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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
President Obama Signs Economic Stimulus Bill Into Law; More U.S. Troops Headed to Afghanistan
Aired February 17, 2009 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. I'm John King, in for Anderson Cooper.
Tonight, President Obama is the proud new owner of the economic mess, taking possession today with the stroke of a pen, signing the stimulus bill into law, $212 billion in tax cuts, $267 billion in safety net spending, including aid to the states, and appropriations totaling $308 billion for projects nationwide, the first one already under way, but Wall Street not impressed, the Dow sliding 297.
And, for Mr. Obama, plenty more headaches ahead.
The "Raw Politics" from Ed Henry -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, what's interesting is that I just got off the phone with a senior administration official, who is saying that, you know, in the span of 28 days, this administration now was able to accomplish three times what FDR did in the space of one whole year.
They think that they had a dramatic change in U.S. domestic policy here -- here across the board, not just on the economy, but also on energy policy, on health care policy, the fact that they were helping unemployed people bridge the health care coverage that they don't have now that they're unemployed, a big crease -- increase in unemployment benefits as well.
But they're also very clear from this White House tonight that this is only the first of many steps ahead to deal with a massive financial crisis.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
HENRY (voice-over): The largest economic recovery plan in American history signed into law by President Obama at record speed. But, after inspecting solar panels at a Denver company that will benefit from the stimulus bill's $86 billion for renewable energy, the president made clear there's even more drastic action coming.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want to pretend that today marks the end of our economic problems, nor does it constitute all of what we're going to have to do to turn our economy around. But today does mark the beginning of the end. HENRY: The shovels are literally already in the ground in rural Missouri, where construction crews immediately started working on a replacement bridge with some of the $89 billion in infrastructure money.
Even though Mr. Obama inherited the recession, he now officially owns this economy, for better or for worse.
OBAMA: There you go.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
HENRY: There was some symmetry in signing the stimulus in Denver, where he officially became the Democratic nominee for president just six months ago.
OBAMA: We had a good time.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
OBAMA: To accept the nomination of my party and to make a promise to people of all parties that I would do all that I could to give every American the chance to make of their lives what they will, to see their children climb higher than they do. And I'm back today to say that we have begun the difficult work of keeping that promise.
HENRY: That work made more difficult by the fact that Republicans, who largely voted against the stimulus, are now pressing the president to deal with what sparked the current crisis: housing.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We need to address the housing crisis. That's what began this meltdown. And, so far, the administration has not done so effectively.
HENRY: Mr. Obama unveils the details of his housing plan Wednesday in Mesa, Arizona, where median home prices are down 35 percent in the last year. He's expected to put pressure on lenders to reduce mortgage payments for people in danger of losing their homes, according to Democrats familiar with the plan.
OBAMA: We must stem the spread of foreclosures and falling home values for all Americans and do everything we can to help responsible homeowners stay in their homes.
HENRY: Amid the dramatic economic intervention, the president also made his first big military decision, signing an order sending 17,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, a reminder that it's not just the financial crisis that is Mr. Obama's responsibility. He owns the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as well.
KING: Ed, let's get back to that big housing announcement tomorrow. I was just in Arizona. It is stunning to see all the foreclosure signs. And you see them wherever you travel in the country. For anyone watching at home tonight thinking, "What is the president going to do to help me?" give us all the details you know.
HENRY: There's a whole range of options, John.
First of all, the broad brush is that this plan is going to be worth at least $50 billion. They're going to take the money out of that so-called TARP bailout, some $300 billion still left there. So, they're going to carve out at least $50 billion to try to help troubled homeowners stay in their homes, to try to stem this tide of foreclosures.
Specifically, what they want to do is come up with various ways to encourage lenders to help cut monthly mortgage payments for individuals who are struggling to stay afloat right now. They also want to give bankruptcy judges more power to sort of cut down on mortgages for people who can't pay them.
That is a very slippery slow, though, and they could face a lot of resistance, not just from Republicans, but some conservative Democrats on the Hill. And, finally, they're also talking about really trying to increase refinancing, not just for people who are troubled and trying to stay afloat, but average Americans, who could really gain right now from the fact that interest rates have plummeted in the last couple years, but, because of the credit crunch, they have not been able to refinance.
So, they're thinking that this could also lay the groundwork for helping some middle-class folks, who are not in trouble right now, but could be six months, a year from now, unless they start cutting those monthly mortgage payments -- John.
KING: Ed Henry at the White House -- Ed, thanks very much.
And, so, you might say Mr. Obama is now Dr. Recession, Dr. Mortgage, and Dr. Detroit -- GM and Chrysler unveiling restructuring plans late today, plans for cutting jobs, closing assembly lines, and axing entire brands name, like Saturn and Pontiac.
Details and the sticker price -- you might say sticker shock -- from Joe Johns.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Perhaps the most memorable thing that GM and Chrysler said today was the price tag. They said they need $21 billion more of your money just to keep going. Chrysler said it needs $5 billion more. GM said it needs $16 billion more.
