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Prince William to Wed Next Year; Rangel Blasts Ethics Panel; Body Scans and Searches Raise Ire
Aired November 16, 2010 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: Britain is buzzing about a royal wedding. Prince William and Kate Middleton are now officially engaged. You will hear the royal couple tell how the late Princess Diana's ring played a key part in their big moment -- the interview coming up.
Some passengers may be balking at those airport body scans and pat- downs, but some authorities are sharing some of the outrage that they have of their own.
And a shocking government study shows how hospital care can be dangerous for Medicare patients. An estimated 15,000 die each month, but there are ways you can lower the risk.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world, breaking news, political headlines and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
A royal engagement, it may be just the thing needed to lift spirits in Britain weighed down by economic woes and a tough austerity budget. Prince William and his fiancee, Kate Middleton, made it official today, and a treasured keepsake from the late Princess Diana played a key part in that engagement.
CNN's Richard Quest has the story from London.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): There was no need for words. Their smiles said it all. This most modern of royal couples -- they already live together -- will marry in England next spring or summer.
KATE MIDDLETON, ENGAGED TO PRINCE WILLIAM: He's a true romantic and we had a wonderful holiday in Africa. And it was out there in a very quiet lodge . And it was very romantic. And it was a very personal time for both of us.
PRINCE WILLIAM, UNITED KINGDOM: I don't remember how many years it's been, forgetful memory. I also didn't realize it was a race. Otherwise, I probably would've been a lot quicker. But, also, the timing is right now. We're both very, very happy. And I am very glad that I have done it. QUEST: On a day of high emotion, Prince William revealed the ring he had given his bride to be was as special as the woman who now wears it.
PRINCE WILLIAM: Well, as you may recognize now, it's my mother's engagement ring. So, of course it's very special to me. As Kate is very special to me now as well, it was only right the two were put together. But it was my way of making sure mother didn't miss out on today and the excitement and the fact that we're going to spend the rest of our lives together.
MIDDLETON: It is quite a daunting prospect, but hopefully I'll take it my stride. William is a great teacher, so, hopefully, he will be able to help me along way. And I really look forward to (INAUDIBLE) spending my time with William.
PRINCE WILLIAM: She is very good at flattery.
QUEST: William's father, Prince Charles, the prince of Wales, kept his schedule out and about. His reaction was a mixture of delight and lighthearted.
PRINCE CHARLES, UNITED KINGDOM: Practicing for long enough.
QUEST: Another set of proud parents, the Middletons, spoke of their happiness at today's turn of events.
MICHAEL MIDDLETON, FATHER OF KATE MIDDLETON: As you know, Catherine and Prince William have been going out together for quite a number of years, which is great for us, because we have got to know William very well. We all think he is wonderful and we're extremely fond of him. They make a lovely couple. They are great fun to be with, and we have had a lot of laughs together. We wish them every happiness for the future.
QUEST: As soon as the announcement made, a long line of people formed an orderly queue to pass on their congratulations, at the head of the line, the British prime minister, David Cameron, who had spoken to the prince moments before.
DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: This is incredibly exciting news. And I'm sure that the whole country will want to pass their very best wishes to the happy couple and wish them an incredibly long and happy life together.
I was given the news in a cabinet meeting. I was passed a piece of paper and announced the news in the middle of the Cabinet meeting. And there was a great cheer went up and a great banging of the table.
As well as this being a great moment for national celebration, I think we also have to remember that this is two young people who love each other, who have made this announcement, who are looking forward to their wedding, and we must give them plenty of space to think about the future and what they are about to do, but a great day for our country, a great day for the royal family, and obviously a great day for Prince William and for Kate.
BLITZER: And joining us now from just outside Buckingham Palace, our own Richard Quest.
Richard, have they set a time yet and a location for this wedding?
QUEST: No to both of those.
The statement from Clarence House announcing the engagement said that it would be spring or summer of 2011. Now, rumor has it that the people of various different establishments have been asked to keep the first two weeks of August next year clear.
There is going to be one date they are going to want to avoid and that, of course, would be the 30th anniversary of Charles and Diana's wedding, which will be next summer as well. But, now, as to where it is going to be, well, we can probably rule out Saint Paul's Cathedral.
After all, that is where Charles and Diana got married. Secondly, St. George's Chapel at Windsor, possibly, but it is a little bit small for a major event. If I was a betting man, Wolf, I would say this is going to be at Westminster Abbey, the home of so many royal occasions, not least of which the coronation.
BLITZER: What is the thinking in England right now? Is it OK to have a lavish royal wedding during these rough economic times?
