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President Obama Chooses Supreme Court Nominee; Oil Rig Blast Survivor Speaks Out
Aired May 10, 2010 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everybody. And Campbell Brown is off tonight. I'm John Roberts.
President Obama made history today, picking Elena Kagan to fill the latest Supreme Court opening. If she makes it through what is expected to be a grueling confirmation process, it will be the first time that three women are serving on the court at once. But it would also then be a court made up of all Ivy Leaguers. And does that matter? How much should the Supreme Court really look like America?
Also tonight, some very provocative questions about the war on terror. Have American Predator drone attacks in Pakistan actually made Americans less safe here at home? Are they prompting terrorists like the Times Square bombing suspect to fight back by attacking America on our own shores?
Plus, we have got an incredible survival story tonight from the Gulf oil rig blast, one of the first survivors to speak out. An oil rig worker who barely escaped with his life tells me about the gut- wrenching choices he had to make on that hellish night.
And in a case of reality TV gone bad, really bad, a celebrity wannabe is behind bars tonight for her role in a so-called bling ring of thieves.
So, a lot to get to tonight. We begin with your cheat sheet for the day's top stories, the "Mash-Up."
The top story in the political world tonight is, of course, the president's new Supreme Court pick. Elena Kagan has been known as a bridge-builder. But her nomination is already generating plenty of heated back-and-forth.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Kagan critics are focusing on her lack of any judicial experience. The president sees her other experiences, the first female dean at Harvard Law School, a solicitor general arguing against corporate influence in elections, as a plus.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because Kagan has never been a judge, it's unclear where she stands on major issues. Her undergraduate days at Princeton, where she was a newspaper editor, are being scrutinized.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some Republicans say her lack of experience as a judge clouds her nomination.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MINORITY LEADER: The lifetime position on the Supreme Court does not lend itself to on-the-job training.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But some Senate Democrats consider her background a plus.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: I worry, when you're in a judicial monastery, that you don't have the kind of real-world experience you might have otherwise.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: More on this story tonight from two of the top legal journalists in the business, our own Jeff Toobin and Linda Greenhouse of "The New York Times," just ahead.
Our number-one domestic story, Wall Street's best day in more than a year. The Dow gained 405 points on news of a nearly-trillion- dollar plan to put a lid on the debt crisis in Europe. Clearly, the market approves of the plan.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATIE COURIC, HOST, "CBS EVENING NEWS": What goes down must come up.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: This bailout, if you want to call it, for lack of a better term, has really spurred markets.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The historic bailout was intended to shock investors, and it did. European markets, led by Greece, Spain, and Portugal soared.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But Greece, drowning in debt, was already dragging down the global economy and like dominoes could bring down Spain, Portugal, and Italy with it. Economists say this bold move will halt that domino effect in its tracks.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Investors saw this as a real commitment that this would not spread throughout the world, and they bought stocks in a big way today.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: In the aftermath of that stunning sell-off last week, the SEC and the major stock exchanges agreed today on new ways to handle erroneous trades.
Our top international story, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown falls on his sword. Brown took the blame today for his Labor Party's loss of 91 seats in last week's election and said he would resign by September, at the latest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced he's stepping down as Labor leader. It's part of a bid to keep his party in power.
GORDON BROWN, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The reason that we have a hung parliament is that no single party and no single leader was able to win the full support of the country. As leader of my party, I must accept that that is a judgment on me.
COURIC: No party won a majority in last week's election. Labor and Conservatives are each trying to persuade a third party, the Liberal Democrats, to join them in a coalition government.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: It's apparently going to take at least two days to find out who will be the next prime minister. Brown's office said today his party will meet on Wednesday to discuss negotiations.
Well, the story that people are still talking about is, of course, Betty White hosting "Saturday Night Live" over the weekend. What can you say about an 88-year-old woman who was in every sketch of the night and helped drive the show to its best ratings in a year-and- a-half? Nothing we say could be any better than just watching her in action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE")
BETTY WHITE, ACTRESS: Facebook just sounds like a drag. In my day, seeing pictures of people's vacations was considered a punishment.
WHITE: Yes, we had poking, but it wasn't something you did on a computer.
WHITE: It was something you did on a hayride.
WHITE: People say, but, Betty, Facebook is a great way to connect with old friends.
Well, at my age, if I want to connect with old friends, I need a Ouija board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: In a measure of just how awesome Betty White really is, she stayed out at the "SNL" after-party until 3:00 in the morning.
And that brings us to the best of the comics not named Betty White. Leading the under-88 division, Jimmy Fallon, with tonight's "Punchline."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "LATE NIGHT WITH JIMMY FALLON": Here's some business news. It turns out that Nintendo's profits have dropped for the first time in six years. When asked for comment, the head of Nintendo was like...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Jimmy Fallon, everybody. And that is the "Mash-Up" tonight.
