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THE SITUATION ROOM
Outrage at Airports; Second MSNBC Anchor Suspended
Aired November 19, 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: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: As crowds grow at the airports, there's growing outrage over some very personal body scans and searches. We have got some of the first up-close image of passengers putting up with pat- downs. And the entertainer Penn Jillette tells us about his airport experiences.
Joe Scarborough becomes the second anchor suspended this month by MSNBC for violating a ban on political contributions. But is there really anything wrong with that?
And nearly half-a-century after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, members of his Secret Service detail are breaking their long silence.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world, breaking news, political headlines, and -- get this -- my interview and dance lesson with the hip-hop icon Doug E. Fresh all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
With air travel already increasing for the holiday period, pilots and passengers alike have been protesting the tough airport security measures. Pilots today got a break when the government relaxed the rules for screening them. Pilots traveling in uniform on airline business will now be allowed to bypass normal security by showing proper identification, though some may still be picked out for random screening.
For passengers, it's another story. And these dramatic pictures tell the story. The images from DenverPost.com show passengers being patted down by TSA screeners. It's all up close and very personal. And you can see that these fairly intimate searches, what some passengers say amount to groping, are being conducted on all types of people in public view.
While passengers may not relish the prospect of being poked or squeezed by security screeners, most won't have to undergo the pat- down procedures. But there's a lot of misinformation out there right now about what happens at the airports, especially in the coming days.
Mary Snow is here to separate myth from fact for us.
What is going on, Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we have seen no shortage of outrage, as you just mentioned, this week over TSA airport scans and pat-downs, after a California man objected to the new pat- down procedure.
Images like the one we are just showing have been emerging and there's been a lot of anger unleashed. While plenty of people are upset, there's also something else emerging, widespread rumors. And one of the biggest ones is that Muslim women are exempt from these screenings.
The claim is that Muslim women will only have pat-downs to the head and neck. In reality the TSA says everyone goes through the same process. But the rumors have spread widely enough that Republican Senator John Ensign of Nevada asked the head of the TSA, John Pistole, earlier this week about it, asking whether certain groups will be exempt because of religious beliefs. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN ENSIGN (R), NEVADA: Either the imaging, OK, was one of the options or, you know, the pat-down. Let's just say I don't want either of them because of religious -- because of religious reasons. What happens to me?
JOHN PISTOLE, ADMINISTRATOR, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: So, while I respect and we respect that person's beliefs, that person's not going to get on an airplane.
ENSIGN: OK. And there will be no exceptions just because of religion?
ENSIGN: That's what -- that was...
ENSIGN: OK. That was the answer that I was looking for.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SNOW: Now the origin of the rumors seem to be linked to a travel advisory by the Council on American-Islamic Relations. It tells Muslim women they can ask for a pat-down of only their head and neck, but that's if and only if it's part of a secondary screening, which means they already went through a metal detector or a body scan.
And it's only if their scarf is the reason why they're having a secondary search. Now, there's also outrage over what children may face. The claim, we have heard many, is that all children will receive pat-downs. That's pat-downs. That's not the case, although the TSA rules won't exactly alleviate parents' concerns.
The TSA says children under 12 who will require extra screening in the event let's say they set off a metal detector will get modified pat-downs. And the big question, of course, is does everyone receive a pat-down when you're traveling? The answer is no. People who get them either don't want to go through the AIT machines, which are those full-body scanners, or if they set off an alarm at the metal detector.
Now, the TSA says the number of complaints, in its words, is extremely low. But you would be hard-pressed to detect that after all the protests voiced this week -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Mary, good explanation. Thank you.
Moving on to some other important news right now, a big announcement today from President Obama, who's meeting in Portugal with his counterparts from NATO. He says the alliance has agreed to a new missile defense system to protect the U.S. and all member nations, and perhaps even an important non-member. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It offers a role for all of our allies. It responds to the threats of our times. It shows our determination to protect our citizens from the threat of ballistic missiles. And tomorrow, we look forward to working with Russia to build our cooperation with them in this area as well, recognizing that we share many of the same threats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Our Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence is joining us now from the NATO summit in Lisbon.
Chris, so what is next?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's really two NATO summits.
This is a very public one that you just saw where President Obama says that everyone is united and all of the allies will benefit from this. But, then, when you talk to sources privately, you can see that's not always the case.