RICK WAGONER, CHAIRMAN & CEO, GENERAL MOTORS: Our primary efforts continue to be on transforming our business and executing GM's viability plan outside of bankruptcy court. JOHNS: And bankruptcy, the automakers say, would cost the government and taxpayers more than what they're asking for to stay afloat.
WAGONER: Bankruptcy would be a highly risky and very costly process.
JOHNS: They say they will be more efficient, but that means wiping out $50,000 jobs and cutting back sharply on the number and kinds of cars they produce.
JIM PRESS, VICE CHAIRMAN, CHRYSLER: What we're going to do is, the Aspen and the Durango will not restart production. And the third model is the P.T. Cruiser.
JOHNS: Economist Peter Morici says GM and Chrysler are now saying the right things; they're just not saying enough.
PETER MORICI, ECONOMIST, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND: They're quite realistic about the number of brands they will need, the capacity they're going to require, and the size of the market going forward. They have to tell us more about the labor agreement. How are they going to get their labor costs in line with Toyota, Nissan, and Honda, operating right here in the United States?
JOHNS: Cutting the cost of their work force is the key to the plan. Both companies have offered buyouts to all their hourly workers. And the automakers in the United Autoworkers Union say they have reached an understanding, but neither will say what the deal is, because the union members haven't had their vote on it yet.
MORICI: It's time that we get a plain stating of what the terms of the labor agreements are, so that the American taxpayer can make an adequate evaluation.
JOHNS: Secrecy over the labor deal, Morici says, just isn't acceptable when it's taxpayers' money on the line.
KING: Well, Joe, you know, taxpayers' money, they want billions, 20 billion more dollars. They're going to lay off tens of thousands of people.
So, the accountability question comes into play here. Should companies in this much trouble take their lumps and reorganize into bankruptcy? That's what you're already starting to hear from Republicans on Capitol Hill. Why is that not on the table here?
JOHNS: Well, the truth is, in a way, it is on the table, John, because they were asked by the previous administration to actually show on paper what it would look like if they had to go through some type of a restructuring, if they had to go through simply winding up the companies.
And they say they did that. But the bottom line, they say, is that it would cost the taxpayers exponentially more money for Chrysler and GM to actually go into bankruptcy, because you would have to deal with things like servicing, for example, and warranties.
Now, the critics, of course, say, that's not necessarily true, because, if you had a very well-structured bankruptcy, you could handle all of those things and see these companies through on the other side with some ease.
The bottom-line question, though, is what a bankruptcy of a company like this would actually do to confidence in the economy.
KING: Joe Johns looking at those numbers for us tonight. They are sobering, and the political debate about those plans just beginning here in Washington.
A quick reminder: 360 tonight presents a CNNMoney Summit hosted by Anderson Cooper and Ali Velshi. That's in our next hour.
And, as always, let us know what you think. Join the live chat happening right now at AC360.com.
Up next: talking strategy, politics, and your money with our panel, David Gergen, David Walker, and Pamela Gentry.
And, later, Peter Bergen weighs in on what effect more troops in Afghanistan will have, now that the Taliban just scored a major victory in neighboring Pakistan.
Back home, a man who tried to build bridges between Islam and the West now accused of beheading his wife after she filed for divorce.
Plus, a chimp goes ape -- what he did to a woman and what happened to him -- shocking and sad. We have got the 911 tape. You will be surprised to learn how little the law can do to prevent it -- that and much more tonight on 360.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Today does mark the beginning of the end; the beginning of what we need to do to create jobs for Americans scrambling in the wake of layoffs; the beginning of what we need to do to provide relief for families worried that they won't be able to pay next month's bills.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: The beginning of the end, or, as Winston Churchill once said during the Second World War, merely the end of the beginning.
Whatever you call it, President Obama's got plenty on his plate. He's in Arizona to lay out a mortgage relief plan, more money for Detroit. And that's hardly all.
Let's talk strategy now with senior political analyst David Gergen, David Walker, former comptroller of the United States, and Pamela Gentry, senior political analyst for the BET network.
David, let me start with you. He signed this new legislation, $800 billion, and the White House press secretary, Robert Gibbs, says the president is not ruling out another stimulus package down the road. Does the country want to hear that right now?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Not exactly, but I think it's realistic.
The more people look at this plan, I think the more they understand it does a great deal -- and the president is to be congratulated for -- for as far as it goes -- it does a great deal in to help people in pain, and it does a great deal to save jobs this year.
John, those -- those public workers out in California, the 20,000 jobs that may be lost out there by public workers, this will save some of those jobs, will save jobs in other states.
But to claim, as that senior White House aide did to Ed Henry earlier tonight, that we have done -- they have done more in three weeks than Franklin Roosevelt did in a year, that's hyperbole that they ought to forget.