Coming up: an amazing survival story from the deadly disaster in the Gulf. What was it really like when that oil rig burst into a wall of flames and why were rattled survivors pressured to sign waivers just after making it to safety?
ROBERTS: Tonight, we have one of the first survivor story from that massive oil well blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, one man's compelling story of how he made it off an oil rig that had become a raging inferno.
As BP scrambles to stop oil spewing into Gulf waters, we have been tracking some disturbing questions being raised about the frantic hours right after the explosion -- 115 people survived the blast, but 11 others were not so lucky. Just hours after being rescued, some of the survivors say they were coerced by the rig's operator, Transocean, into signing legal waivers, including crew member Chris Choy, who today suffers from flashbacks and nightmares over the ordeal.
He joins us tonight, along with his attorney, Steven Gordon.
I want to talk about this waiver, Chris, and the lawsuit that you filed against Transocean, BP and Halliburton in just a moment.
But, first of all, take us back, if you would, to that night, April 20. You had worked the night shift, had trouble getting to sleep. You finally had. It was about 10:00 at night. What happened?
CHRISTOPHER CHOY, OIL RIG WORKER: When I first woke up, I woke up to an explosion. I didn't know that's what it was. I kind of turned and sat on the edge of my bed. And I sat there and waited to see if there was another sound or what the deal was. And there was a lot bigger explosion after that. ROBERTS: Right. You're on the firefighting team. Of course, what you did, because that's your duty, you went out and you grabbed your gear. You went to the firefighting station. And you saw the derrick on fire. How were you struck by that scene?
CHOY: When I saw the derrick on fire, I knew that there was no way we were putting that fire out. I knew we were going -- more than likely, going to abandon the rig. I was still kind of in shock. I just didn't expect to see that.
ROBERTS: Did you fear for your life at that point?
CHOY: Absolutely. That was the main thing going through my head. It just hit -- hit me in my stomach. I just -- that's all I kept thinking, was, there is no way we're getting off here. We're all -- we're all dead.
ROBERTS: And one of the first things that you saw was you saw the crane operator who had been knocked off of his staircase and fallen probably 40, 50 feet to the deck. You and a partner who was on the firefighting team thought about trying to get to him. Why were you unable to get to him?
CHOY: Well, we started -- we dressed out in our fire gear and started over there. He had already tried to drag him by himself. And he couldn't move him on his own. So, he came looking for help.
We started trying to make our way over there. And there was some more explosions. And that just put flames in between us and him. There was just no way we could get over there to him.
ROBERTS: So, you had to leave him?
CHOY: Yes. Yes, sir.
ROBERTS: What's that like for a person who is trained in rescue operations to have to leave somebody?
CHOY: Definitely one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. You know, that -- it haunts me today just to -- thinking about, you know, is there any way I could have got over there?
And, of course, then it was a mad dash to get off the rig. There was the call to the lifeboats. Was there panic in terms of getting on board those lifeboats?
CHOY: There was to an extent. Everybody was trying to get on. Some people were staying calm, trying to, you know, keep everybody calm and get on and do what we needed to do to get away.
And some people were panicking. Some people were jumping off. Now, once we got in, it was a little overcrowded. I guess some people didn't realize -- you know, remember which lifeboat they were supposed to go into. And so they started cramming into the one I was in. ROBERTS: So, you -- so you say the people were jumping off of the rig. How high were they jumping from?
CHOY: The two decks they were jumping off are about 30 or 40 feet up.
ROBERTS: And at any point did you consider jumping, because, as I understand, Chris, there was problems starting the motor that would lower the lifeboat to the water?
CHOY: It was the motor in the lifeboat. The life capsule, the motor that drives it, they couldn't start it for a minute. And I just -- I decided I didn't want to make it all the way to the life capsule and then burn there. So, yes, I took my seat belt and stuff back on. I was fixing to start trying to crawl out door to jump in myself.
ROBERTS: Wow. I just -- I can't imagine what it would have been like to be in that situation.
So, you eventually made it in the lifeboat to a supply ship and then back to shore to a hotel, which is where you were asked by Transocean to sign this waiver that I have in my hand here, which says -- you were asked, "I wasn't a witness to the incident requiring the evacuation and had no firsthand or personal knowledge regarding the incident."
You put your signature to that. You were also asked if you were injured. And you said, "I wasn't injured as a result of the incident or the evacuation."
Why did they say you to that they wanted you to sign these?