For example, NATO has decided to keep nuclear weapons as a deterrent. Sounds like everyone felt the same. But, in reality, that means the U.S. got some concessions from both France and Germany. Germany, for example, wanted to push the allies towards a nuclear-free Europe. They were looking at this new missile defense shield as a replacement for having nuclear weapons as a deterrent.
Well, that's not going to happen. We talked about Russia being invited to come into this defense shield. Well, Russia still has troops in Georgia.
And we talked to that -- in an exclusive interview, we talked with the president of Georgia about whether NATO's outreach to Russia may leave his nation out in the cold.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, PRESIDENT OF GEORGIA: We also benefit from, generally said, provided that it goes on. And once Russia becomes more -- less paranoid, more cooperative, more self-confident in nice way, nicer way, then, because I think lots of things have come -- come -- emerged from their almost paranoid sense of insecurity -- hopefully, the smaller neighbors of Russia will be -- will keep -- feel themselves more safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAWRENCE: So he's putting a positive spin on it. But, again, President Obama reaching out to Russia is somewhat easier said than done, in that, from everything we have been hearing, Russia is going to want some concessions, such as slower -- that this missile defense shield would only protect against slower missiles and those fired from a certain direction.
Bottom line, in other words, Russia does not want a missile defense shield in Europe that specifically blocks Russian missiles -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris Lawrence in Lisbon for us at the summit, thank you.
Here in Washington, an extraordinary meeting. Senate Democrats unleashed their anger at the Obama administration. After the stunning midterm election failures, some Democrats want more passion and a sharper message from President Obama.
Our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, is here to tell us what she's hearing.
What are you hearing?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, nothing really focuses the mind in the Senate like the prospect of losing power.
And these senators are returning. They know twice as many Democrats are up for reelection as Republicans in 2012, and they're very worried that they could -- that they could lose control. By my count and one of my source's count, they have spent 10 hours together talking this week. It's like a huge therapy session, what went wrong, what we need to do in the future.
And there were lots of senators, including Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who is up for reelection in 2012 and is quite worried about that race, saying that the president needs to lead, he needs to show more passion, and he needs to get out front of us and define the message better than he did in the 2010 midterm elections.
And there are lots of Democrats who agree with that. But I might add, Wolf, they're Democrats. They're not united. Some think the president needs to go to his left. Some think the president need to be less partisan, like Bill Nelson, and that has yet to be worked out, of course. BLITZER: Sounds like -- Bill Nelson of Florida sound a little bit like James Carville, our CNN political contributor, who made a similar...
BORGER: Although he probably didn't say it quite that way.
BLITZER: Not necessarily in those words that Carville used.
Let's talk about the Republicans for a minute as well, because they have to make some major decisions themselves.
BORGER: They do.
And the big issue on the horizon is the raising of the federal debt limit. And that's going to come some time this spring, Wolf. And that's raising it over $14 trillion. It's going to go beyond that mark. And I spoke with a senior House Republican this week, who said, look, we have new members who don't remember what it was like in 1994, when Republicans did this.
They have pledged in their campaigns to never vote to raise the federal debt. So, what they're planning, Wolf, what they're talking about now in the leadership on the House side is say, OK, we have to have a vote to raise the federal debt. We want to accompany it with about $100 billion in immediate spending cuts known as rescissions, which the president, of course, would have to sign on to.
But they want to make the choice so that they don't have to say, OK, we're going to raise the debt and not cut the deficit. So they want to do both at once.
BLITZER: I assume a lot of these Republicans if they're old enough -- and maybe not the young ones -- remember what happened in '94, when the Republicans won a landslide in the midterm elections, only to see then-President Bill Clinton win reelection in 1996.
BORGER: Sure. Right, because, as you recall, Newt Gingrich was threatening to shut down the government. And that didn't go over very well.
And I think now, when you talk to Republicans about it, they're two of minds. One set of Republicans says, you know what, the government is a lot less popular now than it was in 1994, and we do have these members who said, I'm not going to vote to raise the federal debt.
But there are those veterans -- and a lot of them are in the leadership in the House -- who say, you know what, we don't want to repeat the mistakes of the past. Listen to us. If we give you the budget cuts to vote for, you have got to do this to keep the government running, because people want to get their Social Security checks.
