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Campbell Brown

Terrorist Freed; Politics of Terror

Aired August 20, 2009 - 20:00   ET


CAMPBELL BROWN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Hi, everybody. Welcome.

We have got a lot to talk about. We are going to start, as we always do, with the "Mash-Up." It's our look at the stories making an impact right now, the moments you may have missed today. We are watching it all so you don't have to.

We begin tonight with an explosive new claim from a top official in the Bush administration. Some of the president's closest aides, this claim says, seek to exaggerate the terrorist threat here at home for political gain.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, he's now suggesting he may have been pressured by the Bush White House to influence the 2004 election.

CHRIS MATTHEWS, MSNBC: That he was pressured by top Bush administration officials, including Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and John Ashcroft, to raise the terror threat level from yellow to orange the weekend before the 2004 reelection election.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ridge says there was no intelligence to justify raising the threat level and he writes in his book, I wondered, is this about security or politics?

Now, he says there was a tense debate. He won. The issue never even reached the president. But it did reinforce Ridge's decision to leave the administration.


BROWN: Ridge says the drama played out after Osama bin Laden had released a preelection message critical of President Bush.

In Libya tonight, the only person convicted in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 is now a free man.


BLITZER: The convicted terrorist returns home walking free from a Scottish prison after two decades -- two decades after unleashing the worst terror attack ever on British soil.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The anger and outrage over the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 flared again today when this picture flashed around the world, a Libyan agent convicted in the attack that killed 270 people getting welcomed home today as a hero.

Tonight, family members say a terrorist is getting the mercy their loved ones were denied.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We thought it was a mistake. We're now in contact with the Libyan government and want to make sure that if, in fact, this transfer has taken place, that he is not welcomed back in some way, but instead should be under house arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Many victims claim that al-Megrahi's release has more to do with Britain seeking closer relations to oil-rich Libya, a claim that the British government denies.


BROWN: Al-Megrahi battling terminal prostate cancer, he was freed on humanitarian grounds. You heard there many people outraged.

On CNN's "SITUATION ROOM," Wolf Blitzer pressed Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill.


BLITZER: Is there any precedent in Scotland where a mass murderer, someone who killed 270 people in cold blood, has been freed to go home to his wife and family because he is suffering from cancer?

KENNY MACASKILL, SCOTTISH JUSTICE SECRETARY: This crime is unprecedented in our small country. It's actually the worst atrocity -- terrorist atrocity ever perpetrated anywhere within the United Kingdom.

In Scotland, justice is equally tempered with mercy.


BROWN: In just a bit, you're going to hear from the brother of one of al-Megrahi's victims. He is tonight's newsmaker.

In Washington tonight, an early exit for a government program too pricey and popular to survive.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The cash for clunkers program winding down. The government says the popular program will end Monday night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Car owners can get up to $4,500 for trading in a clunker for a new, more fuel-efficient car. Well, at 8:00 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, all that application paperwork must be submitted.

Dealers have to front the money for the rebates, sometimes to the tunes of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and the government has been slow to pay them back.

Of the $1.9 billion in rebates dealers have paid, the government has reimbursed them just $145 million.

RAY LAHOOD, U.S. SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: They're going to get their money.


BROWN: The program achieving its short-term goal with spiking auto sales. We will see if that lasts now.

In the health care wars, President Obama today struggling to regain his grip on the debate, first, rumor patrol, fielding calls with a conservative radio host. There you see that there. Then preaching to the choir at the Democratic National Committee, telling supporters not to believe reports that he is off his game.


OBAMA: Just about this time, you will recall that the Republicans had just nominated their vice presidential candidate and everybody was -- the media was obsessed with it and cable was 24 hours a day and Obama's lost his mojo and...


OBAMA: You remember all that?


OBAMA: There's something about August going into September where everybody in Washington gets all whee-wheed up.



BROWN: This as the White House inches ever closer to breaking off talks with the Republicans. The message today, we tried, but enough is enough.


OBAMA: I think early on a decision was made by the Republican leadership that said, look, let's not give him a victory.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Republicans in the leadership who have obviously decided long ago that they have no interest in working with the president.

I think we would certainly be willing to work with them if they were willing to work with us.

OBAMA: I have no control over what the other side decides is their political strategy. GIBBS: The president can only do so much.

OBAMA: My obligation to the American people says we're going to get this done one way or another.


BROWN: Of course, the president's got his hands full dealing with the left, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi drawing a line in the sand today, saying no public option, no reform at all.

In Afghanistan tonight, they're counting ballots, but there aren't many to count. Voting plus violence equals low, low turnout.


KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: They voted for 10-plus hours. Now their votes are being counted deep into the night. Afghanistan holds its second ever presidential and parliamentary election. And you can bet U.S. officials are watching it closely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fear of violence is affecting turnout in early voting. There have been no major assaults today, but there have been reports of scattered rocket attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We visit one polling station this morning and spoke to many voters who were determined to cast their ballots despite the threat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We do expect to hear certain results in a few days' time. We're going to get preliminary results on September 3. And the final results should be coming in September 17.


BROWN: But can we trust those results? White House Envoy Richard Holbrooke telling reporters the test is going to be in the counting.

And now to Elizabeth Edwards on "LARRY KING" last night with cautious answers to some pretty difficult questions about her marriage and about whether her husband, John, is the real father of his mistress' baby.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": You were so candid in the past about the impact of your husband's problems on your relationship. How are things going?

ELIZABETH EDWARDS, WIFE OF FORMER SENATOR JOHN EDWARDS: Things are going fine. We're getting the children ready for a new school year. Everything seems to be going pretty smoothly at my house. But thank you for asking.

KING: And the continued questions about the paternity factor, is there any solution there, a DNA test? Do you know if anything's going to happen?

EDWARDS: My expectation is at some point something happens. And I hope for the sake of this child that it happens, you know, in a quiet way.


BROWN: As for her health, Mrs. Edwards, who is battling breast cancer, says she is feeling good.

And moving now to a bizarre story from the world of sports. Yesterday, South Africa's Caster Semenya breezing to victory in women's 800 meter at the world championships in Berlin. Well, today, that win in question, amid speculation she is really a he.

The story now from ABC's "Good Morning America."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Questions that have been raised because of Semenya tremendous speed, muscular physique and deep voice. Semenya, who is 18, burst on to the scene just a few weeks ago with a dominating performance in another racing competition.

After that, international track and field officials asked the South African authorities to conduct a gender verification test. It used to be that such tests required no more than dropping the pants. But today's version requires reports from a gynecologist, an endocrinologist, a psychologist, an internal medicine specialist, and a gender expert.


BROWN: And we're going to have a whole lot more on this very strange case coming up a little bit later tonight.

Finally tonight, the "Punchline," courtesy of Mr. David Letterman, a man who sure knows how to hold a grudge.




LETTERMAN: Former member of the Manson family and in the '70s, tried to assassinate President Gerald Ford. Well, she's been let out of prison. She's been paroled. Is she going to get a job? What is she going to do? Is she going to start dating? I mean, come on.


LETTERMAN: If you think about it, there aren't many jobs for unstable gun-toting women, unless she wants to run for governor of Alaska. SHAFFER: Oh.


LETTERMAN: I would like to apologize for that joke.


LETTERMAN: I'm sorry, Squeaky.



BROWN: David Letterman, everybody. And that is the "Mash-Up."

Tonight's big question, did members of the Bush administration try to use the terror alert system to help win the election? Former head of Homeland Security says that is one of the reasons he quit his job.


BROWN: Stunning new revelations coming out tonight from the man chosen to help protect our country in the aftermath of September 11.

Former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge now says he was pressured to raise the nation's terror alert level to orange on the eve of the 2004 presidential election. Ridge claims he fought off the suggestion and wondered whether it was all about security or politics, that bombshell in Ridge's new book, which hits bookshelves in just a matter of days now.

And let's bring in right now CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend, who was President Bush's homeland security adviser. She is joining us from Washington tonight, along with Republican consultant Alex Castellanos. CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist James Carville is with us from New Orleans. And here in New York, CNN political analyst Roland Martin.

Fran, you were there. So, I'm going to go through this with you. Take us back. This is days before the 2004 election. A new Osama bin Laden tape had just come out, everybody wondering what that would mean for the election. Now, Tom Ridge claims that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Attorney General John Ashcroft pressured him to raise the terror alert for political reasons.

You were there. Is that what happened?


FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: I wasn't only there. I was chairing this meeting.

And I will tell you, what happens is after a discussion between Tom Ridge and I, we agreed I should call a council meeting. The reason you call that meeting is to get the various views of the other Cabinet secretaries.

They frequently don't always all agree. And what you want to encourage is this free exchange of their views, which is exactly what happened. By the way, Campbell, I would also mention Tom Ridge was not the only person at that meeting advocating that the terror alert shouldn't have been raised.

Next, I think we have to point out to our viewers, there was also a tape probably worse than the bin Laden tape with Adam Gadahn. He was an American member of al Qaeda who in his tape talked about the streets of the United States running with blood depending on outcome of the election.

