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Jackson's Doctor's Home Searched; Money to Keep Cops on Beat; President Digs in His Heels on Health Care

Aired July 28, 2009 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And a shocking new study shows that if you text while driving, you may be -- get this -- 23 times more likely to have an accident and maybe even die.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Another stunning turn today in the investigation of Michael Jackson's death. Federal agents and police today searched the Las Vegas home and office of the pop star's physician, who allegedly gave Jackson a powerful drug 24 hours before he died.

Let's go Vegas right now.

CNN's Ted Rowlands is on the scene. He's investigating. What are you picking up -- Ted?

TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, two search warrants, as you mentioned, were served. The one at Dr. Conrad Murray's home is completed, in terms of their search. It took about three hours. Murray, according to a neighbor, was in the house while agents acts searched the home.

When they came can out, agents had very little with them. It looked as though they had only copied a few computer hard drives -- not much more than that.

A different story here at his clinic Las Vegas. They've been at it for five hours. And we were just told to expect that it could be another two hours. Clearly, they're going through, with the help of the DEA, the medical files that are pertinent to this investigation.

This is exactly what we saw happen in Houston last week. And when that search warrant was returned to court, that search warrant said that they were looking for materials that would support a "manslaughter" case, potentially. That's expected to be exactly what's happening here.

Meanwhile, this comes a day after a source tells us that Conrad Murray did give Michael Jackson the powerful drug, Diprivan. And it comes just prior to what we are expecting to be the coroner's final report on this, which should have a cause of death. We expect that as early as the end of the week.

Clearly, this investigation continues. Dr. Conrad Murray is not a suspect, but clearly the focus of this investigation at this time -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Where is Dr. Murray right now, Ted?

And what is his attorney saying about all of this?

ROWLANDS: His attorneys aren't commenting on today's search warrants. They have commented in the past after the -- the Friday search warrants in Houston or last week's search warrants in Houston. They said that they were cooperating and they acknowledged the warrants.

A neighbor told us that Murray was in the house with his family -- or with members of his family -- while the search was going on.

Officially, they would not confirm it and his lawyers haven't confirmed it. But as soon as the search was done, they kicked all of us out. We were right outside his house and these private security forces in a gated community kicked us out and said the family needs time.

Presumably, someone was in that house. And according to the neighbors, Murray was in the house and has spent a considerable amount of the last few weeks here in Las Vegas.

BLITZER: Ted Rowlands on the scene for us.

Ted, thanks very much.

We're going to have more later this hour on what's going on.

Jim Moret of "INSIDE EDITION" is going to be joining us.

We'll update you on information as it comes in.

To keep cops on the beat in these tough times, the Obama administration is now sending extra money to police departments nationwide. But some of America's biggest cities are being stiffed in this particular stimulus program.

Let's go to New York.

CNN's Mary Snow has been looking into this story for us -- Mary, what are you finding out?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, earlier today, the vice president and attorney general were in Philadelphia to announce this latest round of stimulus money. But it's not without controversy, including here in New York.


SNOW: (voice-over): The major cities were skipped, but more than 1,000 law enforcement agencies across the country, even stretching to the U.S. territory of Guam, are getting $1 billion in stimulus money. The goal is to prevent lay-offs, even hire new officers. Attorney General Eric Holder says in a sign of how tough economic times are, the Justice Department could only provide money to a fraction of the departments requesting aid.

ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We received applications from more than 7,000 cities and towns and made funding decisions based on crime rate, financial need and community policing activities.

SNOW: And it means there were plenty of cities not getting grants through the program known as COPS, Community Oriented Police Services. New York, Houston, Seattle and Pittsburgh were among those on the empty-handed list.

The vice president tried to soften the blow.

JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know our friends in New York were very disappointed they didn't get any COPS money this time out. But they're getting -- today, they're getting $6 million additional local aid immediately through the Justice Assistance Grant.

SNOW: But New York City's police commissioner says the nation's largest police force has different challenges than other cities. He says New York deserves additional federal money and was hoping to put more officers on the ground.

COMM. RAY KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE: We've been attacked successfully here twice. We've had eight major plots since September 11th. We know that terrorists want to come here, if they can.

SNOW: It's not the first time New York and Washington haven't seen eye to eye over police costs. In 2006, the city had anti-terror funds cut under the Bush administration that caused an uproar. This time around, New York's mayor says while he's frustrated, maybe it's a compliment that New York didn't get grant money because its crime rate is down.

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: It's a compliment we got left out. It's not a compliment that I like the results of, but I do like the recognition that we are doing well.


