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Woods Breaks His Silence; Bush Era Torture Memos; First Lady Talks; Tales of Torture and Rape in Iran

Aired February 19, 2010 - 19:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And happening now Tiger Woods is returning to treatment at seclusion after his remarkable public apology. This hour will the golfer's carefully chosen words satisfy his fans or his critics?

The massive investigation into the suicide flight in Texas, and the wreckage left behind for the pilot's family. The shock, the grief, and the scars at Austin right now.

And a 911 call, a mountain of snow and a tragedy of errors. A dying man waits 30 hours for help. You may be horrified by the way it turns out.

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

For more than 13 painful minutes, the world's greatest golfer finally faced the world and owned up to a stunning fall from grace. Tiger Woods apologized repeatedly. He acknowledged cheating on his wife, sought privacy for his family and eventually redemption by his loved ones and his fans. Listen to one of the more powerful moments from Tiger Woods' carefully scripted appearance in Florida.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: I brought this shame on myself. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife's family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world who admired me. I've had a lot of time to think about what I've done. My failures have made me look at myself in a way I never wanted to before. It's now up to me to make amends, and that starts by never repeating the mistakes I've made.

It's up to me to start living a life of integrity. I once heard, and I believe it's true, it's not what you achieve in life that matters, it's what you overcome. Achievements on the golf course are only part of setting an example. Character and decency are what really count. Parents used to point to me as a role molds for their kids. I owe all those families a special apology. I want to say to them that I am truly sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's bring in our national correspondent, Susan Candiotti. She's in Florida where Woods spoke today. This was a huge media event. Dozens and dozens of television networks here in the United States and around the world were taping this live, and millions and millions of people, we won't know until tomorrow how many millions, but they were watching.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a huge audience, more than 200 reporters representing agencies from as far away as Japan and Norway, but no one got close because the reporters were all kept in the building that you see over my shoulder. And it's about a mile or so away from where Tiger Woods was speaking in a clubhouse. This was a tightly controlled event.

We're going to take you inside the ballroom to show you how most of the reporters watched Tiger Woods make his apology. They were watching on closed circuit monitors, and you could hear a pin drop in the room. After everything was over, the PGA commissioner came to talk to reporters because, as you know, Tiger Woods took no questions, and I asked the commissioner what it was like for him to face Tiger Woods as he made his apology.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TIM FINCHEM, PGA TOUR COMMISSIONER: At the end of the day, you know, he's a human being. We all make mistakes. We all have made mistakes, and when we're lucky, we learn from those mistakes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: And, Wolf, you know not only -- people were watching not only here but as well in other places. In Times Square they were watching, in sports bars, and, of course, also in Arizona where the Accenture tournament was going on. Some players in this past week have complained and been critical of Tiger Woods about the timing of his announcement today in the middle of a tournament. Some other players said they were sick and tired of hearing about the whole thing. Believe me, they were watching. Nick Faldo had this to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NICK FALDO, GOLFER: It was a pretty complete apology and probably extremely embarrassing, I can imagine to stand on a world stage and have to apologize for what he's been up to for the last however long. So that must have been extremely difficult for him so that -- you know he did his best job there and -- but he still -- he still left the big question that we as golfers wanted to know, when he's coming back to golf.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CANDIOTTI: In fact, this has been a huge distraction. Make no mistake about it, the players want Tiger back, and certainly the PGA wants him back because TV ratings and revenues have been down -- Wolf.

BLITZER: This is a human tragedy, but it's also a financial story because a lot of money is at stake when he comes back and plays golf again. Susan, thank you very much.

Check out this word cloud from the transcript of Tiger Woods' statement. The bigger the word, the more often he used it. We took out some common words like I, me and the. As you can see, Woods talked a lot about his behavior, his wife Elin, and the people he's hurt.

Later this hour I'll speak with veterans sports journalist Christine Brennan (ph) and Pat O'Brien (ph) about Tiger Woods' apology and what comes next. Stand by. We'll have much more on that.

