Return to Transcripts main page

CNN SUNDAY MORNING

Staten Island Ferry Crash; Oil Spill Lab Test

Aired May 9, 2010 - 08:00   ET

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


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: She actually did that better than Sanjay.

RICHELLE CAREY, CNN ANCHOR: She's pretty good.

HOLMES: He should have her doing it all along actually. Oh, just kidding.

But from the CNN Center in Atlanta, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. It's 8:00 a.m. where we are here in Atlanta; 7:00 a.m. in Nashville; 5:00 a.m. out in San Diego, wherever you may be -- glad you're right here. I'm T.J. Holmes.

CAREY: And -- oh, sorry.

HOLMES: It's all right.

CAREY: I'm just excited. It's Mother's Day. I'm Richelle Carey. Happy Mother's Day to my mom and all the moms out there. Thank you for starting your day with us.

HOLMES: We'll certainly be saluting the moms a little more throughout this hour.

Also, we're going to talk about the defense secretary, Robert Gates. He is talking about some major cuts at the Defense Department. And one thing he says, there are too many generals and admirals. We're going to get into that with a conversation a little later this morning.

CAREY: I wonder how that generals and admirals feel about that.

HOLMES: Right.

CAREY: All right. Federal investigators are also at the sight of that ferry crash that happened yesterday. We've followed it extensively.

This morning, they're trying to find out what happened. They're thinking mechanical problems. Thirty-six people were hurt. This is the same vessel involved in that crash back in 2003 where 11 people were killed.

We are going to have the latest on all that. We're going to take a look at your headlines as well. HOLMES: Up first here, the president, he is weighing in. He is, hopefully, going to be making a decision real soon about who exactly is going to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. The president has reportedly interviewed all four candidates that are on his short list. He is due to make the announcement on his nominee any day now.

Three days now after the U.K.'s national election. Great Britain is still in some political limbo. None of three parties is earning a voting majority or coalition agreement. More talks are slated for today.

Also, in flood-ravaged Nashville, the cleanup is job one after last week's deadly storms that are now, the flood is blamed for killing 31 people across three states, much of those fatalities happened in Nashville. Yesterday, the homeland security chief, Janet Napolitano, got a firsthand view of that destruction which is now estimated to cost some $1.5 billion.

Well, also, up to the National Transportation Safety Board now -- investigators are on the job trying to figure out what caused the Staten Island Ferry to slam into the terminal yesterday morning.

CNN's Susan Candiotti talked to some of those rattled passengers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The 20-minute ferry ride from Manhattan to Staten Island was routine until the captain couldn't brake. It was a minute before he pulled into the dock.

DUANE FORREST, PASSENGER: I suddenly heard a series of buzzers and then I heard someone say, red, red, red.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It if it wasn't for ferry worker yelling, "Brace yourself," we wouldn't have known. I mean, it literally happened, he said, "Brace yourself," and we have.

CANDIOTTI: Hitting the dock hard enough to blow two holes into the hull on each side about 17 feet above the water line. Investigators say the ferry was churning ahead at full speed, just under six miles an hour when the throttle appeared to fail. Emergency crews were on the scene quickly attended to the injured. Of the 250 passengers aboard, 36 were taken to hospitals, most with minor injuries.

After a week that included an attempted car bombing in Times Square, tourists aboard the ferry were especially rattled.

SHEILA FORREST, PASSENGER: You know, all the stuff that you hear goes on here in New York. And you are thinking, oh, my gosh, what's happened now.

CANDIOTTI: Coincidentally, the same ferry was involved in a 2003 accident that left 11 killed. Its captain was convicted of manslaughter. He admitted being on medication that made him sleepy.

Citing a series of mechanical failures over the years that lead to accidents, a New York congressman is calling for a closer look.

REP. MICHAEL MCMAHON (D), NEW YORK: Every time a Staten Islander or a visitor gets on our ferry, they should feel safe and confident. And this does raise some alarm bells.

CANDIOTTI: Ferry officials bristled when asked about this boat's maintenance record.

JAMES DISIMONE, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, STATEN ISLAND FERRY: It is maintained in accordance with the highest standards of the American Bureau of Shipping and the United States Coast Guard. It is fully maintained.

CANDIOTTI (on camera): There will be an investigation into what caused a sudden mechanical failure that for about two hours shut down ferries that normally handle about 65,000 passengers daily.

Susan Candiotti, CNN, Staten Island, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: Some people are now saying that their worst fears are becoming realized. Golf ball-size balls of tar started washing up along three miles of Alabama coastline. This is off Dauphin Island. A woman found these balls of tars, said they actually looked like tree bark but had a liquid consistency. She certainly believes it's oil.

