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The Situation Room

Black Lawmakers' Warning to President Obama; Major Health Care Reform Loophole Found?; America's Food Safety System

Aired December 11, 2009 - 16:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: how five Muslim Americans wound up in jail in Pakistan accused of planning acts of terror -- this hour, their journey from a D.C. area mosque where they allegedly embraced religion and jihad.

Plus: patient advocates crying out about a loophole hidden in the new Senate health care reform bill. It could -- could -- severely limit the amount of money spent to save your life.

And a wakeup call for President Obama from African-American lawmakers. They say he hasn't been paying enough attention to misery in the black community. I will ask Congresswoman Barbara Lee if she feels betrayed.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're now able to show you the faces behind the new fears that future terrorists are being raised and radicalized right here in the United States. Five Muslim Americans under arrest in Pakistan right now are being transferred to a new jail for security reasons.

A senior U.S. official says Pakistani police have indicated the five might be deported back to the United States, but he says there's no word on that from the government of Pakistan.

Our Brian Todd spoke today with leaders of a Virginia mosque where the suspects worshipped.

What did they say, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, some very compelling comments and some very invigorating defense of these young men from at least three leaders of this mosque here in Northern Virginia. We have confirmed this afternoon that all five of these young men who went missing and were arrested in Pakistan did worship at this mosque.

This is Alexandria chapter of a group called the Islamic Circle of North America. Again, the leaders of this mosque came out and said, number one, they wanted to make clear they believe that this mosque was not the source of any radicalization of these young men, if indeed that any radicalization took place.

They wouldn't even go as far as to acknowledge that the young men were radicalized, despite some interrogation reports from the Pakistanis that they were and that they planned to go to Afghanistan and wage jihad. But the people here say these were five young men who were very community-oriented, very normal. Here's some comments that we found especially compelling from the youth coordinator of this mosque, a gentleman by the name of Mustafa Abu Maryam talking about his dealings with these young men who he says he's known for years.


MUSTAFA ABU MARYAM, VOLUNTEER YOUTH COORDINATOR: Our youth group did many things together, like going swimming, playing basketball, soccer, volleyball, camping and the like.

Besides this, and we would try to help our community, for example, cooking during Ramadan meals, as well as helping out with the parking. Our whole focus was community, community, community.

During my time knowing these young men, I never observed any extreme behavior from them. I never became suspicious that they were planning to do harm to anyone else. I have always known these kids as fun- loving, career-focused children that had a bright future for themselves. You know, I hope all of this is not true. I hope it's not what it seems to be.


TODD: Maryam said he never suspected that any of these five young men would harm anyone. He and others here just profess that they're shocked that these young men may have been planning anything, any kind of attacks against Americans or other Western interests.

Also, Wolf, the families of those -- of those young men, according to the leaders of this mosque, not ready to speak publicly just yet.

BLITZER: Brian, we're going to have a lot more on this story coming up. Our Arwa Damon is on the scene. She's getting new information in Pakistan. She spoke today with the Pakistan minister of interior. We will go to her shortly. Brian Todd on the scene for us in Virginia.

Meanwhile, other news, the most sweeping changes to America's financial regulation system since the new deal just approved by the House of Representatives. It passed by a party-line vote of 223-202 a year after Wall Street failures helped plunge the nation into recession.

The legislation would give government new powers to break up companies that threaten the economy and would impose more oversight on the largest banks and Wall Street financial firms. The Senate is expected to act on its version of the overhaul early next year, significant differences between the Senate and the House. They will have to resolve those, assuming the Senate passes its version.

Meanwhile, a new crackdown by the Obama administration on those huge paychecks at bailed-out companies. The president's so-called pay czar is targeting four companies and its highest-paid employees.

Our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry, is there. Ed, you had a chance to speak with that pay czar, Ken Feinberg.

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf, Ken Feinberg, very powerful. As you know, back in October he cut the pay of the 25 top executives at several bailed-out companies. Now he's giving sort of the next level of executives at some of these companies a haircut, because he believes that pay on Wall Street should be based on performance, not based on risky behavior.


HENRY (voice-over): While the president is only turning up the heat on four companies that got the biggest taxpayer bailouts, he's trying to send a message to corporate boards all across America.

KENNETH FEINBERG, SPECIAL MASTER FOR EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION: We have to rein in excessive compensation practices and tie compensation not to some guaranteed cash, but to long-term performance, so that, as the company thrives, the individual in the company thrives as well.

