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Baghdad Police Try Searching CNN News Crew; Dahn Yoga & Cult Claims; Shivering in the South; Yemenis Claim Alleged Christmas Bomber Picked Up Radical Tendencies Elsewhere; Untangling the Web that is DHS
Aired January 07, 2010 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: We're continuing a special investigation into a nationwide chain of yoga centers now. Some former members accuse it of being a cult. One claims the founder sexually assaulted her.
Dahn Yoga and its founder deny it all, and many of the current employees have been e-mailing CNN defending the group. A deeper look now at the allegations, Dahn Yoga, and its founder, Ilchi Lee.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Jade Harrelson says she was honored by the extra attention paid to her by Ilchi Lee, the founder of Dahn Yoga. He even gave her the spiritual name of Dahn Sun Lee (ph).
JESSICA "JADE" HARRELSON, EX-DAHN YOGA EMPLOYEE: To me it was never outright spoken that he was godlike. That was never the message, but that he was prophet-like. And so, I took his word as holy almost. We go to the sauna. Sometimes he would have me over to his apartment to watch television.
PHILLIPS: Rare treatment because Ilchi Lee, who often travels with body guards, is practically unapproachable. And Lee encourages his followers to think of him as a prophet. Just listen to him in the spring of 2009, as he rallied his supporters comparing his book "Brain Wave Vibration" to the bible.
ILCHI LEE, DAHN YOGA FOUNDER (through translator): Brain wave vibration is a scripture, the Holy Scripture. Do you all understand?
It's a Holy Scripture. Do you all understand?
PHILLIPS: Jade Harrelson says she not only understood. She believed even following her new guru to Seoul, South Korea, at his request and to his apartment every time he called for her.
PHILLIPS: You trusted him.
HARRELSON: I trusted him.
PHILLIPS (on camera): Were you attracted to him at all?
HARRELSON: Absolutely not. PHILLIPS (voice-over): But that trust she says abruptly vanished after a night in 2007, propelling this devotee into a life-changing world of doubt.
HARRELSON: He just slowly took my clothes off of me and pushed my where he wanted me to go. And I numbly like a robot just responded.
PHILLIPS (on camera): Why didn't you tell him to stop?
HARRELSON: I had been so taught and trained that he was a holy person, a holy object, and he was my connection to divinity. And again, just to say no to him and to refuse him was to refuse everything that I wanted for myself.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Harrelson concedes she never filed a police report and waited two years to file a civil suit. We asked for an on-camera interview with Ilchi Lee and were turned down, so we followed him here to the grand opening of Mago Earth Park near Sedona, Arizona, and this 39-foot statue representing what his followers call the soul of mother earth.
(on camera): Mr. Lee, I'm Kyra Phillips from CNN. And we just want your response to the allegations of sexual assault against one of your former Dahn masters. We just want your side of the story, sir.
So our CNN photographer who speaks Korean translated.
(voice-over): Lee tells me this is the first time I'm hearing of such accusation.
Please don't touch me. Please don't touch me.
And then his bodyguards knocked down our camera.
Please don't touch the camera.
Lee's lawyer later told CNN all claims of sexual assault are false.
ALAN KAPLAN, ILCHI LEE ATTORNEY: Mr. Lee has denied all of those allegations and we are confident that we will get those claims dismissed in court.
PHILLIPS: Then there's what happened to Julia Siverls.
ALLEN SIVERLS, JULIA SIVERLS' BROTHER: Until this day, we're still affected by this. I just can't describe the pain.
PHILLIPS: Allen Siverls is talking about his sister, Julia, a 41-year-old college professor who grew up in New York City's hard scrabble projects. She thought she had found her life's purpose in the teachings of Ilchi Lee.
SIVERLS: She saw some positive things about the spirituality, the growth, the opportunity to share with the world. PHILLIPS: So Julia dedicated herself to Dahn Yoga, eventually making her way here to its exclusive retreat tucked away among the beautiful red rocks of Sedona, Arizona. She wanted to achieve its highest honor, the rank of Dahn master, and to do that she would have to prove her worthiness in more than words.
SIVERLS: The day before she died, she did communicate to my ex- wife about the exercise that she was embarking on. She was very uneasy about it.