QUEST: That's a very good question. There will be inevitably the curmudgeons who will say that we should not spend a penny, farthing on a royal wedding, and then there will be those who say, this is exactly the sort of (INAUDIBLE) the nation needs in a time of austerity.
I think they are going to be very clever in pitching it just right. They know if they are perceived to be wasting money or flagrantly flaunting a lavish event, that would go down badly with so many unemployed. But get it right, and, remember, the British people will rally around Diana's son. William is the son. This is the wedding. She will become the queen.
BLITZER: Richard Quest, thanks so much.
And, later this hour, we have an interview with the royal couple. Prince William, Kate Middleton, they spoke about their plans for the future. They tell us how the late Princess Diana's ring played a key part in their engagement. The interview with both of them in London, that is coming up later in the hour.
Other news we're following right now, Senator John McCain says he foresees some tension inside the Republican Party with the arrival of budget-slashing freshman lawmakers eying defense spending and the war in Afghanistan. And he singled out the Tea Party favorite the senator-elect Rand Paul of Kentucky.
Let's talk about it with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, and John King. He is the host of "JOHN KING, USA," which begins at the top of the hour.
Let me play this little clip of what Senator McCain said and then we will discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I think there are going to be tensions within our party. I don't know the incoming Senator Rand Paul. I respect him, admire his victory. But already he has talked about withdrawals from -- or cuts in defense, et cetera, and a number of others are.
There is no doubt that this new group of Republicans have come in with a commitment to take a meat axe to spending. I'm not sure that you could say, OK, everything in defense is sacrosanct while the rest of these cuts in education, and social programs, et cetera, are taking place. So I worry a lot about the rise of protectionism and isolationism in the Republican Party.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Does he have a point there? Should he be worried about the rise of protectionism and isolationism among these new Tea Party- backed Republicans?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He is, and he should be, because John McCain is very much a supporter of the war in Afghanistan.
If we leave Afghanistan, he doesn't want it to be because of budget reasons. And some of these new folks, like Senator Rand Paul, may be more likely to support Barack Obama on a troop drawdown than someone like John McCain. But, to be fair to him, this...
BLITZER: Be fair to whom?
BORGER: To John McCain. This answer was in reaction to a question about Afghanistan. And -- but he does believe that there should be cuts in the defense budget. He just not want to do it across the board, meat axe, as he puts it.
BLITZER: Because senator-elect Rand Paul, I don't think he is as far as -- in terms of cutting defense spending as his dad, Congressman Ron Paul, who was on this show a few weeks ago with Barney Frank saying you have got to slash defense spending.
JOHN KING, HOST, "JOHN KING, USA": Right. Ron Paul has the -- essentially, stop at the water's edge, there should be no U.S. military involvement overseas. Rand Paul says, no, some military involvement is justified and that going into Afghanistan after 9/11 was justified. But he does say, what are we doing? Is the strategy succeeding? Is it time to come out, especially when you have such huge deficit spending? If you can't say, look, we are making progress every day, it is time to have that conversation.
So there is a global projection of U.S. might that is part of the calculation. And then, Wolf, there's the conversation that is going to dominate Washington for the next year or more, which is, where can you find cuts? Where can you find cuts in spending?
KING: And Secretary Gates knew this was coming. He got out already saying we need to do some cuts. The deficit commission the president appointed essentially doubled what Gates wants to cut. There are some Republicans who say no way. But that is the fight we're going to have in Washington. You can't -- if we are going to have a big conversation and everybody has to give, that would include the Pentagon.
BORGER: It is easy, though, Wolf, to say, OK, let's do 10 percent across the board. That is the easy way to do it, because there are no fingerprints on it, then.
But the more difficult way is the way that Secretary Gates wants to do it, is to say, look, you know, you can't take a meat axe. You have to take a scalpel.
BORGER: And you have the decide which defense programs you want to cut and which defense programs you want to fund. It is hard work.
BLITZER: John is going to have a lot more coming up on this on "JOHN KING, USA" at the top of the hour.
Guys, thank you.
The frustrations certainly are flying. Jack Cafferty is here. He has "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: More on "The Cafferty File" today on the pleasures of modern air travel.
After you've been groped, and X-rayed and back-splattered and looked at like you're a common criminal, you finally make it onto the flight, only to find that you're seated in front of or next to or behind someone traveling with one or more small children.
For the duration of your flight, you can now look forward to screaming, crying, kicking, food-throwing, yelling parents, and on and on and on. "The New York Times" says that some -- for some, sitting near such an uncontrollable child is -- quote -- "the second biggest fear of flying." They report on a growing push for airlines to create child- free flights or to designate family-only sections on airplanes.