HENRY: The new restrictions impact the 26th through 100th top earners at AIG, Citigroup, General Motors and GMAC. Their Cash salaries are now limited to $500,000 a year, and cash only make up 45 percent of the total pay package. But there could be a loophole, because there's no cap on supersized bonuses.

FEINBERG: It really isn't the role of the federal government to determine how much of a bonus in -- within that pool that person should get or that person should get. We're not micromanaging.

HENRY: But the new restrictions seem to micromanage in other ways. In addition to the cash salary cap, bonuses cannot be redeemed for three years and must come from a pool of money based on long-term performance, a contradiction we pressed pay czar Kenneth Feinberg about.

(on camera): But you are micromanaging, it appears, their salary. You're saying a cap.

FEINBERG: Well, what we're doing is saying this. First, in the great majority of cases, with all due respect, a $500,000 maximum base cash salary is -- is more than reasonable as a limitation. Secondly, if there's an exceptional case where an additional amount should be allocated in base salary, we will review that.

HENRY: Feinberg said he's encouraged by Goldman Sachs' voluntary decision to skip cash bonuses. But he understands the anger about others raking in big bucks during 10 percent unemployment.

FEINBERG: I am doing what I can under the law to try and right -- somewhat right that balance, and hopefully we will see some long-term impact on excessive Wall Street compensation.


HENRY: Now, the big picture here is that the president and his top aides knows it looks bad for Wall Street to be collecting big paychecks again when so many people on Main Street are still hurting.

That's while we're told on Monday the president is also calling in the heads of the big banks in this country here at the White House to sort of press them on lending more to small businesses and consumers. A lot of frustration that these bailed-out banks have not really helped a lot of people on Main Street -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry, we're going to watch this story and assess it as well. We will have more coming up.

But, in the meantime, let's check in with Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to the big city.

BLITZER: Thank you. Nice to be here.

CAFFERTY: Almost as cold as Buffalo, isn't it?

BLITZER: Very cold yes. No snow, no snow, though.

CAFFERTY: No, no snow. That's good.

While world leaders meet to talk about combating climate change in Copenhagen, some people say that population control is at the end of the day the only real way to fight it.

The Chinese instituted a policy limiting the number of children each family can have 30 years ago. And they claim that, since that time, they have prevented 400 million births and saved carbon emissions to the tune of 18 million tons a year.

And it's not just the Chinese. There's a piece in the Canadian newspaper "The Financial Post" suggesting the real inconvenient truth is that humans are overpopulating the world.

It suggests every nation should adopt China's one-child policy, because if we don't control the Earth's population, we will eventually destroy or run out of everything, from other species to vegetation, resources, the atmosphere, oceans, water supply. And it doesn't matter whether the globe heats up or doesn't.

This piece points out that despite China's dirty coal plants, it is a world leader in creating policy to combat the destruction of the environment.

One study shows -- this is interesting -- that if from now on, starting today, every woman had only one child, the world's population would actually decline from 6.5 billion now to 5.5 billion by 2050.

But if we do nothing, the population could soar to an unsustainable nine billion people during that same time.

Needless to say, there are lots of folks who disagree vehemently with the idea of population control, fundamentalist leaders, people who oppose birth control and politicians from many of the emerging economies.

But, nevertheless, that's our question: Should mandatory population control become a part of the fight against global warming?

Go to Post a comment on my blog. It's too many people, especially in New York. There are.


BLITZER: It's a provocative question. It's a serious subject, too.

CAFFERTY: It's a provocative question. Oh, it is a very serious...


CAFFERTY: From 6.5 billion down to 5.5 billion by 2050. And if we do nothing, it will go up to nine billion. And at some point there's not going to be enough stuff for anybody.

BLITZER: At some point.


BLITZER: You and I will be long gone by then.

CAFFERTY: Oh, yes, yes, it doesn't apply to us.


BLITZER: All right, Jack, thanks very much.


BLITZER: If you're being treated for cancer, patient advocates fear you will pay a dangerous price for health care reform. We're taking a closer look into a loophole in the new Senate compromise.

President Obama's being scolded by African-American leaders. I will ask Congresswoman Barbara Lee about the tension between the White House and the Congressional Black Caucus. She's the chair of the caucus.

