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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Iranian President Addresses United Nations; Subtle Racism?
Aired September 25, 2007 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: This is reaction to the story we did yesterday. Are some blacks just too sensitive when it comes to subtle comments about them, or are they justifiably upset about Bill O'Reilly's comments?
SANCHEZ (voice-over): What Bill O'Reilly said was meant as a compliment, but it's being interpreted as subtle racism.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say that I'm concerned that people are still in that type of mind-set.
SANCHEZ: This is a national conversation.
Also, a special report tonight on medical freeloaders. They fly into the U.S. and just use our hospitals and then leave. And, oh, did we mention, they don't pay; you do?
The thorn in the GOP's side, MoveOn.org, dedicated to provoking Republicans. This one's live.
What's he saying this time? Ahmadinejad front and center at the United Nations.
MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Human rights are being extensively violated by certain powers, especially by those who pretend to be their exclusive advocates.
SANCHEZ: He implied there are no gays in Iran. We checked. Wrong, Mr. President. Watch our show if you want to meet one.
A new enemy confronting American troops.
And, on "Immigration Nation," tonight, do we really want illegal immigrants to get driver's licenses?
A good question that we will bring OUT IN THE OPEN.
SANCHEZ: And we do have a lot to get to. So we're going to try and go as fast as possible.
Hello again, everybody. I'm Rick Sanchez.
Less than three hours ago, Iran's president wrapped up his speech at the United Nations. Let's try and get right to it, because it was a clear attack on the United States, even though, and this part's interesting, he never really mentioned the United States by name. He lit into the invasion of Iraq, also accused the U.S. of both widespread violations of human rights and promoting an arms race at the same time.
Deborah Feyerick has been following the story for us. She's joining us now to bring us up to date.
Go ahead. Do so. What happened.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Rick, you know, this was classic Ahmadinejad, full of counteraccusations, positioning himself as a leader, not just of Iran, but of Muslim countries worldwide.
And the reason, says one critic, is because he's trying to hide the fact he's losing power at home in Iran. Now, during his speech, he declared the nuclear issue now closed. He attacked Israel and he accused the United States of violating human rights and supporting terror.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Human rights are being extensively violated by certain powers, especially by those who pretend to be their exclusive advocates. Setting up secret prisons, abducting persons, trials and secret punishments, without any regard to due process, extensive tappings of telephone conversations have become commonplace and prevalent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: He also talked about the nuclear issue, didn't he? It's interesting, because what he seems to be saying is, what nuclear issue? What are you talking about?
FEYERICK: That's exactly right. And one expert we spoke to said in fact the nuclear program is still very strong. The problem is, is that he's tried to hide it, that this was typical of the Iranian president, everything twisted around, everything thrown back in the opposite direction.
SANCHEZ: If there's one -- let's go ahead and watch that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He knows that he's going to be held responsible for terrorism, for human rights violations, for his nuclear weapons program, for his intervention in Iraq, and for the suppression of his own population. He preempted this, attacking the rest of the world, that it is you that is violating human rights, it is you that is not respecting the rights of women, it's you that is supporting terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP) SANCHEZ: You know what's interesting? If there's one place -- that's the point I wanted to get in -- where you would think he would not be received well, it's New York City, especially because of the comments he has made about Israel.
What kind of reaction did he get today around the U.N. and while he travels from one place to another? I understand he's staying at a very posh hotel, by the way.
FEYERICK: He is. And you know what? This hotel is actually right across the street from the hotel that the president is staying at. So, they could actually send each other room service if they really wanted to.
But, in any event, there's a lot of dynamics at play in this whole issue. For example, Tony Blair saw him coming towards him and apparently just ducked out of the way, so that he wouldn't have to come face to face with him. Laura Bush passed him in the Great Hall, and he was riveted to her. He kept watching her. But none of them said anything to him. They didn't want to make eye contact. They didn't want to talk to him.
But there was a really powerful moment that came after the speech at a press conference. And that's when the wife of one of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers basically looked at him front and center and called on him to intercede with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah in Lebanon for proof that her husband and two other hostages are still alive.
He completely dodged the question. He wouldn't answer. He wouldn't look at her. He just glossed right over it. But it was really powerful to see her, this wife, this woman, part of the Israeli delegation, saying, give me an answer; show me that my husband is still alive.
FEYERICK: And she was just confronting him. He said nothing.
SANCHEZ: We forget sometimes that for some people this is a very personal issue. It's not just geopolitics. It's very, very personal.
Deb Feyerick, thanks so much for bringing us up to date on that.
Let's bring in now Joe Cirincione. He is a senior fellow with the Center For American Progress. He's been keeping an eye on Iran's moves for a very long time now.
First of all, is this the guy to be talking about human rights abuses? You heard in Deb's report that he seems to be saying that the real human rights abuses are here in the United States.