The tar is being examined to determine if it actually came from the leaking oil well -- the one that's causing all the problems in the Gulf right now.

Well, CNN's Brooke Baldwin joining us from Biloxi, Mississippi.

And, Brooke, we know, yesterday we were hoping yesterday it was going to be a big day and we would find out that maybe this dome they put over top of this leak was going to get this thing stopped. But they are calling it not necessarily a success yesterday.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. But that didn't quite happen. I thought I'd be standing here this morning, the big day, Sunday, I could tell you that this dome was officially placed over this massive leak. That didn't happen.

We heard from B.P's COO, Doug Suttles, he stopped short of calling this dome effort a failure, said, what we attempted to do last night, being Friday night, just didn't quite work.

Here's where we stand. That dome is now still sitting on the sea floor next to the leak. The problem are all these hydrates, think of ice-like crystals that are essentially clogging this containment dome. So it's a huge problem for B.P.

They're having to think plan B may be perhaps warming up and melting those crystals or what they are calling a jump shot, sort of injecting all this ground up materials through that blowout preventer, that valve that has been broken, perhaps that could clog the leak. They liken that to perhaps clogging a toilet.

But so far, T.J., we won't even know what plan B, plan C may be, for another couple of days.

HOLMES: They are really making those up as they go along. Stuff like this hasn't been tried before. Hopefully, they come up with something else that works.

But in the meantime, this oil, this gunk, still keeps going out into the Gulf. And you got to scoop up some of this stuff and trying to figure out exactly -- just how potent some of this stuff is and some of this oil is.

BALDWIN: Right. So, we were out along the Chandeleur Islands which is we were able to first report seeing some of this oil, 25 miles offshore. I scooped it up in this water bottle. Some of the ship captains I've talked to sort of wishful thinking, saying, hang on, Brooke, this may just be red algae.

We wanted to be sure. So, we took this water bottle to the -- I want to get the name of the lab -- Micro-Methods Lab in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. They did this whole 24-hour chemical process and essentially extracted -- if you can see it -- see this teeny-tiny bottle. This is a vial of what is definitely oil.

Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: All right, Harry. We brought you our mix of what we thought was oil and water. Was it oil?

HARRY HOWELL, MICRO-METHODS LABORATORY, INC.: Actually, it was. I showed you the extraction we did yesterday. And what you're having here is a concentrated material that came out of your sample. And we injected it in our machine. We were able to identify the concentration of oil.

BALDWIN: And so, this is the teeny-tiny bottle. And this is what you extracted. And this is the oil. And was it pretty potent?

HOWELL: Yes. It was the highest sample we have gotten into the laboratory.

BALDWIN: The highest sample?

HOWELL: Yes.

BALDWIN: Highest potency?

HOWELL: Yes.

BALDWIN: Are you surprised? HOWELL: Yes. Yes. I'm a little surprised. But many samples that we've gotten up to this point, of course, were pre-contaminant samples. So, again, I don't know where you took the sample. But, obviously, it was in high contamination.

BALDWIN: I took it off the Chandeleur Islands near a popular fishing spot, near a pelican nesting area. I know you're no marine biologist, but this cannot be good for the wildlife.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: And his answer, essentially, was no.

And, T.J., really, bottom line as we continue to focus on what's happening 5,000 feet under the surface of the water, the political, economic and ecological ramifications of this spill still really unknown -- T.J.

HOLMES: All right. Brooke Baldwin for us in Biloxi this morning -- Brooke, we appreciate you as always.

CAREY: Ash from that volcano in Iceland, it is ruining another weekend for travelers in Europe. I know you thought this was over. Well, flights are canceled at airports in Italy, Spain, Scotland, flights in and out of Portugal, France and Switzerland -- that could be next.

So, who better to put this all in perspective than our Reynolds Wolf, joining us at the weather center.

My friend, Reynolds Wolf, we go back to Saint Louis together, don't we?

REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we do.

And anyone trying to make it there today wouldn't have any problem at all. But trying to get back to Europe, as you mentioned, might be very difficult because that ash plum we're talking about. Very bad for jet engines to fly to something like that because that air, that plume, contains so many of those, the pyroclastic materials, that small grains that can actually wreak havoc with those engines. And so, we've got widespread delays, all kinds of cancellations in places like Milan, Florence, six airports, in fact, in Scotland are going to be shut down.

Now, travel here in the U.S., we should mention today, is St. Louis, not too many problems. Pretty nice for you in the southeast on this Mother's Day. In parts of the northeast, some scattered snow showers are going to be a possibility. That's right. Some snow. We have some yesterday in parts of Michigan and Minnesota.