Within his first year, Franklin Roosevelt created hundreds upon hundreds of thousands of jobs. This plan does not do that. And this plan -- I think David Walker would be even stronger in his view than I am -- that there are many now who worry that we're going to have to have son of stimulus in the next few months, and maybe the grandson of stimulus a few months later.
KING: Well, David Walker, come in on that point. Is this stimulus enough? And, on the role-of-government question, is it the government's job to be trying to pump the economy right now?
DAVID WALKER, FORMER UNITED STATES COMPTROLLER GENERAL: Well, less than a third of this is truly stimulus, meaning that it's going end to up generating jobs and helping the economy within the next several months or even a year.
You know, this is the largest down payment in the history of mankind that doesn't have one dime of equity, not one dime. It's all borrowed money. Isn't that how we got in this problem to begin with?
You know, we're going to have to do a number of other things to turn the corner on the economy. We will get through this. But we have got to start getting our own financial house in order.
KING: So, Pamela, as you listen to this, and those tough words from David Walker, A, get our financial house in order, B, where is all this money coming from, this is now, without a doubt, President Obama's economy, right? He can't go back now and say: "I inherited this. This was President Bush's problem."
It's his now, right?
PAMELA GENTRY, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, BET: Well, he can definitely go back and say that, but now we're going forward.
He signed the bill. It's law. And now he's got this money not only out of -- out of Washington, but he's got to see how he's going to get it through the states.
I think what's really curious to me is that -- I know that a lot of this money, he's saying, is going to hit the ground immediately. A lot of it's shovel-ready. And that's probably true for a lot of the infrastructure things and maybe giving states help with Medicaid.
But I don't know exactly how they're going to funnel this money. And I think transparency and seeing how this money gets out of Washington and into these states and creates anything, whether it's jobs or -- or just opportunities, is going to be really something he's going to have to pay close attention -- attention to. I think people are going to want him to know that.
KING: And, David Gergen, the other big headline tonight on the economy is the automakers. GM and Chrysler have submitted their plans. They want billions more from the government. GM alone wants more than $16 billion. And it says it will lay off 47,000 people in 2009 -- 47,000 people.
Are American taxpayers out there going to say, we will give these companies millions of our money to lay people off?
GERGEN: Well, that's exactly right.
And I think, on this one, the administration faces a very painful dilemma. Do you come to the rescue of the automobile companies, knowing that the current -- they want up now to $39 billion in loans, money that probably will never be repaid in full, and it's going to go on from there, or do you go on -- or do you put them into bankruptcy, which has its own -- you know, the head of Chrysler was saying today that would be catastrophic. You could lose two million to three million jobs if you close down Auburn Hills.
So, you -- you -- this is a very hard set of choices for the administration. Getting a stimulus package passed didn't involve any current pain. I mean, that -- we shove that and those bills are down the road.
This involves paying today. And I think it's going to be a hard set of choices for the administration and for Congress.
KING: David Walker, you were a truth-teller when you were in government. And you're just trying to say, this money is being printed; we don't have it.
The White House is trying to say, yes, this is a lot of money, but they're going to be more transparent than any administration in history. They have this new Web site, Recovery.gov. They say people can track where all this money is being spent.
You know how to count the books and check the books. Is this a legitimate site, or is it a political tool? WALKER: Well, it's true that they're going to have more transparency than we have ever had, and there's probably going to be more accountability.
But all that's after the fact. That's too late. Look what happened with TARP. We didn't have clearly defined objectives. We didn't have criteria to determine who was going to get the money. We didn't have appropriate conditions to determine what they had to do with the money.
We have the same risk of the same thing happening here. We have to have those things up front. By the time the money goes out the door, it's too late.
KING: Pamela Gentry, David Walker and David Gergen, please stay with us.
Just ahead: the picture, not getting the tax fund you have got coming. Picture that, no tax refund, or waiting just for a state trooper who never comes. It's happening. We will take you to California, where, even with the stimulus money, Governor Schwarzenegger and lawmakers are dealing with a massive money gap.
Also, Peter Bergen on President Obama's new plan for sending more troops to Afghanistan.
And the man who started a TV station to fight the notion that Islam means violence, he's facing murder charges, accused of flying into a rage and beheading his wife -- that and more when 360 continues.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: The road to recovery will not be straight. We will make progress, and there may be some slippage along the way. It will demand courage and discipline. It will demand a new sense of responsibility that's been missing, from Wall Street all the way to Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: President Obama in Denver earlier, just before he signed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill into law.
The money in the recovery package can't come fast enough for states that are facing huge deficits not seen since the Great Depression. The vast majority of states began the year with budget shortfalls. Now those budgets are in freefall.
While President Obama was signing the stimulus bill, lawmakers in California worked to pass a budget bill that will likely require drastic measures.
