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President Mum on Gun Control; Santorum Compares Abortion to Slavery; New Details in Daniel Pearl Killing

Aired January 20, 2011 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And she's made extraordinary progress, and the next step for Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords is in a rehab center in Houston. We're there talking to the doctors who are now responsible for her well-being.

And now that the House has voted to repeal health care reform, the speaker, John Boehner, is going after another controversial issue involving women.

Breaking news, political headlines and Jeanne Moos all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It was one of the biggest mob busts ever, hundreds of federal agents, see and local police fanning out in the Northeast this morning and swooping in on alleged crime bosses and underlings from seven Mafia families. They made more than 100 arrests.

CNN's Mary Snow has the breakdown on this massive, massive takedown.

Mary, tell our views what happened.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in all, 125 suspects were taken into custody today. The bulk of the arrests were made here in New York. But there are suspects from New Jersey, Rhode Island and one in Italy.

Attorney General Eric Holder say the crimes include what he terms classic mob hits to eliminate perceived rivals to truly senseless murders. And he calls this a major operation.


SNOW (voice-over): Their so-called street names sound right out of an episode out "The Sopranos," "Vinny Carwash," "Johnny Bandana," "Meatball."

While it might have seemed organized crime families were losing their influence, becoming the stuff of fiction, the FBI -- it's a myth that the mob is a thing of the past, and Attorney General Eric Holder made a high-profile trip to New York to underscore that point.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It is probably not nationwide in the scope, its impact as it once was. But the reality is, it is an ongoing threat, a major threat to this the economic well- being of this country, in addition to being the violent organization.

SNOW: More than 120 alleged mobsters were arrested in three states, and one in Italy -- 16 indictments lay out charges that range from a 1981 murder in a New York bar to illegal gambling, to extortion and labor racketeering, including a case where union members allegedly passed along Christmas bonuses to crime families.

The indictments are unrelated. The question is why the massive sweep with cases dating back decades.

Janis Fedarcyk heads the FBI's New York Division. She cites the scope of the investigation and cooperation between agencies.

JANICE FEDARCYK, FBI: As we looked at the totality of these indictments, it made sense to bring them down, to do the takedown at the same time.

SNOW: Fedarcyk says the FBI used all the tools in its toolbox, including informants and wiretaps. While the feds tout it as an unprecedented crackdown, William Bastone doubts it will put a huge dent in mob operations. Bastone is a journalist who has covered the mob for more than 20 years.

WILLIAM BASTONE, EDITOR, THESMOKINGGUN.COM: I don't think there's anything spectacular in the indictments themselves. And frankly in the day-to-day operation of these families, this is in many ways kind of like a bump in the road. And we have seen the bumps in the road fairly frequently for the last 20 years.


SNOW: The one thing everyone seemed to agree on is that if anything, the mob is resilient and it's far from being eradicated -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow in New York, thanks very much.

Let's bring in someone who once made a living by going after these Mafia bosses. You know now as a host of CNN's "PARKER SPITZER." Before that, of course, Eliot Spitzer was New York's governor, attorney general, and Manhattan's mob-busting assistant DA as well. He's joining us now live.

What do you make of the scope of today's arrests, Eliot?

ELIOT SPITZER, CO-HOST, "PARKER SPITZER": Well, Wolf, I think it is more impressive in terms of number than in terms of its ultimate impact on the mob.

I think Bill Bastone is correct. Every year, two years, five years, there's a major announcement. We announce we have arrested, charged 100 alleged mobsters. The mob continues to come back.

Just think of the movies that have come out of this, from "The Godfather," to "Goodfellas," to "The Sopranos." The fact that there are movies made about the mob every five years tell you it's still there, even though prosecutors -- and I was one of them -- will tell you every five years we have taken off the top leadership, decapitated it.

So I think Bill Bastone is correct about that. Having said that, the crimes that are charged in these multiple indictments are street level crimes. There's murder in there. But most of it is extortion, a bit of drugs, a lot of street level stuff.

The sorts of systemic crimes that were charged against the mob a couple years ago, where they controlled entire industries, are not in these indictments. And the reason for that I think is that those tentacles of the mob have in fact been cut off and eliminated.

BLITZER: A lot of us remember back in 2002 when you went after the Gambino family with indictments.

Why is it impossible to break up the Mafia?

SPITZER: Well, look, it is an organic organization. And it preys upon, in terms of its street lending, the sort of -- the loan- sharking component of organized crime, which is its bread and butter, where they make $50, $100 a week on the vig, there will always be people seeking money from loan sharks.

