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CNN Sunday Morning

Obama Pledges to End "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"; Pakistani Hostages Freed

Aired October 11, 2009 - 08:00   ET


BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: From the CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It is October 11th, 8:00 a.m. right here at CNN headquarters in Atlanta, 5:00 a.m. in Seattle.

Good morning, everybody. I'm Betty Nguyen.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Drew Griffin. T.J. Holmes has the day off. Thanks for waking up with us this morning.

NGUYEN: All right. Let's get right to it.

President Obama makes his strongest statement yet on a controversial military policy.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will end "don't ask, don't tell." That's my commitment to you.



NGUYEN: So far, though, no specifics.

So, what do you think about his statement? We are asking you your thoughts today. We're going to read them on the air. Go to my Facebook, my Twitter page, also my blog, and we will be reading your responses.

GRIFFIN: All part of a weekend in Washington where gay rights activists will march there this afternoon. It may be energized by Obama's speech. We're going to talk with noted civil rights leader Julian Bond about the struggle for equality in the gay community.

But, first, let's take a quick look at our top stories.

A long and violent hostage situation at a Pakistan army headquarters came to a bloody end today. Thirty-nine hostages freed, two militants killed, one captured and two others -- well, they blew themselves up. Three hostages also died. The standoff began after militants attacked the headquarters yesterday. Four of them and six guards were killed in the initial attack.

NGUYEN: At least eight Iraqi police officers have been killed in an attack today in the western part of the country. Iraqi interior ministry officials say two car bombs were set off outside police headquarters in the city of Ramadi, which is west of Baghdad. Authorities say the bombings injured 50 others, including civilians and police.

GRIFFIN: In Idaho, a deadly crash involving a busload of high school band members. The bus veered off and crashed in Interstate 15 in Idaho. State police say an adult on board died. Affiliate KIFI reporting that that victim was a chaperon. More than a dozen students on the bus were hurt. Investigators say the driver had some medical condition that caused that crash.

NGUYEN: President Obama is reaffirming his commitment to make good on campaign promises to the gay community. He spoke at the Human Rights Campaign dinner in Washington last night and the president praised the gay community for making strides in equal rights and reassured the group that he will still be with them in their fight for equality.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You will see a nation that's valuing and cherishing these families as we build a more perfect union -- a union in which gay Americans are an important part. I am committed to these goals. And my administration will continue fighting to achieve them.

And there's no more poignant or painful reminder of how important it is that we do so than the loss experienced by Dennis and Judy Shepard, whose son, Matthew, was stolen in a terrible act of violence 11 years ago. In May, I met with Judy, who's here tonight with her husband. I met her in the Oval Office and I promised her that we were going to pass an inclusive hate crimes bill, a bill named for her son.

This struggle has been long, time and again, we faced opposition, time and again, the measure was defeated or delayed, but the Shepards never gave up. They turned tragedy into an unshakable commitment.

Countless activists and organizers never gave up.

You held vigils. You spoke out year after year, Congress after Congress. The House passed the bill again this week that I can announce that after more than a decade, this bill is set to pass and I will sign it into law.



GRIFFIN: Before the president spoke, about 200 gay rights activists gathered near the Washington Monument, protesting the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy.



GRIFFIN: Many of the protesters said they're disappointed with what they see as the president's lack of action on gay rights. The president addressed those concerns as well, promising the group that he's going to end the policy, though offering no clear timetable.


OBAMA: We cannot afford -- we cannot afford to cut from our ranks people with the critical skills we need to fight, anymore than we can afford for our military's integrity to force those willing to do so into careers encumbered and compromised by having to live a lie. So I'm working with the Pentagon, its leadership, and members of the House and Senate on ending this policy. Legislation has been introduced in the House to make this happen.

I will end "don't ask, don't tell." That's my commitment to you.



GRIFFIN: Well, his fight for civil rights well-documented. So, how does the NAACP chairman Julian Bond compares civil rights march of 1963 to this march taking place today? He's going to join us in a few minutes.

And also, you've been weighing in on this topic on blog and Facebook and Twitter. We're going to read some of your comments -- that's coming up.


NGUYEN: Well, this time yesterday, they were taken hostage at a Pakistani army headquarters. And this morning, 39 of the victims are free. That standoff began when militants attacked a checkpoint in Rawalpindi.

And our own Reza Sayah has been following this story ever since it started. Here's what he filed.


REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A tense and deadly standoff. It lasted nearly 24 hours inside the Pakistani army's headquarters, finally came to an end Sunday when commandos and security forces stormed the army headquarters, capturing one of the militant hostage-takers alive, killing four remaining militants and rescuing dozens of hostages. Army officials say three hostages were killed during the rescue operations.