And a big red flag for a powerful senator. We're talking about the Banking Committee Chairman, Chris Dodd, a new sign that his reelection bid in Connecticut may be in more trouble than ever.


BLITZER: We're digging deeper into the Senate's new health care reform compromise. A loophole has been discovered tucked into that massive legislation that could -- repeat, could -- limit spending to treat cancer and other costly illnesses, and it's raising some serious concerns.

Let's bring in our congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar. She's up on the Hill working the story. What's going on, Brianna?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one of the promises that Democrats, including President Obama, have made, they have said that no American should go bankrupt because they get sick.

And one of the ways that they said they would do this is by stopping an insurance company practice of capping the amount of coverage, insurance coverage, that a patient gets in a dollar amount form, both over the course of their lifetime and over the course of any given year.

So, that is the language that actually passed the House bill already. And in the Senate bill that is currently being debated, there is an eradication of those lifetime caps, but take a look on the issue of annual caps, what this bill says.

It says insurance companies may not establish unreasonable annual limits. And that means that there can be annual caps, as long as they are reasonable, a term that patients-rights advocates say creates a huge loophole here.

I asked Senator Harkin, who is the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, about this change.


KEILAR: The Senate bill now allows annual limits on coverage. Doesn't that go against one of the fundamental promises Democrats have made in reform? What is this going to mean for say the colon cancer patient whose bills top $200,000 a year?

SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: Well, again, one of the compromises we had to make, we do have no lifetime caps, and we put in there no unreasonable annual caps.

KEILAR: But what does that mean?

HARKIN: Well, that's to be developed by the secretary of health and human services.


KEILAR: And certainly Democrats like Senator Harkin feel their hands were tied here. They say they had to make that compromise, because telling insurance companies that they had to get rid of those annual caps altogether, Wolf, they say that would have increased the cost of health insurance premiums for all Americans.

BLITZER: Brianna, who put this provision in the bill?

KEILAR: It's really unclear exactly the person who put this in the bill, but what we do know is that this was a compromise worked out behind closed doors in the office of Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid. Senator Harkin took place -- or took part in those meetings, as did some White House officials, and so they obviously came to this compromise behind closed doors. And it's now in the bill. But it really caught patients-rights advocates off guard, for instance, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. They are the ones who saw this in the bill, and they have major concerns. They say it raises major questions -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We will see if it's removed. We will see what happens. And you will stay on top of it for us. Brianna, thank you.

A new blow for Senator Chris Dodd and his struggling reelection bid in Connecticut. An influential nonpartisan observer of congressional races now that warns Dodd is at higher risk of losing his seat to Republicans.

Our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, is joining us.

Candy, what's going on in Connecticut right now?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, there's a visitor up in Connecticut. It is Vice President Joe Biden, he of course a longtime friend of Senator Dodd, but now in the position of being the vice president. He is making a couple of stops up there today.

He was supposed to be with Senator Dodd, who remained in Washington because of possible health care votes, but nonetheless Vice President Biden is up in Connecticut doing two or three events, one of them a fund-raiser for Senator Dodd, because he is very much in trouble here when you look at least a year out toward Dodd's reelection bid.

And here's what we're finding. That report you mentioned is called "The Cook Report." And The Cook Report is widely read by people to what's going on in these races. We have seen Senator Dodd move from what was called a tossup race -- that is, could go either way -- to a leans Republican race. And this for a senator who's been there almost three decades is pretty troublesome.

If you put him up, as one poll did, against potential Republicans who may win the primary, the Republican primary there, Senator Dodd loses to both Republicans, albeit by a slim margin. And probably, Wolf, the most telling measure of Senator Dodd's problems at this point is that his approval rating is under 50 percent. And you know any time an incumbent, any time someone who is holding office who is running for reelection is under the 50 approval rating, that is a huge red flag.

BLITZER: Candy, why is Senator Dodd in such trouble?

CROWLEY: Let me count the ways. I think it goes back to a lot of things.

First of all, he had some questions about a VIP loan that he got from a company, Countrywide. That was -- a lot of that was put to rest, but, nonetheless, it left a bad taste in some people's mouth. He ran for president and basically moved his family out to Iowa, made a big show of putting his children in an Iowa school. So, he -- people were calling him the third Iowa senator.

