Return to Transcripts main page


General Nominated to Head TSA; White House Pushes for Health Care Vote in Congress; Kathryn Bigelow Becomes First Woman to Win Best Director Oscar; American Al Qaeda Member Arrested in Pakistan; How Significant is Gadahan's Role With Al Qaeda?; You've Got Mail from the Census Bureau; Mental Health or Money: Budget Crisis Leaves Second Grader Behind

Aired March 8, 2010 - 07:00   ET


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: It's just about 7:00 eastern on this Monday, the 8th of March. Thanks for joining us on the Most News in the Morning. I'm John Roberts.

KIRAN CHETRY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Kiran Chetry. Glad you're with us. Here are the big stories we're going to be telling you about in the next 15 minutes.

First, President Obama has tapped former army General Robert Harding as the new chief of Transportation Security Administration. TSA has been without a permanent leader since before the president was elected. We're going to have more about who this new nominee is in just a moment.

ROBERTS: The president packing his bags this week for a big health care reform road show. He wants a bill passed by the end of this month, and he'll be making that pitch during town hall meetings in Missouri and Pennsylvania, but there are questions this morning about whether he even has enough votes among Democrats to get done what he wants.

CHETRY: Also, they're counting the votes after Iraqis defied a wave of attacks to cast their ballots in a milestone election. We're going to hear what it means for U.S. troops presence there as well and President Obama's plan to bring them home.

ROBERTS: We begin the hour, though, with the retired army general tapped by President Obama to become the new head of the Transportation Security Administration.

He is Robert A. Harding, a 33-year army veteran who's been nominated to a post that hasn't had a permanent leader since before the president took office. Let's bring in our Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve, live in Washington this morning. What do we know about the president's nominee, Jeanne?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: John, General Harding has a very strong background in intelligence, having served for four years as director of operations at the Defense Intelligence Agency where he managed a more than $1 billion intelligence collection program. He held a variety of intelligence jobs in the military, including sometimes coordinating interagency drug operations. After his retirement from the military he founded a company which provided security solutions to the U.S. intelligence and defense communities.

What you don't see on his resume is any indication he's worked in the aviation or transportation area or that he's had much interaction with the private sector, but it may be that in the wake of that attempted Christmas day bombing they've decided the intelligence component is the most important thing, John.

ROBERTS: Interesting aspect there to this whole thing.

Remind us again, Jeanne, why this job has been vacant while -- there hasn't been a permanent person in place since president Obama took office, still using the person who was there during the Bush administration?

MESERVE: Well, they've had an acting administrator since Kip Holly left at the end of the Bush administration, and the Obama administration has gotten some criticism for having such a key job empty for so long because it took until last September to nominate Errol Southers for the post.

He eventually withdrew after questions were raised about a personnel action taken against him years ago.

Even before that, though, Senator Jim DeMint put a hold on Southers nomination over fears the Obama administration was intent on unionizing the TSA work force. We don't know how that's going to play out with the Harding nomination.

Frankly, though, this selection took place very quickly, and an administration official says if there was ever a nominee that warranted an expedited but detailed consideration in the Senate, this is it. John?

ROBERTS: We'll see if he gets it. Thanks very much. Jeanne Meserve for us this morning in Washington.

CHETRY: President Obama will be hitting the road this week to try to close the sale on health care reform with the American people. He says he wants a bill passed by the end of this month with or without Republicans, but even some Democrats sound skeptical of that timetable.

Suzanne Malveaux is live at the White House this morning. And Suzanne, is it realistic that the president can expect to get health care reform through Congress in the next three weeks?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: If you talk to lawmakers, Kiran, a lot of them say no, that's not possible at all and it's not likely, but the White House is certainly pushing for that.

Their goal, at least for part one to be completed by the time the president leaves for Indonesia. Now that happens next Thursday or so. But they want the House to pass the Senate version of health care reform by that time.

And one of the things that is happening here is that White House aides I speak with realize that they need to capitalize off the momentum that the president has been building here to get this thing done. Otherwise, if it doesn't happen soon, it's not going to happen at all.


MALVEAUX: The administration insists there's no deadline for passing a health care bill -- Kathleen Sebelius, Health and Human Services secretary.

KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: What we're talking about, as the president said, is finishing the job, and the urgency, the timetable, is not about some Congressional time clock.

MALVEAUX: But time may be running out to resuscitate health care reform. In fact, President Obama is on the road this week with town hall meetings in Philadelphia and St. Louis to convince the American people that a health care overhaul has to happen now.

BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: If we let this opportunity pass for another year, or another decade, or another generation, more Americans will lose their family's health insurance if they switch jobs or lose their job. More small businesses will be forced to choose between health care and hiring.