JOSEPH CIRINCIONE, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Well, he is trying to put the onus on the United States here, but it didn't work. It's falling flat. And, remember, he's not really speaking to us here in America. He's speaking first to his domestic audience back home and second to the international audience, particularly the Muslim world. But he's losing credibility. Very few people believe that Iranians are the freest people on Earth or that there are no homosexuals inside Iran or some of the other ludicrous claims.
SANCHEZ: OK. So you say he's actually trying to talk not to this audience, but to an audience in the Middle East.
SANCHEZ: How is he received there? What do they say when they hear this man's words?
CIRINCIONE: Yes. Well, first of all, most importantly, he's losing support at home. Remember, he was elected president on a domestic program to end corruption and improve the economy. He's done neither. Inflation is raging out of control. Unemployment is rising. Gas is being rationed inside Iran.
I have a friend, Iranian friend, whose uncle e-mailed him asking if the U.S. could give Ahmadinejad a green card so he wouldn't come back home. So he's struggling to try to increase his power base at home. And one of the ways he wants to do that is improve his stature and become the great hero of the Muslim world.
It's not working. He's losing credibility.
SANCHEZ: Because I was watching this today, and when he was done speaking, he seemed to get a pretty good ovation from those there. Is that just polite applause or is there something behind that? Anybody who goes to the United Nations and knocks the United States is going to be seen as a hero, right?
CIRINCIONE: That is true. There is a strong resentment in many of the nations of the world to what they see as U.S. arrogance or bullying. So, to a certain extent, Ahmadinejad's gambit does work. He seems to be standing up, not afraid to go to the United States. And he received some applause from that.
I think it's -- we're seeing a brief rallying around the president back home in Iran, some comments about how he was insulted by the Columbian president. I don't think that's going to last very long. In fact, most experts don't expect Ahmadinejad to be reelected president of Iran when he comes up for election in early 2009.
SANCHEZ: Thanks so much, Joe Cirincione. Thanks for joining us and bringing us your insight on this.
CIRINCIONE: My pleasure.
SANCHEZ: Now what I want to do is let you hear something that Ahmadinejad said yesterday at Colombia University.
Now, what he's doing is, he's responding to a question about executing gays in Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): In Iran, we don't have homosexuals, like in your country.
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): We don't have that in our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: All right. So, he says, what, no gays in Iran. Is he serious? Well, he was. So, today, someone at the U.N. asked him to clarify. He didn't back down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You mentioned that there is no such phenomena in Iran as homosexuality. Could you please elaborate on that? I know I feel myself...
AHMADINEJAD (through translator): Seriously, I don't know of any. As for Homosexuality, I don't know where it is. Give me an address, so that we are also aware of what happens in Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Yes, also aware. The truth is that there are gays in Iran. And we should also tell you that gay sex is punishable in Iran by death.
Joining me now, Hossein Alizadeh. He's from Iran and has been living in the United States for seven years now. He's a spokesperson for the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission.
Some people were chuckling as they were watching this. But let's be serious now. If she were to actually give him the addresses of those people that she says she knows live in Iran, what would happen to them?
HOSSEIN ALIZADEH, SPOKESMAN, INTERNATIONAL GAY AND LESBIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION: They are good as dead.
SANCHEZ: They are good as dead?
ALIZADEH: They are good as dead. And that has been happening for the past 27 years.
President Ahmadinejad talks about gays not existing in Iran. Probably the reason for which he's convinced there's no gays in Iran because as soon as he finds any gay person, he tries to kill them or he forces them to leave the country. That's why there are no gays in Iran.
SANCHEZ: Tell us your story, because you lived in Iran. You have been here for seven years now. But you're gay. You were gay when you were in Iran, right?
ALIZADEH: Well, I came out here when I came to the United States, and that's part of the problem. When you live in Iran in a regime that does not allow people even to explore their sexual orientation and identity and constantly tell you that homosexuality is a sort of Western virus that is alien to the Iranian society...
SANCHEZ: Well, that's what Ahmadinejad would say.
SANCHEZ: He would say, you know what? You know what he would say? He would say, Hossein, you are just polluted now because you're living in the West, and that's the only reason you're gay.
That's what he would say, isn't it?
ALIZADEH: Sure. Sure. And I'm committing a great sin by being gay, you know?
And it is very interesting. In order to protect his people, also when he talked about homosexuality, he conveniently deleted all those questions to answer regarding the homosexuality from his Web site in Persian. So, if you go to the Iranian president's Web site, the English segment tells you about all the questions and answers, including questions about homosexuality. The Persian version is sanitized. None of the Iranian media are allowed to talk about it.
SANCHEZ: And, as a matter of fact, the speech he gave yesterday, when he talked about homosexuals, we understand that, in the Persian media, that was taken out. It was stricken.
ALIZADEH: Absolutely. Absolutely, because they don't exist, as he says.
SANCHEZ: So, when he says they don't exist, he's saying, they don't because I say they don't exist?