A recent travel survey shows 59 percent of passengers support creating these special sections. Close to 20 percent say they'd like to see flights with no children.
Some travelers say they'd gladly pay extra to fly with no kids on board. And even some parents support the idea of separating children from the rest of the passengers.
They say a family-only section would give parents and the kids more freedom to make a little noise. They also point out it's stressful for parents when their kids are screaming and won't calm down.
It's unlikely, though, that any of this is going to happen any time soon. A major airline trade group says the industry is working hard to return to profitability. They don't want to start turning people away from certain flights.
As for family-only sections, they say it would be too complicated and it could set a dangerous precedent once you start separating passengers by age. What if there were calls for elderly-free flights or obese-only sections?
Here's the question: Would you pay extra for a flight with no children?
Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
A desperate situation is getting even worse right now. First, there was disease. Now there's violence that is ravaging Haiti, with protesters blaming U.N. troops for a cholera outbreak. Stand by. We are going there.
And he is an accused arms dealer allegedly with clients from Afghanistan to Africa. We are learning new details right now of the undercover sting that landed him in U.S. custody.
BLITZER: Hospital care can be dangerous for some elderly Medicare patients. A government study out today estimates that 15,000 die each month, but there are some things you can do to lower the risks for yourself and your loved ones.
Our senior health correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen, has the story -- Elizabeth.
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the numbers in this latest report are astounding. The inspector general for the Department of Health and Human Services took a look at Medicare patients in the hospital and they found that one in seven of them are harmed when they are in the hospital. They went there for help and they end up being harmed.
And they say when you do the math, that means that 15,000 Medicare patients are dying in hospitals per month because of something that the hospital did. Now, what exactly went wrong with these patients? Well, there's a long list. Let's take a look at a few examples.
Sometimes what happened is that the patient was given the wrong drug, a drug meant for maybe someone down the hall. Sometimes, the patient had I.V. fluid overload. And that hurt them. Sometimes, there was excessive surgical bleeding or infections from catheters.
Over the years, many people have criticized hospitals for not owning up to their mistakes and trying to fix them. And, of course, Wolf, what everyone wants to know is, how do you keep from becoming a victim? Well, we talk about it all the time on "The Empowered Patient."
Here are three rules that could go far in protecting yourself. First of all, if you can help it, do not go to the hospital alone. You are sick. It's hard to take care of yourself. Bring someone, a spouse, a brother ,a sister, a friend, somebody who can be there with you.
And when that person is there with you, they want to look out for a couple of things. First of all, bring a list or make a list of all of the medications that you are getting in the hospital, so when a nurse comes to bring you a medication, you can look and see, gee, is this on the list of what I am supposed to get and is it the right dosage?
Also, ask if you really need a catheter. Sometimes, patients get catheter, doctors tell me, and they don't really need them. Catheters are great places for infections. Unfortunately, this happens quite often. So ask if you really need that catheter, and then ask how quickly it can come out -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good advice from Elizabeth Cohen. Thank you.
The American Hospital Association released the following statement in response to the government's new study.
Let me quote from it: "While hospitals have made great strides in improving care, this report highlights that there is more we can do."
A deadly cholera outbreak in Haiti is now leading to violence, serious violence, with protesters blaming the United Nations for spreading the disease. But the U.N. Mission in Haiti says the virus is politically motivated.
Let's go there.
CNN's Ivan Watson is on the scene for us. Ivan, what exactly is going on?
IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, for the second straight day now, the second largest city in Haiti, Cap-Haitien, where I am right now, is out of government's control. There have been riots for two straight days, United Nations peacekeepers killed, at least one demonstrator, yesterday in clashes.
The only way we could get into the town -- we were the only plane to fly into the airstrip here throughout the whole day -- was by riding on motorcycles, because the demonstrators have created barricades, a network of them throughout this city. They're burning tires. They're using the wreckage of vehicles to block all automobile traffic.
And we saw gangs of angry youths there out in the streets. They are not attacking fellow Haitians. They are attacking the United Nations peacekeepers when they see them here, who they are basically besieged in their various bases throughout this town.
Now, why this angry situation? Well, there has been a rumor, a story that has gone throughout Haiti that the cholera epidemic, the first in more than 50 years in Haiti, that it originated with a contingent of Nepalese peacekeepers.
That claim has been denied by the United Nations, but it is a very potent rumor that is spreading through here. And that is part of why the locals are lashing out at United Nations peacekeepers, throwing rocks at their armored personnel carriers.
