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JOHN KING, USA
Invasive Scanning; Push Back over Pat-Downs; Trump in 2012?; John Kasich Interview
Aired November 19, 2010 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JOHN KING, HOST: Thanks Wolf and good evening everyone. Tonight Rahm Emanuel left President Obama's side to run for mayor of Chicago? Should he have checked first to see if he meets the residency requirement?
Plus Vice President Biden asked about running against Sarah Palin in 2012 says his mom always warned him be careful what you wish for. And speaking of 2012, Donald Trump can't offer enough praise of the Tea Party and tells me that if he runs for president it will be as a Republican.
Politics in a moment, but let's begin with your safety and a sudden rush in Congress to question the more aggressive airport screening procedures in place as we head into the year's busiest travel days. Tonight, new calls to outlaw both the pat-downs and body scanners the government says are critical to preventing another 9/11 and new rules for pilots.
They have access to the cockpit and can roam airport tarmacs, yet the government is letting most pilots skip through the screening the rest of us face. In a moment Congressman Ron Paul joins our debate about where to draw the security line, but first our homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve explains why the pilots can just get waved through -- Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well they say, John that they've already been vetted in order to fly airplanes. They say what's the point of searching us for weapons when we're getting onto a plane, which can be used as a weapon. What the TSA is going to do now is have them come to check points. They will show their airline I.D. and another form of I.D., their names will be checked against a database to verify they are who they say they are, and then they will be put through the screening.
Now the pilots have objected to the pat-downs and the machines just as members of the general public have. They've been particularly concerned about the radiation implications, although the administration has said repeatedly they believe these machines are safe. The pilots have said we're going through them a lot. In addition we get exposed to radiation in the air. We are worried. The TSA listened to their complaints, made these modifications. There are expectations that eventually flight attendants too will get treatment similar to this. KING: So then Jeanne how does the government answer the worst- case scenario question, which is we know 99.9999999 and on percent of these people are honest, hard-working people but it would only take one. It only takes one. A pilot has access to the cockpit. He goes down to the tarmac to inspect a plane before a flight. These people have the most access, so there's a greater risk.
MESERVE: Well you know they always say nothing is 100 percent secure. They can't absolutely seal the situation. And you know even if they went through the scanning machines and then went through the pat-down and they didn't have a weapon, if the pilot wanted to do harm when he got on a plane, he could do that.
But, in fact, there haven't been any instances of U.S. pilots wanting to do this. In fact, pilots go through programs where they are taught how to fire firearms on-board aircraft, many of them have them in the cockpits. It is part of the protective measures that have been put in place since 9/11 -- John.
KING: Jeanne Meserve for us on this breaking story. Jeanne thanks so much.
And now a bigger question -- should the TSA be prohibited from touching you or taking an x-ray image of your body or what about doing away with the government screeners and having private companies decide who can and who cannot get on your flight. With us from Phoenix, Arizona tonight is Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas.
He's pushing his new American Traveler Dignity Act, which among other things tells the TSA hands off. And in Washington Fran Townsend is our CNN national security analyst who served as homeland security adviser in the post-9/11 Bush White House. She also serves currently on the Homeland Security Advisory Board.
Congressman Paul, to you first, here's among the highlights of your new legislation. It would prohibit physical contact by the TSA. It would prohibit x-rays of somebody's body. It would prevent using the millimeter waves that are used in some of the high-tech scanners and prevent the government from taking images of an individual's body even if covered by clothing. You view this as intrusive and abuse of government power. My question is what about someone out there who says what sir happens if we take away these tough new screenings and we have another 9/11?
REP. RON PAUL (R), TEXAS: Well, taking away you're implying that nothing else would happen. If you took -- got the government out of it, you would put the responsibility on the airlines, and the airlines would still be very concerned. As a matter of fact, they actually have a little bit more leeway because they can screen their passengers a lot differently, and you can have agreements with the airlines, so you might have better screening with private.
But even contracting out to a private company, as long as they have the same obligation to pursue the same thing that TSA is doing, that won't do any good. That's just another boondoggle for the private companies that are going to work with the government. It might be Chertoff that might get the contract to do the screening.