Also today, New Jersey's governor announced that all state employees will be forced to take two unpaid furlough days, a move that will save $35 million, part of the nearly $4 billion in budget cuts that state is making.
It's the same across the country. And it's coming to a state near you.
Here's Tom Foreman.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Call it the great budget blow off. In California, a $42 billion budget deficit has an incredible 20,000 state workers facing layoffs, projects delayed, offices closed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a budget that is painful.
FOREMAN: In Kansas, state tax refunds, Medicaid reimbursements, and school money all were facing possible delays.
STEVE MORRIS, KANSAS STATE SENATE PRESIDENT: We have to -- to make absolutely sure that we are doing everything that needs to be done to protect the state's financial stability.
FOREMAN: At the National Conference of State Legislatures, Corina Eckl has never before seen so many states in so much trouble.
CORINA ECKL, NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES: This is an equal-opportunity recession. States in virtually every part of the country are suffering. And even those states that really started out kind of strong, they were avoiding some of these problems, the energy states, not anymore. Even the energy states are starting to report problems.
FOREMAN (on camera): In all, the latest survey by Conference of Legislatures find 43 states started this year short on funds. And, for most, it has only gone downhill. They have tried to make up the difference with expanded gambling, with delays of construction projects, with hiring freezes, with fee and tax increases.
But almost all of this has failed to regain lost ground, merely serving as a firebreak against worse troubles.
(voice-over): Even if the stimulus plan works well, it could be months, a year, maybe more, before state budgets bounce back.
OBAMA: There you go.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ECKL: We might see more of those kinds of actions next year. It's hard to say how many more states will take that kind of action this year.
FOREMAN: And all of that could make it even harder for consumers to regain their confidence to start buying and digging the economy out of its troubles coast-to-coast.
(on camera): One bright note in all of this, I talked to the IRS today and said, look, with all these states talking about delaying tax refunds, is there any danger our federal tax refunds will be delayed this spring? And the answer was, absolutely not. So, no problems there -- John.
KING: A bright note there, perhaps, from Tom at the end, but we're getting it won't keep taxpayers in Kansas from hitting the roof if their state tax refunds are delayed.
With so many states in so much trouble and your money, your future at state, let's bring in our panel again, David Gergen, David Walker, and Pamela Gentry.
David Walker, let me start with you.
You saw Tom Foreman's report. The states are desperate for this money. But, again, to the role-of-government question, stimulus money, most Americans think it's going to create jobs. Do you think that means saving the job of somebody on a state government payroll?
WALKER: Well, I think that's controversial.
You know, the states, most of them, have constitutional amendments that require a balanced budget. And now the federal government is bailing them out, because the federal government doesn't have such an amendment, and it has an unlimited credit card. So, I think there's going to be some controversy.
You know, the only part of the government that's been -- pardon me -- the only part of the economy that has been growing lately is government.
KING: That's a -- that's a valid point there.
David Gergen, the president has used some pretty grave language in recent days to describe the financial situation. I want to -- I want to talk to you about it on the other side, but let's listen to some of the phrases the president has used.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: We know that, if we do not act, a bad situation will become dramatically worse. Crisis could turn into catastrophe for families and businesses across the country.
So, the road ahead is not an easy one.
And economists across the spectrum have warned, if we don't act immediately, then millions more jobs will disappear, the national unemployment rates will approach double digits, more people will lose their homes and their health care, and our nation will sink into a crisis that, at some point, we may be unable to reverse. (END VIDEOTAPE)
KING: Interesting, David, because, today, the president says, we're at the beginning of the end. That's a pretty big turnaround in the rhetoric.
What's the political calculation?
GERGEN: Well, the political calculation is that you have got to get people to -- you have got to -- you have got to scare people enough, so that they act, which he's done. And I think people are scared. So, it wasn't hard to do.
But now that you have to -- now that you have got a bill, you have got this great big bill, you want to start saying, look, we're on the road now. We're starting.
And I -- you know, and to respond to David Walker, you know, David, if the private sector could do this, it would be fine. But the private sector can't. The government has got to grow. That's the only -- it's the only institution we have left to help put some -- put some steam back in this economy right now.
But I think the point -- the larger point, John, is that this is getting deeper, not only here, but all across the world. And it's going to go on. We're going to -- the bleeding is going to continue on and on.
I thought one of the most interesting things today that came out of the car thing was, General Motors said, we can get back to -- we will be even again. We can break even again when car sales in this country get up to 11.5 million to 12 million car -- car sales a year.
Chrysler today said, we don't foresee that happening for four more years.
KING: That's a -- that's a...
GERGEN: So, this is a long time.
KING: A long time, Pamela, as David Gergen notes, a long time.
From the political calculation and the policy calculation for the president of the United States, now he is more optimistic. There's a huge risk there, is there not, if, six months from now, there are no jobs?
GENTRY: Well, there's -- well, there's definitely a risk.