But now a new and long a waited report involving those so-called torture memos from the Bush administration era and the lawyers who wrote him, Brian Todd is here with details. This is an important story because a lot of people were wondering, Brian, would the Obama administration go after some of those lawyers who wrote those so- called torture memos?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And we have the answer tonight, Wolf. A lot of people in this town, as you mentioned, have been waiting for this report. It culminates one of the most politically charged episodes during the Bush administration. The report is on the findings of an internal probe in the Justice Department of the so- called torture memos.

These were the legal opinions that laid the groundwork for waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques that drew so much criticism. This report clears those Bush White House lawyers who authored those memos of professional misconduct. Specifically it says Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee did not -- did not commit a professional breach that could have led to disbarment by writing those memos.

It also recommends no legal consequences for their actions. The report does say they may have exercised poor judgment, but again, no professional misconduct. This report also clears Steven Bradbury, who headed the White House Office of Legal Counsel which gave legal advice to the Bush administration during its second term, Wolf, so somewhat surprising findings of this internal probe in the Justice Department clearing these three attorneys.

BLITZER: Does this final report go against what seemed to be the position that the Attorney General Eric Holder expressed last summer?

TODD: It seems to take a step back from that, Wolf, yes. Last summer Holder gave the go-ahead for a limited investigation into the CIA's interrogation of detainees. He gave that go ahead based on the evidence collected for this report. So yes this report takes a step back from that and again that's a little bit surprising. You can bet the reaction in this town is going to fall along partisan lines.

BLITZER: Yes, a lot of liberals are going to not be very, very happy about this.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: They were hoping for some legal sanctions. Brian thanks. Let's get some analysis from our senior legal analyst. Jeffrey Toobin is joining us on the phone. Are you surprised by this decision today, Jeff?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST (via phone): Well this is consistent with what President Obama has said since he was in inaugurated, which is his administration is about the future not the past, but (INAUDIBLE) this was a quote, "question". You know the career attorneys who conducted this investigation actually concluded that these memos were professional misconduct, but they were overruled by David Margolis (ph) who is senior career official in the department, so this was obviously a very close question inside the Justice Department.

BLITZER: So these three individuals, John Yoo, Jay Bybee, who's -- by the way, Bybee is now a federal judge -- Yoo is a professor of law at Berkley -- Steven Bradbury, they don't have to worry about anything right now; is that right?

TOOBIN: They are out of the woods. The main risk they face if this investigation was found -- if they were found to have committed professional misconduct was a Bar Association investigation, that they might actually lose their ability to practice law. But that is now off the table. All they have to worry about now is their reputations, and that will be a lot harder to recover than any specific legal action.

BLITZER: I was always under the impression -- and tell me if you agree -- that there was a difference of view between the president -- President Obama on this issue as opposed to Eric Holder, the attorney general, that there was some daylight between the two of them. Am I right?

TOOBIN: Well I think that's certainly right during the campaign. I heard Eric Holder give a speech at the American Constitution Society, which is a left leaning legal group where he really excoriated these officials -- this was during the campaign -- when he really suggested that this was something more than a difference of opinion, this was something outrageous that the law should address, that Justice Department officials wrote memos endorsing torture. President Obama, then Senator Obama, was always much more cautious in saying that he didn't want recriminations against the Bush administration to dominate his administration and I think whatever else you think about the Obama administration that's been true. There have not been extensive investigations and it's one of several ones that liberals have been frustrated --

BLITZER: Yes and just to give it some context, we're talking about what were called those enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding that were used and these lawyers authorized it, wrote the legal opinions. Jeffrey thanks very much for that. As I said, a lot of liberals are going to be very upset by this decision today from the Justice Department.

Dramatic claims about Iran from a former member of a notorious Iranian militia who describes his mistreatment for refusing to take part in a brutal crackdown on opposition protesters some of them just children.

And waiting for an ambulance for 30 hours during a blizzard, how could this happen? CNN investigates a tragedy of errors.