No you want the private owners. You can't provide perfect safety. This notion that the government's role is to provide safety, it isn't. It's to protect our rights. But here we're being told that we go to the gate, we buy a ticket, and you've lost your right. You sacrifice your rights.
Where did that come from? That's about the most absurd thing I ever heard. And the American people aren't for this. They're tired of what they're seeing and what's happening at our airports.
KING: Well Fran, you hear the congressman there. His political committee sent out an e-mail today talking about these naked porno scanners that people are meant to go through at an airport and of course the day I received other press releases, Senator Tom Udall from -- he wants to have a hearing after Thanksgiving.
The homeland security committee chairman wants to have a hearing soon, says maybe the TSA should not have these powers. Now that this clearly has become a big political story in our nation, do you have concerns that politics might undermine security?
FRANCES FRAGOS TOWNSEND, FORMER BUSH HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Well Look, John, you know this is a classic case where the government kind of fails the common sense test. They need to -- we've seen the thread from al Qaeda and the Arabian Peninsula. This is the group that was -- was behind the Detroit attempted bombing, the underpants bomber.
This is the group that was behind the recent cartridges in the belly of the plane with -- loaded with explosives and so the threat is very real. And I think as we come into an increased -- a time of increased travel the government is rightly concerned. The question though is -- there are a couple of questions about how and why they're doing this.
You know, the government has the authority to implement the security procedures, but they also have an obligation to be advocates and to explain to the American people why these are necessary, why there isn't a less intrusive means that they could use and how this will protect us and keep us safer and frankly they haven't really done a very good job at that.
But let's remember the threat is very real and so we want them to be successful, keeping explosives off planes. And we are rightly debating the government's policy about how they're trying to do that.
KING: Well Congressman, let's go back to you then and where you would draw the line. And I want to show some pictures (INAUDIBLE) the conversation. DenverPost.com put up some photos here. We're just showing some video of the intrusive searches, what people -- many consider -- this is from Denver.com photos.
Now the government says this is absolutely necessary. You see the body scanners here and you'll also see as the photos go on some of the touching and the patting that obviously you view sir as a violation of people's rights. I want you to listen here to the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano. She says it's necessary and it does not, in her view, cross the line.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JANET NAPOLITANO, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: They in no way resemble electronic strip searches. All they do is ping in a private area away from the gate with an image that is neither retained nor transmitted. We've built privacy screens into the machines.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And Congressman, the head of the TSA, John Pistole, says using these screenings they've already come up with some things that in his view have kept dangerous things off the airplane. So if we went with your approach, how do we make sure that somebody doesn't get on a plane with something that shouldn't be there?
PAUL: Well so far they haven't been sure. Before 9/11 the government was in charge. They spent $45 billion on intelligence gathering and they got through anyway and now we've given them $80 billion, so how can you expect the government to do any better? Now for the secretary I'd like to ask her you know has she gone through a scanner and looked at herself on a scanner? Has she been probed and prodded? And Fran, have you done it, too? I think everybody should. I think every member of Congress --
TOWNSEND: Absolutely --
PAUL: -- should be scanned --
TOWNSEND: Congressman, I have --
PAUL: -- and they should -- did you look at your -- did you look at your image?
TOWNSEND: I did not look at my image. Frankly, Congressman --
PAUL: -- what somebody else is doing?
TOWNSEND: I'd much prefer --
PAUL: Go look at your image --
TOWNSEND: -- that they have an image of me than that they touch me and I'd like to understand what the protocol is --
PAUL: OK. Have you had the --
PAUL: I mean some people have to be prodded. I mean people are -- so people are being forced to it. You haven't gone through the prodding process -- TOWNSEND: Oh I most certainly have --
PAUL: -- and everybody needs to --
TOWNSEND: I most certainly have --
PAUL: I want every member of Congress to do it and every member of the cabinet to do it and they might have a different feeling about this. But the whole thing is, is we are dealing with 9/11, we're dealing with al Qaeda, and that has to do with a major problem with our foreign policy. And if we don't understand why we are creating more people who want to hate us, believe me taking away all our liberties won't solve our problems. Spending more money on intelligence gathering and also taking away more of our liberties and having 6,000 of our people killed over in the Middle East every time we kill a civilian over there to the tune of tens of thousands, we make more enemies --
TOWNSEND: Congressman, it would be nice to know --
KING: Fran --
KING: Fran let me try --
PAUL: We don't solve our problems by abusing the rights of American citizens. That's what my beef is.
