Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Fighting for Every Foot of Land; 747 Fighting California Flames; Jimena Now A Category 3; "Sense Something Wasn't Right; Bone Found Near Garrido's Home; Grim View on Afghan War

Aired September 1, 2009 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: Well, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, with each passing hour, more of California goes up in flames. A deadly wildfire has already claimed dozens of homes. Thousands more are threatened. But firefighters have a new weapon in their arsenal -- a jumbo jet turned into a supertanker.

Also, shocking details emerge about a kidnapped girl's life in cabitivity. We'll hear an inside recount of her reunion with her mother from the FBI agent who stayed on the case from the very beginning.

And U.S. Marshals take us inside Bernie Madoff's beach house. They're putting it up for sale, hoping to recover some of the convicted swindler's stolen millions.

Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Fire tornadoes shooting into the sky. Flames traveling miles in the span of just hours. At least five wildfires are raging in California. The largest has already consumed some 190 square miles. That's an area larger than the City of Philadelphia. At least 10,000 homes are threatened. The commander of the battle against the flames says crews are fighting for every foot of land.

I want to go straight to CNN's Reynolds Wolf.

He is on the scene of the destruction in California.

Tell us exactly where you are and what are you watching.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We're in Big Tujunga Canyon. And I'll tell you, right now, we're watching the smoke that continues to come through this area.

Just to set the scene for you for a moment, if you look around me, it's almost like a lunar landscape. Directly behind me, you actually see a few green spots in the trees. Everything else burned. And then off in the distance, you can see the high hills, the topography, the mountains that they're finding up here that they have to deal to battle this tremendous blaze, you mentioned, bigger than the City of Philadelphia. Now, I'm going to step toward you, step toward the camera. As I do so, I'm going to be hopscotching over a lot of this -- this Earth. It's almost like a moon-like landscape here.

What's amazing is that when the temperatures came through here, when you had the fire ripping through this area, you had temperatures, Suzanne, around 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, which left this -- this landscape just almost like a fine powder -- just ash everywhere.

This is the stuff people have been breathing. It's all over the cars and all over the firefighters. Some 25,000 have been out here battling the blaze, men and women -- not just from the State of California, but from all over the country that have come here and joined hands doing what they can to battle this immense blaze.

You know, as you look around me, you're really seeing the aftermath. But this thing is far from over. We're talking about a fire -- we've already mentioned the size -- only 5 percent contained. So we've certainly got a lot of work to do over the next couple of days.

You know, they -- they say that this could possibly take a week, maybe even longer, to battle. What's amazing is when you compare it to battles of -- against fires you have in the open plains, like, say, in Nebraska or maybe even Kansas or even Texas, everything is flat.

But here, you know, they're finding it's pretty rough terrain. In some spots, they've got to do some -- a little bit of climbing here and there. And other places, well, obviously they're using different things to battle the blazes. They're using fixed wing aircraft. They're using helicopters. Speaking of fixed wing, they do have a DC- 10 and a new specially configured 747 that's been -- that they've been used to drop the fire retardant and, of course, the heavy water to battle the blaze.

Another big issue we have here in California, we've been talking for a long time about the budgetary issues they've had. The State of California has only budgeted $182 million for the entire fire season. This is early in the fire season, Suzanne. Already half that budget up in smoke -- let's send it back to you.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Reynolds.

An excellent report there.

And as you had mentioned before, this massive fire calls for a massive response -- a Boeing 747 super tanker. It is the biggest plane ever used for wildfires. And it is fighting these flames.

Our Abbi Tatton, she has details on this massive firefighting tool. Tell us about this plane that they're actually using for this.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, they've certainly brought out the big guns in this case.

Take a look at this. This is a Boeing 747 super tanker, which was brought out yesterday -- these are file pictures -- brought out yesterday in California for the first time to tackle these wildfires from the air; dumping retardant on the Oakland fire in the morning and the massive Station Fire in the afternoon.

Now, if you look inside this plane, there's no passenger seats, even though it's a Boeing 747 that we're used to. If you enter to the right hand side,. You're going to see a row of large tanks -- 10 of them. They're capable of carrying 20,000 gallons total of water or retardant. And they can -- they can be dropped from higher up, which makes it potentially safer -- 300, 400 feet.

There are multiple air tankers that are fighting the Station Fire. But this is, by far, the biggest, carrying 8,000 gallons more than the DC-10, which, until now, was able -- was able to carry a lot more.

