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Taliban Attacks U.S. Outpost; Ohio Executions on Hold; Battle Over Desert Cross; Letterman Speaks Out Again

Aired October 5, 2009 - 17:00   ET


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

Happening now, Taliban militants lay deadly siege on a remote U.S. outpost in Afghanistan, as President Obama weighs how best to turn around the war -- a decision the Defense secretary now says may be one of the most important of his presidency.

Also, new questions swirling about David Letterman.

In the wake of his blackmail sex scandal, do his affairs with some of his female employees amount to sexual harassment?

And a boarded up monument in the middle of nowhere now is the center of a controversial Supreme Court case pitting history and religion against the separation of church and state.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


The war in Afghanistan at a potential tipping point and President Obama under growing pressure as he weighs America's next move. Tomorrow, he'll meet with Congressional leaders from both sides of the aisle to talk strategy, just as he did last week with his top National Security Council members.

And underscoring the urgency, an attack this weekend on a remote U.S. outpost that resulted in the single deadliest day for American forces in Afghanistan in more than a year.

Our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, is joining us now with more on what happened -- Barbara, what's going on here?

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the firefight at this isolated base in Afghanistan was so brutal that insurgents actually made it past the outer perimeter of U.S. military security -- all of this fueling the debate over sending more troops to the war.


STARR: (voice-over): It was a cold and cloudy morning Saturday in the mountain valley of Eastern Afghanistan when suddenly 80 U.S. troops came under attack by dozens of militants. The American combat outpost in Kamdesh District, just a few miles from the Pakistan border, was badly situated -- sitting in a valley surrounded on all sides by steep mountains. Insurgents had snuck into the high ridge lines and were firing down on the Americans.

An (INAUDIBLE) Afghan security posts was first to be hit. Then, the American portion of the base was pounded by enemy mortars, rockets and machine guns. Other militants fired from their positions at a mosque in a nearby village.

JOHN NAGL, CENTER FOR NEW AMERICAN SECURITY: There were apparently coordinated assaults by upwards of 100 enemy fighters who had planned the attack very thoroughly, chose their time, chose to fight at a time when there was heavy cloud cover so that air power wouldn't be as effective.

STARR: The fight raged for some 12 hours before the attack was finally repelled. Eight U.S. troops were killed, 25 wounded.

There are a string of isolated U.S. outposts like the one that got attacked this weekend up and down the border with Pakistan. Last year, we visited one where just a few dozen troops were trying to defend their position. The job at these outposts -- keep militants from crossing over from Pakistan. But with so few U.S. troops, it's a tough job and U.S. forces increasingly are coming under attack.

General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander, has ordered many of the outposts closed so the troops can be sent to more highly populated areas to protect Afghans.

NAGL: The sort of attack that -- that helps us understand that the Taliban is growing stronger, that we don't have enough forces on the ground right now in Afghanistan.


STARR: And, Wolf, U.S. military officials do confirm that this outpost where so many were killed was scheduled to be shut down. The troops were just waiting for word on when that would happen -- Wolf.

BLITZER: How sad is that?

All right, Barbara, thank you.

The stakes in Afghanistan certainly enormous, as is the pressure President Obama is facing right now. Defense Secretary Robert Gates says -- and he says very bluntly -- it doesn't get much more serious than this.


ROBERT GATES, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Afghanistan has been on a different and worrisome trajectory, with violence levels up some 60 percent from last year. I believe the decisions that the president will make for the next stage of the Afghanistan campaign will be among the most important of his presidency. Speaking for the Department of Defense, once the commander-in-chief makes his decisions, we will salute and execute those decisions faithfully and to the best of our ability.


BLITZER: Secretary Gates also appeared to push back against loud calls for a rapid troop increase, including from the U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal. Gates said -- and I'm quoting now -- "It's important to take our time and get this right."

This story just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

Ohio's governor is putting two pending executions on hold in the wake of a botched lethal injection that went on for two hours before being called off.

Let's bring back Brian Todd.

He's got the latest developments for us -- Brian, explain what's going on.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Wolf. Just last hour, we reported that a federal appeals court had halted the execution of one of these inmates, Lawrence Reynolds, because of that botched execution last month.

Well, just since that report, Ohio's governor, Ted Strickland, has stepped in and granted temporary reprieves to Lawrence Reynolds and another inmate named Darryl Durr, who were both scheduled to be executed this fall. Reynolds scheduled to be executed later this week; Durr scheduled to be put to death in November.