BLITZER: All right. Well, we will see if they have learned the lessons or not. Thanks very much.
BORGER: Yes, we will see.
BLITZER: It's happened again over at MSNBC. The company suspends one of its news anchors. This is the second time this has occurred. This time, it's Joe Scarborough. We have details of his very public punishment.
And 10 million people have taken some form of this popular painkiller over the last two years. Now there's word of a potentially deadly side effect.
BLITZER: For the second time this month, MSNBC has suspended one of its anchors. First, it was Keith Olbermann. Now it's Joe Scarborough of the "Morning Joe" program. Both violated MSNBC's ban on political contributions.
Scarborough acknowledges he made several $500 contributions to friends and family running for state and local offices, and has issued an apology. He will be suspended for two days.
BLITZER: And joining us now, Howard Kurtz. He is the Washington bureau chief of The Daily Beast, the Web site, also the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" that airs Sunday mornings.
Howie, after all the uproar over the Keith Olbermann business, you would have thought that the Scarborough contributions would have come to light then, that Scarborough would have come out and said, you know what, years ago, I did the same thing.
HOWARD KURTZ, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I'm surprised he didn't come out sooner, but in contrast to Keith Olbermann, who clearly doesn't like this ban on political donations, Joe Scarborough issued just moments ago a very contrite statement of apology. apologizing to MSNBC, saying he should have known about the policy.
And another key distinction, Wolf, whereas Olbermann contributed to Democratic congressional candidates, Scarborough, himself a former Republican congressman, was giving money to his brother and a bunch of friends in Florida, where he was a GOP congressman.
BLITZER: Republican candidates.
KURTZ: State candidate and not federal.
BLITZER: But all Republicans, right?
BLITZER: Because Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC, says: "In my conversation with Joe two weeks ago, he did not recall these contributions. Since he did not seek or receive prior approval for three contributions, Joe understands that I will be suspending him for violating our policy."
KURTZ: And Scarborough going along very quietly with this suspension, not challenging it in any way, which I think will probably help him and the network put this behind them.
There was this great melodrama, as you recall, with Olbermann, because initially he was suspended indefinitely. So, there was this debate, should there be a policy, how long will it last, will he be back before Thanksgiving. Scarborough wants to acknowledge his mistake and clearly move on from it.
BLITZER: Because he says, "To be blunt" -- this is Scarborough -- "I had no interest in their campaigns, other than being kind to longtime friends. Because the contributions involved local, noncompetitive races and were given for personal, rather than political, reasons, I mistakenly believed I did not need approval from MSNBC."
KURTZ: Well, this was a mistake on Joe Scarborough's part. There's no distinction these days between personal and political reasons. But it does sound like he didn't particularly want to give this money. He was just -- felt like he had to with some old friends in Florida.
BLITZER: You have been thinking about this now over the past few weeks, since the whole Keith Olbermann thing erupted. Should commentators who have strong opinions be allowed on whether Web sites or news organizations to actually make political contributions?
KURTZ: I know the argument, Wolf, which is, well, we already know what they think. They share their often caustic or partisan opinions every day on the air.
But I think there's a bright line here upon, even if you're in the opinion business at any network, that you don't take out your checkbook and give money to politicians, because then you become a player. Then the question is, do you go and help them raise money at a fund-raiser, which Sean Hannity has done at FOX News, not in violation of FOX's rules for talk show hosts.
So I just think it makes more sense, if you're going to have this great platform, if you're going to have a microphone and a show, you can exercise your influence that way. You don't need to be -- and it confuses viewers, I think, to be in the business of financing political campaigns.
BLITZER: Howie is going to have a lot more Sunday morning on "RELIABLE SOURCES," 11:00 a.m. Eastern.
Howie, we will be watching.
BLITZER: He's certainly a famous comedian and magician, and he's outraged over those controversial airport security pat-downs. It's happened to Penn Jillette. He will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Stand by.
And details of an in-flight scare that prompted an emergency landing.
BLITZER: Two widely prescribed painkillers are being pulled from the U.S. market.
Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring that, some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.
What do we know, Fred?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, the Food and Drug Administration has asked the maker of Darvocet and Darvon to withdraw the painkillers, which have been prescribed to 10 million people in the last two years. The FDA says there's a risk of potentially serious or deadly heart rhythm abnormalities.