SNOW: Now, for how this overall program works, the attorney general says these grants will allow for almost 4,700 officers to be on the job for three years. One requirement, though, is that departments receiving this money will have to retain the officers for a fourth year -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary, thank you.

Mary Snow is in New York.

Also, in New York, Jack Cafferty.

He's got The "Cafferty File" -- Jack. JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, as lawmakers continue to squabble over health care reform with no deal in sight, it turns out that most Americans don't think members of Congress even understand the legislation they're working on.

A new Gallup poll shows only 27 percent of those surveyed say that Congress has a good understanding of the issues in the health care debate. That compares to 48 percent of Americans who say they personally understand the issues. And only 16 percent say both they and their representatives understand the issue.

These numbers are fairly depressing and they also explain why most Americans are apparently in no rush to see health care reform pass this year. Gallup suggests these finding goes to the larger point of how little trust Americans have in the people they send to Washington to represent them. Another recent poll found that only 17 percent say they have a lot of confidence in Congress.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Party might be its own worst enemy when it comes to health care reform. House leaders are now saying that their chamber will not vote on health care before the August recess, mostly due to the concerns of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Democrats.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had earlier insisted she had the votes to pass the bill before the August break. But now she says the House needs more time. A vote before the break is off the table, so to speak.

The Senate has already said they won't vote on health care until the fall.

With majorities in both houses of Congress, it seems more than a little curious that President Obama can't get his number one priority passed.

Here's the question: How confident are you that Congress understands the health care issue?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

Speaker Pelosi was a bit hasty in saying I have the votes and we can get this done before the recess.

BLITZER: She said something a little bit more precise. She said, when I bring it to the floor, it will pass. But she didn't exactly say when she will bring it to the floor. Obviously, she's not going to bring it to the floor until she's counted all those votes and knows for sure it will pass. She has that control.

CAFFERTY: All right, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a nuance.

CAFFERTY: Very well.

BLITZER: OK. Thank you.

Michelle Obama has health care experience -- is the first lady ready to get involved in the growing national debate?

I'll ask a key aide to the president.

Plus, the former secretary of State, Colin Powell, says what he really thinks about topics ranging from fellow Republican Sarah Palin to North Korea.

And talking on your cell phone while driving is bad enough, but a shocking new study shows how texting can be far more dangerous and deadly.


BLITZER: President Obama tried once again today to address the concerns of the 50 plus generation about a health care overhaul. He says criticisms of his reform plan are similar to that used against Medicare.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Saying somehow that government is going to take over your health care, you won't be able to choose your own doctor, they're going to ration care, they're going to tell you you can't get this or that or the other.

And you know what?

Medicare has been extraordinarily popular. It has worked. It has made people a lot healthier, given them security and we can do the same this time.


BLITZER: The president wanted a vote on health care legislation before Congress goes on recess at the end of the week. But wrangling with his own party -- let alone Republican opposition -- likely means a new deadline is absolutely necessary.

And joining us now from the North Lawn of the White House, Melody Barnes.

She's the president's domestic policy adviser.

Melody, thanks for coming n.

MELODY BARNES, WHITE HOUSE DOMESTIC POLICY ADVISER: It's always a pleasure to be with you, Wolf.

Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Is the president ready to compromise on the so-called public option -- a government-sponsored health insurance program -- in order to win over those conservative or moderate Democrats and some Republicans?

BARNES: Well, that's great question. Thanks for asking me, Wolf.

The president has been a long time advocate for a public health care option. And that's because he believes in several key principles.

One, that we have to increase competition because, two, that will drive down costs; that that kind of option will also increase choice -- the kind of choices that consumers will have.

Those are the principles that he brings to this health care reform debate. And that's what he takes to the table as he talks to Democrats and Republicans on the House and Senate side.

BLITZER: If there are other ways to increase competition, for example, allowing these health -- these private health insurance companies to go national -- to compete nationally, not just within a state -- would that be something he's open to?

BARNES: Well, as I said, the president believes in those key principles -- driving down costs, increasing competition, increasing choice. And that's what he believes the public health care option will do.

But, again, those -- those principles are what are key to him. At the same time, that's also why he supported that option for so long.

BLITZER: Well, let me rephrase the question then.

If there were no public option in this final bill, would he sign it?

BARNES: Wolf, you've asked the question a lot of different ways and my answer is still the same. He's been a long time advocate for that option because of those reasons. We're going to continue to talk to the House and Senate and make sure that he gets a bill on his desk this fall. And he believes that those principles are key to getting health care done and done right.

BLITZER: All right. Let's move on to another sensitive issue -- how to pay for health care for all Americans. It's not going to be cheap. Some say $1 trillion. He's got cuts that he wants to put forward that will bring in some of that money.