And in earlier that year in the summer, we had had the threat, very specific and credible threat, against the financial district. And so, that was the background against which this whole discussion took place. And, frankly, in the end, the consensus of the council was to recommend to the president not to raise the terror alert system. And the president agreed with that recommendation. So it was never raised.

It's sort of...

BROWN: But let me stop you just for a second, Fran. You will confirm, though, as he writes in his book, that Rumsfeld and Ashcroft were lobbying for it to in fact be raised?

TOWNSEND: They did. But they were not the only ones, by the way, on that side either. There was a full discussion of all the participants of the council. And there was a division of views when we started that discussion.

BROWN: But I think he's -- if I'm reading this correctly, Ridge is making the assumption, look, this had to be for political reasons. It was happening four days before the election.

I think when you have that kind of debate four days before the election -- and there were plenty of Osama bin Laden tapes that had come out time and time again, and I don't recall at any point the terror alert being raised because of one of those tapes. One comes out right before the election and there's a huge debate about it.

Is he not -- I mean, is it not fair to give him the benefit of the doubt that his assumption that politics might be coming into play here isn't completely off base?

TOWNSEND: It is completely off base. There was no discussion of politics in that meeting. That never -- that was never a factor.

BROWN: But isn't it implied by virtue of the fact that you're four days before the presidential election?

TOWNSEND: Well, bin Laden issued the tape four days before the election. That wasn't -- the administration wasn't responsible for that. And I have to tell you, Campbell, we ought to ask ourselves, Tom Ridge has been out of the government a very long time. Less that two weeks ago, he came before a group who's talking about looking at revising the advisory system, the alert system. He's never mentioned this, never. He didn't mention it when he was in government. He hasn't mentioned it since he left.

Why now, other than to sell books?


BROWN: I couldn't agree with you more on that point, Fran. I think so many people who have come out of the administration, why didn't they speak up if all of this was true at the time? And yet we find out about none of this until they have a book to sell.

James, give me your take on this.

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, well, subpoenas have to be issued. Oaths have to be taken. Lawyers have to be hired. This is an allegation of the utmost seriousness.

I have no idea what the case is. But this is hardly a shoe clerk making this allegation. This is a former decorated combat veteran, two-time governor of Pennsylvania, the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

And he said he felt pressured. I think that this has to get to the bottom of. If this is true -- I don't know -- Ms. Townsend, she's a reputable person. She has a view. Maybe he was called. I don't know. But this is something of the utmost seriousness. And it has to be looked into and looked into immediately.

BROWN: But, Alex, can't he -- in his role, it's not like he's some, like, little guy here and Rumsfeld can order him what to do. He's the secretary of homeland security. How does one feel pressured when you're in that position of power?


CARVILLE: I don't know

CASTELLANOS: No, James, he's actually very clear in the book, if you will read it, that he says he wasn't asked to do anything.

This was a discussion where people had different views four days before an election. And, again, we should remember that terrorism has a P.R. component, as well as a lethal destructive component. They're here to manipulate our will.

So, again, Tom Ridge has served this country well in many ways. He's not serving his country well now. He's selling a book. I worked with people in the Bush administration for eight years. And I can tell you this. If you ever brought anything political to them and you were their friend and you had any political interest, they would put you at the back of the line.

This is the president who stood up to his own vice president and didn't pardon Scooter Libby. So...


CASTELLANOS: ... you can't say that these guys -- they put integrity first.

BROWN: Let me get Roland in here on this.

ROLAND MARTIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Alex, the problem here is, is when the Homeland Security secretary says that that was pressure for political reasons...

CASTELLANOS: He doesn't say that.

MARTIN: No, no, one second.


MARTIN: One second. When you say that he was not ordered to do anything, but the reality is, he understands, as Campbell stated, what is implied.

That is still a serious issue. When you talk about terrorism, this is a -- this is national security. This is changing the lives of Americans who are going to airports, who are going to trains. And, so, as James said, it is very serious. And, frankly, there should be a further conversation, some kind of investigation, because, again, we cannot excuse this kind of behavior, Democrat or Republican.


BROWN: Fran, let me let you jump in, because I'm not sure -- I mean -- and then I will have James respond about the fact that this was a discussion, a debate, that was happening internally.


If we have investigations and subpoenas and lawyers every time Cabinet members disagree or debate a policy issue, we will never get anything done. It's ridiculous. There is a -- you want to encourage this sort of debate. They had a debate. They came to, I think, the right conclusion. And it's the recommendation that the president accepted.