MALVEAUX: It's pretty amazing, the size of this.

And do we get a sense of how much of the fire it can actually put out?

TATTON: Large areas -- capable of dumping retardant on an area three miles long, about the width of a football field. But take a look at that in proportion to what it's dealing with. This Station Fire is absolutely massive -- about 1,000 times that. So it's certainly got its work cut out for it.

Another thing that it's dealing with out there is the stock market. There's a layer of smoke around the Station Fire today that's kept the supertanker grounded and other planes, as well. So they're hoping that when that lifts later on this afternoon, it will get back out there.

MALVEAUX: It's a big, big job.

Thank you, Abbi.

Well, as California fights the flames, a monster hurricane is racing toward Mexico's Baja Peninsula, threatening a different form of devastation.

But could its rains be a blessing in disguise for California?

I want to go straight to our severe weather expert and meteorologist, Chad Myers.

He's at the CNN Weather Center Atlanta -- and, Chad, what do we know about the latest about the fire and the hurricane?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, the hurricane itself now a category three, down a little bit -- down to 125 miles per hour. But still, a very big storm going to affect Cabo San Lucas.

I'm going to take you back here to Southern California and hit play -- take you to where our Reynolds Wolf is. I want you to notice the topography -- how steep these canyons are. This is the canyon right there. That's the one that Reynolds is in.

Something else that's happened today -- I'm seeing an awful lot of fire jumping -- jumping from one section to another. I didn't see that as much yesterday.

Now I'm going to take you all the way over here to the other side of the fire, to Mount Wilson. Mount Wilson, they had it beat down yesterday. The fire was out. Not today. Here's some pictures we just shot here, KTLA. There's the towers. You notice them. But down on the bottom of those towers, that's where the observatory is. And look, there is smoke again. I don't know whether it's a re-burn, which would mean one spark or a couple sparks just didn't get put out yesterday or were there just sparks again in the air flying around. And very devastating for this area if they don't get this under control.

You just spread your resources so widely here. You've got fires all over the place now. What are you -- you're talking almost 200 square miles of fire line. Very hard to get that under control.

MALVEAUX: And, Chad, I hear that there's a new storm that's brewing in the Atlantic.

MYERS: Yes.

MALVEAUX: What do we know about this?

MYERS: Absolutely. A brand new storm named Erika with a K, E-R-I-K- A. There it is right there. The center is not where all of this convection is. The center about here. That doesn't matter so much. It's only a 50 mile per hour storm right now.

I think the bigger story will be for next week, because this is kind of a slow mover -- Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. It still hasn't even gotten really that close to the U.S. yet. But it will be very close to, let's say, St. Marten's, St. Bart's, maybe the British Virgin Islands.

And notice -- see how these holes are in every one of those symbols?

That means when you fill them in, it's a hurricane. So far not forecast to be Hurricane Erika. I can't quite guarantee any of that yet, though. That's still going to be a few days away -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Keep us posted, Chad.

Thank you.

MYERS: Sure.

MALVEAUX: Well, what led police to a kidnapped girl and what happened when she was reunited with her mother after 18 years?

We'll hear from an FBI agent who stayed on the case from the start.

And as the Afghanistan war takes a growing toll on American troops, is the American public growing more pessimistic?

What our latest poll is showing.

Plus, astronauts getting ready for a risky walk in space. It is about to happen and we've got it covered.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The mechanism at the forward end of Leonardo and the berthing mechanism...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: More fascinating details are emerging about Jaycee Dugard's 18 years in horrific captivity. And with more details, more questions about just how convicted rapist Phillip Garrido got away with what he did for so long.

FBI special agent Chris Campion, who has been on the case from the very beginning, he tells us about how Dugard was finally found and her emotional reunion with her mom.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY FBI.GOV)

MR. SCHIFF: We wondered if any leads over nearly two decades may have taken investigators close to Jaycee and her kidnappers.

MR. CAMPION: I wish I could say that there was. And -- and we've gone through and checked our records. And my memory is, no, we didn't have anything that remotely was close to these people. We had, you know, the vehicle description and we have the vehicle that was used in this abduction. We're very confident we have the actual vehicle. It looked like a lot of vehicles that were stopped during the ensuing days, weeks and years that we checked out countless leads of -- of look-alike vehicles, look-alike subjects to the composite drawing of the female suspect, based on our witness statement.