And Panama's (ph) former dictator Manuel Noriega (ph) tries again to avoid extradition from the U.S. to France.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the first lady is going there. Michelle Obama is opening up talking about race in a way that her husband has not so far, at least not very often. "Politico" reports that while President Obama has not been as willing to talk about how policy affects minority communities, the first lady frequently brings up issues of race, region and inequality. For example, she recently announced a campaign against childhood obesity, and it's a problem, everywhere. One third of our nation's children are either overweight or obese. Mrs. Obama though points out how it's a particularly serious issue for black and Hispanic kids and she talks about the lack of healthy food options in some of inner-city neighborhoods.

In other speeches or interviews, Michelle Obama has talked about how many inner-city neighborhoods are just plain unsafe. Some believe that the first lady is serving as a bridge, if you will, from the White House to the African American community much like she did during the campaign. As a candidate Barack Obama shied away from talking about race with the exception of that big speech he made in Philadelphia after the incendiary comments of his pastor came out.

Many supporters have been disappointed since he's taken office, saying the president has not lived up to the image of the first big city urban president. A former community organizer in Chicago, it must be assumed that President Obama is well aware of the problems of the inner cities, and while it's true he's created the White House Office of Urban Affairs, he has not yet laid out a clear agenda for the problems in these particular communities.

So here's the question: Why is first lady Michelle Obama more open to talking about race than her husband? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you. They roar through Iranian streets on motorcycles, terrorizing people during post election protests last year, now a former member of Iran's Basij (ph) Militia has come forward with more stories of torture and even worse. Here's reporter Lindsey Hilsum (ph).

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER (voice-over): They're the bully boys of the revolution, the Basij Militia. Since Iran's disputed election last June, they've been out beating protestors, and behind closed doors, allegedly raping as well. Now Channel 4 News has learned that not only protestors but even Basij who refuse to participate in abuses may be subject to similar treatment. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The first time they took me for interrogation, they hit me so hard in my left eye that I couldn't see for a while. After the second day I could see a little, but I thought I'd gone blind in my left eye. I still have problems with it. It has never returned to normal.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Ally (ph), as we're calling him to protect his identity was a mission man. I learned of his existence last year when we broadcast the story about Basij leaders who allegedly ordered the sexual assaults of young people who had taken part in protests. Ally (ph) was part of a group of Basij who say they refused to take part. He fled to the U.K.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The people were terrified. Some were already injured and their wounds had not been seen to. This was all very distressing for me, because until then, I had had very different responsibilities, not the beating up and crimes that they were perpetrating against the people.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Ally's (ph) distress was palpable as he described how he was then arrested and men with their faces covered came to his cell.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They created execution scenarios. They said, we're going to kill you and we'll link your death to the protests. We'll say that you were killed during a protest. There was a table in which I was stood for some hours with my hands tied and a rope around my neck. They came a few times and said they've come to execute me now or in an hour. Then they came and pulled the table away. I fell.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Ally (ph) could scarcely speak for tears.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I thought I was saying goodbye to this world. I felt I was fading. But when they pulled the table away, the rope wasn't attached to anything. I fell backwards and fainted. When I came to, I was wet. They'd thrown water over me. I vomited. They brought my confession and I signed.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Before the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva, the Iranian representatives said torture was illegal in Iran.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Torture is forbidden by law, by constitution of Iran.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: The human rights record, he said, was good, but Ally (ph) was at his most distressed when he told me that his cellmate, not a protester or another Basij from his group, started to shout and was punished with sexual assault.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The guards warned him that if he continued this behavior, they would make things worse for him. One of the guards came in and beat him. His face was bleeding and his clothes were torn off. The guard had a bat on. He was sexually violated with it. One guard was outside, one inside the cell. I wanted to protest, to shout, to help him, but I had seen how they dealt with protestors and I couldn't. I'm thoroughly ashamed. I'm ashamed before God, ashamed at my youth, ashamed in front of my friend, ashamed in front of the people.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Last week, the Iranian government gathered people to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the Islamic Revolution. Once a true believer in the system, Ally (ph) by then was in Europe, he had been smuggled out by boat and traveled across the world by air and road using a fake passport. He's now applying for asylum.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I have this terrible feeling of pain, that I spent the best years of my life unaware and they used this. I was a tool for them to reach their objectives. I unwittingly got involved in their plans. I was unknowingly led by them. Their slogan was that we were the force of the people, the imminent ones that we must lead. We were unaware of what they brought on us. Our thoughts were not our own.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Iran's supreme leader addressed the faithful. He said the post-election protests were the work of Iran's foreign enemies. But from the testimony we've heard some of those who were once amongst the most fervent believers have turned against the state, which they say has turned against its own people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: What a report -- that was ITN's Lindsey Hilsum (ph) reporting.