PHILLIP: A gut feeling that would ultimately turn tragic.
(on camera): It was just after 9:00 a.m. on a blisters hot July day that Julia came out to this mountain with other Dahn Yoga members to take on a hike. It was all to show their strength and mental fortitude. However, Julia wasn't doing so well. As a matter of fact, I talked to the off-deputy sheriff's deputy that saw her that day. He said she was struggling and that she looked, quote, "mentally handicapped." And at times other hikers had to drag her along this mountain by her armpits.
Well, Julia Siverls never finished that Dahn Yoga hike on this mountain that day. She died here.
(voice-over): Allen says Julia was made to carry 25 pounds of rocks in her backpack. Each rock a symbol of a goal she was trying to attain within the organization.
(on camera): Tell me why you brought some rocks home?
SIVERLS: It's just a rock to anybody else, but to us it represents the pain, the hurt, the journey that we all embarked on.
PHILLIPS (voice-over): Dahn Yoga settled out of court with the family and says carrying rocks on the hikes was purely voluntary. And sheriff's investigators say they found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
KAPLAN: It was an unfortunate hiking accident.
PHILLIPS: But for the Siverls, too many details surrounding Julia's death on this mountain remain a mystery.
PHILLIPS: As for Julia's cause of death, the medical examiner says she died of both dehydration and exposure to the elements. As for Dahn Yoga, its Web site boasts an impressive list of scientists and politicians who applaud the work of Ilchi Lee. And since the first two parts of our investigative series was broadcast, we have been flooded with comments from both pro and con.
As for part three, we are investigating the heart of Dahn Yoga's philosophy, brain education and brainwave vibration, shoddy science or respected medicine?
Tune in tonight, "CAMPBELL BROWN," 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
Whether you're in Minnesota, Missouri, or, heck, even Mississippi, it doesn't even matter. There's no escaping the cold. And today, snow in places that rarely see it.
PHILLIPS: What incarnation is that White stuff? A rare sight in the Deep South -- snow in lots of places that usually don't get it. And along with the snow, a cold snap that just won't end.
CNN's Rob Marciano is in Memphis.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, here on Beel (ph) Street, you know, snow is not unheard of, but it certainly is rare. Of course, in the morning and early afternoon it's pretty quiet here. But to see snow pile up on the sidewalks, even just this little bit, is certainly surreal.
Here at B.B. King's place, Elvis, of course, just down the street at Graceland, there's reasons for celebration here in Memphis, even with the weather this cold. But unfortunately, the economic downturn has taken its toll.
One in five people are said to live in a state of poverty, and that means they can't pay their bills, can't pay to keep their power and heat on. So that has officials here scrambling to try to keep everybody warm, and it is frustrating for a lot of residents.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACQUELINE MOSES, MEMPHIS RESIDENT: All I want is a job. You know? I don't care if it's beneath what I used to do. I don't care, as long as I can take care of myself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARCIANO: Jackie's story is not unique. About 1,700 customers have had their power cut off recently because they haven't been able to pay their bills. So the mayor got together with the power company and said we've got to solve this problem because it's dangerously cold.
So, since yesterday, they've been able to go out and restore the power to those people, about 500 of those 1,700. They hope to do more of that today because people are just having a hard time surviving.
That woman was keeping warm by using a propane tank, a propane heater, even using charcoal lit in her home to try to keep her warm. That, obviously, is very, very dangerous, and they don't want any more fatalities with this next, even more severe, batch of cold air coming into the South -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: All right, Rob. Thanks so much.
(WEATHER REPORT) PHILLIPS: He could lead your next seminar or write up your next business proposal, and he's got 30 seconds to convince you. Jeff Marson is our "30 Second Pitch."
Get ready, Jeff.
And 12 years ago today, deny, deny, deny. Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky swears in an affidavit she did not have sexual relations with that president. Well, that clearly didn't fly. Exactly a year later, January 7, 1999, the Senate launched impeachment hearings against President Bill Clinton.
PHILLIPS: Still tough going in the job market, but the pace of pink slips slowing down. The Labor Department says that 434,000 people filed jobless claims for the first time last week. That's 1,000 more than the week before but way lower than the 8,000 expected firings and layoffs.
