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Fort Hood Victims Speak Out; White Republicans Scared of African-Americans?

Aired November 11, 2009 - 15:00   ET



SPC. LOGAN BURNETTE, FORT HOOD SHOOTING VICTIM: It was very swift, very tactical, what he was doing.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): You're going to hear from those who looked into the eyes of the alleged Fort Hood killer. And you're also going to hear from those he heard who preached hate, namely that guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What he is saying from wherever he is in Yemen to his minions that it is not only legitimate to kill Americans -- that's the message that most people got -- but that it is also permissible to kill American Muslims.

SANCHEZ: What many moms have wanted to say.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My son had no legs from the knees down. My son lost his right hand. My son had to have his face reconstructed. Do you understand, Mr. Brown?

SANCHEZ: A grieving mom takes it out on her country's leader.

White Republicans are scared of black people, who is agreeing with that suggestion? Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee chairman.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And one of the criticisms I have always had is...


MARTIN: ... Republicans -- white Republicans have been scared of black folks.


STEELE: No. You are absolutely right.

SANCHEZ: Interviewer Roland Martin joins me in our "R&R" segment.

At what point is citizen journalism just taunting?

What you say on your national conversation for Wednesday, November 11, 2009. (END VIDEOTAPE)

SANCHEZ: Hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez with the next generation of news, your news.

And what you and I are trying to understand right now is why this alleged Fort Hood killer did what he did, right? Well, guess what? To understand who Nidal Hasan is, you have got to understand who he was talking to. Who was filling this guy with so much hate?

We know who that is. And you're going to hear from that guy in just a moment. But, first, I want you to hear now from the gunman's victims, those who looked into this fellow's eyes.

This is the story of what happened there last week through the voices of the victims who survived, Specialist Logan Burnette, for example. He was shot through the hip and right through the gut. Listen to how the gunman methodically fired and reloaded, he and a couple of others were able to get out.


BURNETTE: We grabbed each other. They helped me up to my feet, because I couldn't move. I started to run. As I started to run, I fell again, now realizing I couldn't use my left leg from where the bullet entered my hip at.

Made it about halfway to the front door. At the front door, I fell again. I stood myself up again, threw all my body weight -- and as a big guy, that's a lot -- towards that door as hard and as fast as possible.

Once I hit that front door, I began to low-crawl about five meters up a hill, just, you know, pushing my body forward with everything I had.

There was another building parallel to the SRP building I was in. I low-crawled. And as I got within five meters of the door, E6 -- once again, I really wish I could remember his name -- he did a lot for me there.

He drug me by the collar, pulled me -- pulled me into the building and locked me in an office in that second building and performed first aid on me. The whole time, I was sitting there hearing gunshots going off all over the place.


SANCHEZ: Now, here is what else I have for you. This is something that Oprah Winfrey sent us. It's not much, really, but at least you get to hear for the very first time from Kimberly Munley. She is being called a hero for being the one who brought Hasan down.


OPRAH WINFREY, HOST, "THE OPRAH WINFREY SHOW": Was there a moment of confusion or uncertainty? SERGEANT KIMBERLY MUNLEY, FORT HOOD POLICE; Yes. The entire incident was very confusing and chaotic. There was many people outside pointing in to direction that this individual was apparently located.

And as soon as I got out of my vehicle and ran up the hill is -- is when things started getting pretty bad and we started encountering fire.

WINFREY: I heard reports that he grazed your head. The bullet grazed your head.

MUNLEY: No, ma'am, actually, the first round that I took was on my knuckle on my right hand. I did not get a graze to the head, no, ma'am.

WINFREY: You did not.


SANCHEZ: I had a long talk with my son last night, you know, one of those dad things you do when your son goes away to college for the first time, as ours has.

I told him to always remember he is only as good or as bad as the people that he hangs around with, something I learned from my old man. It's now starting to appear that this is in large measure what happened to this Hasan character.

He appears to have become fascinated with some imam from Falls Church, Virginia. Have you heard about this guy? He's by the way recently left the country. But it now appears that as that imam became more and more militant, more and more nuts, really, so did Hasan.

I want you to watch this report. I think it's a fascinating piece of journalism. It's been put together by my colleague Carol Costello. Here it is.


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Experts say Anwar al- Awlaki is a low-key extremist. They say fiery rhetoric is out, under stated is in. Listen to one of Al-Awlaki's YouTube lectures.