He seemed a little cozy to bankers, but, really, Wolf, incumbency is looking like it's going to be a big drag this year. Right now, it looks as though Senator Dodd has a lot of the winds blowing against him.

BLITZER: The bottom-line question, can he pull it out?

CROWLEY: Sure, because one of the beautiful things about being an incumbent, even if it's the year of an anti-incumbent, is, you have a structure in place.

Today, Senator Biden was talking at a fire -- I'm sorry -- Vice President Biden was talking at a firehouse, where stimulus -- almost $300 million in stimulus money had gone to build a new portion of that unit.

So, there are lots of ways you can get money to go into states, that you can apportion it out. And you have an infrastructure, people that have been with you for 30 years, so you can get out the vote. So you can certainly fight those anti-incumbent winds. Certainly, one year out is way too early to tell what is actually going to happen. But there are a lot of alarm bells going off on this race.

BLITZER: Yes, we will watch it closely. It's counting down to November of next year.

Thank you, Candy.

Attention, President Obama, some African-Americans in Congress essentially saying this: They're mad as ever and they're not going to take it anymore. Would these black lawmakers, though, actually turn their backs on President Obama's top priorities? I will speak about that and more with Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. She's chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

And growing among these trees is a big green controversy, the party involved, a company that makes products you probably have in your house right now.


BLITZER: Deborah Feyerick is monitoring some of the top stories happening right now.

What's going on, Deb?


Well, visiting Northern Iraq, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he expects Iran to face significant new sanctions over its nuclear program. And he told U.S. troops their mission in Iraq remains critical, despite a renewed focus on Afghanistan. Gates spoke after talks with Iraq's prime minister. Nouri al-Maliki had canceled his meeting with Gates a day earlier to meet with lawmakers over Tuesday's deadly bombings. A group linked to al Qaeda said today it carried out those attacks.

And a Palestinian mosque in the West Bank has been vandalized, and a Palestinian official points to Jewish settlers angered by Israeli plans to curb settlement construction. The vandals burned prayer carpets and holy books and left behind Hebrew graffiti. Israeli officials say they view the incident gravely and are investigating.

Household products giants Unilever is taking a stand against destruction of forests. The world's largest buyer of palm oil says it's ending a multimillion-dollar deal with Indonesia's largest palm oil producer. The decision comes as a Greenpeace report accuses that Indonesian company of destroying protected forests. Greenpeace expects companies like Nestle and Kraft follow Unilever's lead.

And we are learning that an Air France jet recently encountered severe turbulence in almost the exact same area over the Atlantic where another Air France Airbus crashed this summer, killing everyone on board. The cause of the deadly crash has still not been established. Investigators say a flight on November 29 encountered bad turbulence about four hours after takeoff. It was forced to descend before being able to continue normally.

That had to be so scary for those folks on that flight.

BLITZER: Yes. It's -- have you ever been in real turbulence on a flight?

FEYERICK: Oh, it's terrifying.


FEYERICK: And people start screaming and acting all crazy.



FEYERICK: And then there's the rest of the plane.


BLITZER: That's right. And then there's just the shuttle between Washington and...


FEYERICK: That's exactly right.


BLITZER: All right, thanks very much for that.


BLITZER: The first African-American president taking heat right now from black lawmakers over jobs for African-Americans. Congresswoman Barbara Lee, she is chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. She's standing by live here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And after President Obama laid down his line on war and peace in the Nobel speech, one columnist says it was his most presidential. Our political strategists, James Carville and Bill Bennett, they're here to discuss.


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now: fears about the nation's food safety system. If common food sickened many people, as ground beef and peanut butter did, or worse, if food was contaminated by a bioterrorist, how fast could the federal government trace the source of the problem? You're about to be shocked, I suspect, by a new report that has just come out.

And a sophisticated tunnel 90 feet undergrown, about 900 feet long, apparently to smuggle drugs from Mexico into the United States. Our Anderson Cooper digs for the truth. Wait until you see what he found down there.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It's one thing for President Obama to take heed from Republicans. It's another when his fellow Democrats criticize him, but that's happening right now, some members of the Congressional Black Caucus implying they're being taken for granted.


REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: We finally are waking up to the fact that, despite the fact we are loyal, consistent members of this Congress and of our caucus and of that committee, that we are not paying enough attention to the misery in our communities. And, as we have said, that day is over.