Let's recap for you this dramatic standoff that began at 12:00 noon local time on Saturday. That's when military officials tell CNN a minivan packed with armed men, all of them wearing camouflage uniforms, attacked a check post outside the main gate of the army headquarters in Rawalpindi, just outside the federal capital of Islamabad. There was a fierce gun fight. Several military personnel were killed. At least five militants were killed, as well.

But army officials say five remaining militants managed to penetrate the army compound and take dozens of hostages. These militants, according to officials, are carrying explosives and grenades; several of them wearing suicide vests. Obviously, a horrifying situation for these hostages who were face-to-face with militants wearing explosives.

During portions of the standoff, officials say they were in contact with the militants who did make several demands. One of the demands: the release of fellow militants who had been captured over the past few months by security forces. The army said they rejected that command. Their priority was to get these hostages out safely.

Early Sunday morning, around 6:00 a.m. local time, they finally launched a rescue operation. Again, four of the militants were killed, two of them, according to officials, blew themselves up. One of them captured alive.

Again, the standoff is over, and now, the fallout, the aftermath. It certainly doesn't look good for the Pakistani government -- militants targeting and penetrating the heart of Pakistan's security apparatus.

But the Pakistani government says they are not backing down. They say another military operation is coming soon, this time targeting South Waziristan. South Waziristan, of course, is a Taliban stronghold, and according to Washington, a safe haven for al Qaeda.

Reza Sayah, CNN, Islamabad.


NGUYEN: That's the latest on the situation there. Let's get you the latest on the weather for your Sunday morning.

I'm seeing a thumbs up, Reynolds. Is that true?

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It depends where you happen to be...


WOLF: ... because parts of the country maybe doing this, or this or that or this. You know, it depends on what you like, I mean, here in the Southeast, in Atlanta, we got a little bit of cloud cover out there, maybe a stray shower. Most of the rain is going to be along the coast. In terms of snowfall, you have to go back into the mountains, which is not a bad place if you're a skier. A place like Yellowstone, the Grand Tetons, you're going to see some snow there, but also places, like Nebraska, could see up to about maybe six inches of snow along parts of I-70.

NGUYEN: Six inches already? WOLF: It's hard to believe, but yes, it's going to happen. And there's a very, very slight chance you might see some light snowfall in parts of Chicago later on tonight and tomorrow, which would make it some of the earliest snowfall on record for the city of Chicago.

NGUYEN: Wow! What is today? The 11th -- October 11th.

WOLF: I have no answers for you.



WOLF: Let's show you what's happening here in Atlanta. I know, it's going to be kind of crazy, this transition, going from what we have -- just a very quick summer to fall and now little shades of winter.

Right now, we're seeing some shades of gray here in Atlanta, kind of hard to see the skyline because of those low clouds that are hanging up above. But in terms of heavy rainfall here in parts of Georgia, not going to see a whole lot for us. But if you happen along the coast, it could be a different story.

Now, we keep talking about seeing the possibility of rain along the coast. There's a reason for that. As we check out the weather map, I'm going to stretch this thing out here a bit for you. You're going to notice a little bit of a stationary front, warm front over parts of the Gulf Coast.

And right along that boundary is where we could see some scattered showers -- some of that maybe as far to the north as, say, the Texas coastline. And back into the central Texas, back in the Piney Woods section, even in the ArkLaTex, look for some rain showers. And then into, say, spots like, say, Austin, maybe San Antonio, you could see some rain. Same story for Dallas.

But when you get a bit farther to the North, you've got that cold air that continues to slide in from parts of Canada. That combined with the overrunning moisture could give you the heavy snowfall we were talking about for places like, say, the Great Lakes, pretty nice day for you along parts of Detroit, making a drive along the lines this morning. It should be OK for you.

Partly cloudy skies in parts of the Southeast, could see scattered showers along parts of the Carolinas.

Very quickly, high temperatures for the day, going up to 52 in Kansas, 49 degrees in Chicago, 70 in Washington, 75 in Atlanta and 88 in Phoenix, 59 for San Francisco.

That is a wrap on your forecast. Let's send it back to you at the news desk.

NGUYEN: All right, Reynolds. We do appreciate that. Thank you.

WOLF: You bet.

GRIFFIN: In Washington, gay rights activists gathering there this morning by the thousands.

NGUYEN: Yes, indeed. The National Equality March is set to start in just a few hours. But last night, they listened to the president pledge to make good on some campaign promises. Today, they want the nation to listen to them. We'll be talking with longtime civil rights activist Julian Bond on the other side in just three minutes. So, don't go anywhere.