A message of remorse, regret and sympathy today from Joe Stack's (ph) wife, investigators begin sorting out why and how he crashed a plane into an IRS building in Texas.

And for the first time, Tiger Woods goes public about his infidelities. Did he hit the mark? We'll ask a couple of seasoned sports journalists. Stand by.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What's going on, Lisa?

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there Wolf. Well the FBI has closed its long-running investigation of the 2001 anthrax mailings. It concluded a bio-defense researcher acted alone. The FBI believes lone suspect Dr. Bruce Ivan (ph) sent anthrax laced letters to lawmakers and news organizations, which killed five people. Ivan (ph) killed himself in 2008 as authorities prepared to indict him.

Former Secretary of State, retired General Alexander Haig has been admitted to a hospital. A spokesman for Johns Hopkins Hospital confirms the 85-year-old is there and in critical condition. He gives no further details. Haig served in the Nixon, Ford and Reagan Administrations; he was also Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. Former Panamanian Dictator Manuel Noriega (ph) is making another attempt to block his extradition to France to face money laundering charges. Last month the Supreme Court refused to hear his appeal. Today he filed a petition asking the court to reconsider that refusal. Noriega was declared a prisoner of war after he was convicted on U.S. drug trafficking charges. Still in a Miami prison, he argues under the Geneva Conventions he should have been repatriated to Panama on finishing his sentence in 2007.

And this, a little girl's best friend, 3-year old Victoria Benson's (ph) dog Blue, he has saved her life keeping her warm and safe in the outdoors after she wandered away from her Arizona home yesterday. A search helicopter spotted them early this morning less than a mile from her home. (INAUDIBLE) you can see here he's a Queensland. Meanwhile we're very glad that that story had a happy ending -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Cute little dog, sweet little girl and very happy indeed. Lisa, thank you.

The world heard Tiger Woods apologize for his infidelities. Are his fans and his critics buying it? Just ahead veteran sports reporters Pat O'Brien and Christine Brennan. They are here on what's next for Woods, his family and his career.

And emergency rescuers were so close, but they might as well have been miles and miles away -- a call to 911 and a dying man's long and futile wait for help.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Returning now to our stop story, an emotional, very public apology by Tiger Woods. With his mother looking on from the front row, his wife absent the golfing great apologized for his extra marital affairs and the scandal that has sidelined his career. He spoke about the therapy he's undergoing, his Buddhist faith and his plan to return to golf someday.

Let's talk about it with former sports anchor and entertainment anchor Pat O'Brien and "USA Today" sportswriter Christine Brennan.

Christine, what did you think?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, USA TODAY: Well I tell you we are seeing a man at rock bottom I think Wolf. He -- you know compare the visual of Tiger winning a golf tournament, which is how most people see him, and then to see this today was really an eye opener and how far away from golf he is. You know when he mentions golf in what the 12th or 13th minute of this thing and a quick mention and he hopes to come back some day, it certainly makes all the talk about you know the Masters or the Arnold Palmer Tournament, Bayhill (ph), you know just look ridiculous, all this speculation.

This is a man in trouble. I think it was a good first step for Tiger Woods. He has a long way to go and yet there were still those controlling moments, you know defiant, just that's Tiger. But all in all, I thought it was kind of breathtaking some of the things he was saying, and the things he had to say. Again, it's a first start. Maybe, you know he's on -- it's the tee shot. That was not a hole-in- one, that's just the beginning of his coming back to wherever he ends up coming back to.

BLITZER: And I want to go through some of those specifics with you -- same question, Pat to you. What did you think?