But, right now, I think he's got to rally the troops, and he's got to bring back some level of consumer confidence, I mean, and just some confidence that everything isn't going to go -- isn't going to go away tomorrow, when people wake up.
I think what's really interesting -- and let's go back to this automotive issue here -- is that a lot of this is some responsibility on the American public. I mean, General Motors and all of these car dealers, all of these automakers were banking on people getting some level of confidence and coming out and buys cars. They're not doing that.
Now, are they going to get $500 in a stimulus check and now decide to go buy a car? I doubt it. They're probably going to save it. So, I think we have a circle that is going around and around. And until someone -- it's like a poker game, and someone has got to break and say, we're going to, you know, make a move. And I think that's what's going to get this economy rolling again.
KING: Well, David Walker, a lot of the lack of confidence in the economy stems from the housing crisis and people watching their nest eggs disappear before them.
The president announces his plan tomorrow in Arizona. How crucial is this? And do you agree with Republicans, many Republicans, who say, by doing stimulus first and housing second, he essentially put the cart before the horse?
WALKER: Well, we clearly have to do something on housing.
I mean, we need to do something to try to be able to help those that are deserving help, but not to reward bad behavior. We have to end the spiraling down of prices. The government may end up having to provide some type of relief or guarantees. Housing is how we got started, and we have to do something with regard to housing.
KING: And, David, as the president does -- to David Gergen, as the president does something in regards to housing, is there a bipartisan opening here, a way to move past the divide on the stimulus debate, and say, on this one, we can all work together, or is there a partisan divide again?
GERGEN: I think, on housing, there is a possibility.
However, if the administration does move forward with forcing lenders to renegotiate mortgages downward, there are going to be a lot of conservatives who are going will say that -- what's called "cram- down" is a terrible idea. And I think I and David Walker would agree on that, that -- that a cram-down will -- what it means is, there will be risk premiums put on future sales of houses, because lenders will say, I have got to get a risk premium, in case the government does this to me again.
GENTRY: Yes. I think...
KING: And -- and Republicans will disagree with that.
GENTRY: And I think a lot of people will say, you're bailing out people who bought these homes or who -- who went into these deals knowing that they weren't going to be able to -- you have -- you have got to help the right people. If they don't help the people at home, they're going to -- if they help the really rich investors, people are going to be upset about that.
KING: Pamela Gentry, David Walker, David Gergen, fascinating discussion. Thank you all for your help tonight.
And just ahead, President Obama's first major military move -- he's ordering more troops to Afghanistan. How many, where, and will it be enough to get the job done? National security analyst Peter Bergen weighs in on these new developments.
Plus, a vicious attack by a pet chimpanzee, the victim's face nearly torn off. Was the animal sick, and could that have caused him to snap? New details ahead.
And the Trump casinos file for bankruptcy protection again. Donald Trump says he has nothing to do with the business anymore, but will his image take a hit anyway?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am absolutely convinced that you cannot solve the problem of Afghanistan, the Taliban, the spread of extremism in that region solely through military means. We're going to have to use diplomacy. We're going to have to use development.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: President Obama there in an interview with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. He'll visit Ottawa on Thursday, his first foreign trip as president.
Today the president announced he's ordering a significant troop increase for Afghanistan. He's sending 17,000 more troops, including 8,000 Marines and 4,000 Army troops initially and 5,000 support troops at a later date. They'll join about 38,000 U.S. troops already serving in Afghanistan. All of the reinforcements will be deployed to Afghanistan's southern region to help stem the flow of foreign fighters across the border with Pakistan.
National security analyst Peter Bergen joins me now.
And Peter, let's just start with the numbers. Seventeen thousand is significantly less than the 30,000 requested by commanders on the ground. What do we make of that?
PETER BERGEN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think part of that is just the logistics of deployment. I mean, you know, there's obviously a large number of American soldiers still in Iraq.
You also have the question of the fact that people have been taking very long deployments, 15-month rotations. So you can't just magically produce 30,000. That was what General McKiernan, the ground commander in Afghanistan had asked for. This is, I think, what is realistic right mow. The reason, John, that these numbers we're seeing, which are pretty large, 17,000, is I think, really related to the election that's coming up, August 20, 2009. As you know, there are a number of strategic reviews going on in Washington. But I think the idea is that let's not wait for these strategic reviews to finished. Let's get these soldiers in the pipeline so that they're ready to be deployed and to provide security in the south.
So not only to interfere with the foreign fighters flowing in from Pakistan, as you mentioned, but also very importantly, to provide security for this very important election coming up, the first presidential election in the last five years, John.
KING: So, Peter, as the debate plays out in the United States about whether this is a good or a bad idea, the president is hoping to pressure some European allies to help him, to send additional troops. He'll ask that question, push that question at the NATO summit in April. He used the term realistic. Is that a realistic option?