KING: You heard the congressman --
PAUL: -- people suffer.
TOWNSEND: Yes --
KING: The congressman makes his case passionately, Fran. On this question the debate over just what the powers are, what the screening should be will continue obviously and the Congress will be dealing with this when it returns in January, without a doubt, if not right after Thanksgiving, but to the question of should the government do this or should it be contracted out and to the degree of what other technology is out there, what's the question -- what's the answer?
TOWNSEND: I actually think it doesn't matter. If you can do it more efficiently by contracting it out that's fine, but you have to set the standards. And quite frankly it's easy for the congressman to criticize the government whether it's this administration or a prior administration, but I don't hear any suggestions about how he would improve it. How -- if he had responsibility for protecting the American people, what exactly he would do to ensure their safety and security.
PAUL: Can I answer that?
KING: Sure quickly --
PAUL: The airlines are the private owners. The private owners do it. Private owners have a better ability to do this than government bureaucrats. It just -- it just don't work. That's the problem.
KING: All right it's now a national conversation and we will continue it. Congressman Ron Paul appreciate your time tonight -- Fran Townsend as well.
And we mentioned the proposal to go private. They were just debating it. Well Republican Congressman John Mica, who is pushing among those powerful Republicans pushing to have airports use private screeners. He has received more than $600,000 in contributions from the air transport industry since he was first elected back in 1992.
In fact that industry is his top contributor. In the past 13 years Congressman Mica has received almost $80,000 in campaign donations from political action committees and executives directly connected to some of the private contractors already providing security at U.S. airports. Now CNN asked Congressman Mica if he viewed those contributions as a conflict of interest.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN MICA (R), FLORIDA: I just found this out yesterday when someone brought it to my attention that they've been in the screening business for the last year and a half. So I don't recommend any firms all of the competition to acquire a private firm is done on a competitive basis by TSA, so I have nothing to do with that. That's a bunch of baloney.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Here's why we asked the question. When the Republicans take control in January, Congressman Mica is poised to become the next chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
Up next, Vice President Biden says one reason the president is sometimes misunderstood is because he is quote "so brilliant". And "The Donald" and the White House, he loves to be asked if he will run, but will he?
KING: Mike Huckabee in Iowa this weekend. Newt Gingrich just left. Sarah Palin has a new book along with her new TV show. Yes the 2010 election was just the other day, but the ramp-up to 2012 is well under way. What matters and what is just fun political theater?
"TIME" magazine political columnist Joe Klein here to help sort it out -- good to see you --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good to see you, John.
KING: On the subject of theater, I was over today having a conversation with "The Donald", Donald Trump, and he likes to be asked if he'll run for president, so I asked.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KING: You flirt from time to time (INAUDIBLE) running for president yourself, and there are some who say that's interesting. There are others who say no that's just "The Donald". He wants attention.
DONALD TRUMP, CHMN. & PRES., THE TRUMP ORGANIZATION: Yes --
KING: Are you serious?
TRUMP: They do say that actually. I'd rather not do it. I'm for the first time in my life -- you know years ago they wanted me to do -- they've always wanted me to do it, because I think I have an instinct for business. I have an instinct for people. I love people. I love this country.
And I have had tremendous pressure over the years for me to run, but I've never had it like now. So I'm thinking about it. I don't know that I'll do it. I'd rather not do it. I'd rather have somebody in there that's going to straighten out the country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Now he also said in the conversation that if he runs, some people have thought would he would run as a third party candidate. He said if he runs he'll run as a Republican, and we were shooting the breeze after the cameras were off, and one of his questions was would I help or hurt Palin?