PAT O'BRIEN, FORMER SPORTSCASTER: I agree with Christine on a lot of things. I thought he went a little further than I thought he was going to go. You know we put these athletes and celebrities on Mt. Rushmore and expect them to be role models, and I think the role model point today that Tiger did for kids who look up to him or all of us who look up to him, is that it's not how you fall, it's how you get up. And I think Christine is right. This is the very first step of him getting up, and I thought he got up today quite well.

BLITZER: What was his immediate objective on this day, Christine, and did he achieve it?

BRENNAN: I think he probably did. You know, it makes you wonder why we didn't hear this in December or January, although as he's said, he's been in rehab, so clearly that's part of the process here, so I understand why it's now, but you wonder, that vacuum of three months, wouldn't this have been valuable to him in the recovery process say in early January.

But here we are, mid-February. And I think, you know, grandmothers in Dubuque who change their Sunday so that they can watch him play golf, you know, did they maybe feel just a hint of sadness for him? If that's the case, and I'm guessing there were probably some people that do feel that way, Wolf, then I think that he probably achieved that again, first step. The freefall has been so terrible and such a massive fall from grace, self-induced, of course, that this is a long story that is now just beginning to be written.

BLITZER: He thought the rules didn't apply to him. He acknowledged that, Pat. Let me play this little clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOODS: I thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to. I felt that I had worked hard my entire life and deserved to enjoy all the temptations around me. I felt I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn't have far -- I didn't have to go far to find them. I was wrong. I was foolish. I don't get to play by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: I thought that was a pretty impressive statement he made, Pat.

O'BRIEN: You know, of all the people that have been involved in one of these things, including me, I've never heard the word entitlement said so gracefully. I mean, that's what it's about, that he felt entitled that all of this was coming to him, and I think the grandmothers in Dubuque will be happy -- I hope they teach their grandkids that you have to own up to your mistakes. And he used words like selfish and foolish and entitlement, and I was wrong. He did all the right things. He also, by the way, answered a lot of questions that I was hoping he would answer, especially about the confrontation with Elin, confrontation, the nights ago. Where he's been, Christine, 45 days -- that's why we haven't seen him. He's been in rehab. And I can tell, having been in rehab, I can tell that he's been there and he's been listening, and that's a key thing.

BLITZER: Let me play this other clip, Christine, for you, because it gets to an issue a lot of golf fans want to know about. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WOODS: I do plan to return to golf one day. I just don't know when that day will be. I don't rule out that it will be this year. When I do return, I need to make my behavior more respectful of the game.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Now, he said he's going back to rehab right away now. How far fetched is it to think he might play in the masters this year in April?

BRENNAN: Wolf, I think that now that is incredibly far-fetched. I would have thought, and of course a lot of speculation, as you and Pat know, has been on the Masters and playing maybe a tournament right before that to get warmed up.

Boy, I don't know about you guys, but this sounds like it's a long way off. I mean, I think the big takeaway from this today, Wolf, for sports fans, for the golf side of this, which, of course, that's what Tiger is, he's a pro golfer and people want to see him play golf. I think the big message here is it's going to be a while.

I mean to have it mentioned so -- almost as an afterthought so well into his statement, and then to have it be -- you know, I plan to come back and maybe this year, someday. Wow. I think we could easily be seeing -- again, I have no idea, the story, the twists and turns are amazing -- but I think we could easily see the entire year being lost for Tiger Woods.

BLITSZER: Do you agree with that, Pat?

O'BRIEN: I definitely agree and it's a good point, Christine. I don't think he's going to make the Masters. This is a mind game, golf, and his mind is so far away from golf. Christine makes a good point that it was so very late in the statement that he mentioned golf.

He said a very key thing, too. I need to take care of myself on and off the course. I think that's what he needs to do. Golf, by the way, to him is maybe the farthest thing from his mind right now. I think he wants to get his family back together, wants to make sure the media stops hounding his kids, and I think he took the right first steps here. You know, in recovery, you have a prayer that says, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference, and I think he's following that prayer.

BLITZER: He really went on the offensive, Christine, when he told the media back away, not necessarily he said for myself, but for my wife and for the children. And I think that will resonate with a lot of folks out there.