BLITZER: Is the day over for the Obama administration simply counting on support from African-Americans in Congress?

Let's talk about that with Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. She's the chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Congresswoman, thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Here's the blunt question: Do you feel betrayed by President Obama?

LEE: Absolutely not. We are working with and have worked with President Obama on each and every one of his policy initiatives that he has embarked upon. Eight years of the Bush administration has left or economic in shambles. And what members of the Congressional Black Caucus are doing, as members of Congress, rightfully so, advancing legislative priorities that speak to the huge inequality and economic disparities in our districts.

When you look at the disparities in unemployment, in health care, when you look at the fact that 28 percent of African-Americans, 15 percent of Latinos are on food stamps, the Congressional Black Caucus, members of Congress, we have to work hard to rectify and correct this terrible, terrible situation that's taking place in our country. If we do this -- let me just tell you, Wolf, if we do this, then our country is stronger. And we're supporting President Obama and his agenda, and we're helping to make this agenda inclusive of everyone so that we leave no one behind in our economic recovery policies.

BLITZER: So, if you don't feel betrayed, I assume, though, you feel disappointed, you feel let down that he's not doing what you'd like him to do, at least not completely. Is that right?

LEE: We don't feel let down at all. The president is the president. He has a broad vision. He must address the economy.

We are members of Congress, and we have a constitutional responsibility to be advocates for our constituents. The Congressional Black Caucus historically has been known as the conscience of the Congress. We have worked with each and every president to try to make sure that those issues that oftentimes are neglected have some voice.

And as you see now, we're working -- and I presented to the president and Speaker Pelosi and Chairman Miller our priorities in terms of job creation. And we have specific initiatives such as job training, apprenticeship.

We want people to be employed in industries that are growth industries. Also, we want to make sure that resources that we allocate are targeted based on economic need, based on areas where there's 20 percent of poverty, people living below the poverty lines. There are ways we can address the economic crisis in America, and we also have to remember that they're the chronically unemployed who have to be taken care of also in terms of economic policies.

BLITZER: You don't like the fact, because we spoke about this, that the president has decided to send another 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan on top of the 68,000 already there, and that tens of billions are being spent in Afghanistan, whereas you'd like that money spent creating jobs here in the United States. Is that right?

LEE: Speaking for myself, Wolf, as you know, I did support the initial authorization to use force. I felt then, as I felt now, it could be an open-ended war, a blank check.

When you look at the fact that many have said and agree that there's no military solution in Afghanistan, I believe we should begin to develop a timeline to begin to re-deploy our forces and use that $30 billion-plus to enhance our diplomatic initiatives, our economic initiatives in the region. But also, we have to remember, here, right now, we're debating health care reform.

We have 47 million uninsured. We have to have health care reform. We have to address or unemployment crisis.

BLITZER: Will you vote for health careful form, Congresswoman, if it does not include what's called the public option? Because it looks like the Senate is going to go ahead and kill that public option with the blessing of the president.

LEE: We don't want to see this public option killed. And let me just say, the insurance industry seems to be driving the show, unfortunately, at this point.

We haven't seen the details of the Senate bill, but I can tell you that we want competitiveness, we want the insurance companies to become honest. We want insurance coverage to be affordable. And we want choice.

And so we have to have a policy in our insurance reform bill that addresses all of that. What it's called, it doesn't make any difference. But we have what the elements are of a public option.

I support a public option. We have to have a strong public option. Otherwise, why are we doing this, Wolf? We have to cover the uninsured.

BLITZER: If there's no public option, will you vote for it?

LEE: Let me say it's too early to talk about voting for against a Senate proposal now. We still have a long way to go. The bill has to go to conference. We have to see what comes out.

Again, as I said, we have not actually seen the Senate bill. We have to determine what the costs are. We have to look at how this is going to evolve.

But I can guarantee you that there are many of us in the Progressive Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, who really believe that a public option is essential to cover the uninsured. And that is what we are suggesting and fighting for, and we intend to fight until the last minute for this public option.

BLITZER: We'll leave it on that note. Appreciate it very much.

Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California.

Thanks for coming in.

LEE: Thank you.

BLITZER: We're getting new word that a senior al Qaeda operative is dead. We're getting the details coming in. Stand by for that.

And new legal action to prevent Tiger Woods from more overexposure. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: And this just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. We're told that a senior al Qaeda official is dead after a U.S. missile attack.