Also, the number of people continuing to get jobless benefits tumbled by 179,000 in the final week of 2009. So we ended the decade with about 4.8 million people collecting unemployment for more than a week, the lowest level in nearly a year.
We're doing our part, though, to lower those jobless numbers. That means it's time for the "30 Second Pitch."
Jeff Marson used to work at Stanford University. But when the endowments dried up, his job organizing campus conferences was cut from the curriculum.
Jeff joins me live from San Francisco.
Boy, what a reality check. Did you know it was coming? Did anybody give you any type of warning, Jeff?
JEFF MARSON, SEEKING EMPLOYMENT: Well, a few months preceding that, the university president and the provost had been sending out university-wide communications alerting the entire community that there would most likely be cuts.
PHILLIPS: What did you enjoy the most about working in the university system?
MARSON: Well, I guess, you know, Stanford being what it is. And it offered me such a great opportunity to learn technology and to learn people and leadership skills. And being in a university environment, there's so many things going on. It was really quite exciting and rewarding.
PHILLIPS: Well, I'll tell you what, having Stanford University on your resume is one darned good thing. Are you ready for your "30 Second Pitch"?
MARSON: Yes, I am, Kyra. PHILLIPS: All right. Take it away.
MARSON: Hi. I'm Jeff Marson.
I'm versatile business communications leader, and I love inspiring, educating and getting the most out of people. From creating your next generation of exciting marketing materials, to designing and leading your next customer outreach seminars and staff training workshops, I've got the writing and the speaking skills and the sense of humor to generate revenues and to contribute to a rewarding, winning and productive environment.
Again, I'm Jeff Marson.
Jeff, good luck. Let us know what happens.
MARSON: Thank you.
PHILLIPS: All right?
MARSON: Thank you so much, Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Once again, Jeff's e-mail -- oh, you bet. My pleasure.
Here's his e-mail: JeffCNNPitch@yahoo.com. That's also posted at our Web site at KyraCNN.
And if you want to be part of the Pitch, e-mail us at 30SecondPitch@CNN.com. We'll bring you those every Thursday.
Checking the headlines this hour.
Eight people shot this morning at a St. Louis factory. Three are dead, five are wounded. Police say a man just showed up about 6:30 a.m. with a rifle and a handgun. Local reports say that that gunman is among the dead. The suspect has been identified as Timothy Hendron. About 100 people work at the plant. Heavy snow actually kept a lot of them away today.
Word of two new incidents aboard U.S. airliners. The first one happened aboard a jet that left Portland, Oregon, yesterday, headed for Hawaii.
The captain turned the Hawaiian Airlines plane around about 90 minutes into the flight, and two F-15 fighters escorted it back to Portland. An airline official says that a passenger on board had become "uncooperative." He was removed from the plane.
The second incident yesterday happened in Miami before the plane ever took off. A northwest flight headed for Detroit taxied back to the gate after a passenger was heard making offensive remarks and acting disruptively. Miami-Dade police questioned three people. That plane was searched and cleared for takeoff. Less than an hour from now, the president's report on the failed Christmas Day terrorist attack and the failed security measures that forced airline passengers to save themselves right now. Though calls from Congress for more air marshals in flights, not one was on board Northwest Airline Flight 253 bound for Detroit.
No surprise to CNN Special Investigations Correspondent Drew Griffin. He's actually been reporting for two years now on how few flights have actually had air marshals on board.
Drew, this is just one more thing to come up in all the stunning new developments of what we saw on Christmas Day.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Right. And two more incidents on planes today, Kyra, you are reporting, with no air marshals on board.
The fact of the matter is that the amount of air marshals on board any flights is stunningly low, and while officially the actual number of flights covered and even staffing levels for the Air Marshal Service is considered classified by Homeland Security, CNN has been told by several sources within the Air Marshal Service and other federal law enforcement sources that air marshals are almost statistically nonexistent.