But Ohio's governor stepping in now, saying these two will get reprieves until next spring -- the spring of 2010, while they figure out a backup to the lethal injection protocol, some way to handle it better than the way they did on September 15th. That, of course, was the execution -- the slated execution of Romell Broom, when they tried to inject him 18 times. They couldn't find a vein. Finally, they brought him out of the preparation chamber. His execution still on hold.

So Ohio's governor is essentially saying until we get this right, that execution is on hold. And these other two are on hold until next spring.

BLITZER: Are there other execate -- executions also being delayed?

TODD: Very interesting in his statement, he in -- the governor indicated that there are three others that are scheduled to be executed -- December, January and February. He is not putting those executions off for now. He is saying he's confident that they will find a solution to this problem by that time. But he says if they do not find a solution, he may give them reprieves, as well.

But those three -- for December, January, February -- right now are scheduled to go off as planned. But, again, they're trying to figure out solutions to these botched this -- this botched execution method. And whether they do it by December 1st, that's an open question. BLITZER: Brian, thank you.

Let's bring in our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin -- Jeff, how significant is all of this?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, Wolf, the history of bocked -- botched executions in the United States is almost as long as the history of executions. It turns out the state has a hard time doing executions right all the time.

In 1946, the famous case of Willy Francis in Louisiana -- his execution was botched. His case went all the way to the Supreme Court and ultimately he was allowed to be executed. Chances are that's what happened. The Supreme -- that's what will happen.

The Supreme Court has upheld lethal injections. It's upheld the death penalty. And I expect eventually, these executions will be allowed to take place.

BLITZER: All right, Jeff, don't go away, because I want to talk about the new Supreme Court session -- today being the first Monday in October.

Stand by.

We'll get back to you in a moment.

Let's bring back Jack Cafferty, though, right now.

He has The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: They say they tried 18 times to find this guy's vein and couldn't find it?

BLITZER: Yes, they couldn't find it. I know.

CAFFERTY: They've got to keep trying. I mean he's not going anywhere. Just stay with it.

BLITZER: Well, they spent two hours trying to do it.

CAFFERTY: Well, you know, put the crew on overtime and stay -- stay after it.

President Obama has only been in office a little more than eight months now, but many are wondering, including "Saturday Night Live," if his political capital might already be spent. The president came into office, had several top priorities -- health care reform, climate change legislation.

Health care, as you're painfully aware, has taken up most of the summer and -- and a good part of the fall. It's not clear what the final outcome is going to be there. Democrats say they're close to bringing the legislation to the floor in both houses of Congress for debate. They say they're confident some kind of a bill will pass this year. And they say they see more momentum now than they did under President Clinton 15 years ago, which, when you think about it, is irrelevant, because if health care reform doesn't pass, does it really matter how much momentum it had?

As for climate change, forget about that. That isn't going to happen, either. The president's top energy adviser says there's no way Congress will be able to pass a bill this year. That means the U.S. will have nothing to show when talks on a global climate treaty begin in Copenhagen in December.

I'm not finished yet.

In the wake of the financial meltdown last year, President Obama and Democratic leaders talked about the need to impose new financial regulations on Wall Street. But so far, that's all that is -- just talk. Nothing's been done. Nothing will be, at least not this year.

Anyway, here's the question -- what major new laws will Congress have passed by the time it adjourns for the year in early December?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

I guess the other thing to remember is once they break for the holidays, Wolf, and then they come back after the first of the year, all eyes are on the mid-term elections next November and nobody is going to want to do anything that would risk them holding onto these tidy little jobs they all have.

BLITZER: You mean, the -- these are not profiles in courage, Jack, is that what you're suggesting?

CAFFERTY: They're profiles in something else.

BLITZER: All right. Jack.

Thanks very much.

A desert monument at the center of what could be a monumental Supreme Court case -- it's church versus state.

Which side will the justices choose?

Also, critics of David Letterman now saying his affairs with female employees amount to sexual harassment. We're watching the fallout of the blackmail sex scandal swirling around the late night comedian.

And murder on the job -- the most extreme form of workplace violence. But bullying, harassment, even physical altercations -- they're all on the rise.

So what's going on?


BLITZER: The U.S. Supreme Court officially begins its new term today, with the new justice, Sonia Sotomayor, on the bench. The question before the court today -- how long should a suspect's request for a lawyer be considered valid?