CHOY: They told me -- me and my wife were actually about to leave the hotel to come home. They caught me right before I went out the door. They told me it was just a statement saying that I was off tower, that I wasn't working and I didn't see what happened leading up to the incident.
You know, me and my wife were just trying to get home to see the rest of our family. And they said just sign here, initial here, initial here, sign this.
ROBERTS: All right.
Well, let's -- let's bring in your attorney, Steve Gordon.
Steve, what are you contending in your lawsuit regarding this particular waiver?
STEVEN J. GORDON, ATTORNEY FOR GULF OIL RIG SURVIVORS: Good evening, John.
Well, regarding the waiver, it just -- I understand that they have a right to investigate the claim. However, the way they kept these crew members offshore for over 20 hours is wholly unnecessary. These people give their lives to their job, and some died in this incident.
GORDON: And, by keeping them offshore, they actually added additional emotional distress. We are maritime lawyers. And people get hurt all the time. And they helicopter them in.
ROBERTS: So, is your contention that it was premature for anybody to be signing a waiver that says "I wasn't injured," because as I think you say in your lawsuit, there are emotional scars that he is suffering, a form of post-traumatic distress disorder, though not fully diagnosed?
GORDON: Exactly. He didn't even have a chance to have his first nightmare. He was up for 60 hours. And they are trying to use this release or waiver or whatever you want to call it as a defense to him making a claim now. It's really irresponsible.
Now, Transocean has answered your claim, saying, "We were surprised to receive your letter of representation" -- this is to you, Stephen -- "in light of the attached statement executed by your client indicating that he did not sustain any injury whatsoever as a result of the April 20, 2010, accident."
They're saying, he signed this waiver; how can you make any claim that he has got any health problems?
GORDON: Well, we think that court will completely disregard that.
But it just shows you that they were irresponsible and that they tried to do this. They didn't want to them to get ashore. They could have easily brought them into Port Fourchon and talked to them there, with their family members. It was just irresponsible.
ROBERTS: Chris -- Chris, what sort of health effects you have suffered or you believe you have suffered since this incident?
CHOY: Just, mainly, it's been a lot -- I have had a real hard time going to sleep, nightmares, flashbacks. And I just -- you know, I can't help but replay the entire incident in my head all day.
I have gotten a lot more jumpy than I have ever been in my life. Just any time somebody slams a door or anything like that, I just jump. And it just puts me in like a panic mode.
Well, I'm sure that we're going to be hearing more stories like this, too, as time goes by.
Chris Choy and Steven Gordon, thanks for joining us tonight. It's good to see you gentlemen.
GORDON: Thank you very much.
ROBERTS: All right.
Next up: Is the United States gearing up for new Predator drone strikes against the Pakistani Taliban? And are those type of attacks actually putting us at more risk for terror?
Plus, some of the top Supreme Court experts in the country are here to talk about President Obama's brand-new nominee, Elena Kagan. We will show you some surprising facts about the makeup of the court -- just ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Elena's mother would also relish, as I do, the prospect of three women taking their seats on the court for the first time in history, a court that will be more inclusive, more representative and more reflective of us as a people than ever before.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: President Obama going on the offensive right out of the gate for his new Supreme Court nominee. He is in full spin mode with a video released today on a Web site reminiscent of the president's own campaign two years ago.
You heard the president just say it, that the choice of Elena Kagan would help the court be more reflective of us as people than ever before. But take a look at some of these facts. Kagan would become the third sitting female justice, alongside Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. There would be six Catholic justices. Kagan would also become the third justice who is Jewish, which means no Protestants on the high court for the first time ever.
And Kagan would be the fourth justice from New York State. And, with the exit of Chicago-born Justice Stevens, there would be no sitting justice who was born in the Midwest. And there's an Ivy League connection here as well. Kagan, like five of her potential colleagues, attended Harvard Law. The other three went to Yale.
And we have got three more Ivy Leaguers joining us now, Yale School lecturer and former "New York Times" Supreme Court reporter Linda Greenhouse, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. He is the author of "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court." And, for the record, he is also a friend of Kagan's. And also with us, Baylor Law professor Mark Osler -- or Osler, rather -- who went to Yale.
Mark, let's start with you.
The president, as we said, said that, with Kagan on court, it would be more representative of the United States as a whole. Senator John Cornyn, though, on the Republican side, said: "Kagan has spent her entire professional career in Harvard Square, Hyde Park, and the D.C. Beltway. These are not places where one learns how ordinary people live."
What do you think? Is she reflective of America? And is the Supreme Court reflective of America at large?
MARK OSLER, BAYLOR LAW PROFESSOR: Well, President Obama I think clearly was talking in terms of gender, that Elena Kagan is going to make the court look more like America in terms of gender. That leaves a lot of other issues, however, that we still lack of certain diversity.