ANWAR AL-AWLAKI, MUSLIM CLERIC: We sometimes neglect our duties toward our fellow Muslims until we fall into their trials and realize the importance of standing in support of the oppressed.

COSTELLO: That's right, under stated terrorist talk on YouTube and Facebook. Al-Awlaki has more than 5,000 friends. Jarret Brachman wrote "Global Jihadism." He is also a U.S. government consultant on counter terrorism.

JARRET BRACHMAN, AUTHOR "GLOBAL JIHADISM": A lot of guys in the United States read Al-Awlaki's work. They watch his videos. They listen to his sermons.

COSTELLO: It's easy.

Al-Awlaki speaks perfect English. He's American-born. Before leaving the U.S. in 2002, he was an imam at mosques in Colorado, California, and then Virginia where he had contact with two of the 9/11 hijackers. Imam Johari Abdul-Malik knew Al-Awlaki. At first he was moderate in his views and popular.

IMAM JOHARI ABDUL-MALIK, DAR AL-HIJRAH ISLAMIC CENTER: Young, handsome, Californian, has the benefit of English without an accent.

COSTELLO: Then 9/11 happened. Imam Johari told us Al-Awlaki grew angry at the way Muslim Americans were treated by authorities. He left for Yemen in 2002 telling his friends --

ABDUL-MALIK: This is not an environment for teaching Islam or preaching Islam. I would rather go back to Yemen. And he told us, I can teach or maybe I can do a television program.

COSTELLO: But in Yemen, he was jailed. Imam Johari says it was after that that Al-Awlaki became radicalized with a growing following. His views unrecognizable to those who knew him in the United States.

ABDUL-MALIK: What he is saying from wherever he is in Yemen to his minions that it is not only legitimate to kill Americans. That's the message people got -- but that it is also permissible to kill American Muslims.

COSTELLO: Something Imam Johari says is against both Islam and the United States. It may be, he says, that Al-Awlaki has lost his mind.

(on camera): Al-Awlaki has written on his Web site that Major Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood shooter, was a hero. Today, that Web site is not accessible. It's not clear why, although some experts say Al- Awlaki is afraid he's getting too much attention and shut his own Web site down.

Carol Costello, CNN, Washington.


SANCHEZ: Who is on the take in Washington? We know the health care industry is writing some big checks to many politics, but who else? I am following the money for you, so don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you keep putting that camera in my face, I will tell you what I will do. I will take that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) camera and whoop your (EXPLETIVE DELETED)


SANCHEZ: At what point does citizen journalism become taunting? I'm going to let you decide for yourself and take a look at a couple of examples of video that we're going to show you.

Also, a look at citizen journalism in its entirety.

Then, later, is the chairman of the Republican Party really agreeing with a suggestion that some white members of his party, of the Republican Party, are afraid of black people? This is the chairman of the Republican Party who's affirming that. In fact, that's exactly what Michael Steele is doing.

Stay with us. We will be back.


SANCHEZ: Full disclosure right up front: My brother's a police officer and I have spent a big part of my career as a cop beat reporter. I know what they do. Bottom line is, they try to keep us all safe.

I know, once in a while, they go off on ego trips and some have even abusive from time to time. And we have seen it right here on this show. But for the most part, they are pros, like the L.A. deputy that you're about to see right here having to deal with a photographer who truly just doesn't get it. Take a look at this.


RICHARD GYLFIE, L.A. COUNTY SHERIFF'S OFFICE: How come you're taking a picture?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no statute against photos on the metro.

GYLFIE: Why are you taking pictures, is my question?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I want to.

GYLFIE: Because you want to?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Am I getting detained?

GYLFIE: Yes, you are.


SANCHEZ: This -- this is hard to watch. This guys, a guy who calls himself a photographers rights activist goes on to have a conversation, tells the officer that he's out shooting the L.A. subway because he wants to, like he's never heard of the London rail attacks, the Madrid train bombings, or the recent alleged plot against the subway system in New York City?

The guy, this photographers rights activist, is clearly out to provoke the officer, it seems, to try to make him look like a jerk. The problem is, instead, he makes the officer look like a hero.

All right, you decide for yourself. Who's the jerk, who's the hero here?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GYLFIE: I'm a photographers rights advocate. I know the rules of the metro.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For what purpose? What is this?

GYLFIE: Because I want to know who you are and I want to know why you're taking pictures of the subway pictures. Al Qaeda would love to buy your pictures. So I want to know if you are in cahoots with al Qaeda to sell these pictures to them for terrorist purpose. That's a crime.

