that have them, green jobs are good for everyone. There are widespread benefits, such that with every green job we create, our nation takes one step closer toward achieving energy independence, strengthening national security, bolstering the economy, protecting the environment and improving public health, all the same time.


We're very fortunate to have leadership that understands this, particularly leaders like Governor Ritter, Vice President Biden, and the next speaker.

And without further ado, it is my great pleasure to introduce the president of the United States of America, Barack Obama.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you, everybody. Thank you.


Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you.


Thank you, everybody.

Please, have a seat.

You guys can sit down, too.


Let me begin by saying thank you to a few people -- first of all your outstanding governor, Bill Ritter. Please give Bill a big round of applause.


Lieutenant Governor Barbara O'Brien.


Secretary of State Bernie Buescher.


Your outstanding mayor, John Hickenlooper.


Your new senator, Michael Bennet.


Your old senator, now my secretary of the interior, Ken Salazar.


Mark Udall's not here, but give him a round of applause anyway.


One of the outstanding leaders who helped shepherd this process through in record time, please give Max Baucus of Montana a big round of applause.

Thank you, Max.


To Secretary Federico Pena, one of my national co-chairs, I would not be here if it were not for Federico.

Thank you.


To Representative Diana DeGette, who is -- we are in her district, so, thank you so much.


Representative -- Representative Betsy Markey.


Representative Jared Polis.


Representative Ed Perlmutter. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

To all the other elected officials and outstanding leaders who are here and to the whole Namaste family and Mr. Jones for outstanding work, congratulations.

Give them a big round of applause.


And to the best vice president that we've had in a long time.


Joe Biden.


It is great to be back in Denver.


I was -- I was here last summer -- we had a good time...


... to accept the nomination of my party and to make a promise to people of all parties that I would do all that I could to give every American the chance to make of their lives what they will; to see their children climb higher than they did.

And I'm back today to say that we have begun the difficult work of keeping that promise. We have begun the essential work of keeping the American dream alive in our time, and that's why we're here today.


Now, I don't want to pretend that today marks the end of our economic problems, nor does it constitute all of what we're going to have to do to turn our economy around.

But today does mark the beginning of the end; the beginning of what we need to do to create jobs for Americans scrambling in the wake of layoffs; the beginning of what we need to do to provide relief for families worried that they won't be able to pay next month's bills; the beginnings of the first steps to set our economy on a firmer foundation, paving the way to long-term growth and prosperity.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that I will sign today, a plan that meets the principles I laid out in January, is the most sweeping economic recovery package in our history.

It's the product of broad consultation and the recipient of broad support from business leaders, unions, public interest groups, from the Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers, as well as the AFL-CIO; from Democrats and Republicans, mayors as well as governors.


It's a rare thing in Washington for people with such diverse and different viewpoints to come together and support the same bill. And on behalf of our nation, I want to thank all of them for it, including your two outstanding senators, Michael Bennet and Mark Udall, as well as all the members of your congressional delegation. They did an outstanding job, and they deserve a big round of applause.


I also want to thank Joe Biden for working behind the scenes from the very start to make this Recovery Act possible. I want to thank Speaker Pelosi and Harry Reid for acting so quickly and for proving that Congress could step up to this challenge.

I have special thanks to Max Baucus, who's the chairman of the Finance Committee. Without Max, none of this would have happened. He had to work overtime and push his committee to work overtime.

And I want to thank all the committee chairs and members of Congress for coming up with a plan that is both bold and balanced enough to meet the demands of this moment. The American people were looking to them for leadership, and that's what they provided.

And what makes this recovery plan so important is not just that it will create or save 3. 5 million jobs over the next two years, including 60,000-plus here in Colorado. It's that we're putting Americans to work doing the work that America needs done, in critical areas...


... in critical areas that have been neglected for too long; work that will bring real and lasting change for generations to come.

Because we know we can't build our economic future on the transportation and information networks of the past, we are remaking the American landscape with the largest new investment in our nation's infrastructure since Eisenhower built an interstate highway system in the 1950s.