But is it going to require, when all the dust settles, an additional tax increase on rich Americans?

BARNES: Well, the president has long said he believes -- and he's put on the table savings to get this done. And he's advocated for that in several different ways. And he's put that on the table since he put his budget blueprint out back in February.

At the same time, again, he's also said, I'm going to bring people to the table. I want to hear what everyone has to say so we can get the rest of the way to paying for these this health care reform bill.

So he's in a posture of listening and being intrigued by things that he's hearing. But, again, he believes savings is the key way to get this done.

BLITZER: Well, he's certainly open to a tax surcharge, as it's called, for people earning more than, let's say, $300,000 or $350,000 a year.

BARNES: Well, he said that he's intrigued by that proposal, but he wants to hear more. There are a lot of proposals that are going back and forth in the various committees as the Finance Committee and as the House works through this. But there hasn't been a consensus reached on that.

He wants to hear what the consensus is. And he's intrigued by the fact that they want to get this done along with him.

BLITZER: If there is legislation that gets passed in the House and Senate and he signs it into law, when will these reforms actually start to take shape?

BARNES: Well, we think there are -- there are a lot of reforms that will take -- begin to -- people will see their benefit almost immediately. We know that over the long-term, people will see their costs start to go down and that's been his primary concern, that middle class people who are seeing their incomes drop, but their health care premiums go up, be able to pay for health care reform.

At the same time, there are things that we'll be able to see immediately. People will be able to get the preventive care that they need. That will also drive down health care costs. And they will be able to do that without additional out of pocket expenses.


BARNES: We'll also begin to...

BLITZER: Well, I was going to...

BARNES: ...see a cap...

BLITZER: I was going to interrupt because some of the legislation says it's really not going to take effect until 2013.

BARNES: Well, there are other things that we'll be able to see almost immediately. We'll be able to see the fact that health care providers will have to provide -- think about the quality of care that they're providing, and not necessarily the most expensive care, as being the best care that's being provided. The kids will be able to stay on their -- on plans until they reach the age of 26, so that we know a broader population that parents and their guardians are concerned about, will be covered. We also know that gender discrimination -- if you're a woman and your health care costs right now are higher simply because you're a woman, that that's no longer going to be allowed.

BLITZER: And all of that will take effect right away, as soon as the president signs it into law?

BARNES: Well, no. The -- things will be phased in based on the implementation data of the bill. But we know that we'll start to see those things phased in as soon as Congress allows for that deadline or the deadline to kick in.

BLITZER: Is the first lady ready to use her enormous political popularity right now to be more assertive in helping the president get health care reform passed?

BARNES: Well, I think the first lady is going to stay the course. I mean she's always been actively engaged in this conversation, starting with the garden and issues of child nutrition and childhood obesity -- those kind of preventive and wellness issues that we know help drive down health care costs. And she's going to continue to talk to American families about those issues because she knows they're as concerned about them as she is concerned about them for her own family.

BLITZER: Melody Barnes is the president's domestic policy adviser.

Melody, thanks for joining us.

BARNES: Great. Thanks so much, Wolf.

I appreciate it.

BLITZER: Under pressure from critics, Iran frees hundreds of people detained in a violent crackdown on election protesters and the supreme leader takes action over claims of abuse at one of its prisons.

And a scientific breakthrough -- the injection that made this rat a little blue could help with people with devastating spinal injuries. We'll explain.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: There's word coming in from Kansas.

Let's go to Alina Cho right now for the details.

What are we learning -- Alina?

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, we have this just in to CNN. The man accused of fatally shooting Kansas abortion provider George Tiller has pleaded not guilty to charges of first degree murder. A Kansas judge ordered anti-abortion activist Scott Roeder to stand trial in September. Tiller was gunned down at his church back in May. He ran a women's clinic in which he performed late-term abortions.

Iran has ordered the release of 140 people detained during those mass protests after the disputed presidential election. But authorities say some 200 people will stay in prison, including some prominent political figures. The move comes after Iran's supreme leader ordered the closure of the prison where human rights groups say jailed protestors were killed.

Developments now on the story about the controversy over Barack Obama's birth certificate. Yesterday, the director of the Hawaii Department of Health issued another statement that she had, in fact, seen Barack Obama's original birth certificate, which is on file with the department's vital records office. Now, the official repeated that Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961. She made a similar statement last October.

Now, there have been repeated requests from some of the president's critics for the release of his original birth certificate. But Hawaii law prevents the actual release of that document to the public. CNN had previously reported that when Hawaii's vital records office went paperless back in 2001, the original paper documents were discarded. Well, yesterday, a spokesperson for the Hawaii Department of Health said, in fact, that paper birth records have been retained, in addition to the department's electronic records.