You understand?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not committing a crime by taking photos...


GYLFIE: I don't know that you're committing a crime or not.

Take your hands out of your pockets when I'm talking to you. OK? Do you not understand what I'm saying?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I'm being detained for taking photos?

GYLFIE: You're being detained until I determine that you have not committed a crime.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have I committed a crime?

GYLFIE: I don't know. That's what I'm investigating right now. Well, are you going to cooperate with me or not? Maybe I should just arrest you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm asking you if I am being detained. For what purpose?

GYLFIE: I just told you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not illegal to take photos.

GYLFIE: OK. I'll tell you what. I'll tell you what. I already asked you one time. Let me see your I.D. You don't want to do it. Now we're going to have a problem.


SANCHEZ: It's either the easy way or the hard way, right? The photographers rights advocate, as he calls himself, has gotten what he wanted. He's gotten himself detained.

But, if you have noticed, L.A. County Sheriff's Deputy Richard Gylfie, he hasn't lost his cool, which is what the guy really wanted. Now let's listen to this again. I find it instructional. This discussion that you're about to see right here on constitutional rights is between the deputy and this self-styled civil rights activist.


GYLFIE: Do you not understand our -- why we're stopping you and detaining you and attempting to obtain information from you of why you're taking pictures of a terrorist target? Do you not understand that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Or you don't see it as that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't see it as that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I see it as a violation of my constitutional rights.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have just been detained for conducting a perfectly legal activity.

GYLFIE: Why were you detained?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. For taking photos.


GYLFIE: I explained it at least three times.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For taking photos?

GYLFIE: What is my job as a police officer? Do you know?


GYLFIE: My job as a police officer is to determine if an individual is committing a crime. If I have reasonable suspicion that a person may be committing a crime or committing a violation of law, I have the legal right to stop and detain that individual.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Be sure you spell it right, G-Y-L-F-I-E. Make sure you spell it right. It's pronounced Gylfie.

I'm sorry you don't believe in public safety.


SANCHEZ: Sorry you don't believe in public safety.

That's how out of touch this photographer/blogger seems to be on this video. He posts the officer's name as if the officer is guilty of, well, doing his job. You know what? The L.A. County's sheriff's deputy, Richard Gylfie, it seems to me he is a hero. He is doing what we're paying him to do.

We would probably be able to argue, wouldn't we, that we need more like him. As for blogger Shawn Nee, I asked him to come on my show. He initially agreed that he would be here to talk to me. But then he changed his mind, saying that he had been advised against it by the American Civil Liberties Union. So, we called the national office for the ACLU. And, for the record, they said they have never heard of him.

The Southern California office of the ACLU says it's spoken with Nee now, but isn't representing him at this point. That's their latest comment.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I saw people like dehumanizing. I saw some pretty crazy stuff.


SANCHEZ: Two guys say they witnessed the brutal gang rape of a high school girl that lasted for more than two hours. One does nothing, and the other helps. Both speak for the first time.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because of a lack, lack, of helicopters, your child bled to death and then you as a coroner have to tell you his every injury?


SANCHEZ: It's a rare moment that is captured. You are going to hear a mother who lost her son in war screaming at her nation's leader for letting it happen, in her opinion. This is chilling. Also, you're not going to be believe what Michael Steele is saying about some white members of his own party.


SANCHEZ: This is an interesting perspective that we got on Twitter just a moment ago. We showed you that story that really got our attention about what was going on out there in Los Angeles, when the guy shows up with a camera challenging a L.A. police officer.

Listen to the comments that we're getting already right there at the top. Oops. We just got three more hits while I was just talking. But look at this.

"That was a great piece on Sheriff Gylfie. We should guard our civil liberties always, but never use it as an excuse to provoke."

I think that's well said.

All right, it's Veterans Day and once again Americans are conflicted between their appreciation of soldiers and their frustration with the politicians. You see, soldiers fight the wars. Too often, politicians make the wars. We all know that.

But what would it be like to really be close to that situation? Let me take it a step further. What would it be like to lose your son in combat? How would you deal with that pain, with that frustration? You're about to hear from a woman who was able to take out her frustration, no less on the leader of her country, who sent her son to war.

This is a remarkable exchange that you are about to hear between British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and a grieving constituent.



PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Six coffins made for a somber procession. And it was the British prime minister himself who voiced what the he believes everyone lining this route must be thinking. What are we fighting for?

It is a pointed question asked by so many in grief and anger, and especially on this day by these families. Five of these soldiers murdered by a rogue Afghan police officer who was receiving training. The Taliban would later boast the gunman was one of them and safe within Taliban ranks again.

The incident has provoked renewed doubt about the Afghan mission. Doubt voiced so piercingly by Jacqui James. The mother of Guardsman Jamie James has take on Gordon Brown and his Afghan mission. After receiving a handwritten letter of condolence from the prime minister, a man who was partially blind, it was littered with spelling mistakes, her name misspelled. She voiced her outrage, called it an insult. And in a 13-minute phone conversation with the prime minister, that she recorded, Mrs. James' heartfelt doubts about why and how her son was killed in Afghanistan have riveted the country.

JACQUI JAMES, MOTHER OF GUARDSMAN JAMIE JAMES: How would you like it if one of your children, God forbid, went to a war doing something that he thought where he was helping protect his queen and country, and because of a lack -- lack of helicopters, lack of equipment, your child bled to death and then you have the coroner have to tell you his every injury? My son had no legs from the knees down. My son lost his right hand. My son had to have his face reconstructed. Do you understand, Mr. Brown, lack of equipment?


NEWTON: On the phone, Gordon Brown stammers and sympathizes. And in a press conference said his troops were properly equipped, but that he had asked for a full report on the death of Jamie James. As for the letter . . .

BROWN: I issued a statement yesterday apologizing for any grief that had been caused by that. The last thing on my mind was to cause any offense to Jacqui James. And I think people know me well enough to know that it would never be my intention by carelessness or by a failure to cause any grief to a grieving mother. NEWTON (on camera): As humbling as all this has been for Gordon Brown, the British government says it remains committed to the mission in Afghanistan, but with limits.

NEWTON (voice-over): Mr. Brown was asked if he would back up any American commitment of more troops in Afghanistan.

NEWTON (on camera): Will you rule out sending any more above and beyond the 500 that you've already pledged? Britain he said would contribute 500 more troops already announced, but no more.

NEWTON (voice-over): Britain, he said, would contribute 500 more troops already announced but no more.

BROWN: I do expect other countries in NATO to make commitments as well. I don't think this will be wholly an American or British announcement. I think there are other countries ready to play their part in Afghanistan.

NEWTON: Brown's stand is a reflection of the burden he now carries for this war. Polls show a majority in Britain now want their troops home and remain utterly unconvinced by a prime minister constantly trying to defend the sacrifices as necessary for the country's safety.

Paula Newton, CNN, London.



SANCHEZ: Why in the world would you do something like that to a father, a good man -- you just saw him on our cameras...


SANCHEZ: ... who is grieving the son of...

PHELPS: You have been brainwashed.

SANCHEZ: I'm sorry, sir?

PHELPS: You have been brainwashed.


SANCHEZ: Hate comes in many forms, as we have seen in the last week. That man you just saw right there is one of them. And now he's going after both U.S. soldiers and Sasha and Malia Obama.

So, when will this road you see right there be reopened again? We're being told. And we tend to not want to believe it.

Also, this -- as promised, I'm going to follow the money for you. Who's lining their pockets with special interest money in Washington? We're staying on top of this for you. And we will do it again today. Stay there. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez here in the world headquarters of CNN.

I know I got a bunch of tweets for you. And I'm going to get to them in just a minute. But I got something else I want to do for you right now.

I got a big response when I have tallied up the money that the health care folks have been giving to members of Congress. But let's keep something in mind -- and this is important -- they're not the only ones in this game, all right? They're not the only heavy hitters that are tossing millions of bucks to elected officials to try to get their way on health care reform.

What about the unions? I want to show you something here. Since the election last November, organized labor has given members of Congress more than $20 million, again, $20 million since last November alone from unions. Our source on that, by the way, is the Center for Responsive Politics, which is -- and this important to note -- a nonpartisan research group.

Consider this now, if you would, for a moment. You could cover much of the cost of health care reform by taxing some of the cushiest health insurance plans. Why not? Aren't they a form of compensation for many people?

And I'm here to tell you something. The health care plans that many union members have, they're pretty damn cushy. When the House passed approved its health care package, the one that passed Saturday night, there wasn't a hint of any tax on those so-called Cadillac health plans. You want to know why? I'll tell you why, two words: House Democrats. They refused to let it happen.