And that's where organized crime preys on the most vulnerable of our population. Sometimes it's organized along different ethnic lines. But it will always be there. And that's why prosecutors will continue to be vigilant.

Now, there was another aspect of organized crime, what I called the white-collarization where they moved into trucking, they moved into the concrete industry, the fish market here in New York City, and essentially formed the monopolies. And they said, you know what, we would rather be John D. Rockefeller, taking 10 percent off the top of everything, an entire industry.

And that's how they made a lot of money, when John Gotti was the boss, when Paul Castellano was the boss of the Gambino family. That type of activity has been eliminated, which is why to a certain extent they have been pushed back to the street level extortion and loan- sharking and drug running that's the guts of these indictments.

BLITZER: Basically what I hear you saying they can arrest 100 or 200 guys every few years. But in five or 10 years from now, we're going to have the exact same conversation.

SPITZER: Well, you know, the names may change.

And I hate to say this and categorize anything ethnically. But the ethnicities also change in terms of organized crime. Hollywood and "The Godfather" sort of created an aura around what's called the traditional organized crime, La Cosa Nostra.

A lot of other types of organized crime, from Asia to the Caribbean, Latin America, that have embedded themselves in drugs to even Wall Street at different times. And so, yes, organized crime will never totally disappear. The sorts of cases that were announced today by Eric Holder clearly are important in pushing back against it and controlling it, constraining it, and forcing it to adjust in the face of all these prosecutions.

BLITZER: I'm sure Eliot will have a lot more on "PARKER SPITZER" at 8:00 p.m. Eastern later tonight.

Eliot, thanks very much.

SPITZER: Wolf, thank you.

BLITZER: Tomorrow, Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will be moved from a Tucson hospital to a rehabilitation facility in Houston, just under two weeks after she was shot in the head in the Tucson shooting rampage.

She stood for the first time yesterday and today doctors were planning to let her sit outside. Like all of us, her husband, the astronaut Mark Kelly, is amazed at her recovery so far. He calls her a fighter, but he's still shocked at the circumstances.


MARK KELLY, HUSBAND OF CONGRESSWOMAN GABRIELLE GIFFORDS: I don't think we're ever going to fully understand the why and the how and the reason for what happened on the 8th of January.

It's a loss of innocent life, the injury of a dozen people, the death of a nine-year-old girl, a federal judge, and the serious, traumatic injury to my wife, Gabrielle. So, we will never fully understand that.

I'm extremely hopeful that Gabby is going to make a full recovery. I have told her that. She recognizes it. She's a strong person, a fighter. She's a fighter like nobody else that I know. So I am extremely confident that she's going to be back here and back at work soon.

I have been telling the hospital staff that they should expect to see her walking through these halls and into the ICU within a couple months. I'm sure of that.


BLITZER: We only hope for the best.

Meanwhile, our senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen is in Houston with more on what the next phase of Congresswoman Giffords' treatment will entail -- Elizabeth.


ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Gabrielle Giffords' doctors tell us that there are reasons for cautious optimism. They say they're optimistic because she's doing some things on her own. For example, she reached out and adjusted her husband's tie. And that seems like such a small thing, but it shows that she can see something. She can make a decision. She can act on it. That's a sign of higher-level cognition.

However, they say that recovery from an injury like this is a marathon, and not a sprint. In fact, they say that she's not ready to go into rehabilitation yet. When she comes to Houston, she's not going into the rehab hospital behind me. Instead she will go just into a regular hospital here on this campus.

I talked to one of her doctors earlier today.

Why isn't she going right to the rehabilitation hospital?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, there are concerns about ongoing medical issues. And, again, I don't want to be more specific about that. But she's not quite ready for rehabilitation yet. So we're going to be coming here, doing a thorough assessment. And once we have been able to do that, we will be able to tell you more.

COHEN: Wolf, when she is ready for rehabilitation, she will learn how to do things like walk again, how to dress herself, all those things we take for granted. Her doctors here say they're not sure when she will be ready to start that rehab -- Wolf.


BLITZER: All right, Elizabeth, thanks very much -- Elizabeth Cohen reporting for us.

An incredible story -- 23 years after someone kidnapped a baby girl from a hospital, she's now reunited with her family. She found them herself. We have details.

And two years to the day since his presidency began, President Obama is already planning for a second term. We're learning new details of his reelection campaign.