We -- we checked literally thousands of those leads and these people just did not come up on the radar screen at all, for whatever reason.

MR. SCHIFF: And now we come to this week.

How did this come to a conclusion?

MR. CAMPION: Well, the bottom line is very good police work by a couple of key people. And it's my understanding, at this point, that an officer at the University of California Police Department for UC Berkeley had contact with Mr. Garrido. And he was -- raised her attention level and he was with two younger girls. She determined that he was a sex-offender and that gets that sixth sense that law enforcement people some time have that something wasn't right here.

And she did the right thing. She called his parole officer. The parole officer did what he was supposed to do and got to the bottom of it and the whole thing came out at that point.

I have been in contact with Jaycee's mother, Terry, over the years on a regular basis. We call and check in, hopefully on an annual basis. I usually try to call on Jaycee's birthday. And so Terry now is, understandably, just ecstatic. She -- when I called her, she was beside herself with joy. And I was present when she was reunited with Jaycee yesterday morning. It was a very emotional scene, both -- both of them were just overjoyed to be with each other again.

And there's going to be a period of adjustment, no doubt. But they are -- they're doing very well at this point. And the two daughters are probably as happy as Jaycee is to be part of this family, as well.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: A customer of Phillip Garrido says that Jaycee Dugard and her daughters seemed normal. And, unbelievably, Jaycee's photo on her alleged abductor's business cards.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHEYVONNE MOLINO, PRINTING CLIENT OF PHILIP GARRIDO'S: The girls were fine. They're being portrayed in the media like they were little girls -- little Jungle Janes that lived in a dungeon. The one thing the authorities have not allowed us to know is what were the living conditions of that 4,000 square foot house.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: So you think they spent a lot of time inside the house?

MOLINO: I saw them three or four times a week. They were clean. Their hair was clean. If they were living in those type of conditions, they would have had a little bit of dirt on them. I -- I'm a cosmetology instructor. Their hair was never dirty. They always looked nice.

She was just your normal teenager. She was aspiring to do modeling. Her picture was all over his business cards for the last 10 years.

COOPER: Her picture were on his -- on his business cards?

MOLINO: Yes. About 10 years ago, when he started printing our cards and he was looking for business, he'd leave your cards with his cards and her picture -- blond hair and blue eyes, a beautiful young lady. She was on everyone's card.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: I want to get the latest on the investigation now from CNN's Kara Finnstrom in Antioch, California -- and, Kara, you know, police have been looking at possible links between Garrido and the disappearances of other young women in the area.

What can you tell us about this?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the investigation into Garrido has continued to grow and to unfold. We know they are looking at whether he may be possibly linked to a number of other unsolved crimes. Specifically, there are two abductions of other young girls that took place back during in the 1980s. Both of those young girls were just about 20, 25 miles away from here, in Antioch. And similarities with some of those abductions, so they're looking into those cases.

They're also looking into whether he may have been involved with a string of murders that took place in the 1990s. In those instances, many of the victims were prostitutes and some of their bodies were found at a park that was close by to the place where he used to work. So they're taking a closer look at all of that right now. What they don't want to do is to overlook any possible leads. They've come under, obviously, some harsh criticism for overlooking some clues that, you know, became apparent a few years ago, that could have led them to -- possibly -- to Jaycee Dugard earlier.

MALVEAUX: And, Kara, tell us about what authorities have found on the premise or close to the home -- some sort of bone that they discovered there.

Can you tell us about that?

FINNSTROM: Yes. For about four days here, there was a very exhaustive search of the property behind us. This is Garrido's home right here. If we pan, you can see a neighboring property. Well, that property was vacant for a number of years. And he was actually caretaker for it. So they know he had complete access to that property.

They brought in their cadaver dogs. They did a complete search of that property, as well. And what they found was a bone fragment. Not clear at this point whether it is animal or bone, but they have sent it off to do some testing.

MALVEAUX: Kara, thank you so much.

Phillip Garrido's father -- he says that his son began spiraling out of control in high school after he suffered a head injury in a motorcycle accident and began taking LSD.

Now, would a brain injury or drugs in any way explain Garrido's behavior?

Well, joining us is Dr. Martin Makary.

He is a surgeon at John Hopkins Medical Center.

I want to thank you for being here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And, first and foremost, does -- does this make sense to you?

Does this sound that -- like this is possible, that a -- a head injury from a motorcycle accident early on could change or alter in some way an individual's behavior?