More insurance companies will raise premiums and deny coverage, and the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid will sink our government deeper and deeper into debt.

MALVEAUX: It's a tough sell to voters and lawmakers alike, who worry about the effect on patient choice and the plan's price tag.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL, (R) MINORITY LEADER: This is a bill that should not be passed. It is not going to improve American health care. It will raid Medicare, raise taxes, raise premiums. We ought to be going step by step to fix the cost problem.

MALVEAUX: And the possibility that Democrats may use a process known as reconciliation to limit debate on the bill has angered many Republicans.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, (R) UTAH: What they're trying to do is put through a bill that the American public doesn't want by a totally partisan vote, and that's not what reconciliation is all about.

MALVEAUX: Democrats hope they have the votes to pass a bill, but some in the president's own party remain skeptical. And with midterm elections coming in November, many are unsure just how they'll vote.

REP. JASON ALTMIRE, (D) PENNSYLVANIA: In the end I have to make a decision between passing this bill, this is the finish line, or doing nothing. And I'm weighing the balance between the two so. (END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: So Kiran, there are many lawmakers who are in that position, and the tricky part of this is the moderate Democrats. If the House members don't end up passing the Senate version in the next couple of weeks they're going to go home for the Easter recess. They may get an earful from constituents not happy with this health care reform bill, and that may make it even tougher for the president to push this through and sell this.

Obviously the president is going to be leaving in a couple hours from the White House to go to the Philadelphia area to try to push for it and once again capitalize on the momentum that he's been building over the last couple of months, Kiran.

CHETRY: Suzanne Malveaux for us outside the White House today, thank you.

ROBERTS: Also new this morning, they are counting the ballots after a critical test of Iraq's fragile democracy. Yesterday millions of people defied a wave of attacks and went to the polls in the second national election since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.

President Obama praised the performance of Iraqi troops. Earlier I spoke with General Ray Odierno, the commanding general of the multinational force in Iraq, and asked whether Iraqi forces are capable of keeping the peace once U.S. soldiers withdraw.


GEN. RAY ODIERNO, COMMANDING GENERAL, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: I think over time we've been naturally moving towards this point. Iraqis have been taking more and more control for security. I think over the next several months we'll draw down to 50,000. We'll end combat operations, go to a train and advise mission.

And I think they are ready to do that and I think the election and the security they were able to provide proves that.


ROBERTS: Early results from the elections could be released in the next few days, but it could take a couple of month or more to put a government together.

CHETRY: Also, if you need to fill up your tank on your way to work this morning, you may have noticed prices are heading back up. AAA reports that the national average for a gallon of unleaded is $2.75, up nearly 10 cent in the past few weeks, and 80 cents from this time last year.

ROBERTS: And Director Katheryn Bigelow is queen of the world this morning. Her movie "The Hurt Locker" scored a big upset over her ex-husband's blockbuster "Avatar" for best picture at the Academy Awards. Bigelow became the first woman to win best director in the academy's 82-year history. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KATHRYN BIGELOW, DIRECTOR, "THE HURT LOCKER": There's no other way to describe it. It's the moment of a lifetime. First of all, this is so extraordinary to be in the company of such power -- my fellow nominees -- such powerful filmmakers who have inspired me and I have admired for -- some of whom for decades.


ROBERTS: In other categories, Jeff Bridges won best actor for his role in "Crazy Heart," which he actually had to learn how to sing to perform, and Sandra Bullock won best actress for her fabulous performance in the movie "The Blind Side."

CHETRY: There we go.


ROBERTS: Still to come on the Most News in the Morning, American linked to Al Qaeda captured in Pakistan -- who exactly is he, and what does this mean for the fight against terror? We'll break this down with our CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.


ROBERTS: We've got 11 minutes after the hour now.

And we're talking about an arrest in Pakistan. We're getting conflicting reports this morning about the possible arrest of an American-born Al Qaeda spokesman. Pakistani government officials say they have captured Adam Gadahn.

CHETRY: Yes. His arrest, though, is coming just hours after Islamist websites posted video of him praising the November massacre at Ft. Hood. But now some U.S. sources are actually questioning those reports of his capture. CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen joins us from Washington. Peter, good morning, thanks for being with us.


CHETRY: And as we just said, we're getting some conflicting information. Senior Pakistani government officials told our Nic Robertson in fact it is Adam Gadahn, the American spokesman for Al Qaeda, but a Pakistani officer telling the AP it's another American who has a similar name, not Gadahn.

So what do you make of all of this, this morning?

BERGEN: Well, the two people in question, both, as you say, have very similar names, they're not even their real names. They sort of names of jihad, as it were.

