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Discussing the Need for Troops in Afghanistan; Examining How State Dinner Crashers Got In

Aired November 30, 2009 - 15:00   ET


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN HOST: Rick Sanchez picks it up from here.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: She was one of four officers shot and killed in cold blood. Was her alleged killer mad?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've got four police officers out in the state of Washington that at the hands of another person who should have been left alone.

SANCHEZ: Why wasn't he behind bars? Who dropped the ball? We're on it.

Did George Bush and Dick Cheney let Osama Bin Laden get away when they had him cornered in Afghanistan's Tora Bora region? A new senate report suggests they did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out of my face --

SANCHEZ: Anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan confronted as she slams President Obama's troop plan for Afghanistan.

911 OPERATOR: What happened, what's wrong?

CALLER: I have a neighbor, he hit the tree. We came out here just to see what was going on - I see him and he's laying down.

911 OPERATOR: Is he unconscious?


911 OPERATOR: OK. Are you able to tell if he's breathing?

CALLER: No, I can't tell right now.

SANCHEZ: And more inconsistencies on what really happened regarding Mr. Woods, Mrs. Woods and a golf club at 2:30 in the morning.

Your national conversation for Monday, November 30th, 2009, starts right now.

Hello, again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez in the next generation of news. This is a conversation, it is not a speech and it's your turn to get involved.

There is breaking news on the Tiger front. Information about what Tiger Woods will or will not do at the advice of his doctors. This after his agent had called what happened to him and his wife at 2:30 in the morning a minor incident. Obviously there's a lot of questions that are now being asked, even more than were being asked before and as we get that information, we are going to be sharing it with you.

Meanwhile, this man, what a horrible story out of Seattle and the Seattle area. People all over that part of Washington State are understandably very nervous today. And here's why. They're nervous and angry and in shock and in grief because this guy is still out there somewhere. You've probably seen this face already and know he is the man detectives say walked into a coffee shop yesterday near Tacoma, allegedly pulled a gun and shot dead four police officers in their uniforms. So far has managed to stay a step ahead of law enforcement. Maurice Clemmons is his name. And you know what? We shouldn't even be talking about today. Maurice Clemmons, many would argue, should be in prison today, should have been in prison a long time ago. He was set free by a man who ran for president last year. I'm going to explain that to you in just a little bit. Watch this first. It's some great work covering this sudden deadly act of violence. It's our Seattle affiliate that puts together King TV.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Throughout the day, investigators tracked down various leads, most of them coming up empty, until this break. Police discovering this pick-up truck abandoned in a supermarket parking lot on 133rd Street matching the description of a possible getaway vehicle. That truck is registered to Maurice Clemmons. Here in Clemmons' neighborhood, people say he appears paranoid with up to a dozen surveillance cameras set up around his house. At the same time, neighbors say police have been routinely watching him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I pull up, there will be undercover cops sitting all the time, just surveillance -- literally right by his house. Just blatantly, we're sitting here watching you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One day earlier this year, neighbors tell us Clemmons went, say he went, in their words, berserk, attacking a neighbor who is also a retired police officer with a rock during a bizarre rampage. Near the scene of the shooting, those who knew the deceased and many more who didn't came out to honor the officers.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shortly after 8:15 a.m., the call for help went out from the Parkland cafe, Forza. Four uniformed Lakewood police officers having coffee before their shift were shot and killed. The officers were Mark Renninger, Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have no sense of motive. We can tell you that two of them were just flat executed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Officer Mark Renninger was a dedicated family man, this picture taken two years ago with his then one year old son Nicholas. He also has two older daughters and a wife. Tonight mark's brother, Matt, a retired police officer told me, "Mark was a professional, dedicated police officer who made the ultimate sacrifice. More so, he was a loving father, husband and family member who will be missed by many."

Tonight, Pete Davis lit candles for the two officers he met. He spoke with Officer Renninger last week.

PETE DAVIS: I had the opportunity to stop and talk to him for a minute and thank him and tell him what a good job they were doing here in Lakewood. They showed his picture first today, it just shocked me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Davis also knew Tina Griswold, a wife and mother of two children. She is a 14-year police veteran and well- loved by those she knew. She was rewarded a medal for saving a life this past summer.