There were no politics in it. This was a conversation and discussion among Cabinet members that you want them to have.

BROWN: James, you get last word.


CASTELLANOS: James, let's investigate Eric Holder for pardoning Black Panthers who were intimidating voters. Let's investigate Eric Holder tomorrow.


BROWN: OK, James, go ahead.

CARVILLE: They're not -- yes, I know. They don't have the same -- they're not talking about funding levels for national parks. They're talking about scaring the heck out of people.

I have no idea what the truth is. Let's get people under oath. This is a matter of utmost gravity. This has to be looked into. It has to be looked into immediately.

BROWN: Well, we will hear more from Ridge. I'm sure he's going to go on a book tour in a matter of days, given that his book is coming out shortly.

Many thanks to the panel. Appreciate it, guys. Thank you.


BROWN: Hurricane Bill heading towards Bermuda, and that just happens to be where Bill and Hillary Clinton are vacationing right now. We have the storm track.

Plus, an 18-year-old world champion track star being forced to prove she is, in fact, a she.



BROWN: The man responsible for the Pan Am bombing that killed 270 people is a free man tonight, welcomed home as a hero. Tonight's newsmaker, the brother of one of the Americans he killed.


BERT AMMERMAN, BROTHER OF PAN AM FLIGHT 103 BOMBING VICTIM: By letting him go early, you're saying to all the terrorists through the world and the Third World nations, keep going at it. The United States and the United Kingdom are soft. They will give in.



BROWN: All of the agony outrage from the Pan Am 103 bombing 21 years ago came rushing back today. One of our big questions tonight, how does a convicted terrorist get a hero's welcome?


BLITZER: The Libyan agent convicted of murdering 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am flight 103. The airliner blew over -- blew up over Lockerbie, Scotland, back in 1988. Many of the victims were Americans. 289 -- excuse me, 189, to be specific.

Terminally ill with cancer, Abdel Ali al-Megrahi was sent back to Libya today, still insisting on his innocence. Flag-waving Libyans rushed to the airport to welcome his home in celebration.

DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A Scottish court ordered the release of the only person convicted in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 in the skies over Lockerbie. The family of many of the 270 victims are furious.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Here's the convoy now just pulling out of this prison.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It will be a bittersweet return. He's been told by doctors that his cancer is resistant to any form of treatment and he will be dead in around three months.



BROWN: Joining me now, Bert Ammerman, who lost his brother in the Lockerbie bombing. And, also, from Washington, CNN national security contributor Fran Townsend, who was homeland security adviser to former President Bush, with us as well tonight.

And, Bert, you just saw this picture just a few moments ago feeding in of al-Megrahi coming off that plane to what could only be called a hero's welcome. What was going through your mind when you watched that?

AMMERMAN: I have said that for the last three weeks. I listened to President Obama today make the statement that he was going to contact -- they were contacting Libya, stating no hero's welcome, that he should be under house's arrest.

And I'm just listening all day incredulously, because now he's had the hero's welcome. He's not going under house arrest.

BROWN: You knew this was going to happen?

AMMERMAN: Absolutely. And now what does President Obama do? It's an awful weak statement on foreign policy that's been exhibited by the United Kingdom and the United States regarding this issue.

BROWN: The term used by the Scotland judge was that it was a release on, his words, compassionate grounds.


BROWN: I know you're not feeling any compassion for this man on any level. But can you understand this judge's decision or how he came to it?

AMMERMAN: No, because this is a bigger issue than this man. This is a -- political ramifications. He massacred 270 people, 259 at 31,000 feet. By letting him go early, you're saying to all the terrorists through the world and the Third World nations, keep going at it. The United States and the United Kingdom are soft. They will give in. They will make accommodations.

BROWN: Fran, you just heard Bert a moment ago make reference to this. I want to play for you and for our folks at home what President Obama did say earlier about al-Megrahi's release. Listen.


OBAMA: We're now in contact with the Libyan government and want to make sure that if, in fact, this transfer has taken place, that he is not welcomed back in some way, but instead should be under house arrest.


BROWN: And, Fran, you saw what happened when that plane landed. What's your reaction?

TOWNSEND: Well, I think the release -- I completely agree with Bert -- I think it's a tragedy and a travesty. I think it's absolutely outrageous that he would have been shown compassion that he did not show the 270 victims that were on that flight, Pan Am flight, that day.

So, it's absolutely outrageous that he should be shown and given this compassionate release. That said, you know, I was concerned about what steps did the administration take before today. And I did speak to the White House, folks in the White House.