BLITZER: Nearly half-a-century after the assassination of President Kennedy, members of his Secret Service detail are now breaking their silence.
Also, pat-downs then and now. The entertainer Penn Jillette tells us about his close encounters with airport security.
And the hip-hop icon Doug E. Fresh right here in THE SITUATION ROOM to teach us, teach all of us how to do the Dougie.
BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story right now, the growing public concern over those intimate pat-downs at airport security checkpoints. For some, it's a new and potentially very upsetting experience, for others, an unpleasant memory.
BLITZER: And joining us now from Las Vegas, the great entertainer Penn Jillette.
Penn, thanks very much for coming in.
Years ago, you were one of the first who wrote about these pat- downs. And you had an ugly experience at the airport in Vegas. But what do you think about these new you procedures to go ahead and pat down passengers as they're going through the TSA security system?
PENN JILLETTE, PENN & TELLER: Well, you know, I -- my experience was eight years ago, so a year after 9/11. And the guy just reached up and was reaching around my crotch without asking. And I want to make it very clear, I don't mind people grabbing my crotch. I just want them to ask first.
No dinner, no movie, just ask.
JILLETTE: And I -- I asked for the real police to come, and the real police felt that it was assault. They felt that I had been assaulted. Now, I wasn't injured in any way. It wasn't inappropriate. I'm an adult. I don't care about that. But the idea that we're living in a free country and it was, you know, live free or die, and now it's...
JILLETTE: ... more and more.
BLITZER: What was the outcome of that incident? What finally happened?
JILLETTE: What finally happened was the police officer was actually pushing for me to push for assault.
And I didn't want to, because I thought it would look like I was expecting VIP status or something. And I really wasn't. It was really a philosophical question. It wasn't anything to do with my inconvenience or me personally.
BLITZER: But you're a well...
JILLETTE: It's always been...
BLITZER: You're a well-known libertarian, Penn. Everybody knows that.
JILLETTE: Yes. Yes.
BLITZER: So, is it appropriate for TSA officials or private contractors to be patting people down in sensitive areas as they want to go through the security system?
JILLETTE: Well, you know, I know that everyone else has started flipping out with the sensitive areas.
I didn't need the sensitive areas to be upset. I don't think we should all be treated as criminals. I think there was mistakes made on intel on the Christmas bomber. There were mistakes made other places.
And the reaction seems to be, let's punish all the innocent to show that we're working harder. And I feel so strongly about it. I don't know if you have seen these, Wolf. I'm holding these here. This is a thing called Security Edition. It's SecurityEdition.com. It's the Bill of Rights printed on metal. And the Fourth Amendment is highlighted, the search and seizure. And you can carry the Security Edition with you. It will set off the alarm, and it accomplishes nothing. It doesn't get you through faster. It doesn't get you through slower, but you it does allow you in your own heart, in your own mind, to be able to take the Bill of Rights and say to the TSA guy, OK, you can take my rights. Now I will get on the airplane.
And I think, as an intellectual exercise, it's really useful. So, I carry this with me. And every time I give it to the TSA guys and gals, there you go, you're taking my rights away.
And I think we just have to. You know, we always have to be thinking about the balances between liberty and safety. And none of us knows exactly where that thing should balance, but we should always be talking about it and always be thinking about it. And whether it's anybody should be able to get on a plane any way they want, or you should be inappropriately touching 4-year-olds, I think somewhere in the middle, there's -- there's justice. And I think it leans a little bit toward being able to move freely if you're a good person.
BLITZER: What about the image scanners that show sensitive parts of the body?
JILLETTE: Well, you know, once again, if you want pictures of me naked, you can get them.
But other people don't like that. And, also, we don't believe for a second that those pictures won't be laughed at, bounced around. I mean, I know that the computers are not allowed to save this, and that the people won't have cameras or phones with them.
But you that's just -- you know, that's not true. People get around everything. So, there will be embarrassing pictures popping up of innocent U.S. citizens. And that's just wrong. If you want to put nude pictures of yourself out, you should have something to say about that.
BLITZER: Penn Jillette, as usual, thanks very much.
JILLETTE: Thank you.