DAVIS: I know she's a super person that's loved by just tons and tons of people around here in Lakewood that she's real active.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 37-year-old Ronald Owens was a founding member of the Lakewood police department. He has a daughter. This man knew him well and was too shaken to speak on camera but did say Owens was a good officer who never took unnecessary risks. Greg Richards was a husband and father of three kids. He is also a founding member of the Lakewood police force.


SANCHEZ: That's the sad and senseless part. Here's the outrageous part of the story. The part about the suspect, his name again, Maurice Clemmons. He was released early from a long prison sentence by a man whose name you will recognize. Roll the tape.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to this newspaper, Maurice Clemmons, the person of interest, was sentenced to 35 years in the early 1990s for armed robbery and theft. His sentence was commuted in May of 2000 by then Arkansas governor and later presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. He got out and the following March committed two more armed robberies. That time, he was sentenced to ten years but was paroled after just three. He ended up in Pierce County where right now he's out on $150,000 bond charged with rape of a child.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're very aware that he knows that we're looking for him. We know that he's also armed and everybody else should be aware of that. And we know that he's probably very dangerous.


SANCHEZ: Here's what we know right now about the suspect's whereabouts. The short answer is we don't know. Seattle area police are saying they don't know at this point. Let me tell you what happened today. They spent several hours this morning surrounding a house where they thought at the time that Maurice Clemmons was hiding out. We waited and waited for reports to come out. Finally it turns out when they went in, he wasn't there. Police are thinking that he's hurt. They're going after him with everything they've got. They're asking doctors and hospitals and clinics in the area to be on the lookout for somebody who comes in with a possible gunshot wound or some other kind of injury. As this happens, we understand they're fanning out all over the city. We're following it for you as it happens right now. If anything breaks throughout this hour, we'll bring it to you immediately.

Today's now details about Tiger Woods' bizarre 2:30 in the morning auto accident and breaking news on his huge golf tournament scheduled to start later this week. All of this coming in at the same time and we'll have it for you.

The woman who would have caught this couple was demoted, according to a "Newsweek Report," by the Obama administration. Is that what allowed them to get in? So fashionably as they do so there. I'm going to break this one down for you in just a little bit. Again, there is brand-new information I'm going to be sharing with you on that story.

And don't forget also, there's another way to participate in this national conversation from now on. It's not just on Twitter or Myspace or Facebook or Skype, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. You can call us. Just dial the number, 877-742-5751 and start with hey Rick.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.

There is breaking news from Washington. Within the last couple of minutes, the United States Senate began its official debate on health care reform. There you see some of the pictures of what's going on the floor right now. Earlier, Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that senators may work weekends to try and get this thing done. Reid also isn't committing yet on when to adjourn for Christmas.

This is the bill that Reid unveiled about 11 days ago. It is 2,074 pages. The ten-year cost, about $849 billion, so called revenue neutral. In other words, it would not increase the federal deficit, according to its sponsors. It will raise taxes on some of the richest Americans. Republicans have promised to fight this thing at every turn, a holy war, quote, unquote, in the words of Utah Republican Oren Hatch. There's Mr. Reid now.

There is a version of the public option in the bill, by the way, not as strong as the one that was passed by the house back in November. This senate debate will last weeks, we understand. And you can expect us here at CNN to follow it every single step of the way.

911 OPERATOR: What happened, what's wrong?

CALLER: I have a neighbor, he hit the tree. We came out here just to see what was going on - I see him and he's laying down.

SANCHEZ: That voice belongs to a neighbor of Tiger Woods. And yet, three days after that 911 call, we still know very little about what happened, but we now know that Woods will not be playing in his charity tournament this week. He made that announcement just a couple of minutes ago. What's the significance of it? Lots.

Also, why are we still in Afghanistan? Could it be because Osama Bin Laden got away even though we had him trapped like a rat? How? Who? Why? A report every American should hear coming up.