Let me take you back to the money. Those $20 million the union gave these members of Congress, just like we told you the other day about the health industry and the money they gave, mostly to Republicans, because they would oppose the health care bill, guess what percentage went to congressional Democrats? Ninety-three percent -- 93 percent of that union money has gone to congressional Democrats, the ones who shielded labor from getting their health plans taxed.

Now, just as I asked Monday about the health care industry, let me ask it again, and I'm going to keep asking it on this newscast. I think it's important for all of us to think about these things. Whether you're a Dem or you're a Republican -- I don't care. Do you think the unions are getting their money's worth? Let me know what you think.


SANCHEZ: Why in the world would you do something like that to a father, a good man? You just saw him on our camera.

REV. FRED PHELPS, WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH (via telephone): Oh, hogwash! You've been brainwashed. SANCHEZ: I'm sorry, sir?

PHELPS: You've been brainwashed.


SANCHEZ: Not only are they mocking soldiers, but they even protest in front of Sasha and Malia Obama's school.


SALVADOR RODRIGUEZ, GANG RAPE WITNESS: I saw people, like, dehumanizing her. I saw some pretty crazy stuff.


SANCHEZ: You sure did. This is one bystander out of a group of about 20 people who watched a high school girl get raped and did nothing to help. This is a big story out west. They're certainly talking about it in California. We're going to tell you why he did nothing. In fact, you'll hear it in his own words.


SANCHEZ: We're getting a lot of reaction on that video we showed you a little while ago. Some people are taking me on and saying I'm full of it actually.

Let's take a look at this one, right at the very top there. "Rick, you are oversimplifying the photo arrest issue. Both sides have a point." But then right under that, we get another one that comes in right away and it says, "I think the sheriff was right on. The photographer was a pure jerk. Great going sheriff. Thanks for making us safe."

Different views, different reactions. We're glad you're all watching and sharing.

I want to revisit something now for you that just happened. As a dad with a daughter, I can't even fathom this kind of thing. This news is coming in to us now for the last week. This is -- this is about a teenage girl who is gang-raped outside of her high school homecoming dance.

But here's the worst part about this story, people watched it and didn't do anything to stop it. Two young men who were there are now coming forward. One of them, by the way, can't be shown because he's underage. So, we're going to honor that and protect that.

Here's Cecilia Vega, she's a reporter from W -- pardon me -- from KGO.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I really wanted to help her but I don't know. I just didn't. CECILIA VEGA, KGO CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is one of the 20 bystanders who, police say, watched and did nothing as a 16-year-old girl was brutally gang-raped outside her homecoming dance. It is the first time a witness to that horrific attack has spoken publicly.

(on camera): Why didn't you call the police?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't have a phone and I just -- I don't know. There were some people there were there and I don't know. I just didn't want to say anything because I was scared.

VEGA (voice-over): Salvador Rodriguez was also scared by what he saw that night.

SALVADOR RODRIGUEZ, GANG RAPE WITNESS: I saw people, like, dehumanizing her. I saw some pretty crazy stuff.

VEGA: Police arrested him as a possible suspect after the attack but he was released for lack of evidence. The 21-year-old says he tried to help the victim after the attack ended.

RODRIGUEZ: She was by herself. She was naked, and, like, I tried to help her. I was like -- oh, like, I reached for her and she started screaming. And I said, "Hey, I don't want to hurt you, I just want to help you. That's all I want to do, just help you." So, she stopped screaming as if, like, she knew, you know, I wasn't trying to do nothing. And then I grabbed my t-shirt and I covered her up with it.

VEGA: He was skateboarding outside Richmond High the night of the dance. He saw people drinking in a poorly lit section of campus. When he got closer, he realized what was going on.

RODRIGUEZ: They were kicking her in her head and they're, like, beating her up and robbing her and ripping her clothes off. And it was just -- it's something you can't get out of your mind.

VEGA: Police say the rape went on for 2 1/2 hours, and that as many as 10 people may have participated. Rodriguez is friends of one of the suspects in custody. He says he tried to stop the attackers from taking pictures of the girl. He now fears for his life for being labeled a snitch.

RODRIGUEZ: I just see like everybody going crazy and messing with her and all that. Hey, man, calm down, you know, leave her alone, that's a little girl. You know, you don't do nothing like that. Because I got two 15-year-old sisters myself.