In the days ahead, the Justices will hear arguments for and against an eight foot cross put up in the middle of the California desert.

CNN's Kate Bolduan went to see the cross for herself and to find out what the controversy is all about.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, behind these plywood boards is what stands at the center of a fight that's made its way all the way to the high court -- all against this desert backdrop miles from civilization.


BOLDUAN: (voice-over): You could very easily drive right by or mistake it for a forgotten billboard in the middle of 1.6 million acres of desert. But inside is a cross, boarded up by order of a federal judge -- a cross creating a huge Constitutional controversy.

(on camera): How many miles do you guys travel from your home to come take care of the memorial?

HENRY SANDOZ: Well, we don't really -- we don't really take care of it now because of the box. But we're 160 miles away from it now.

BOLDUAN: (voice-over): Henry and Wanda Sandoz have been the unofficial caretakers of what for decades has been known as the Mojave Memorial Cross, first erected in 1934 by their friend, a World War I veteran, to honor fallen soldiers.

WANDA SANDOZ: We just love our veterans and we feel that they should be honored.


W. SANDOZ: And -- and this is right here in this little piece of our world. That's how we did it.

BOLDUAN: But it also sits in the Mojave National Preserve, government land. And some now argue that cross is violating the Constitutional guarantee of separation of church and state.

PETER ELIASBERG, ACLU, SOUTHERN COORDINATOR: Well, what Mr. Buono wants is neutrality and a complete remedy here.

BOLDUAN: Peter Eliasberg is ACLU attorney for Frank Buono, a former Ranger who worked in the preserve, the man who filed the original lawsuit. While Buono is Catholic and a veteran, he says the Mojave Cross should go.

ELIASBERG: For the government to say we're going to impose on each and every one of you veterans this religious symbol, even though for many of you, it is not your religious symbol, that is not an appropriate expression of religion in public life. BOLDUAN: Jewish and Muslim Vietnamese groups support Buono. But attorneys for the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Sandozes say the cross is a historical memorial, not a religious symbol, warning the outcome of this case could have far-reaching implications.

HIRAM SASSER, LIBERTY LEGAL INSTITUTE: And this is the first one that's going up to the Supreme Court and they want to make sure that this one prevails so that all the veterans memorials with religious imagery across country can be protected.

BOLDUAN: (on camera): Why not just take this memorial -- same cross, same memorial -- and just move it to a less controversial location?

H. SANDOZ: It -- it was put here by the veterans, for the veterans of all wars. And that's where it should stay.

BOLDUAN: (voice-over): In recent years, the Supreme Court has taken a case by case approach on this issue, allowing the Ten Commandments to remain on public property in a Texas case; the same day ruling a display of the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky courthouse unconstitutional.

With its caretakers anxiously standing watch, it's now up to the high court to decide the fate of this cross.

W. SANDOZ: I hope it won't be too long before we'll be able to look at the cross again instead of this stupid box.

H. SANDOZ: Really. And we'll repaint it.


BOLDUAN: No matter the outcome, this case could be a major test of if and where the government will draw the line when it comes to any private expression on public land -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Kate.

Thank you.

Kate Bolduan reporting for us.

Let's get some analysis on this and some other important cases.

We're joined once again by our senior legal analyst, Jeff Toobin -- Jeff, I sense a 5-4 decision coming up on this case, but I -- I have no idea who's going to prevail.

TOOBIN: It really is a hard case because the Justices just struggle with these church-state issues. The test seems to be, at the moment, is, is the display, is the cross, is the Ten Commandments perceived by a reasonable person as an endorsement of religion?

A couple of years ago, they said the -- the Ten Commandments in the park in Austin, Texas not an endorsement. In the halls of a courthouse, that was an endorsement.

My sense is, 5-4, the court will say this is not an endorsement of religion, it's an historical marker, it doesn't have great religious significance. I think the Justices will leave it up.

BLITZER: Justice Kennedy being the swing vote in this one?

TOOBIN: He is just about the most important and most powerful justice in our lifetime, because the court is so polarized -- four liberals, four conservatives. Justice Kennedy holds the outcome in his hands in so many cases.

BLITZER: There's another case involving the Second Amendment, the right to bear arms. A lot of conservatives are nervous watching this case. Explain its significance.

TOOBIN: Well, two years ago, the Justices said that the Second Amendment, which speaks of the right to keep and bear arms, gives individuals a right to keep and bear arms against federal regulations of guns.

But the case at issue here is what about states and localities?