ALIZADEH: They don't exist because we kill them. They don't exist. Therefore, there is no such thing as homosexuals' rights. They don't exist. Therefore, we don't want to recognize them. That's what he's trying to say.
(CROSSTALK) SANCHEZ: I want to be more specific, because I want people -- I want to you to drum down so people really understand what we're talking about here. On the books, sodomy is punishable by death, and you can choose how you want to die after being caught. You can choose to die from being thrown or jumping from the highest perch, stoning to death, or hanging.
In this world today, that just seems hard to believe.
ALIZADEH: They give you choices. It is really sad to say so, but that is really how they perceive homosexuality.
According to their interpretation of Sharia law, homosexuality is the worst kind of crime anybody can commit. And they have a full chapter of the Islamic penal code that is dedicated to homosexuality. On our Web site, the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, we have documented over the years cases of persecution of LGBT people in Iran.
SANCHEZ: That's revealing information. Thanks so much for sharing your insight with us on that, Hossein Alizadeh. Thanks.
This one, we have to show you. You have heard the term in football piling on, right? Well, this one happened during a football game, except it was somebody who ran out onto the field during the Kansas City Chiefs game. And then the mascot decides, I'm going to help, too.
That's what he does. And watch now. He's going to show everybody just -- well, he did. And he's getting applauded by everyone in the stands. Let's watch this thing one more time. It's amazing to see how he got involved. Don't know if he was hit with a penalty, by the way, for piling on or unnecessary roughness.
Let's show you another video now. This one is coming out of Britain. Somebody has decided to torch a $130,000 Range Rover. It happened in broad daylight and police were able to see this video. There they go right there. He's got a rag on him that's filled with gas, and he's going to use it to actually torch the car. Police are saying this is a hate crime.
Why? Because it turns out the guy who owns the car, expensive car, by the way, is the owner of a nightclub, and he had on his license plate the term gay, bi-gay, which is, by the way, the name of his club. It has nothing to do with his feelings about homosexuality. Nonetheless, he lost his car as a result.
So much to get to, Roland Martin on Bill O'Reilly and his story about dining in a black-owned restaurant in Harlem. O'Reilly was trying to be complimentary. So, why are some blacks saying they're insulted by his words?
Also, they come here from other countries just to get treatment in American emergency rooms. The problem is, they leave without paying. You and I pay instead. The outrage over medical freeloaders, we will bring it out in the open.
And then a wild chase in a California desert. How does this one end? We are going to tell you. In fact, we are going to be right back here to show you, as a matter of fact.
Stay with us. We will be right back.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I'm Rick Sanchez.
OUT IN THE OPEN tonight: Subtle racism, that's what many people call the type of backhanded compliment that smacks of stereotyping and racial insensitivity.
It doesn't hit you over the head like a hammer. It's really more like a velvet glove.
First, some examples that you may recall. All right. We will try and bring you those in just a little bit.
But, first, you are going to notice more often than not the person making the comment doesn't know that they're insulting anyone. In fact, they think that they're saying something which is going to be taken as a compliment.
But African-Americans that we have talked to say that they find such comments to usually be the product of ignorance, or even worse.
The latest unintended entry is Bill O'Reilly, a powerful media star who reaches millions of people daily, so certainly a public figure.
Well, here's what he said last week on his syndicated radio show.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP, "THE RADIO FACTOR")
BILL O'REILLY, HOST: I couldn't get over the fact there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same. Even though it's run by blacks, primarily black patronship, it was the same. And that's really what the society is all about now here in the USA. There's no difference.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: All right. Let's talk about those comments, because they're raising a lot of eyebrows, a lot of questions about what Mr. O'Reilly really meant, some of those raised by us here at CNN yesterday during our program, which Mr. O'Reilly is furious about.
He's also furious with liberal watchdog group Media Matters.
In response, here's what Bill O'Reilly has posted on his Web site today: "This week, CNN teamed up with far-left smear Web site Media Matters to defame 'The O'Reilly Factor,' accusing it of insensitivity toward African-American. Don't take your word for it. Listen to the actual broadcast in question and decide for yourself."
Here we go.
Joining us now, Mychal Massie. He's a chairman of Project 21, the National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives. He's good enough to join us. And Suzan Johnson Cook is a former adviser on presidential race initiatives during the Clinton administration.
My thanks to both of you.
Suzan, let's begin with you.
Is it possible, is it possible that African-Americans are simply being too sensitive on this issue and others like it?
SUZAN JOHNSON COOK, FORMER CLINTON ADMINISTRATION ADVISER: Not at all. I'm an African-American who teamed up with no one. My eyebrows did raise as well.
SANCHEZ: Why? Explain what it is about what he says that makes you as an African-American feel insulted.
JOHNSON COOK: It was ignorant. It was insulting. It was inappropriate. Number one, the question is, why did it take him all this time to even get to our culture? He's a man that influences millions of people.
