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New Report Blasts Health Care Reform Bill; Rush Limbaugh's NFL Controversy; Taliban Havoc in Pakistan; President Obama Takes Stand on Gays in Military; Limbaugh's Rams Bid Hits Wall; In Pursuit of al Qaeda

Aired October 12, 2009 - 16:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now: It's being called a hatchet job, a report saying, if the key health reform bill passes, it will eventually cost you thousands and thousands more dollars to manage your health. Stand by.

Football players worry about -- quote -- "discrimination and hatred," as Rush Limbaugh pursues an NFL football team. Wait until you hear the unusual step players are taking in protest.

And might you never see Hillary Clinton or other women in the Obama administration one-on-one against the president on the basketball court? When it comes to women playing in presidential sports outings, the score is men all, women zero.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tomorrow, we could see a pivotal vote on health care reform push the debate to a dramatic climax. But, today, the actual plan that will be voted on is sliced to shreds by a new report by the health insurance industry right here in Washington -- a spokesman for the Senate Finance Committee calling it -- and I'm quoting him now -- "a hatchet job," and the White House says it's hard to take seriously.

The report's finding, if this Senate health reform plan passes, it will eventually cost you thousands and thousands more dollars to manage your health.

Let's go straight to CNN's congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar. She's working the story for us.

Brianna, what does this new report that was commissioned by the health insurance industry say?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as you know, one of the big objectives of health care reform is to bring down those steeply growing costs of purchasing insurance.

Well, this report says that Democratic efforts to overhaul health care would actually do the opposite. For instance, right now, a family of four pays on average about $12,000 in insurance premiums. According to this report, if Congress were to do nothing, no health care overhaul, by 2016, that family would still be paying about $6,000 more. And also according to this report, if Democrats implement their plan, that number would go up even further, by $3,000, and that's why congressional Democrats and the White House are panning this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR (voice-over): Back in March, the CEO of the insurance industry's top lobbying group told the president at the White House:

KAREN IGNAGNI, CEO, AMERICA'S HEALTH INSURANCE PLANS: We want to work with you. We want to work with the members of Congress on a bipartisan basis here. You have our commitment.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good. Thank you, Karen. That's good news. That's America's Health Insurance Plans.

(APPLAUSE)

KEILAR: Now, America's Health Insurance Plans, or AHIP for short, says a key overhaul plan scheduled for a vote Tuesday in the Senate Finance Committee would cause health care costs to skyrocket 73 percent by 2016.

The same report commissioned by the lobby says costs would climb only 50 percent if Congress does nothing. White House spokeswoman Linda Douglass called it a "self-serving analysis from the insurance industry, one of the major health components of health insurance reform."

And a spokesman for the Finance Committee said the report "excludes all the provisions that will actually lower the cost of coverage."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: So, why now? Well, many Democrats we have spoken with say it's sabotage, this report is sabotage.

But a spokesman for AHIP, that industry lobby, says that even though right now is a key moment in this path towards health care reform, they say this is about making sure there are no unintended consequences of reform and that this is not in any way, Wolf, intended to scuttle Democrats' effort.

BLITZER: Brianna Keilar is up on Capitol Hill -- Brianna, thanks very much.

Let's bring in our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.

It looks as if any detente that might have existed between the White House and the health insurance lobby, the gloves are now off.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, the gloves are -- are completely off, Wolf.

I just spoke with David Axelrod, who is a senior adviser to the president, and who said -- let me quote here -- "The president has said from the start that all the stakeholders must be involved to help solve this problem, but none can be allowed to put their special interests above the interests of the nation and the American people. The fact that some special interests in the final weeks are offering contrived data to leverage themselves a better deal is to be expected, and should not be allowed to block progress."

Now, clearly, Wolf, the Democrats are very upset about this. I heard some talk that Senate Democrats might actually propose on the floor as a result of this to cap insurance premiums, to kind of call the bluff of the insurance companies. So, we will have to see how that goes.

BLITZER: And how are they reacting to this anger coming from the White House?

BORGER: Well...

BLITZER: We're talking about the health insurance lobby. Coming...

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: ... from the White House and from the Senate Finance Committee?

BORGER: Well, I spoke with Karen Ignagni, who runs the insurance group that issued this report.

And, you know, they are very concerned about cost containment in all of this, Wolf. And they have got a real problem. Their key problem here is the way the mandates are structured. They say, if you don't require everyone to buy into this program, and you don't have really serious penalties, then what you're going to have are the younger and the healthy folks not becoming a part of it. The only people who will become a part of it are the folks who are older and less healthy, and they could even buy in right when they get sick.