Because of this investment, nearly 400,000 men and women will go to work rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, repairing our faulty dams and levees, bringing critical broadband connections to businesses and homes in nearly every community in America, upgrading mass transit, building high-speed rail lines that will improve travel and commerce throughout our nation.

Because we know America can't out-compete the world tomorrow if our children are being out-educated today, we're making the largest investment in education in our nation's history.


It's -- it's an investment that will create jobs building 21st century classrooms and libraries and labs for millions of children across America. It'll provide funds to train a new generation of math and science teachers while giving aid to states and school districts to stop teachers from being laid off and education programs from being cut.

In a place like New York City, 14,000 teachers who were set to be let go may now be able to continue pursuing their critical mission.

It's an investment that will create a new $2,500 annual tax credit to put the dream of a college degree within reach for middle- class families, and make college affordable for 7 million students...


... helping more of our sons and daughters aim higher, reach further, fulfill their God-given potential.

Because we know that spiraling health care costs are crushing families and businesses alike, we're taking the most meaningful steps, in years, toward modernizing our health care system.

It's an investment that will take the long overdue step of computerizing America's medical records to reduce the duplication and waste that costs billions of health care dollars and medical errors that cost thousands of lives each year.

Further, thanks to the actions we've taken, 7 million Americans who lost their health care along the way will continue to get the coverage they need, and roughly 20 million more Americans can breathe a little easier knowing that their health care won't be cut due to a state budget shortfall.

And a historic commitment to wellness initiatives will keep millions of Americans from setting foot in the doctor's office in the first place.


Because these are preventable diseases, and we're going to invest in prevention.


So taken together with the enactment earlier this month of a long-delayed law to extend health care to millions more children of working families...


... we have done more in 30 days to advance the cause of health care reform than this country has done in an entire decade. And that's something we should be proud of.


Because we know we can't power America's future on energy that's controlled by foreign dictators, we are taking big steps down the road to energy independence, laying the groundwork for new green energy economies that can create countless well-paying jobs.

It's an investment that will double the amount of renewable energy produced over the next three years -- think about that -- double the amount of renewable energy in three years...


... provide tax credits and loan guarantees to companies like Namaste, a company that will be expanding instead of laying people off as a result of the plan that I'm about to sign.

And in the process, we will transform the way we use energy.

Today, the electricity we use is carried along a grid of lines and wires that date back to Thomas Edison, a grid that can't support the demands of this economy.

This means we're using 19th century and 20th century technologies to battle 21st century problems, like climate change and energy security.

It also means that places like North Dakota can -- that can produce a lot of wind energy can't deliver it to communities that want it, leading to a gap between how much clean energy we are using and how much we could be using.

The investment we're making today will create a newer, smarter electric grid that'll allow for broader use of alternative energy. We will build on the work that's being done in places like Boulder, a community that's on its -- that's on pace to be the world's first smart grid city.



This investment will place smart meters in homes to make our energy bills lower, make outages less likely, and make it easier to use clean energy. It's an investment that will save taxpayers over $1 billion by slashing energy costs in our federal buildings by 25 percent, save working families hundreds of dollars a year on their energy bills by weatherizing over 1 million homes.

And it's an investment that takes the important first step toward a national transmission superhighway that will connect our cities to the windy plains of the Dakotas and the sunny deserts of the Southwest.

Now, even beyond energy, from the National Institutes of Health to the National Science Foundation, this recovery act represents the biggest increase in basic research funding in the long history of America's noble endeavor to better understand our world.

And just as President Kennedy sparked an explosion of innovation when he set America's sights on the moon, I hope this investment will ignite our imagination once more, spurring new discoveries and breakthroughs in science, in medicine, in energy, to make our economy stronger and our nation more secure and our planet safer for our children.

Now, while this package is composed mostly of critical investments, it also includes aid to state and local governments to prevent layoffs of firefighters or police recruits.