DR. MARTIN MAKARY, JOHN HOPKINS SCHOOL OF MEDICINE:

MAKARY: You know, Suzanne, it would be very uncommon. But there are rare circumstances where a head injury -- we're talking less than 1 percent of all traumatic head injuries -- can result in loss of that inhibition filter in your brain and that aggression goes uncontrolled, sort of like it does in people when they're intoxicated and they have a frontal behavior and they sort of speak freely. That can occur with behavior, as well.

MALVEAUX: So you're saying there are cases when, actually, an injury such as the one that the father is explaining could make one's natural impulses not to reach out and do things that are inappropriate...

MAKARY: Exactly. They act on their thoughts. When they have an aggressive thought, they act on it. Now, no one has really made the connection with definitive crimes, but this aggressive behavior is described. It's less than 1 percent. Ninety-nine percent of people, when they have a head -- head injury, they have problems with concentration or balance or inappropriate words. That's 99 percent. But 1 percent can have this rare active aggression.

MALVEAUX: And what about the use -- drug use?

His father says that he was using LSD.

Would that compound the problem?

Would that also, in any kind of long-term effect, have any kind of impact on his behavior or even perhaps his moral compass?

MAKARY: It definitely would impact aggressive behavior. Many people say it plays in with morality -- their sense of what's right, appropriate or what limits are. But, remember, they can test for that. And they can also look at the MRI when the person was injured back in this old accident and see whether or not there was any definitive brain injury. If there wasn't, there's no case there.

MALVEAUX: In light of the fact, the statistics, you say it's about 1 percent or so that that would be feasible, does this sound more like an excuse that the father is using?

MAKARY: You know, it is a common legal excuse in the courtroom. They routinely look at old injuries to try to find some way that would rationalize the behavior. So we have seen this many times before in the courtroom.

MALVEAUX: Would it hold up in court?

MAKARY: I don't think so. I think there's got to be a definitive injury on the MRI at the time of injury. Everyone gets an MRI when they come in with a head injury nowadays. Unless there's a discrete injury on that MRI, I don't think there's any case, unless a sympathetic jury can sort of imagine the situation.

MALVEAUX: And in light of the fact the head -- the head injury happened a long time ago, he would have to dig up medical records and present those medical records?

MAKARY: They would have to dig out from the archives that MRI when they were injured. And, in fact, they will do that, because they are in the medical records department.

MALVEAUX: But if he was never treated, they -- they wouldn't have any record of it.

MAKARY: Exactly.

MALVEAUX: Now, that would be more difficult.

MAKARY: That would be difficult.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you very much.

MAKARY: Thanks, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Dr. Makary, appreciate it.

MAKARY: Thanks.

MALVEAUX: Well, how did a convicted rapist sentenced to 50 years end up back on the streets after only 10 years?

Campbell Brown investigates how Phillip Garrido slipped through the cracks for so long. That is tonight at 8:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

The Lockerbie bomber's emotional pleas to go home -- what secret documents released by the British government are revealing about his release from a Scottish prison.

And emergency landing on a Massachusetts highway -- amazingly, no one was injured. But the traffic backup it caused, well, that's another story.

Stay with us.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: T.J. Holmes is in Atlanta and monitoring all the stories that are coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- T.J., how are you doing?

HOLMES: Hey.

MALVEAUX: What have you been following?

HOLMES: I'm doing well.

Good to see you again.

Up first here, here secret documents released today by the Scottish government show pleas from Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi to be set free from a Scottish jail. He was pleading to get out of there. This was in a three page handwritten letter. Al-Megrahi says -- and I'm quoting here: "I am praying every day that I will see my parents before I die." He also insists, still, that he is innocent. The Scottish and British governments are fighting back against allegations that al-Megrahi was released as part of a deal involving Libyan oil.

Also, Cash for Clunkers did well for some, mixed results for some others -- as far as automakers, we're talking about here. Ford saw a 17 percent increase in August sales over last year. Chrysler, however, saw a 15 percent drop in sales. Now, some people think Chrysler was hurt because they have a shortage of those fuel-efficient vehicles which you needed to have in order to take advantage of this Cash for Clunkers program. Ford, however, has a lot of those fuel- efficient vehicles, namely the Focus and the Escape. They were among the top selling cars under the government-backed program.