As a result, it's going to cost the insurance companies more money, and there won't be cost containment. So...

BLITZER: Is there any doubt how the Senate Finance Committee is going to vote tomorrow?

BORGER: No. I mean, I think you are going to have a largely party-line vote on this. We don't know about Olympia Snowe at this point.

And then it's going to be fought out on the floor of the Senate, as well as in the conference committee. But, you know, the insurance companies have been stakeholders in this. They have had a seat at table. Some other stakeholders, like the drug companies, hospitals, et cetera, have cut their deals.

The insurance company now is weighing in. Some folks say it's very suspicious they are weighing in right now, but this is their shot before it goes to the Senate floor.

BLITZER: We're going to speak to Linda Douglass later this hour. She's the head of communications for the White House effort...

BORGER: Right. Mm-hmm.

BLITZER: ... to try to get health care reform passed, so we will get her thoughts on this as well.

BORGER: Sure.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Gloria, for that.

From the political fight over health care reform to the military fight against terrorists, right now, blood lies in the streets of Pakistan again in an area known as the Swat Valley, where there's an intense operation under way against the Taliban.

A car bombing targets Pakistani troops and raises new fears about how much death extremists can cause.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She is working the story for us.

All right, Barbara, what's the latest?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, growing violence on both sides of that border.

You know, we have heard a lot about fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan and al Qaeda in Pakistan, but, in Pakistan right now, it is the Pakistani Taliban that are causing so much violence -- Wolf.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): Four bloody attacks in eight days. In the latest, a suicide bomber targets a military convoy passing through a bazaar in Northwest Pakistan, more than 40 killed.

It was a weekend standoff at army headquarters in Rawalpindi that has shaken Pakistan deeply and has Washington worried. Pakistani Taliban disguised as soldiers stormed the compound, seizing hostages. Eleven Pakistani troops and nine militants were killed. The Pakistani army spokesman tried to defend the massive security breach.

MAJOR GENERAL ATHAR ABBAS, PAKISTANI MILITARY SPOKESPERSON: Can anybody guarantee today that 100 percent, any organization, for that matter, any army, or any outside power can prevent a single act of terrorism? It's not possible.

STARR: But, for the U.S., a potentially more frightening concern about growing Taliban capabilities was expressed by a key Republican senator on CBS' "Face the Nation."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "FACE THE NATION") SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: We also know that Pakistan has nuclear weapons. The Taliban taking over a country like Pakistan would be completely and totally unacceptable and destabilizing, not only in that area of the world, but all around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: The Taliban's goal may not be to take over the country, just to wreak havoc. Experts believe the attacks are revenge for the recent killing of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud in a U.S. missile strike and an effort to blunt an upcoming Pakistani military offensive in South Waziristan, an al Qaeda and Taliban stronghold.

The Taliban's boldness underscores the group's ability to maintain its influence, even after their leader was killed.

Robert Grenier, the former CIA station chief in Pakistan, says al Qaeda has a growing partner in the Taliban.

ROBERT GRENIER, FORMER CIA STATION CHIEF IN PAKISTAN: If they are asked for support from al -- by al Qaeda, they cannot and they will not say no.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Why is this so important to the United States? Well, U.S. intelligence believes the Taliban leaders in Pakistan are planning a winter strategy meeting, and that's a meeting the Obama administration would like to target -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Critical moment, indeed. Thanks, Barbara, very much.

The president essentially tells gays and lesbians, read his lips.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: But some demand to know when. The president is even taking a browbeating from a pop star. Wait until you hear Lady Gaga's direct message to the president.

And he died, but his life's -- his life was not over. You may be surprised to know that death can indeed be reversible. Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta has some truly amazing stories.

And want to live right next door to President Obama? Now is your choice (sic).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: All this week only here on CNN, we're taking a closer look at stories taken from "Cheating Death," an intriguing new book by our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Today, Dr. Gupta has the tale of one man's journey back from his brush with death.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

JOAN BROOKS, CHRIS BROOKS' MOTHER: Christopher!

911 OPERATOR: Nine-one-one. Where's the emergency?

CHRIS BROOKS' FATHER: Middletown Township.

911 OPERATOR: What's the problem?

CHRIS BROOKS' FATHER: My son's not responding here. He's breathing, his eyes are open, I don't know what's going on. I don't know if he's snoring...

J. BROOKS: Chris!

CHRIS BROOKS'S FATHER: Yes.

911 OPERATOR: Is he awake and talking to you or not?

CHRIS BROOKS'S FATHER: No, he's not.