Recruits -- recruits like the ones in Columbus, Ohio, who were told that instead of being sworn in as officers, they were about to be let go.

It includes help for those hardest-hit by our economic crisis, like the nearly 18 million Americans who will get larger unemployment checks in the mail. About a third of this package comes in the forms of tax cuts, by the way, the most progressive in our history, not only spurring job creation, but putting money in the pockets of 95 percent of hardworking families in America.


So, unlike the tax cuts that we've seen in recent years, the vast majority of these tax benefits will go not to the wealthiest Americans, but to the middle class, with those workers who make the least benefiting the most.

And it's a plan that rewards responsibility, lifting 2 million Americans from poverty by ensuring that anyone who works hard does not have to raise a child below the poverty line.

So, as a whole, this plan will help poor and working Americans pull themselves into the middle class in a way we haven't seen in nearly 50 years.

What I'm signing then is a balanced plan with a mix of tax cuts and investments. It's a plan that's been put together without earmarks or the usual pork-barrel spending. It's a plan that will be implemented with an unprecedented level of transparency and accountability.

With a recovery package of this size comes a responsibility to assure every taxpayer that we are being careful with the money they worked so hard to earn.

And that's why I'm assigning a team of managers to ensure that the precious dollars we've invested are being spent wisely and well.

We will...

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) Governor Ritter, Mayor Hickenlooper, we're going to hold governors and local officials who receive the money to the same high standard.

And we expect you, the American people, to hold us accountable for the results. And that's why we created, a Web site so that every American can go online and see how this money is being spent and what kind of jobs is being created, where those jobs are being created. We want transparency and accountability throughout this process.


Now, as important as the step we take today is, this legislation represents only the first part of the broad strategy we need to address our economic crisis.

In the coming days and weeks, I will be launching other aspects of the plan. We will need to stabilize, repair and reform our banking system and get credit flowing again to families and businesses. We will need to end the culture where we ignore problems until they become full-blown crises, instead of recognizing that the only way to build a thriving economy is to set and enforce firm rules of the road.

We must stem the spread of foreclosures and falling home values for all Americans and do everything we can to help responsible homeowners stay in their homes, something I will talk about more tomorrow.

And we will need to do everything in the short term to get our economy moving again, while at the same time recognizing that we have inherited a trillion-dollar deficit, and we need to begin restoring fiscal discipline and taming our exploding deficits over the long term.

None of this will be easy. The road to recovery will not be straight. We will make progress, and there may be some slippage along the way.

It will demand courage and discipline. It will demand a new sense of responsibility that's been missing from Wall Street all the way to Washington.

There will be hazards and reverses. But I have every confidence that if we are willing to continue doing the critical work that must be done, by each of us, by all of us, then we will leave this struggling economy behind us and come out on the other side more prosperous as a people.

For our American story is not, and never has been, about things coming easy. It's about rising to the moment when the moment is hard, and converting crisis into opportunity, and seeing to it that we emerge from whatever trials we face stronger than we were before.

It's about rejecting the notion that our fate is somehow written for us and instead laying claim to a destiny of our own making. That's what earlier generations of Americans have done. That's what we owe our children. That's what we are doing here today.

Thank you, Colorado. Let's get to work. Thank you.


I have got to use 10 pens.


There you go. It's done.


RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: You heard the words. "There you go. It is done" -- a $787 billion stimulus package signed by the president of the United States there in Denver.

Now the handshaking with those dignitaries who have come to see the signing done, a very positive event, a very inclusive event.

In fact, if there were two messages throughout this thing -- we will stay with the picture, if we can, by the way -- it was just that. There was no, woe is me, or woe the United States in this speech. It was very positive, not only in what the president said, but also in one of speakers -- in what the speakers were saying before the president.

It was Blake Jones, the business owner, who talked about new hope, and new optimism as a result of this stimulus plan, interesting choice of words.