BRENNAN: Well, it certainly resonates with the three of us, and where we work, and the kind of standards we have journalistically. I think because it's the 21st century and because of the paparazzi and because of the Internet and all of these Web sites that we never heard of that are now bookmarked on millions of golf fans' computers because of the Tiger Woods saga, I'm not so sure how that's going to go for him.

I hope -- again, I'm not going to chase after him or his family. I never would, you never would, Wolf, Pat, you wouldn't, but I do think that the reality is that the Internet world, the tabloid world will have another idea completely on that completely on that one.

BLITZER: I suspect you're right. Pat, give me a final thought. We're out of time.

O'BRIEN: Good luck on shooing the media away in a blogosphere world. That's impossible. But I think he made a great first step. I've known him for a long time. I was very proud of him today. And like Christine said, it's going to be a long, long road but he's made the right first steps.

BLITZER: Pat O'Brien and Christine Brennan, guys, thanks very much for joining us.

We're on the scene of that fiery plane attack on an IRS office in Austin, Texas. The wife of the suicide pilot is now speaking out. We have details of what she's saying.

And school officials accused of spying on students by way of laptop computers. We'll show you what it's all about.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The wife of the man officials say crashed a small plane into an IRS office in Texas is speaking out now for the first time. She called the disaster an unimaginable tragedy. The crash killed two people, one of them her troubled husband. CNN's Casey Wian has the latest.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a massive investigation is underway into the crash of a small plane into this Texas office building yesterday. Authorities from at least half a dozen federal and local agencies are involved under the direction of the FBI. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN (voice-over): Investigators pored through the wreckage of an Internal Revenue Service office building a day after a disgruntled taxpayer crashed his private plane into the second floor, killing himself and one person believed to be an IRS employee.

Investigators say the pilot, software engineer and part-time musician Joseph Stack began his rampage earlier in the day by setting fire to his house.

(on camera): This is where a parallel investigation has been happening all day long. We've seen investigators from the FBI, alcohol, tobacco and firearms, local fire departments all combing through the charred remains of Mr. Stack's home, trying to figure out how this fire started and how it burned so hot so quickly.

Evidence of that, the home right next door earlier today, we saw insurance company investigators on the roof of that home trying to assess the damage there. So clearly, this was a very, very hot fire. Neighbors tell us that they heard an initial explosion, and when they came outside and looked at Mr. Stack's home, they saw that it was almost completely engulfed in flames, almost immediately.

Now, if you read the six-page apparent suicide note that Stack posted on the Internet, it paints the picture of a man who had serious financial concerns. But if you look around at the neighborhood that his house is in, it paints a much different picture, and that is of a typical, upper middle class American suburban neighborhood.

(voice-over): Stack's wife asked a friend to read this statement.

RAYFORD WALKER, FAMILY SPOKESMAN: Sheryl says, "Words do not adequately express my sorrow or the sympathy I feel for everyone affected by this unimaginable tragedy. I want to thank my friends, family, colleagues and neighbors as well as members of my church and others for their expressions of kindness and generosity in our time of grief.

WIAN: Stack played bass guitar in a rock country outfit called the Billy Eli Band. His former band mates are searching for answers.

BILLY ELI, BANDMATE: This has been such a shock because this is totally out of character from the Joe Stack that I played in a band with for three years.

WIAN: One victim remains hospitalized with serious burns.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WIAN: Authorities have recovered two bodies from the IRS office building, including what's believed to be the remains of the pilot, Joseph Stack. Wolf?

BLITZER: Casey Wian on the scene for us in Austin, Texas. Controversy rocks one school district as officials are accused of spying on a through a laptop Web camera. We have the latest details.

And a congressman in the wrong place at the wrong possible time, literally yards away from an unfolding coup.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in "The Situation Room" right now. Lisa, what's going on?

SYLVESTER: Hi there, Wolf. Well a Pennsylvania school district is denying spying on students by activating Web cams on loaned laptops. This after a student accused the school in a federal lawsuit this week of turning on his laptop camera while it was inside his home. The school district said it remotely activated Web cams 42 times, purely to find missing student laptops, never to spy on students.