BLITZER: Always the visionary, Jack Cafferty is looking ahead. Jack is here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Visionary. Yes, that will do it.

If it's 2011, then it must be 2012.

What that means is another presidential campaign is already under way. That's unfortunate, but we really don't have a choice, I guess.

Potential Republican challengers to President Obama are popping up everywhere.

You can spot them in the early voting states like New Hampshire, and Iowa and South Carolina; and you can hear them weighing in on national debates, things like raising the federal debt limit. What makes it worse is a lot of them are the same bunch that we were subjected to the last time around.

Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee all over the place promoting his new book, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney just back from a weeklong trip to Afghanistan and the Middle East. Got to pump up those foreign policy credentials, you know. The country's been there and done that with Romney and Huckabee and turned them both away.

A newcomer to this thing, former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, had already made several trips to Iowa by last summer.

Others are hinting that they might be interested, including Donald Trump. He does that every four years. He never runs, and people have long since ceased to take him seriously.

One strategist tells Politico the potential candidates -- quote -- "are like bubbles in a shaken bottle of champagne. They are anxious and ready to pop" -- unquote.

A couple of new polls suggest Huckabee, Romney and Sarah Palin still at the top of the Republican pack, with Newt Gingrich, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Congressman Ron Paul bringing up the rear.

On the other side, the Democratic National Committee announced today that President Obama's reelection campaign will be based in Chicago starting in March or April. Here we go again.

Here's the question: Are you ready for the start of the 2012 presidential campaign?

Go to and post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: You know I am, Jack. I'm always ready for politics.


CAFFERTY: You're ready for 2012, 2016.

BLITZER: Yes, I'm ready.


BLITZER: I love this stuff. stand by.

CAFFERTY: You're a masochist.


BLITZER: Thank you.

We're following a truly remarkable story in New York City right now, where a woman kidnapped as an infant has found her way back to her mother after 23 years. What's even more remarkable is how she did it.

CNN's Alina Cho explains -- Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just a remarkable story, Wolf, a cold case cracked wide open.

Carlina White, now 23 years old, was kidnapped back in 1987. She was just 19 days old. And it was because of her own suspicions that she tracked down her birth family, a joyful reunion more than two decades in the making.


JOY WHITE, MOTHER: I just always believed that she would find me. That was something that I always believed in myself, that she would come and find me. And that's the same way that I thought, that is what happen.

CARL TYSON, FATHER: I stepped out of the car I looked at her and I went back. I came back. I couldn't believe this was real. I looked at her up and down. Then I decided to grab her. And I was like, OK.


CHO: It's a story that made national headlines when it happened 23 years ago. Carlina White, an infant from Harlem, again just 19 days old, was taken to the hospital for a fever. She was kidnapped by a woman posing as a nurse. It stunned the city, stumped the New York Police Department, and left her family dumbfounded.

Here's how her mom reacted to the news all those years ago.


J. WHITE: I hope she's all right. And whoever has got her, I hope that she's taking good care of my baby.


CHO: Carlina was never heard from again. She was raised under a different name and she was reportedly abused.

It was in her teens that she began to think something was up when the woman she thought was her mother couldn't track down her birth certificate. That led her to the Internet.


CARLINA WHITE, KIDNAP VICTIM: And I came across the article. And the baby picture just struck me because, even though I didn't see my baby picture when I was that young, looking at it, it looked like my daughter.


CHO: She found baby pictures of herself on the Web site for the National Center of Missing and Exploited Children.


ERNIE ALLEN, CEO, NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN: She called us around Christmas. And she conveyed the sense that she was suspicious about who she was and where she was. Our call taker took a lot of information, asked a lot of questions, gathered facts and details, and then our analysts went to work on the case.

C. WHITE: And I know we have the foreheads and everything over here.


CHO: And in the end, Carlina found her own way home. To be sure, the NYPD took DNA samples, and, of course, they were a match. So that part of the story is solved.

The big question, Wolf, is who kidnapped Carlina all those years ago? So far, police won't identify a suspect, but they say the investigation is continuing - Wolf?

BLITZER: What an amazing, amazing story.

Alina, thank you.

Thirty-three stories high, this rocket made history when it lifted off on the West Coast today. We're going to tell you why.

And the new House speaker is bringing up an old debate. We will tell you about the controversial issue John Boehner is now tackling.

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



BLITZER: More changes at the White House right now, as President Obama's reelection team begins to take shape. What are the signals that are going out now saying about 2012?