And then the president, talking not only from a positive standpoint, but also from a standpoint of inclusiveness, went on to say -- and I wrote this down, because I found it peculiar -- going to be asking some of my guests about this -- "It's kind of weird for all people to come together and support this bill" -- key words there, "all people to come together and support this bill."

Suzanne Malveaux is joining us from Denver, as she watched the speech there with so many people, as well as Amy Holmes, who's joining us for her take on this.

I guess we begin -- Amy, let me begin with you.

The president made it sound as if this was incredibly inclusive. And I guess you could make the argument that many Republicans around the country, not necessarily in the House or the Senate, but governors and such, did support this.

But why would he say that it was an inclusive bill supported by so many Republicans, when in fact the people who had to vote on this thing for the most part didn't vote for it?

AMY HOLMES, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Only three Republicans did, actually, Arlen Specter, Susan Collins, and Olympia Snowe.

He can say that that is the case, but it simply wasn't. Actually getting to this point was a pretty ugly process. And he talked about transparency and accountability. But this is an over -- this document is over 1,000 pages. You know what? I'm not even sure that the president read every single page.

So, when he talks about that, yes, he can put the pretty window dressing on it, but, as a matter of fact, getting to this point today was not quite so pretty.

SANCHEZ: Did the president -- Suzanne Malveaux, did the president acquiesce to the Republicans?

There seems to be this turmoil, and the Republicans saying, we didn't get what we wanted, and the president and the White House and his spokespeople saying, we did everything we could to try and get them halfway.

Who's telling the truth?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, certainly, the president did acquiesce on some things, as well as the Democrats.

That's why we saw that whole process of negotiations. It's a much smaller stimulus package than originally that the president thought, as well as some deeper tax cuts, less government spending.

But one of the things that you have to note here is that this really is the president's baby and the burden, and all $787 billion of it. With his signature today, this makes it a signature issue for this president for his presidency and will honestly shape his legacy, what he has done just the last four weeks or so.

What's interesting is what happened on the way here aboard Air Force One. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was asked, is there more money that he's going to be asking for in the future, a second stimulus package? He said, that's not in the works. It's not planned. But then he did not rule it out either.

There are a lot of folks who that think this is really just the beginning of what we're going to see from taxpayers. One of the things that the administration is trying to do is at least calm Americans down and say, look, at least this time around, there will be some accountability and, some transparency.

So, they decided to go ahead and kick off that Web site today, Recovery.government, .gov, to actually take a look at how some of this money's going to be spent, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Some Americans, some Americans -- and let me tell you what I mean by that.

Johnny, do me a favor. Get your camera. Shoot our Twitter board, if you can, while we're listening. Look at this comment that just came in a little while ago while we were watching this: "Wall Street bickering like a bunch of kids."

All right, Johnny, now take your camera and move it over to the numbers on the Big Board that you have over here next to you. Go ahead and pan over to the right. Look at the number on Wall Street as we were watching the president speak. That's down 264.

I guess my question is, the president kind of slapped Wall Street down during this speech. He hasn't exactly said the things that they would want to hear. A lot of these guys are represented more as Republicans than as Democrats.

Do we have two messages going on in this country, the president speaking to the people, while at the same time coming down hard on Wall Street? And they're responding in kind.

Amy, back to you. Pearlstein with "The Washington Post" said, Wall Street is almost trying to punish the president for what he's doing to them, because -- well, he said they're petulant children who just want more.

HOLMES: Well, I think you have to sort of disentangle this word "Wall Street."

Wall Street is made up of a lot of individuals who are trying to gauge where our economy is going. And all of these individuals are making a certain judgment that they're -- they don't have confidence.

We saw that when Tim Geithner made his announcement last week that was so vague and so uncertain. Wall Street -- Wall Street doesn't like uncertainty, because then you can't plan for the future.

But part of this package that the president didn't talk about is the over $300 billion it's going to cost just to pay the interest on how we're going to spend this money.


HOLMES: I mean, Rick, where's the money going to come from? Are we going to print money? Are we going to borrow money? If we borrow money, then we're asking the world economy to lend us almost $8 billion. That's money chasing after private investments that drive your interest rates up. That's what Wall Street is reacting to.