CNN and other news organizations have thoroughly debunked the online rumors about the president's birthplace.

And food dye -- well, it usually gets a bad rap. But scientists have discovered that blue dye that makes candy and sports drinks blue may actually help people with spinal injuries.

Listen to this. When University of Rochester researchers injected a compound called Brilliant Blue G into rats with spinal cord injuries, the rodents were actually able to walk again -- albeit it with a limp. They also turned temporarily blue.

The team plans to seek FDA approval for clinical trials of BBG, as it's called, on humans -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: A cute little rodent there.

CHO: Yes.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you.

Candid words from Colin Powell on nuclear North Korea.


COLIN POWELL, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: They're not crazy. They are some of the best, toughest negotiators I have ever dealt with.


BLITZER: He tells CNN's Larry King in an exclusive interview how he thinks the Obama administration is handling negotiations with the regime.

Just how dangerous is texting while driving?

We're going to tell you about the shocking results of one study into that very bad habit.

And the home and office of Michael Jackson's doctor raided -- we'll talk to someone, Jim Moret, who has been investigating what's going on in this growing manslaughter investigation.



Happening now, Colin Powell talks candidly about Sarah Palin -- what the former secretary of State has to say about John McCain's running mate now.

Is she ready for higher political office?

And invisible wounds -- they're taking a huge toll on our troops in the battlefield. CNN I guess why the U.S. military is sending soldiers with brain injuries back to war.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Former secretary of State Colin Powell calls the North Koreans tough, but not crazy. In an exclusive interview, Powell tells CNN's Larry King how he thinks the current Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, is dealing with that regime.


POWELL: They live in a rather odd, bizarre system, as we know. Some people call the system crazy. But I'm telling you, Larry, they're not crazy. They are some of the best, toughest negotiators I have ever dealt with.

And you can read the whole history of the negotiation with North Korea going back to the Korean armistice discussions and you'll find they know what their positions are. And they will drive you crazy. And they will use your impatience against you.

And so let's call them outrageous. Let's call them even crazy as a regime. But they are good, tough negotiators.

LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: How do you think Secretary Clinton is dealing with it? POWELL: I think she's dealing with them properly. She's sticking with the six party framework. You always find a situation with the North Koreans where if you say something to them that is perhaps not as diplomatic as you might say something, they'll respond in kind. They almost love it. They almost love it.

KING: What do they want?

POWELL: They want, one, survival of their system and their regime, number one.

Two, they desperately need a lot of economic aid and they need energy aid.

But they are quite prepared to let their people starve. They're quite prepared to let hundreds of thousands of people die to preserve the regime.

KING: And that's not crazy?

POWELL: The system's crazy. I'm just talking about their negotiations. Their negotiations are not crazy. You know, in the last year or two, they got off the terrorist list. They got their $25 million back. And they gave up nothing for it.

They're good negotiators, but they are a tyrannical, terrible regime.

KING: But you don't fear them militarily?

POWELL: Anything they would do militarily is suicidal. But I don't want them to have nuclear weapons. I want to get rid of those nuclear weapons. And President Bush used to say all the time, you know, there's a better life and world waiting for you if you get rid of these weapons. But they're not prepared to make that step. They're not yet confident that we really aren't committed to regime change.


BLITZER: You can watch all of Larry's exclusive interview with General Powell later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Here's a question -- can the Obama administration handle North Korea's tough negotiators?

Let's talk about that with Democratic strategist Bob Shrum and Republican strategist Alex Castellanos, CNN political contributor.

Do you have confidence the Obama team can handle these tough North Korean negotiators?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: Well, certainly if you're handling someone like North Korea, you want the toughest person in the Obama administration to do it. And that's Hilary Clinton. So I guess that's an encouraging thing.

But, you know, so far, the Obama administration has demonstrated this tendency to think that diplomacy is just discussion of ideas and not the exercise and the threat of real power. You know, we've got Iran developing -- continuing to develop nuclear weapons. We've got North Korea firing missiles with impunity. One day they're going to hit something.

So, no. Right now, we would love to see a little stronger hand from the Obama administration.

BLITZER: Well, is that -- because a lot of Republicans have pointed out this team -- this Obama team -- it's all sort of talk, let's have a discussion, but they're not scaring the bad guys.

ROBERT SHRUM, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Drawing on my vast diplomatic experience, let me respond to what he said from the perspective of his vast diplomatic experience. One, he was right at the beginning -- Hillary Clinton is the right person to be dealing with this. Number two, there really isn't, as Colin Powell suggested, much other alternative.

A, they have to be convinced that we are not interested in regime change; b, they have to know that there's a price that is going to be paid if they keep going down this road.