J. BROOKS: Hurry up!

911 OPERATOR: I'm going to give you some instructions. Just stay on the line.

J. BROOKS: Christopher!

(END AUDIO CLIP)

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They're talking about Christopher Brooks. Twenty-two years old. He's just months from college graduation and he was working construction part-time and also living at home with his family.

(on camera): When that 911 call came in, Chris Brooks was dead. Clinically dead for more than 15 minutes. His heart stopped beating shortly after 3: 00 in the morning on November 15, 2008.

But here's the thing. It wasn't the end. In his case, and in several others that you're about to see, death was reversible.

The night Chris Brooks died began innocently enough at this bowling alley in Morrisville, Pennsylvania. A night out with a girl and his best friend, T.J. Simon. Was he acting any differently at all? T.J. SIMON, CHRIS BROOKS' FRIEND: No, he was actually acting himself. You know, he's always the life of the party.

J. BROOKS: He's 22. Just got home from college to work for the weekend. He went bowling.

Plugged his cell phone in here and woke me up. And he goes, it's just me, mom, I'm plugging my cell phone. I said, OK, are you going to sleep here? Yes, I'm going to sleep down here tonight.

GUPTA: Moments later, there was this noise from the couch. Joan thought it was snoring, but something wasn't right.

J. BROOKS: I came over and I bent over him and I went to smack his face and he went like this and I put my hands down on both his arms to go smack his face again, and then I'm like, Christopher! He's said, what's the matter? I said, I can't wake him up.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: All right, Dr. Sanjay is joining us right now.

Sanjay, wow. What a story. Just finish it for us, if you don't mind. Tell us how he survived.

GUPTA: Well, it's interesting. A sequence of things really made the difference for him.

I think one thing that we are going to talk a little bit more about in the documentary is this idea of hypothermia, actually cooling or almost freezing someone to try and protect their heart and protect their brain when there's simply not enough blood flow.

Also, you know, one thing that they talked a little bit about there was this idea of just doing chest compressions only, Wolf, trying to get on, really doing chest compressions without doing any mouth-to-mouth resuscitation seems to make a big difference.

Turns out you have quite a bit of oxygen in your blood. The crucial thing is trying to move that oxygenated blood around, so doing those chest compressions and really stopping for nothing, Wolf.

BLITZER: So, you should really do both, the chest compressions, plus the mouth-to-mouth; is that what you're saying?

GUPTA: Well, you know, it's interesting. When you ask people sort of in general would they be willing to jump in and help, most people say yes. But we find that bystander help is actually quite rare.

And if you sort of parse that down, Wolf, what you find is that people are a bit awkward or just not comfortable with doing the mouth- to-mouth resuscitation. And that got researchers thinking over the last several years, what would happen if we just did chest compressions? And what they found was that not only was it as good as conventional CPR with mouth-to-mouth, in fact, it was better. And the reason being that, you know, you have a lot of oxygen in your blood. You have just got to -- you have just got to move it around. And if you even stop to try and give some mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, you're not moving the blood around, and you don't want to stop that at all.

So, call 911, put your hands in the middle of someone's chest and just start pushing, about 100 times a minute, as fast and as hard really as you can.

BLITZER: Sanjay, you have written an amazing book.

GUPTA: Thank you.

BLITZER: I'm holding it in my hand, right now, "Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds."

You know, the stories in here, you know, it's -- it's really amazing. These people are dead, but, then, all of a sudden they are alive.

And, you know, you read through these stories, you can't help by say to yourself, there's no real medical -- no medical reasoning for this. Sometimes, it's just a miracle.

(CROSSTALK)

GUPTA: You know, it's interesting. And I tried very hard not to use the word miracle. You know, we have been working on this -- I have been working on this book for a couple of years now.

What's sort of interesting, Wolf, is that I couldn't have written this book 10 years ago. That's how much science and medicine has moved forward. I have been thinking about this idea of, you know, doctors declaring someone dead. And, even back when I was a medical student, there was sort of an arbitrary nature about it. You had this sort of belief that there's a bright white line between life and death, but it's just not that way.

There's a huge gray area. And how do you sort of control that gray area? What I think, Wolf, is that, you know, you don't think of them as miracles or even outliers. You sort of learn from them and figure out what we can apply to everyone else.

And we're not talking about billion-dollar drugs, fancy procedures, or techniques here. We're talking about using your own hands, using something as simple as ice. And it can increase survival up to 1000 percent, Wolf, in -- in certain cases, so a huge difference.

BLITZER: Because the lessons that you have in this book are truly amazing. And the science is amazing as well.

But in the subtitle of the book, it says "The Doctors and Medical Miracles."

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: So, when I read the word miracles, I'm saying to myself, a lot of people are very religious, and they believe in miracles, and, sometimes, that's the only explanation they can get for someone who is technically, supposedly dead, and 15, 20 minutes later, that person is very much alive and goes on to live a long life.