Also today, Vermont becomes the fourth U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. But city and town clerks so far around the state say they've only issued a handful of marriage licenses. They say they're expecting the rush that followed Vermont's adoption of civil unions in 2000. Gay marriage is actually legal in several nearby states, so maybe Vermont is not going to see the same push. Nearby states, Mary -- Massachusetts, rather, and Connecticut both have same-sex marriage.

Finally here, take a look at this picture here, Suzanne. A small plane forced to make an emergency landing on a highway southwest of Boston. The pilot of the plane reported he was having engine trouble and would have to land on Interstate 495. The plane came to rest, as you see there, nose down, taking up almost three lanes of the highway. No injuries reported here, Suzanne. But the key to the story is that the pilot was actually practicing stalled maneuvers. He was purposely stalling the plane to see if he could recover. Obviously, he needs to practice that somewhere other than above a highway.

MALVEAUX: A little more practice involved, yes.

OK. Thank you, T.J.

HOLMES: All right. See you again.

MALVEAUX: Well, a key conservative voice issues a stunning call on the Afghanistan war -- why George Will says it is time to get out.

Plus, what President Reagan whispered to Bob Dole -- the former Senate leader says there is a lesson in it for President Obama, as he pushes health care reform.

And astronauts about to venture out for an always risky spacewalk -- that's happening just minutes from now. We'll show it to you live.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I believe this is the third spacewalk of his career, the first for...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, extreme fire danger -- California's governor urges residents to listen and evacuate. But some are not heeding the warnings. We're on the fire line in Southern California.

Shocking charges of hazing and deviant behavior involving guards at a U.S. embassy in Afghanistan.

Is security being compromised?

An oversight group wants the State Department to investigate the contractor hired to protect U.S. staff in Kabul.

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux.

And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

August was the deadliest month so far for U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Forty-eight Americans died, surpassing the previous high of 45 in July.

At the same time, opposition to the war in Afghanistan is at an all time high among the American people. In a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey, 57 percent of those polled say they oppose the war. That is up from 46 percent in April. And asked if the U.S. is winning the war in Afghanistan, only 35 percent say yes. Sixty-two percent say no.

Let's go to CNN Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence -- Chris, what are we hearing about the change in strategy for Afghanistan?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, military officials tell us that U.S. troops may be asked to cut down on chasing the Taliban into remote rural areas and focus more of their manpower and resources on the larger towns and villages with more people. They tell us the thinking is that if you've only got so many troops and you can only cover this much area, it makes sense to go where the most Afghans are. One official also told me that there are certain areas of Afghanistan that will never accept a central government. And although initially the U.S. didn't want to build up tribal militias, that is how Afghanistan has been run. He says there needs to be more of a focus on creating these very localized authorities that the tribes can go to to settle disputes.

MALVEAUX: So, Chris, at what point will we possibly see more troops or even equipment going into Afghanistan?

LAWRENCE: Well, right now there are planners who are examining equipment in Iraq. Military sources tell us that they are tagging some of the items that could be moved to Afghanistan. As far as troops, there is another 4,000 American troops that were already previously authorized. They will be arriving in Afghanistan in the next few months, but as far as additional troops beyond that, we are told there is no specific request for more troops in general Stanley McChrystal's assessment, and that if and when that happens, that will be a separate request that would come after. One official told us that both secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff have been very outspoken about their concern about having too many troops in Afghanistan, so if they were, if, that's a big if, if they were to authorize more troops now, they there would have to be something in the assessment to justify the change in position.

MALVEAUX: Okay. We'll be looking for that. Thank you, Chris.

Well, our poll indicates opposition to the war is coming mainly from Democrats and independents, a key conservative voice also says it's time to get out of Afghanistan. Now joining me CNN political contributor and Democratic strategist Hillary Rosen along with Republican strategist Kevin Madden. Thanks for being with us. I want to start off with this column in "The Washington Post" op-ed saying the U.S. strategy is clear, hold and build. Clear? Taliban forces can evaporate and then return, confident that U.S. forces will forever be too few to hold gains and hence nation-building would be impossible even if we knew how, and even if Afghanistan were not the second worst place to try." He's broken from the pack, the neo-cons here. What does this say about the support or lack of support for the war in Afghanistan?

KEVIN MADDEN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think while George Will is a very renowned voice among conservative circles and Republican circles that this is not representative of the larger view by many Republicans, especially those on Capitol Hill. I think that there are many Republicans up on Capitol Hill who believe that they should support President Obama in his moves towards to strengthen our troops in Afghanistan. Again, the most important measuring stick is what do the military commanders on the ground recommend, and it's going to be less about George Will and much more about General McChrystal.