There's another element here. We are less than two weeks away from presidential elections. The United Nations claims -- it accuses some of the demonstrators of intentionally trying to destabilize the country ahead of that national vote -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And, as you say, 1,000 people-plus have already died from cholera in Haiti. When things go bad, they get even worse and worse. We will stay on top of this with you. Thanks, Ivan.
Ivan Watson is on the scene for us.
Something astronomers have never seen until now, a newborn black hole, they think this one could become a monster. Stand by.
And a surprise proposal and a very significant ring. William and Kate reveal candid details of their engagement. We will hear an extended portion of their joint interview today in London. Stand by.
BLITZER: Ever since the midterm elections, President Obama has been touting a big meeting he's going to have with the Democratic and the Republican leadership over at the White House this Thursday, including a big dinner at the White House, but guess what, not so fast.
Let's go to our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash.
Dana, you are just getting word that this meeting is now off?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is postponed, that is correct. We are now hearing that from Democratic and Republican sources here on Capitol Hill.
And they are basically saying, at least on the Democratic side, they got word from the White House it was canceled. On the Republican side, Wolf, they are insisting it was never set in stone. It was something that the White House was trying to make work, but that they could never confirm that they could fit that meeting into what they say is a very busy schedule here on Capitol Hill, meeting with new members and getting the lame-duck session up and running.
Despite that, what we are hearing here, our Ed Henry is also hearing from Democratic sources that they say that that might be just basically an excuse by Republicans. So there is a lot of finger- pointing over this, the fact that this meeting, this big meeting that was supposed to take place in two days is not happening.
But one thing I think probably everybody could agree on, that the fact that they are even fighting over having a meeting and the date for the meeting does not bode well for what everybody claims that they want to do, which is, after these midterm elections, to sit down and work together -- that is now going to be delayed -- especially on some of these big issues that have to be dealt with, like tax cuts.
BLITZER: I just want to be precise, Dana. The White House had it on the president's schedule for Thursday, including this big dinner, a private dinner, upstairs at the White House, and then all of the sudden, the Republicans tell him today, you know what, we are too busy for this meeting, we can't come to the White House, we can't drive down Pennsylvania Avenue to see you, because we have got other stuff that we have to do? Is that what happened?
BASH: I cannot confirm that it was officially on the White House's schedule. I cannot confirm that.
But I can tell you that the White House made it very public that they wanted this to happen. The president, himself, did it last week. I can tell you that Republicans have been telling us since last week that they were sort of laying the groundwork for maybe not being able to attend, and insisting, insisting that this is something the White House announced before they checked with Republicans to see if it was doable for them.
BLITZER: I think I can say it was on the White House schedule, because they have been talking about it for days and days and days. The president blocked out that time for the Democrats and the Republicans to come up and have what some were calling the Slurpee summit.
But it's not going to happen. We will see if it does. But it looks like it's sort of a slap by the Republican leadership on the Hill at the president of the United States. When you turn down a meeting like this, that is the initial gut reaction I would have, Dana.
BASH: Well, certainly, that was the first thing that we said to Republican sources who we were asking about this for several days now, because this has been rumored for several days.
All I can tell you, certainly that seems to be the case on its face. All I can tell you is that they have been laying the groundwork for potentially not going, insisting that the White House did this without even asking them if it was doable.
BLITZER: All right. Dana, thanks very much.
We will have much more on this story, important story, developing right now, some serious friction there.
Royal engagement. On a much, much different note, Prince William and his fiancee, Kate Middleton, they made it official today, but not before he gave her a chance to back out. They speak out about their big moment and what lies ahead.
And while many air travelers are angry over those intimate body scans and searches, some relatives of terror victims say there is a good reason for the tight security.
BLITZER: Three decades after Britain's Prince Charles married the young Princess Diana, their son William has become engaged to his longtime love, Kate Middleton.
And in their first official television interview with reporter Tom Bradby, the royal couple say a cherished item from the late Princess Diana had a very important role in their big moment. Listen to this.
TOM BRADLEY: William, where did you propose, when, how, and Kate, what did you say?
PRINCE WILLIAM, UNITED KINGDOM: It was about three weeks ago on holiday in Kenya. We had a little private time away together with some friends, and I just decided that it was the right time, really, and we've been talking about marriage for a while. So, it wasn't massively big surprise, but I took her out somewhere nice in Kenya and proposed.
KATE MIDDLETON, FIANCEE OF PRINCE WILLIAM: Very romantic. There's a true romantic in there.
BRADLEY: So yes, obviously.
MIDDLETON: Of course, yes. Yes.