But the fact is that an American has been caught, a member of Al Qaeda in Karachi, the largest Muslim city in the world, a city of 18 million people on the coast of -- on Pakistan's southern coast, a place where we've seen the arrests just a few days ago of the number two in the Taliban, a place where Al Qaeda has long had a presence, the Taliban has a presence.

And it's indicative of, you know, the Pakistani intelligence agency helping with the United States to arrest quite a number of people in the last ten days, Kiran.

ROBERTS: You know, Peter, it's John here. The fact that they were arrested in Karachi, there's been some high-profile arrests, what does it say to the idea of the conventional wisdom that all these operatives have been living in the frontier regions in tribal areas on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan?

BERGEN: Well John, as you know, since the summer of 2008 under the Bush administration, now the Obama administration, the American drone program in the tribal region has been exponentially increased, and you'd have to be very, very dumb sitting around waiting to be incinerated by a hellfire missile at this point.

This program has been going on for 18 months, and so I think it was fairly predictable that quite a number of these people if they could get out would go back to the Pakistani cities where until 2004 a lot had been living.

This is sort of a reverse migration. They were in the cities after 9/11. It became too hot for them after 2004. They went to the tribal regions. Now they're going back into the cities, which is, you know, a good news/bad news story, because the cities, there are a lot of people, a lot of eyes, if you make phone calls, these kinds of things, so it signals intelligence. And so, you know, they're really sort of stuck. Their previous safe havens have become less safe over time.

CHETRY: And as you pointed out, in a city, in Karachi, a city of 13 million people, and the influx of more and more people coming across the border every day it seems, how do -- how does this change how we tackle this war on terror and how we try to root out those that have south safe haven in Pakistan?

BERGEN: There was a phase between the fall of the Taliban in the winter of 2001 and 2004 where all these guys, all the Al Qaeda leaders were being captured in Pakistani cities, whether it was Karachi or other big Pakistani cities.

And, you know, logging on to the Internet, making cell phone calls, all these sorts of things led to the capture of these guys. So, you know, unless they have very, very good operational security, the cities are really not a particularly safe haven.

So I think writ large, the arrest today of this American, he may be Adam Gadahn, he may not be, just demonstrates the Pakistani intelligence agencies continue to be pretty proactive with the help of the United States to find both members of the Taliban and Al Qaeda.

ROBERTS: If a lot of these Al Qaeda and Taliban operatives, Peter, are leaving the frontier areas for the cities because as you said the drone program there which has launched so many attacks -- we're going to get you on a little later on this week, by the way, to talk about all of that for us -- does it logically follow that Osama bin Laden may not be in the tribal areas anymore either?

BERGEN: Well, that's a very interesting question, John. I think that he is in or around the tribal areas. After all, this is one of the most recognizable human beings in the world. I don't think that they would take the risk to go into somewhere where there were a lot of eyes. My guess and the guess of a lot of people I've talked to is he's been in one place for a very long time, probably a compound with some electricity, some access to news sources, and, you know, it may be, if not in the tribal regions it is certainly along the Afghan/Pakistan border and, you know, he is staying put.

CHETRY: All right. Well, Peter Bergen, great getting your take this morning, our CNN national security analyst. And, of course, this story is still developing this morning as we said, conflicting reports. Maybe we'll find out more information today about, indeed, whether or not this captured American is Adam Gadahn.

ROBERTS: Trying to straighten it all out for you this morning. Sixteen minutes after the hour. Stay with us. We'll be right back.


CHETRY: Nineteen minutes past the hour. Welcome back. Time for "Minding Your Business" this morning. Christine Romans is here and we're talking census today.


CHETRY: You're going to get that.

ROMANS: I love population statistics.

CHETRY: A lot in the mail.

ROMANS: Yes. You're going to get a letter in the mail, starting today, maybe today, tomorrow, or the next day from the Census Bureau reminding you that you're about to get a big questionnaire in the mail. The questionnaire actually really isn't that big. It's 10 questions that you're going to have to fill out.

This is a copy of what the letter is going to look like. Pretty short. Just a couple of paragraphs. I want to remind you that if you get something else in the mail that looks like a census bureau document that asks you for your social security number or something, don't answer it because that's not real.

OK, so why does this matter to you? This is what determines the number of representatives in Congress. It determines electoral districts. It determines federal aid allocation. Literally billions of billions of dollars are up for grabs for your neighborhood and your state. You always hear about some people who say, oh, you know, this is Orwellian. I don't want the government to know this that or the other thing.

Look, this is how your voice is determined. This is part of a representative, fundamental to a representative democracy. There are about three things that you have civic responsibilities -- jury duty, paying taxes and being counted in the census. This is one of them

Now quickly, the scams. It's inevitable. Phishing, you've heard of phishing, right, where somebody sends you an e-mail. There's going to be no e-mail correspondence from the Census Bureau. If anybody sends you an e-mail asking for your social security number, asking for money, saying they need your credit card or bank information, that is not the government, folks. That's something trying to steal your money. We've already seen it starting to happen. Just a reminder.