GRIFFIN: Within hours, thousands of gay rights activists will march in Washington. Today's National Equality March was planned long before President Obama's pledge last night to end "don't ask, don't tell" -- a promise he made during the campaign.

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond has often compared the fight for gay rights with the battle for civil rights that he actively took part in. He's in Washington for today's march. He's going to be a keynote speaker there as well.

And, Mr. Bond, good morning. You've actually taken heat for that. Do you really compare the issues that gays are facing today with what you and Dr. King and thousands of others faced in the '50s and '60s?

JULIAN BOND, NAACP CHAIRMAN: Well, in the '50s and '60s, we were fighting for rights that we were denied because what the -- in legal terms, are called immutable characteristics. I'm black. You look at me. You say I'm black.

Gay people have immutable characteristics. They are gay. They can't change it if they want to.

It seems to me these are the same fights. In fact, I'm fond of saying there are no such things as gay rights or black rights, there are only civil rights. And every American has a right to civil rights.

GRIFFIN: And the march today designed to point out that struggle or that fight for gay rights. But a gay member of Congress is saying, you know what, this is just a big waste of time. Barney Frank is saying that this is the wrong approach. It's a somewhat old approach.

Let's listen to what he had to say about what's going to happen today.


REP. BARNEY FRANK (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Barack Obama doesn't need any pressure on these things. Secondly, if you do want to pressure Congress, I don't know what standing on the Mall on a weekend when no member of Congress is in town is going to do. All that's going to pressure is the grass. (END AUDIO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: A colorful fellow, Barney Frank, always has something interesting to say. But does he have a point? This is just a march to have a march, and that you're real activities should be dialing up members of Congress?

BOND: Well, you like to think that the people who are gathering in Washington today can do both those things. They can march and demonstrate that a sizable body of Americans supports gay rights. At the same time, they can focus on their members of Congress and make sure that they vote in the right way. So, it's not an either/or, it's both/and.

GRIFFIN: Well, Mr. Bond, the gay rights community openly and actively supported Barack Obama. They moved Democratic in most elections. You have a Democratic president who made some promises, you have a Democratic House, and you have a Democratic Senate. And still, we have the need for this march and struggle to pass some of these laws that have not been passed.

Do you feel let down by any of those three entities? And do you feel, in some way, that the Democratic Party is just taking advantage of a constituency that traditionally votes its way anyway?

BOND: No, I don't think so. In fact, I'm sure that almost every American in some way or another is going to feel let down by the House, the Senate, the president. None of them is always going to do the things we want them to do.

But I think this president, this Congress, is set to act on these issues that are so important, not just to gay Americans, but to all Americans. Every American ought to be affronted when any group of Americans is denied ordinary civil rights. That's what this march is all about and that's what the action in talking to congressmen, talking to senators, all of that, that's what that's about, too.

GRIFFIN: But, specifically, Mr. Bond, "don't ask, don't tell." It seems to me, that could be one issue that this Congress and this president could have done away with, you know, January 21st or 22nd. Are you disappointed that we're still talking about getting rid of that policy?

BOND: Not really. You know, Obama has been president, what is it, nine months. You can't expect him to have changed the world in those nine months. You're happy that he's moving forward on so many issues at the same time. These are concerns that all Americans have.

And so, I'm looking forward to seeing some action on them. And I think we're going to see it. We've seen this hate crimes legislation move through the House last week. The president said last night, it's going to move through the Senate. He's going to sign it. That's progress.

GRIFFIN: Mr. Julian Bond, thanks for joining us this Sunday morning. And I got to have a little shout-out for that tie -- very colorful, sir.

BOND: Thank you.

GRIFFIN: Thank you very much.

NGUYEN: He is looking very dapper today, as always though.

You know, we've been asking for your thoughts this morning on President Obama's comments last night about "don't ask, don't tell." And we've gotten a lot of them so far this morning.

First off, let's go to my Facebook page. And Lisa Marie Taylor says, "'Don't ask, don't tell,' discrimination at its finest. Good for you, Mr. President." And also here on my Twitter side, Eagleflyer145 says, "'Don't ask, don't tell' is a military policy that helps morale and camaraderie. Without this, the military will be weakened." Lifgud (ph) says, "Since he has to work with Congress on this bill, it would be unrealistic to offer a time line. Time lines in Congress? Ha!"

All right. And we also have a blog comment that we're going to put on the screen that I'm going to read to you right now -- if we can get that up. This coming from one of our blogger that says, "I'm a gay man and I fully understand everything that our president has had to face during his months of service and I appreciate all that he has done to this point and understand much more will be done. I do wish, as a gay man, more would have been accomplished regarding gay rights. But I fully understand the scope and the timing of all things that are on his plate." That from Bill Alvarez.