We'll look for some raindrops in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and for places like the Gulf Coast should be pretty nice, high is in the 80s. But the wind will be a little bit strong in the Gulf of Mexico, at times, into the northwest and about 15 to 20 knots. So, you could see waves anywhere from four to five feet. And in terms of your temperatures, what you can expect for the day, getting close to the 90s in parts of Florida. But with the high humidity, it's certainly going to feel like into the 90s. Seventy- five in New York, 70 in Boston, back over to Kansas City, 62; 77 in Dallas, but may cool down rather quickly in Dallas. That rain could move into the region.

Ninety-seven in Phoenix, three degree shy from 100. Seattle with 67, and San Francisco with 58.

Now, I want you really to hone in on parts of the Central Plains because tomorrow, what we're going to see is an area of low pressure build its way into parts of, say, the panhandle of Oklahoma. And by the late afternoon, we have a chance of severe storms. Not only do we have strong thunderstorms, but there is a chance we may have some tornadoes pop up through the afternoon hours, I'd say between the hours of 3:00, 4:00, maybe as late as 6:00 to 7:00. So that could be very, very interesting.

But that will be tomorrow. Today, it is Mother's Day. It should be just great for a lot of folks out there.

Richelle and T.J., I know it's -- I know you guys don't have any kids, but if you want to borrow some, I'd be more than happy to let you borrow my daughters. Couple of weeks, if need be.

CAREY: Do they behave like you, Reynolds?

WOLF: A little bit, kind of, just smaller and more destructive. But, still, good times. And, you know, we just like to share the love.

CAREY: Yes, we do. Thank you, Reynolds.

HOLMES: Well, we've got the shoe bomber; we've had other bomber in New York's Times Square; we had the Christmas Day bomber as well. What exactly is going on? We are going to take a deeper look at just exactly why we are seeing what some called lone wolves who are inspired by at least other broader terror groups. We're going to have a conversation about it coming up.

CAREY: Plus, a week of thanks. How about that? Mother's Day, Teacher Appreciation Week, did you know that? We're going to share some pretty inspiring stories with you this morning.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN SHEMANSKI, U.S. ARMY: Hi. My name is Sergeant Justin Shemanski.

JORDAN SHEMANSKI, U.S. ARMY: I'm his little brother, Lance Corporal Jordan Shemanski. JUSTIN SHEMANSKI: And we are currently employed to Afghanistan in support of Operation: Enduring Freedom. We would just like to wish our mom, Amy, a happy Mother's Day back home in Flint, Michigan. We miss you and we will see you soon.

JORDAN SHEMANSKI: We love you, mom.

TSGT. SCOTT REITZ, U.S. ARMY: Hi. This Technical Sergeant Scott Reitz for the 738th Air Expeditionary Advisory Group in Kandahar, Afghanistan. I'd like to wish my wife, Amanda Reitz, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a happy Mother's Day. I love you and miss you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: U.S. officials are still trying to determine if Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, was trained in Pakistan. The suspect reportedly in talks, actually is still being interrogated by investigators. He's still in custody.

They believe he was trained to build bombs by Pakistani Taliban. But, was this failed bombing a signal that militants have shifted attacks to the U.S.?

Paul Cruickshank is an expert on global terrorism. He joins us now live from New York.

Sir, thank you for being with us.

It seems like we have seen so many. We've seen what happened on Christmas Day. We've seen Faisal Shahzad. We have seen -- it just seems like somebody's high profile -- almost lone wolves who are inspired or has some connection, but maybe not, in fact, a part of a global terrorist network.

So, what are we to make of this? Are they any more motivated to kill Americans these days? Or is this just a change in strategies and tactics?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, this is a very worrying case. This case with Shahzad, he does seem to have had some connections to established jihadist groups back in Pakistan, though, the line of inquiry of U.S. authorities right now is that he had connections to the Pakistani Taliban which is a jihadist group closely affiliated with al Qaeda. These groups have gone more and more into the global jihad business in recent years. And they've started to try and plot attacks in the west.

This group, back in 2008, tried to launch a plot in Barcelona, Spain. They came pretty close there. This may well be an attempted attack by the Pakistani Taliban in Times Square, T.J.

But you are right. You know, that there are more and more individuals becoming radicalized, particularly here in the United States. We have 16 cases of Americans becoming implicated in terrorism, which is a real surge in the number of cases here. Al Qaeda or Pakistani Taliban or other groups -- they're trying to use Americans, T.J., to launch attacks back here in the United States.

HOLMES: Trying to use Americans. What are we to make of this that this fellow was a naturalized American citizen, talking about Faisal Shahzad?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, who better to launch an attack on the United States but an American, I mean, from al Qaeda. You know, 9/11 was people from the Middle East being trained in Afghanistan. Well, now, they're managing to train Americans to launch attacks back here. Americans are able to operate here, they have passports.