And what Senator Cornyn points to is one of them, that we have that large swathe of country in the middle that is not going to have their views reflected perhaps on the court in a way it might be if there was a justice from that area.
ROBERTS: Linda Greenhouse, the fact that there will be no Protestants on the court if Elena Kagan is confirmed for the first time in history, do you think that makes a difference?
LINDA GREENHOUSE, YALE LAW PROFESSOR: Well, what's interesting to me about that is that nobody much seems to care. There was a poll out the other day, and people just shrugged off what a few years ago would have really been a quite amazing development.
For years, there was a Jewish seat, so-called, on the court for one Jewish justice. Justice Brennan, at least through a chunk of his tenure, was the only Catholic on the court. And it's a reflection, I think, of those things that become salient to the public and then kind of fade from importance as the country progresses.
ROBERTS: You know, as we saw in the figures there from the Gallup poll, 66 percent of people asked say it doesn't really matter if he nominates a Protestants.
What do you think, Jeff Toobin?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, membership on the Supreme Court always reflects the political controversies of the day.
In the early days of the republic, regional differences -- in the period leading up to the Civil War, you had to have a certain number of Southern justices, Northern justices, Western justices. No one cares what state they're from now.
Later, when we had immigration, you had the Catholic seat, the Jewish seat, then, of course, 1965, the first African-American, Thurgood Marshall, 1981, the first woman, Sandra Day O'Connor, last year, the first Hispanic.
Those are the landmarks that matter now. We are in an ideological age. George Bush did not nominate Samuel Alito and John Roberts because they're Catholic. He nominated them because they're conservative. Same with Obama. He nominated Sotomayor and Kagan because they share his politics. That's why they're going on the court.
ROBERTS: And what about law school, Mark Osler? Does that matter? With all of these justices having either gone to Harvard or Yale, there are a lot of other good law schools across the country. What does the centralization around these two Ivy League schools mean for the Supreme Court?
OSLER: Well, there are a lot of other good law schools in the country. I teach at one of them.
OSLER: Having gone to Yale, I can tell you that there was something there. I remember our tests often seemed to be asked from the perspective of, you're an omniscient God. How you would structure the law?
And that's not the approach that many other law schools have. There, the training is much more rooted in real lives and political realities and the realities that come with the lives of litigants. And so there is a different perspective that might be more reflected if we had diversity in terms of background of law school.
TOOBIN: I don't know if it's diversity or not, but I went to Harvard. And I was never told I was an omniscient God.
TOOBIN: I have never been told that in my life. I'm waiting for this.
GREENHOUSE: Well, there you go.
TOOBIN: I'm waiting for that. But...
OSLER: I thought I told you that just this morning when...
TOOBIN: Well, it was too early.
ROBERTS: Linda Greenhouse, what do you think, Linda? Does the concentration of these two schools and their hallowed halls of law make a difference in terms of the perspective of the court?
GREENHOUSE: Well, I think it may tell us something about the networks that send people into the great, you know, mentioning up above us as to people that are on these kinds of short lists.
You know, one thing that is interesting about the current crop of justices, a number of them -- and Elena Kagan, assuming she's confirmed, will be one of them -- have been Supreme Court law clerks. Now, that's a much more exclusive club than the club of graduates of Yale and Harvard Law School. TOOBIN: And also you have to factor that so many of the justices are former judges. And graduates of fancy law schools tend to become that.
In the old days, when you had justices like Hugo Black from Alabama, and Earl Warren from California, and Robert Jackson from New York, who didn't even go to law school at all, that is -- it reflects how the qualifications game has changed.
And I think it's too bad, because it would be better to have occupational and background diversity, not just racial and gender diversity on...
ROBERTS: All right, well...
GREENHOUSE: Well, there is the diversity. I mean, Elena Kagan will be the only one who has never been a judge.
GREENHOUSE: So, that's diverse.
TOOBIN: That's a change.
ROBERTS: Yes, since William Rehnquist in 1972.
He rose to a fairly prominent position.
TOOBIN: You know, you didn't hear conservatives complaining about Rehnquist then.
TOOBIN: And it was funny. That line about how never left the beltway, John Roberts has never had a job outside Washington, and he seems pretty satisfactory to most conservatives. So, you know, this is politics.
ROBERTS: Many statements suit a political purpose, don't they?
Linda Greenhouse, Mark Osler, and the omniscient God, Jeffrey Toobin, thank you for joining us tonight.
TOOBIN: That's right.