SANCHEZ: What do you mean get to your culture? Do you mean when he makes that comment about -- here. Here. Let me...
JOHNSON COOK: First of all, going to Harlem to Sylvia's for the first time. Is this the first time he's eaten at an African restaurant?
SANCHEZ: All right. But we can give him the benefit of the doubt on that.
JOHNSON COOK: No, we can't.
SANCHEZ: Let's go over what he says: "I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, look, it's exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks."
JOHNSON COOK: That's insulting in itself. That says he's always gone in with some preconceived notion of what he was going to expect. Was he expecting people to be jumping all over the place? It's very sad that, in 2007, a man who influences so many people, number one, has that kind of ignorance, who has not been exposed to our culture.
SANCHEZ: You mean the fact that he's surprised by the civility of African-Americans? JOHNSON COOK: Very much surprised by the civility.
Mychal Massie, your turn to talk about this. And, again, this is not a hammer over the head. He didn't use the N-word. He didn't use a term like Imus used, but he said something that is being taken by some African-Americans as a subtle racist insult.
MYCHAL MASSIE, PROJECT 21: Well, first of all, Rick, thank you for having me on. I appreciate it.
But let me just say quickly that Bill O'Reilly was taken out of context. And far be it for me to defend Bill. He certainly doesn't need myself or Project 21 to defend him. But the full statement -- and I'm pulling these -- part of the sentence that was left out...
MASSIE: ... stated: "And we went into Sylvia's, a very famous restaurant in Harlem. I had a great time. And all the people up there were tremendously respectful. They all watch 'The Factor.'"
And then he made the comment that seems to be...
SANCHEZ: So you're saying...
SANCHEZ: Hold on.
MASSIE: Let me finish.
SANCHEZ: No, no, no, I'm not, because you just said something that's interesting. So, I need to ask you.
You say we should give him a pass because he says, had a great time and all the people up there are tremendously respectful before he says, I couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City.
You say, by saying those niceties, then that excuses the rest of it?
MASSIE: No, that's not what I said at all.
SANCHEZ: Then what are you saying?
MASSIE: What I said was, we need to articulate his entire quote.
The bottom line is, Rick, and to your guest, the black community does have an image problem. Like it or not, there is a very legitimate image problem in the black community.
And we need look no further to see that than with the NAACP, just a few years ago, prepared to give an Image Award, which has to go with good work and community involvement, et cetera..
JOHNSON COOK: The problem is that...
MASSIE: May I finish, please?
JOHNSON COOK: No.
MASSIE: Young lady, I gave -- Ms. Cook, I gave you your...
SANCHEZ: Mychal, go ahead. Take 10 seconds and finish your statement, so she can get in.
MASSIE: R. Kelly was -- they attempted to present with an Image Award, at the same time R. Kelly was being charged for allegedly pedophilia and so forth.
SANCHEZ: I get it.
SANCHEZ: The point that is Mychal is making...
SANCHEZ: Hold on, Mychal. I'm going to help you here.
The point that Mychal's making is, look, if an African-American said something like this, you would give him a pass. You're going after Bill O'Reilly because he's a big target.
JOHNSON COOK: Bill O'Reilly doesn't get a pass. He's not African-American.
The problem with our guest is that he takes the attention off of Bill O'Reilly, puts it on our community. I think they are two different issues.
Bill O'Reilly said something that was out of context -- that was inappropriate. Deal with Bill O'Reilly. Don't deal with the NAACP on this.
JOHNSON COOK: ... African-American... (CROSSTALK)
JOHNSON COOK: ... diversity of cultures.
MASSIE: If I might be able to say, I don't need Ms. Cook to speak for me. I'm very capable of doing that myself.
JOHNSON COOK: And I don't need you to speak for me either.
MASSIE: So, let me articulate my own positions, thank you very much.
Having said that, what we see is a continued dumbing down, a continued raising up of that which is a negative stereotype.
One brief example...
SANCHEZ: Hey, Mychal, we are going to have to leave it there, before we get to the example.
We will get you back. We will continue this discussion hopefully tomorrow.
By the way, is this a legitimate story if people are affected by it, yes or no?
MASSIE: It is not a legitimate story.
JOHNSON COOK: It's a very legitimate story. And the problem is that you have us arguing with each other. The real issue is Bill O'Reilly. Let's deal with...
SANCHEZ: We thank you both. We are going to have to leave it there, before my producers tell me that we're going to end up with losing the rest of the show. Back tomorrow. We will continue the discussion.
Big verdict today in a courtroom in George, Utah. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury duly impaneled in the above entitled case find as follows: count one, that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the crime charged in count one. (END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Jury convicts Warren Jeffs, the leader of a breakaway Mormon sect known for practicing polygamy. Jeffs was accused of being an accomplice to rape by presiding over the marriage between a 19- year-old man and his 14-year-old cousin. Jeffs could get life in prison. We will watch it for you.