SANCHEZ: It is pretty clear at this point that Tiger Woods has no interest in talking to police officers. And now it's becoming clear as well that he has really no interest in talking at all about this incident. Within the past couple of minutes, we have learned that Tiger Woods has canceled a news conference that he had scheduled, a news conference Woods was to hold tomorrow as host of this week's PGA tour event. And now we also have this from Woods' agent, Mark Steinberg. Woods has now officially dropped out of this tournament, this tournament that he had hosted in the past and had put together himself. He's decided not to be a part of the tournament at all. It was supposed to start Thursday in southern California. So as we get this new information and I start to share it with it, you've heard all the stories that have been coming out of Florida since this happened, all the tabloid stories surrounding Tiger Woods. And it's apparent that there's -- look, a private version of whatever happened down in Orlando that Woods doesn't want us to know, maybe because it's a highly personal matter between him and his wife. And I think most people could understand that.

All right. So let's do this then. Since it is a story involving a well-known celebrity and it did involve public property and police, let's just go over the facts, shall we? Fact, three days later, his late-night single vehicle accident is under police investigation still. Fact, as we told you, he's now cancelled a scheduled news conference. Fact, Woods has now three times turned down requests from police to be questioned and by now not being a part of this tournament that he's hosted in the past, he has now essentially said, I am not talking about this, I'm staying private. Important to know, his press people are saying the reason he's not playing in this tournament is because his doctors have advised him against it. There you go. Those are the facts. That is where CNN's Susan Candiotti takes over.


SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Three times not the charm for investigators trying to get Tiger Woods to talk about his late- night driveway crash into a fire hydrant and a tree.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is strange that we have seen he's broken appointments.

CANDIOTTI: With questions swirling around him and the Florida highway patrol turned away three times, that has a lot of people even more curious. Woods' effort to maintain his privacy are legendary. He issued a statement on his website saying he wants to keep the incident a family matter. "This situation is my fault," Woods says. "And it's obviously embarrassing to my family and me. I'm human and I'm not perfect. I will certainly make sure this doesn't happen again."

But what does that mean? Is he talking about an accident or something else?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's definitely the line that gets the yellow highlighter. If this is a standard, just random occurrence, if he flukily has a car accident, you're not sure why he's making promises something will or won't happen in the future.

CANDIOTTI: Fact is, by Florida law, Woods didn't have to talk with police. Instead he did only what he had to do -- provide them his driver's license, registration and proof of insurance. Woods' lawyer handed them over, but investigators left the house without coming face to face with the biggest name in golf. Woods' agent gave CNN the following statement, "Although Tiger realizes that there is a great deal of public curiosity, it has been conveyed to FHP that he simply has nothing more to add and wishes to protect the privacy of his family."

In his own statement, Woods also refers to his wife. Police say she told him she bashed out the SUV's rear passenger windows with a golf club to get him out of the locked car. "My wife Elin acted courageously when she saw I was hurt and in trouble," Woods said. "She was the first person to help me. Any other assertion is absolutely false."

Yet again, Woods doesn't explain what false assertions he means. A neighbor's call to 911 that night reveals little.

911 OPERATOR: What happened, what's wrong?

CALLER: I have a neighbor, he hit the tree. We came out here just to see what was going on - I see him and he's laying down.

CANDIOTTI: Woods' lawyer says his client will have nothing more to say about this, leaving investigators and the public to wonder about what really happened that night.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Windermere, Florida.


SANCHEZ: Gate crashers, party spoilers, social engineers, call them what you want. The question is, who's at fault here? And the white house is going to have to come up with some answers to some brand-new questions. We'll be all over that.

Also, what was the most popular word last year? Was it Obama? Was it vampire? Was it Twitter? What was it? I know. And I'm going to share it with you right after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

We at our staff probably can't help but feel a certain sense of, well, pride with this next story. Seriously. The GLM, the Global Language Monitor, that's the all-important sounding group that pays attention to how you and I use language, particularly English. They track the trendiest and most-often used words in the world and they have officially announced the most popular word of the year for 2009. Brace yourself. It is not what you may think it is. Are you ready? Some of the choices they had, by the way, were Obama, vampire and Twitter. And the winner is Twitter. This global group says people used the word Twitter more than any other word this year. On TV, on the internet, and in every way that English speakers communicate and interact, Twitter was used more than Obama, more than swine flu, more than stimulus, more than Transformers, more than vampire. And who brought the world's most popular word to CNN? The world's news leader? I don't know. Who?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I asked her do you have it with you? She said, yes. She tried looking for it and didn't find the invitation. So I never saw it. She didn't have it. She thought it was in the car or something.