ROBERTS: Tonight, a new fear in the war on terror: Are the very Predator drone airstrikes designed to take out extremists in Pakistan actually making us more vulnerable to attacks? We will examine the controversy over the remote-controlled weapon that some consider morally wrong.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) ROBERTS: The latest word from the White House could not be more clear: The Pakistani Taliban was behind the botched terrorist attack in Times Square.
But now comes a difficult question. Exactly what is the United States prepared to do about it? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has dropped hints warning of -- quote -- "severe consequences."
The American response would likely include more missile strikes from unmanned Predator drones. Just yesterday, U.S. drones killed 10 suspected Pakistani militants.
But here's another question: Are the attacks only inflaming the passions of the Taliban and giving them reason to try to hit us again?
With me now is DailyBeast.com columnist Reza Aslan. He is the author of "How to Win a Cosmic War: God, Globalization, and the End of the War on Terror." And Brett McGurk with the Council on Foreign Relations, he also served in the National Security Council under Presidents Obama and Bush.
Reza, these drone attacks, you know, as we know, they're controlled by people who are half a world away with joysticks, looking at computer screens. It could be construed by some people to be almost like an impersonal video game with deadly, deadly consequences. Is there a danger in taking the human element out of war and literally not facing our enemies?
REZA ASLAN, AUTHOR, "HOW TO WIN A COSMIC WAR": Well, despite the efficacy of these attacks, and I think we can certainly have a debate about that, I think there's no question that we're introducing a whole new ethical concept here when, you're right, we have these 19, 20- year-old kids sitting essentially in cubicles in Virginia and Washington playing a real live video game and destroying entire villages and then going home and having dinner and not having any kind of real human connection, the human element that's missing. And I think if there is going to be a debate about the use of these drones, that's where the debate needs to lie because this is the future of warfare, John.
ROBERTS: What's your take, Brett, on the ethical and moral aspect of these drone strikes? Does it matter if you're waging a war from half a world away on computer screens or whether you've got boots on the ground in country? Is it even a relevant argument?
BRETT MCGURK, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: You know, the moral ethical implications as the Yale Law School type question. To go to your last segment, I went to Colombia Law School. We deal with kind of concrete problems here. We have a problem. A part of Pakistan is ungoverned territory. The Pakistani government is unable to exercise its sovereignty there. We're working with them to build up the capacity and move into North Waziristan. The question is what do you do in the meantime.
We learned in the '90s you can't leave sanctuaries. So therefore, as CIA Director Leon Panetta said, this is the only game in town. So these strikes are going to continue. But it's very careful that they're done with the best intelligence we can get, limiting civilian casualties and it's a slippery slope. I mean, if we broaden the target set, then you increase the risk of civilian casualties and you start to lose the population. That's the one thing we don't want to do.
ROBERTS: You know, Faisal Shahzad, Reza, said that he tried to plant the bomb in Times Square or planted the bomb and tried to explode the bomb in Times Square in part at least in response to these drone attacks in Pakistan. When it comes to attacking from afar and trying to take out these Taliban and Al Qaeda positions, does the United States have a responsibility to make sure that we're not breeding more terrorism by using these drones?
ASLAN: Well, of course we do. But, I mean, this is a complicated issue because Brett's right, we don't have boots on the ground in North Waziristan. And by the way, we're not ever going to have boots on the ground. It's just simply not an option in this region. So what we really need to do is perhaps get the Pakistani military and this goes back to what Secretary Clinton was saying over the weekend, to play a much greater role in the offensive against the Taliban. Yes, they've done a marvelous job of attacking them, particularly in South Waziristan. But it's North Waziristan where they are at home and where Al Qaeda is setting up its base where Osama bin Laden is very likely holed up. And that's something that we're just not going to get the Pakistani military to do. It's what other options do we have except these drone attacks?
ROBERTS: Brett, in just the past year, President Obama's White House has launched more drone attacks in that area than President Obama did during his entire administration. At the same time, though, the administration refuses to acknowledge that this program is ongoing. And it's no secret that it's ongoing, though. We hear a lot about these attacks. Does the president have the duty to the American people to come out and explain what's going on there so if somebody does set a bomb in Times Square they know what the context of it is?
MCGURK: Oh, yes, there's a little bit of a Kabuki when it comes to this issue. I would say it's important to understand the longer term campaign plan we have here. President Karzai is here this week in Washington. A Pakistani delegation was here about a month ago. We're working to build up the Afghan capacity. That's what the surge is about. And we're working to build up the capacity of the Pakistani army to eventually go into North Waziristan. That is the big issue.