And again, we appreciate all of your responses today -- and keep them coming. Let us know what you think about the president's stand on "don't ask, don't tell." He has said, especially last night, specifically, that he will end it, although there was no time line given.

So, let us know what you think about all of that. Reach me at Facebook, my Twitter site, also at my blog,

GRIFFIN: Gay rights legislation may be moving slowly, but earmarks are always flying through that Congress.

NGUYEN: Always.

GRIFFIN: New questions about earmarks and campaign contributions.

NGUYEN: Yes. Despite promises of reform, it is still business as usual in Washington.


NGUYEN: Top stories for you right now.

Pakistani commandos stormed a building at the army's national headquarters today, freeing 39 hostages. Two of the militants who had taken those hostages were killed along with three hostages. Two other militants blew themselves up and one was captured. The incident began yesterday when militants attacked that headquarters. Four attackers, six guards killed in the initial attack.

GRIFFIN: Odd story out of Arizona where a new age spiritual ceremony turned deadly. Police say two people died after nearly two hours inside a sweat box. Several others were packed into the setup, which was like a sauna. Best-selling author and self-help guru James Arthur Ray, he led this event, but police say he's now not cooperating with their investigation.

NGUYEN: Well, President Obama has promised that he will end the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy, though he has not given a clear time line. Now, he reaffirmed his campaign commitment to ending the contentious policy at last night's Human Rights Campaign dinner in Washington. The president also praised the gay community for making strides in equal rights and reassured the group that he was still with them in their fight for equality.

GRIFFIN: It's the talk of the town in Washington, D.C., and everywhere, what the president said last night to the gay rights community, and what he can deliver.

NGUYEN: Right.

GRIFFIN: Let's bring in our John King, the anchor of "STATE OF THE UNION."

And, John, I'm sure that is the topic you're going to be covering this morning quite extensively.

JOHN KING, HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": It sure will be, Drew and Betty, and good morning to you.

One of our topics will be the president's dramatic promises last night.

And you're both hitting on the key question. He has promised to reverse "don't ask, don't tell," he has promised to try to seek the repeal of what's called the Defensive of Marriage Act, a federal law that defines marriage as between a man and a woman.

But the president did not say when and he did not really say how. Will he submit his own legislation? Will he just support those in Congress who are trying to do this and when will he do this?

This is a president with a big decision about Afghanistan on his plate, in the middle of a huge health care debate, trying to find new ways to create jobs as unemployment goes up near 10 percent.

Does he want to wander into the culture wars late in his first year in office? It is a fascinating question. A lot of people here in Washington are talking about it.

I would add this cautionary footnote. His national security adviser was on the program last week and on the "don't ask, don't tell" question, he said, yes, they're getting about the business, but he gave a clear impression, don't expect them to do it anytime soon.

NGUYEN: And, you know, speaking of the military, there have been a lot of high-level meetings about Afghanistan specifically. So, what's going to come of this? You know, change of strategy, increase in the troop levels -- what are you hearing on your end, John?

KING: Well, we are hearing that they are having a very spirited conversation in the Situation Room at the White House. The president has now had several sessions and he'll have one or two more before he makes a big decision.

The general on the ground, General McChrystal, wants 40,000 more troops, or more than that even, possibly even more than that. That's the robust option before the president. There are more compromise options: 25,000 troops, 15,000 troops.

And the president's under a lot of pressure. The military, the commanding general in Afghanistan, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General David Petraeus, the architect of the surge strategy in Iraq -- they also say this will work in Afghanistan. But his -- the vice president of the United States is skeptical. The left of the Democratic Party says, "No more troops, Mr. President." Some even want a time line.

So, this is testing time for the president as he prepares to make this decision in the next few weeks.

NGUYEN: Yes, John.

GRIFFIN: And if he didn't have enough pressure on that Afghanistan question, he gets the Nobel Peace Prize for what I guess he's supposed to do. So, in December, he goes to pick up this prize. Is he going to be the prize picker upper who just sent 40,000 troops into a war or not? I mean, it just adds to the frustration there.

KING: It's an amazing contrast, isn't it, Drew? And think about it, just on Friday, he comes out and says how humbled he is and how grateful he is and how doesn't really think he's done enough to deserve a Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, and then later on the same day, he's in those meetings in the Situation Room listening to his commander on the secure video link saying, "Mr. President, I need more troops to win this war."

So, in some ways, he is a wartime president. He didn't star the war in Afghanistan or in Iraq, but they are his wars right now. And that's all part of the big debate about why did they give him a Nobel Peace Prize. Essentially, what the Nobel committee did was say, "Here is a president with many lofty goals on the international stage and they are trying to help him reach them." Even the president can see that he hasn't reached many of them yet.