SANCHEZ: But you wonder, though, Suzanne Malveaux, is this the first president in a long time who seems to be saying to Wall Street, you know what, I'm going to do this with or without you guys so you better get onboard this train? I guess I'm trying to put this together politically in my own head, how important is it for the president to kowtow to Wall Street investors so the market looks good on a daily basis? Or does it matter? I know it did to President Bush.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, the administration really needs Wall Street. They need these investors. Even when you heard Tim Geithner just a few days ago outlining this big package that they had. They talked about this private, public partnership, if you will, they need for investors to be confident in the economy once again. They're trying to instill confidence with the American people as well as these companies. They've got to get these banks lending again to actually loosen up some of the credit. They're definitely depending on Wall Street to make this thing work. But what they're saying essentially is that we can't do nothing that we've got to at least -- economists are saying, involve the government in this massive stimulus, this spending effort.

They believe it's going to jump-start some of these projects which in turn are going to create these jobs. There is an acknowledgement within the Obama administration that this is not a long-term solution. This is short-term here. This is trying to figure this out very, very fast. There is a sense of urgency even in passing the stimulus package, and actually getting this money through the pipeline to some of these states. And one of the important questions, Rick, obviously, is how are these states going to do this, how effective are they going to be in actually using some of the money, getting it to the proper channels, and getting through all the paperwork, the certification for these so-called shovel-ready projects.

SANCHEZ: It's an interesting dichotomy no doubt to watch the way this develops. Suzanne Malveaux, following the president and Amy Holmes, bringing us some wonderful analysis as well. A story that we'll be watching throughout the newscast. My thanks to both of you.

Two crime stories to share with you now. Both are high-speed chases, or at least that's how it starts. Both suspects takes some lumps once they're caught. Is one more justified than the other on the part of the police? Watch this. And wait until you see the other video that we're going to be showing you.

Also, New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez says that he injected himself. He used the word injected himself with steroids. You are going to hear his remarkable explanation.

Also, Japan's finance minister calls a news conference, allegedly as tanked as his economy. Go ahead, Otis, let them hear a little piece of this, and we'll be back.


SANCHEZ: If there is something -- welcome back, by the way, I'm Rick Sanchez here at the world headquarters of CNN. It's interesting, this question that we posed awhile ago about how the president of the United States can stand before the American people and say here is the stimulus package that we have to try and rev up the economy, while again on Wall Street they seem to be -- or at least some might argue they seem to be rejecting it. Some might argue as well that it's all coincidence. But here's a question that's coming in on that. John, let's go to the twitter board if we possibly can.

Something certainly to think about. Pamela's watching. Pamela says this, as she was watching my discussion with Amy Holmes and Suzanne Malveaux. "If the pundits really believe that Wall Street drives the U.S. instead of the government, have we become a corporate- run state?" Just a question. We appreciate that from Pamela to be sharing that with us, as we watch this newscast and get through it together. I want to bring you up to date on something else now. This is an unbelievable story that we've been following out of Houston. Take a look at this video, if you possibly can. It is at least what starts with a chase but watch what this driver does to this police officer. Literally rams him from behind and hits him into the rail. Now you can only imagine what the other police officers think after they watch him do that to one of their own. And then the driver does it to another one of their own. Watch what he does here just before this chase finally comes to an end.

He has another police car in front of him, rammed that police officer as well. But then begins to lose control of his own vehicle. There it is. And bang, back into that one. Crashes into that one. Then his vehicle spins around. Now here come the police officers. There's about 20 of them that we counted that finally converge on him. They drag him out of the car rather aggressively. I think some people would understand that. He's bleeding. They say he has a box cutter on him at the time that he's being dragged out of the car. If you continue to look at the video, you'll see there's a pool of blood on the ground. Not sure exactly how that happened.