SANCHEZ: People who know them paint a picture of this couple that makes it seem like they socially engineered their presence at the white house state dinner. Socially engineered, what is that? Also, the white house is getting hammered for letting go of somebody who has been there to stop this couple or could have been there to stop this couple.

Don't forget, you can join us for the national conversation. Whenever you visit Atlanta, call 877-4CNN-tour or check us out online at

DAVID: Hey, Rick. David from Maine. I think they should be able to cool their heels or have to cool their heels on a federal facility for a period of months for their ridiculous and unacceptable behavior. Also think that certain security staff at the white house should be suspended or dismissed.


SANCHEZ: Speaking of Twitter, a lot of you guys are going crazy on Twitter today with all the comments especially about that last story. Yes, you guessed it. You all figured out exactly who it was who brought Twitter CNN. And I thank you for recognizing that. So do my parents.

Nearly a week later, everyone still has the same question. How could this have happened? How could a couple of jokers walk into a white house state dinner with the president? There is new information about the white house personnel that may provide answers. Maybe the way I should phrase this is, there is new information about the lack of white house personnel that may have had something to do with this story? First, look at how these two pulled this off. This is prepared by CNN's Tom Foreman.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The stunning image of the Salahis meeting President Obama after slipping into the white house state dinner only reinforces the Sereness of the questions surrounding them. The secret service director now admits, "They should have been prohibited from entering the event entirely. That failing is ours." How the couple made it so far is under investigation and more clues are emerging about the run-up. At a D.C. hair salon, witnesses say Michaele Salahi showed up for a last-minute appointment excited about her invitation.

PEGGY IOAKIM, HAIR ARTIST, ERWIN GOMEZ SALON & SPA: I asked her, do you have it with you? She said, yes. She tried looking for it and didn't find the invitation. So I never saw it. She didn't have it. She thought it was in the car or something.

FOREMAN: The cable network Bravo says the D.C. socialites were being considered for a new reality show and a TV crew was following them. NBC anchorman, Brian Williams, another guest at the dinner, says he saw their car turned away by security but then the Salahis hopped out with a cameraman and makeup person and walked to the entrance.

And keeping them honest, the real question is, what happened there? This is where witnesses say guests were checked off of a list. They were checked out by the secret service and walked through metal detectors. Then it was on up here to the east entrance. This is apparently where Michaele posed for that photograph with marines that she later posted on Facebook. And then on inside, down this hall into the white house proper and to the introduction point where that video was shot that we've seen so very much of.

Sometime around this point, all indications are with White House staff and security people all around, the couple joined the line going up to the Blue Room to actually meet the president. And then after that is when they would have gone back outside here to meet many other White House dignitaries, including Vice President Joe Biden.

(voice-over): Secret Service agents visited the Salahis' winery south of Washington, telling the staff, according to a manager, quote, "if they do not sit down with us and talk, we will take whatever action is necessary."

Faced with possible criminal charges, the Salahis are not talking publicly, although their publicist insists they did not crash the party and are eager to explain the events around this extraordinary, and for the White House, unwelcome picture.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SANCHEZ: Here's that new information I promised you moments ago. Newsweek's Michael Isikoff is reporting that a White House aide was supposed to be at the entrance checking who was allowed in and who was allowed not in, like having a piece of paper and literally checking people off as they came through.

But she wasn't there. Why wasn't she there? I'm going to tell you why. Brooke Baldwin is going to join me in just a little bit, she has got the details on this story for us.


SEN. RICHARD LUGAR (R-IN), RANKING MEMBER, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: It does serve as a convenient way for perhaps Democrats to say once again there's another failing of the past administration.


SANCHEZ: So what happened? Why wasn't bin Laden grasped? Who let him get away? Was it Bush? Was it Cheney? Was it Rumsfeld? Was it all of the above? Who knew and when did they know it? We're breaking down a brand-new Senate report that details this for you. Right at the outset of the war, it could have been Katy-bar-the-door, but wasn't.