NGUYEN: All right. John King, we are looking forward to it at the top of the hour right here on CNN.

KING: See you then. NGUYEN: And just a footnote here for our viewers, Senator John McCain reacts to President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize win. The full interview with John King on "STATE OF THE UNION" coming up at the top of the hour, right here on CNN: The worldwide leader in news.

GRIFFIN: This is a real interesting story for you. Call it relationship-building without any guns.

NGUYEN: Yes, one man's effort that is educating Afghanis and teaching Pentagon brass a thing or two at the same time.


NGUYEN: Well, hello, everybody, and good morning. From CNN headquarters in Atlanta, I'm Betty Nguyen.

GRIFFIN: I'm Drew Griffin. T.J.'s off today.

NGUYEN: All right. Let's get right to it.

A key moment for health care reform will take place on Tuesday. That is when the Senate Finance Committee finally votes on its proposal. It is the only version without a public option. But it also has the best shot at bipartisan support. After Tuesday's vote, the debate can move in to both full chambers. Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says any bill the House passes will have the public option.

GRIFFIN: More examples of the same old, same old in Washington this week. The earmarks are back; lawmakers from both parties asking for federal money to be sent where, Betty? To the very companies that have given them campaign contributions. They make the laws, so it's legal. But is it right?

Our senior Congressional correspondent Dana Bash, asking the same thing.


DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A promotional video for Infinia Corporation, developing a solar-powered engine to produce hot water and electricity for troops in the field. Infinia is headquartered in Washington State.

Washington senator, Democrat, Patty Murray, got a $3 million earmark to fund Infinia's project. It turns out Infinia executives have given more than $10,000 in campaign contributions to Murray in the last two years.

People looking at this might say quid pro quo?

SEN. PATTY MURRAY, (D) WASHINGTON: Absolutely not. I work hard for my state, for everyone that comes to me. We work hard to make sure that the appropriations requests we ask for create jobs and are good for the people in our communities.

BASH: But the watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense says it's a problem.

RYAN ALEXANDER, PRESIDENT, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: And when we see big contracts, big earmarks going to private companies that have also happened to have made large campaign contributions, it raises real questions in the minds of the public.

BASH: Ryan Alexander's group looked at senators on the powerful committee in charge of defense spending and compiled a lengthy list, linking hundreds of millions of dollars in pet projects to campaign contributions.

Republican Richard Shelby topped that list. For example, $3.2 million for Radiance Technologies in his state of Alabama to develop new sensors for unmanned aerial vehicles. That company's employees donated $38,500 in campaign cash to Shelby since 2007.

The senator refused an on-camera interview. And when CNN caught up with him in a Capitol hallway, he said this...

SEN. RICHARD SHELBY, (R) ALABAMA: I don't even know who I get earmarks for and I don't know who gives me money.

BASH: But Shelby's spokesman did give us a statement, saying he does know and defends it. Saying, "He secures appropriations based on merit, not contributions and provides a full justification for his requests on his senate Web site."

Shelby's office also said his projects contribute to national security.

That's what Maine Republican Susan Collins said when we asked about $10 million she got for Maine's General Dynamics, to make lightweight machine guns and grenade launchers. She says the Pentagon needs them.

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: My motivation is to help fill the gaps, the gaps in weapons and equipment that our troops need.

BASH: Collins got nearly $60,000 in campaign contributions from General Dynamics' employees. No quid pro quo, she insists, and no apologies.

COLLINS: The workers and executives who have contributed to my campaign have done so because they feel that I represent the state of Maine well. They have never, ever implied any kind of condition.

BASH: A spokesman for General Dynamics tells us, they give campaign contributions to Senator Collins because she's a, quote, "Strong backer of national defense." I also spoke with a top executive at Infinia in Washington State, who's contributed the maximum amount to Senator Murray's campaign. He says he only does it because of her, quote, "commitment to green jobs." Not because of an earmark.

Dana Bash, CNN, Capitol Hill.


NGUYEN: Very interesting stuff there

GRIFFIN: Indeed, indeed.

An Atlanta bishop making history.

NGUYEN: Yes, why he's a ground breaker in the Catholic Church for the Latino community.


NGUYEN: President Obama is expressing his admiration for Father Damien of Hawaii. He was one of five new Saints canonized by the Catholic Church. Now, Father Damien spent 16 years of his life caring for leprosy patients before dying of the disease himself back in 1889.

President Obama called on the world to follow Father Damien example by answering the urgent call to heal and care for the sick.