And an exhaustive new study shedding new light on the gruesome killing of the American journalist Daniel Pearl.


BLITZER: The pieces have been falling into place for the president's reelection effort, and for all intents and purposes, the 2012 campaign is now, at least unofficially, under way.

Let's go live to our White House correspondent Dan Lothian, who is getting the new details for us.

All right, Dan, What's happening? DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one of the things that is behind this push for another term is that the president believes that the economy has come a long way, it has stabilized. But it still has a long way to go. And so he wants to build on the momentum and believes that another term will help him do that.


LOTHIAN (voice-over): With his approval ratings on the rise, President Obama is sending the clearest signals yet that he's running for a second term in 2012. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs all but confirmed that decision had been made.

ROBERT GIBBS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's likely that that's going to happen, obviously. The president's likely to file papers in the future that would -- that would officially make him a candidate.

LOTHIAN: The White House has been actively preparing for a reelection campaign with a staff reshuffling in recent weeks.

DNC Chairman Tim Kaine, who announced he will remain on the job through the 2012 presidential election, laid out the pieces of the puzzle in an e-mail to DNC members. Chicago will be campaign headquarters starting in March or April.

Top advisers David Axelrod and Jim Messina will shift into campaign mode. DNC Executive Director Jen O'Malley Dillon will become deputy campaign manager, replaced by White House Political Director Patrick Gaspard.

"Working together, I am confident that we can protect the progress of the past two years," Kaine wrote in the e-mail.

But critics of the administration see the past two years differently...

JASON POBLETE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think, on domestic policy, I would probably give him a C-minus to a D.

LOTHIAN: ... arguing the government played too big of role in some of the key challenges, like the economy and health care.

And while the lame-duck session produced results, he gave the prospects of a second term low marks, too.

POBLETE: I agree with Vice President Cheney that, because of it, this administration will probably be a one-term administration.

(on camera): What kind of reaction has the president given to comments about him being a one-term president? We have heard that from Cheney and others. How does he react to the comments?

GIBBS: I haven't talked to him about it. I don't think he spends a lot of time thinking about political prognostications. (END VIDEOTAPE)

LOTHIAN: Asked about the timing of this ramped-up campaign effort and whether it was too early, Gibbs said that it's right in line with past campaigns, pointing specifically to the lead-up to the '96 and 2004 campaigns. He said that a lot has to go into forming a campaign operation, and that right now this timeline is on track -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Dan, thanks very much.

Let's bring in our senior political analyst, David Gergen, who is a former adviser to four presidents.

Is it too soon to ramp up this reelection campaign, David? What do you think?


Joe Klein was up in the green room with me a little while ago. He was waiting to come on "JOHN KING." And he and I both said our body clocks are not ready for this. I don't think the country is ready for it.

But more than that, Wolf, I think it's terribly unfortunate to have confirmations today of all these positions and getting ramped up just before the State of the Union. It sort of gives a coloration that everything is being done for campaign purposes, when in fact the president has a small window now, hopefully, and the Republicans would agree with this, where we could really get down to seriousness about dealing with the nation's problems and not see them in terms of 2012.

We need a moratorium on campaign politics while we get a few serious things done.

BLITZER: But if they want to raise -- the number has been out there -- a billion dollars in their reelection campaign, they have got to get started, and they have got to get started quickly.

GERGEN: Well, I guess.

They have shown an enormous capacity to raise money very quickly. I think you could wait a bit. It just seems to me -- I don't know. It's just too early, Wolf. I just think we have barely put down the 2010 campaign and here we go again. We have politicized everything in this country. So, everything is seen through a lens of campaigning and permanent campaigning, as opposed to governing.

BLITZER: It's going to put a lot of pressure on Republicans to announce they're running, because they will want to get started in this race as well.

GERGEN: Well, it sure does. And it put pressure on them and it also gives them permission to get going. And it says to everybody, hey, we're coming out of the gate. It's time to make your political statements, as -- you know, be out there on the -- in your hot dog stand.

And we're just going to have a lot of rhetoric. I would like -- I think a lot -- most Americans want to see some action on jobs.

BLITZER: Let me switch gears and talk about guns for a second. It's been nearly two weeks since the Tucson tragedy. A lot of talk about gun control in the country, but not necessarily from the president or the top Democratic leadership. Am I missing something here? What's going on?