Also, if you fill out this form when it comes, you're going to get the advanced letter today. You're going to get the form next week. You fill out this form when it comes, these 10 simple questions, then you're all done. If you don't, then the census is going to send somebody to your house. That's going to cost taxpayers 25 bucks. So, come on, let's save Uncle Sam a couple dollars and just send it in.

ROBERTS: Do you have a "Romans' Numeral" this morning?

ROMANS: 1790.

ROBERTS: The year, right?


ROBERTS: First year of the census.

ROMANS: Yes. Back then, it was on horseback and boats and canoe counting everybody in the country. Believe it or not, though, they have been on horseback and they have been on boats down in the bayou actually counting --

ROBERTS: That's right.

ROMANS: -- counting houses with no electricity, some without even a postal address. They've already been out -- way out in Alaska counting tribes that live on ice floes. They've already been starting to do this.

CHETRY: So you are a numbers maniac. How many people were in the country in 1790?

ROMANS: In 1790, I don't. I know that in 1970 they crossed 200 million. And I know that in 2039, they expect us to cross 400 million. So think of that. Going from 200 million to 400 million people in this country from 1970 to 2039.

ROBERTS: Didn't take long, did it?

ROMANS: It really didn't, no. And you know, look, this is still the -- after everything we've been through, still the land of the American dream, right?

ROBERTS: Yes, it certainly is.

CHETRY: Yes, it is.


CHETRY: Thanks, Christine.

ROBERTS: Christine, thanks.

CHETRY: All right. Well, coming up on the Most News in the Morning, an 8-year-old boy caught up in California's budget crisis. It's an ""A.M. Original" for you, "Saving Carlos." Very, very touching story you'll want to see.

Twenty minutes past the hour.


ROBERTS: Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. Our top stories just about five minutes away now. But first, an "A.M. Original," something that you'll see only on AMERICAN MORNING.

Today, part one of an emotional series that we're calling "Saving Carlos." He's a little boy who suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and severe anxiety.

CHETRY: His family doesn't have insurance and relies on the public mental health system. But now a broken state may be taking out a mortgage on his future. Thelma Gutierrez explains.


THELMA GUTIERREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South Los Angeles, a community of working-class families, hit hard by the economy. As a parent, I often wonder what I would do if one of my kids needed mental health care and I couldn't afford it. I met a boy here who's trapped in that very predicament.

(on camera): This is where he lives. And this is his story.

CARLOS, EIGHT YEARS OLD: My name is Carlos. I am eight years old.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Carlos lives here with his sister and parents. They're unemployed, uninsured, barely scraping by.

CARLOS: I'm going to show you where I sleep. My dad sleeps here and my mom sleeps here. I always dream about my house to be clean, really clean.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): Yes.

Do you want it to be big?

CARLOS: Shiny big. That's more of a prison. When he come, they could get impressive a bit.

GUTIERREZ: Oh, you want someone to come and be impressed by your house?


GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Among Carlos' many challenges in life, he also suffers severe anxiety and ADHD.

GUTIERREZ (on camera): So you were talking about the things that you wish you could change. What would you change?

CARLOS: I would change my life.

GUTIERREZ: You'd change your life?

CARLOS: I was going to -- I dream about I was going to change my life.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): We caught a glimpse into why at St. John's Community Clinic in south Los Angeles. This is where he regularly meets with Elena Fernandez, director of Behavioral Health. She's trying to unlock the causes of his angst.


GUTIERREZ (on camera): Elena is about to begin an art therapy session with Carlos to help him express things that are going on in his life. You might be wondering why a family would allow a camera into a private therapy session like this. But Carlos' mother says she believes it's critical that people understand how important these services are.

FERNANDEZ: The family fights. Then now is that what's happening in this picture here?



CARLOS: So this is my mom.

FERNANDEZ: That's your mom. Yes.

CARLOS: This is my dad.

FERNANDEZ: That's your dad. How does that make you feel?

CARLOS: Sad? I cry.


GUTIERREZ: Carlos tells Elena his dad used to drink, that led to fighting between mom and dad. He says at home there was no escape. That was six months ago.

FERNANDEZ: And now what do you tell them?

CARLOS: I tell them not to fight. But I tell them, if you fight, I'm out of here.

FERNANDEZ: He first came to me because he was having lots of problems at home and mom did not know how to modify his behavior. The teacher was frustrated, did not know how to help Carlos, and was basically just writing him up or sending him to the office or wanted him out of the classroom instead of working with him.