BLITZER: So, is Penn Jillette right? Are airport screeners taking liberties with our liberties?
Joining us now, our CNN national security contributor, Fran Townsend. She was the homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, serves on the Homeland Security Advisory Board right now. Fran, I understand you've had conversations with officials at the White House and the administration. Do they understand the concern that's out there right now about these pat downs?
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: They do, Wolf. And they're concerned that their implementation is not uniform across the country, and they know that they've got to get on top of that, but they remind me and they're right. Remember, it's just last year we had the attempted underwear bomber on the plane going into Detroit. And so, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula remains a threat.
They're also the group that was behind these computer cartridge bombs. And so, these are very difficult explosives to detect. They -- you know, it was clear to me, Wolf, if they had another way of doing this, they would have happily used it, but they feel this is necessary especially during a time of increased travel.
BLITZER: But do some of these screeners, these TSA screeners or private contractors who work in effect for the TSA go too far? Is there, in other words, a consistent level of screening that is across the board?
TOWNSEND: Absolutely not. And I think that's a huge challenge, confronting them, and John Pistole, head of TSA, in particular. I went through the airport myself today, Wolf, and literally, was witnessed to an entire debate in the public screening area at LaGuardia Airport between two screeners about when and whether they should do pat downs which ended with one of them saying I don't care what the rules are, I'm going to do it anyway. This is a problem for them, and it's one they're going to have to address very quickly.
BLITZER: And one of the problems is they don't really tell us, they don't really communicate to us how far they can go. It's still unclear to me. I do a lot of traveling, as do you. What they're going to do?
TOWNSEND: No, that's right. And so, look, this is a real education and advocacy effort. You know, the government has the ability to set security standards that they believe are necessary, but it doesn't relieve them of the responsibility to explain to us why are they doing it, how are they going to implement it, and what is it about this that's going to keep me safer? Why is this the most effective, efficient way of implementing the security procedure? So, I think there's been a real issue on the communication side.
BLITZER: Some security experts have suggested that the United States, because it's so politically correct, avoids doing profiling of passengers, of travelers out there. Congressman Aaron Schock, Republican of Illinois, he was here in the SITUATION ROOM this week, and he was blunt about saying, you know what, you have to start to profile. You shouldn't necessarily start doing examinations for 90- year-old women or little babies, but profile passengers. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. AARON SCHOCK, (R) ILLINOIS: The underwear bomber should have been pulled out. He fit the profile of what we know to be terrorists. When I travel overseas on many occasions, I get pulled out because I may be buying a one-way ticket, I may be traveling with my sister and we have different last names. That's smart profiling. Just pulling people out one at a time when we have millions of passengers in random screens, I'm not sure is the best way to do it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Is profiling and it starts approaching ethnic, religious, country of origin profiling, is that appropriate?
TOWNSEND: You know, ethnic and -- that sort of profiling, gender, all of that tends not to be effective because once, of course, the bad guys realize how we're doing it, they shift. They'll shift -- if we're profiling men, they'll shift to women. But what the congressman was talking about, actually, I think is effective. And that's behavioral, patterns of behavior that you're looking for. He was talking about a one-way ticket or buying with cash.
Those sorts of things, with the region that you're traveling from or that you've been to, all of that establishes a pattern of behavior that I do think is very useful. Wolf, I also think what the administration failed to see was that in this country, you normally like pat people down if you're a criminal being taken into custody. And so, there's a humiliation aspect to this that requires greater education of why this is necessary.
BLITZER: We're going to continue this conversation. I recently traveled overseas. They never asked me to take off my shoes at airports in Europe or some other places, but we'll discuss later. Thanks very much.
BLITZER: Thousands of them breathed intoxic air. Now, a lengthy battle between Ground Zero workers and the city of New York is over.
And a rite of passage for freshmen lawmakers. It's the scramble for capital office space.
BLITZER: New satellite images and new intrigue about North Korea's nuclear program. Fredricka Whitfield is monitoring that and some of the other top stories in the SITUATION ROOM right now. What are we seeing in these new pictures?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Very fascinating stuff. Experts believe that the pictures show the construction of a new nuclear reactor. Take a look. That could mean North Korea's already enriching uranium to fuel it and possibly enriching more for nuclear weapons.