GUPTA: Yes.

And I think that, you know, it's interesting, because a lot of patients, you know, for example, Chris Brooks, even, and a few others, who essentially had no heartbeat for 45 minutes -- they weren't breathing on their own for a long period of time -- they had no detectable signs of life -- 10 years ago, maybe even today in some hospitals, someone would literally look at the clock and say, time of death X.

But here I am touching them, talking to them. They are normal, obviously living human beings. And I think to myself, this isn't so much about indicting anybody or saying, you know, we give up too early.

It's about really understanding what is dead. And I went around, you know, literally the world asking people, as doctors, as a medical community in 2009, do we really know what someone is dead? And, if not, that's a discussion worth having, so that we can try and move medicine even further forward.

And, you know, we -- we don't know when dead is dead. There are people who we think are dead that certainly come back, and I think that's sort of a galvanizing message, that we can do a little bit better.

BLITZER: His last book was entitled "Chasing Life" It was a "New York Times" bestseller. The new book is entitled "Cheating Death: The Doctors and Medical Miracles that Are Saving Lives Against All Odds."

Sanjay, thanks very much for coming in.

GUPTA: Thanks, Wolf. Appreciate it. Any time.

BLITZER: And this important note: I want to let our viewers know, "Cheating Death" is now available. And, this weekend, join Dr. Gupta as he examines medical miracles that save lives in the face of death, "Cheating Death," Saturday and Sunday nights, 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN, the worldwide leader in news. This book will certainly be a major bestseller.

Rush Limbaugh is a longtime sports fan. Now he wants to put his money where his mouth is. The talk show host wants a piece of the Saint Louis Rams, but the head of the players union in the NFL is pressing to block his bid.

And North Korea fires off more missiles. How will the U.S. respond?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Betty Nguyen is monitoring some other important stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Betty, what's going on?

BETTY NGUYEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Wolf.

Well, Elinor Ostrom at Indiana University is the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics, in recognition of her work on how communities manage common property. Now, she is sharing the prize with retired University of California President Oliver Williamson. And she tells reporters that she was honored to be the first woman to win, but she is sure she will not be the last.

Good for her.

Well, according to South Korean news organizations, North Korea test-launched five short-range missiles today. Only hours before, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said to reporters that the U.S. would continue negotiations over the North Korean nuclear program.

Now analysts say the launches may be an effort to improve North Korea's position before a new round of these talks, but Clinton says U.S. policy is -- quote -- "unaffected by the behavior of North Korea."

And the Reverend Joseph Lowery, often called the dean of the civil rights movement, celebrated his 88th birthday last night with hundreds of well-wishers and a host of Hollywood stars. The event was held at Morehouse College right here in Atlanta.

And, finally, listen to this story. Could it have been a case of anticipation? Singer Carly Simon apparently was anticipating a lot more from her album deal with Starbucks, like stocking the album in more of its coffee shops. Well, now she is suing for damages. Perhaps she thinks it's the right thing to do.

You know that song, Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes, of course.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: "Anticipation," too.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Who writes who writes that material for you, Betty?

NGUYEN: You know, we got a -- a whole host of good writers.

BLITZER: Very clever. Very clever.

NGUYEN: I hadn't heard those songs. I do know "You're So Vain," though. I have heard that one.

(CROSSTALK)

NGUYEN: But you're not vain.

BLITZER: And you probably think this song is about you.

NGUYEN: Yes.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Yes. All right.

(LAUGHTER)

BLITZER: Thanks.

NGUYEN: Thanks.

BLITZER: Betty, thank you.

NGUYEN: Mm-hmm.

BLITZER: President Obama hopes to maintain his support among lesbians and gays, but a pop star who supports gay groups voices their gripes with a message. Lady Gaga uses the president's own campaign theme and demands change.

And Rush Limbaugh wants to buy an NFL football team. Now some players openly worrying about -- quote -- "discrimination and hatred" in sports, and they are taking unusual steps of protest.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Happening now: Secretary of State Clinton's political ambitions take a turn. She set her sights on '08 to become the first female U.S. president. Does she want that job down the road? Stand by.

And hog-tied and humiliated -- shocking new allegations of abuse by U.S. Navy personnel overseas. This time, the targets of the illegal hazing were American sailors.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

President Obama says he's making a move on the issue of gays in the military. He set the tone over the weekend right here in Washington, but, so far, neither side of the debate seems all that satisfied.

Let's talk about what's going on with our senior White House correspondent, Ed Henry. Ed is here.