GUTIERREZ: Carlos' mom Leticia tells me, she worried her son was being written off at the age of eight. He felt labeled as a bad kid and rejected by his teacher.

(on camera): Does he have insurance?

LETICIA, CARLOS' MOTHER: (speaking in a foreign language) medical.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): Leticia says she knew he needed mental health care, so she searched for clinics that accepted Medi-Cal, a state public health program for the poor.

(on camera): So Leticia says she tried really hard to get Carlos help. She says she took him to four different clinics and each time she was told, he didn't qualify because he wasn't considered an emergency.

(voice-over): Carlos would have to be physically violent or suicidal to get help.

(on camera): It sounds extreme, but an official with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health told us that right now, clinics are so overloaded and underfunded they're having to triage children. So that means kids like Carlos who need ongoing therapy are not a priority.

FERNANDEZ: Our session today was very positive.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): After nearly a year of searching, Leticia finally found St. John's, a free clinic.

(on camera): They look like fists.

FERNANDEZ: Yes, like fists. So -- and that's what he was able to express. He was able to express the anxiety he feels when his family fights.

GUTIERREZ: If Carlos were not able to come to a therapy session, would he be at risk?

FERNANDEZ: Of course he would be at risk. He would be at risk behaviorally and academically.

GUTIERREZ (voice-over): But now St. John's and other clinics like it are also facing California's bruising budget cuts. Will Carlos be next?

Thelma Gutierrez, CNN, Los Angeles.


CHETRY: Well, tomorrow we're going to take a look at the debate over whether it is the state's responsibility to pick up the bill and what is the mental health of 4,000 kids like Carlos worth to the taxpayers.

ROBERTS: Coming up on the half hour. It's 7:30 Eastern. That means it's time for this morning's top stories.

Former Army General Robert Harding has been chosen by the president to take over the Transportation Security Administration. Department of Homeland Security secretary Janet Napolitano will make that announcement later on today.

Harding is a retired major general with 33 years of service under his belt. The TSA has been without a permanent chief since the end of the Bush administration.

CHETRY: Defense secretary Robert Gates is in Afghanistan. He arrived unannounced this morning to get an update on the massive U.S.- led campaign to root out Taliban fighters in the city of Marjah. Secretary Gates is scheduled to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai as well as the U.S. commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal.

ROBERTS: And early results from Iraq's national election are expected to be released in the next few days. Millions of people went to the polls yesterday despite a wave of violence that killed more than 30 people. Earlier I spoke with General Ray Odierno, he is the commanding general of the multi-national force in Iraq, and asked whether U.S. forces are prepared to handle any violence during the months that it could take to form a new government.


GEN. RAY ODIERNO, COMMANDING GENERAL, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCES -- IRAQ: We're working very hard with the government of Iraq and their caretaker government in order to ensure that security will continue during this time. And I think they have a good plan in place. We're working closely with the Iraqi security forces in order to sustain security during this key piece of time as they form the government.


ROBERTS: President Obama praised the Iraqis for their courage yesterday and reiterated that, "by the end of next year all U.S. troops will be out of Iraq."

CHETRY: Well, a few days ago, a man with two guns, plenty of ammo and a vendetta opened fire at the gate to the Pentagon. Three officers on duty at the time didn't flinch. They took the gunman, John Patrick Bedell, down with lethal force and may have prevented many others from getting killed. They're all with us this morning from the Pentagon.

We have officers Marvin Carraway, Jeffrey Amos and Colin Richards. Thanks to all of you for joining us this morning.


CHETRY: I'm glad to see -- I know that both Officer Carraway and Richards, you were both shot. Thank goodness everybody is OK this morning and able to talk with us. I want to start with you Officer Carraway. You were a Marine for eight years and you said when you made eye contact with this suspect you knew right away he might be up to something. Explain how you first saw him and what went through your mind at the time?

MARVIN CARRAWAY, PENTAGON POLICE OFFICER: Well, I recognized the individual, the shooter walking up towards me, and in my mind I said, OK, it's time to get up and to acknowledge this person coming in. When I looked at the shooter, he looked at me, and I recognized he had a certain look on his face.

Once I saw that, what went through my mind was like, this is it. Something is about to happen.

CHETRY: And so what did you do from there?

CARRAWAY: Well, the shooter continued to look at me. He drew his weapon and he started firing. Once he started firing, I took cover and we all started to return fire after that.

CHETRY: And for people that don't know, you guys actually have -- I guess it's like a booth, if you will, but you're not completely surrounded. There's some bulletproof glass in front of you but the sides are open?

CARRAWAY: That's correct.

CHETRY: All right. And so let me ask Officer Richards, you were also manning that post with Officer Carraway at the time and what were your impressions as the shooter approached?