And a flare-up in tension between Israel and the Palestinians. Israeli warplanes fired on three sites in Gaza today. Palestinian security sources say four people were wounded. Israel says the strikes are in response to almost a dozen rockets fired from Gaza toward communities in Southern Israel.
And the ethics trial of Congresswoman Maxine Waters is being postponed. The House Subcommittee in charge says new material has been discovered that could influence the case against the ten-term California Democrat. The trial was to begin November 29. Waters is accused of helping steer federal bailout money to a bank in which her husband had a financial stake.
And a seven-year battle between Ground Zero workers and New York City is over. Some 10,000 people who say they were exposed to toxic dust after 9/11 have agreed to a settlement of at least $625 million. The plaintiffs say they were not properly equipped for the dust and debris which led to respiratory problems -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Get ready because you know what's coming up in a few minutes here on the SITUATION ROOM.
WHITFIELD: I can't wait.
BLITZER: Fred, this is a moment --
WHITFIELD: I can't wait. I've been waiting all day for this.
BLITZER: The Soul Train comes to the SITUATION ROOM, something a lot of our viewers have been anxious to see. Doug E. Fresh is going to be here right here in the SITUATION ROOM. We'll discuss after the video as well, but I want you to be --
WHITFIELD: Oh, yes. We must discuss. I'm ready.
BLITZER: Watching "Soul Train." Thanks.
WHITFIELD: OK, guys.
BLITZER: But first, nearly half a century after the assassination of President Kennedy, his Secret Service agents are now telling us how there was almost another tragedy for the nation during those days. Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Monday will mark 47 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Now, members of the Secret Service security detail are breaking their silence. Our Brian Todd has their story from Arlington National Cemetery -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just when we think there's nothing more to learn about the Kennedy assassination, we hear from two former secret service agents who were assigned to protect President Kennedy and his family. And they give some riveting new detail about the events surrounding that day.
TODD (voice-over): They're a pair of stoic, 78-year-old grandfathers. Gerald Blaine and Clint Hill still carry themselves in that upright tradition, still have that bond that only secret service agents know, and still have vivid memories of that clear, crisp day in November nearly half a century ago. GERALD BLAINE, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: We couldn't help, but we felt like we failed. We all had the same mission, and it was a terrible feeling.
TODD: Blaine gives riveting, new accounts of that period in his just-released book "The Kennedy Detail." He reveals how less than 24 hours after John Kennedy's assassination, he almost caused another unspeakable tragedy. Blaine stood guard outside Lyndon Johnson's house in the early morning darkness. Exhausted, on edge, he heard approaching footsteps and readied his submachine gun.
BLAINE: Put it to my shoulder, steadied my feet, and around the house, I recognized right away it was President Johnson by his profile.
TODD: Johnson had just come out to get some air.
How close did you come to shooting him?
BLAINE: Well, my finger was on the trigger. I had nightmares about this for months afterwards.
TODD: Johnson, he says, turned white, said nothing, and went back in the house. I spoke with Blaine and Clint Hill just a few feet from John Kennedy's grave. Hill wrote the forward to Blaine's book but has rarely spoken about that day.
You had a tough time there in those years after the assassination, after your resignation. Can you talk about what you went through?
CLINT HILL, FORMER SECRET SERVICE AGENT: You know, I had nightmares and seemed like every time I turned around, there was something that reminded me of what had happened. And so, I just clammed up and went in my basement with some alcohol and some cigarettes and stay there for a few years.
TODD: Clint Hill was the first Secret Service agent to get to Kennedy's car in Dallas. He broke into a sprint after the initial shot was fired. He says if he could relive those moments, if he could jump on the back maybe two seconds earlier --
HILL: Without a question, I'd be taking a bullet for the president, be dead.
TODD: You think that would be a happier ending if you weren't here to talk to us?
HILL: It would be a happier ending for the country and for everybody.
TODD: How do you feel about that? I mean, that's a tough thing to live with for a number of years.
HILL: Well, it's just one of those things you do live with it. You have to accept the fact that you had a certain responsibility, and you failed in that responsibility. So, you just have to accept it and live with it the best you can.
TODD (on-camera): Hill says he still goes through periods where he's almost unable to talk about the assassination. He brushes it off when people call him a hero. Heroes, he says, are people who are able to do something extraordinary and, quote, "unfortunately, I was unable to do that" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much.