I want to bring in Ashleigh Banfield now. Ashley, the guy's name is Danny Flores. Apparently he was involved in some kind of domestic dispute when police caught up to him. As you look at this, you're thinking, after watching what he did, the cops almost have a right to be angry, don't they?

ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, ANCHOR, "IN SESSION": You would think that human nature would take over. But they don't. What they have a right to do is stop the person from the reckless behavior that he was engaging in. It looks to me like that's what they were doing. Let's not forget, he was still armed with that box cutter which puts their lives in danger. So by that point it doesn't really matter what they're doing, they need to stop him and they need to get him -- stop him from resisting.

SANCHEZ: So anybody who looks at that and says those police officers let their emotions get the best of them there would probably be wrong. But let me show you another one now where maybe that argument would hold. I want to take you to another story now. This again is a police chase. Finally that's the suspect. He gives up, puts his hands above his head. But now watch the way, this is in Kansas City. Watch the way the police officers converge on him. Granted, it was a 30-minute chase. It reached speeds of 100 miles an hour. Exceeding 100 miles an hour. But given the fact that he gave himself up, should the police officers continue this, what appears to be a beating of him?

BANFIELD: There is something called use of force guidelines that have been revised, particularly after the Rodney King affair most police departments across the country revised their use of force guidelines. The truth of the matter is, from the helicopter shot it may look one way and it might be entirely another way. We don't know if he's armed with something similar, like a razor or a box cutter. We don't know if he was continuing to resist, trying to throw the officers off with his shoulders. And the other thing is, there is something called strategic strikes that officers are taught when they become police officers and those are to disable someone from resisting. It's all facts driven. How you employ your use of force. We don't know the facts in this one.

SANCHEZ: I'll tell you what, let's show that video once again. As you look at so many of these police officers, hitting this guy, you can't help but wonder if maybe one or two blows would have been ok. I don't see his legs moving. I see his hands above his head. I see him resisting now but it's only because he's been struck. And their own police chief in Kansas City has now said this, "It was improper use of force." Now, what does that mean to you when you hear a police chief say those words?

BANFIELD: It means what it means. But then again, I think there's probably an investigation that's under way as well. Here's something that's also really interesting, Rick. This is since Rodney King as well, that quite frequently police departments like to employ superior officers as quickly as possible to a scene like this because they know the human nature takes over. Someone who's actually causing damage and destruction on a high speed chase and recklessly endangering other people's lives, it's going to amp up the cops who are after them. So those superior officers are supposed to take control of the scene, try to tamp things down to prevent that kind of thing from happening.

SANCHEZ: Ashleigh Banfield, host of "In Session," so smart, so good. Always great to have you, appreciate it.

BANFIELD: You're too kind, thanks Rick.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alex, when you took these substances, was it in pill form or were you actually injected?



SANCHEZ: Something about the word injected that seems to make you almost see this story in a different way. I can't remember another athlete actually admitting to something like this. Alex Rodriguez comes clean. Baseball, though, continues to get dirty. Who's at fault? The players or the league? We'll let you hear parts of his news conference. Stay with us, we're going to be right back.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. Lance Williams, what a great book, it's called "The Game of Shadows." He's good enough to join us now to take us through this situation that baseball finds itself in. This news conference that Alex Rodriguez gave awhile ago was simply remarkable in that it was almost weird at some points. Almost (INAUDIBLE) like. Take a listen to this repertoire with a reporter. Hit that Dan.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Alex, when you took these substances, was it in pill form or were you actually injected?



SANCHEZ: I mean, it's like these athletes are coming cleaner and cleaner every time. First time I've heard an athlete say he was actually injected. But still, it almost sounded, didn't it, to you, Lance, like at times he didn't even know what he was talking about, or he was trying to make it sound like, I didn't know this stuff was bad? How do you inject yourself and not know it's bad?

LANCE WILLIAMS, SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE: Well, he knew it was a performance enhancing drug, of course. He's trying to be forthcoming to an extent. He's certainly trying to apologize. That's sincere. He's hoping this will make it go away. Baseball fans are pretty forgiving about the steroid issue if the players are apologetic.