COLIN RICHARDS, PENTAGON POLICE OFFICER: Well, I thought the shooter was a normal badge holder, so I didn't feel no threat until I saw the gun pull out and aim at Officer Carraway. So by then, we returned fire and Officer Carraway ran for cover.

CHETRY: And Officer Amos, also you were at the exit side when you heard the gunshots. You said you recognized that popping sound as gunfire. What did you do at the time?

JEFFREY AMOS, PENTAGON POLICE OFFICER: Yes I did. Once I recognized it as gunfire I exited the booth at which time I observed the shooter running in my direction with a handgun at which time I returned fire as well.

CHETRY: And you also got shot, right? In the thigh.

AMOS: No. No, ma'am. I got shot in --

CHETRY: In the shoulder?

AMOS: Yes, ma'am. In the right shoulder.

CHETRY: And all of you returned fire as well as another officer. At what point did you realize that you had neutralized the suspect? He was shot in the head and taken away but later determined that he had died. But when did you know things were safe?

CARRAWAY: Once the shooter went down, we approached the shooter and we also tried to preserve the perimeter. The shooter didn't move and basically that was it.

CHETRY: I mean because at the time, you didn't know if this was somebody working alone or whether or not you were going to be shot at again by somebody else or -- what was going on. I imagine this must have been a time of confusion and also uncertainty?

CARRAWAY: There was a lot of chaos. Fortunately for us, our training kicked in.

CHETRY: And let me ask you, Officer Richards, you talked about this being almost surreal, you didn't know at the time whether it was even a prank. I mean, you know, must have just really caught you by surprise. I mean we talk about the thousands of people that go in and out every day that come up to your guard post, show their Pentagon I.D. and keep moving.

RICHARDS: Yes, ma'am. Everything happened in a split second. The shooter was like so close, like when he shot, I was surprised that he missed because I thought he hit me or I thought he hit Officer Carraway. So training kicked in. I ran for cover. And that's what happened.

CHETRY: It could have turned out very differently. You guys are all very heroic for what you did and for what you really do every single day. It's just that on most days, this doesn't happen. The worst case scenario doesn't happen. But you know, let me ask Officer Amos first, are you going to think twice when you go back to your post and when you go back to duty, is this something that's going to stick with you?

AMOS: Yes. It's going to be on my mind, but I'm always vigilant on my post, you know. Like I said, at that particular time when it happened and we saw the action -- actually when I saw the threat was neutralized, I immediately went back to the exit to make sure that nobody was coming up to ambush us from the rear.

CHETRY: And Officer Carraway, as well, I mean, does anything need to change about the way that the posts are and the way that whole setup is at the Pentagon? I know after 9/11 they moved that entrance back. You used to be able to just go right up into the building. But do you think that anything else needs to change to make sure everybody is safe? CARRAWAY: No, ma'am. We work hard, we train hard. Our mission is to protect the -- our mission is to protect the Pentagon and its tenants.

CHETRY: Yes. Well, you certainly did that. What's to prevent somebody else with a gun coming up and confronting officers outside of the Pentagon?

CARRAWAY: I guess that's what we were there for. You know, they train us for the job and we're there to do the job.

CHETRY: Well, as we said before thank goodness you guys were not hurt more severely and you're back on the job and we're certainly glad to have you there. Thanks to all of you for joining us this morning, Marvin Carraway, Jeffery Amos and Colin Richards, all Pentagon police officers that certainly did their duty that day, thank you very much.

CARRAWAY: Thank you for having us.

AMOS: Thank you.

ROBERTS: We've got 37 minutes after the hour now. Same-sex marriage becomes legal in the nation's capital today, but one prominent charity is taking some pretty drastic measures to ensure that it doesn't have to pay benefits to the same-sex spouse of one of its employees. We'll tell you all about that, coming right up. Stay with us.


ROBERTS: Twenty minutes now to the top of the hour. Welcome back to the most news in the morning. Starting tomorrow, same sex couples will be able to legally marry in the nation's capital. Also starting tomorrow, Catholic Charities in Washington implement a controversial benefits cut for employees. And the timing as our Kate Bolduan reports, is no coincidence.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Same-sex couples in Washington can legally marry in the district starting Tuesday.


BOLDUAN: But even before the first couple walks down the aisle there's controversial fallout from the city's decision. Catholic Charities, the social services arm of the archdiocese of Washington, just announced it will no longer offer health benefits to spouses of any new employee or current employees who aren't already covered under its plan. As a result, the non-profit is effectively avoiding having to give benefits to same-sex partners, keeping with the church's opposition to same-sex marriage.

(on camera): How long have you and your partner been together?