Later tonight, you are also going to hear more about the trial and the verdict from six members of the jury. They're going to be "A.C. 360" at 10:00 p.m. Eastern for an exclusive live interview.
Don't even know this is happening? People flying into the United States just to use our emergency rooms. Then they go home without paying a single red cent. So U.S. taxpayers, that would be you and me, get stuck with the bill.
Also, this, our "Immigration Nation" segment: Is it a good idea to give illegal immigrants driver's licenses or is it an invitation, as some accuse, of terrorism?
SANCHEZ: We welcome you back.
MoveOn.org, the controversy continues tonight over the group's ad calling General Petraeus "General Betray Us." Many Republicans are saying that the ad was disrespectful to the top American military commander who happens to be in Iraq during combat.
But does the debate reveal MoveOn as a bunch of instigators, just doing everything to get the Republicans' blood boiling, to needle them? MoveOn is OUT IN THE OPEN tonight, a group that has made its mark and some say left a big stain on the political scene.
SANCHEZ (voice-over): It might have been called the shot heard 'round the world.
RUDOLPH GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: "General Betray Us," using language that evokes treason, by the way, and traitorous conduct.
SANCHEZ: A newspaper ad made and paid for by the liberal political group MoveOn.org to criticize the head of armed forces in Iraq.
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The ad itself was despicable.
SEN. JAMES INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: They demeaned one of the finest officers in the history of this country.
SANCHEZ: It sparked an uproar that reached even the White House.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I thought the ad was disgusting.
SANCHEZ: But it wasn't just Republicans. Some Democrats even thought the attack on Petraeus crossed the line.
SEN. HARRY REID (D-NV), MAJORITY LEADER: We condemn all attacks on our valiant soldiers.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I feel very personal about it. I thought it was disgraceful ad.
SANCHEZ: But just who and what is MoveOn.org? The group says it has only 18 full-time employees, plus a volunteer army of more than 250,000.
Born in 1998, out of the Lewinsky scandal, when founders Wes Boyd and Joan Blades got fed up, they say, with Congress spending so much time trying to impeach President Clinton. They say they wanted the government to -- quote -- "move on."
Today, MoveOn.org's power comes from the purse. They have more than three million members, many of whom donate cash. All of that adds up. In the 2006 election cycle, the group spent $27 million to help Democrats win back the majority in Congress, according to the Federal Election Commission.
Despite the Petraeus controversy, MoveOn.org shows no sign of letting up on its attacks against Republicans. It's running a new ad on cable outlets, including CNN, that blames Senate GOP leader, Mitch McConnell for blocking a Democratic bill to extend home leave time for active duty troops.
ANNOUNCER: Mitch McConnell, the Republicans, a betrayal of trust.
SANCHEZ: With more than a year to go until the election, the battle is just heating up.
There's no question, if you've been watching the political scene, that Moveon is making a name for himself. Here's some of the other works. You'll remember that one, 2004, it was the swift boat ad or in response to the swift boat attacks against John Kerry's leadership in service in Vietnam.
And then also this ad, this is the video, it was actually directed by Oliver Stone -- academy winning director, Oliver Stone, critical of the war in Iraq, second big part for Moveon.org. And then Moveon.org teams up with Michael Moore in "Sicko" trying to get its members to go out and see Michael Moore's documentary.
So, that's the past. Let's bring this to the present. Joining me now is Eli Pariser, he's executive director of Moveon.org. Also, Republican Congressman Dan Burton of Indiana is good enough to join us.
Congressman, you and I haven't spoken for a long. Good to have you.
DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA CONGRESSMAN: No, it's been awhile.
SANCHEZ: All right, let's start with you, Congressman. What are you afraid of with Moveon.org? Is this an organization that's really starting to get to guys like you? Is that why we're here? Thou doth protest too much says Shakespeare, right?
BURTON: No, no, no. They're allowed by law, the first amendment to the Constitution, to say and do whatever they want to do. What bothered me about the Petraeus ad, first of all it was despicable. This man is a man of integrity who's been working for the country for many, many years. But in addition to that, they got a big price break from the "New York Times." That price break would have entitled them to some ad, maybe within a five or six-day period. So, I think it was Catherine Mathis that gave them that ad at $65,000. It was placed on exactly the same day that Petraeus spoke to the Congress of the United States. I think it was -- it looked like collusion. I don't know if it was or not.
SANCHEZ: All right, we'll take that as an accusation. We got the man here who can respond to it, Eli Pariser. I guess the question is twofold, really. Was it a betrayal to call a general, in the middle of a war, a man who is betraying us, which seemed to be what you were intimating? And then the second part is, were you in collusion with the "New York Times?" Do you feel any heat for doing something with the "New York Times" that's been regarded by a lot of people in this country as being far to the left, whether they are or aren't.
ELI PARISER, EXEC DIR MOVEON.ORG: Well, first off on the point about betrayal. You know, I think it was a betrayal of trust for the general, working with the White House...
BURTON: No, no.