Also, police report the alleged killer of four officers barricaded in a home, we're following that story. But then what happened? You're going to be surprised as to how this one has turned out so far. Let me just say it's still going on hot and heavy.

Also, a quick reminder, if you want to participate in this "National Conversation," just call us. In the United States, the number 877-742 -- 877-742-5751, I'm going to be right back.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez. Let me do a reset for you real quick on what's going on here in the world headquarters of CNN in Atlanta. The top story that we're following right now, because it continues, really, is this awful police shooting in Washington State yesterday. That man that you're seeing right there, he's still on the run and you had better believe nearly every single police officer, policeman, policewoman, police dog, and helicopter in the Seattle area is out there looking for him right now.

Witnesses say that Maurice Clemmons walked up to a cafe table where four uniformed police officers were sitting, doing their morning paperwork and trying to catch up on their caseload, and then just shot them all dead in cold blood.

Here are the three men and women who were doing nothing more than, well, preparing to go on duty. All four of them veteran police officers. You see them there. All four of them have children. The man who allegedly shot them dead is still on the loose somewhere. This morning they thought they had him nailed down in a house, but it turns out when they went in there, he wasn't there, the place was empty.

So he's on the run again as we speak and we're following the story. If there's any development at all, we've got crews working the story and we will take you there immediately to let you know what the very latest is.

Meanwhile, moving on, look at these two. Should they or should they not have the book thrown at them? They are the Salahis, for allegedly busting in on a state dinner at the White House. Criminal charges or just a slap on the wrist? By the way, who's at fault for this? Is it possible that someone at the White House may have gotten rid of somebody who was crucial to making sure that these people were checked off a list when they walked in? But there was nobody there doing that, why?

I know why. We're going to report it when I come back here with Brooke Baldwin. Stay with me.



CALLER: Hey, Rick. Paul Carpenter (ph) here from Houston, Texas. The point here is that the party-crasher guys, yes, they totally screwed up. If they're going to crash a party, do it at famous person's house, don't do it at the president of the United States, who has had 400-plus wannabe attacks upon his life since he has been in office. They need to get in trouble, but if they do, they're only going to become more famous for that. So, whatever.


SANCHEZ: But, Paul, Paul, you don't get it. The whole idea was to become famous, maybe get some kind of ridiculous reality show and get some tabloid to pay you $250,000 or whatever it is they're asking for to get an interview with you.

But here's the point and here's what we're learning now. And I don't know if you all know this yet, but apparently there's a lot of squabbling going back and forth as to who was at fault. Was it the White House staff or was it the Secret Service? It's starting to look like the Secret Service, at least at the initial part of this, did their job.

They stopped the car during the motorcade and said, sorry, you're not allowed to be here. The people got out and got into a pedestrian line, not the car line. They got out of the car line and got into the pedestrian line and then were able to somehow walk into the White House.

And there are questions now as to how they were able to do that. Why wasn't some -- Brooke Baldwin is joining me now. She has been drilling down on this all day long. Why wasn't there someone there with a piece of paper going, let's see, the Sanchez couple, yes, check; Brooke Baldwin and her date, yes, check...


SANCHEZ: ... Brian Williams, check, he is in. Where was that person?

BALDWIN: Right. That person wasn't there. That person would have been there and had been there in the past couple of years was a Bush appointee. And we're hearing a lot from her. This is Cathy Hargraves. This is what we're talking about today, we're talking about the social office.

You know, you imagine that they're there to, what, do something as simple as maybe have a tea for the first lady and then of course orchestrate a state dinner such as last week. And we've been hearing a little bit of fodder here. I want to first go to the daily briefing, a little bit of back and forth between our own Ed Henry and Robert Gibbs, talking about this exactly, about the fact that no one was there with that checklist. Take a listen.


ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Will they just be reviewing what the Secret Service did, or will they also take a look at White House staff, the social secretary's office, and see whether they made mistakes as well?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I will check with folks here. My understanding is that the Secret Service will look at what the Secret Service did.