SANCHEZ: I'm just thinking, after reading your book, the sense I got for the first time, from your book, is that when Barry Bonds decided that he was going to start to allegedly juice, he did so because he was reading headlines about Sammy Sosa hitting home runs. And Mark Maguire being a hero and stadiums being filled. And he's looking at himself in the mirror saying, wait a minute, I'm hitting triples, I'm leading the league in hitting, I'm hitting doubles, I steal bases, I make great catches and nobody's talking about me. It's almost like baseball set up a situation, a condition whereby they were telling the players with a wink and a nod, maybe this is what you need to do if you want to be a big-timer. Am I wrong?

WILLIAMS: The drugs work, players know it, and the league was not doing anything to control steroid use for a period of many years after it came in the game. And we're still trying to shovel out from under that.

SANCHEZ: So can you blame a guy like Alex Rodriguez for doing what seemingly now, as Jose Canseco said, something like 70, 75 percent of the guys in the league were doing, that if you don't do, you don't get ahead?

WILLIAMS: Well, A-Rod gets some responsibility for his actions as well. He was already an elite player making a huge sum of money. He didn't need the drugs to make the team. He was just trying to grandiose himself. So you have to look down on him a little bit for that. But the drugs were prevalent at the time, no question about it.

SANCHEZ: But is there no question -- by the way, I want to read you a couple -- folks at home are watching this discussion. They want to get in, too. Risa, she's watching, she says, "I think A-Rod is an idiot and just needs to go somewhere." Aakash says, "I think A-Rod should be punished for using steroids, but it should be lesser than those who lied to congress. At least the man confessed. Let him be." Here's the question to you, Lance. If Major League Baseball in the mid-1990s had said, here's the policy, one time, we catch you using these steroids, you won't be able to play baseball for 10 years. And by the way, we're going to do random samples of your urine once a month. Do you think they would have been having this problem right now?

WILLIAMS: No, they wouldn't, Rick. But there's no way such a policy could have been enacted at that time. Baseball has a players union that's probably the most powerful labor organization in the country. There was no way they were going to allow their players to be sanctioned in that way for banned drug use, especially in the mid- 90s when it was just coming on.

SANCHEZ: So where do we go now, what happens -- last question, what happens to Major League Baseball now as the season starts again, anew, with these scandals every week? Who's going to be next week?

WILLIAMS: Well, Bonds, Barry Bonds, the home run king, is going to trial in San Francisco for perjury accused of lying about his use of banned drugs. That will be the next one up. I think eventually, baseball bears down on its steroid testing, it will get past this. But the Mitchell report didn't put an end to the scandal, as you can see.

SANCHEZ: What a shame. Lance Williams, thanks so much for hanging in there. I know we had you wait a little bit during the president's speech.

WILLIAMS: I'm happy to be here. Thanks so much.

SANCHEZ: Thanks.

We are finally getting a clear picture of how and why the U.S. did what the world condemns. We tortured. The exclusive details of a Bush administration investigation that has not yet been released.

And the Blagojevich story that still will not go away. Day or night. Dan?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- language is different. Where you go in the world. For example, in Tibet, if a person does this, they're happy to see you. And in Greece, if a person does this, they're insulting you in no uncertain way. In Illinois in the state of Illinois, if someone does this it means they are the governor.



SANCHEZ: Welcome back. Lots of comments from you. But let me ask you this question, how did America, our nation, actually come to torture or use torture? The picture is starting to now become clearer because there's a new report on an internal report which interestingly enough hasn't been released yet. But there are reporters, Michael Isikof at "Newsweek" and Scott Shane at "The New York Times" who have been writing about this. So we've reached out to them. Scott Shane is actually joining us now. A writer with "The New York Times." In this report, several people are named. And they are both lawyers. Who are they and what did they do?