MALVEAUX: If you've got some money a Republican is taking a stand against this, joining some of the Democrats, what does that say about what the president needs to do to convey his message that this is a necessary war?

HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think that the president right now has got to look at this report from General McChrystal and decide what his current message is. He inherited a big mess in Afghanistan. There was a lack of attention for several years there while the U.S. was focusing on Iraq. The president already ordered more troops as soon as he got into office to go into Afghanistan. Many of those troops have not even actually set foot yet in Afghanistan, so General McChrystal hopefully has created a survey of the landscape, but I -- I think that not just Democratic patience is going to wear thin. I think American's patience is wearing thin with the cost and the effort it's taking to deal with the Taliban and wondering whether our success is going to mean anything for terrorists like al Qaeda.

MALVEAUX: Kevin, how does the president convey that? How does he ask American people I need more time?

MADDEN: Well, I think he has to lay out the metrics of where he thinks he's going to achieve success there. We do see a lot of news coming out of Afghanistan that says it's spiraling into chaos. What does that chaos mean for American security? And if he talks in very cogent terms about what he expects to do with the troop -- with the troop ramp-up and how he expects to achieve success there, I think that the American people, though they will continue to get barraged by, you know, a lot of negative news, will continue to at least have faith in the president's ability to make those decisions.

MALVEAUX: I want to turn the corner to health care. We heard from former majority leader Bob Dole who was on "AMERICAN MORNING" this morning. He was saying that he's trying to help the president here. He thinks that the president should really put forward something very specific to the Democrats and Republicans regarding legislation. I want you to take a listen to how he put it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOB DOLE (R), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: President Reagan has always been kind of a myth of whatever president wanted he got. That's not accurate. He would whisper to me or tell me more than once, you know, I want all of this, but if you can get me 70 percent or 80 percent, grab it and run, I'll get the rest later, so I think presidents do put more into a bill than they expect to actually get.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: Should President Obama be listening to Bob Dole now?

ROSEN: The day of unhelpful advice from Republicans between George Will and Bob Dole. Look, you have to start with the measure that the Republicans have actually decided this and multiple senators have confirmed this that their goal is to bring down President Obama by sabotaging health care reform, so as long as we know that's the agenda of the Republican party, getting advice --

MALVEAUX: Who is actually saying that?

ROSEN: Senator DeMint announced it in several places.

MADDEN: Republicans can do nothing to stop health care. You know that. You have the votes. You have 59 votes right now and you'll have 60 votes.

ROSEN: The majority -- the majority of funding has been to stir up fear, the strategy to get into vulnerable Democratic districts. That's a fact. What President Obama has to do is what he's been doing is make the case to the American people but it has come to a point where, and this may get to where Bob Dole would approve, it has probably gotten to a point where the Democrats have to get themselves together. The house and the senate and the white house, and come up with a plan that the three of them agree on. Vulnerable Democrats in the house don't want to vote on things that vulnerable Democrats in the senate are not going to have to vote on and vice versa, so they are going to have to come up with a strategy that allows them to have a more unified position.

MALVEAUX: Kevin, do you think that Bob Dole is being disingenuous in this advice?

MADDEN: Absolutely not. I think he's a skilled legislator talking about what it takes to win, and I think what struck fear in the hearts of many Americans and especially many seniors were the specifics, the policies. They don't sit very well with the American electorate right now. What Mr. Dole was trying to say is pick three or four principles, go out there and define what a win is and then go out and fight for it in the congress. President Obama hasn't done that.

MALVEAUX: Got to leave it there. OK. Thanks, Kevin, Hilary, appreciate it.