They are able, you know, to operate with sort of impunity here in the United States. They are comfortable here. They know the country. They know the vulnerabilities.

And this individual who tried to attack Times Square, which has been a target for al Qaeda before -- and he knew how much disruption that would cause, T.J.

HOLMES: Paul, how difficult or how easy is it to recruit an American?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, it's becoming more easy for al Qaeda and other groups to recruit Americans particularly because of the Internet and particularly because of the growth of social media. They are able to interact with people online.

There are some reports that the Pakistani Taliban recruited this guy online or they made contact with him online. There are reports that he was radicalized by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American cleric in Yemen, online.

So, the Internet is really allowing al Qaeda to sort of bring its ideology to the United States, this growing radicalization here, according to officials, and that's because of Web sites, but it's also because the radical preachers which are operating more and more here in the United States, protected by the First Amendment, bringing al Qaeda's message here to the United States, T.J.

HOLMES: Well, that is some scary stuff. And it's scary to think that it's so much harder to identify. You got a guy like Faisal Shahzad, who has been here for quite some time, a naturalized American citizen. How do you spot these guys now?

Paul Cruickshank, we appreciate you.

And people are going to be able to hear a lot more from you. We certainly appreciate you being here with us.

But Paul is one of the experts that's going to be featured in "American al Qaeda," it's "AC360" special series with Nic Robertson. And that series premieres Monday at 10:00 p.m. here on CNN. Paul Cruickshank, we appreciate you being here with us.

Quick break. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAREY: Checking our top stories now.

Police in Juarez, Mexico, are investigating an attack at a wedding. It's happened Friday. One guest was killed. The grooms' relatives and his best man -- they were all kidnapped. Right now, authorities don't know if this is related to the city's ongoing war between rival drug gangs.

Well, a strong earthquake struck off the Indonesian coast this morning, magnitude 7.4. It did trigger a tsunami watch. It was canceled about 45 minutes later though. No immediate word on damage or casualties.

And there will be no fourth term in the U.S. Senate for Bob Bennett. He's a Utah Republican that didn't get enough votes at the state's GOP convention yesterday to even make it to the primary. He is the first perceived victim of the growing anti-incumbent backlash focused right on Washington.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(MUSIC)

HOLMES: All right. If you ever wanted to thank or maybe even hug your teacher, this was the week to do it actually.

CAREY: Absolutely. It is Teacher Appreciation Week. It's about to wrap up, but not before CNN student news anchor, Carl Azuz gives us more inspiration behind education.

CARL AZUZ, CNN STUDENT NEWS ANCHOR: Yes. Yes, we do. It's traditionally a very popular time for our blog, because students are logging on and they're talking to us about the teachers who have influenced them. We've got over 700 comments, I think, so far. A lot more are coming in. We're trying to moderate them as fast as we can.

But we had some teachers here at the CNN Center. They were taking the Inside CNN studio tour. And we asked them who influenced them, who inspired them to become teachers. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One teacher in high school, Mr. George Wolf (ph), who said, you are a flake, but you're really going to be a really good teacher.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My music teacher in high school was a huge influence over me and taught me so much more than just about music.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would have to say my 11th great chemistry teacher, Mrs. Harris. She really showed me that I can do anything if I just worked hard at it. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think probably my most great inspiration was my mom. She had a joy for life and a joy for education and she just -- she was always a great encouragement to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

AZUZ: And my mom has been a great encouragement to me as well. She is a teacher. She is watching. What a perfect segue into the happy Mother's Day I wanted to wish her this morning.

HOLMES: I didn't know that. My mom is also a retired elementary school teacher.

AZUZ: Oh, we certainly appreciate her work as a teacher.

HOLMES: Teachers and mothers, wow. That's a good way to button it up there.

(LAUGHTER)

AZUZ: Two birds, one stone. Thank you, both, very much.

HOLMES: Good to see you as always, buddy.

AZUZ: Thank you, guys.

CAREY: Well, months after the devastation in Haiti, hundreds of children still at risk. Tonight, CNN's Soledad O'Brien introduces to you Haiti's orphans, the people who came to the rescue of the children in all those photos seen all around the world in appeals for charity. "Rescued" tonight, 8:00 Eastern, only on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: Hey, there, everybody. Welcome back to the CNN SUNDAY MORNING, coming up on the bottom of the hour now. Thank you all for being here.

Some of the top stories we're keeping an eye on.

First of all, President Obama expected at any moment probably to hear who he is going to pick to replace retiring Supreme Court justice, John Paul Stevens. The president has reportedly interviewed all four candidates on his short list. He could, again, make that announcement, as Robert Gibbs, his spokesperson, at any moment.