BRADLEY: And you knew you were going to do this from day one of the holiday, or you -- you waited until the end? PRINCE WILLIAM: I'd been planning it for a while, but as every guy out there will know, it takes a certain amount of motivation to get yourself going. So I was planning it, and then it just felt really right to us in Africa, and it was beautiful at the time. And I had just -- I had done a little bit of planning to show my romantic side.
BRADLEY: Kate, you have been on holiday a while, so did you see this coming? Was he getting a bit nervous and jumpy?
MIDDLETON: No, no, not at all. No, because, you know, we were out there with friends and things, so I really didn't detect that at all. I thought he might have maybe thought about it, but it was a heck of a shock when it came. So excited.
BRADLEY: Did you produce the ring there and then?
PRINCE WILLIAM: I did. Yes, I had been carrying it around me in my rucksack for about three weeks before that, and I literally would not let it go. Everywhere I went, I was keeping hold of it, because I knew this, if it disappeared I would be in a lot of trouble. And yes, so I planned it and sort of -- it went fine. You know, you hear a lot of horror stories about proposing and things go horribly wrong, but it went really, really well. And I was really pleased she said yes.
BRADLEY: And it's a family ring?
PRINCE WILLIAM: It is a family ring, yes. It was my mother's engagement ring, so I thought it was quite nice, because obviously, she's not going to be around to share in the fun and excitement at all. So this is my way of keeping her sort of close to it.
BRADLEY: I guess we'd better -- let's have a look at it. What kind of ring is it? Are you an expert on it at all?
PRINCE WILLIAM: I'm not an expert. Not at all. I've been reliably informed it's a sapphire with some diamonds, but I'm sure everyone recognizes it from previous times say.
MIDDLETON: It is beautiful.
BRADLEY: And you're going to be the envy of many.
MIDDLETON: Well, I just hope I look after it.
PRINCE WILLIAM: If she loses it, she's in big trouble.
MIDDLETON: It is very, very special.
BRADLEY: It has to be said that you both look incredibly happy and relaxed.
PRINCE WILLIAM: We are. We are. We're like sort of ducks, sort of very calm on the surface, but a little -- little feet going on under the water. But no, it's really exciting, because we've been talking about it for a long time. So for us it's kind of -- it's a real relief. And it's really nice to tell everybody. Because especially the last two weeks have been quite difficult, not telling anyone, keeping it to ourselves for reasons we had to. And it's really nice to finally get to share it with everyone.
BRADLEY: People are bound to ask, you know. It's a bit of an awkward question, but children. Do you want lots of children? See how -- see what comes? What do you want?
PRINCE WILLIAM: I think we'll take it one step at a time. We'll sort of get over the marriage first, and then maybe look at kids. But obviously, you know, we want a family, so you know, we'll have to start thinking about that.
BRADLEY: People are bound to ask. You leave university, going out a bit and you split up, famously, all over the papers. What was that all about? People are going to bound to want to know.
PRINCE WILLIAM: Well, I think, to be honest, I wouldn't read -- I wouldn't believe everything you read in the paper.
But you know, in that particular instance, we did -- we did split up for a bit, but that was just, you know, we were both very young. It was at university, and we were -- we were sort of both defining ourselves as such and being, you know, different characters and such. It was very much trying to find our own way, and we were growing up. So it was just sort of a little bit of space and a bit of things like that, and it's worked out for the better.
MIDDLETON: I think that at the time, I wasn't very happy about it, but actually, it made me a stronger person, and you find out things about yourself that maybe you hadn't realized. And I think that you can get quite consumed by a relationship when you're younger, and I really -- I really valued that time for me, as well, although I didn't think it at the time. But looking back.
BRADLEY: A chance to recenter yourself?
BRADLEY: This is a life, you know, in the public domain to a degree that you can't escape. You both know that. You are obviously very -- you know it better than Kate does. You're obviously very protective of her.
PRINCE WILLIAM: Yes. Of course, her and her family I really want to make sure they have the best sort of guidance and chance to see what life has been like or what life is like in the family. And that's kind of almost why I had been waiting this long, is I wanted to give her a chance to see and to back out if she needed to, before it all got to much. Because it's -- you know, I'm trying to learn from lessons done in the past, and I just wanted to give her the best chance to settle in and see what happens the other side.
MIDDLETON: Well, I'm also glad that I've had the time to sort of grow and understand myself more, as well.
BRADLEY: It's a massive thing you're going into now, you know, and obviously, marriage is a big thing for everyone, but it's, you know, in such a public way. Excited? Little bit terrified?
PRINCE WILLIAM: Mostly excited. Quite happy when the interview is over, but no, we're hugely excited and it's -- you know, we're looking forward to spending the rest of our -- the rest of our lives together and seeing what the future holds.