I know that the attorney general, the secretary of state and John Brennan, my successor at the White House, all implored the British and Scottish officials not to permit this to happen.

Now, they obviously failed in that. I'm sorry. I think that they're very uncomfortable with the actions taken to -- to facilitate the release. I know that they did implore them not to have a hero's welcome.

But, as Mr. Ammerman says, this was inevitable. And it only really underscores the tragedy of this, that they would have permitted this man to be released at all.

BROWN: Well, Fran, you also said that you were concerned to see President Obama -- and this is going back a little bit -- shaking Gadhafi's hand at the G8 Summit earlier. Explain why.

TOWNSEND: Well, you know, Campbell, there was a real debate in the prior administration as to whether or not Libya had taken sufficient steps to be taken off the state sponsor list.

Now, that decision was made. But there had been continuing concerns in the intelligence and law enforcement communities that -- that Libya didn't really, sincerely renounce terrorism. And, so, those -- with those lingering concerns, I will tell you, I was disappointed to see the president shake his hand at the G8, given the ongoing concern, even post-taking them off --

BROWN: But I was going to say, it was the Bush administration who made that decision ultimately. I mean, it was Condoleezza Rice who flew there and met personally with him.

TOWNSEND: That's right. I mean, there were a number of steps they had to take. They took those steps and so the decision was made during the Bush administration to take them off the list. But I will tell you that there had been -- there had been after that point, ongoing concerns based on intelligence and law enforcement sources, that perhaps that their renunciation of terrorism was not sincere.

BROWN: So let me ask both of you this going forward. Fran, what should the Obama administration do now? What can they do now? Seriously, what are the options?

TOWNSEND: Well, I think their options are really quite limited, which is why I wanted to satisfy myself that they had actually taken a forceful stand with the British to discourage this. I think they did. But I think they're reluctant, as Bert Ammerman says, looking incredibly weak.

BROWN: Bert?

AMMERMAN: This is the last chapter of Pan Am 103, a sad chapter. When I came in to do all these interviews, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

Our loved ones I guess were guilty for being on the flight. The families, I guess we've been guilty to try to make our government do what is right.

BROWN: Oh, we're going to have to end it there. Bert Ammerman, I appreciate your time.


BROWN: And when we come back, sounds like an outrageous accusation. But a new world champion runner is being told to prove she is really a woman. Tonight, we're talking with the experts in sports and science.

And it's every baseball fan's dream to catch one of the game balls. So imagine being the kid for whom lightning struck twice.


C.J. RAMSEY, CAUGHT BACK-TO-BACK FOUL BALLS: The chance of me getting one was almost impossible and two is, like, is not going to happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROWN: A South African teenager received her gold medal today for winning the 800-meter run at the World Championships. Caster Semenya dominated her rivals to win big yesterday in Berlin. But there is a huge controversy tonight. Revelations she must take a test to prove she is a woman.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So there it was, the South African runner just winning a gold medal at the World Championships. But now there is a challenge. Officials are wondering if she could really be a he.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is the champion a man or a woman? Gender tests results results are pending on the South African winner of the women's 800-meter race at the World's Athletics Championship in Berlin. The question of the winner's gender was first raised last month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With that comes rumors. I heard one that you're born a man. What do you have to say about stuff like that?

CASTER SEMENYA, SOUTH AFRICAN RUNNER: Well, I have no idea about that because I didn't have that thing (ph). Who said it? And I don't know. I don't give a (bleep) about it.


BROWN: And joining us tonight is Christine Brennan, who is columnist for "USA Today," author of the book "Best Seat in the House" and has written about this. Also, Dr. Jennifer Berman, a urologist who specializes in sexual health and has some understanding of this as well.

Christine, we just heard this woman dismiss, I think, Caster Semenya dismiss these allegations. But there are now not one but two investigations under way to see if, in fact, she might be a man. What is going on?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, "USA TODAY" COLUMNIST: Well, it's unprecedented at least in this time, Campbell. We, over the years, going back to the '30s, people might remember in the 1960s, the Soviet, the East Germans, the Poles, basically the Eastern bloc, that seemed to engage in some of these activities to try to sneak men in to compete against women.

But in this day and age, it's really a surprise. And we've got one of two things. We've either got a man competing against women and stealing a gold medal from them at the highest in track and field other than the Olympic games, the World Championships. Or we have an incredible injustice being done to this young 18-year-old who's a woman if, in fact, she is. And where does she get her reputation back? So it's something that is going to play out over the next few weeks and we may not have an answer. The doctors will get together and figure this out.