PARISER: ...to mislead the public about the facts regarding this war. And this war, from the beginning to now, has been a series of lies and distortion...
SANCHEZ: Just to be on the record, you're saying it was OK to use the term "betray us." You're not taking that back?
PARISER: I think it was a betrayal of trust -- of the American people's trust for a general to go before Congress and mislead people about those facts.
SANCHEZ: Why? Do you -- here's the question made to you. Because here's the point that a lot of people make and I'll make it to you. Do you think that George Bush and the administration was hiding behind General Petraeus?
PARISER: Exactly. He was -- George Bush was politicizing our military and the military shouldn't be politicized. But unfortunately, under the Bush administration, many of the general whose have spoken up have been fired or marginalized... SANCHEZ: Congressman Burton, there's been talk about that. And I tell you where you get hurt, Congressman on this argument was that Colin Powell has come forth and says he wishes he could take back what he did once at the United Nations. And a lot of people look at this and say it's another case of the Bush administration putting a general out there to say what they don't have the cred -- credibility to say. How do you response to that?
BURTON: I have great respect for Colin Powell and I -- he can say whatever he pleases, he was a great secretary of state and a great general. But the bottom line is that General Petraeus did not talk to the White House about his testimony. He didn't talk to the Pentagon. He swore under oath that he and his staff wrote that statement and it was all fact and it was coming from his heart. And so did the -- the -- the -- excuse me, the leader over there, our ambassador.
SANCHEZ: All right, Eli, respond to that, if you would.
PARISER: We learned from the "Washington Post," on September 7, that in fact Petraeus and his staff were cooperating with the White House, that they were, in fact, on daily conference calls from Iraq to talk about how to "sell the surge."
PARISER: And this is the same strategy, as you said, that they used in 2003 to get us into this war in the first place and it's time for someone, and it falls to us sometimes, to raise the alarm and say look, even the independent -- even the government's own numbers contradict what General Petraeus said...
SANCHEZ: Congressman Burton, sir, you get the last word.
BURTON: Well, here did he get that information that he was colluding with the White House?
PARISER: From the "Washington Post."
BURTON: He was not. He stated under oath he wasn't. And, as I said before, it sure looked inappropriate for the New York Times to giving such a break to Moveon.org at a very important time in our history.
SANCHEZ: Interesting debate. Eli Pariser, Congressman Dan Burton. My thanks to both of you for being with us.
BURTON: Thank you.
PARISER: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Next, something you need to know about. People are coming to the United States for emergency medical care and then going home, leaving U.S. tax payers to foot the bill. As tourists they arrive, by the way. Also, in our "Immigration Nation" segment, the outrage over giving illegal immigrants legal driver's licenses. This one lights up the boards, folks. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: What we try and do here OUT IN THE OPEN every night, we try and bring things out that you may not have heard of. Boy, have we ever got one here for you here. A special report that you need to know about.
To your average tourist from abroad, America has a lot of major attractions, right? Disney World, Disneyland, Vegas and beyond. But how about this one, indigent health care. Translation, free health care if you happen to be coming here from someplace else. That's right. This is called "medical tourism." Some people come here just to be healed and then leave -- they leave without paying. And guess who pays? That's right, you pay, I pay.
Medical correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen pays.
She's been looking into this for tonight's "Vital Signs" and good enough to join us now. Who are these people and is this part of a premeditated plan on their part or is it just something that happens by coincidence?
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh no, this is extremely premeditated, Rick. These are people who are in their own country, usually in Central or South America and they have an ailment and there's no treatment in their country or they can't afford it in their country. And so they get on a plane and they come here specifically to get care because they know hospitals will treat them and they'll charge them, but they just won't pay the bill. So they're called fly in and fly out. Or another doctor what he said, he said we called it, D.R. to the E.R. D.R. meaning Dominican Republic.
SANCHEZ: So it happens all the time?
SANCHEZ: And these a people -- I mean, tell us how they do it. Do they come here saying that they have an ailment that they knew they had, and then -- maybe a better question is, why are they treated? Why don't we just say look, we can't treat you, you've got no insurance. In fact, you're not even an American.
COHEN: That's not good enough. That's not good enough. The law requires that if someone is showing up in an emergency condition and says, you know, I need help, it doesn't matter where they're from. The hospital by law has to treat them. Now, even if it's not an emergency, hospital executives tell me we're real nervous about turning these people away because, get this, they sue if you turn them away and something bad happens to them, they will sue and so hospital executives get nervous about that.
SANCHEZ: So, you're telling me that somebody comes here, and let's suppose it's something like a tumor and it could be malignant and it's going to cost thousands and thousands of dollars, maybe more, that person will then need to be treated by the doctors once they're diagnosed with that tumor?