BRADLEY: Kate, for you, you've had a long time to sort of contemplate this moment. You...
PRINCE WILLIAM: Let's not -- let's not over-egg the whole...
MIDDLETON: No, it's definitely not (UNINTELLIGIBLE), because I didn't know what sort of -- I don't know the ropes, really, as to the future, but now I'm willing to learn quickly and work hard.
PRINCE WILLIAM: We will work together.
BRADLEY: And a lot of opportunities within the family. You know, this huge ability to change people's lives for the better. I guess that's something you must have contemplated, as well?
MIDDLETON: Yes. Well, I really hope I can make a difference, you know, even in the smallest way.
BLITZER: There's already plenty of speculation about the time and the place of the royal wedding, but it's a safe guess that William's best man will be his younger brother, Prince Harry, third in line for the throne.
Harry made headlines in February 2008 when it was reported that he'd been secretly serving in Afghanistan.
We received a statement from Prince Harry just a short time ago. And it says -- I'm quoting now -- "I am delighted that my brother has popped the question. It means I get a sister, which I have always wanted." End of statement.
Don't expect another royal engagement, by the way, any time soon. Harry reportedly broke up with his longtime girlfriend, Chelsy Davy, last month.
Anger over airport body scans and pat-downs. Now families touched by terror are pushing back, defending the government.
And how the U.S. captured a notorious accused arms dealer nicknamed the Merchant of Death.
BLITZER: We're getting a statement in from the White House, office of the press secretary. I'll read it to you. "At the request of the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the House minority leader, John Boehner, due to scheduling conflicts in organizing their caucuses, the president's meeting with bipartisan leaders will now take place at the White House on Tuesday, November 30."
The White House earlier had said the meeting was supposed to take place this coming Thursday, including a dinner later at the White House, but to a surprise to a lot of folks, the Republican leadership said they couldn't do it right now.
I just got an e-mail from the office of the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell's office, saying -- denying that this was a slap at the White House. They insist the meeting was never set in concrete, never set in stone. They said they were always working with the White House, trying to make sure that the meeting took place at the right time, never necessarily formally agreed to the Thursday meeting, even though the White House has been saying that meeting and dinner would take place this Thursday.
But they're pushing back on this notion that this is a slap of some sort by the Republican leadership to the White House. They insist it is not; just a matter of scheduling conflicts. Now the White House says the meeting has been rescheduled for Tuesday, November 30. It will give everybody a lot more time to prepare for that meeting.
There's other stories coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now, including more on Congressman Charlie Rangel. He's speaking out about the guilty charges that were leveled against him today.
What's the latest, Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Congressman Rangel is blasting an ethics subcommittee that says there's clear and convincing evidence the New York Democrat violated House ethics rules. Congressman Rangel was found guilty on 11 charges, including failing to pay taxes on a vacation house and using a rent-controlled apartment here in New York for political purposes.
He just spoke about it publicly. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: I am really disappointed, because I've never heard of the possibility of someone being accused of something and not having the time to get a lawyer.
And they say, "Well, you have known about this for over two years." Well, for over two years I've had a lawyer and $2 million bill -- billed, so that I don't see what the issue is that I've screamed for a hearing, and of course, I meant a fair hearing with counsel, with witnesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: Now the subcommittee will recommend punishment to the full ethics committee, which is expected to reprimand, but not expel Rangel -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Mary, thanks very, very much.
He's been called the Merchant of Death, and he faces charges right now in the United States. Stand by.
BLITZER: Many air travelers are very angry right now at those intimate body scans and searches, the pat-downs, but authorities and some relatives of terror victims say there's a good reason for all that security.
Let's bring in our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve.
Jeanne, what's the latest.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, more furor over those airport pat-downs and body imagining machines, but today some of the outrage came from those defending and conducting the screening.
JOHN TYNER, AIRLINE PASSENGER: If you touch my junk, I'm going to have you arrested.
MESERVE (on camera): John Tyner's confrontation over a TSA pat-down is now legend. But an angry senior homeland security official says it is shameful that the media attention is turning Tyner into a folk hero. Tuesday, the head of TSA called the screeners involved to tell them they'd done a good job.
JOHN PISTOLE, TSA ADMINISTRATOR: Very cool, calm, professional, and that's what we expect out of our security officers.
MESERVE: According the a CBS News poll, 81 percent of Americans support the use of full body imagers, but a boycott being called for the day before Thanksgiving, the busiest travel day of the year, is growing, according to organizers. One group is urging Americans not the fly that day to protest TSA's machines and pat-downs.