Exactly what is the president propose on eliminating the don't ask, don't tell rule? ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what he wants to do -- he can't do this by executive order, so he wants Congress to pass a law, so that the military will stop kicking out people because of their sexual orientation, the president saying it's ridiculous to do that in a time of war.

But liberals are not happy. They don't think he's moving fast enough on this issue. But the president realizes, it tripped up Bill Clinton; he doesn't want to make the same mistake again.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

HENRY (voice-over): Let's face it. It's pretty unusual for the president to essentially sever as an opening act for pop star and gay rights activist Lady Gaga.

LADY GAGA, MUSICIAN (singing): It isn't equal if it's sometimes.

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

HENRY: Saturday was not a typical night, Mr. Obama becoming only the second president to ever address the Human Rights Campaign's annual dinner.

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

(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

HENRY (voice-over): The most direct promise, a vow to push Congress to pass legislation repealing the ban on homosexuals serving openly in the military. But the president disappointed some liberals by still not setting a firm deadline, while conservatives are already lining up in opposition.

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: Well, my question back to the president is, why? We've got a program that's working within the military. It's been very effective.

HENRY: Some fellow Democrats are opposing the president's call to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act which defines marriage as exclusively between a man and a woman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've said in the past I don't think that's the way to go.

HENRY: This is why the president's broader theme was that change comes slowly.

OBAMA: It's not for me to tell you to be patient any more than it was for others to counsel patience to African-American petitioning for equal rights half a century ago. But I will say this: We have made progress, and we will make more. HENRY: But there's impatience on the left, just ask Lady Gaga, who was among thousands at a national equality rally Sunday in Washington.

LADY GAGA, SINGER: Obama, I know that you're listening. Are you listening? We will continue to push you and your administration to bring your words of promise to a reality.

We need change now. We demand actions now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: But some gay activists I spoke to said the worst thing the president can do right now is to try to rush through an overturn of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" without really building consensus. Then he could lose the vote in Congress. He'll lose valuable momentum.

Instead, they want him to try to build consensus and get it done right this time. But the fact is the legislative clock is ticking right now, Wolf, especially with health reform eating up so much time. That's why various liberals, including Lady Gaga there, pretty fired up. They think the president is not moving quickly enough.

BLITZER: So, is there any timeline? Are they saying late this year, early next year, middle next year, before the elections in 2010 that the president would step forward and take the initiative and push on removing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"...

HENRY: That's the problem for some gay activists. There has been absolutely no timeline, no deadline. And you've heard some liberals push the president's own words back on him because in the health care debate, he and his staff have said, look, the only thing Washington responds to is a deadline. You've got to set a deadline. They have done that with Congress.

They have missed those deadlines, of course. A whole other story. But on this issue, they will not set a deadline. That's what's frustrating the left.

BLITZER: And as far as the president is concerned, he wants to eliminate the Defense of Marriage law that is in there that defines marriage as exclusively as between a man and a woman. He says you've got to get rid of that law, but he's not going so far as so many in the gay community would like and actually supporting gay marriage.

HENRY: Absolutely. He does not support same-sex marriage. He did not in the campaign. He still does not. And that's why there is some frustration.

But nevertheless, the fact that he made this symbolic gesture, speaking at this dinner, he certainly, in his words, is trying to make clear that he's with the gay rights community. But what they want is action, and that's why there's frustration.

BLITZER: All right, Ed. Thanks very much. We're going to continue on this subject in the next hour. He's a longtime lover of football, and now radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is floating the idea of buying into the St. Louis Rams. It's a deal that's meeting with some stiff opposition.

Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd, who loves football himself.

Brian, some of the players have a problem with Rush Limbaugh potentially becoming an owner.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, they do, Wolf. Some players said they would not be comfortable on playing on a team with Rush Limbaugh as part owner, and now the head of the NFL's players union has come out against him. At its core, this is all about Limbaugh's past comments about race.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): A shot across the bow for the idea of Rush Limbaugh becoming part owner of an NFL team. In an e-mail, the new director of the football players union, DeMaurice Smith, encouraged players to speak up about the conservative talk show host's bid for the St. Louis Rams.

"We will not risk going backwards... sport in America is at its best when it unifies, overcomes division and rejects discrimination and hatred."

Some players have said they would be uncomfortable playing for an ownership group that includes Limbaugh because of comments he's made about race. One of them, "The NFL all too often looks like a game between the Bloods and the Crips without any weapons." And in 2003, an implication on ESPN that Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb was overrated. "I think the media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well."

Contacted by CNN, Limbaugh's producer declined to comment about DeMaurice Smith's statement. Limbaugh himself has said he's not racist.