The same thing is true with Iran. I don't think Alex you are suggesting that we actually adopt the Dick Cheney solution and just start randomly dropping bombs all over the place.

CASTELLANOS: No, my suggestion is that they are a lot more willing to be reasonable if they see that you are carrying a big stick. And so far, no one has seen that from the Obama administration.

BLITZER: The North Koreans little exchange with Hillary Clinton over the past few days calling her a school girl and stuff like that.

SHRUM: But I think that is a sign they take her very seriously and think that she is going to be very tough. They generally tend to deride and attack most the people they worry about the most.

BLITZER: Alex, how much influence does Colin Powell have right now within the Republican Party?

CASTELLANOS: Colin Powell lost some influence during the last election when he supported President Obama but he is still a beloved figure in the Republican Party. He is one of the few Republicans that can go out there and reach independents. And the reason he's hurt Republicans is because Republicans love the guy a lot. He is a well respected part of the bush administration.

When you see Colin Powell now expressing his concerns for example about the Obama health care plan, that encourages a lot of Republicans. He is 72 years old. I guess after John McCain, maybe that's not too late to run for president. BLITZER: You think Colin Powell is still a formidable potential presidential candidate?

CASTELLANOS: I think he's made his intentions clear that that is not for him. But you know he's still respected voice; when it comes to foreign policy and the Republican Party, he is someone Republicans listen to.

BLITZER: How much should Democrats fear Colin Powell in helping to revive the Republican Party?

SHRUM: First of all, I think and I wish that he had been more respected by George W. Bush and the vice president when he was in the Bush administration.

CASTELLANOS: He was respected enough to go to the U.N. for President Bush in making administration...

SHRUM: Yes. And he's very angry at having been misled when he went up to give that speech at the U.N. and he said that publicly.

CASTELLANOS: Just as (INAUDIBLE) were and the Brits were and everyone. I'm sure we're all misled.

SHRUM: He believes that he was misled, given false evidence and giving the speech that he's ashamed he gave. And he said that. I don't think he is going to get involved in partisan politics.

I think he is very interested in weighing in on foreign policy. I think the president will listen to him, I think he will have some very real influence but the Republican Party wouldn't want him anyway. He is pro-choice and pro-gay rights, they would throw him out.

BLITZER: There are other Republicans who have very similar positions.

SHRUM: Yes, and they have to leave.

CASTELLANOS: Mostly the Democratic Party that has the pro-choice litmus test with fewer exceptions had actually...

SHRUM: Talking about Senator Bob Casey, we have a whole set of people who actually take the other side on this issue but Arlen Specter couldn't even get re-nominated in Pennsylvania as a Republican because he is pro-choice.

CASTELLANOS: I think Specter has other problems in Pennsylvania...

BLITZER: We'll leave it on that note, guys. Thanks for coming in.

SHRUM: Thank you.

BLITER: We've just received a new statement into CNN on one of our top stories: drug agents raiding Michael Jackson's doctor offices the second time. His lawyers have a new statement. We'll have that for you.

Plus Jim Moret is standing by live. Jim, from "Inside Edition," he's got some new insight on what could happen next, within the next few days.

Plus, a highly decorated soldier killed in Iraq in a bathroom and the killer, the army sent out a warning years ago. Wait until you hear the very strange circumstances of this case.


BLITZER: Back to the growing investigation into Michael Jackson's death, police today raided Dr. Conrad Murray's Las Vegas home and his office. What were they looking for? What could happen next in the probe?

We are joined from L.A. right now by Jim Moret, the chief correspondent for "Inside Edition." Jim, we just got a statement also from Ed Chernoff, the lawyer for Dr. Murray, among other things saying, "We can verify that at approximately 8 a.m. local time, officers from DEA, LAPD and various local agencies began executing a search war at Dr. Conrad Murray's Las Vegas home and office. The search warrant authorized investigators to look for medical records relating to Michael Jackson and all of his reported aliases. Dr. Murray was present during the search of his home and assisted the officers. Investigators left Dr. Murray's home around 12 noon, seizing cell phones and a computer hard drive. As of 2 p.m., the search at Dr. Murray's office continues."

Neither -- by the way, Ed Chernoff nor Dr. Murray is available for interviews at this point. What does all this say to you?

JIM MORET, CHIEF CORRESPONDENT, "INSIDE EDITION": Well, it says a couple of things. First, we know there was a four-hour search of Dr. Murray's home; it's the second major search in less than a week. Last week, Houston police assisted in the Texas search of another of Dr. Murray's offices.