What we first reported two years ago now is that of the 28,000 domestic flights in the air each day, one percent have air marshals on board. And we heard that straight from the air marshals, themselves, who feared retaliation for telling us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: If I would say one percent, less than one percent, would I be far from the mark?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think so. I don't think that you would be far from the mark.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GRIFFIN: Our reporting touched off a firestorm of denials by the TSA. The federal agency even using a Web site to attack CNN's reporting.
TSA launched an investigation, Kyra, to find our sources, but we were assured by our sources that the numbers are correct, and now, two years later, a renewed call for more air marshals. Congressman Sheila Jackson lee of Texas, who, by the way, was critical of low staffing at the time and held private hearings, wrote an opinion piece in "The Houston Chronicle" saying that she is going to introduce legislation to increase the number of air marshals on most or all international flights coming to the United States.
The question, Kyra, is expense. Who's going to pay for it? The Air Marshal Service has a big problem with morale, keeping officers, and the amount of money needed to create a literal flying police force would be huge -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Drew, thanks.
And we're going to push forward on the president's comments that are going to take place next hour. We're going to look at airport security and intelligence issues just like what Drew brought up, and the gaps in all of that, and what some of you would do to actually address them. We'll read your e-mails.
PHILLIPS: The top of the hour, we could hear about some new security initiatives as President Obama updates the Christmas Day bombing probe.
In the meantime, we wanted your ideas on improving airport security, intelligence sharing and more.
Here you go. SeparateRoad (ph) says, "We should be able to tweet and text the TSA once we're inside of the airport, or even the plane, regarding suspicious people and things."
From John Bartley, "North America should adopt Israel's security system for our airports."
Mike073 says, "I just gave the White House this idea -- have the FBI pictures of people on the no-fly list posted in airports like wanted posters in the post office, plus bounty hunters."
Yagrab says, "The last two major terror attempts on flights were thwarted by vigilant passengers. TSA screenings do not work. Put the money into intelligence instead."
Gabriel340, "Security is about managing risk, not eliminating it. We need to ask ourselves how many federal dollars a saved life is worth, $100,000, $1 million?"
And JRHarrell says, "The government should hire Google to build a system to mine and report on databases. Five hundred thousand people? Easy to Google."
Thanks, everybody. Loved your ideas.
Nigeria, to the Netherlands, to near disaster in the skies over Michigan. But what happened on Christmas has strong connections to Yemen, home of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.
We'll take you there live.
PHILLIPS: We're a half hour away from President Obama, live at the White House with an unclassified report on the Christmas Day airline bombing scare. He's not expected to take questions, but the secretary of Homeland Security will in a briefing to follow. You'll see it all live, right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. A White House national security adviser says Americans may be shocked at the lapses that almost led to the disaster. We have since learned that the president, himself, will take full responsibility and won't be firing anybody.
CNN's Ed Henry joins me with more.
Did that surprise you, Ed? Because a lot of people were saying that heads needed to roll after this.
ED HENRY, CNN SR. WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Somewhat surprising because of the pressure on the president. On the other hand, when you talk to his top aides, this is a president who believes a lot more in sort of figuring out how to fix it and doesn't believe in finger- pointing.
Nevertheless, he, just last week, promised accountability at all levels of government, as he put it. And so you do have to raise the question, how do you get accountability unless somebody somewhere steps up and takes responsibility and says, "I screwed up," or specifically, an agency somewhere that maybe didn't share some information?
Specifically, what we're hearing is that the president is going to take full responsibility, according to one of his top aides, and say that, basically, warts and all, here it is. It's not a pretty picture.
You noted General Jim Jones, the national security adviser, earlier today telling "USA Today" that some Americans will be shocked by the details of this. He specifically is talking about the failure to connect the dots.
And that is why when I spoke to the senior official a short time ago he basically said, look, this president realizes more than anything what the American people want to know what went wrong, sure, but how do you fix it to make sure it does not happen again, and you keep the American people safe moving forward -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: We are waiting. Just about 30 minutes away, Ed.
Thank you so much.
Amsterdam and Detroit, just hours apart by air. But the story of Flight 253 spans a lot more time and territory. Yemen is at the heart of the troubling terror. It is there that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab learned about explosives and some degree of know-how and met with a radical cleric.