VEGA: The witness says he watched for 15 to 20 minutes, not even his own family knows he was there that night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I feel like I could have done something but I don't feel like I have any responsibility -- any responsibility for anything that happened.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SANCHEZ: I want to share something with you now just as a caveat. Neither CNN nor the Richmond Police Department has verified Rodriguez' account of his actions at the scene. So, we're taking him at face value, taking his word. The Richmond Police Department goes on to say that this gang rape -- it is still under investigation.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You keep putting that camera in my face, I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll take that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) camera and whoop your (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


SANCHEZ: All right. Who's right and who's wrong here? I want you to watch this and then decide for yourself, and let me know.

Also, the leader of the RNC says some in the GOP are afraid of black people?


SANCHEZ: I want to welcome you back now to the world headquarters of CNN. I'm Rick Sanchez.

All over the country, people are using their cameras to take us where we often can't go, to record breaking news in some cases. These are just regular folks. They're not being paid by anyone anybody to take these pictures.

Sometimes, though, they do it just to get in people's faces. I want to know what you think of this piece of video that we've -- that I'm about to share with you. It's an Atlanta City maintenance guy. He's been fired for essentially blowing his top when somebody started following him with a camera to try to show that he was being lazy.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You keep putting that camera in my face, I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll take that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) camera and whoop your (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least I'm not parking in the middle of the street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We ain't even parked in the middle of the street, we're parked in the sidewalk, crazy (EXPLETIVE DELETED).


SANCHEZ: The guy who used to work for the city says that he's not proud of the way he reacted and he now says that he is willing to take anger management classes to take his or to get his job back.

Who's more wrong here? I'm interested in your take, so let me know.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele says that some white Republicans have been scared of him. Really? You're going hear this for yourself.

Also, Sammy Sosa, is he getting lighter? You remember Sammy Sosa, right? Home runs, a guy from the Dominican Republic. Was his skin darker? I don't know. Let's look at it together when I come back.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

I know we got Roland Martin standing by. In just a little bit, we're going to bring him in.

Historically, by the way, though, I want to tell you this. Children of presidents are just off limits. I mean, as a journalist, it's one of those things or a -- as an American, you just don't go there. So, what kind of person or persons would choose to -- the school where the president's daughters attend, little girls, to protest?

Welcome to the bizarre thinking of the Westboro Baptist Church. I'm not going to show you that, by the way -- this protest that they did, because, frankly, I don't think it's worthy of attention. But yesterday, they took it a step further. They also protested not far from Fort Hood, targeting the U.S. soldiers, dead U.S. soldiers.

Reverend Fred Phelps, I'm talking to you.

In fact, here's his group. Just a couple of years ago, actually protesting at the funeral of a dead soldier who had just been flown back from Iraq.

Can you imagine what the mourning family thought when they saw that?

Their message to the family that day, these protestors? Your son deserved to die because of gays. Gays? That's what I thought when I asked this Reverend to join me on TV. Just so you get a chance to see who this character really is. This is two years ago. Watch.

SANCHEZ: Why in the world would you do something like that to a father, a good man? You just saw him on our camera.

REV. FRED PHELPS, WESTBORO BAPTIST CHURCH (via telephone): Oh, hogwash! You've been brainwashed.

SANCHEZ: I'm sorry, sir?

PHELPS: You've been brainwashed.

SANCHEZ: I've been brainwashed.

PHELPS: Yes, talking that way.

SANCHEZ: What is... PHELPS: For goodness' sakes, all it was was a protestation by the government of the United States against the word of God. They don't want me preaching that God is punishing America by killing those servicemen, and if that's high he's doing it and sending them home in body bags, then the appropriate form of choice would be their funerals. And there's nothing wrong with preaching respectfully at a great distance from the funeral when it's going on.

SANCHEZ: Why would you choose this at as venue, a man who is minding his own business trying to mourn the death of his son who many would consider a war hero?

Sir, go ahead.


PHELPS: ... believe the truth, doesn't want to hear the truths. You're just a hysterical nincompoop, like all the rest of them. This is the first -- what you ought to be worried about is the loss of First Amendment rights in the United States for which those guys claim they're over there fighting.

SANCHEZ: Mr. Phelps, if you just give me just a moment, I'd like to ask you not about the law but about any sense of decency that you may or may not have, by going and doing that at a man's funeral.

PHELPS: If you had any sense of decency, you wouldn't ask a question like that.