Does the Second Amendment give individuals a right against state and federal -- state and local gun controls?

And it's actually more important, because most gun control laws are actually state and local laws, not federal laws.

BLITZER: So -- but they're taking a look at this right now.

How does it shape up in terms of the makeup of the court once again?

TOOBIN: Again, I'd check in with Justice Kennedy, because he is really the swing vote on these gun cases. He was the swing vote in the famous "Heller" case, which said that the D.C. Gun control law was unconstitutional. Again, my sense is, given the fact that they ruled that this was a fundamental right versus the federal government, I think they'll probably rule that way versus state government as well.

BLITZER: There's another...

TOOBIN: So they'll strike down the law.

BLITZER: There's another case involving children convicted of crimes, short -- less than homicide, not homicide -- how long they can serve in jail if they're 13, 14, 15 years old.

Tell us about this case.

TOOBIN: Well, again, Justice Kennedy, five years ago, wrote an opinion which said that the state could no longer execute juvenile offenders. If you committed your crime before the age of 18, the most you could get is life in prison without parole. But the question in this case is, if a juvenile -- a child commits a crime short of murder -- in this case, a rape and a robbery -- can that person, that child, get life in prison without parole?

Again, a very hard case, because Justice Kennedy seems inclined to judge juveniles by a different standard, but he's also a tough on crime justice. He also thinks that states should be allowed to create their own punishments. That's the tension in this case.

BLITZER: And in this particular case, there is someone serving a life without parole sentence right now, who was 13 when convicted of rape.

And that's the basis for this case, is that right?

TOOBIN: That's right. And there are, in fact, several other people in other states -- teenagers who were convicted of crimes short of murm -- short of murder -- who are serving life without parole sentences. So it doesn't just affect the Florida person, it affects people in several other states, as well.

BLITZER: This Supreme Court is about as equally divided as possible. And basically what -- what I hear you saying is Justice Sotomayor is not going to make, at least in the short-term, a huge amount of difference given her perspective and the person she replaced.

TOOBIN: Probably not. Justice Souter was a moderate liberal. Justice Sotomayor gives every sign of being a moderate liberal. But you know, as Justice Byron White liked to say, when you change one justice, you don't change one justice, you change the whole court. The change may be subtle at first, but if you start to see Obama appointees -- even if they are replacing other liberals -- starting to assert themselves on the court, that could have an impact even if the balance of power doesn't shift right away.

BLITZER: Jeff is not only our single legal analyst, he's the author of the great book, "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court," which was a huge, huge best-seller. It's out in paperback right now and I highly, highly recommend it.

Jeff, thanks for coming in.

TOOBIN: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: The end of a major American magazine -- it's folding after almost 70 years in public -- in publication.

Stand by.

And America has its first black president -- is the Roman Catholic Church ready for a black pope?

One leader says the time has come.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Betty Nguyen is monitoring some other important stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Betty, what's going on?


Yes, well, five employees of the UN's World Food Program in Islamabad are dead after a suicide bomber struck their office. The bomber, seen here in this video that we're about to put up there -- entering the building. He was also killed in that blast. Now, the attack occurred near the residence of Pakistan's president. At least one other United Nations office is located in that same area.

And there is new video of North Korea's reclusive leader, Kim Jong Il. He looked in pretty good health as he went to the airport to greet the visiting Chinese premier. The red carpet welcome is seen as a sign of the importance which Pyongyang places on its relations with Beijing. Both countries hailed their close ties. But bringing North Korea back to Chinese-hosted nuclear talks was said to be the visit's main mission.

And it is the magazine foodies savored. And the rest of us, well, just enjoyed looking at it at the doctor's office. But copies of "Gourmet" magazine will soon be hard to find. Conde Nast says a devastating ad slump has forced it had to discontinue the title. "Gourmet" magazine first hit the newsstands back in 1940. Now, the publisher is also closing "Modern Bride," "Elegant Bride" and "Cooking." So we're going to see all those magazines go by the wayside -- Wolf.

And listen to this -- a prominent African-American Cardinal says there is no reason why the next pope cannot be black, especially after President Obama's election. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana made the comment at the Vatican, where he was discussing the challenges of the Catholic Church in Africa. He pointed out that every man who agreed to be ordained a priest has to be willing to be pope and is given the training -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. I'm still shocked about "Gourmet" magazine.

NGUYEN: I know. Gone.

BLITZER: Wow! What a sad day for the world of magazines.