CNN international security correspondent Paula Newton joins me now live from the Yemeni capital. Paula, all those connections aside, I understand the Yemenis claim Abdulmutallab picked up his extremism elsewhere.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Not just picking up the extremism. They are suggesting that the explosives actually came from Nigeria, and they say that is early to make that allegations for American officials, but they are still looking at the months that Abdulmutallab spent here and who he had contacts with.
You know, Kyra, most importantly is al-Awlaki, the American cleric who had we know had some contact with Major Nidal Hasan, and now seems to have had contact with Abdulmutallab. What authorities want to figure out here, and I can tell you, the United States is pushing hard to get the information because if they had this contact, was this the person he had casual contact with, or did al-Awlaki give him material support, know-how, intelligence of how to get those explosives, where to get them, and how to get them and how to detonate them.
PHILLIPS: And Paula, sorry, I thought we were going to some sound there. Quick question for you, this radical cleric. He's being called the next Osama bin Laden, and even been referred to as the acting Osama bin Laden. What are you hearing about him and his power, leadership and influence?
NEWTON: Well, I think that's a bit exaggerated, and many will tell you that it is. What is happening here, though, and I can tell you that many people have said this is a risk, this can now become a battle cry for al Qaeda.
Al-Awlaki has the backing of a very large and powerful tribe here in the south. He speaks like an American. He is American. All of that has a special resonance for jihadists looking for trouble on the Internet and elsewhere.
I think that what is concerning authorities is that perhaps in the last few months, maybe years, he did go from being more of an inspirational leader to someone who could actually make things happen for terrorists, and that is what is concerning them.
I think that also trying to figure out where he is. Kyra, we spoke to his family yesterday, and they refuse obviously to tell us where he is, but they do confirm he is alive. American officials also saying they believe he is alive and still looking for him here in southern Yemen.
PHILLIPS: Paula Newton, thank you so much.
The Department of Homeland Security is a huge government bureaucracy with the huge responsibility to keep us safe. It's also a massive, entangled web of governmental agencies. We asked our Josh Levs to do some digging and tell us what the DHS includes. And Josh, you are probably about to boggle our minds even more than they have been boggled.
JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I am going to attempt to show you this without boggling the mind, but I don't know how, because it does boggle the mind to look at what the DHS is the. Kyra, do you want to see how huge and complicated the DHS is? Take a look at this chart. Let's go right to it. I want you to see it.
Everything you are seeing there -- don't worry about the words for now, folks. The little box at the top is the Department of Homeland Security and the office of the secretary, and everything else there is a part of it. In fact, I have it open on the screen behind me, and I want to show you an important point about it. Let's come back to me for a second.
Take a look. I put the chart on the screen, and the key to understand -- again, don't worry about the words -- this is the office of the secretary here, and all of these are agencies, about two dozen. Now, you don't have this layer reporting to this layer which to this layer up to the secretary. No. Everything on here, and this is a chart from the DHS, has a line directly from the secretary to it, which means that all of these agencies --it's not that they are reporting to each other. It's that they're all reporting up to the office of secretary.
So, you have a couple of dozen huge agencies reporting to Janet Napolitano. Let's take a look here. I want you to see some of these numbers -- you talk about mind boggling. We're going to go to these graphics. We're going to start off with the number of jurisdictions involved in the DHS overall.
More than 87,000 federal, state and local jurisdictions have Homeland Security responsibilities. The number of employees here is a quarter mil, about 230,000 -- more than 230,000 employees all falling under DHS.
Now, I was telling you before, a whole bunch of agencies. Let's take a look at what some of these agencies are that fall under the DHS. We have more than two dozen officials who represent various agencies, and we will break down some of these now for you.
You have among the agencies, TSA, Customs and Border Protection, Citizenship and Immigration Services, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, which is different from the other ones. Secret Service, FEMA and the Coast Guard.
And Kyra, all of that falls under Department of Homeland Security, and all of it comprises tens of thousands of people and that is why when we hear about the tangled web, about the complexities that the administration says it wants to do, which is to try to clarify everything. Who has which role. You are talking about a huge bureaucratic task of making sense of exactly who does what, who shares what, where and ultimately everything on the giant chart working all of the way up to the office of the secretary, who Kyra, oversees the entire thing.