CHRIS HINKLE, GAY, PRACTICING CATHOLIC: We've been together for 10 years.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Chris Hinkle is gay and a practicing Catholic. He lives in Virginia and worships in Washington. Hinkle views the developments in D.C. as two steps forward and quickly two steps back for the gay and lesbian community and its strained relationship with the Catholic church.

(on camera): Why is it disappointing to you?

HINKLE: It's a slap in the face. Yes. It's prejudice.

BOLDUAN: Catholic Charities declined to comment but the archdiocese of Washington made a point to say that less than 10 percent of Catholic Charities employees take part in its health insurance program, suggesting that a small portion of the staff will be affected by the change in policy.

(voice-over): And in a statement the archdiocese says "This approach allows Catholic Charities to continue to provide services to the 68,000 people it now cares for in the city. To comply with the city's new requirements and to remain faithful to our Catholic identity." A stance some Catholics say is damaging the church's public image.

CHRIS KORZEN, DIRECTOR, CATHOLICS UNITED: They're getting a view of the church that isn't necessarily consistent with our values. We don't say that people who -- don't deserve health insurance because they happen to be in a certain kind of marriage or a certain kind of relationship. That's just not what we teach.

BOLDUAN: The very same message Chris Hinkle is trying to send as he fights for acceptance.

HINKLE: I want people to treat others with justice. That is a message that I think Jesus Christ himself had exemplified.

BOLDUAN (on camera): And in today's world, you think that applies to health care as well as the right to marry?

HINKLE: Absolutely it does. Absolutely.

BOLDUAN (voice-over): Kate Bolduan, CNN, Washington.


CHETRY: Still ahead, Rob Marciano is going to be checking in with us. The spring-like temperatures for most of the northeast, how long will it last, though? We're going to find out. 43 minutes after the hour.


CHETRY: A look at Boston this morning, where it's fair, 43 degrees. A little bit later it's going to be mostly sunny and 55 degrees. Certainly a welcome temperature in Boston today for March.

Forty-five minutes past the hour. We check in with Rob Marciano. They're hoping it lasts for St. Patrick's Day, right?

ROB MARCIANO, AMS METEOROLOGIST: That would be nice. Another week or so.

CHETRY: One more week. Sixty degrees for St. Pat.

MARCIANO: You know, it's usually pretty nice for St. Patrick's Day. If they, you know, maybe sunny with a little bit of a crisp in the air.

It's way too far off, though, to nail that down, but if it was today it would be pretty nice. Temperatures even a couple degrees higher than they were yesterday.

We're watching this storm coming out into Texas now. It brought some rain and some snow across parts of the intermountain west, especially the southern part. It's beginning to top -- tap some tropical moisture out of the Gulf of Mexico and that will start to increase the amount of rain that we see.

The amount of snow we saw as far south as Arizona, 12 inches; a ski (ph) Santa Fe, 9 inches; Durango seeing 9 inches; even the Grand Canyon seeing 8, 9 inches there, and Las Vegas skiers are (ph) seeing 7 inches. All right. Here you go. A little bit of light --more in the way of light mountain snow expected today, and then the rains beginning to move into Dallas and Houston.

Check out the rains that fell in Melbourne, Australia. My goodness, it rained about an inch in less than an hour, and that included some hail that piled up and flooded the streets. So you're seeing hail floating on top of streets that are -- are flooded with water and they've had quite a bit of rain across parts -- at least parts of Central and Eastern Australia over the last week and they're having a hard time getting through it, that's for sure.

You may have a hard time getting through some of the fog today in Minneapolis and Chicago, dense fog advisories out this morning, so kind of soupy there, and those would be a couple of the airports that were highlighted to see potential delays, including Denver as well. You might see some low visibility. A little bit of wind across New York, but it wouldn't be a cold wind, thankfully, but that may slow down a few of the airports.

Fifty-nine degrees expected in Dallas. Look at Memphis, 71; 68 in Atlanta, which feels good; and 58 degrees, not too shabby, up there in New York. Enjoy it while it lasts, guys. I'm not sure how long that's going to happen.

Back to you.

ROBERTS: All right. We will. We'll take your advice. We'll enjoy it while we got it. Thanks, Rob.

This morning's top stories just minutes away now, including many say it was the most important unfilled post in this administration. Now, President Obama has tapped a chief for the TSA. Is it the right choice?

CHETRY: Also, a school accused of giving kids laptops and then spying on them at home. Well, there's new fallout this morning. Do we know now who was watching?

ROBERTS: And at the half past the hour, President Obama saying the jury is still out over where to hold the 9/11 terror trial. Two former CIA officers will debate the issue, one saying let the military handle it, the other saying bring him to New York.

Those stories and more coming your way at the top of the hour.