But you talk about civilian casualties. The Pakistani Taliban has killed nearly 3,000 Pakistani civilians over the course of last year. So there's a new desire among the Pakistanis to go into this area. And it is important to get your question for the president and administration. They started to do this to explain the longer term campaign here. In terms of the moral, legal, ethical implications, interestingly, you know, Harold Poe, the legal adviser to the State Department, came out and defended drone strikes. He said not only do we have the legal authority, we also have the responsibility to take action in these parts, these ungoverned spaces where we know groups are plotting attacks against our troops in Afghanistan, our Pakistani allies, and here at home.
ROBERTS: All right. Brett McGurk, Reza Aslan, thanks for joining us tonight. Really appreciate hearing your perspective on all this.
MCGURK: Thank you.
ASLAN: You're welcome.
ROBERTS: Coming up, a reality TV personality cops a plea in the bling ring. A brazen string of burglaries targeting celebrities in the Hollywood Hills.
ROBERTS: Coming up, a fertility clinic foul-up embryos implanted into the wrong woman. A couple share their story tonight. But first, Tom Foreman is here with other stories in the news tonight with the "Download."
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, John. Another recall of possibly poisonous children's jewelry. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission today announced the voluntary recall of 19,000 "Best Friends" charm bracelets. They were made in China and contain high levels of cadmium, a known cancer causer that can harm kidneys and bones if swallowed. Today's recall of kids' jewelry is the third this year.
Protests broke out today at a university in Tehran, where Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made an appearance. Students chanted anti-government slogans aimed at Ahmadinejad's hard line regime. The protests came one day after state media reported five people were executed for anti-government activities. The opposition movement gained momentum last summer after the disputed presidential election.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced today he will step down as Labour Party leader. So now that Brown is on his way out as prime minister, who will lead the British government? That's the question. The Conservative Party won the most votes in last week's elections but not a big enough majority to form a government on its own. But Brown's move could clear the way for his party to make a deal to form a coalition government. Stay tuned.
Legendary singer, dancer, actress and civil rights activist Lena Horne has died. She was one of the first African-Americans to sign a long term movie contract. Her silky voice made her a singing sensation. She's known best for her big hit "Stormy Weather." Horne was 16 when she began her showbiz career as a dancer at the famous Cotton Club up in Harlem. Lena Horne died in New York City and she was 92 years old -- John.
ROBERTS: She lived a long and rich life, Tom.
FOREMAN: Very much so, a big loss. ROBERTS: Tom, thanks so much.
Coming up, a real life Hollywood drama, the "bling ring." A band of young celebrity wannabes busted for stealing millions from the L.A. homes of some top celebrities.
Also, it's really hard to believe if it is true. A fertility clinic implants one woman with another woman's embryo by mistake. We'll find out what went wrong and how the families are coping now.
ROBERTS: Hollywood celebrities can sleep a little easier tonight. One of the so-called "bling ring" thieves is headed to jail for six months. 18-year-old reality television starlet Alexis Neiers pleaded guilty today to burglarizing the home of actor Orlando Bloom. She and two other women were caught on videotape ransacking the place. They took Bloom for more than half a million dollars in cash and luxury goods including a quarter million dollar watch. And he's not the only star who got hit. The group of young celebrity obsessed bandits allegedly ran wild in the Hollywood Hills. They've been linked to other break-ins at the homes of people like Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, and actress Rachel Bilson.
CNN legal analyst Lisa Bloom joins us tonight from Los Angeles. Also with us, Lloyd Grove, editor-at-large for "The Daily Beast."
Lloyd, let's start with you because "The Daily Beast" has been all over the story.
LLOYD GROVE, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "THE DAILY BEAST": It is.
ROBERTS: Tell us a little bit about this "bling ring" gang of thieves. It's an elaborate planning they undertook to try to get into these homes.
GROVE: I mean it gives you hope for America's youth that they can plan such a complicated crime spree. There are kids who were from well to do families, many of them in the entertainment industry from mostly Calabasas, north of San Fernando Valley. And basically what they did is they used the Internet, things like Google maps and TMZ and Twitter to find out where celebrities live and when they were not going to be home. And the Orlando Bloom case is a typical one. They cut a chain link fence early in the morning when there was no sun up, and walked backwards up his driveway wearing hoodies thinking they could evade the security cameras that way, and found an unlocked door by the pool. Hey, celebrities, keep your doors locked.
ROBERTS: Yes, yes. Your doors locked and your alarms on. The security cameras were working because they were seen coming out.
GROVE: And then they got some of his expensive Louis Vuitton luggage and they just filled them up at that.
ROBERTS: Unbelievable. Lisa, she went to jail. Neiers went to jail for six months because of the break-in at the Orlando Bloom home. But as we mentioned, there were others who were involved, too. Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton, no justice for them?