BROWN: Right. BRENNAN: But it's really quite a surprising thing.

BROWN: Jennifer, we are told these tests could take weeks. You know, most people including me thought that you could tell a man from a woman by dropping the trousers.


BROWN: But it's way more complicated than that. Explain to us how this gender testing works.

BERMAN: Yes and no. I mean, unless this is the biggest scam in sports history, where this person is hiding, the normal external male genitalia under those spandex pants from a medical and ethical perspective, she was raised as a little girl and she's a woman. Now, if by chance she has some chromosomal abnormality which you're alluding to, which we refer to as intersex, that would not result in a superwoman and would not give her the ability to outwin all these other women. So even if that exist, that's not accounting for her athletic ability. And this is an injustice.

BROWN: And, Christine, this issue has been a real challenge for the sports world. I mean, gender testing, I think, I had read, was even abandoned by the Olympics at the Sydney games because it was so complicated. I mean, can we get a clear-cut answer here?

BRENNAN: Well, I hope we can. And I'll leave that to medicine to give us that answer. As a sports journalist, Campbell, I would say that you're right. There were especially women's group, saying, wait a minute, why do we have to have women be tested? And that was basically then ruled out about 1999, 2000, as you said. And that's why I think this is such a surprise. And it's South Africa, it's an 18-year-old, who's come out of the blue to win and shock everybody in the last few, you know, weeks and months, as you said.

BERMAN: And genetic testing can be done. In addition, there's ultrasounds and CAT scans that can determine the internal genitalia. That's not complicated.

The best thing that can come out of this, if indeed she does have some chromosomal abnormality is that it will be detected because there's risk of cancers and other things that she may or may not have known about.

BROWN: Well, explain that. Let me stop you there, Christine, and explain that, because I don't understand it. I think most people don't, what that would mean if she had an extra chromosome or a hormonal disorder of some sort.

BERMAN: Let's say she's genetically a male, an XY chromosome, but typically on the outside looks like a woman, she could have what is referred to as an undescended or a testicle that hasn't come down. And those can turn malignant and turn cancerous and they need to be removed.

So the best case is that we'll identify that and we can, you know, cure her from something that might happen in the future. But this is a horrible way to go about determining that.

BROWN: And, Jennifer, to your point, you sort of hinted at this before. I mean, this is a young woman, a young girl. It's a pretty cruel thing for this girl to have to go through emotionally, psychologically presuming it's not a scam.

BERMAN: Right, and, you know, for all intents and purposes, I mean, from my perspective, I don't believe it is. And it is humiliating and it will affect her, you know, for her lifetime. Clearly, I mean, her ability to perform in terms of an athlete and her ability to perceive herself as a woman perhaps.

BROWN: Christine?

BRENNAN: Well, track and field has been dealt many blows over the last 20, 25 years. Ben Johnson, the steroid scandal of 1988 at the Seoul Olympics, Campbell, and the sport has been reeling, really, for a good couple decades.

So the question here is now, someone trying to get an edge, are they not? And -- but this is the kind of thing that can taint a sport that has already dealt with so many issues involving cheating that one has to feel that track and field, you know, again, bearing the brunt, the bigger issue of the sport itself and can we trust what we're watching?

BROWN: All right. We're going to leave it there. To Christine and Jennifer, thank you so much. Appreciate it, guys.

BERMAN: Thank you.

BRENNAN: Thank you.

BROWN: When we come back, stunning new information tonight about who the CIA picked to target and possibly kill some of the key members of Al Qaeda. Just how big of a role did Blackwater play?


BROWN: New information coming to light about just who the government turned to for a crucial mission, getting to and possibly killing leaders of Al Qaeda.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Remember the CIA's Al Qaeda assassination program we found out about last month? Well, here's why it was a big deal. It turns out the agency secretly hired some help to go after the terrorists in 2004. Blackwater, the controversial contractor, later booted out of Iraq --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The House Intelligence Committee is already investigating whether the CIA broke the law by failing to inform Congress that it was developing this secret program to track down the terrorists. ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Why is the Obama administration still using Blackwater as a contractor? Why do you continue to hire this group?

GIBBS: I'd have to look and see what the extent of that use is and I would point you to the CIA on that. I'd feel more comfortable talking about this when I had a little information on their contracts.


BROWN: Our big question, why was the government outsourcing some of its most important missions?

With me now to talk about this from Atlanta, Suzanne Simons, who is an executive producer for CNN and the author of "Master of War," a book about the founder and former CEO of Blackwater. And in Washington, Joby Warrick, who covers national intelligence for the "Washington Post."