JAMES BABB, WEWONTFLY.COM: When you want to fondle your grandma's breasts, that's gone too far. When they want nude photography detailed enough to tell if a man is circumcised or not, that's gone too far.
MESERVE: Opponents use phrases like sexual assault, molestation and visual rape to describe the body scans and pat-downs. But a legal expert says the TSA appears to be on the right side of the law.
ORIN KERR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: It's a reasonable search, because it's conducted for good reason. It's conducted to stop terrorist attacks, to stop people bringing weapons or bombs onto airplanes.
MESERVE: Air safety is the bottom line for Carrie Lemack, who lost her mother on 9/11 and she is calling for more reasoned discussion.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CARRIE LEMACK, MOTHER DIED ON 9/11: I understand that people may not be comfortable with all the security measures, but they can't simply complain. They have to come up with better reasons, better ideas, because unfortunately, the terrorists are still out there, and they are plotting. And they're still trying to execute these plots every day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: The nation's most famous pilot, Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, is also weighing, voicing concern about the radiation exposure for pilots who go through scanning machines frequently. There is every indication that the screening of pilots is going to be modified, but DHS says it has no plans to change how it screens the flying public, despite the uproar -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll see how that works out. Thanks, Jeanne.
He's been dubbed the Merchant of Death. An alleged Russian arms dealer is now in American custody. Brian Todd is looking into this case for us.
What are you finding out, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Viktor Bout has been under U.S. indictment for about two years and in the custody of Thai officials, also, for about that long. Now he's about to face charges in U.S. courts, and the American public should soon learn a lot more about the man believed to be the most mythical player in the world of arms dealing.
VIKTOR BOUT, ACCUSED OF ARMS DEALING: This whole story looks to me like a witch hunt.
TODD (voice-over): Viktor Bout is believed to have cut a figure so legendary in the arms trafficking underworld that he's widely acknowledged as the inspiration for Nicolas Cage's character in the movie "Lord of War."
NICOLAS CAGE, ACTOR: The real money is in actual wars between contracts.
TODD: And now Bout is in U.S. custody extradited from Thailand to face terrorism charges. U.S. officials say in a sting operation he agreed to sell heavy weapons and even planes to the FARC, which is a rebel group that's been fighting the Columbian government for decades.
Bout has repeatedly denied breaking any laws, but he's believed to have funneled weapons to war zones from Africa to Afghanistan. Douglas Farah, co-author of a book on Viktor Bout, says he's known as a devoted family man but also as a bully who would barge in on government meetings.
DOUGLAS FARAH, AUTHOR, "MERCHANT OF DEATH": If you look at the wars that were directly impacted by his weapons deliveries, you can see they escalate directly in proportion to the amount of weapons arriving, so I would say, certainly, tens of thousands of people suffered, if not hundreds of thousands of people because of the weapons he was able to deliver.
TODD: My colleague, Jill Dougherty, interviewed Bout in Moscow in 2002. At that time, he denied accusations that he'd weapons to the Taliban and al Qaeda.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Did you ever meet Osama bin laden?
BOUT: Unfortunately, I don't have a chance to meet him. If I had a disposition to meet him, maybe I would decide to do something to prevent what happened.
TODD (on camera): Did he strike you as a fearsome guy?
DOUGHERTY: No, oddly enough, he didn't. He was kind of like a big oaf. Kind of this big guy. Said, "I'm going to set the record straight. I'm innocent." You didn't get any vibes that he was, you know, malevolent, but it's impossible to judge.
TODD (voice-over): Western officials said there was evidence Bout shipped arms to fighter in Africa in exchange for blood diamonds. He denied it. But U.S. officials say he routinely dealt with people like ex-Liberian president and alleged warlord Charles Taylor. Now the Russian government is furious that Bout, a former Soviet air force officer, has been extradited.
(on camera) Why are the Russians so angry with this extradition?
FARAH: I think they feel humiliated by what happened, that if one of theirs is graft. And he obviously has ties that go very high into the Russian intelligence structure, because he comes out of the Soviet intelligence infrastructure. And I think he knows a lot that they would rather the world not find out about.
TODD: I asked an official at the Russian embassy about that. He would not comment, but he did say the extradition of Viktor Bout was illegal, that Bout is innocent, and that the Russian government will do all it can now to assist him from this point.
BLITZER: Well, the Russians have had some suspicions why government all of a sudden decided to extradite him to the United States?
TODD: They said this was because of unprecedented political pressure by the U.S. government. That's their words. And official at the U.S. attorney's in the southern district of New York just handling this space didn't comment on that. It will lead to more tensions, I'm sure, between the U.S. and Russia over this case.