JOE KLEIN, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Well you know I just kind of think he's too shy and retiring and modest and humble to ever really run for president. And I love the idea that there are all these people out there who are begging, begging Donald Trump --
KING: You just drove across the country. You didn't hit the Trump --
KLEIN: No, no, the Trump crowds --
KING: You took the wrong route, Joe --
KLEIN: Yes I did. You know I didn't go through Atlantic City. Maybe that would have been better. But I mean this is -- it is show time now and you're going to see a lot of this sort of thing. But the interesting thing about this race is that it's starting a little bit slowly. You know, the people who are actually going to run aren't going to announce until next spring probably.
KING: They've decided to push back their calendar a little bit. Is that to save money or is that because we just don't know -- we have the Tea Party and nobody knows if that's lasting, the climate that the ground is shifting so much you just don't want to jump in yet?
KLEIN: I think that it's to save money. It's to spend more time raising money in advance. I think it's also that people are just sick to death of politics. We just went through a cycle where there were 50 gazillion you know ads on the air and people just want to take a break from it.
KING: The vice president was on "LARRY KING LIVE" last night and Larry asked him what about the 2012 race against Sarah Palin?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Would that be a race you'd like to take on?
JOSEPH BIDEN, (D-DE) VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well you know I -- my mom used to have an expression, be careful what you wish for, Joe, or you may get it, so I never underestimate anyone. And -- bit I think in that race it would be a clear, clear choice for the country to make. And I believe President Obama would be in very good shape.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Maybe he wants to be careful, but is that what they wish for?
KLEIN: It's probably what they wish for, but I remember when the people in the Carter administration were wishing to run against this stupid actor from Hollywood who didn't know anything about politics. We know how that turned out and you know Biden's point is a good one. You don't know what's going to happen when you get two candidates in a race.
KING: One of the things we have spent a lot of time on over the years is studying how politicians communicate. It tells you a lot about who they are. I want to have a little comparison with you here. This is Sarah Palin in her new book talking in a way that I think some people might find condensing.
"Did you ever wonder where the producers of 'American Idol' come up with a seemingly endless supply of people who can't sing, but are deluded enough to get up in front of a national television audience and screech out a song anyway? The self-esteem-enhanced but talent deprived performers eventually learn the truth."
That's Sarah Palin speaking one way. Here's Joe Biden to "GQ" magazine, asked the question why does the president have a hard time connecting with some people. He says quote, "I think what it is, is he's so brilliant. He's an intellectual and the president in a strange way has more faith in the American people than just about anybody I know. He sits there and says look, we just tell them. Just tell them. It's almost kind of a blind faith" -- very different approaches there describing your president as brilliant, that's why people don't get him, and I'm not quite sure what Sarah Palin was getting at.
KLEIN: Yes, I'm not quite sure either, but you know that's -- there you go again (INAUDIBLE). I don't think that that's a message that the Obama White House wants to be putting out that he's so brilliant that he can't communicate with us. I think that if he were so brilliant he would be figuring out ways to communicate more directly and simply. When I was out in the country this year people just don't know where this guy stands on some major issues.
KING: And what's your biggest question when you look at the early 2012 maneuvering?
KLEIN: Well how big a circus is it going to be and how much (INAUDIBLE) and how soon are you going to go to Iowa --
KING: I'll see you there. First steak is on me.
KING: Joe Klein thanks for coming. And up next the day's top headlines and one of this year's comeback candidates is about to take over a state with high unemployment and an often decisive role in our national politics.