Also, in flood-ravaged Nashville, the cleaning up is job number one after last week's deadly storms are now being blamed for killing at least 30 people across three states. Those fatalities, most of them happened in Nashville.

Yesterday, the homeland security chief, Janet Napolitano, got a firsthand view of the destruction now estimated to be at least $1.5 billion.

And there's another setback as workers try capping that gushing oil well out in the Gulf of Mexico. B.P. officials say they have encountered a type of gaseous crystal that's hindering the recovery efforts as more report comes in of suspected tar balls washing ashore.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says there's a problem with military spending. And he wants to fix it. He is ordering some big cuts in the Pentagon's bureaucracy. He wants to find at least $10 billion in savings, that's the amount he said that's needed to prevent an erosion of U.S. combat power. He spoke yesterday in Kansas.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: The Department of Defense cannot go to America's elected Representatives and ask for increases every year until we have done everything possible to make every dollar count unless there is real reform in the way the Department of Defense does its business and spends taxpayer dollars.

What is required going forward is not more study nor do we need more legislation. It is not a great mystery what needs to change. What it takes is the political will and willingness as Eisenhower possessed to make hard choices; choices that will displease powerful people both inside the Pentagon and out.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Well, I want to bring in now to talk about this with us: Retired Army General Mark Kimmitt, he's a contractor for the Pentagon. He's currently in Oman, Jordan; he's on the line with us. And also our Washington correspondent, our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr; on the phone with us as well. Thank you both for jumping on the phone here for us this morning.

And Barbara, I want to start with you. There has been some talk certainly over the past year about cutting programs, cutting particular things. But he is talking about a major overhaul here. And we're hearing him talk about and acknowledging the politics of just what he has on his hands right now.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, that's absolutely right, T.J. I mean, listen, the two keywords the Secretary said there were political will. It can be done. It isn't a mystery.

The Pentagon is full of people with jobs you are not too sure what they do, money being spent, what these programs that are no longer needed. But you know, all of this spending is approved by Congress.

And the political will to cut it, to challenge the lobbyists is very tough. And every Secretary in the last 50 years has talked about this. None of them have really made it happen.

HOLMES: General Kimmit, he actually says, Secretary Gates says these savings are needed to prevent an erosion of U.S. combat power. What does he mean about that? GEN. MARK KIMMITT, U.S. ARMY (RET.) (via telephone): Well, what he means is that -- to maintain the current force structure, the number of troops and the type of equipment that they have, it constantly requires increased pay and increased capabilities.

Hence, that means you've got to have a larger budget every year. He sees the political wins and recognizes that he will not be able to get the budgets that he needs. What he wants to do is protect the muscle. He thinks by cutting away at some of the fat, he can free up the money necessary to keep the constantly increasing budget to maintain a strong and ready force.

HOLMES: And you're talking about cutting some of that fat and he in particular he talked about cutting, we've got too many generals and admirals who are in the military service right now. And Barbara something else General Kimmitt just hit on was the fact that winds have changed.

You've been around at Pentagon for quite some time. And you saw it after -- we all saw after 9/11 and the will was there to give the military whatever they needed in the budget to fight this global war on terror as it was called at the time.

But now, things have changed a bit. And Gates seems to be recognizing that.

STARR: Oh, absolutely. I mean, that's speaking of money since 9/11, is about to be turned off. There's going to be no free flowing cash anymore.

Very interestingly, one of the targets in Gates' budget crosshairs is spending on military health care.

We're not talking about for the wounded. We're talking about the routine health care costs for the tens of thousands of people in the U.S. military. It is costing billions every year. And one of the things the Secretary wants to do is that very basic thing of having some military members pay more for their own cost of health care. There's going to a huge lobbying fight against that. But yet, it's a big way to save a big chunk of money very quickly.

HOLMES: And General Kimmitt, how difficult is this? Military man yourself, you all oftentimes you -- it's just a fact of life, you have to dip into and put on a political hat sometimes, because General -- I mean, Secretary Gates knows you try to cut the military. You just come out and say you want to cut the military budget, you're going to have people coming out and saying, wait a minute, you're trying to weaken our military.

And also, if you try to cut programs or people, then you've got all these members of Congress talking about how their district or their constituents are going to be affected. Just how fine of a line and difficult of a task is it sometimes to have to be part soldier, part politician?

KIMMITT: Well, as Barbara Starr noted, Defense Secretaries from last 50 years to include the President himself -- President Eisenhower railed against this system. That's why President Gates (SIC) used the opportunity at the Eisenhower Library to do this.

But Secretary Gates has taken an interesting approach. He's directing the military services, joint staff, the functional regional command and the civilians to take a hard and unsparing look at how they operate. He wants them to come up with the savings. Because he is directing them to find the savings so that we can transfer, as he says, transfer those savings to force structure modernization.