SCOTT SHANE, "NEW YORK TIMES": That's right. There are three Bush administration lawyers all of whom worked for what's called the office of legal counsel, the justice department. Jay Bybee, John Yoo, and Steven Bradbury. What we're told is that they're all sharply criticized for their role in writing the legal opinions, the legal memos that became somewhat infamous for justifying harsh interrogation techniques.

SANCHEZ: So they essentially signed off on something that the world has condemned and Ronald Reagan himself signed a document saying we wouldn't do and we would hold others accountable for doing. Is that right?

SHANE: Well that's not exactly right. Their argument was not that they were justifying torture but that they were interpreting the law that banned torture. And they were interpreting it in such a way as to define the harsh techniques the CIA was using, including waterboarding, as not being torture and, therefore, being legal.

SANCHEZ: But did they do it because it was legal, and I know that that's an argumentative word, or did they do it because they are receiving pressure from people inside the White House or the vice president's office?

SHANE: Well, that's what remains to be seen. This report, as you mentioned is not yet released. It was completed late last year when the Bush administration was still in place. The then attorney general, Michael Mukasey, was not very happy with its findings, and he and his deputy insisted that the three lawyers who were most heavily criticized, reportedly, be given a chance to read the report, reply to it and have their written replies incorporated in the report.

Now the Justice Department is not saying exactly what their plans are, but the expectation is that sometime in the next several weeks, it's likely to be completed and at least an unclassified summary of it is likely to be released.

SANCHEZ: We'll look forward to seeing that. Let me ask you this, back to the pressure question. Is there evidence that they were pressured to sign off or whatever words we use to describe what they did. And let me follow that up with, was there an environment of pressure during the Bush administration to get things like this done?

SHANE: Well, again, reportedly, since we haven't seen the report and the report is not final, it -- I am told that it criticizes both some of the legal reasoning involved and also the close connection between the White House and the office of legal counsel. OLC as it's called, the Justice Department is sort of the arbiter of the law and is really meant to be sort of the umpire and tell the White House, tell the rest of the executive branch what the law is not tell the White House what it wants to hear the law is. And apparently the report criticizes these lawyers in OLC for not keeping sufficient distance from the White House and its demands.

SANCHEZ: Scott Shane, "New York Times" great reporting. We appreciate you sharing that with us.

SHANE: Thanks for having me.

SANCHEZ: Wolf Blitzer standing by now in Washington with a look at what he's got coming up in the next hour. Wolf, what you got?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much Rick. Straight ahead, no one told Donald Trump you're fired, he quit. The quiet mogul turned -- the real estate mogul that is turned his back on the casino group bearing his name as it files for bankruptcy. Will this affect Trump's bank account? Will it hurt his name? What's going on here? We'll speak about it with Donald Trump, he's going to be here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

Also, the nation's top mailman reportedly saw compensation and perk package worth $800,000 a year. Why and how, especially when the postal service says the recession might force it to cut the number of mail delivery days.

A New York TV executive is accused of cutting off his wife's head. Now there are reports the wife's sister heard what happened only moments before the grisly killing. All that, Rick, and a lot more coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

SANCHEZ: I'm sure it's going to be great as usual. Thanks so much, Wolf for bringing us up to date. We're going to have more of your thoughts on what we just talked about moments ago about what may have happened with lawyers in the Bush administration when we come back. Stay right there.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back, I'm Rick Sanchez. We have about :45 seconds. Let me take you to some of your own comments as we've been watching the president's stimulus signing. Here we go, let's start with Fern123, he's on our twitter board. "Check out the sinking Dow they really don't like Obama's ideas. Maybe that means the president is right." Not a lot of fans of Wall Street types.

Rick you need more time. Thank you. A-Rod is a big weenie. What ever happened to athletes working hard and training hard to reach their peak performance? And then over on Myspace, we have somebody saying, "Gee whiz. If congress spent as much time doing their job and keeping Bush in check as they do worrying about these darn sports figures, just imagine how different things could be." There you have it. Your comments, our show. We'll do it again tomorrow. Here is Wolf Blitzer.