SANCHEZ: What is wrong with asking this question? Explain it to me.

PHELPS: Sense of decency, my foot.


SANCHEZ: I think you get the picture. I guess the point to be made is, in these days, we talk a lot about hate in this country. Maybe looking at that is a reminder that it often comes in many, many different forms.




ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: One of the criticisms I've always had is Republicans -- white Republicans -- have been scared of black folks.


STEELE: No, you're absolutely right. I mean, I've been in the room.


SANCHEZ: You're absolutely right.

So, if the head of the RNC is saying this, or affirming this, what does it say for the GOP? It's a good question. We'll try and answer it.

And I bet this road is going to be closed a while. Huh, you think?

We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back to CNN. I'm Rick Sanchez.

You know that feeling of relief you get when you narrowly miss getting into an accident? Of course, it's never our fault, right? Let's do "Fotos."


SANCHEZ: Dios mio means "Oh, my God."

This really would have been not your fault. Road crews in Tennessee have just finished removing debris from the Highway 64 and then that happened. As news cameras are rolling, the whole thing just started coming down, the whole shooting caboodle. Just a bit of perspective, some of those rocks are the size of pickup trucks. Crews say it's going to take a while before the road reopens. You think?

Talk about skating on thin ice. See that sheet of ice right there with the spot on it, see that? That's a 17-year-old who survived for three days on an ice floe about 50 square yards in size. He'd been out hunting but the snowmobile broke down on the way home. Now, he's being treated for hypothermia.

And there's this story that seems everybody is talking about, Sammy Sosa, the Dominican Republic-born baseball slugger. He is the guy who became only the fifth to hit 600 career home runs and most famous for his battle with Mark McGwire for most home runs in a season -- steroids. Anyway, I digress. Last time we checked, Sammy was black, right?

Well, lookie here. This photo is causing a huge talker. Is it lighting or maybe something else, makeup? Something is kind of fake, like his green eyes.

His representative says the recent pale photos are merely the result of skin rejuvenation that he has been undergoing. The green eyes, contacts. The processed hair, who knows? Sammy Sosa is getting a little weird on us.




STEELE: Absolutely.

MARTIN: One of the criticisms I've always had is Republicans -- white Republicans -- have been scared of black folks.


STEELE: No, you're absolutely right. I mean, I've been in the room.


SANCHEZ: You're absolutely right. Did you hear that? What does that mean for the GOP?

We're going to ask, because that's RNC chairman, Michael Steele, who was talking to Roland Martin, and Roland Martin told us about this yesterday, but we couldn't get him on because there was other breaking news on. But guess who's coming up next? Who is it? Who is coming up next? Is it...

MARTIN: I don't know!


SANCHEZ: Roland Martin is up next. This is going to be good. He's got two scoops for us that you won't get anywhere else. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Let me get my Twitter board fired up here because, you know, whenever I have Roland Martin on, folks start talking.

Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

Let me ask the question this way: If a liberal Democrat -- liberal Democrat were to say publicly that white Republicans are just scared of black people, he would likely get pounded by the media, right? I mean, think about what that conjures up. White people don't understand black people, that they don't want to understand black people, afraid of black people. I mean, it's an interesting -- it's an interesting question. So, I'll let you fill your own conclusions here.

What's weird about this is the person who said this is not a liberal Democrat. The person who affirmed this is the chairman of the Republican Party saying that about Republicans. That is what Michael Steele is more than suggesting to my colleague Roland Martin. Roland is going to join me in just a little bit, but before we even get talking, he and I, I want you to watch that part of that conversation.

Let's do it together. Here it is.


MARTIN: Popular president got 95 percent of the black vote -- you got any shot of getting black voters, and if so, what are the two issues that speaks to the black voters the Republican have a shot at?

STEELE: Education and the economy. Education and jobs. Education and small business.

MARTIN: But your candidates got to talk to them.


STEELE: Absolutely.

MARTIN: One of the criticisms I've always had is Republicans -- white Republicans -- have been scared of black folks.


STEELE: No, you're absolutely right. I mean, I've been in the room and they've been scared of me. I mean, I'm like, I'm on your side, you know? So, I can imagine going out there talking to someone like you, you know, who, you know, "It's OK, I'll listen," and they're, like, well.