BERGEN: I think it's probably not very realistic. We've had -- obviously, we have a different administration, but we've constantly asked our NATO allies, the United States is constantly asking for more soldiers on the ground. Very few NATO countries are going to be willing to send their soldiers into harm's way.
They signed up for a peacekeeping mission in 2005. It's turned into a very active war, as you know, John. Perhaps the Brits might produce more, as you mentioned. President Obama going to Canada, perhaps that's an option. But you're only looking at a few thousand soldiers, even if those countries stood up to the plate. You're not going to get the Germans or the French, I think, to send significant numbers of additional soldiers to what is, after all, a pretty hot war now.
KING: Hot war. And the significant development recently, the Pakistani government essentially reaching an agreement with the Taliban, creating a swath of the country that will be governed by Islamic law in exchange for a cease-fire.
Put that into context: how troubled should the Americans be, both in terms of the Taliban gaining this strength and the Pakistani government negotiating with them?
BERGEN: Well, you know, I think there's good news and bad news about this. The United States itself is talking about potentially negotiating with elements of the reconcilable Taliban in Afghanistan. So if the United States is thinking about, why can't the Pakistanis do it on their own territory? That's the positive side.
On the negative side, we've seen peace agreements by the Pakistanis with the Taliban in the past. They've had very negative effects, both in Pakistan and in neighboring Afghanistan and against American soldiers in Afghanistan, where peace agreements have been implemented. And then violence spikes. We've seen al Qaeda regrouping on the Afghan/Pakistan border. And so there are some real negatives here. But unfortunately, the Pakistani government, when it's tried the military approach against the militants, that hasn't been very successful. They've tried the peace agreements as a form of appeasement. Those aren't very successful. And really, they're struggling to know what is the best approach.
KING: And if you're President Karzai right now, and you know the Obama administration is quite skeptical of your strength and your abilities to do much, does he have much choice, the Taliban negotiating with the Pakistani government? Will we see the Karzai government negotiating with the Taliban inside Afghanistan?
BERGEN: Well, he has basically made it abundantly clear publicly, he said that he's willing to negotiate with the Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, himself, in an almost unconditional matter. I don't think that's really something that's really plausible.
Certainly, if the United States is thinking about dealing with the Taliban in some form of negotiation, it's going to do it from a position of strength. That's one of the reasons we're seeing this large deployment of American soldiers into the south. There's no point, I think, of people thinking -- there's no having these negotiations with the Taliban from a position of weakness. Better to do it from a position of strength.
KING: As always, Peter Bergen, thank you for your thoughts and insights. This is a story worth watching in the weeks and months ahead. Peter, thanks so much.
Get ready for Blagojevich, the sequel. Roland Burris, the senator he named to replace Obama, last night we brought you the story of Burris admitting he spoke with the governor's brother. Now, yet another revelation, making people wonder if he, in fact, had a deal for that Senate seat. The details ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEX RODRIGUEZ, NEW YORK YANKEES: And to my teammates...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Alex Rodriguez breaking down in front of the cameras. A- Rod admits to taking steroids, but says he did it when he was young and stupid. Do you believe him? More from A-Rod ahead.
And later, beyond brutal. A husband accused of beheading his wife. Some suggest it might have been an honor killing. The latest on this shocking story, ahead.
KING: A husband accused of beheading his wife. That's coming up.
First, some other stories making news tonight. Gary Tuchman has the latest with a "360 Bulletin" -- Gary.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, John.
We begin with A-Rod's apology. Alongside his manager and teammates, Alex Rodriguez today said he'll work to win back trust after admitting to taking steroids from the 2001 through 2003 seasons. The Yankee slugger say a cousin injected a substance called "boli" into him. A-Rod said it happened when he was young and stupid. He also added this.
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RODRIGUEZ: I've made a lot of mistakes in my life. The only way I know how to handle them is to learn from them and move forward. One thing I know is for sure, that baseball is a lot bigger than Alex Rodriguez.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TUCHMAN: The bad times have hit Donald Trump. The company that operates his three Atlantic City casinos filed for bankruptcy today. Just four days ago, he resigned as the chairman of that casino firm.
New trouble for Roland Burris. The Illinois senator flip-flopped today, saying he did try to raise money for former governor Rod Blagojevich, who appointed him. Burris may be facing a perjury investigation back home and an ethics inquiry on Capitol Hill. And tonight, in an op-ed, the "Chicago Tribune" is calling for his resignation.
And a helping hand from Super Bowl star, Santonio Holmes. The gloves he used to catch the touchdown were auctioned off for $70,200. The proceeds go to the Sickle Cell Disease Association of America. Holmes' 6-year-old son has the disease.
And John, I know you're a Patriots fan. I'm a Bears fan. But that very noble gesture could make you a Steeler fan.
KING: That is a very noble, heartwarming gesture. And coming in the same news bulletin about A-Rod, it's nice to end on an upbeat sports story, Gary.
TUCHMAN: Absolutely, John.