Sports commentator Stephen A. Smith say players may be posturing about Limbaugh, but in the end they will go where the money is. And he says that's how Limbaugh's bid should be judged.

STEPHEN A. SMITH, COMMENTATOR: If he has the dollars, he should be allowed to do it. He's definitely an NFL fan. I've listened to him talk about football. It's not like he's ignorant to the game of football.

TODD: But could this controversy actually sink Limbaugh's bid? In the end, it will come down to a vote among NFL owners.

DAMON HACK, "SPORTS ILLUSTRATED": I think that will be the big question mark. How much will the owners listen to their players? How much, you know, will there be communication and contact between the players and the ownerships of the respective franchises to say, you know what, Rush Limbaugh will be a part of this league or not a part of this league?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now, Limbaugh's got competition in this bid. There are half a dozen groups trying to buy the Rams, and the winning investors need the votes of 24 of the 32 owners of the other teams -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, this already comes at a time when the relationship between the players and the owners is at a very sensitive point.

TODD: It is at a very sensitive point right now. The players and owners are on the verge of playing next year without a salary cap. Their collective bargaining agreement, the labor deal, essentially, runs out after next season. They could have a lockout after that, and this could be another very contentious issue in negotiations if the owners accept the Limbaugh group's bid.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.

By the way, NFL ownership certainly doesn't come all that cheap. The entrepreneur Dan Snyder paid $800 million back in 1999 for the Washington Redskins. That's the most ever paid for an NFL team.

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen bought the Seattle Seahawks back in 1997 for $194 million. Last year in New York, real estate mogul Steve Ross, he forked over a reported $550 million for a half ownership of the Miami Dolphins. The Green Bay Packers, as you probably know, is the only publicly owned NFL team. Its Web site says 112,120 fans own a stake in the Packers.

It's the phone made popular by celebrities and one of the first phones geared towards text-messaging. Now hundreds of thousands of T- Mobile Sidekick users are being told T-Mobile might have lost all -- repeat, all -- your data.

Let's bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, what's gone missing?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this might be names, phone numbers, photos on your Sidekick phone. And now T-Mobile is telling Sidekick users that if it's lost from your phone, it's probably gone forever.

You see, while this information appears on the device itself, it's actually stored on servers run by a Microsoft company called Danger. Well, that -- those service crashed and the backup service crashed. And now, unless the user of the Sidekick had backed up the data themselves, they are now finding they are going to have to rebuild their whole address book -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What is T-Mobile doing about this failure?

TATTON: Well, there's been red-faced apologies from T-Mobile and from Microsoft. The users have been offered a month of free data, but as you can imagine, for some of these people that have that lost a whole lot of information, they are pretty angry, venting their frustration online -- "When am I getting my contacts back? Want a new phone."

Some people there are pretty angry, and T-Mobile says that they are considering additional measures to make their users a little bit happier at this point. As for the Sidekick, suspended sales right now, as everyone tries to figure out just what happened -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I hope they figure it out and figure it out quickly.

Thanks, Abbi, very much.

Claims that inside the U.S. Navy sailors are subjected to barbaric hazing. A man says he's trying to expose it. Wait until you hear how the Navy responds, and I'll speak about it live with Congressman Joe Sestak. He's a retired U.S. Navy admiral. He spent three decades in the Navy.

And CNN takes you deep into what was called the Triangle of Death, but in the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq, why is an elite American military unit taking a back seat right now?

And the White House score. The men have all the points. The women, zero. CNN learns no women in the Obama administration are part of President Obama's sports outings.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We now turn to a CNN exclusive. Members of the U.S. Special Forces team teaming up with Iraqi Special Forces. Their target, members of al Qaeda.

CNN's Cal Perry was embedded with the U.S. team. In order to embed with U.S. Special Forces, CNN had to agree not to reveal the identies of either the U.S. or the Iraqi Special Force operatives. The military says it's for their protection. They could be identified by enemy forces around the world.

Cal found that what made this mission difference was who was calling the shots.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAL PERRY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Green Berets, one of America's elite military units, prepare for a mission in Hillah, Iraq, in the middle of what used to be known as the Triangle of Death. Heavy metal blares while they gear up, but tonight these highly-trained soldiers who are used to being out in front will take a back seat. Iraqi Special Forces are spearheading the mission.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, obviously, they've taken the lead now. It's their show. They -- we are definitely to the point where it is train the trainer and not just train the troops.

PERRY: The Iraqi Special Forces get their own briefing before they, too, mount up and head out. Their soundtrack distinctly Iraqi as the team rolls through the town of Hillah. But it doesn't all go smoothly. In a dramatic sign of the distrust between different parts of Iraq's Security Forces, the soldiers confiscate cell phones from the local police in case they tip off the targets.