Millions of seniors paying for private health plans through Medicare are seeing sharp premium increases this year. A study by a major consulting firm found premiums for Medicare advantage firms have jumped more than 14 percent on average. The premium this year is just under $40, up $5 from last year. The higher premiums follow a cut in government payments to private plans.

And a U.S. congressman was very close to a violent coup yesterday in Niger. A group of military officers say they're now in power in the uranium-rich African nation. Niger's president, who had been trying to extend his rule, is said to be held in a military camp. Democrat Alan Grayson heard the gunfire during the coup and his spokesman says he was right next door to the presidential palace (inaudible) home tonight.

The Obama administration is renaming the war in Iraq, Operation New Dawn. That's the new name. A senior administration (inaudible) came from Iraq commander General Ray Odierno and was endorsed by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The new name reflects the changing mission as U.S. troops draw down.

And Wolf, I understand you are actually going to be hosting a special this week on cyber shockwave. What can you tell us about that?

BLITZER: It's going to be really fascinating. It airs Saturday night and Sunday night, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. A two-hour war game that was conducted earlier in the week on the vulnerability of the United States to a cyber attack from some unknown power. I've got to tell you, I watched the whole thing. It went on for several hours, and it was frightening to see how unprepared we really are. That special documentary will air between 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. Eastern Saturday and Sunday.

SYLVESTER: Yes, that is so fascinating and it is such an important subject because when you think about threats to the future, this one is real. This one could potentially happen, so we'll be tuning in, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's already happening to a certain degree, but it could be a whole lot worse. At least, that comes through in this war game. All these former officials, high-ranking officials, played various cabinet responsibilities, cabinet roles. They know what they're talking about. It was really good. Watch it, check it out.

SYLVESTER: Yes, looking forward to it, Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thanks very much. Have a great, great weekend.

SYLVESTER: You, too, Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is coming up next with your e-mail, plus a 911 tragedy of errors, 10 calls for help. But in the middle of a blizzard, it's not enough to save a dying man.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Senator Frank Lautenberg in New Jersey has been diagnosed with cancer. His office says the New Jersey Democrat has curable lymphoma of the stomach, which will (inaudible) treatment over the next few months. He is expected to return to work at the Senate between treatments. At 86-years-old, Senator Lautenberg is the nation's second oldest U.S. senator. We wish him a very, very speedy recovery.

Rock star John Mellencamp could have a new job in his future -- senator. An online effort is now underway to draft the Indiana musician to run for the Senate seat soon to be vacated by the retiring Democrat Evan Bayh. Rumors about the possible run are circulating on Twitter as well as Facebook. Mellencamp openly supported Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential campaign. So far he hasn't commented about the possibility. Remember, for the latest political news at any time, you can always check out CNNPlitics.com.

Let's go to Jack for "The Cafferty File."

CAFFERTY: The first question this hour is why is First Lady Michelle Obama more open to talking about the subject of race than her husband?

Darryl writes, "Being an African-American, I know that speaking up concerning race would only bring more hatred to the president. I believe when the members of the Tea Party speak of the old America, they mean white people. And speaking up to the black people would only make the president's life more difficult."

Hal writes, "She's not the president. She is able to say what she wants and not have poll numbers that show she's below 50 percent."

Helen says, "Could it be because she's black and her husband is half black? People need to remember that our president did not suffer what is called the black experience."

Rakari writes, "Much of white America is still afraid of the race debate. If President Obama shows any hint of racial solidarity, many of his white supporters will run for the hills. The White House can't afford that controversy."

Brian writes, "Obama cannot be seen as overly siding with black or minority supporters. It's just a byproduct of being the first black president. A white president would not be viewed negatively if he did the same thing. Michelle can easily fill the gap and let the minority community know that it has a voice in the White House."

Mari in Utah, "Oh, Jack please, why bring up race? Don't you know that what's really behind all the anger and hate from conservatives is that Americans elected and actually like an African- American? President Obama is not a black president, he's an American president. He has plenty on his plate, give him a break already."