GERGEN: You nailed it, Wolf. And here's a president who had a long track record of opposition to -- to NRA, opposition to a lot of the laws on the books on guns, and yet has been totally passive here. He's being pushed now for some members of his own party. There's a letter that's circulating that's got about 40 or 50 names in the House, from Democrats, urging that in the State of the Union he at minimum embrace a law they would like to put into effect that limits the size of the magazines that people can buy sort of over the counter, in effect.

You know, Loughner out in Tucson had a magazine that held some 32 rounds. They want to bring it down to ten. That seemed entirely sensible. You know, the truth is over the last five or 10 years, the NRA has been winning a lot more than it's been losing, and it has reduced the amount of restrictions on guns.

And I think -- I find it stunning that, in the wake of Tucson, we have such a passive nation on this whole question. You'd think our -- we would be much more seized with this, as well as -- as mental health issues. But we're not. And I think it reflects a -- almost a resignation on the part of many people who have been for gun control in the past. You know, they can't seem to make it work. That's the part of the brokenness of politics in their minds.

BLITZER: Would you be surprised if the president raises the issue of gun control in the State of the Union address next Tuesday night?

GERGEN: I would be surprised if he glides over it and doesn't say anything.

BLITZER: He'll say something, you think. But...


BLITZER: ... a lot of Democrats think this is a losing issue for them going into an election campaign.

GERGEN: Well, you know, if -- you've got to have some principles in the party. And it seems to me -- I think the larger issue is the culture of violence. And what I would really hope that he would do is bring together a group of distinguished Americans to look at the whole range of violence on -- in our entertainment industry, on the Internet, between the gun culture and all these other things and see if there's some way we can reign this in. We're -- you know, we're losing an astonishing number of people to guns and to violence every year.

BLITZER: David Gergen, thanks very much.

GERGEN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: The culture war came roaring back today with a pair of hot-button issues: abortion and race. The latest sparks were set off by former Republican Senator Rick Santorum. He's a possible 2012 presidential contender.

And the new speaker of the House is setting off sparks of his own. Let's bring in our national political correspondent, Jessica Yellin.

Jessica, Rick Santorum first. He said something that caused a huge stir (ph). Tell our viewers what.

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. He was speaking on a conservative channel, and he said something comparing our shameful history of slavery in this country to current abortion laws. Here's what he said. Notice, it's the last sentence that's gotten attention.


RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PENNSYLVANIA SENATOR: The question is, and this is what Barack Obama didn't want to answer. Is that -- is that human life? A person under the Constitution? And Barack Obama says no.

Well, if that person, human life is not a person, then I find it almost remarkable for a black man to say, "No, we're going to decide who are people and who are not people."


YELLIN: Now, I've since obtained a statement from Santorum elaborating on that. He said that, quote, "For decades certain human beings were wrongly treated as property and denied liberty in America because they were not considered persons under the Constitution. Today other human beings, the unborn of all races, are also wrongly treated as property and denied the right to life for the same reason; because they are not considered persons under the Constitution."

This is Santorum, again. "I am disappointed that President Obama, who rightfully fights for civil rights, refuses to recognize the civil rights of the unborn in this country."

So in essence, Wolf, he's equating the way slaves were treated as a group to the way fetuses are treated as a group in this country.

BLITZER: And on a similar issue, John Boehner, the new House speaker, he said something that caused a bit of a stir today. YELLIN: That's right. Well, the House Republicans are introducing a slew of new laws focusing on federal money dealing with abortion. Leaders say they're trying to ensure that no federal money helped subsidize abortions, no matter how indirectly. The others side says these bills would ultimately prod insurers to drop abortion coverage altogether from private plans.

So what Speaker Boehner says is this is one of his top priorities. Why now? Well, one, the new Republican majority is fulfilling a promise to its social conservative base. And two, some of these bills deal with the health-care reform bill, so it's another way to dismantle pieces of it.

John Boehner's bill regarding abortion is called HR-3. He says the number three makes it clear that it's one of his very top priorities -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. Jessica Yellin reporting.

New information about the gruesome death of an American journalist, Daniel Pearl. And new details of what led to his kidnapping and killing.

And health concerns right now for George Clooney. Our very own Piers Morgan broke the news. Piers standing by live to join us.


BLITZER: There's new evidence to corroborate a top al Qaeda chief's confession that he personally beheaded the "Wall Street Journal" reporter Daniel Pearl. Nine years after that brutal killing, a new study out today reaches some very disturbing conclusions.

Brian Todd is here with the details -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, lots of compelling new detail in this new report on Daniel Pearl's murder, including information on how investigators tied the killing to alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Muhammad.