HENRY: But do you think the White House staff should be looked at as well? There are guests who came to this event who say that at previous dinners there was somebody from the social secretary's office there who was checking names. That's not really the responsibility of the Secret Service.

GIBBS: No. But understand that the individuals that are listed weren't on any list.


BALDWIN: OK. So -- right, right.

SANCHEZ: They weren't on any list?

BALDWIN: They weren't on any list. This is the name -- this is the name that we're hearing today. No one has heard her name, Cathy Hargraves, OK? She is talking. You mentioned this article in Newsweek, columnist Michael Isikoff, and Hargraves was a Bush appointee, a former White House assistant for arraignments -- arrangements, translation: really, her job used to be a person to physically check guests off a list at the White House East Gate Portico entrance at events precisely such as this state dinner.

But when Obama took office, the social secretary, she is Desiree Rogers, she stripped Hargraves basically of her responsibility, stripped her of standing there with that checklist, prompting her to actually resign last June. So according to Hargraves, I want to -- take a look at this graphic we made.

This is her account from that exchange with Rogers in February. And Rogers apparently told her: "We don't feel we have a need for that anymore. In these economic times, I don't think we're going to have very many lavish, expensive dinners. It wouldn't look very good."

So as a result, you mentioned it, there was no one from the White House Social Office at that initial checkpoint. And Hargraves is saying, look, had there been someone there, this whole thing may have never happened.

SANCHEZ: And we're almost out of time for this. But that doesn't necessarily mean the CIA is in the clear in this either, because ultimately they're...

BALDWIN: Secret Service?

SANCHEZ: Secret Service, pardon me, the Secret Service. Ultimately they're responsible for everyone who gets in.

BALDWIN: They're responsible for checking the people who are there. Are they felons? Are they criminals? Are they terrorists? Some are saying, look, it's not necessarily their responsibility to check whether or not that person is on a list, per se.

You know, we've heard from Brian Williams who looked into it...

SANCHEZ: Sounds...

BALDWIN: Sound bite. Brian Williams saw, you said, that first ring of security worked. Their SUV was turned away. But still...

SANCHEZ: It sounds like the White House doesn't want to come clean and admit it, but there could have been...

BALDWIN: But a lot of reporters...

SANCHEZ: ... a mistake on their part by letting this person go who was very competent.

BALDWIN: They're under fire.

SANCHEZ: Yes, exactly.

BALDWIN: They're under fire.

SANCHEZ: And we're going to keep an eye on it.

BALDWIN: We will.

SANCHEZ: Let us know what you find out.

BALDWIN: Thanks, Rick.

SANCHEZ: Meanwhile, here's what else we're going to be following for you. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out of my face!


SANCHEZ: Have you seen this video? Her name is synonymous with war protests and she has just stuck a bullhorn in the face of a man with a uniform. And it gets ugly beyond that. We'll bring you Cindy Sheehan's latest TV romp.

Also, Osama bin Laden had a will, was for all intent and purposes ready to die. Seems he knew the American forces were coming to get him. Why didn't we get him? It, according to many sources, should have been pretty easy. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: And I welcome you back. I see some of our crowd has already gathered. On Mondays we allow you to join us here on-set, as they say, in the studio. There are some folks who are joining us that are going to be taking part in our conversation, our after-show conversation in just a little bit.

Thanks for being here, folks. I hope, by the way, that all of you enjoyed your Thanksgiving meal as much as mine. Mine included pumpkin pie and flan, mashed potatoes and black beans and rice, dressing, good old Southern-style dressing, and yucca. And finally, of course, we had turkey but we also had fried pork. Typical feast for us, it seemed to include just about everything but crocodile? Here's "Fotos."

Let us begin in Australia. A ranger is giving a feeding demonstration to a group of tourists when Jaws (ph) the crocodile decides he's hungry for something not on the menu, like the ranger. The croc lungs at the man, tries to take him down, then ends up chasing him around the enclosure. Finally another ranger steps in and saves his colleague from being crocodile cuisine by smacking it with a stick. Talk about a theme.