PHILLIPS: But there is also some key governmental agencies not a part of DHS, and it is a little surprising.
LEVS: Well, I am glad you said that, because it is good to stop and take note of that. We talk about keeping the nation safe.
Well, the CIA is not part of DHS, the FBI is not part of DHS. We hear about cooperation, about getting various parts of the government with focus on intelligence or protection to work together. But DHS has a ton of stuff underneath it. It does not have the CIA, the FBI and a couple of huge examples of agencies that are doing intelligence gathering that are also critical to keeping the homeland safe to Homeland Security.
So, not only do you have this mess, but you also have the task of taking other big agencies and making sure that everybody cooperates and shares and folks, that is, as a nation, that is what we all face.
PHILLIPS: Josh, thanks.
LEVS: You got it.
PHILLIPS: We will take a quick break and more from the CNN NEWSROOM straight ahead.
PHILLIPS: Twenty minutes to go until President Obama talks about the missed clues in the botched Christmas Day bombing. You can catch that live right here on CNN.
One source is giving CNN a preview, saying that the president's plan to take full responsibility for any mistakes, and one of his security advisers says to brace yourself for some shocking security lapses about to be unveiled in the report.
Three people are dead and five wounded after police say a man stormed a St. Louis factory this morning armed with a rifle and handgun. Local media reporting the gunman is among the dead at ABB Incorporated. Suspect has been identified as 51-year-old Timothy Hendron.
Shivering through a frigid Thursday? Well, you are not alone. A blast of arctic air has much of the nation bundling up. In Nebraska and across the Midwest, the story is snow and lots of it. But record low temps are sending chills through the Deep South too. Even Louisiana and Georgia are bracing for a wintry mix of snow and ice. Already the cold weather is blamed for at least seven deaths nationwide.
PHILLIPS: We've got some breaking news to tell you about right now. This is coming to us straight from the Associated Press.
Apparently two ex-Blackwater guards have been charged with murder. You remember that Blackwater was contracted in both Afghanistan and Iraq to assist with the security there. A lot of allegations about the fact that they operated on their own terms, their own rules to try to keep the peace in those countries and then came forward a number of allegations about a number of murders that had taken place.
This is what we are finding out now, these two former Blackwater contractors were arrested on murder charges in the killings of two Afghans last year. That indictment was obtained by the AP and we are finding out now that 27-year-old Justin Cannon and 29-year-old Chris Drotleff have been charged with second degree murder, attempted murder and weapons charges. Both of them, we are told, in custody right now.
Blackwater, as you know, when it came under a lot of scrutiny, we watched the testimony even up on the Hill about their security practices, changed its name to Xe. But at the time when these two were being accused of murder, Blackwater did fire both of those men after that shooting and failing to comply with the terms of their contract.
We are being told that the indictment says that the shooting at a Kabul intersection did kill two men and now these two former Blackwater contractors have been officially charged with murder.
We will continue to follow the story. More from the CNN NEWSROOM right after a quick break.
PHILLIPS: As always, Team Sanchez working hard on the next hour of CNN NEWSROOM.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know I was listening to you deliver that news about Blackwater, and I got to tell you that folks on Twitter and on social media are telling me that that is a very important story for Americans.
Look, bottom line is that we have to figure out and it seems that Americans have a hunger for this, who is going to be the soldiers and who are going to be our contractors and who is -- who are the contractors accountable to, who are the soldiers accountable to? And how do you delineate these responsibilities? These are key questions that the country has to grapple with over the next couple of years. I think it's a story that's going to be out there that we're going to be following up on an awful lot, especially the whole idea of going to mercenaries in war. It is fascinating.
Another thing that is fascinating is what is going on with the president today. What is he going to say? How is he going to say it? How does he come out and claim responsibility and say that the buck stops here when it comes to that screw up in Detroit? And at the same time, not leaving himself open from a standpoint of credibility?
I am looking forward to listening to this thing, Kyra. It is about 17 minutes away right now, and you are going to hear the president of the United States on this statement right here on CNN, live.
PHILLIPS: Got it. Thank you so much, Rick.
SANCHEZ: All right.