And Catholics in Atlanta celebrating their first Latino bishop, Bishop Luis Raphael Zarama; his installation as a bishop comes at a time when Catholics in north Georgia are more than 800,000 strong. There were just 22,000 Catholics in the diocese when it opened 50 years ago.

Here's a look at some of the images and sounds from his ordination in our "Faces of Faith."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Grant, oh, Father, Lord of all hearts that this, your servant, whom you have chosen for the office of bishop, may shepherd your holy flock, serving you night and day. May he fulfill before you without reproach the Ministry of the High Priesthood.

Luis Raphael, may God, who has made you a sharer of the high priesthood of Christ, pour himself -- pour out upon you the oil of mystical anointing and make you fruitful with an abundance of spiritual blessing. Receive the gospel, preach the word of God with all patience and sound teaching.

Luis Raphael, receive this ring, a seal of fidelity, adorned with undefiable (ph) faith, preserve unblemished the bride of God, the Holy Church.

Receive the miter. May the splendor of holiness shine forth in you, so that when the chief shepherd appears, you may deserve to receive from him an unfading crown of glory.

Receive the crosier, the sign of your pastoral office and keep watch over the whole flock in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as bishop to govern the church of God.

(END VIDEO TAPE) NGUYEN: Well, we are just ten days away from "Latino in America," a comprehensive look at how Latinos are changing America, reshaping politics, business, schools, churches, neighborhoods. "Latino in America," coming October 21st and 22nd on CNN, the worldwide leader in news.


NGUYEN: I love that open. Time for a little "Extra Credit" this morning and who better to give that to us than Carl Azuz?

CARL AZUZ, CNNSTUDENTNEWS.COM: Good morning. I have a game for today called "Stump Betty and Drew." You're going to love it.

NGUYEN: Oh boy, that's not a good title, right?

AZUZ: It's a tough one.

GRIFFIN: All right.

AZUZ: This is about the Constitution.


AZUZ: When does the Constitution say that court judges will hold their offices? Is it after working as lawyers, during good behavior, while in good health, or in even-numbered years?

NGUYEN: All of the above?

GRIFFIN: I'm going to go good health?

AZUZ: Ok, it's ok that you both got it wrong, because I would have to it's actually during good behavior.

NGUYEN: Really.

GRIFFIN: Oh yes?

AZUZ: I know it's a tough one...

NGUYEN: But how do you determine good behavior? That is so subjective. Come on.

AZUZ: It is subjective, we asked CNN legal analyst Jeff Toobin about this and he said, essentially, what it means, is as long as they are in good behavior, they can serve as long as they live until they retire or resign.

So basically, we can assume...

GRIFFIN: Any definition on good behavior?


AZUZ: Well, that's kind of in the eye of the beholder. But one thing we can assume is that...

NGUYEN: That's up to the courts, right?


AZUZ: We can assume that all of the Supreme Court Justices are behaving themselves accordingly because they got back to work this past week.

NGUYEN: Yes they did.

AZUZ: And on CNNStudentNews we wanted to give students an idea of some of the issues they will be tackling and why they'll be tackling them. Take a look, check this out.


AZUZ: The high court's job is to interpret the law, but how does that affect our lives. Here're some of the issues it's considering this term.

One, can criminals younger than 18 years old be sentenced to life without parole? Basically a permanent prison sentence, if they committed a crime other than murder?

Two, can cities make it illegal for individuals to own handguns? This goes to the Constitution's Second Amendment. And exactly who has the right to own a gun.

Three, should the government be able to keep criminals in prison after they've served their sentences if they're still considered a threat after they're released?


AZUZ: Ok now, one issue that students commented on and we had more than 300 comments on our blog at, and that was the subject of a cross in the Mojave Desert. It's been there are for more than -- well, about than 75 years now.


AZUZ: And it was established a way to honor World War I veterans back in 1934, well after that war had ended. But we have some pictures of it for you. And that cross has since been boarded up and some people believed that it violates the Constitution by establishing religion, while others believe it's a historic monument, it belongs...

NGUYEN: There it is.

AZUZ: ...right there.

Now, it is on government land and that's why it's an issue before the Supreme Court.

And we asked our student audience, what do you think of this? What does all this mean to you? And one student named Bryan said if the government is not allowed to establish religion then, by taking down the cross, they are establishing that Christianity is not the religion.

On the other side of that, Andrew said, it is a memorial to our troops that fought for our country; whoever wants the cross moved is disrespecting our fallen troops. And we had a lot of students agree, they seemed to think this cross should stay where it is and should have the board removed.

But if you're looking for a lot more insight than you might expect from a middle and high school audience, is the place to go.