LISA BLOOM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the first one to makes the deal usually gets the best deal, John. And I would expect that she may be cooperating against the others. If I represented any of the others who still have trials pending, I'd be very nervous now that she's cut a deal.
ROBERTS: Right. Well, the very fact that there was such big celebrity names involved, do you think that had an influence on the case?
BLOOM: You know, I think it did in a couple of different ways. It certainly was in the media. And any time the case is in the media, those who are working the case on the law enforcement and prosecution side have a bit of a fire lit under them. But otherwise, look, this is a typical break-in and entering. And by the way, a serious crime, a crime that was glorified on the show "Pretty Wild." But this is a very serious crime going into someone's home, removing property, trying on their clothes. She was allegedly wearing some of this jewelry in one of her earlier court hearings. I mean, this is very serious stuff.
ROBERTS: I mean, you've got to have chutzpah if you're wearing the jewelry that you stole at your court hearing, right?
BLOOM: That's one word for it.
ROBERTS: Yes. Lisa, you mentioned "Pretty Wild." And for folks at home who haven't been following this case, the really bizarre thing about all of this is that Alexis Neiers is a reality television star. The E channel has been doing a story on her family and her, and they've been following now this entire case since she got busted. Let's show you a little clip of the show just to give you a frame of reference from where we are here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NARRATOR: It's the series premier of "Pretty Wild." Three sisters raising hell in the city of angels. And now a sneak peek of what's coming up this season.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bam. Stage me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you, girl.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: LAPD.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wrong place at the wrong time.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The defense would like to make a motion to dismiss.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The motion to dismiss is denied.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So there you go, reality TV becomes extra real. Lloyd, what do you make of all this that the reality TV star becomes a burglar, goes to jail. I mean, it makes a great plot for a television show.
GROVE: Yes, and great makeup and wardrobe for the court appearances. You have to wonder a little bit whether, you know, the E channel is kind of an accessory to all this because this is all about celebrity worship. And the paparazzi that were chasing the celebrities, the real celebrities, are now chasing these people. It's kind of an odd statement about our culture, wouldn't you say?
ROBERTS: Yes. Well, reality TV is an odd statement about our culture the best of times.
Lisa, I'm sure that you've got a soapbox that you can jump on here. We saw a little boy fly away in a balloon, oh, no, he didn't by some parents who were trying to get on a reality television show. Now all of this is rolled into the same ball. What are you are thinking tonight?
BLOOM: Well, I think this is appalling, especially for women and girls. I mean, these are three teenage girls who apparently spend their days in the show modeling lingerie, learning how to pole dance. And the title of the show, "Pretty Wild" encapsulates what their entire lives are. They're designed to be pretty and they're designed to be wild.
I mean, this one young woman's defense was that she was drunk and throwing up and urinating on the lawn. She was outside. I mean, that's her defense. That's how this teenage girl is spending her days. And there's a network that's profiting from that and there's young girls across the country watching that and how it's glamorized because she's got the model lifestyle in Hollywood? I really think it's a sad, sad commentary on where we are.
ROBERTS: And what do you think, Lloyd?
GROVE: Well, I think "Pretty Wild" should more -- it's a lock up bra (ph). I mean, what else can you say about this? This is nonsense. But it's part of our culture.
BLOOM: These are underage girls. I mean, they're underage.
ROBERTS: It is pretty crazy, isn't it?
GROVE: "Pretty Wild."
ROBERTS: Reality TV takes a new step down the ladder. All right. (INAUDIBLE) Lisa Bloom and Lloyd Grove, thanks for joining us tonight.
"LARRY KING LIVE" starts in just a few minutes. Wolf Blitzer sitting in tonight for Larry. He's got a preview.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hey, John, thanks very much. We're going to be discussing the Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan trying to answer this question among others, where does she stand on the issues? Those who know her are here. They'll weigh in also.
Dionne Warwick is with us on the death of the legendary Lena Horne. Plus, we'll take a look at Betty White's star turn on "Saturday Night Live." Is the 88-year-old Hollywood's new it girl? All that on "LARRY KING LIVE." That's coming up, John.
ROBERTS: She was pretty amazing, wasn't she, Wolf?
BLITZER: She was amazing. I love every minute of it. She is laugh out loud funny. All right, Wolf, we'll see you at the top of the hour.
A colossal mix-up at a fertility clinic. Doctors implant embryos into the wrong woman, so how could it possibly have happened? We talked to the couple who lived through it all just ahead.
ROBERTS: It's a story that has grabbed headlines and forever changed the lives of two families. Paul and Shannon Morell went to a fertility clinic in Michigan hoping to add a third child to their family. But in a monumental mistake, Shannon's embryos were implanted into the wrong woman, Carolyn Savage, someone who they never met. It turns out that the embryos were listed under Shannon's maiden name. Coincidentally, which was Savage's as well.