BLITZER: Shed a tear for that.

All right. Thanks very much, Betty.


BLITZER: David Letterman hosts a new show tonight, but since he dropped sex with staffers bombshell, how many women will be tuning in?

Is this scandal surrounding the comedian turning away female viewers? And violence at work -- it happens more than you might think. Experts say there's a lot more companies that can be doing to protect employees.



Happening now, young lives torn apart after Indonesia's massive earthquake -- we're taking a closer look at some of those impacted by the disaster and how they're coping with unbearable losses.

Also, the president gets skewered on "Saturday Night Live."

Could the jokes hurt him politically?

Is it a turning point for the Obama administration?

We're taking a closer look at that.

And stocks rebound after a two week slide. The Dow added 112 points after Goldman Sachs raised its ratings on large banks and a report showed the nation's service industries returned to growth.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


This weekend didn't do anything to quiet the uproar over David Letterman's blackmail sex scandal. A CBS News producer is accused of trying to extort $2 million from the late night comedian -- threatening to reveal sexual encounters between David Letterman and some of his female employees.

Letterman has admitted those affairs, but do they amount to sexual harassment?

Let's go to Mary Snow -- Mary, I take it that David Letterman has just completed taping the show that will air later tonight.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He did, Wolf. And David Letterman did have more to say about this. As you said, he just finished today's taping. Members of the audience tell us that he issued an apology both to his wife and to female members on his staff.

As to the impact on his female viewers, that's something we took a look at.



SNOW: -- plot, threatening to explosion sexual relationships he's had with staffers.

(END VIDEO TAPE) BLITZER: Oh, we're -- we're going to try to cue up that tape one more time and get it ready. Until it's ready, let me talk to Mary. Mary, you're there. Did we hear anything else from members of the audience about what he said, his tone, his demeanor as he addressed this really sensitive issue today?

SNOW: They said that it was part serious, part funny, and, you know, wolf, he did say back on Thursday that he didn't expect to say much more about this, but he did poke fun at himself, we're told by audience members, starting out by saying how was your weekend, and then he went on to issue some apologies. And let's take another look at some of the wider impact on women viewers overall.


SNOW (voice-over): Fans lined up to see David Letterman's show taping following his shocking announcement last week that he was the victim of an alleged extortion plot threatening to expose sexual relationships he's had with staffers. We asked women in the audience if they expected any fallout.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't condone it, I don't agree with it, but, you know, he's an entertainer.

SNOW: Do you think this will have an effect at all on women viewers?


SNOW: Do you think it will have an impact on women viewers?


SNOW: How so?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Again, just the awareness of those types of activities in the workplace.

SNOW: Letterman has grabbed headlines along with the arrest of Robert Joe Halderman, a producer for CBS' "48 Hours" who pled not guilty to first-degree attempted grand larceny. Records show Halderman shared a residence with a Letterman assistant who sometimes appeared on the show.

One New York columnist called for Letterman's ouster. The story's remained a hot topic in many corners, including ABC's "The View."

JOY BEHAR, PANELIST, THE VIEW: If you're one of the girls who works there and you're just, you know, doing your job and suddenly this other chick is getting the air time and getting the after checks and going out there and getting...

BARBARA WALTERS, PANELIST, THE VIEW: Well, maybe you're annoyed today, but that's not necessarily sexual harassment. It isn't sexual... BEHAR: Well, no, but that...

SNOW: A group dedicated to women's issues says workplaces need to look at how they protect young women even when they have consensual relationships with the boss.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They knew what they were doing, but he should have known better. It's a very bad example to set, and the workplace issues need to be taken seriously.

SNOW: As for Letterman, one crisis expert doesn't see major damage and thinks the comedian should just stay quiet.

ERIC DEZENHALL, AUTHOR, DAMAGE CONTROL: I think that unless there is a serious legal catalyst, specifically women filing suits for sexual harassment or other women coming forward for something like this, I don't know that this has to remain in the news, and I wouldn't be recommending that Letterman come out and do too much more. Silence can be golden. Less can be more.


SNOW (on camera): Well, Wolf, as audience members who attended today's taping tell us, David Letterman did have more to say, and some of these audience members said in a lighter moment, while he was issuing apologies, he once again apologized to Sarah Palin for controversial comments made a few months ago. He apologized then but issued another apology today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Wow! Better watch that show later tonight. All right, thanks very much, Mary Snow, for that.