Welcome to you, guys. Joby, let me start with you. This program was kept secret for eight years until now. Walk us through. What have you found out about it?

JOBY WARRICK, "WASHINGTON POST": Yes. We're finally starting to understand why Congress got so excited when they found out about this program two months ago. It wasn't just that the program was kept secret for all this time, but it turns out it involved Blackwater, which is, of course, the security contractor that has got such a bad reputation for excessive use of form allegedly and the death of civilians in Iraq. S so this is a troubling combination and Congress is very intent to look into this very deeply now.

BROWN: And, Joby, what were, as much as you know, I guess as much as we know, what was the mission here? Who specifically or, you know, again, as much as you know, were they trying to assassinate?

WARRICK: Yes, the whole idea was to try to take out the top Al Qaeda figures, Osama bin Laden and his deputies. And this could be a number of ways they can do it and they actually had several trips planned over eight years for going after him. And this one phase, they decided, let's outsource it. Let's use Blackwater which is seen as great connections with the CIA, lots of former CIA employees also there, and let's task them with the job of trying to find these guys, study their habits and to either capture them or kill them.

And it turns out it didn't get very far down the road. They had training. They had purchase of weapons. They spent millions of dollars. They apparently did some field surveillance, but they never actually got close to pulling a trigger and so eventually the thing was cancelled.

BROWN: Suzanne, Blackwater's involvement in Iraq was very controversial. There were accusations of excessive force, of killing civilians. Were these contractors equipped to pull off a sensitive operation like this? SUZANNE SIMONS, AUTHOR, "MASTER OF WAR": I think if the American public had any idea just how well it puts companies like this were, they'd be terrified. And the fact that there are more of them now in Iraq than there are troops, the issue has always been accountability. But they're certainly equipped to pull something like this off.

The people of Blackwater, most of them are very highly trained professionals. Most of them trained by our military. So a team like this probably would have involved former special forces people, would be the first thing that comes to mind.

In terms of equipment, they have an unmanned airship. They've got a jet. They've got retro-fitted helicopters that they actually had on lease to the State Department for a long time, which is one of the main reasons why Blackwater wasn't kicked out of Iraq right after that shooting in September 2007, because frankly the State Department could not function or continue their work in Iraq without Blackwater.

BROWN: Without them.


BROWN: And, Suzanne, you say that Americans would also be surprised if they knew how close Blackwater is to the CIA. I mean, give us a sense for that.

SIMONS: Well, it's not just the CIA. And that's why I was kind of surprised to hear Robert Gibbs say he had to look into the extent of their involvement with the government. It's the CIA, it's the Department of Defense and it is the Department of State. And they've had this relationship for some time now.

The relationship specifically with the CIA goes all the way back to shortly after 9/11 when Eric Prince sat down with the director, the executive director of the agency at the time, Alvin Krongard and said, look, you know, we've had this horrible terror attack in our country and we want to do something to help.

BROWN: Right.

SIMONS: It was shortly after that that Blackwater was given, you know, what they call a black contract, a classified no-bid contract to go and help secure some of the sites that were being used as prisons throughout Afghanistan.

BROWN: Suzanne Simons joining us, as well as Joby Warrick. Fascinating stuff. Great reporting, Joby and Suzanne. Appreciate your time tonight, thanks so much.

WARRICK: Thank you.

BROWN: So, if the recession really is coming in to an end, what can you do right now to get ahead of the curve on buying a home, buying a car, paying off your credit cards? We're going to talk about that. The money coach here next for tonight's "Money and Main Street." (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BROWN: Another headline today points to the recession being over. Take a look at these headlines.

In July, for the fourth straight month, an index of economic indicators up six-tents of a percent. Earlier this month, the economy leveling out. In the "Wall Street Journal," economists say the recession is over. So for our "Money and Main Street" segment this week, we want to know what should you be doing to get ahead of this curve? And here to look at the numbers is Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, founder of, a financial advice Web site.

Lynette, welcome to you.


BROWN: Let's first look at housing. Prices down from last year, but is it a good time to buy?

KHALFANI-COX: I think it's a phenomenal time to buy. And the best way to position yourself, especially if you're a first-time homebuyer, is to jump in now. You've got before December 1st to go ahead and close if you're a first-time homebuyer. You're going to get that $8,000 tax credit from the government.

Interests rates are still at very low rates in the high fives and sixes. And frankly, home prices are continuing to fall so even if you get in now or just before they, you know, bottom out, you're still going to get a great deal.