SANCHEZ: What do you make -- well, Roland Martin is a CNN political analyst. I'm proud to say we're colleagues, we're friends. I think can I go so far as to say that and he and I spend a lot of time talking by e-mail and everything else, every which way, as they say. And he's joining me now for this little segment we do every week. We call it "R&R," Rick and Roland. Actually, you know, we're changing it and it's going to be Roland and Rick from now on, just to make you feel good, all right?

I guess the first thing I should ask you as a journalist is there any sense that what he said is being taken out of context, prior to or after that makes us understand that maybe he didn't mean that?

MARTIN: No, no, he did mean it because -- and here's why, because it is a provocative question. First and foremost, of course, he was asked on a show I host on the TV One cable network "Washington Watch with Roland Martin," targeting African-Americans.


MARTIN: And the point -- the reason I ask the question, Rick, is Republicans for a long time, frankly, have been absolutely afraid even to campaign in front of black people, in terms of talking about the various issues, in terms of even reaching out to them.

Last year, during the presidential campaign, Republicans absolutely did not even show up to the NAACP convention, National Urban League convention. Tom Tancredo was the only candidate that actually showed up. Newt Gingrich and J.C. Watts, both were highly critical and they said it, the GOP cannot have a broad tent, cannot say we want to represent the entire country if you're even unwilling to even engage.

And so, so we have seen this. Look, I have talked to many black Republicans over the years who have been absolutely frustrated with their own party. I'll give an example. There was a gentleman Michael Williams, who is now chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission, likely, he's going to be the next United States senator if Kay Bailey Hutchison resigns and Governor Rick Perry appoints him to the job. He was going to have a fundraiser at home, and there was a candidate running for Congress and this is when the black churches were being burned down across the country.

Remember that story, Rick?


MARTIN: This candidate, Mike said, Mike called the candidate and said, "Hey, I think you guys simply ought to release a statement condemning the church burnings." The campaign calls back, no, it's OK. He said, "No, I really think you should. That's OK."

Mike's wife Donna finally say it, "Any man who does not have the courage to condemn church burnings is not welcome in my home." They cancelled the fundraiser.

In Illinois, you know, black Republicans who tried to talk to the state party about how they can reach out to African-Americans on a variety of issues, economic development issues, education issues, social issues such as gay marriage, such as abortion.

Here was the response. We're not talking about welfare and they said, "We're not bringing up welfare."


MARTIN: And what you have is you have -- you have a party -- that's historical here, Rick. It goes back to the Southern strategy where they utilize the fears of whites of African-Americans to play, and that strategy, frankly, went from '68 with Richard Nixon, frankly, all the way up to 2004. So, you have a history here of party unwilling to even have a conversation and talk issues.


SANCHEZ: I just want to be clear. You're here as a guy who talked to him telling us...


SANCHEZ: ... that this amplification you're giving us now represents what he understands as an African-American and a Republican man.


MARTIN: Here's Michael Steele who understands that in terms of what he has been trying to advance in the party.


MARTIN: I have -- look, I've known Michael Steele for 10-plus years. And so, we have talked about this issue in terms of trying to get Republicans, white Republicans, to understand and you have to talk to them. But look, Mike Huckabee, when Mike Huckabee was governor of Arkansas, he got 48 percent of the black vote. Why? He didn't ignore them. He actually went to meetings. He actually sat down with grassroots activists. He talks about those things.


SANCHEZ: I want to stop for a moment.

MARTIN: All right.

SANCHEZ: I want to stop just for a moment and I want to be fair. Angie and Michael, you're in the control room. We've been talking for two days to reaching out to Michael Steele, the Republican Party, the Democratic Party, the White House and getting reaction from everybody on this. Has anybody given us anything?

No comment. But we made all those phones calls, for the record, we did. OK.

And we invited Michael Steele to be here. I just want to make sure that people don't think, well, here's Rick and Roland talking about a guy who is not there to represent himself. We've called all those folks.

MARTIN: This is a much -- this is a huge issue, Rick, that I've seen on a local level and the state level and the national level, and that is the inability for the GOP to even go the extra step and say, "Hey, let's have a conversation." Ken Melvin, when he was the RNC chair, tried to do this here.


SANCHEZ: But here's -- here's what I want to ask you, and I know we're out of time so we're going to do it on


SANCHEZ: Is fear ignorance? Aren't they many times the same thing, maybe not always? Are they in this case? That's the question I want to ask you on the other side.


SANCHEZ: Hold on.

MARTIN: Absolutely.

There's Wolf Blitzer. He's in the -- he's in "THE SITUATION ROOM."