Off the paved roads, clouds of sand obscure the soldiers' view. Radios crackle as they close in. Then, in a flash, they crash the target building.

(on camera): The emergency response brigade, basically Iraqi Special Forces backed by United States Special Forces, Green Berets, have detained who they believe to be alleged members of al Qaeda. You can see them here, four individuals who have warrants against them. They've also found weapons in this House.

(voice-over): The team checks names and I.D. cards against the names in the judge's warrants. Later, the U.S. military tells us the individuals detained are suspected of involvement with an al Qaeda cell operating in this volatile province. They are driven away, to be detained not in a U.S. camp, but in an Iraqi prison.

Cal Perry, CNN, embedded with U.S. and Iraqi Special Forces in Hillah, Iraq.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And coming up, we'll speak to the White House communications person in charge of helping advance the health care reform debate. Linda Douglass is at the White House. I'll ask her if the White House is now at war with the health insurance industry.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's being called a hatchet job. Let's get more on our top story this hour.

A new report from the health insurance industry saying if a key health reform bill passes, it will eventually cost you thousands and thousands more dollars to manage your health. The White House is out swinging against the claims in this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And joining us now from the White House, Linda Douglass. She's in charge of communications for the health reform initiative.

Linda, thanks very much for coming in.

LINDA DOUGLASS, WHITE HOUSE HEALTH CARE SPOKESWOMAN: Thanks for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Is the White House at war with the health insurance industry right now?

DOUGLASS: Well, I think that's a little bit strong, but, you know, look, the health insurance industry came to the president, along with some of the other stakeholder industry groups. They said, look, we believe that we can lower the rising -- help to lower the rising cost of health care spending to the tune of $2 trillion over a decade. We want to do our part.

So, they have certainly said that there's a lot of savings that could be rung out of the system. And now, obviously, they are on the eve of a vote that might have some effect on their profits in the future. They are producing a report that almost everyone has looked at and says appears to be fairly flawed.

BLITZER: Well, what they are saying is it would cost the typical American family an additional $4,000 a year if you were to get your way by the year 2019. That's the study that they commissioned and the results that they are now circulating.

DOUGLASS: Well, as you say, this is an insurance industry study that is designed to benefit the insurance industry. It was paid for them by.

What they did here was exclude all of the features of the Senate Finance Committee bill that lower costs for all Americans. There are subsidies for people who can't afford health insurance. Eighty-five percent of the people who go into the new insurance exchange would have help buying health insurance.

For young people, they said, oh, young people might not benefit from this plan. Young people would have financial help. They would be able to buy premiums, low premium, low-cost policies just for themselves.

There are protections for people who work so that their insurance coverage would not be affected at all. There's an insurance exchange that increases choice and competition. They left all of that out of their report.

BLITZER: So, it sounds like if you're not at war, it's over with, any hope that you might have of bringing them aboard your initiative.

DOUGLASS: Well, I think you've got to talk to the insurance industry about what their intentions are. Obviously, the administration has been talking to the insurance industry, along with all the other health care industry folks. And again, these are people who have said we know that there's a tremendous amount of waste in the system, what can we do to get the waste out? So, we'll have to see what the health insurance industry wants to do.

But one thing is clear. This legislation would absolutely lower costs for all Americans, and it expands coverage to 94 percent of Americans who would finally be able to get some affordable health insurance. These are people who are either priced out of the market today by the health insurance industry or are locked out of the market...

BLITZER: All right. DOUGLASS: ... by unfair insurance industry practices. These people will finally have access.

BLITZER: A major dispute between the White House and the insurance industry.

The CBO, the Congressional Budget Office, which I know you respect, the White House respects, they say if the president were to bite the bullet, go against trial lawyers and accept medical malpractice reforms, that could save Americans $50 billion. The president says he's ready for some sort of trial, a discussion, some sort of experiment, but he's not ready to go all the way.

What's your reaction to this number that the Congressional Budget Office has put out?

DOUGLASS: Well, as you absolutely point out, what the president has done is say, look, this is something that definitely has to be looked at. Unlike the Bush administration, this administration is actually now putting some money into taking a look at what kind of dispute resolution processes could actually work.

The president has said many times, clearly some doctors feel that they are practicing defensive medicine. On the other hand, clearly some patients are injured and there are 100,000 people in this country that die from medical errors. So, let's look at dispute resolutions, see what works and proceed from there. He's always been open-minded to this, and these demonstration projects, by the way, were not funded by the last administration.

BLITZER: The trial lawyers have overwhelmingly supported Democrats, including the president. Is he ready to take them on?