TODD (voice-over): He claimed he had cut off Daniel Pearl's head with his, quote, "blessed right hand." But because he'd said that while in U.S. custody, where he'd also been waterboarded, and because he'd been known to exaggerate, there'd been lingering doubt that alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammad had really done that. He was never charged with the crime.

Now a report that seeks to erase those doubts.

ASRA NOMANI, LED INVESTIGATION OF PEARL'S DEATH: We've gotten more details from the FBI's interviews with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed that chronicle how he was drawn into the plot through an al Qaeda operative in Pakistan. TODD: Asra Nomani was a friend and colleague of Daniel Pearl's at the "Wall Street Journal." She led an exhaustive investigation by a group of Georgetown University students of Pearl's murder in Pakistan nine years ago. The authors say they can pin the killing on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed because they analyzed an unusual technology called vein matching.

They say at one point the FBI asked the CIA, who was holding Mohammed, to take a picture of his right hand. Investigators took that picture and matched it against a frame in the video of Pearl's murder. In that video all you can see of the killer, according to this report, is his hand. The report says the vein patterns on the hand in both images were a match.

We asked a respected criminologist about that.

LAWRENCE KOBILINSKY, JOHN JAY COLLEGE OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: I think, together with the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed has confessed, I think together that appoints everybody in the right direction. Whether or not this will be admissible in the courtroom is a question.

Lawrence Kobilinsky says that's because vein matching hasn't been fully validated as an investigative tool. The new report from the Center for Public Integrity says a man named Omar Sheikh was wrongly convicted of actually killing Pearl, though he did allegedly set up Pearl's kidnapping. It says Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was asked by a top al Qaeda operative to get involved, because the kidnapers didn't know what to do with Pearl.

(on camera) At one point this entire kidnapping could have gone a different direction, right?

NOMANI: What we discovered was that Omar Sheikh actually had the original ransom note that Danny would be released. And so the case turned and became murder. But it wasn't meant to start off as a murder. And Danny was actually supposed to be released.


TODD: According to this report, Pakistani officials mishandled much of the Pearl investigation, not only by pinning the murder on the wrong people, but by not picking up at least a dozen men who were allegedly involved in the plot, and by letting at least one man who was go free.

Contacted by CNN, officials at the Pakistani embassy here in Washington didn't want to do an interview. They told me off camera their government did not botch the investigation. They did not convict the wrong people. But they say they'll send this report back to Pakistan to see if any part of the Pearl case should be re- examined. Excuse me. The FBI would not comment on any part of this report, Wolf.

BLITZER: The report also gets into the reaction from Osama bin Laden to word that Pearl had been kidnapped and killed. TODD: Really fascinating part of this report. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed had said he wanted to exploit Pearl's murder for propaganda. But according to the report, a detainee at Guantanamo told interrogators that when bin Laden found out about how brutally and publicly Mohammad had killed Daniel Pearl, he was very angry. He said he didn't want that kind of attention brought on al Qaeda. He was angry at the brutal and public nature by which Mohammad allegedly killed Daniel Pearl.

BLITZER: Sending planes into two buildings and killing 3,000 people, not so brutal.

TODD: I guess that -- it was OK to bring attention to al Qaeda that way.


TODD: But not -- not the way he killed Daniel Pearl.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting.

The major movie star with a serious disease. There are new developments involving George Clooney's health right now. Our very own Piers Morgan broke the news. Stand by: Piers is going to join us live. We'll also get a little personal with Piers. We'll get -- turn the tables just a little.



RICKY GERVAIS, COMEDIAN: They hired me for a job. And if they didn't want me, they shouldn't have hired me.

PIERS MORGAN, HOST, "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT": Someone asked me, you know, what do you think? It's a fellow Brit on TV in America. "What do you think will happen to Ricky?"

I said, "It's a bit like inviting a hammerhead shark to dinner. And then when he eats all the guests, you start complaining. I mean, you kind of know what you're going to get."

GERVAIS: Well, that's one thing. But also as I said, I don't think I did anything wrong. I honestly -- you know, those were like jibes at these people. And I'm sure they've got a sense of humor.


BLITZER: You're going to learn what really happened behind the scenes at the Golden Globes as premier week on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT" continues tonight with the comedian Ricky Gervais.

Piers is joining us now with more.

This is going to be a great interview, I know, Piers. And you had a lot of fun doing it. How would you have handled the situation at the Golden Globes if you had been asked to emcee that event?