KING: We'll actually see you a little later.
Now more about your money and your future. At the top of the hour, a 360 special investigation. Anderson Cooper, Ali Velshi and a panel of experts, the second CNN "CNN Money Summit". You made the first one, one of the most watched editions of 360.
Here's a brief sample of tonight's program.
ANDY SERWER, EDITOR, FORTUNE: I don't think this plan is big enough. I think we're going to need to spend more money. You know, we spent $600 billion plus on the war in Iraq. We can spend more than $1 trillion on trying to get this economy straight.
You know, in the 1930s, the unemployment rate went to 25 percent. The economy contracted by 30 percent. The stock market was down 90 percent. What we're trying to do right now is to prevent that from happening. That's going to cost a lot of money.
KING: David Walker, former comptroller general of the United States, do you think we need to spend more money, or is this going to do it?
DAVID WALKER, FORMER COMPTROLLER GENERAL OF U.S.: We need to spend more money, we need to spend it more intelligently. Basically, this is not a stimulus bill. All right? Probably -- maybe a third of this is a stimulus bill. That's why they don't want to refer to it as a stimulus bill. People say, this is a down payment. I think they're being honest.
KING: That's the "CNN Money Summit", tonight in the second hour of 360. You'll want to see that. And again, Friday, 11 p.m. Eastern Time.
Next, the founder of a television network aimed at attacking the negative image of Muslim Americans decapitates his wife, leaves her body at the television station, and goes to the police. Was it an honor killing?
And the chimp that attacked a woman, had to be Shot. It was treated like a human and may even have been given Xanax to calm it before that brutal attack. Much more on that when 360 returns.
KING: Tonight, a horrific story from upstate New York. A man who founded an Islamic television station in the United States is behind bars, accused of murdering his wife. Police say the crime was barbaric, the victim, beheaded. And just days ago, she received an order of protection against him.
Again, here's Gary Tuchman with tonight's "Crime & Punishment" report.
TUCHMAN (voice-OVER): he sounded so self-deprecating when he talked about his wife.
MUZZAMMIL HASSAN, ACCUSED OF MURDERING WIFE: Unfortunately, she's probably made the biggest sacrifice because she now doesn't get much of my time.
TUCHMAN: Muzzammil Hassan, introducing his wife, Aasiya Habil (ph) Hassan, to dignitaries and the news media, as they talked about the TV cable channel in Buffalo they started for Muslim Americans.
HASSAN: She came up with the idea and then turned to me and said, you know, "Why don't you do it?"
And I was like, "I have no clue about television. I'm a banker."
TUCHMAN: But Bridges TV was born, what sounded like a professional and personal success story for the seemingly happy couple.
AASIYA HASSAN, MURDERED: I would appreciate it, if he gave a lot of patience and understanding, because people sat down and watched the channel to figure out exactly what the lifestyle, what Muslims are about.
TUCHMAN: The talk of patience and understanding, now tragically and outlandishly ironic. Aasiya Hassan is now dead, killed savagely, found inside the television station, allegedly beheaded by her husband. Even police are shocked.
CHIEF ANDREW BENZ, ORCHARD PARK POLICE: She was decapitated, yes.
TUCHMAN: The Orchard Park, New York, Police Department says there have been several domestic violence calls to the family home.
BENZ: There has been some history. I believe Mrs. Hassan, the victim, had just recently filed for divorce and had served the papers on Mr. Hassan.
TUCHMAN: A south African newspaper reports the victim's sister, who lives in Capetown, was on the phone with Aasiya during what she believes was the attack. She telling the paper, "I can only imagine how scared and emotional she must have been before she died."
BENZ: We had been down there on Friday at 6 p.m. -- down to their house to serve an order of protection.
TUCHMAN: The TV had evolved into program focusing on other minorities too. Muslims and non-Muslims both worked there.
M. HASSAN: I was just thrilled to see the tremendous amount of talent that was out there among the Muslim American community as well as the level of goodwill in mainstream America towards Muslims.
TUCHMAN: The man who praised goodwill is charged with his wife's murder.
A Buffalo attorney who expects to represent Hassan had declined to comment about the case. The children of the Hassan's, ages 4 and 6, are being cared for by colleagues of the couple. How the children deal with this is unimaginable.
Gary Tuchman, CNN, Atlanta.
(END VIDEOTAPE) KING: Up next, a chimp attack. A woman critically injured. Hear the 911 call for help, plus the surprising number of states that allow these exotic, but dangerous animals to be kept as pets.
Later, did he have too much to drink? Japan's finance minister resigns after the uproar over this video. It's our "Shot of the Day."
And at the top of the hour, a 360 special: "CNN Money Summit." Stimulus, your money, your future. We're running the numbers.