And what we know is basically, through this statement, this is a paper trail. The DEA is trying to piece together not necessarily just prescriptions but e-mails and notes and charts and medical records; any correspondence the doctor might have had for a drug like Propofol that you can't even prescribe. They may be looking for lot numbers, for purchase orders, for checks, for payments made.

What we are really seeing is an intensifying, narrowing, investigation with respect to this doctor. But the note from Mr. Chernoff, the attorney, talking about aliases, I talked to one doctor who treated Michael Jackson and he is familiar with the second autopsy. He believes there are 19 doctors being investigated in some way or another and that Michael Jackson used at least 11 aliases.

This tells you there could be a large number of doctors and a very complex investigation when you really try to piece together Michael Jackson's drug history.

BLITZER: Manslaughter in California -- you are a lawyer, how hard is to prove that? Jim?

MORET: Manslaughter? Oh, I'm sorry, manslaughter -- basically, what they have to show is an involuntary killing. There's no intent to kill. What the doctor's statements to investigators indicate -- he may have admitted to investigators that he gave Propofol to Michael Jackson and was with Michael Jackson when he died.

We know from other doctors that you cannot give Propofol outside of a hospital setting. It is not meant to be used outside of a hospital and when it is used you have to be specifically monitored and there has to be at least one doctor monitoring at all times.

So, those statements are very incriminating if this doctor was, even in his words, the last doctor standing when Michael Jackson died, and even though there were other doctors involved they could still put together a case for involuntary manslaughter against this doctor. And clearly based upon the search warrant, they are looking for evidence of manslaughter.

BLITZER: And quickly, the custody hearing, they keep putting that off for the three kids. What are you hearing about that?

MORET: Well, Katherine Jackson's attorney was on the "Today Show" yesterday, and his statements were very optimistic. He said that they are working toward a resolution. They are trying to get to a resolution outside of court and then simply go to the judge on August 3rd when both the estate and the executors and the custody, all of that will be heard at the same time by the same judge.

They can simply go to the judge, say that is our agreement with respect to these three kids, do you approve it or not?

Jim Moret thanks as usual.

MORET: Sure.

BLITZER: A new Pentagon report finds that a U.S. soldier was electrocuted in the shower in Iraq last year due to numerous failures by both the U.S. military and also a major defense contractor.

Abbie Boudreau from our Special Investigations Unit has been following this story now for more than a year and has new details. What are you picking up, Abbie?

ABBIE BOUDREAU, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT: Well, Wolf the IG report has a lot of blame to go around for the electrocution of Staff Sergeant Ryan Maseth. The report says multiple systems in organizations failed, exposing the Sergeant Maseth to unacceptable risk.

The report also found that the U.S. contractor responsible for the base, KBR, failed to properly ground a water pump on the roof of Sergeant Maseth's shower, which then short circuited, leading to his death.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BOUDREAU: Ryan Maseth was 24 years old, from Pittsburgh. No ordinary soldier, Ryan Maseth was highly decorated; an army ranger, in the Special Forces, a Green Beret. He was trained to survive. One of three brothers serving in Iraq.

Cheryl Harris is Ryan's mother.

CHERYL HARRIS, RYAN MASETH'S MOTHER: I remember saying to them which one and they finally said Ryan.

BOUDREAU: But Ryan Maseth did not die on the battlefield, he died on a U.S. base in his bathroom.

HARRIS: I can't make sense around Ryan's death that he died like that. That he was so trained.

BOUDREAU: She was told her son was electrocuted while he was taking a shower. She says army officials told her he may have been holding a small appliance when it happened.

HARRIS: It just created so much doubt. And I know Ryan. I know that he would not have been in the shower with a small appliance and electrocuted himself.

HARRIS: Ryan's mother felt the army wasn't telling her the whole truth. She kept pushing; soon she uncovered what really happened to her son.

The army finally told her that her son's shower water pump was improperly grounded. It short circuited, sending a lethal jolt electricity through him, leaving burn marks across his body and even singeing his hair. Reports showed he likely suffered a long, painful death.

Electrocutions in Iraq have been a problem the army has known about for years. In 2004, the army even issued this warning bulletin, calling electrocution a killer, growing at an alarming rate.


BLITZER: And there have been other soldiers who have been electrocuted, you've discovered that as well, right Abbie?

BOUDREAU: Yes Wolf -- 18 soldiers electrocuted in Iraq since 2003. The new IG report found that nine of them were killed by improper grounding or faulty equipment.

We also know two wrongful death lawsuits were filed against KBR by families of soldiers. But today the company was dismissed from one lawsuit of one of those deaths. The lawsuit by Ryan Maseth's family is still in court. KBR has denied any responsibility in any of the deaths.

The exact circumstances and who might be responsible in the other deaths have not been made public.