COHEN: Right, they come in and they're diagnosed. We actually got -- CNN obtained this huge list from one hospital in Florida of people who they've taken in and paid for all their care and they just fly home. And actually I have two specific examples for you that I think kind of spell this out. There was a woman from the Bahamas, 75- year-old woman, she had colon cancer. She came into the emergency room, they admitted her and she stayed for seven months in the hospital to the tune of $218,000. And the hospital paid for all of that.
Here's another example. A Haitian woman's cervical cancer, shorter stay, $28,000. That one wasn't as expensive, but you can still see for a relatively short stay, these bills are huge and they don't pay.
SANCHEZ: So, what they're doing is, these hospital officials is, they're erring on the side of caution. Just in case, we don't want to get sued. And we certainly don't want to just drop these people out on the streets, so we'll just go ahead and treat them, and we'll figure out payment later?
COHEN: Right, exactly, we'll figure out payment later. Right.
SANCHEZ: But the problem is they don't get paid.
COHEN: Right, the problem is they don't get paid.
SANCHEZ: OK, so who's paying for this?
COHEN: As you said, you're paying for it, I'm paying for it when it's a public hospital. For example, we talked to folks in Broward County, Florida who get a lot of people flying in. So, when people don't pay, that's the taxpayers who pay.
SANCHEZ: Outrageous. And how much?
COHEN: Millions of dollars. Nobody's really quantified it, but they say millions of dollars. But if it's a private hospital, that hospital sometimes eats it.
SANCHEZ: It's an amazing report. Good work. Elizabeth Cohen, we thank you.
"Immigration Nation." Why is there so much outrage over giving illegal immigrants legal driver's licenses? We'll have it.
SANCHEZ: There's some frightening video out of the war in Iraq. This is video supposedly from an Islamic extremist group. This is a new one, by the way, they're based in Pakistan. It shows rockets that are being fired into a U.S. base in Iraq. Groups like this were routed by the U.S. in Afghanistan, that was after 9/11, you remember. But now they're making a comeback. Not only there, but also infiltrating Iraq. This is one of those videos that they had put out that the U.S. military had seen before.
Well, the latest firestorm in the debate over illegal immigrants is OUT IN THE OPEN tonight. Soon, they're going to be able to get a driver's license in New York State without showing a Social Security number or any proof of residence. New York is just the latest in several states to make the move. At issue tonight, critics say that that could help terrorists.
With me now is Michael Cutler, he's from the Center of Immigration Studies, he's also a former agent for what used to be called the Immigration and Naturalization Service, INS, right as we use to call it?
MICHAEL CUTLER, CENTER OF IMMIGRATION STUDIES: Oh yes. Absolutely.
SANCHEZ: All right, here we go. Let me tell you what -- I did a little research on this and I looked at different states and what their policies. We'll start with Jeb Bush, former governor of the state of Florida. He said, "If we treat them like lepers," he says, "then we're ignoring their presence and we ourselves are in a policy of denial." How do you respond to that?
CUTLER: If you came home and found a burglar sitting in your living room, would you offer him dinner? I don't think so.
SANCHEZ: Why would you -- is that fair, though to say that...
CUTLER: Absolutely it's fair.
SANCHEZ: The people of the United States, a lot them are not criminals per se, I mean, I know, I know you're going to argue they're criminals because they jumped the -- they came to the United States illegally. But a lot of them are really good people who are just here trying to make a dime and take care of their families.
CUTLER: OK, but here's the deal, though. Here's the deal. The inspections process that they evaded, if they ran the border, isn't just like a guy that didn't throw the two quarters into the bucket and then drive across the bridge. The inspections process is a very serious process. I was an inspector at the beginning of my career at Kennedy Airport. The inspector is charged with an awesome responsibility, they're supposed to make sure that we get out criminals, terrorists, drug addicts, mental defectives, people with communicable disease.
SANCHEZ: For years our system has basically looked the other way and let these people in. Haven't they?
CUTLER: Well, that's because both political parties have politicized the issue. They're looking for cheap labor or they're looking for the campaign contributions.
SANCHEZ: Exactly. Exactly. However, let's be honest about it, though, that's the truth.
CUTLER: Absolutely. It's both sides of the aisle.
SANCHEZ: So you want to blame these people for what our government essentially has set up a system that basically goes, oh, yeah, you're not supposed to go in there, but I'm not looking.
CUTLER: And if somebody drive recklessly on the highway or speeds or drives drunk, we're going to blame the state for not arresting enough drunk drivers or blaming the person that drove drunk? The bottom line is, every country in the world takes its borders seriously.
SANCHEZ: And so do we.
CUTLER: We don't take our borders seriously.
SANCHEZ: No, you're right. And so we need to as well is what I wanted to say.
CUTLER: We need to and the point is you can't control the border at the border. OK? Forty percent of the illegal aliens, by the way, in the United States didn't...
SANCHEZ: When did your relatives -- descendants come to the United States?
CUTLER: My mom came here around 1928 or so. My dad's parents came here in 1908 -- legally.
SANCHEZ: Where did they come from?