BROWN: OK, let's go to credit cards now. New rules to protect consumers but interest rates are up, so will the new rules help?

KHALFANI-COX: They will help. Most of the big changes kick in in February 2010. But two important changes started today. First, banks have to give you at least 45 days' notice before they jack up your interest rate. And as a consumer, you can say no to that. You can reject it. And if you don't like the new deal they're putting on the table, you have five years to pay off your debt at the existing interest rate.

Also, consumers are going to get more time to actually pay their credit card bills because the banks have to mail those statements to you 21 days before they're actually due as opposed to 14 days which is the standard right now.

BROWN: All right. That's important. We got to talk about "cash for clunkers." It's over on Monday now, that even without "cash for clunkers," still a good time to buy a car?

KHALFANI-COX: I think very much so. Obviously, we've all heard about, you know, practically the demise of the auto industry in the U.S. Tons of great bargains out there. "Cash for clunkers" if you haven't gotten in on that deal, sorry you missed out on that. But still a lot of great negotiating to be done. And, you know, prices are expensive so it doesn't hurt to get out there and say, listen, I know I won't get the $4,500 through the government, but you know what? If I'm going to buy a new car, which is topping out right now at about $27,000 according to, I'm going to get a used car, which is about $15,000 or so, I want the best possible deal. Fall season is actually a great time because they're trying to unload that year-end inventory and make room for those 2010 models that will be heading the showrooms.

BROWN: So you're going to see real deals?

KHALFANI-COX: I think we'll see even better deals, yes.

BROWN: Lynnette Khalfani-Cox -- appreciate it, Lynette. Thanks so much. Good advice.

New cars are one thing. Used cars and leases, a whole different animal, right? Well, we break it down for you at You can click on the "clunker debunker." Yes, that's what it's called.

You can go to big league baseball games your whole life and never ever touch a foul ball, let alone catch one, which is why tonight's "Breakout" story is going to amaze you.


BROWN: Of the hundreds of reports that feed in every day, we pick the very best, the most amazing, to be our "Breakout." Tonight's story is about a 12-year-old boy who took his glove to Sunday's Texas Rangers/Boston Red Sox game hoping to catch a foul ball. Well, what happened? Pretty incredible. Here's reporter Walt Maciborski of our Dallas affiliate KDAF (ph). Take a look.


WALT MACIBORSKI, DALLAS AFFILIATE REPORTER, KDAF (voice-over): 12-year-old C.J. Ramsey loves baseball. He's been playing it since he was 4 and has a shelf full of trophies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making that fast ball or every pitch --

MACIBORSKI: And every time he goes to a Texas Rangers game, he brings his glove, just in case he gets a shot at a foul ball. That shot came Sunday at the Rangers/Red Sox game.

C.J. RAMSEY, CAUGHT BACK-TO-BACK FOUL BALLS: Josh Hamilton was up and I saw it go up in the air and then it started coming. I was like, oh, gosh, this is coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes. That's how you do it.

RAMSEY: And then I caught it and I just stared at it for a second. And I thought, I caught this?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's why you bring your glove to the ballpark right there. You never know. He got a moment in time that he will never forget.

MACIBORSKI: But that moment wasn't over yet.

RAMSEY: I had just handed the ball to my uncle in case, you know -- well, we were just kind of joking around maybe he'd hit another one. And then he did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just went right to the release point. No. Again?

RAMSEY: I just kind of jumped and it was there. I was like, oh, my gosh.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a big ballpark, fellows, spread them around.

RAMSEY: And then I was like, wow, the chances of that happening -- the chances of me getting one was almost impossible and two is, like, is not going to happen. But it happened.

MACIBORSKI: And C.J.'s dad almost missed the whole thing while grabbing a hotdog.

SCOTT RAMSEY, C.J.'S FATHER: I happened to look up on the monitor and the TV and I said, that looks like C.J. I'm watching. And I said, it is C.J. He just caught a foul ball. And I said, how great is that?

MACIBORSKI: Then a moment later, he heard a roar in the stadium.

S. RAMSEY: I said, oh, they're showing it again. And I thought, wait a minute, that's a different catch. That's another foul ball. He's caught two foul balls. And then I could see where everybody was giving him a standing ovation.

MACIBORSKI: Now C.J.'s going to have to make a little more room on his trophy shelf.


BROWN: That is amazing. Mathematicians think, we checked, that the odds of that happening are about 3.1 million to one.

That is it. That's our show for tonight. Have a good one. We are back tomorrow night, same time.

Right now, "LARRY KING LIVE."