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence. He's been looking into this story for us.

What are you learning, Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, A U.S. counterterrorism official is now telling CNN that they have a very strong indication that a senior al Qaeda official by the name of Saleh al-Somali was killed in an unmanned drone strike earlier this week. Now, that name probably doesn't mean anything to most of our viewers, but here's what this official said you need to know about why this man is so important.

On one hand, he had a role very involved in al Qaeda propaganda. He was very involved in meeting with and working with a lot of the western al Qaeda recruits once they initially got to that tribal area of Pakistan. On the other hand, this official says that al-Somali was responsible for planning a lot of the attacks outside of both Pakistan and Afghanistan, that he was engaged in operations around the world.

The counterterrorism official feels that because of al-Somali's very central role, that he probably took direct, strategic guidance from al Qaeda's top leadership and then translated that to operational blueprints for actual terrorist attacks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Because I'm told he was considered to be the number five guy, most wanted guy on the CIA's list, that he was a real big deal in the sense that he was effectively in charge of al Qaeda's external operations. And to a certain degree, his relationship with others from the outside.

Is that what you're picking up?

LAWRENCE: Yes, that he was -- he had very strong ties to other extremists within Pakistan, and the fact that what we're hearing from some of the analysts who study this very closely, is that they see that intelligence seems to be improving on the Pakistani side. They see what that means is that al Qaeda and some of the Taliban leadership may not be as popular as they were before. Therefore, people feel more comfortable giving more information about them.

BLITZER: Yes. Some have called him al Qaeda's foreign minister, apparently, as well.

All right. We're going to work this story, see what happened. If you get some more details on how they apparently killed him, let us know. I take it, it was a drone operation.

Is that right?

LAWRENCE: That's right. They believe it was a drone operation that was conducted sometime earlier this week.

BLITZER: All right.

Chris Lawrence on the story for us.

Thanks very much.


BLITZER: Politics is certainly full of surprises. Guess who was happy -- happy -- with President Obama? Sarah Palin. She's a frequent Obama critic, but she's praising the president for something . Wait until you hear what and why.

And with a husband who lied and caused an embarrassing public scandal, the wife of South Carolina's governor says enough is enough. Jenny Sanford acts to end her personal pain.


BLITZER: They're already calling it the "Obama Doctrine," his strategy outlined in Oslo, Norway, this week, where he picked up a Nobel Peace Prize.

Let's discuss this with our CNN political contributors, the Democratic strategist James Carville, the conservative national radio talk show host Bill Bennett. He's the author of a brand new book entitled, "The True Saint Nicholas" -- there it is on the full screen right there -- "Why He Matters to Christmas."

"The True Saint Nicholas," appropriately timed to be released right now.

All right, guys. Let's talk about the Obama Doctrine.

Here's what Kathleen Parker, writing in "The Washington Post," said. "Though the Oslo speech follows others that have inspired even his critics, this was Obama's most presidential. It marked the moment when Obama became a leader, defined as an individual who chooses the hard road because he believes it is the right one."

As you know, Bill Bennett, he made the case for a just war, even as he received the Nobel Peace Prize. What did you think of that speech?

BILL BENNETT, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: I thought it was a pretty good speech. I think it was the best -- certainly the best speech he's given overseas, maybe the best speech he's given overall.

The intellectual routes are interesting -- just war theory, very well known in Catholic doctrine and Catholic history. I also detected a lot of Reinhold Niebuhr in there. That is, the acceptance of power, the recognition that with the acceptance of power, there are responsibilities that great nations have that other nations don't.

I thought it was a good speech, but I don't know what the Obama Doctrine is yet. I would like to see how it applies to Iran, for example.

But I did like the fact that he went overseas -- I've been very critical of him for apologizing for the United States. He went overseas and he gave a strong speech in which he defended the use of the United States military in war as a force for peace, which is usually what they are.

BLITZER: It's not just Bill Bennett, James. It's Sarah Palin also who liked what she heard. She told "USA Today" today -- she said, "I like what he said. I talked too in my book about the fallen nature of man and why war is necessary at times."

Does that make you comfortable, that he's getting all this praise from conservatives?

JAMES CARVILLE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: No, I mean, it doesn't bother me. If it's rooted in Reinhold Niebuhr, I'll tell you, that's going to make a lot of people happy. I know it will make Andrew Posaivich (ph) happy, whose book is, I think, a very interesting observation on American foreign policy and the use of American military policy.