It's literally the luck of the draw for the freshmen lawmakers as they scramble for office space on Capitol Hill. We're going to show you the biennial rite of passage.
And we're doing the dougie with Doug E. Fresh right here on the situation room.
BLITZER: It's like the rush for college dormitory space, except this lottery is for freshmen members of Congress. The new members- elect are getting their new offices by picking numbers out of a box. Our congressional correspondent, Brianna Keilar, got a look at the drama -- Brianna.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, 85 incoming House freshmen had to go through an agonizing day-long ritual today. Each had to draw a number in a lottery that would determine where they and their staff spend their next two years here in Washington. As you can imagine, the fight for real estate is pretty tough, so we sent photojournalist, Floyd Yarmuth, and producer, Matt Hoye into the trenches with them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. (INAUDIBLE) selected number four.
STEVE WOMACK, (R) ARKANSAS: We conducted a lottery to see who the newly elected members pick their office or suite for the 112th Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miss (INAUDIBLE) Butler drew number eight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Womack drew number 71.
WOMACK: Somebody's got to be last. Somebody's going to be first. My name is Steve Womack. I'm the congressman-elect for Arkansas's third Congressional district, and today, I drew number 71. To me, my highest priority is going to be functionality because the work product that comes out of here needs to be the very best it can be. The good thing is they have tall ceilings. The most important consideration I have is I want my legislative shop to have a functional office suite that is conducive to getting their work accomplished. All right. Traditional furniture, and it all stays?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
WOMACK: OK. When you're number 71, there's not a lot left, and so, it's going to make or selection a little easier. So, if we got a top five that's available, then we're in. OK? And make the final selection here. All right, Terry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 1508.
WOMACK: We going to vote on it?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
WOMACK: OK. 1, 5, 0, 8.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's unanimous.
WOMACK: At the end of the day, there's not an office complex anywhere on these grounds that I wouldn't be honored to have as a sitting member of Congress.
Home sweet home, 1508. Wow. What an honor.
KEILAR: Not everyone in the freshman class had to go through this ritual, though. For instance, Mike Fitzpatrick, who was a member of the House of Representatives a few years ago retained his seniority and had already chosen his office. And then, there are some members who have already been sworn in. They're considered to have seniority. So, they were able to jump the line as well, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brianna Keilar up on the Hill. Thanks very much.
When we come back, we make a turn to the Soul Train that comes to the SITUATION ROOM. Doug E. Fresh and me. We're both here.
BLITZER: All right. Fred, get ready. This is the moment we've been waiting for. A special moment, I think, you and all of our viewers are going to enjoy it. I want to roll the tape because this is what happened here in the SITUATION ROOM.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is our political unit over here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, man. Welcome. Are you going up to interview with Wolf?
BLITZER: How cool is this? We're going to have a little fun today. Are you ready to have some fun?
DOUG E. FRESH, RAPPER: That's all I do.
BLITZER: We're taking this to a whole new level man.
FRESH: And I'm like you are wolf (ph), man. Wolf is that dude now, huh?
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BLITZER: And joining us here in the SITUATION ROOM, the great, Doug E. Fresh. Doug E., thanks very for coming in.
FRESH: Thank you for having me.
BLITZER: Tell our viewers, remind our viewers, most of them know --
BLITZER: How we met.
FRESH: Well, look, I was at the Soul Train Awards, and you know I got this call -- while you were there, I got this call and they told me that you was ready to take it to the next level and you wanted to learn how to dougie.
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BLITZER: I can learn the dougie from the man himself. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome to the stage, Doug E. Fresh.
(CLAPPING AND CHEERING)
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BLITZER: Some of our viewers, believe it or not, don't know what the dougie. is. Hard to believe. I'm going to put it up in the screen. Let's take a look at the dougie a little bit. Here we go.
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BLITZER: You created the dougie?
BLITZER: A long time ago?
BLITZER: How long? FRESH: Probably around 20 years ago. I just was at a party, and people was amping me up. Go Doug E., and I was dancing and I just said like this. They said ahhhh!
BLITZER: Recently, the last three to six months, it's moved to a whole different level.
FRESH: Oh, it's explosive. I mean, these young men did a song and they kind of made it off of me and kind of dedicated it to me.