BLITZER: What does KBR specifically, Abbie, have to say about this new inspector general report?

BOUDREAU: Well, a KBR spokesperson told CNN the company continues to maintain that it was not responsible for Maseth's death or any of the others. KBR states that the building where Maseth died was there before U.S. troops even moved in and that it had been, quote, "not been grounded or bonded by the contractors who built the structure."

So there you have it.

BLITZER: Do we know -- and here is the key question -- if conditions are safer now?

BOUDREAU: You are right, that is the key question, wolf. But we know that some of the repairs have been made but top experts tell us that thousands of buildings have not yet been inspected and that dangerous conditions still exist in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

And Wolf, one other quick thing, whenever we do these stories we always hear from soldiers -- either people who are still in the military or who recently got out telling us about the kinds of conditions that their building was in, seeing raw wires in their buildings. So it's still a concern and we'll continue to follow this story.

BLITZER: They've got to work at this. And they have to fix it and they have to do it right away.

Abbie thanks for that report.

BLITZER: You probably watched people text while driving, maybe you've done it yourself, we have got some eye-opening video for you. What you are narrowly avoiding and what you're not when you text in the car.

Plus, the president's choice in adverbs may come back to haunt him on T-shirts, cartoons, you name it. America all of a sudden stuck on the word "stupidly."

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Talking on your cell phone while driving is really bad enough but new research shows that texting while driving can be extraordinarily dangerous.

CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this story for us. Brian, it's really a no-brainer.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is right that research from Virginia Tech University, Wolf, shows just how dangerous texting behind the wheel really is. And the video like this that we're going to show you from this study and from other sources really hits home just how quickly things can go wrong once you start hitting those keypads. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): From inside the car, a close call captured on video, the screen on the top right shows a driver reaching down and punching cell phone keys. Simultaneously, on the top left, a child darts out into the street. She looks up just in time to avoid a collision that could have killed the youngster.

This motorist knew she was under surveillance. She was part of a newly-released study on distracted driving from Virginia Tech's Transportation Institute.

TOM DINGUS, VIRGINIA TECH TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE: The most alarming result that we found is that texting while driving is 23 times more dangerous than just driving by itself; and that's a huge number.

TODD: Evidence of that is everywhere. In this well-circulated video, the driver of a handicapped bus in Texas picks up a device and starts hitting the key pad, looks up far too late and this is the result.

In real world situations, testing hundreds of people driving millions of miles, the study found texting is more dangerous than calling on a cell phone and far more dangerous than listening on one. The testers measured six-second time frames and found drivers texting took their eyes off the road for almost five of those six seconds.

RICH HANOWSKI, VIRGINIA TECH TRANSPORTATION INSTITUTE: So if you look at highway speeds going at say, 55 miles an hour, that would take you more than the length of a football field without your eyes on the forward road way. And a lot can happen in that time period.


TODD: And an alarming number of us are engaging in this very dangerous behavior. In a recent survey by Triple A, 21 percent of drivers admitted to reading or sending a text message or email while driving in that previous month Wolf. It is a huge problem all over the country.

BLITZER: Is texting while driving actually against the law?

TODD: You would be surprised in how few states it is against the law. In ten states and the district of Columbia Wolf -- we're going to show you the map right here -- ten states in D.C., only in those places, is it against the law.

But in four states, they're going to have laws by the end of this year making it illegal. But still 14 states and D.C., not enough and the researchers at Virginia Tech say this has got to be a nationwide ban. And this is just too dangerous to practice.

BLITZER: Yes, it makes me crazy. I see teenagers, especially...

TODD: Yes, you see it all of the time. BLITZER: Yes.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much.

Thought your car was eligible for the government's new cash for clunkers program? You might want to check again. Last-minute changes to thousands of vehicles fuel economy ratings by the Environmental Protection Agency, has left some car owners fuming.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. Abbi, what happened?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, it seemed that some cars magically got more fuel efficient over the weekend. According at least to government figures, for the Cash for Clunkers Program, 18 is the magic number. If your vehicle gets 18 miles a gallon or less, you could be eligible for up to $4,500.

All the numbers are listed at the Web site from the, but on Friday those numbers we're adjusted. The EPA reviews that figures on some 32,000 models and some cars became ineligible overnight.

The automotive Web site has been collecting examples from angry readers that's been posting on blogs and on consumer Web sites and on their Web sites. The owner with a 1993 Toyota Camry it did get 18 miles a gallon, now, it's got 19. No longer eligible. Same for a 1992 Saab, that a reader wrote in about -- this is just small changes Wolf, but it's the difference between a few thousand dollars and nothing at all.