Just listed, prime ocean front property.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What we have is a four-bedroom, three- bathroom house. The living room, kitchen and master bedroom all own a view of the ocean.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: We'll tell you who the notorious owner of this beach house is and why it's up for sale.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: A white house report suggests that up to half of the U.S. population could come down with swine flu. President Obama says that the government will strongly recommend that all Americans get the vaccine, and he says there are other things that you can actually do.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: We need everyone to get involved about individual risk factors, and we need everyone to take the common sense steps that we know can make a difference. Stay home if you're sick. Wash your hands frequently. Cover your sneezes with your sleeve, not your hands, and take all the necessary precautions to stay healthy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: The vaccine is due to become available next month, and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg says that all schoolchildren in the city will be offered free shots.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (I), NEW YORK: A key goal this fall will be to keep schools open and in session even if some students come down with the flu. We've learned a lot more about the virus since it first appeared in New York City, and one of those key lessons is that we can effectively manage an outbreak while keeping schools open.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: To help fight the spread of H1N1 among young children, the federal government is re-running public service announcements featuring Elmo from "Sesame Street." Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ELMO: A-choo.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Great job.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: CNN's chief business correspondent Ali Velshi has been taking the pulse of Americans in these tough economic times and Ali is on the road with the CNN Express. He put together a little health care town hall of his own in Evansville, Indiana.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Health care to me is a moral issue and it's a civil right. We need to move with the rest of the developed world and have a real health care program.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, absolutely.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Let me get a sense of that from you. How many people think that the administration is on the right path with respect to health care reform, roughly on the right path?

How many of you think the administration is not on the right path with health care reform?

Okay. One of you want to tell me about that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I disagree that health care is a civil right. I think it's a civil right to be able to keep your own income and buy with it what you want, and I think the health care crisis is highly over-exaggerated. It's not something that the government should be running, and I'm sorry that people are going to be out of health care, but everybody has been at one time or another, and you go out and you build yourself back up again and you get it, but it's not everybody else's responsibility to give it to everybody else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We pay 17 percent of our gross national product for health care. Canada pays 9 percent and covers everybody, and we leave all these people uncovered. 20,000 people die every year because they don't have insurance. This is a real number. That's more than six times as many died in 9/11 and it's happening every year.

VELSHI: Do you think health care is the biggest issue facing us right now? Put up your hand if you think that health care is the biggest problem facing up.

One of.

Okay. Give you another option.

Unemployment.

How many think jobs, unemployment, how many think that's the bigger problem? Okay, and some of you voted twice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, we did.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got to say once we get past this socialist smokescreen that we hear so much about, everything that any government does is socialist, okay? Let's at least on the health care, why don't we at least give catastrophic coverage to the young families. You see, you go to a store or any gas station, you walk in. There's some poor young family got a little 4-year-old daughter dying of leukemia. Insurance is not covering the care for her. What they have to have charity benefits, ask for donations. If on the 5:30 news we can brag about million dollar a shop weapon systems, why can't we help save our dying children at least?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: That was CNN's chief business correspondent Ali Velshi.

Well, inside Bernie Madoff's beach house with a U.S. marshal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From the master bedroom leads out to a porch over here with an amazing view. Left to right nothing but ocean shore line.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: How they are hoping to recover some of the convicted swindler's stolen millions.

And the astronauts step out into space. We are just moments away from the first spacewalk of this "Discovery" mission. We'll bring it to you live. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Investment that would have paid off for jailed financier Bernie Madoff. His long island beach house is part of some $22 million worth of property being put up for sale by federal marshals. Let's get more from our Christine Romans. Christine, he's set to realize a huge return on this investment.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, it may be one of the few legitimate investments Bernard Madoff ever made. He paid $250,000 in 1980 for a beach-front cottage on Montauk in Long Island that the government says is worth 7 million today. It's on an acre plus prime lot on a bluff above an ocean beach. It's only 150 feet from shore, something federal zoning rules don't even allow anymore. The location is stunning, but it's by no means lavish. Formica counter tops in the kitchen and a shapeless sectional couch in the living. A U.S. marshal gave us a tour.

ROLAND UBALDO, U.S. MARSHAL: What we have here is a four bedroom, three bath house. The living room, the kitchen and the master bedroom all have a view of the ocean. The master bedroom leads out to a porch here. The market value is $7 million and that's what we're looking for. What we gain from the sale of this house is going directly to restitution for the victims. All this will be auctioned off; we're talking about china ware to silver wear, to the desk that Bernard Madoff used here.

ROMANS: Also up for sale are his Manhattan apartment and his estate in Palm Beach, all to be auctioned in the coming months. Victims will share the proceeds. But some charities are concerned they may be forced to return money to the Madoff trustee. The trustee is analyzing each case by case to see whether some who took out more money over the years than they put in may have to pay money back to the restitution pool, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thank you. Since Jessica Yellin's report on the growing frustration over the Obama administration's making home affordable program, I-reports have been pouring in. Jessica, this is growing, you have heard from a lot of people, what are you hearing.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Imagine if you were struggling in this recession, you would have applied for a government program to help keep your home, but the one person that can help you will never pick up the phone and take your call. In a nutshell, that is the kind of run around homeowners we have been talking to are getting when they try to work with their banks on the Obama administration's making home affordable program. Again, that's the president's plan to help millions of struggling homeowners lower their monthly mortgage payments.