SANCHEZ: Yeah, legally. Legally, because there was a system where they came by legally.
CUTLER: There still is a system.
SANCHEZ: Well, not for these folks.
CUTLER: No, wait a moment. Right now our country admits more aliens legally than all the other countries combined. Well over a million each and every year...
SANCHEZ: I know.
CUTLER: ...get residency. There is no other country.
SANCHEZ: But here's the issue. Why is it when we tried to get an immigration reform package through that was going to say that's it, the border's closed, nobody comes in as of January of this last year and, by the way, we want everyone's fingerprints, we want to document everybody, and we want to throw out anybody who's got a record -- why did everybody run from that? CUTLER: I'll tell you why. Can we really close the border? Do we have the resources there now? When the president said we tried enforcement only and it doesn't work, that's a bold faced lie -- all respect to the president and his office. Let me tell you what. You've got about 4,000 ICE agents, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents for the whole country.
New York has 38,000 cops. When you say to me, though, with 4,000 agents we tried enforcement it doesn't work. No, you're wrong, all you've tried to create an illusion of enforcement. The border is as porous as ever.
SANCHEZ: Exactly. And on that we agree, by the way.
CUTLER: Now OK, and we had an amnesty in 1986 that was supposed to do exactly what you're describing. We're going to finish it off here, whoever's here is here, and you know what happened?
SANCHEZ: And your point is it didn't work under Reagan, it won't work under Bush.
CUTLER: And you know what? The fact that we provided amnesty created a huge incentive for people to come here because they saw what happened to the people the preceded them.
SANCHEZ: But my problem is we're left then with nothing. You get the last word, 15 seconds.
CUTLER: What we have to do is make certain that we have deterrents. I once said it before, I'll say it again, no one breaks into an amusement park if they can't get to go on the rides. Take away the incentives and then people will understand that it's an exercise of futility to come here.
SANCHEZ: Michael Cutler. My thanks having you being here.
CUTLER: Thank you so much for having me.
CUTLER: All right. Tonight Bill O'Reilly talked about me and our segment last night about his remarks on the visit to a restaurant in Harlem. We're going to hear it, next.
SANCHEZ: All right, we've been talking about some of the remarks that were made by Bill O'Reilly on his syndicated radio show about African-Americans and his visit to a Harlem restaurant. And we're going to have that for you in just a little bit, so stand by.
But what I want to bring you up to date now is something that we're very proud of here at CNN. And that's our commitment to bringing you up to date on some of the things that some people in our community do to help others, specifically in Afghanistan where there's now hope for some of the war widows as a result of what's happened to them, thousands of them, dirt poor. Here's where the hope comes in. Thanks to one man's inspiration, many of these women are learning how to build a future for themselves and for their families. Here now, CNN's Hero.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And explain to me everything you want to explain.
MATIN MAULAWIZADA, CNN HERO: Afghanistan offered me a lot and I wanted to bring a little something back. It's a tiny project, but I wanted to really make sure to bring something.
Afghan women have survived years of war, years of suppression. Still, they do and they prevail. So to me, that the strength of Afghan women are just remarkable and I wanted to work with them.
Widows in particular rely on the mercy of their families, so they kind of become servants. And I wanted to kind of change that one person at a time if I could.
My entire point was to -- to make sure that widows and women be able to proudly work and be proud of their work and work outside their house. And provide well for their families.
It's just amazing. It sells itself, really.
They read and write equivalent of fourth grader now.
Mentally, they're prepared to go to work. They know how to take measurements. They know how to do -- to write measurements. Once they learn enough, they -- they will basically be business women.
And look at the embroidery on this.
I'm hoping that I would send them to courses that they could actually manage a business, grow a business. My whole dream is for them to basically have the confidence to see the beautiful outfits that they're making and know that people are enjoying and appreciating them.
They are doing the work and all I am offering is basically an opportunity for them to show off what they have.
SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back. We've been talking about some of the remarks made by Bill O'Reilly on his radio show last week about African-Americans and his visit to a Harlem restaurant. Well, tonight on his program on FOX News, Bill O'Reilly responded to our coverage of his remarks and the reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, THE O'REILLY FACTOR: Now, I talked to CNN last night before that program. It was obvious they didn't listen to the "Radio Factor," so I explained the deal. They went ahead with the racist angle anyway. This is dishonest and dangerous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Maybe untrue as well because we went and we checked the transcript. The word "racist" was never mentioned during our show, certainly not by me. Never once did we utter the word "racist" in relation to Bill O'Reilly. Not by me, even not by our guest, Roland Martin, who was here at the time.
One other thing, he talks about calling us and talking to us. In actually, he called and screamed at the top of his lungs for a very long period of time. We've invited Bill O'Reilly, by the way, to come and talk to us. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: As usual, a lot of heat and a lot of action. Thanks so much for being with us. I'm Rick Sanchez. LARRY KING LIVE starts right now. Hasta manana.
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