I'll buy -- I will buy the first steak --
KING: An important new development in Alaska's U.S. Senate race. A federal judge has just ruled that Republican Joe Miller's complaint about whether it's legal to count misspelled versions of Senator Lisa Murkowski's name on the write-in ballots is a question not for the federal courts but for the state courts to settle. But the judge did grant a motion stopping certification of the final vote if Miller goes to those state courts by Monday. We'll keep an eye on that one, but now let's check in with Joe Johns for the latest news you need to know right now -- Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Hey John. Tomorrow is a big day for President Obama and leaders of the NATO Military Alliance. At their summit in Portugal they'll consider a plan to end Afghanistan combat operations and give Afghan forces full control of their country's security by 2014. Also at the summit tomorrow president -- Russian President Medvedev will discuss joining NATO's newly announced missile defense shield for all of Europe and the U.S.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It shows our determination to protect our citizens from the threat of ballistic missiles, and tomorrow we look forward to working with Russia to build our cooperation with them in this area as well, recognizing that we share many of the same threats.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JOHNS: It's so funny how this is actually becoming a flash point during the lame duck. You know, everybody was talking about taxes and all the other things, and now we got START to the table. KING: If the -- and if the president can get them to the table on missile defense that would be a big deal. Joe Johns thanks so much.
When we come back, John Kasich is the governor-elect of Ohio. A Republican who says he knows how to create jobs and who says he knows the answer if he's asked to get on the national ticket. Stay with us.
KING: John Kasich made some of this year's biggest political headlines. In the bellwether state of Ohio he took on and defeated an incumbent Democratic governor. Now comes the hard part, doing something about Ohio's 10 percent unemployment rate. Governor-elect Kasich joins us now from the Republican Governors Conference out in San Diego. First congratulations, good to see you. Here is something --
JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO GOVERNOR-ELECT: Thanks, John.
KING: Here is something you said during a panel discussion out at that meeting. "I am not a huge believer in you just go out and cut. Cut is not attractive to me; it's reform."
You are going to have to deal with this issue on the state government level and you are also going to be asked at the state level and your colleagues, your friends, Republicans nationally when it comes to the Obama health care plan. Do you believe it should just be tweaked or should it be cut, repealed like some of your friends say?
KASICH: Well I think it ought to be repealed and replaced, John, but that's not really going to be my focus right now. My focus is on creating an environment where we can create jobs in our state.
KING: Well then let me ask you to that point, one of your -- well he's a current Republican governor -- soon-to-be one of your colleagues -- I guess he will be leaving office when you take office -- Tim Pawlenty, the governor of Minnesota who may have another job in mind. He wrote this in an op-ed piece in the "San Diego Union Tribune".
"While Congress takes important steps towards eventual repeal, governors can use their authority to stop or delay implementation of Obama care. It must be fought not only in Washington but in state Capitols."
So do you disagree? Do you think if they do it in Washington, fine, but I'm not doing down that road?
KASICH: No, no, no, I don't -- I don't disagree with that John. Look let me make it clear. I'm for repealing and replacing it. I think the Republicans missed a golden opportunity to fix health care, and I think the states are the best place to begin to fix it. But look I have -- we have a situation where the patient is in a ditch right now in a bad car accident. And so I have to get the patient out of the ditch, in the ambulance, to the hospital, stabilize them and teach them to walk.
If I -- and we've got an attorney general that's going to file that lawsuit against Obama care, but for me as the governor-elect, all of my energy is in removing barriers that businesses have felt so we can retain jobs and begin to set the stage for getting more in.
KING: One of the things the president says is essential. He says yes we need to deal with starting to some fiscal sanity in Washington. Yes, he wants to work with the new Republican House, he says, in trying to reach agreement on reducing the budget deficit. But he believes it is critical even as you do that because of U.S. competitiveness in this global economy to still have Washington take the lead and spending some money on what he calls critical infrastructure projects around the country. I assume some of that money would come to your state of Ohio. There's no more stimulus money, but when it comes to infrastructure --
KING: -- is the president right or should the Republican Congress block that spending?
KASICH: Well, I don't know if they're talking about that. Is he talking about another stimulus package, I don't think that works. They tried to give us $400 billion to build a high-speed train that goes 39 miles an hour. That would not only not make any sense, it would put Ohio in a hole. I don't know what Obama is talking about. If he says that he wants to streamline the process, if he wants to help Ohio too go from a donor state to where we can get our money back and fix infrastructure I'm all for it, but I don't want another stimulus package because it sends the wrong message to the market, and if the markets go south, unemployment goes up.