NGUYEN: Absolutely, that is the one stop to go. Thank you so much.

AZUZ: Yes.

NGUYEN: I know you're going to stick around for just a second, right.

GRIFFIN: Wait a minute, Carl, have you ever hear of these guys, "Kid and Play?"

AZUZ: Oh yes, I used to rock to "Kid and Play" (INAUDIBLE).

NGUYEN: Yes...

GRIFFIN: Oh come on.


NGUYEN: They are bunch of Charleston, right?

AZUZ: It would, you can throw your knee out doing that as you get a little older though.

GRIFFIN: All right, BET. Awards last night, Red Carpet, some guy gives a shout out to Betty.

NGUYEN: Christopher Reid...

GRIFFIN: Whatever. And now we've got to play it over and over again, because this is what he said.

AZUZ: That is awesome.


CHRISTOPERH "KID" REID, RAPPER: Betty Nguyen, man, man, I better not catch you on payday, come on, now. Oh! Betty Nguyen.


GRIFFIN: Supposedly, this is a famous person. NGUYEN: He said he's trying to win. That's an n-g-u-y-e-n.

AZUZ: I'm trying to make it -- can I touch your arm?

NGUYEN: Oh, get out of here, only if you can do the "Kid & Play" move, the funky Charleston.


GRIFFIN: Where are we going from here guys?

NGUYEN: Hey Chris, thanks so much for the shout-out.

GRIFFIN: Thanks Carl.

NGUYEN: I really appreciate that.

AZUZ: That's really good stuff.

NGUYEN: Yes, thank you.

As the health care debate heats back up, all that Capitol Hill lingo coming along with it.

GRIFFIN: Yes, well we've got our guy, Josh Levs, the decoder of Capitol Hill lingo.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think I need to decode that message for Betty last night too.

NGUYEN: Yes, what does that mean? I need to catch you on payday?

LEVS: Can we call him and find out whose payday he meant and what kind of metaphor that is.

But speaking of health care, here's another one, "doughnut hole," also "blue dogs." What these things mean in the health care dispute and how they affect you. Don't get lost in the lingo.

We're going to teach you what you need to know.


NGUYEN: You know, it happens to pretty much everyone at some point. You hear lawmakers arguing over health care, right? We've heard that. But then they start using terms that you don't really understand like, what exactly is the "doughnut hole" everyone's concerned about? Do you know what that means?

GRIFFIN: I don't, but Josh Levs, this is by design up there in D.C. They like to slip in these lingoes so no one knows what the heck they're saying.

LEVS: I'm so glad you said that, because that's what I was thinking, but I didn't know if I was going to say that out loud. GRIFFIN: I'll say it.

LEVS: They thrive on it, they really do. And it benefits a lot of lawmakers. They make something sound a certain way.

What we're trying to do is get past all that as often as possible, get you straight to the facts.

And we got it now, has this special set up, breaking down the lingo; wading through the health care lingo for you. It doesn't look that great in tiny print so we've got some pretty graphics.

Let's go straight to a couple pretty terms I want you to know. We're going to start off with the "Blue Dog Dems." These are these 52 fiscally conservative Democrats in the house. And we actually link you to their Web site from health care.

Let's go over to this next one, "co-op." You've heard this a lot. These are non-profits that would be owned and governed by the people who are insured underneath the coops themselves, used often as a substitute for a public option in these plans.

Here is the "doughnut hole," currently, under Medicare, after seniors reach a certain spending limit they have to pay themselves for the full cost of their prescriptions. And that's a very important challenge in health care legislation. So something needs to be done about that.

Finally, "single payer plan," really big buzz word; this is where one payer, which could be the government, would fund health care costs. The Obama administration has said it does not want a single- payer plan. We've heard a lot of concerns from Republicans saying they believe that ultimately this could lead to a single-payer plan.

A lot more here at; and while you're there, check this out. I'm just having a lot of fun with it because it's one of the best maps of the world I've ever seen. You can click on any country but what it does is it gives you basic health care facts about literally every country in the world, including the U.S.; what percentage of the health care is paid for by the government and some basic health care stats, like how many -- like life expectancy, infant mortality, literally every country.

I was just checking out Madagascar over there. You can zoom way in to any part of the world as well. You can work your way around it. If you're curious, you could hear a comparison to what's going on in France or Canada, a couple of the places you hear often brought up by lawmakers. You can check that out.

And finally, test your knowledge. You think you know a lot about what's going on in the health care world? We have a quiz set up for you right here. All of it, care.

I did pretty well, but there was one I took some time on. And I posted some links for you right here, I'll send it out as Facebook and twitter links as soon as I get off the air here guys.