BLITZER: You know what teach me how to dougie, how many hits is that on YouTube already? 17 million. 17 million hits on YouTube. Teach me how to dougie.
FRESH: Look, I knew it was big when you --
BLITZER: Let me be honest with you. I knew it was big whether my man, John Wall, number one draft pick in the NBA, Washington Wizards rookie, when he was introduced at a home game at the Verizon Center, this is what happened.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Welcome to D.C. John Wall.
BLITZER (voice-over): Look at this.
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FRESH: Yes. He was taking it to another level.
BLITZER (on-camera): That was crazy.
FRESH: Oh, let me tell you. When he was breaking it down, I was like, he's -- he's a basketball player --
BLITZER: But he knows how to dougie.
FRESH: He knows how to dougie and his levels of Doug E., you know what I mean? It's the cool, calm. Is he extreme? Is he explosive? And he was going in. So, the next time I come here, I may have to go and see him so we can dougie. All three of us.
BLITZER: I'll be with you on the floor at the Verizon Center. You, me, John Wall. Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Wizards, he says he will dougie if it's a sellout.
FRESH: In the center of the floor, when that beat drop, we're going to do like we did on Soul Train.
BLITZER: All right. Soul Train. The Soul Train Awards, November 28th Sunday night on B.E.T. and on Centric. You know, we taped it already. I mean, you and me. We were there.
FRESH: We're the showstoppers, baby.
BLITZER: It was very -- look, I grew up watching "Soul Train" in Buffalo, New York, so don't tell me about Soul Train. I know Soul Train. It was a great night. It was a lot of fun. People who watch this, they're going to have a lot of fun, but you know what we're going to do right now?
BLITZER: The SITUATION ROOM Soul Train dancers. We have them here --
FRESH: Come on.
BLITZER: In the SITUATION ROOM. Can we get some music? Can we get a little dougie music right now? I want to see a little Soul Train SITUATION ROOM dancers. Let's see. Come on in. This is the Soul Train Situation Room with Roland Martin. Roland, let me see you do a little dougie for us. Come on.
FRESH: Oh, oh, come on, come on.
BLITZER: I'm not seeing it, Roland. Let me see it.
BLITZER: Doug E., get up there.
FRESH: You know, you can get into it, you know what I'm saying?
BLITZER: Let's bring Fred in. Fred, you don't see that every day here in the SITUATION ROOM, that kind of live reporting going on. You believe what you see, though?
WHITFIELD: Real reporter involvement. You have taken that to the next level, too.
BLITZER: It was a lot of fun. I got to tell you when I was in Atlanta a couple weeks ago, I went to the Soul Train Awards, and it went on and on. This is going to be a fabulous show. I think, our viewers -- it's a week from Sunday on a Sunday night on BET and Centric. People who watch it and see the whole nine yards (ph), they're going to enjoy it. You know what I love the most, Fred? You will, too.
WHITFIELD: What's that?
BLITZER: It's great music and entertainers going back to the 1950s, the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, all the way back. There's a lot of great stuff for everyone.
WHITFIELD: Oh my, God. I cannot wait, and of course, I just can't wait to see you do the Dougie.
BLITZER: You'll see on the stage --
WHITFIELD: Because that, as Doug E. Fresh said, is the showstopper.
BLITZER: What I also loved was there we were at this big, big Cobb Energy Center in Atlanta. There were thousands of people there, and up on the stage was the SITUATION ROOM. You can see that big SITUATION ROOM at the Soul Train Awards.
WHITFIELD: Oh, fantastic.
BLITZER: How cool is that? It couldn't get much cooler --
WHITFIELD: You are front and center. You were front and center. I mean, no one can touch you, Wolf. That's it.
BLITZER: You know what? It was a lot of fun, and we'll do it again. Fred, you'll watch, right?
WHITFIELD: Yes, of course I'm going to watch. November 28th, Sunday night.
BLITZER: A week from Sunday. All right. Fred, thanks very much.
WHITFIELD: OK. The calendar is marked. It's been marked for at least a week now since we ran into each other. I can't wait to see it.
BLITZER: All right. Guys, thanks very much. That's it for me. That's all the time we have. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in the SITUATION ROOM. "John King USA" starts right now.