Well, the child that resulted from this is now seven years old, Logan. The couple is telling their story in a new book called "Misconception." I sat down with them and Logan to talk about their emotional roller coaster ride.
ROBERTS: Take me back to the emotions of when the doctor said to you we've got a problem. Your embryos were thawed. They were implanted in another woman.
SHANNON MORELL, IMPLANTED WITH THE WRONG EMBRYOS: I just felt like those are my embryos.
PAUL MORELL, WIFE IMPLANTED WITH THE WRONG EMBRYOS: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, when we first heard it, there was so much disbelief.
S. MORELL: Shock. Shock.
P. MORELL: It's like, are you sure? We couldn't even believe it. It's like we thought they were joking.
ROBERTS: This could have easily gone the other way and in the book you talk about your fears. And one of the things you say on page 79 in this book, you said, "I found myself desperately hoping that the other woman, Carolyn, believed in God, that she would realize she carried our family's last best hope."
S. MORELL: Yes.
ROBERTS: What was going through your mind when you heard that she was carrying your child and she had a lot of different options?
S. MORELL: Well, because I immediately put myself in her shoes. Because I would have -- it could have happened to me. What would I do? And I think about friends. I think about the choices that they make. And I knew that she had the right. She could terminate any day.
ROBERTS: When this all became public, obviously a lot of people were talking about it. You went to your daughter's doctor.
S. MORELL: Yes.
ROBERTS: They were talking to him about it. Here's what he said. And here's what he said. And here's what you said to that exchange, because he was wondering how you could take the baby?
S. MORELL: Yes.
ROBERTS: So here's the exchange. You said, quote, "He stared at me, his brow crinkling. "And you're going to take the baby from this woman?" You say, I couldn't believe the look on his face. "Of course. It's our baby. Our baby." The doctor shook his head. But she's carried the baby and bonding with the child.
S. MORELL: Yes. Yes. But those cells are mine is what I said. It's my child.
ROBERTS: Did you ever had a pang of guilt? Were you ever thinking oh, my goodness, maybe we should let her keep the baby?
S. MORELL: I thought about it and I felt guilty the whole time. But at the same time that was my child. And I wasn't going to let that child just be given away without fighting for my child.
ROBERTS: What's your relationship right now with John and Carolyn Savage?
S. MORELL: It's friendly. OK?
P. MORELL: Well, it's like they're extended family.
S. MORELL: Have they seen Logan since he was born?
S. MORELL: Yes. They saw them between Christmas and New Year's when he was three months, and we're working on another time when they can see him.
ROBERTS: Even after what you went through, you're not sour on the technology?
S. MORELL: No. No. P. MORELL: It's a success story. I mean, we had twin girls. I mean --
S. MORELL: No, I'm not because we've been blessed. If I wouldn't have done, we may not have had a family. And I have a lot of other friends that have families because of IVF. So I say go for it.
ROBERTS: We haven't heard the last of this story. The other couple involved, Carolyn and Sean Savage, plan to tell their story in a book due out next year. In a statement, the Savages say the past seven months have been more difficult for them than they imagined that they would be.
"LARRY KING LIVE" starts in just a few minutes. Wolf Blitzer is sitting in tonight. But coming up next, Jose Feliciano repeats a performance that at one time nearly cost him his career. Tonight, it was a salute, not only to the flag but to a friend.
ROBERTS: Tonight, at a time when so many Americans are angry and pitted against each other, we leave you with a story of two men who came together against the odds. It was 1968, and Ernie Harwell was the broadcaster for the Detroit Tigers, the guy who got to pick who sang the national anthem at the start of every game. Well, it was October of that year, the height of Vietnam amid massive social unrest. And Harwell made a daring choice for game five of the World Series. He selected a young, blind Puerto Rican musician named Jose Feliciano.
Feliciano's unusual jazz and flexi performance provoked instant outrage. Harwell was attacked as a Communist, as unAmerican. But he never did regret that decision. Ernie Harwell died last week. His last request that Feliciano perform at his memorial service. And that happened tonight just a few minutes ago.
Watch this. Jose Feliciano then and now.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSE FELICIANO, SINGER: O, say can you see by the dawn's early light. What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming? Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight, O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: Forty-two years later, it brings tears to the eyes.
And that's all for now. Join us tomorrow morning from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. for AMERICAN MORNING. I'm John Roberts in for Campbell Brown. Thanks so much for being with us. Stay tuned, "LARRY KING LIVE" starts right now with Wolf Blitzer sitting in for Larry.