OK. So let's get right to it. Some examples, first Shaun Kuntz, holding up the paper in the wall, his bank approved him for the mortgage program that President Obama unveiled, the bank sent him paperwork, Shaun Kuntz signed it, he sent in a check to the bank but the bank then canceled the offer saying the check didn't arrive in time. Here's the thing. Sean Kuntz has the paperwork to prove the check did arrive in time. They made him apply again and he's made at least 80 phone calls to the banks and now they're threatening to foreclose on him.

SHAUN KUNTZ: They say they're working with us, and they continue to work with us, but we continue getting those letters saying they're going to foreclose. So that's my mortgage nightmare.

YELLIN: Stephen Ascher, he says three times he has applied his bank for the Obama program, and he says it's like groundhog day. For example, someone from the bank left him a message. He called back the very next day and he was told that person had already been transferred and then he got a bank letter saying he's being denied because he's being unresponsive.

STEPHEN ASCHER: They say they're trying to reach me and I'm being unresponsive which is absolutely untrue. This is no process. It's a program the banks really don't want to help the customers.

YELLIN: We have heard that from a lot of people. And then there is Heather and Tony, their mom Tammy Recker has names and notes for every single contact she has had with the bank. She says the bank keeps losing her paper work, she's been told she makes too much money to qualify and too little money to qualify. They recently denied her again because they say they just have no record of her calling at all. The bank has now begun foreclosure and they plan to sell her house on November 19, she still can't get anyone to respond to her.

We have been hearing stories like this from all over the country. The banks say they're stepping up, they want to do the program better. We will stay on top of it.

MALVEAUX: We'll see what they have to say, the treasury department. It sounds like a lot of frustration from folks. All right. Thank you Jessica.

We'll playing with fire, authorities struggle to evacuate people from areas threatened by the southern California firestorm. And you're looking at live pictures more than 200 miles above earth, astronauts are just beginning their space walk, we'll tell you what they're doing.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Well, heavy lifting for the astronauts today, even in the weightlessness of space. The shuttle and space station crews are unloading tons of equipment delivered by Discovery. And right now two astronauts are on the mission's first spacewalk. Let's go live to CNN's John Zarrella.

John, tell us what they're doing up there.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, that's exactly right, heavy lifting indeed. The two astronauts right now, as you can see from the NASA pictures. They're hanging out in the quest air lock of the International Space Station. They're really running through a check list. We're talking about because it's daylight they're going to have to have their visors down much like an airline pilot would do.

Once they get out, what they're going to be doing is beginning the process, on this 6 1/2 hour space walk of removing an ammonia tank. Now these ammonia tanks are critical, critical for cooling systems on the space station, things like computers and avionics and even on the giant trust that runs across the space station. And they will then be replacing it with another one on the second spacewalk. These things weigh 1,800 pounds and then 600 pounds of ammonia. So it is the largest mass that two spacewalking astronauts have ever had to deal with.

During the course of this spacewalk, Nicole Stots will actually be on the end of the robotic arm. They will take this giant tank and they will move on the robotic arm into a stow position and Danny Alevis will be watching while all this goes on. First they've got to disconnect some nitrogen lines and power lines and ammonia lines before they can do that, and on the second spacewalk, they'll actually change them out. In other words, they'll take the first one, the old one and stick it back in the shuttle's cargo bay and then take the new one over. So going to be some amazing pictures as they're dealing with this big piece of hardware, very critical piece of hardware.

MALVEAUX: OK. John, we'll be paying close attention.

Happening now, broken government, wild naked parties by the men guarding the American embassy in Afghanistan. One watch dog group says safety is being compromised. Now the U.S. senate wants answers.

Also breaking news, a wall of flames closing in, but they refuse to evacuate. What are they thinking? We're on the fire line of that massive blaze in southern California.

And the investigation into the kidnap horror story. Did convicted rapist and accused kidnapper Phillip Garrido have other victims that did not survive?

Wolf Blitzer's off today, I'm Suzanne Malveaux, with extraordinary reports from around the world. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.