MORGAN: Well, I think the key thing here is that, obviously, as a fellow Brit, I understand the bedrock of our humor back home is sarcasm. And we have a sort of great history of humiliating people in audiences at award shows.

It's not so common in America, so that's why Ricky is so shocking here but also, in my view, so refreshing. I mean, I think it's funny. And I think everyone should get over themselves.

I mean, when I was watching it live, it was hysterical. And when I watched Ricky in my studio last night, watching back his own jokes, what I loved about it was he wasn't laughing loudly when everybody else was. The bit he loves is when everybody gasps in horror, and then he roars with laughter.

So, you know, he's a dangerous comedian. But I really do think if people are genuinely insulted by the kind of humor that he was coming out with, they've got to really get a sense of humor.

BLITZER: You think he'll be invited back?

MORGAN: Well, if he's not available, I may have to step into the breech, with you, Wolf. How about that?

BLITZER: I don't know if they would invite me. But they might invite you.

Let me get to some news about George Clooney. He's going to be your guest tomorrow night.


BLITZER: Just back from Sudan. And you broke the story on Twitter. Tell us what you learned.

MORGAN: Well, it was in the middle of the interview George suddenly let slip that he'd contracted malaria. It's not the first time that he's had this.. He got it in his recent trip to Sudan.

He was joking that it was some mosquito in a bar he'd been in, seeing him as ripe, fresh meat. But he -- he said he was feeling pretty rough in the interview. He was on medication. And it had been a pretty nasty bout. It seems that he's now recovered.

But, you know, he was making the point that, if you have the right medication, unlike the millions that die in Africa and places like Sudan in particular from malaria because they don't have the medication, he's recovered in about ten days. So there's a good point three to be made, I think, by George that, if you get the medication to these kids that are dying of malaria, their lives will be saved in the way that he has been saved, because we've got it here.

BLITZER: How did he look to you? How did he feel when you saw him? MORGAN: Well, I thought he was getting a bit hot under the collar because of the competition in the heartthrob stakes while talking to me. But it turned out it was malaria. So it was bittersweet for me, Wolf, to be honest.

BLITZER: Did you make him cry?

MORGAN: I didn't make him cry. But I think it's because he was more concerned with not dying from malaria. So I think if I'd had him in a normal week, it would have obviously been tears by tea time.

BLITZER: I kept -- I watched your first three interviews on "PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT." Condoleezza Rice last night. I was sure she was going to start crying when you raised the issue of her mom and dad. They would have reacted to see her great success. She never cried.

MORGAN: She's a tough cookie, you know. I think she came from a very tough upbringing in Birmingham or Bombingham in Alabama, as she called it, where she saw and heard and heard about some pretty terrible things. But I think that made her the tough woman she is.

I was very struck by the relationship with her father, who refused to march with Martin Luther King, because he didn't believe in peaceful demonstration. He believed in an eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, you fight your fight. And I think that was the atmosphere that Condoleezza Rice grew up in.

What I liked, though, was having had this kind of tough knuckle conversation with her, in the last segment, she suddenly opened up about her own life and was very fun and amusing and surprisingly frank. We saw another side to her, which is quite a gentle side. So she was a woman of many contradictions, but very fascinating.

BLITZER: And we saw a little flirtation going on, as well.

MORGAN: I'm glad you noticed.

BLITZER: I noticed that, as well.

We'll continue this conversation, maybe tomorrow, Piers, if you're around. Thanks very much.

"PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT," it airs 9 p.m. Eastern here on CNN.

Good luck with the new show. Thank you.

MORGAN: Thanks, Wolf. It was a great show tonight. Look forward to it.

BLITZER: All right. Good work.

Are you ready for the start of the 2012 presidential campaign? Jack Cafferty is standing by with your e-mail.

And her fall made her a YouTube sensation. She's not happy about it, and now she's taking action.


BLITZER: Jack's back with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour is: Are you ready for the start of the 2012 presidential campaign, because it's starting.

David in Vancouver: "I can't wait. Vancouver. I'm a Canadian; this is blasphemy. But give me a good old rootin'-tootin' American election campaign over a hockey game any day. It's television at its best. Which of her dainty feet will Sarah Palin insert in her pretty mouth next? Who's going to get caught talking trash into an open mike? Is the Donald going to throw his hat in the ring? Is Nader? Will Hillary swap jobs with Joe? Will Joe pull a Joe? Will Hillary pull an upset? It doesn't get any better than this, even on skates."