PHILLIPS: And now the "What the...?" follow-up that we promised you the other week. Remember Nevada's Shady Lady Brothel where the owner wanted to hire male prostitutes? Well, gentlemen, start your engines. Well, at least your applications. County officials have just cleared the way for the Shady Lady to find some shady gents. Over a hundred guys have already applied. The first hires could be ready for action by the end of the month.
And we have fast food, drive-ins, drive-thrus -- not quick enough for one hungry 92-year-old man of Florida though. After slamming his car through the wall of the Biscuits and Gravy and More in Ft. Orange, well, he dug in. That's right. He ordered breakfast, sat down, ate it, too. Luckily there was only one minor injury, so after the driver finished the meal, police gave him a little something extra to chew over, a ticket for reckless driving.
And here's a find kettle of fish, a bogus rubbery check for the Salvation Army -- the gift that keeps on taking. Some Grinch dumped it on the Salvation Army in Charleston, South Carolina. Can you believe that? It was for $25,000. Well, the charity deposited it and spent some of the money on food and toys for dozens of needy families. A couple of days before Christmas, the dreaded call from the bank came through saying, well, your check has bounced, merry Christmas. The rip-off meant less money to help the needy. So far, the bouncer has not been caught. Let's hope we find that person.
Quick break. We will be right back.
PHILLIPS: Well, we thought we were moments away from President Obama's remarks on the security gaps that almost led to the bombing of a U.S. airliner, but for the second time today the remarks have been pushed back, this time to 4:30 p.m. Eastern time.
But still joining me this very moment from our Washington Bureau, CNN homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve, CNN political analyst Gloria Borger, Clark Kent Ervin, former Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security and CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend.
So, it's been pushed twice now. Fran, Clark, any insight?
FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECEURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, having done my shares of these reviews, I'll tell you what happens is, as you're going through the last-minute clearance process, inevitably what happens is people have objections and last-minute changes have got to be made. And so I expect that that's what they're struggling with right now -- the last-minute changes that are inevitable. When some the agencies that will be mentioned or criticized ask to have those changes before it goes public.
PHILLIPS: You know, I didn't get a chance to talk with you -- did someone just want to say something? I heard a breath. Was that somebody?
TOWNSEND: No, I was sort of chuckling, because of course --
PHILLIPS: Oh, OK.
TOWNSEND: No, it's not funny, but obviously this is going to be the way the public and media looks at each of the agencies that were really responsible for connecting the dots.
And so, you can imagine what happens when the White House gives them their analysis this afternoon sometime and says, read this and send it back to us to see if you've got any clarifications that you might want to add.
PHILLIPS: You know, it's interesting that just that note of connecting the dots. I mean, it's pretty obvious this was a tremendous failure. But we're seeing this trend -- I guess, let me pose it this way -- are we seeing a transparency that we were promised in the Obama administration? Or are we not seeing a transparency?
Because we're seeing the President come forward and say it's my responsibility, I'm taking full responsibility here. And then we're hearing Jim Jones come forward -- you know, the White House National Security Advisor saying, well, the good news here is that we know what happened, we know what didn't happen, and we know how the fix this. There's no reinventing the wheel.
What do you think, Clark?
CLARK KENT ERVIN, FORMER INSEPCTOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, I call this pretty transparent. I mean, the President himself has come out a couple of times now and he has given considerable detail about what's already happened -- tightened visa procedures, revising the watch list, enhanced screening procedures. It's really interesting to find out what additional details are going to be given today, given how much details already have been.
Further, for General Jones, who is a very low-key guy, to use the term "shocking," this is likely to be a bombshell. So I think you can criticize the administration, you can criticize the President for a number of things, but not for not being transparent. After all, there's going to be a summary copy of this report released shortly.
PHILLIPS: So, Jeanne, what are your sources saying about what could have happened with regard to air marshals, watch lists, visas?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, on air marshals what we've been told is that they will be putting the air marshal teams on high profile international flights. They're going to back fill them by taking other people from the component agencies of DHS, that would be, for instance, Customer and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs enforcement, maybe the Coast Guard, Secret Service.