And Frank says, "He's the president. Everything he says is dissected and has implications. She can say whatever she wants because she has no policy or governmental obligation. Remember when FDR's wife Eleanor Roosevelt raised hell? We wouldn't have had the Tuskegee airmen without her. It's a bully pulpit. You go, girl."

If you want to read more on the subject, you'll find it on my blog at CNN.com/CafferyFile. And you'll find me in New Jersey for the next couple of days because I'm out of here.

BLITZER: You're not yet. I want you to tell our viewers, one week from today, "Broken Government," a special, a Jack Cafferty special, will air during this 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour. What are you going to do?

CAFFERTY: All of next week, CNN is going to take a look at our broken government. It's broken and it's broke and it's paralyzed and it's infected with acrimony and nothing is getting done. The public is getting angrier. The debt is growing by leaps and bounds and all week long, we're going to have reports from our CNN correspondents on all the shows starting with "American Morning" next Monday morning on some of what's going on and what's wrong in Washington, D.C. And then next Friday, we're going to cherry pick the highlights and the best reports and put together an hour-long show that we hope people will take a look at that might help them understand why it is we have become dysfunctional as a nation and maybe running out of time to get it fixed.

BLITZER: Who better than Jack Cafferty to talk about broken government? One week from today, I'm going to tweet about it right now on Twitter, Jack, and get your fans excited. One week from today, we'll talk all next week about it as well. Have a great weekend in New Jersey.

CAFFERTY: You too, Wolf. See you later.

BLITZER: Thank you. An ailing man grows sicker, but help doesn't arrive despite 10 -- I repeat, 10 calls to 911. So what went so horribly wrong? A tragedy of errors, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: As record snow piled up on Pittsburgh, so did a string of mistakes by emergency response workers while an ailing man inched closer to death. CNN's Allan Chernoff is working the story for us. Allan?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, Wolf, it was a tragedy of errors. The man and his girlfriend called 911 10 times. Three times an ambulance tried to bring help but never arrived. Pittsburgh has been investigating this awful blunder since it occurred February 6th and 7th when the city was covered with two feet of snow and the emergency medical system was overwhelmed.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF (voice-over): Sharon Edge says her long-time boyfriend Curtis Mitchell could have been saved if only an ambulance had arrived in response to their 911 calls for help.

SHARON EDGE, VICTIM'S GIRLFRIEND: He shouldn't have had to die the way he died because he was suffering.

CHERNOFF: Nearly two feet of snow is on the ground when Curtis Mitchell first calls 911 at 2:00 in the morning, complaining of stomach pain. An ambulance gets stuck in the snow four blocks from the Mitchell home on the other side of the Elizabeth Street Bridge. Medics ask if Mitchell can walk to them. He's unable, and Sharon tells the dispatcher, maybe they can come later. So the ambulance request is canceled. When Curtis and Sharon call 911 for help again, the dispatcher is unaware of the first call.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unacceptable, won't be tolerated, of course. We're very sad and sorry for the occurrence.

CHERNOFF: The second ambulance also gets stuck, and medics tell the dispatcher if he wants a ride to the hospital, he'll have to come down to the truck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's unacceptable. You've got to get out of your truck and you've got to there. Get out of the damn truck and you walk to the residence. That's what needed to happen. We could have carried him out.

CHERNOFF: The first two requests were rated medium priority since Mitchell complained of abdominal pain, but not urgent symptoms, like shortness of breath. A third ambulance call was higher priority. Yet again, medics are unaware of prior requests and fail to make it to the house.

Sharon Edge says Mitchell has taken medications and she can't wake him. The ambulance response is canceled again. The final request, on Sunday morning, is the only one treated as a top priority. And when medics finally arrive 30 hours after the first request, it's too late. Mitchell is dead.

EDGE: It hurts. I'm all alone now. Somebody I loved is gone and I can't do anything about it. (END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: A medical examiner performed an autopsy but the cause of death won't be determined for weeks. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is pledging to improve emergency medical communication to do a better job of tracking and prioritizing 911 calls and ensure that the fire department assist in responding to more emergency calls. Wolf?

BLITZER: Allan Chernoff, a real tragedy. Thanks for that report.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in "The Situation Room." Up next, Campbell Brown.