Clearwater, now, in this dog-eat-dog world, one Florida gas station owner has found a way to stand out. He's a four-legged clerk and he greets customers at a BP by barking out orders at them. Get it? There's another dog barking back. The owner says the dog, named Cody (ph), goes nuts every time he hears the bell and someone comes through with a car. At first it started as a joke. But the owner says he has discovered Cody has also been good for business. Greeting customers is now Cody's full-time job.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out of my face! UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nobody cares!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get out of my face!



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing? What are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you doing?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You're the one that got in it!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care...


SANCHEZ: California, they came in peace, but this anti-war protest outside Travis air base ended in pushing and a shoving match. Protestors led by activist Cindy Sheehan were sounding off against war and the use of unarmed (sic) aircraft. Sheehan also reportedly has said that President Obama will be breaking a campaign promise if he sends more troops to Afghanistan. Sheehan, as you know, lost a son in the war and has become an avid peace activist since. This shoving match began when a man in the uniform confronted them, saying their anti-war protest hurts troop morale. Sheehan disagreed, saying they want to save lives. The argument continues.


SANCHEZ: Those are the voices of the militia overheard by CNN crews near the caves of Tora Bora back in 2001. Why didn't the U.S. nab the operatives and Osama bin Laden when CIA told the White House he's there and we can go and get him right now? They didn't. Democrats on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have revealed key details eight year later on the eve of an important announcement from President Obama. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back, I'm Rick Sanchez.

Here we are on the eve of this fateful announcement, the announcement tomorrow night that the president of the United States is about to commit possibly tens of thousands more U.S. troops to the war in Afghanistan. Initial reports, as we told you -- in fact, broke the news last week, was something like 35,000.

Again, we have to wonder whether we'd be there still had we captured Osama bin Laden. A Senate report released Friday says that bin Laden's escape from Afghanistan in 2001 laid the foundation for this renewed Afghan insurgency, look, essentially what we're dealing with now. And it confirms what many suspected all along, that bin Laden was within our grasp, but senior officials of the Bush administration, going to the highest levels, failed to commit the forces to get him out. The number one target on the Bush administration's war on terror, they had him, and it appears, according to this report and others we've read in the past, they let him get away.

They relied on Afghan militias who actually may have double- crossed him -- double-crossed us, I should say, because they had more of an allegiance to Osama bin Laden in some cases, not all, but in some cases, than they did to us.

I want to take you back to December of 2001, a fateful span of two weeks in a mountainous corner of Afghanistan known as Tora Bora. And as you're going to see from our reporting, these are our correspondents, they were reporting at the time, he's there, we've got him. But he got away.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's far from certain, but Osama bin Laden himself might be holding out here. It will take brute force to find out. This is just the start of the ground assault.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (on camera): A B-52 bomber flew overhead and bombed a position about two to three miles away from here very close.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Reports from a senior commander on this side that a tall man on horseback has been spotted confiding with intercepted al Qaeda radio talk about the well- being of, quote, "the sheikh," adding to speculation that Osama bin Laden himself may be directing the defense.

UNIDENTIFIED CNN CORRESPONDENT: A surrender or die ultimatum to al Qaeda is answered. The terror network opting a fight to the bitter end. Its mountain hideouts under fire from the ground, and ceaseless strikes from the air. Attacks are by day and by night.

WEDEMAN (on camera): The second deadline for al Qaeda fighters to surrender has come and gone. Eastern Alliance commander Hazrat Ali telling CNN that talk of a surrender was merely a ruse, an attempt by al Qaeda to buy time for its leaders to flee the area.

WALTER RODGERS, THEN-CNN CORRESPONDENT: For over eight-and-a- half hours now, there has not been a single bomb fall on the area which has been the al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden sanctuary for the past number of weeks. We do not know what that portends at this point, but it may suggest that the U.S. forces believe bin Laden is no longer there.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There are still some fighters there along with U.S. and British special forces who are still searching out any al Qaeda members and possibly Osama bin Laden, who may still be in those mountains. But for the most part the war in this corner of Afghanistan appears to be over.


SANCHEZ: It's just an amazing development, one we'd heard in the past, but to see the Senate Foreign Relations Committee put its stamp on it, the fact is it seemed like we had bin Laden. you saw our reporters there reporting it, and we let him get away.