Here's another story we're following, and it involves your workplace. How safe is it really? Violence and threatening behavior on the job is on the rise, and experts say it's time for companies to step up security. CNN's Carol Costello has been looking into this issue for us - Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, workplace violence happens every day but we don't notice it much unless it ends in death. When Annie Le was killed inside a lab at Yale University, allegedly by a coworker, it opened our eyes again. The problem, we close our eyes after the media attention goes away. It's frustrating to those who fight workplace violence every day.


COSTELLO (voice-over): It happened at a plastics company in Henderson, Kentucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A guy just killed himself and killed another employee at Atlantis Plastics.

COSTELLO: And there is fear it happened at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not about urban crime, it's not about university crime, it's not about domestic crime, but an issue of workplace violence.

COSTELLO: And it happens in tiny towns, too, like Caribou, Maine.

JOHNA LOVELY, DAUGHTER MURDERED BY CO-WORKER: And it's, well, what happened? And they said she was beaten to death.

COSTELLO: Johna Lovely lost her youngest daughter January 2, 2005. Erin, just 20 years old, was killed by a co-worker while working the night shift at a Tim Hortons restaurant by a young man she mentioned to her sister just days earlier.

AMANDA SYLVIA, SISTER MURDERED BY CO-WORKER: She said he was kind of creepy is all she said, but she didn't seem overly concerned about it, so it didn't really raise that many suspicions with me either.

COSTELLO (on camera): When you found out it was someone she worked with, did it make it more difficult to deal with?

LOVELY: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. It wasn't a random thing, you know? It was - it was her. He was - he wanted her.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Nationwide, 517 people were murdered at work last year, according to government stats, and while that number is down 52 percent since 1994, an American college survey found things like bullying, harassment, even physical altercations are up.

LARRY BARTON, PRESIDENT, THE AMERICAN COLLEGE: The call volume to human resource officers, to their EAP programs, counselors, is skyrocketing. We are absolutely in a period right now of among the highest periods of threats at work in certainly recent memory.

COSTELLO: Erin was first attacked by her co-worker, Christopher Shumway, in the store freezer. At one point, according to police record, she got out but was eventually overpowered. Like Yale student Annie Le, who police say was strangled by a co-worker, Erin ended up alone with her attacker.

COSTELLO (on camera): When you heard about what happened at Yale, what went through your mind?

LOVELY: I just cried and cried and cried and - and so it just kind of brought everything right back.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Shumway was convicted of murder and sentenced to 45 years in prison. Lovely and her older daughter have set up a fund in Erin's name. For the past five years, they've tried to convince companies to install panic buttons connected to police departments so employees in danger can get immediate help. They thought armed with Erin's story, it would be a cinch. They were wrong. SYLVIA: It was frustrating. You kind of want to look at the business owners and just scream at them and say why? Why? I don't understand why you wouldn't want to keep your employees safe.

COSTELLO: While she says most businesses did turn down the offer of free installation for new security systems, 18 did agree to install panic buttons.

ROB FRANK, STORE OWNER: I have no idea why more people don't want to do this. I really don't.

COSTELLO: People might think, oh, I live in a small town, nothing ever happens here, so why bother?

FRANK: Yes, well, they're wrong. I mean, crime is everywhere.

LOVELY: We bring stuff all the time.

COSTELLO: Erin's family says they won't give up.

LOVELY: I want people to remember her and to remember what happened to her. I want people to be safe at work because of her, and I want businesses to take notice.


COSTELLO (on camera): Tim Hortons, Erin Sperrey's employer at the time of her murder, stepped up after Sperrey's death. They say they beefed up security procedures at all of their stores in the United States and Canada. That includes mandatory camera and recording systems in some restaurants -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol, thank you. Carol Costello with that disturbing report.

Her entire family killed in a massive earthquake. A young girl returns from school to find herself an orphan. CNN's Arwa Damon has a truly extraordinary view of a mountain that exploded and barreled down a hill.


BLITZER: In Indonesia, the search for survivors has now been called off. Last week's massive earthquake at Sumatra left hundreds dead. Officials now say nearly 100,000 homes were destroyed and tens of thousands more buildings were damaged.

Today, students whose schools are still standing went back to class for the first time since the disaster. CNN's Dan Rivers is there with their story.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Charged with emotion and grief, this is the first morning assembly at the high school in Padang since the earthquake. For many, these past few days have been too much. Only half the 800 children are present. It's not yet known how many have died.