Certainly, we agree with the doctrine of just war. I know very few people who don't with that. It's just a question of determining which war is just and which one isn't, and which war is smart and which one is not. There's the difficulty in it, and that's where we go from there.

But I think it's good that our president went over there and gave a speech on a setting like that, and we have some support for it back home. I think for that we can be grateful.

BLITZER: Is this the beginning, James, of an Obama Doctrine?

CARVILLE: Well, one will have to emerge. I don't think that there's any question about it. But we'll have to see what the parameters of it are.

Right now, you know, he's made a commitment on Afghanistan. One can hope that it works. You know, I've always said, absent a better plan -- and I certainly don't have one -- let's see. Let's hope this works.

BENNETT: You know, let's give him credit. Possibly -- you know, again, I was critical, Wolf and James, for the long, drawn-out process, called it dithering and so on, wondered why it took so long. But maybe this was truly an educational process where he was learning about the nature of the world, nature of this struggle, and makes his decision, criticized from his own ranks, praised by many conservatives yesterday, but such is the world.

We believe the politics ought to stop at the water's edge. I hope we he can live with our support, because we can live with supporting him.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about something you're probably not going to agree with, some of the domestic issues right now. John Boehner, the top Republican in the House of Representatives, he says the president isn't doing enough by far to create jobs. He says this: "When the president said this week that we need to spend our way out of this recession, he made clear that he is not willing to admit the $787 stimulus isn't working. A bunker mentality won't put people back to work, Mr. President. It's not the GOP that's scaring people -- it's your job-killing policies."

I don't see any large Republican/Democratic cooperation on this front, James. Do you?

CARVILLE: No, I guess he's probably out at the 19th hole at the club there with his Marlboros and his martini. I don't know.

If they're saying that the stimulus created 1.2 million jobs, I guess if you're one of the 1.2 million who got that, you look at the retail sales number, is up this previous month, if you look at aggressive intervention on the part of the Treasury and the Federal Reserve, by most observers, it saved us from having a worldwide depression. So, you know, just keep on sucking on that Marlboro and sucking that martini done, and let them go back and get their business done, Leader Boehner.


BENNETT: That's kind of an ad hominem there.

CARVILLE: No, I like him, man.


BENNETT: Well, I like him, too.

CARVILLE: I think he's a good guy.

BENNETT: He is a good guy. I know you think it's to his credit that he does that. I'm for that, too.

CARVILLE: No, I'm not against any of that.

BENNETT: All right. Look, I think it's a pretty sober assessment.

There's a problem here, Wolf. Look, we were told that unless we had the stimulus, unemployment might go above 8.5 percent. It's at 10 percent.

The president is also talking about debt and the deficit being major problems, and yet proposing new spending programs. This is not a coherent doctrine of domestic economic growth, I don't think.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to leave it right there, but...


BLITZER: Very quickly. CARVILLE: I won't admit it's an ad hominem. Frankly, I don't agree -- I kind of like Leader Boehner. I was just trying to have a little fun on a Friday afternoon.

BENNETT: Well, it is Friday.

Can I say one quick thing?


BENNETT: We couldn't win at Notre Dame, Wolf, with a guy named "Weiss." We've got a guy named Kelly now. If you can't win with Kelly at Notre Dame, you can't win.


BLITZER: Well, we'll see how they do.

Give us a quick thought on why people should go out right now, Bill Bennett, and get a copy of your new book. And I'll put it up on the screen again, "The True St. Nicholas: Why He Matters to Christmas."

BENNETT: Thank you. Because it's a true story about a real guy. And it's back in the 4th century, he drops a gold bag into an open window at a poor man's house and falls into a stocking. And if that doesn't sound like the beginning of modern Christmas to you, it's the real story. That's why.

BLITZER: And I've actually gone through this book, James. I think you'll like it as well.

There's a lot of historic research in there. This is not just some sort of story.

This is a work of history, isn't it, Bill?

BENNETT: It is. And I'm going to put some Marlboros and a martini glass in for James' stocking. How's that?

BLITZER: Nothing wrong with that, and nothing wrong with playing golf, either.

BENNETT: Friday afternoons.


BLITZER: Let's bring in Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File." He's been chuckling as we've been talking.