It's cut the fat to take care of the muscle.

HOLMES: And Barbara, the halls of the Pentagon, I mean this is not a surprise, we've heard certainly Secretary Gates kind of hint at this. And we knew kind of some things were coming. He is starting to get more and more specific with it.

But just what has the buzz? What is it like around the halls of the Pentagon these days when they know some of this stuff is cutting, is going to be cut and how they might and the military might be affected?

STARR: Well, you know, I have to tell you, Secretary Gates has quite an aura up and down the hallways of the Pentagon for his ability to get things done. He may look like a very nice sort of, you know, elderly white-haired gentlemen. He is, yes, he is ruthless.

There are people who are already wondering about their jobs, their programs. When the Secretary wants something done around the hallways of the Pentagon, generally, the best thing to do is agree with him and start moving in that direction if you want to keep your job.

HOLMES: All right, well, Barbara Starr, again her words, that elderly white-haired ruthless gentleman -- Barbara Starr, we certainly understand what you mean there. Barbara, we appreciate you hopping on with us.

General Kimmitt we certainly appreciate you as well hopping on the phone and giving us your perspective. We'll talk to you both again soon. Thanks so much. Enjoy the rest of your Mother's Day here.

All right folks, usually bibles and bars don't mix. But coming up next in our "Faces of Faith", I'm taking you to TJ's Bar stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HOLMES: All right, if I invited you over to TJ's Bar, you would probably stop by the liquor store and head over to my house. But what if I told you, first, I need you to grab your bible. And you're not going to this bar on a Saturday night you're going to go on a Sunday morning.

Stay with me here, folks. It's today's "Faces of Faith" and we are in fact, taking you to T.J.'s Bar.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) HOLMES (voice-over): Call it traveling Christianity. On Sundays, The Mission Church of God holds service at this motel, the Quality Inn. But on Thursdays, they rent space here at this church. Well, tired of moving, now, the church has a new home. A bar, TJ's Bar.

PASTOR WAYNE GULLIAMS, MISSION CHURCH OF GOD: Isn't it neat how all these pool tables were here and now all of a sudden this is going to be our sanctuary --

SCOTT LOWE, COUNSELOR MISSION CHURCH OF GOD: Yes.

GULLIAMS: -- of our altar and stuff. Back here where the bar stools were.

HOLMES: They are clearing out the pool tables, the stools and even the tanners lane warring hole to make room for God.

GULLIAMS: The stripper's pole was over here. We had to take that down. A couple of members did not want that to stay.

HOLMES: Pastor Wayne Gulliams says TJ's is an old bar with lot of personality and attitude.

GULLIAMS: There used to be some pool balls flying on occasion to get some rowdy guys, a little gambling, some -- a lot of drinking.

LOWE: Oh yes, yes, it had some sticks flying every once in a while.

GULLIAMS: Yes.

HOLMES: Former patrons of TJ's turned the bar into a must-visit weekend hot spot. In fact they say TJ's was the place to go on drinking binges and blow all of their money and they get bounced out into the parking lot.

LOWE: The things that we used to do that you look on shamefully. Like man, I was like what was I thinking? A lot of times, you would leave here and think, how did I make it home? I mean, why am I not dead?

I have lost a younger brother to a drunk driver and two weeks later, my father-in-law the same way.

HOLMES: Now that's Scott Lowe and his high school buddy, Matt Morgan. Both reminisce on their less-than-perfect conduct at TJ's.

MATT MORGAN, COUNSELOR MISSION CHURCH OF GOD: Wow, yes, this can't be all there is, just wasting our lives in bars and doing stuff like that so where do we go? So here we are now turning the bar and go to church.

HOLMES: Both of them now serve as church counselors. And they have more than 100 members and it's growing. And however, they still need a few more code and inspection permits before they move in to TJ's, they have the lease and they continue to secure funding. LOWE: We're slowly building our finances up too. But the Lord is providing. We are thankful for this.

HOLMES: While the location may be a bit unusual, the buildings stained past just might serve as a drawing card for potential congregates.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think the curiosity is probably going to get some people, because they want to see, you know, hey, I used to go to TJ's, I want go check this out.

HOLMES: And that's what they are praying for, to put the spirit of the Lord into a place where spirits used to be the main item on the menu.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CAREY: How about that. All right, you could say the odds were stacked against her but overcoming obstacles, that's just what she does. It's part of her life. We're going to introduce you to a high school student in Florida, someone to admire, definitely someone you should know.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAREY: From the Times Square terror plot to the threat post by that the oil spill that's cannot be stopped that leak in the Gulf of Mexico, Candy Crowley is on top of it.