A teacher is overcome after learning at least one member of staff is among the dead.

GUSTINA, ENGLISH TEACHER: They feel very sad. They can't control their emotion, with the -- with this reality. Our school is broken.

RIVERS: But it's not just broken in spirit. The very fabric of the school has been smashed apart. The ceilings of most the classrooms have fallen in. Thankfully, lessons had finished when the walls collapsed onto the desks.

RIVERS (on camera): Many of the students have mixed feelings about being back at school. They're happy to see that their friends are OK, but many of them are worried there will be another earthquake.

RIVERS (voice-over): It's not surprising. Many students are living in homes that now lie in ruins. This house belongs to one student who just made it out.

HARIA FITRI, STUDENT: I jumped. After I ,jumped the ceiling collapsed.

RIVERS: So you only just made it out?

FITRI: Yes. I just made it out. I - I was very lucky.

RIVERS: And what's it like being back here at school?

FITRI: I feel worried about maybe I - I always think that maybe there will be another earthquake, so I - I'm worried.

HARRIS PUTRAREZE, STUDENT: When I see my school, very big destruction, I get a little sad, but I'm very happy to be back to my school.

RIVERS: It will be a long time before school is back to normal. Lessons are being held in a tent, and, all around, little reminders of the day the earth shook so violently - a day none of these students will forget for the rest of their lives.

Dan Rivers, CNN, Padang, Indonesia.


BLITZER: Aid is slowly reaching some of the more remote areas hit by the earthquake. CNN's Arwa Damon traveled with a group of volunteers and met a young woman who lost her whole family in this disaster. Here's her tragic story.


ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This was once the village of Malalak. Now it's a mass grave. Amid the spectators and onlookers, one young woman stands alone. She tells us how she was at her boarding school when the quake struck. She learned from the news her village was damaged, and no one had the heart to tell her, her family was dead.

Now the 18-year-old is left orphaned, alone, fighting the most intense of sorrows spelled out on her young face. Her father, mother and two younger brothers and sister all perished here. Her uncle who was helping direct the search saw her home swallowed by the earth.

"When the landslide happened, it was like doomsday had come," he tells us. "I just held my parents. If not, then I was scared I would be swept away."

(on camera): Right after the earthquake the side of the mountain here literally exploded and came barreling down, sweeping up everything in its path. In this very spot, right where I'm standing now, there used to be a mosque that had a volleyball court just in front, and at the time of the earthquake and landslide, there were nearly a dozen children that were playing outside.

(voice-over): More than 30 villagers young and old lost their lives in Malalak. We came out here with a small aid convoy. Already along the road we could see the devastation. A small local volunteer group like this one have rallied together to get much-needed food, water, medical supplies and tents to the outlying areas.

This one, an initiative by the Romeo Pasal Pongiello (ph), the regional director for Bank of Indonesia.

Although aid is much needed throughout the quake zone as families try to rebuild their homes, for some their losses cannot replaced.

"My brothers and sisters use to always run towards me saying, hey, my sister is home," Septiani remembers. Still, she says, this is god's way of challenging her, and she's sworn to herself that she will be strong.

Arwa Damon, CNN, Malalak, Indonesia.


BLITZER: The power of Twitter activists facing serious charges over allegedly using the social networking site to direct protesters at the G-20 summit.

Now, listen up, tweeters and blowers, the federal trait commission is imposing new rules to regulate what's posted online.


BLITZER: Right now, we're learning more about those protests we saw at the G-20 summit last month in Pittsburgh. Two men are being charged for allegedly helping demonstrators evade police using Twitter.

CNN's Brian Todd was there at the G-20. He's now working the story for us. What's going on, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Pennsylvania state police say two men used Twitter and cell phones to avoid getting rounded up after they were given what the police call a "lawful order to disperse."

The attorney for one of them doesn't deny that his client was communicating with protestors, but says he was simply exercising his right to free speech.


TODD: Their confrontations with police were the most dramatic moments of the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh. We were alongside so-called political anarchists during their protests when they were gassed by police. Our CNN crew got caught up in it.

But this was also a highly charged cat-and-mouse game. Block by block, police sealing off streets, protestors shifting direction, adjusting tactics.

Now two of the activists are charged with using cell phones and the social networking Web site Twitter to help protestors avoid getting rounded up by police.

Court documents say just a few miles from where the protests took place, police busted the two men in a hotel room where they say the men were observed sitting in front of computers and maps wearing headphones and microphones. Police scanners were in the room.