BLITZER: Brian, thanks very much for that.
Jack Cafferty is coming up next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Let's go right to Jack for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: "Would you pay extra for an airplane flight with no children?"
Ray in Knoxville, Tennessee: "I sure would. I'd pay extra for restaurants, theaters and stores with no children."
P. writes, "Oh, God, I'd pay to not have a kid kicking the seat behind me. After a four-hour flight and the usual unexpected delays, I would gladly pay an extra $50 for a flight without kids. Whenever possible I take the train and get a full private room. It takes longer, but it beats the cattle drive of flying."
Deb writes, "Once you start creating special flights with family-only sections or kid-free flights, then the trains, buses and subways will be next. Sorry: kids and crying babies are part of life. You were one once."
Mike writes, "After enduring an overnight flight to Lima, Peru, with a squalling brat sitting behind me, kicking my seat all night -- The parents apparently didn't want to discipline their little angel -- I would gladly have paid an extra C note to anybody who would have stuck a cork in the little monster. I paid good money for that trip to fly in peace and not be made miserable by somebody else's kid."
Susan in Roseville, California: "Parents ought to be the ones to pay extra: on a flight, in a restaurant, in a museum. Too many special occasions have been ruined by bratty, whiny kids, and indifferent mothers and fathers. I would rather sit next to a smoker than a screaming brat."
Ann in South Carolina: "Why don't we all buy our own jets so we won't be bothered by other people on our flights?"
Annie writes: "Children? Who cares about children? I'd pay extra for a flight that didn't begin with my body experiencing more groping at the gate than in my bedroom."
And Gat in Texas writes, "I'd give up my first born if that made it possible to fly without children. And he's 41 years old."
If you want to read more on this -- got some funny comments -- go to the blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. See you tomorrow, Jack. Appreciate it.
Awkward moments with Prince William and his fiancee. Jeanne Moos is next.
BLITZER: Young, royal and under a spotlight. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Talk about a royal hot flash. For the prince and the commoner...
REGIS PHILBIN, CO-HOST, "LIVE WITH REGIS AND KELLY": Prince William got engaged.
MOOS: The long wait was over.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The British papers have been calling her Waity Katie...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Waity Katie.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Her nickname is Waity Katie because she spent so long waiting for Prince William to propose.
MOOS: And how long have they known each other?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They've been on again, off again...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Eight years.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They have been a couple on and off for nine years.
JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": They've known each other for ten years.
WHOOPI GOLDBERG, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": Yes.
MOOS: Let's let the happy couple answer.
MIDDLETON: How many years?
PRINCE WILLIAM: A lot. It's been -- three or four.
MOOS: In the obligatory post-engagement interview, he modestly looked down...
PRINCE WILLIAM: To show my romantic side.
MOOS: ... and bit his lip. She smiled and looked poised. The prince made a few funny faces. And the only public display of affection was when he patted her. They did well, no gaffes.
BRADLEY: You both look incredibly happy and relaxed.
PRINCE WILLIAM: We are, we are. We're -- we're like sort of ducks. Very calm on the surface but little feet going under the water.
MOOS: He talked about the engagement ring, the same sapphire his father gave Diana.
PRINCE WILLIAM: It was my way of making sure my mother didn't miss out.
MOOS: The news of the engagement was so sudden, networks were left scrambling.
MEREDITH VIEIRA, CO-HOST, NBC'S "THE TODAY SHOW": Jim, what else can you tell us?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I'm not exactly sure what you've already said. This has been a real rush.
MOOS: CBS tried to interview the prime minister.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, good morning to you. Are you able to hear?
Oh, he is speaking to the public there, and so we are able to listen in. Unfortunately, we are not able to listen in.
MOOS: And this "F" word was the word of the day.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Finally!
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: Finally. That's right.
HODA KOTB, CO-HOST, NBC'S "THE TODAY SHOW": Engaged to Kate Middleton.
KATHIE LEE GIFFORD, CO-HOST, NBC'S "THE TODAY SHOW": Finally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally, Prince William has seen the light.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally engaged.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Finally.
MOOS: But the prince laughed off their long relationship.
PRINCE WILLIAM: It was a long time ago, now, Tom. I'm trying to rack my brain.
MOOS: But even those who parodied Kate Middleton's wait...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): When will he marry me? I'm in bloody purgatory.
MOOS: ... offered congratulations. And what's eight or nine years when...
PRINCE WILLIAM: We're looking forward to spending the rest of our lives together.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (singing): His crown jewels are in my grasp.
MOOS: ... New York.
(END VIDEOTAPE) BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.