KING: Tonight, there are new details in a chimpanzee attack that has left the people who knew the animal in a state of shock and disbelief. They thought the ape was harmless, until yesterday when he snapped, mauling a 55-year-old woman. Her face was nearly torn off. This 911 call by the chimp's owner captures the terror.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Where are they? Where are they?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know, I know. They're going your way, OK? They're going as fast as they can. They'll be there momentarily.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Tonight, the victim remains in critical condition. A grim reminder, animal experts say, that chimps, like all wild animals, are unpredictable. More now from David Mattingly.
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He was a celebrity chimpanzee, featured in this Old Navy commercial. Travis was famous, usually friendly, and treated like a member of the family. He liked baseball, according to his owner, used a computer, and drank wine.
But Travis was also very dangerous. And on Monday, the 200-pound animal is dead after nearly killing a woman in Stanford, Connecticut.
CAPT. RICHARD CONKLIN, STAMFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT: Just as Charla Nash arrived at the house and exited her vehicle, the chimpanzee attacked her, untriggered; unknown what led to the attack.
MATTINGLY: It could have been fatal, but Travis's owner, Sandra Herold, rushed out of her home and repeatedly plunged a butcher's knife into him. Stabbed but still a threat, the ape then lunged at police officers who arrived at the scene.
CONKLIN: The officer, with nowhere to retreat, drew his side arm and fired several times, striking the chimpanzee, who at that point fled the area.
MATTINGLY: Mortally wounded, Travis returned to his enclosure in the back of the house, collapsed, and died.
(on camera) The owner says Travis was uncharacteristically jittery earlier in the day, so she gave him the anti-anxiety drug, Xanax. But experts say apes are always unpredictable.
JEFF CORWIN, WILDLIFE EXPERT: These animals don't make good pets. They're incredibly powerful, and there are really few legitimate reasons that these creatures should be in captivity. We shouldn't be keeping them in our homes as pets.
MATTINGLY (voice-over): This attack was by no means unprecedented. Back in 2005, two chimpanzees kept at an animal sanctuary in California mauled a man. You can get an idea of the horror from this 911 call.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fire department. What is the address of your emergency?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, ma'am. I need an ambulance here immediately. The Animal Haven Chimpanzee Sanctuary.
Tell me his injuries and repeat them. They need to know. They tore out his eye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They tore out his eye.
MATTINGLY: Chimpanzees are classified as an endangered species, but only in the wild. Captive chimps are considered a threatened species, a subtle distinction. But consider this: only 21 states ban chimps as pets.
The president of the Humane Society calls it shameful, writing, "I not only see cruelty and greed too often on display, but also colossal human stupidity. All of those human weaknesses were in evidence in the long run-up to yesterday's tragic attack."
Legislation is currently working its way through Congress to make it illegal to keep primates like Travis as pets.
David Mattingly, CNN, Miami.
KING: That's a horrible story.
Coming up at the top of the hour, the second "CNN Money Summit." With the stimulus bill signed, we'll take a close look at whether the rescue package will save the economy.
And next, drinking on the job. Did it cost Japan's finance minister his post? We've got the tape, coming up. You might say "cheers."
KING: And now -- ready, Gary -- our "Beat 360" winners, our daily challenge to viewers, a chance to show up our staffers by coming up with a better caption for the picture we post on the blog every day.
Tonight's picture, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger at an event today, honoring Chesley Sullenberger. He's the U.S. Airways pilot, of course, who landed safely in the Hudson River.
Our staff winner tonight is Jack. His caption: "Hasta la vista, payday."
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KING: Yes, we can do better. We can do better. And Eric in Taiwan did do better. His caption: "Please remember that the California economy is equipped with one door in the front, two over the wings, and one in the back. In the event of a water landing, the stimulus package can be used as a flotation device."
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KING: That's a long one but a good one. That's an excellent one.
Erica, your "Beat 360" T-shirt is on the way, all the way to Taiwan.
Now, Gary, here we go. Tonight's "Shot": tipsy, then tossed. Japan's financial minister resigned after appearing drunk at the G-8 summit in Rome last week. Here's the video. You decide if the minister is plastered.
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SHOICHI NAKAGAWA, JAPANESE FINANCIAL MINISTER: (speaking Japanese)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Instead of saving the economy, some think perhaps the minister was deep in the sauce?
TUCHMAN: He's tired.
KING: Well, that's what he says, Gary. That's just what he says. He says this is a bad mix, a little bit of jet lag, a little bit of wine, and some cough medicine.
TUCHMAN: Napping in bed would be a better idea than at such an important event.
KING: You know, early in the Clinton administration, it was a classic moment when Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin emerged from a lunch, and it was safe to say that shots were had.
TUCHMAN: Well, do you remember when Yeltsin did that dance? That's a great one. KING: That's one I'll never try to imitate.
Gary, have a great night.
Up next, what the new stimulus plan does for the country's future and your bottom line. Anderson Cooper and Ali Velshi, a 360 special, "CNN Money Summit," coming up next.
Have a great night, everybody.