DOUGLASS: Well, I don't know that -- you keep trying to get us into a fight with somebody, Wolf. What the president is doing is moving forward in a way that has not happened in the past to see how we can resolve these disputes for the patient, for the doctor, for everyone so that this does not get in the way of the good practice of medicine.

BLITZER: The DNC had been running an ad quoting Bob Dole. Let me play a little clip from that ad. Listen to this, Linda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NARRATOR: More and more leading Republicans are supporting health insurance reform. Bob Dole said, "I want this to pass. We've got to do something."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now, the White House, correct me if I'm wrong, has asked the DNC to stop running that ad. Is that right?

DOUGLASS: Well, certainly, we have enormous respect for Senator Dole. As you know, he said it was very important to pass health insurance reform this year, but obviously, you know, Senator Dole wants to say what he says in the way that he says it. And so, you know, we respect anything that he says in this process. He's a great expert, as you know, Wolf, from observing him over the years in health care, and he's saying we should pass reform this year.

BLITZER: So, did the White House ask the DNC to pull the ad?

DOUGLASS: Well, clearly, the DNC is no longer running that ad. And Senator Dole, as I say, wants to be sure that he's saying exactly what he says in the way that he wants to say it about health reform. And he has said that the Republican Party has got to start paying attention to getting rid of the status quo. They have got to move forward.

BLITZER: I'll take that as a yes then.

All right, Linda. Thanks very much.

DOUGLASS: Thanks, Wolf.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: On our "Political Ticker," the two candidates in Virginia's heated race for governor will square off tonight in their first live televised primetime debate. With just three weeks to go before Election Day, Republican Bob McDonnell currently leads Democrat Creigh Deeds by eight to nine percentage points in two statewide polls.

The debate will air on most Virginia television stations. That's coming up.

And remember, for the latest political news any time, you can always check out CNNPolitics.com. Don't forget, I'm now on Twitter as well. Go to Twitter.com/wolfblitzercnn, all one word. You can you read my tweets. I'm tweeting during the show.

There's no battle of the sexes when it comes to the president outplaying sports. The men got game. The women, they get nothing. Wait until you hear what CNN has learned about women on these presidential outings.

Stand by.

And they are powerful Democrats in Congress, but could Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi be ousted from Congress? What's going on? How they are being targeted politically.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: CNN has learned something very interesting about the Obama administration's sports. And guess what? There's no battle of the sexes.

Let's bring in our White House Correspondent Dan Lothian.

Dan, what's going on?

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, yesterday, the president hit the golf course again like he does most weekends. It's his way to decompress. In a town where access equals influence, some say who he plays with sends a powerful message.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN (voice-over): President Obama surrounds himself with powerful women -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, top adviser Valerie Jarrett, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice. But on the golf course, on the basketball court, or ankle deep in a Montana river, Mr. Obama surrounds himself with men.

Where are the women?

AMY SISKIND, PRESIDENT, THE NEW AGENDA: Well, they are missing out on not only the ability to mentor (ph), but to relationship-build with the president, to relationship-build with others who he surrounds himself with.

LOTHIAN: Based on CNN's review, no woman has been listed as participating in his presidential sports outings, including a recent White House basketball game for cabinet secretaries and members of Congress. Fifteen names on the list. All men.

HENRY: Did the president invite any women?

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think your appearance on the list appears to be accurate. I would say that the point is well taken.

LOTHIAN: Especially since some of the administration's top women, to borrow a popular slang, got game. Ambassador Rice played high school ball. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius played in college. And on Jay Leno's show, she seemed eager to join all the president's men.

JAY LENO, "JAY LENO SHOW": Who would win in a game of horse, you or President Obama?

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: You know, I actually made my college basketball team.

LENO: Whoa!

SEBELIUS: So, you know, bring it on.

LOTHIAN: To put all this in perspective, we're not talking about winning a war, insuring Americans, or fixing the economy. But what some see as a boys' club mentality complete with heavy sports images and overused metaphors...

GIBBS: Still got a lot of heat on the fastball.

LOTHIAN: ... gives a perception that women who voted overwhelmingly for Mr. Obama don't always have the all-access pass.

PROF. SETH KAPLAN, GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY: I think oftentimes these kind of gender lines are not created intentionally, but they emerge more naturally. And so I think it's important for everyone at work to be aware of these issues and the effects of their behavior on other people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: While some women's groups say the president has also been tone deaf to some of their issues, the administration will argue that the very first piece of legislation Mr. Obama signed dealt with equal pay for women, and that the White House established the Council on Women and Girls, aimed at knocking down barriers -- Wolf.