But the attorney for one of the men tells CNN the scanners were not being used.

MARTIN STOLAR, ATTORNEY FOR ANARCHIST ELLIOT MADISON: To the extent that anything was broadcast about what the police were doing or what emergency services were doing, that information came from things that the police made available on the Internet. And if that information was then communicated to people who were involved in the demonstrations, it's totally public information.

TODD: Martin Stolar says both men deny wrongdoing. The protest was not sanctioned but Stolar says demonstrators still had a right to be out there and his client had a right to communicate with them. The state's attorney's office wouldn't give a comment on the case.

But the police complaint hints at one small nugget that authorities may use to go after the defendants, that they tried to direct protestors to avoid apprehension after a lawful order to disperse.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: You could form a test of whether new communications technologies are instruments of free speech or of illegality.


TODD: Defense Attorney Martin Stolar told us that he will argue that his client's First Amendment right to free speech was violated. Stolar has also filed motions to get some items returned to his client, items taken during a 16-hour search of his home in New York last Thursday.

Among them, communications equipment, gas masks, a sling shot, test tubes in beakers, in addition to things that Stolar says never should have been confiscated, like posters of Lenin and Marx, and even a Curious George stuffed animal. They took a lot of things from these people -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes. All right, Brian, thanks very much for that update.

The government has a new set of rules out today to regulate what's posted online. The Federal Trade Commission is targeting the relationship between advertisers and the bloggers who endorse their products.

Let's go to our Internet correspondent Abbi Tatton. She's here. Abbi, what are they posting?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: This really could be anything. It could be a blogger posting a review of a dishwasher. This one's endorsing frozen pizza.

Whether it's baby shoes or video games, the Federal Trade Commission is now saying in the guidelines today, if you are endorsing it on your blog, you must disclose what you're getting in return, whether that's a free product or compensation from that company.

Now, many of these blogs are already doing this. The ones I showed you, they all state, I got this free, I'm now reviewing it. An influential group of mommy blogs over the summer also got together and said that "We're going to be upfront with our readers about exactly what's going on behind the scenes."

But that the Federal Trade Commission is now involved in this shows what big business this now is. If you're an influential blogger with a lot community of readers, you might be getting pitches several dozen pitches each day from companies who want help selling their products -- Wolf?

BLITZER: How's the FTC, Abbi, going to regulate all this?

TATTON: They admit that this going to be somewhat of a game of whack a mole because there are so many millions of blogs and social media sites out there. Bloggers that ignore the guidelines could get an order to comply.

But an FTC attorney that we spoke to, Richard Cleland, said they're probably more likely to go after the advertisers, to monitor what kind of instructions they're giving the bloggers about what they should be posting on their websites -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Abbi, for that. Tension is growing right now over at the White House over what to do next in Afghanistan. Is the president's top commander in Afghanistan fueling some of the problem?


BLITZER: Check back with Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: All right, this is not a trick question. What major new laws will Congress have passed by the time it adjourns for the year in early December?

Dan in Boston, "Hey Jack, I'm a rock-ribbed Democrat who enthusiastically voted for Obama. My enthusiasm is waning. As your question points out, there is not a lot of accomplishment to speak of thus far.

I fear the only thing that will get done this year is health care, and that will be a watered-down version so much as to be useless. Yet it will be hailed as a victory and historic.

The Democrats control the entire government and the insurance companies and big business still win. What does that tell you?"

Jerry in Dallas writes, "Jack, even if Congress only passes one major law this year, it will be one more than they passed last year."

Don writes, "Most likely none at all." David in West Virginia says "This is a good question because if it was up the Republican there would not be any laws passed. I do believe the health care bill will be passed, but it will be a watered down version."

Beth in Georgia writes, "While it's true that there has been some limited progress on Obama's campaign agenda, Obama and Congress have accomplished a great deal. While we knew Bush was a bad president, no one knew the economy would tank, credit would freeze, and the car companies would face going out of business.

Congressional bills and other action of the Obama administration have resulted in car companies selling cars again, the banks being stabilized, and the economy turning around."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to my blog, -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

And happening now, the best political team on television on these big stories.

Public tension between the president's top war advisers. The defense secretary sends a message to the commander in Afghanistan, "Keep our differences to yourself."

And broken government forces a couple to the brink of bankruptcy. They say they're being gauged by a credit card company trying to get around Congress and a new law to protect consumers.