Look what they need to do -- Joe Biden called me after the election and we quibbled about the politics, and I said let me suggest to you. We need to make the tax cuts permanent and cannot raise taxes on capital gains or dividends. John, they're playing with fire if they don't provide certainty to business. Rather than thinking about more spending, what they need to think about is stabling the economics and giving companies an opportunity to plan for the future. If they do it, we'll be better. I want them to succeed. I need the revenue and I need the jobs.
KING: The last time the government of the United States of America had a balanced budget a guy named John Kasich was chairman of the House budget committee. Give your friends here in Washington some advice as they try to get down this path again. I ask in the context of the president's deficit reduction commission puts out their report and the left immediately says no way, dead on arrival because it would touch social security and Medicare. Much of the right says no way, dead on arrival, because it would include some revenue increases meaning some tax increases, net tax increases to Washington, D.C. Can we get on a sustainable, fiscal sane path if both default extremes immediately default to their ideological bunker or do they need to at least come to the table and say we're willing to begin the conversation with everything on the table? KASICH: We have a problem now, because politicians will not make decisions about running programs without politics. You see, what has infected Washington is I got to take care of myself rather than thinking about our kids and our country. The team of people I built said, hey, damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead. We're looking out for our kids' future. So if you're asking me do we need more taxes, I'll tell you what Washington will do. They will raise taxes and spend the money. Right now they have to control spending and Republicans have to step up to the plate and come up with creative and imaginative and innovative ways to make things work and take on the hard issues.
KING: You are at a meeting in San Diego with Republican governors and governors elect, at least a half dozen people at the meeting would like to be the president of the United States. First the Republican nominee. I'm assuming that will not be you that you won't run for that office, but if I'm the Republican nominee in 2012 and I'm looking at the electoral map and I'm trying to put together the right states, one of the places I look is Ohio. Obama carried it and he was the president. George W. Bush carried it. He was the president. It's pretty simple if you go through our recent political history, you win Ohio you have a good chance of winning the white house. If Governor John Kasich gets a phone call from the Republican nominee a couple years down the road saying would you be my number two, the answer would be?
KASICH: Are you crazy? I got a job food to do in Ohio, John. I mean come on. Listen, I have to tell you. I got out for ten years, and I thought I had a good career and had a lot of great people I work with. I did this because I am dedicated to lifting Ohio. I have no political interests. You know the coolest thing about this? I don't owe anybody anything, John. Ohio is going to be such a fun place to watch. We're moving in many different directions right now. If I can lift the doom and the gloom and the burden of the people off the state of Ohio, that's going to be so fantastic. That's all I care about, John, honestly, and then maybe you and I could have a talk show. How would that be?
KING: That might work out. You had one before on another network. It was entertaining television. We might get there down the road. But first, I'll check back in 18 months and see if the phone has rung. Sir, we wish you the best.
KASICH: Thank you, John. Always a pleasure.
KING: Remember when Rahm Emanuel left his job as white house chief of staff to run as mayor? Now there's a question. Is he a legal candidate? We'll be right back.
KING: Rahm Emanuel has a problem that could derail his run for Chicago mayor, residency. Even though he owns a house in Chicago and represented one of the city's districts in Congress, when he became President Obama's chief of staff back in 2009, he moved to Washington and some say that move disqualifies him from running for mayor now. True? Let's talk it over. Here with us is CNN political contributor Roland Martin and Lynn Sweet, the Washington bureau chief for the Chicago Sun Times. This is a fascinating drama in the city you both love so much. Here's what this Illinois state law says, the law in effect since 1871. Quote, a person is not eligible for an elective municipal office unless that person is a qualified elector of the municipality and has resided in the municipality at least one year next preceding the election or appointment. Now, here's what Rahm says.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO MAYORAL CANDIDATE: That's not important is my residency but the residents of the city of Chicago. I pay taxes here and vote here, and I do think the people of the city of Chicago know full well that they are going to look for somebody who is going to talk about the issues that matter to them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: So he says, you know, don't read the law literally. Everyone knows I'm from Chicago. Roland Martin, if you do read the law literally, he might have a problem?