HOLMES: Yes, Candy Crowley and yes, you that haven't there, it's just you're first weekend with us but we serve on this show as the warm-up act for Candy Crowley. This is what we do.

CANDY CROWLEY, HOST, STATE OF THE UNION: Yes, yes.

HOLMES: We play our roles here, Candy, like we are supposed to. Well, good morning to you, Candy.

CROWLEY: Good morning.

HOLMES: It's always good to see you. The President, my goodness, that's one thing, when you come into the office, you've got a plate full of things you want to do and then all this other stuff happens and terror always becomes the number one issue. And that has been really on everyone's mind lately.

What in the world is going on? How is the President and the administration now going to -- I guess, assure us all that they are doing everything that needs to be done?

CROWLEY: Well, part of what they are doing is they -- they are putting out John Brennan who is the President's Homeland Security Adviser as well as the counter terrorism adviser. He's on the show today. I have to tell they're -- their first order of business of course was to catch this guy.

Now, they are looking at what more and more are looking like ties to the Taliban in Pakistan, which is a very, very scary notion.

And they really do and I always say, people say, well, this is going to be an election -- it's an election year. It's going to be an election about the economy, sure unless it's about terrorism and the threat here because there is nothing more basic to the American people than their own security.

So this has the potential for becoming an election issue as well as just a law enforcement and international issue.

CAREY: All right Candy. Let's talk about elections. There was a time that a three-term senator would only leave office when they chose to. That is not what happened in Utah.

CROWLEY: No, the power of the incumbency has lost a little of its power. Sen. Robert Bennett, who has been in the U.S. Senate for 18 years, looking for a fourth term, he didn't even make it to become the party's nominee.

CAREY: Right.

CROWLEY: He came in third. This is very definitely a look at the Tea Party and the power of the Tea Party. Why were they so -- why was the state so angry with him? What Republicans, conservative Republicans and Tea Party people didn't like was he voted for the bank bailout, the TARP fund. And that is the one that they brought up again and again.

Now, we knew he was in trouble. We knew this probably would happen. But I'll tell you what, when it did, it was still a stunner.

HOLMES: Anti-incumbency movement happening right now, it doesn't matter if you are a Democrat or Republican. People just can't stand -- it seems to be -- incumbents right now.

Has the President picked up the phone and called you yet and told you who he is going to put on the Supreme Court yet.

CROWLEY: Not yet. I was expecting that this afternoon. When he does, you are on my list.

HOLMES: We do appreciate that.

CAREY: Maybe we'll tweet you.

HOLMES: Candy, good to see you as always.

CROWLEY: Thanks good to see you all. Thank you.

HOLMES: We will keep the seat warm for "STATE OF THE UNION" and Candy Crowley coming your way in about 15 minutes, 9:00 Eastern, 6:00 Pacific right here on CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAJ. REGGIE KUO: This is Major Reggie Kuo stationed with the 438th Air Expeditionary Wing (ph) in Kabul, Afghanistan. I want to wish my mom, Tina Kuo in West Minister, California a happy mother's day.

MAJ. CHRISTINE PACHECO: Hi, may name is Major Christine Pacheco. I am stationed in Kabatra, Iraq (ph). I want to say happy mother's day to my two sisters, Denise and Carolyn.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAREY: All right. Let's talk about what is on the President's agenda for the week. President Obama has one decision he has to make that might shape his legacy for decades to come. At any time, he could name his choice for the Supreme Court. If approved by the senate, this nominee will be replacing retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Then on Wednesday, the President is going to hold a White House meeting and a news conference with the president of Afghanistan. That would be President Hamid Karzai.

And on Thursday, he travels to the Buffalo, New York area. There he's going to deliver remarks on the economy.

Then Friday, at the White House, the President will honor the recipients of the Top Cops Award.

But before he gets to all that on his agenda today is a commencement address at Hampton University in Virginia. When he takes the podium just a couple of hours from now, he will become the first President to speak at that school's graduation since about 20 years ago. The last president to do it was George H.W. Bush.

Yesterday, the first lady delivered a commencement address; this is at University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff. Here she is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Your generation has come of age in a culture that elevates celebrities, these fleeting reality fame rather than the hard labors of lasting success. It's a culture that elevates today's celebrity gossip over the serious issues that will shape our future for decades to come. It's a culture that tells us that our lives should be easy, that suffering and struggle should be avoided at all cost and that we should be able to have everything we want without a whole lot of work. But we know that life really doesn't work that way.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAREY: Isn't that the truth. Mrs. Obama follows in the footsteps of civil rights icon, Dr. Martin Luther King. He spoke at that historically black university back in 1958.

HOLMES: And to pick up on the theme the first lady was talking about I want to introduce you to somebody right now who certainly knows about struggle and hard work.