Al in Delaware: "Hell no. I want to see less campaigning, a little more governing."

Dave in Illinois: "I admit it; I'm an election junkie. It's my favorite sport except for Bears/Packers games, of course. I was thrilled when Tom Vilsack announced right after the 2006 midterms, and Obama and Clinton came not far behind. Come on, Republicans, I'm bored with you all. Let's rumble peacefully."

Mike in Mississippi: "Here in Mississippi, all the talk's about Haley Barbour and his plans to run for president. It's been speculation in all the news, and it's the talk of the town in the state capitol."

Bob in Quebec: "The sooner it starts, the sooner it's over. Then we can all get charged up with the 2014 midterms."

Renee in Illinois: "Why don't you just ask if we're ready for those Mayan end-of-the-world predictions in December 2012? That will probably be more fun than another election campaign. It would almost be worthy of the world if it means we never again have to listen to hypocritical campaign -- hypo-critical campaign rhetoric from either side."

And Buster in New York writes: "I'm as ready as I am to see you, Jack, and Rosie O'Donnell together doing the tango naked on 'Dancing with the Stars'."


That's not funny. It's really not funny. If you want...

BLITZER: Is it going to happen, though?

CAFFERTY: I mean, think about it; it's not funny at all. If you want to read more on this, go to the blog:

BLITZER: I just want to see you do the tango. It doesn't have -- you don't have to be naked. I just want to see you do the tango. CAFFERTY: I wouldn't dance with Rosie O'Donnell unless we could be naked.

BLITZER: See you tomorrow, Jack, thank you.

She fell into a fountain while texting and the video went viral. The story doesn't end there. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a "Most Unusual" look when we come back.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As you can tell, all awkwardly walks away.



BLITZER: It was a "Most Unusual" fall, and now there's some "Most Unusual" fallout. A security guard has been fired over a video that went viral, and the subject of that video now has a lawyer. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We now have a face to go with the fall.

CATHY CRUZ MARRERO, FELL IN FOUNTAIN: It's funny when it's not you.

MOOS: At times her interview was nearly as wet as the mall fountain she walked into while texting.

MARRERO: When it's you, it's a totally, totally different feeling.

MOOS: Cathy Cruz Marrero says she was texting her and her husband's birth dates when she ran into the fountain.

MARRERO: The next thing I know I'm just seeing pennies and coins in front of my face.

MOOS: And soon millions were seeing her as the security camera video made its way to the Web.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check this out: a girl falls in a mall fountain while texting.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You ignorant human being.

MOOS: The mishap was put to music and replayed mercilessly. It took Cathy two days to discover she'd become an Internet star.

MARRERO: I'm like, "Are you kidding me?"

And my nephew was like, "No, you're on YouTube." And I was like "I can't believe this," and I started crying.

MOOS (on camera): Believe me: we empathize. We know how dumb but easy it is to text your way into a tree, into a pole.

(voice-over) And there was that open manhole a texting teenager once fell into.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like there was no warning of a big open hole.

MOOS: No one caught that on tape. It's the mall surveillance video that has Cathy mad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've got to shoot the other angle.

MOOS: You can hear laughter as someone shoots the tape. Cathy says she told a security manager that putting the video on YouTube was wrong. She says he said...

MARRERO: The thing is they didn't see your face, then nobody knows who you are. I know who I am.

MOOS: She said others at the furniture store where she works recognized her.

Now the security company says it's fired the guard who shared the video. And Cathy has got a lawyer.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you want the lawyer to do?

MARRERO: What needs to be done.

MOOS: Not necessarily to sue: maybe an apology. At least she resisted answering her phone when it rang during the interview.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So when you left...


MOOS: The bruise on her leg is healing, but not her bruised feelings.

MARRERO: It's not over and it's not going to be over. I said you know how many people are laughing at me?

MOOS: She's got that right. Walking into a fountain is kid stuff.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": At least she wasn't at the Grand Canyon, this girl.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Remember, you can always follow what's going on behind the scenes here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm on Twitter. You can get my tweets at

You can also follow THE SITUATION ROOM on Facebook. Go to to become a fan.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.


And good evening, everyone.

Reason to smile tonight: uplifting breaking news from Tucson tonight. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords will fly to Houston in the morning, courtesy of the United States Air Force, we're told, leaving the hospital after just 12 days for a long-term rehabilitation center.

Her astronaut husband said today he's confident she'll return to the Congress.