Hopefully, we're doing a little part here like we were talking about earlier to empower people with facts so you can't get caught up in that lingo and lost in the claims.

NGUYEN: It's maddening, sometimes, trying to figure out what they're talking about.

Josh, thank you.

LEVS: Thanks guys.

NGUYEN: You may want to call it relationship building without the guns.

GRIFFIN: One man's efforts that's educating Afghanis and teaching Pentagon brass a thing or two at the same time.


NGUYEN: Ok. This is really a remarkable story. You've got to watch this one.

After owing his life to a group of Pakistani villagers who saved him, Nobel Peace Prize nominee Greg Mortenson is now dedicating his life to children and women in Pakistan.

GRIFFIN: He's making sure they have the right tools against extremism and violence. In a report you're only going to see on CNN, really, expand your world, here's Christiane Amanpour.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Greg Mortenson's career has been all about war and peace.

How are you?

We met him surrounded by guns and guards. He's been kidnapped by the Taliban and frequently receives death threats.

Yet despite the danger, Greg Mortenson remains undaunted. He's committed to giving an education, to children in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, to give them an alternative to violence and extremism.

GREG MORTENSON, NOBEL PEACE PRIZE NOMINEE: We don't need guns, we don't need bombs, but what we need is education.

AMANPOUR: His mission began 15 years ago, when he attempted to scale the world's second highest peak, Pakistan's treacherous K-2. Mortenson failed and he nearly died. He was nursed back to health in a remote Pakistani village.

MORTENSON: I saw 84 children sitting in the dirt during their school lessons. They asked for help to build a school.

AMANPOUR: And did you?

MORTENSON: I built a school and 78 more and still doing it today.

AMANPOUR: Mortenson's schools now educate about 30,000 students, mostly girls.

13-year-old Saeedia (ph) is one of them.

Saeedia, do you like learning. Are you glad you're being educated?

SAEEDIA, STUDENT (through translator): I'm happy to learn so I can have a good future.

AMANPOUR: Not only does this improve the lives of their families and their communities, but Greg Mortenson has also found that educated women can be a firewall against extremism.

MORTENSON: When someone goes on Jihad, they first would get permission and blessings from their mother. If they don't, it's very shameful or disgraceful. And I saw that happen after 9/11. They're primarily targeting illiterate, impoverished society because many educated women were refusing to allow their sons to join the Taliban.

AMANPOUR: Mortenson's philosophy has attracted the attention of the Pentagon.

ADM. MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: I thought his approach was exactly right. He's at the heart of the right example for all of us.

AMANPOUR: The people he's helped agree. When Greg Mortenson arrives at the schools he's helped build, he receives a hero's welcome.

Guys, what does Dr. Greg mean to you? What has he done for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Now, we will be educated and our future will be good.

AMANPOUR: Christiane Amanpour, CNN, New York.


GRIFFIN: Just a solid story there.

Well, today at 2:00 p.m. Eastern, Christiane Amanpour and Frank Sesno are going to lead a discussion with Secretary Clinton and Secretary Gates at George Washington University on a special edition of "AMANPOUR." That's right here on CNN, which is the worldwide leader in news.

NGUYEN: Well, Senator John McCain is John King's guest today on "STATE OF THE UNION." So what does he think of President Obama's Nobel Peace Prize win? A lot of people talking about that. John is just 60 seconds away on "STATE OF THE UNION." I want to thank you, Drew, for coming in this weekend and filling in for T.J. Holmes.

GRIFFIN: Good to be here.

NGUYEN: It's great to have you.

GRIFFIN: Absolutely, like old times.

NGUYEN: Like old times, yes. You're one of the first persons I anchored with when I started five years here at CNN.

All right, well, thank you for joining us.

First though, a check of this morning's top stories for you.

Let's get right to it.

President Obama has promised that he will end military's "don't ask, don't tell policy," though he hasn't given a clear timetable. He reaffirmed his campaign commitment to ending the contentious policy at last night's Human Rights Campaign dinner in Washington.

And Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in London today after spending Saturday in Zurich where she helped broker a deal normalizing relations between Turkey and Armenia. Clinton is expected to meet British Prime Minister Gordon Brown before traveling to Ireland a little bit later today.

Pakistani commandos, they freed 39 hostages today at the Army's National Headquarters. Militants attacked those headquarters yesterday. Two people were killed along with three hostages in today's rescue attempt. We covered this yesterday and brought some of the first news of it to you. Two other militants killed themselves. One was captured.

There is a lot more news to come straight ahead on "STATE OF THE UNION" with John King. That is happening at the top of the hour, just a few seconds away. Stay with us.