ROBERTS: Seven and a half minutes now to the top of the hour. Welcome back to the Most News in the Morning. It is time for your "A.M. House Call", stories about your health this morning.

Every year in this country, nearly 98,000 Americans die from preventable medical mistakes and hospitals are facing now pressure to improve their procedures.

CHETRY: But what we're learning is that it really is up to us as patients to keep from becoming a statistic.

This is Patient Safety Awareness Week, and this morning we're joined by Baltimore doctor Peter Pronovost. He's a professor at Johns Hopkins University, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and a patient safety expert.

Doctor, thanks for being with us this morning.


CHETRY: One of the things we want to talk about is this checklist that you talked about, first for doctors. And it seems pretty straightforward when you look at it, washing your hands, disinfecting patient's skin before a procedure, making sure you wear a cap and a gown -- how is this helped improved and reduced mistakes and sometimes unintentional deaths.

I mean, it seems -- seems pretty basic.

PRONOVOST: You're absolutely right, Kiran.

When patients go to the hospital, they expect to be helped, yet too often they're harmed. We estimate that 31,000 people die from central line infections each year in this country and we virtually eliminated them, not just at John Hopkins but throughout the State of Michigan using these simple checklists. Now, what --

ROBERTS: We should just point out here, Dr. Pronovost, first of all, for folks at home who aren't really familiar with it, a central line is a what? PRONOVOST: The central line is a catheter that is placed into the large veins outside your heart. They typically deliver medicines. They allow us to monitor your heart functions, and patients having a large surgery, patients getting dialysis, patients getting chemotherapy, patients often getting prolonged antibiotics need these catheters, and they do good but they also pose risks.

CHETRY: Right. One of the statistics is pretty shocking. It's that roughly every year they say that 80,000 patients get these infections in the central line which you also described as basically just a large IV, and that 30,000 to 60,000 people die from that alone.

So, if you're a patient and you're going to -- you know, it's such a confusing time. You're sort of at the mercy of, you know, the people that are there taking care of you. How do you prevent that?

PRONOVOST: You're absolutely right. Well, the patients really need to be engaged in this, and what they should do is when they go to the hospital, ask what are the risks of being infected? So that is what is the hospital's infection rate?

It should be around 1 per thousand catheter days (ph), and if the hospital doesn't know their rate, that would be concerning.

They should be participating in this large effort to eliminate these infections. After (ph) Michigan, we're putting this program in every state, in every hospital, and in some states only 20 percent of hospitals are participating and they all need to.

They should ask, if they're going to have a catheter, are they using this checklist? It represents the best evidence that we know.

ROBERTS: You know, can -- can these checklists, Dr. Pronovost, be applied to other aspects of medicine as well?

You know, when you think of a pilot, when they get into the cockpit of an aircraft, they go through a checklist every time, regardless of what procedure they're doing, if it's just routine for takeoff, a landing or if it's an -- if it's an emergency, they've got a checklist. Should the hospitals have these checklists basically across the spectrum of the procedures that they -- they engage in?

PRONOVOST: Well, you're absolutely right. Health care is grossly under standardized.

Now, we benefited from innovation in medicine when people did their own thing. We invented new operations, we identified new drugs, but now our body of knowledge of what works is grown substantial enough that we don't need innovation in some things. We need blocking and tackling like these to prevent these infections.

We know doing these five things will nearly eliminate infections, yet, on their own, doctors seem to do them 30 percent of the time.

CHETRY: And that's unbelievable. You also talked about the need to sort of ask these same questions and some -- you know, when I read some of it, I mean, asking everybody who comes into your room, have you washed your hands, asking daily do you need a catheter, I mean, this is a level of pro-activity, and in some cases people don't necessarily feel comfortable asking, you know, their practitioner if you washed your hands.

How do you sort of eliminate that fear or, you know, uncertainty about that type of communication?

PRONOVOST: Well, you're absolutely right, Kiran. In any relationship, both parties have to be comfortable, and it's scary for patients to question their physicians. Many patients haven't grown up with that. But there's overwhelming data that patients get better care, that they have better outcomes when they're actively involved in making decisions about their care.

On the other hand, our doctors need to be welcoming of questions, and far too often physicians send subtle or perhaps not so subtle messages that they don't want to be questioned, and that needs to chance, because together we're going to get better care.

ROBERTS: Well, whatever you can do to change the culture, I'm sure, would be welcome.

Dr. Peter Pronovost this morning, minding your health. Thanks very much for being with us. We really appreciate it.

PRONOVOST: Great. Thanks for having me.

ROBERTS: All right.

CHETRY: We're going to take a quick break. It's 57 minutes past the hour. We're back with your top stories in 90 seconds.