They're going to take people from there, give them training -- some of them already have gotten it actually, but they'll get refreshers. And then they'll put them on some domestic flights here in the U.S., the idea being they want to get as many people in the air as they can. And already within the air marshal service, they've done things like cancel vacations, taking people away from the desk jobs.
So this is an effort to force multiply. Of course, it raises questions about what's going to happen in all those other agencies when they have to put people in the air flying. And that, I guess, is going to be the next shoe to fall.
PHILLIPS: All right --
GLORIA BORGER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The question to me is, we connect all of the dots. But do we analyze all of the dots well enough?
TOWNSEND: And Gloria, I expect that that's the kind of thing -- we've heard the president allude to this. I think what you're going to find is we did better at collecting, we did better at sharing information in our agency, which was both through the pre-9/11 problems. But what we're going to find now is we have this cast sea of information and the difficulty was sorting what was important, and how you connect them together.
I mean, I do think we have to be -- we have compliment the administration on this -- putting together a report this quickly, trying to pull all that information together is not easy. And so I will say that they deserve credit for that. But in terms of the transparency, I think we also have to wait and see what's the magnitude of this report? We're hearing it's going to be two to three pages. I mean, if that's the case, maybe they could have been more transparent. I just think we have to wait and see what's there.
PHILLIPS: Stay with me guys. We're going to take a quick break. We'll talk more with our panel in just a second.
PHILLIPS: More now from our panel in Washington, as we get to the top of the hour. Fran, you were mentioning this report only a couple pages. How transparent it's going to be. I keep thinking, how many reports, how many investigations, how many recommendations can we have to get this right? I mean the 9/11 Commission -- it also made a lot of recommendations, many that were never implemented after adopted.
TOWNSEND: Well, actually, Kyra, most were implement. The big one -- and we've heard Senator Bob Kerry in recent days. He did an op-ed, he's talked about this. The big one is the lack of implementation of Congressional reform and Congressional oversight, which poses a tremendous resource burden on the agencies -- the very agencies that are trying to correlate and connect these dots.
So, I think that there will be a real look at, we've made progress, we now collect the sorts of information we need, and we're good about sharing that information. Or reasonably, we're certainly much better about sharing the information. The President has said, what we don't do very well yet is then connect them. And I think you're going to see a real focus on the connecting the dots now and that part of the analysis chain.
PHILLIPS: Well, Clark --
BORGER: You know, Kyra --
PHILLIPS: Yes, go ahead.
BORGER: I was going to say, you know, we talk about transparency. There's also a limit to how transparent you can be when you're talking about intelligence, because you don't want to compromise sources and methods. So we're going to want to see everything, but we are not going to. We're not going to be able to.
MESERVE: But I think they'll be able to tell us if this was technological, if this was individuals, you know, exactly where the breakdown occurred. And where the fixes can be made, hopefully, they'll be able to do that.
ERVIN: You know, Kyra, one thing that we haven't talked about yet in the segment is accountability. You know, we are hearing that the President's going to take ultimate responsibility for this, which is commendable. PHILLIPS: But, you think heads should roll --
ERVIN: But also, politically smart, as well, but heads should roll. Ultimately the President can't run the government by himself. It's the bureaucracy that actually runs the government. And the press secretary said there were multiple failures in multiple agencies. That means there need to be multiple firings. And so it'll be very interesting whether today, or subsequently, we see somebody actually held accountable, as the President said people would be.
PHILLIPS: But wouldn't we be in a worse position if you fire the heads of all of the lead agencies, then we're completely hosed when it comes to running these agencies.
ERVIN: Well, I'm not suggesting that you fire the heads. Maybe you do, maybe you don't. But you certainly fire somebody. I mean, the last thing that we need is another government reorganization.
PHILLIPS: All right. Stay with us, guys.
MESERVE: I'd like to just jump in here for a minute. I mean, the last thing the intelligence community needs right now is more turmoil and more shake-up. They've gone through a lot in the last several years. They've lost a lot of experienced people. Morale is said to be quite low in some of the agencies. If they get beaten up, yet again, who's to say what could happen.
PHILLIPS: About an hour and a half away from the President speaking. I know you guys are staying put. Thank you so much.
I got to turn it over to Rick Sanchez now, he picks it up from here -- Rick.