BLITZER: Yes, the government wants to give away a billion dollars. All right, so why the sudden change?

TATTON: Well, the EPA is saying that they wanted to put the most precise information out there ahead of this program starting so that's why they did this big review. They say, roughly, 100 vehicles were affected in terms of eligibility.

Some of them in fact, became eligible so it's worth checking. If you check last week, still not that much relief for the people who really thought they were going to get this money and now they lost out.

BLITZER: And now, they're not. All right, Abbi thank you.

Let's go to Jack, for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The government giveth, the government taketh away.

BLITZER: Yes, they certainly do.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: How confident are you Congress understands the health care issue? Dr. G. in Leonardtown, Maryland: "I think the question should have been how confident are you that Congress has your best interest at heart when it comes to this health care issue?" Answer: Not at all. It seems Congress is intoxicated by lobbyists and their deep pockets and we're just a piece of chewing gum stuck to the bottom of their expensive shoes."

Kathy in Georgia: "I think all members of Congress during their recess should be required to go to a county hospital and sit in the Emergency Room for 24 hours, three days a week. Maybe what they see there would for one time in their lives encourage them to do the right thing."

Amber in Texas writes: "Jack, does anyone in Congress really understand anything about what it's like to live paycheck to paycheck with a sick child and no health insurance? I say, take away their health care, make them pay 20 percent of their income to have it and see how they start liking the real America."

Jan says: "I think Congress understands health care reform perfectly. The ones who are in debt to the insurance companies also understand perfectly that they will be punished if they move health care forward."

Joe says, "They understand as much as can be expected. They know that the people want health care and they know that millions need it."

Ron in South Carolina: "As slow as Congress is, it'll be a long time before they understand; they have to be told many, many times and then still, they may not get it. If many of them were in Obama's age group, though, the issue would already be resolved."

And F. in Manchester, New Hampshire: "I don't care if Congress doesn't understand health care reform I just want them to pass it so I can get affordable health care before I die."

If you didn't see your email here, you can go to my blog at and look for yours there -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We will Jack, thank you.

Sarah Palin's political future, Colin Powell now weighing in on a fellow Republican's prospects.

And a rape case that pits a mother against her own daughter, it's a story you'll see only here on CNN.


BLITZER: President Obama may have wished he chose his words more carefully when weighing in on Professor Gates controversial arrest.

Here's CNN Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After being endlessly mocked as perfect, now, he's got to save himself...

OBAMA: The Cambridge police...

MOOS: ...from himself.

OBAMA: ...acted stupidly -- stupidly, stupidly, stupidly.

MOOS: Even after the President admitted he could have recalibrated his words that one word reoccurs.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the Cambridge were acting...


MOOS: Or as the English say...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stupidly, can you repeat me? Stupidly.

MOOS: The next thing you know, it went from the president's mouth to T-shirts, "I'm with stupidly" to bumper stickers -- "Stupid as stupidly says," "Two halves who look stupidly now."

Even the professor's words have been featured. The words Professor Gates reportedly said to Officer Crowley. "I'll speak with your mama outside."

The celebrity Web site TMZ chased down the professor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir do you have any good mama and your mama jokes?

MOOS: If only President Obama hadn't commented. Now, he is being portrayed with his foot in his mouth in a teachable moment with Vice President Biden who advises, "I like it with salt."

Jon Stewart joked about trying to save the President.

JON STEWART, HOST "THE DAILY SHOW": What does it say about race relations in America?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, don't, answer.

MOOS: Too late.

OBAMA: Acted stupidly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, the president is stupid or the cop is stupid or Gates is stupid. Or we're all stupid.

MOOS: Of course we've all said things stupidly for instance the time I called former President Nixon, President Reagan. President Reagan -- I'm sorry President Nixon...


MOOS: And President Bush has said more than that.

GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Too many OB/GYN's aren't able to practice their love with women all across this country.

MOOS: And living forever on the Web there is that beaut from the beauty queen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: South Africa and Iraq and everywhere like that.

MOOS: America is a free country where everyone is free to act.


Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: And happening now, Americans exporting terror. Authorities say this construction worker is training for Jihad in North Carolina and on the target list, Israel.

Broken government, why would a soldier suffering from not one, not two, not three but multiple bomb attacks return to the battlefield? Is brain trauma so great it's comparable to a patient suffering from Alzheimer's?

CNN's Barbara Starr, with a wakeup call to men and women serving in the United States military.

Also, this hour only on CNN: an Arizona crime triggering international controversy. Why is the mother of a child rape victim ashamed of her own daughter?

And how is law enforcement dealing with lingering cultural differences when it comes to rape.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in CNN's Command Center for breaking news.