Joining me now from Cairo, Egypt, you saw him in that report, that was CNN's Ben Wedeman who is joining us. He was there in Tora Bora. Also joining me, Tim Lister, our executive producer who was there with Ben as well.

Ben, let me begin with you. How do you take this information from this Senate Foreign Relations Committee saying, look, there's every evidence that now seems to indicate that we had the guy but we didn't commit to getting him?

WEDEMAN: Well, it's not really a surprise, Rick, because there was a feeling when we showed up at Tora Bora that the U.S. Special Forces, the British Special Forces were a bit late in showing up. Let's not forget that the -- the U.S.-led onslaught against Afghanistan began on October 7th, and really they didn't get their ducks in a row, so to speak, in that area of Afghanistan -- in eastern Afghanistan, until early December.

So the feeling was there was plenty of time, plenty of opportunity for whoever was in those mountains in Tora Bora to get away.

SANCHEZ: I'm reading here from documents that say when General Tommy Franks was asked, he said we really didn't know if bin Laden was in Tora Bora, same thing, ditto George Bush, and ditto Dick Cheney, both alluding to the fact that there was no reason to believe that he was in Tora Bora.

Let me ask both of you flat out. Do you believe that he was, Tim Lister, in Tora Bora at the time that we were filing all of those reports?

TIM LISTER, CNN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER: I think the majority of evidence at the time was that he was there. Exactly when he left, whether it was December the 12th or 13th or 14th, I don't think anybody will ever know, but there was enough evidence to suggest that he had been there very recently, had gone in a convoy from Jalalabad up through the mountains to Tora Bora and was using it as his last outpost before he went across the border into Pakistan.

SANCHEZ: But I'm reading here from some of these reports, let me see if I -- make sure my words are correct, Tenet was asked if he was there, by the way on "60 Minutes," and he said that he was. Gary Berntsen, I imagine you guys probably know who that is, he is a key CIA field commander, said he tried in vain to request 800 American Army Rangers to prevent bin Laden's escape, but he was denied.

And Berntsen's account is corroborated by a fellow named Hank Crumpton, CIA official who personally says he briefed Bush and Cheney as well as Franks about the need to go after bin Laden in Tora Bora using U.S. troops, not these Afghan guys. Are these people lying, Ben?

WEDEMAN: Well, Rick, we do know that the U.S. Special Forces that were in the area of Tora Bora were engaged in intensive negotiations with these tribesmen of the Eastern Alliance, and there was a lot of money being discussed, money being passed from the CIA, from the Special Forces to these fighters, many of whom had just weeks before been working with al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, and had probably been on very good terms with them.

So they weren't exactly the most reliable allies in the area, and I know that on more than one occasion these fighters were about to move out, about to head into those very steep and difficult mountains to pursue Osama bin Laden and the al Qaeda fighters, but then the deal didn't go through and they turned around and they went back.

So there was a lot of under-the-table dealings going on with people, with individuals and leaders who probably weren't very trustworthy.

SANCHEZ: If all it would have taken -- according to what I have read today and in the past and books written by, as you know, "The One Percent Doctrine" by Ron Suskind, if all it would have taken was 800 troops -- I think Rangers is what he said he requested, right? American Army Rangers to prevent bin Laden from escaping and being gone to this day, I mean, our viewers have to be asking themselves, my God, why didn't we do it, Tim?

LISTER: Well, they thought that they could do it using the local tribes and using the Northern Alliance people coming in, and using Hazrat Ali. But I know having met Hazrat Ali while I was in Jalalabad, that he made himself very rich from this whole arrangement. His fighters flip-flopped. It was 30,000 feet up and it was December. I mean, they weren't prepared to put the forces in because they thought they could do the job using the local militia.

SANCHEZ: What a pleasure to talk to both of you guys, it's great knowing this stuff now, and the fact that money was involved in something that important to this country just seems beyond anything that any one us want to deal with at this time.

My thanks, again, to both of you. Ben, stay safe over there.

Meanwhile, let's kick it over to "THE SITUATION ROOM" now. Is Wolf back, by the way? I can't --