That's her, 17-year-old Shaunte Butler. She is a young lady that many would say has the odds stacked against her. She comes from a single parent home where her mom has to work two jobs to make ends meet for her two kids. Shaunte attends a high school with an "F" rating it that state. That's how they grade their schools there. An "F"? Yes, it isn't good.

Also there at the school, the graduation rate is 69 percent. The percentage of kids from her high school that go on to college is just 35 percent.

Shaunte, though, wants to go to college. So what did she do? She applied to a lot of them. She applied to nine different schools. She got in to all nine. Not only that, she was offered scholarships to all nine.

We're not just talking about any schools here either. Among them: Yale, Harvard, Columbia, Dartmouth, Amherst; just to name a few. She is a 4.0 grade point average student. She scored 2,200 out of 2,400 on the SAT. She is leaning towards Harvard right now and wants to pursue a career in medicine.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SHAUNTE BUTLER, ACCEPTED AT NINE ELITE COLLEGES: My mom really didn't have that much money to go to me for college. I'm going to work hard. I'm going to try to get into these schools. That way, my mom doesn't have to struggle.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: Seventeen-year-old Shaunte Butler. That's just somebody we thought you should know.

And it's our goal here every single weekend on CNN SATURDAY and SUNDAY MORNING to introduce you to somebody just like that.

CAREY: We are lucky to know her for sure.

A big announcement expected from the President this week. We are talking about the next Supreme Court justice. We might find out who he is going to pick. We do know probably who is on the short list. We are going to show you that in just a second.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAREY: All right.

President Obama is expected to pretty soon name his choice to replace existing Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.

HOLMES: All right. The four most likely candidates you are seeing them up there now on the short list have been reportedly interviewed by the President and the Vice President.

And our Kate Bolduan reports now the decision brings trepidation to both liberals and conservatives.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Emily Haas, three years ago.

EMILY HAAS, VIRGINIA TECH SHOOTING VICTIM: I don't remember hearing him come in but he obviously came in and just started firing.

BOLDUAN: Speaking just days after being shot twice in the Virginia Tech massacre; struck down with other students in her classroom.

HAAS: I had my eyes closed so I didn't see anything. I didn't see him ever.

BOLDUAN: In the aftermath, Emily and her mother became the champions for stricter gun control laws, joining the fight to support Washington D.C.'s hand-gun ban, a landmark 2008 Supreme Court case; they were on the losing side of a close 5-4 ruling.

LORI HAAS, GUN CONTROL ADVOCATE: But for one vote, the decision could have gone the other way.

BOLDUAN: Haas knows firsthand what is at stake with a high court vacancy; a justice who could cast the deciding vote.

L. HAAS: Laws had been in place to prevent criminals and prevent domestic abusers, terrorists and others from getting guns, there would be many, many, many lives saved. I know it.

You know, I have witnessed the pain that happens and I have witnessed what happens when someone who shouldn't have a gun gets a gun.

BOLDUAN: And the reality. That real world impact means a fierce political battle ahead over whomever the President picks. Conservative groups are preparing a frontal assault on the likely left-leaning nominee.

CARRIE SEVERINO, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: I think people are worried that the President is going to appoint someone who will just be a reliable liberal vote and in particular who will be ready to rubber stamp all of his policies.

BOLDUAN: But liberal groups seem concerned as well. They fear the nominee might not be liberal enough on issues like executive power.

VINCENT WARREN, CENTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: It's going to be a challenge for the Obama administration to appoint someone frankly that we think will do the right thing. The difficulty is that we will likely see judges that will be appointed as a question of political compromise.

BOLDUAN: One thing both sides agree on: the stakes, both political and personal, couldn't be higher.

L. HAAS: We know what happens. We've seen it. We live it. We live it every single day.

BOLDUAN: Government sources tell CNN top Obama aids have been getting an earful from liberal activists who want to ensure a strong voice from the left is chosen, not a so-called compromise choice that could get a smoother senate confirmation, a confirmation the White House hopes wraps up by the August recess.

Kate Bolduan, CNN, at the Supreme Court.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HOLMES: All right.

Well, I want to thank Richelle for hanging out with us this weekend.

CAREY: Thank you for having me.

HOLMES: We do appreciate it. So thank you. We are going to hand this thing over to Candy Crowley in just a moment.

But first, I want to give you a look at some of the things making headlines this morning.

More flights being canceled at airports in Italy and Spain and Scotland. Flights in and out of Portugal, France, Switzerland, could be next because we have more issues with ash clouds. That's still happening.

Also another setback as workers tried capping that gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. BP tried to cap it; didn't quite work. They are moving on this plan b, c, d and e possibly.

But Candy Crowley is right now.

CROWLEY: This was the week of cliffhangers.