CAFFERTY: Well, they're pretty funny.

BLITZER: They can be.

CAFFERTY: Occasionally, yes. Pretty good material.

All right. The question this hour: Should mandatory population control be a part of the fight against global warming?

A. writes from Oregon, "Pretty extreme, Jack. However, in the near future that's certainly a consideration that many nations must make. When food, water and critical medical services are in short supply, fewer people makes a lot of sense. Consider the enormous drain a family of eight has on society and the community, and yet the state and federal governments reward huge families with benefits and tax breaks."

Richard writes, "Wow, Jack. Thanks very much. Finally, someone in the media has the guts to state the obvious."

"Everything you said is true, but you were too gentle. It needs shouting out. The fundamentalists and others opposed to population control have had their way for too long."

Sean in Belvidere, Illinois, "Morally there are better ways of fighting global warming that infanticide. But sadly, this method makes more sense than carbon credits."

Jay writes, "Absolutely. Every year we have deer hunting season with the argument that if we don't control the deer population, they'll over-breed and starve to death. Why can't these 'John and Kate' and 'Octomom' people not see that the same biological mathematics applies to humans? On a planet of finite resources, you cannot just keep producing an ever-growing pool of consumers and still expect the whole thing will work."

Paul in Toronto says, "Jack, humans, like the H1N1 virus, are a virus. And if we don't get ourselves under control, Mother Earth will eventually create her own vaccine and destroy us all in order to protect herself."

Sebastian in Ann Arbor, Michigan, "Finally, it's about time we started talking about this. As the son of an only child and the parent of none, I say if you want more than one kid, then pay for it. A tax seems reasonable. Those who adopt would be exempt."

And Sam says, "This is the most ignorant question I've ever seen."


CAFFERTY: All right, Sam. Maybe we'll get you next hour.

If you want to read more on the subject, go to my blog,

BLITZER: Because all of your questions are very intelligent. This one...

CAFFERTY: Well, this one is ignorant, according to Sam.

BLITZER: According to Sam.

CAFFERTY: The most ignorant question.

BLITZER: He loves all the other ones.

Thanks. Thank you.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is warning Latin American leaders right now that flirting with Iran is a bad idea. Is the U.S. changing its tone toward Iran again?

Plus, your food and your health at risk. We're going to tell you about some gaping holes in the government system to keep food safe.

And CNN's Anderson Cooper exploring some vast underground tunnels, pipelines for the illegal drug trade.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some special "Hot Shots."

From President Obama's first year in office from the photographer Callie Shell (ph), from our sister publication "TIME" magazine.

On Air Force One, the president and the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, speaking while on their way to France.

At the White House, here's a more pensive look at the president as he meets with his economic advisers in the Roosevelt Room.

In Washington, President Obama makes sure Vice President Biden's flag pin is straight prior to a jobs summit.

And back over at the White House, the president talks with his daughter Sasha as she stops by the Oval Office.

"Hot Shots," pictures worth a thousand words.

We're going to have more of Callie's (ph) pictures coming up later in THE SITUATION ROOM.

On our "Political Ticker," South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford's wife is filing for divorce six months after he publicly admitted to an extramarital affair. Jenny Sanford says their many attempts at reconciliation were unsuccessful. Governor Sanford issued a statement saying he takes full responsibility for the moral failure that led to the split which he describes as tragic.

This week, a House panel effectively killed a move to impeach Sanford for mysteriously leaving the state this summer to visit his mistress in Argentina.

If you've ever been annoyed by those really loud commercials when you're watching TV, listen up. Democratic Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Chuck Schumer have introduced a bill to turn down the noise. It would require the Federal Communications Commission to regulate the volume of TV ads so they're not any louder than regular programming.

It sounds like a good idea. The Florida Supreme Court is advising Florida judges to be careful who your friends are -- Facebook friends, that is -- and friends on other social networking sites as well.

Let's go straight to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, what are they telling them?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, that judges should not be friends on social networking sites with the lawyers who before them, because, "It conveys the impression that the lawyer is in a position to influence the judge." That's an advisory opinion from Florida's Judicial Ethics Committee, and it's one that sparked the discussion, "Is a Facebook friend really a friend?"

Miami defense attorney David Markus thinks this goes too far, telling us, "I suspect the rules are being made by people who don't understand the computer era."

Then the opposing view popping up on legal blogs like this one.