ROLAND MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He might have a problem, but keep in mind, President George H.W. Bush. He actually resided in Houston. Him and his wife had a suite at the hotel, a native Texan. I remember it well. Remember, that was their official residence, although he was vice president, he also was president. So he will go back and vote there and was considered a Texan. It's really based on frankly how the election folks there in Chicago rule, but there is precedent in other places, that being your official residence.
KING: Precedents in other places, Lynn Sweet, but other places don't play politics like Chicago does.
LYNN SWEET, CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: No, this is part of just frankly business as usually hard core politics where the best way to win an election is to knock a strong rival of the ballot any way possible. The Emanuel campaign basically is arguing that intent is what a judge will look at. And the case will get to a court. Challenge is expected to be filed next week and the three member Chicago board of elections rules on it. The loser will go to a court, appellate, could go to the Illinois supreme court. Emanuel's people argue that he never intended to move to Washington permanently and he never established a permanent residence, and that can be proven easily enough because there was a six-month lease on the house that was left. While this is a ripe legal question, as you point out, Emanuel's trying to frame the politics as an attempt to prevent people from Chicago having a choice. It's a bit of politics as usual in Chicago.
KING: A bit of politics as usual in Chicago but it could have a dramatic impact on this big race for mayor and on Rahm's decision to give up a pretty powerful job to go home and run. Here's what election lawyer Burt Odelson. He's the one he's been dubbed the Rahm stopper in your press out in Chicago there. He says he's going to challenge this. He says, "This one is easy. Rahm admits he lived in Washington with his family. His children were in school there. The bottom line is Mr. Emanuel has not lived in Chicago." Now to prove his case he could cite all the photos we have in our own library. We can show you Rahm Emanuel at the White House all throughout 2009. In one of the months he was disqualified, he was on my old program "STATE OF THE UNION." That was one of the months where the election board sent a letter to his house saying ratify, you should be on the voter rolls. It came back return to sender. This could come down to interpretation of how strict they want to apply this.
MARTIN: Absolutely. Keep in mind that you have a history of folks there in Chicago challenging petitions, also a challenge --
KING: One includes the current president of the United States.
SWEET: That's how Barack Obama got his start in politics.
MARTIN: The law is certainly the law. When you talk about residing in a place, I understand this whole notion of I didn't intend to move to D.C., but look, I'm sorry. If you actually move your family there, your kids are enrolled in school there, you live there. He's hoping that the people are not as literal, but he could very well be knocked off the ballot. I don't think it's going to happen, but if I'm Emanuel, I would be a little worried.
SWEET: Clearly the campaign is taking this on and not running away from it. The Cook County circuit court judge which will be the first judge to hear it after the Chicago board of election commissioners are allowed to look at the whole picture and including the idea that Rahm was called to service much as someone in the military was to work for a commander in chief. No one disputes the facts here. Clearly Rahm was in Washington, but it was clear also that he intended to go back. I think intent is a part of Illinois law, and that's why this will go to a court because judges look at the bigger picture.
MARTIN: John, I used to have a home in the Dallas area. I intend to go back, but I haven't lived there physically in six years.
KING: Does the fact -- to that point does the fact that he was separated from his family, he didn't like it, he has young children and his wife and his children did move here and Mayor Daley caught him by surprise. He thought he had more time here. So in the sense that the family -- the family uprooting to come with him, does it hurt his argument?
SWEET: It does, because that's why he rented out his house and he spends the first months of 2009 here alone. Roland, in all respect to your keeping a residence in Dallas, that's not the point. The point is he was called to a serve a president of the United States. He was called to service. There is room for Illinois law for people who go to work for elected officials out of the state. So there are other points of law here that one can look at. We're not dealing with anyone who moves and keeps real estate.
MARTIN: But Lynn he wasn't called by the commander in chief to serve to go to Iraq or Afghanistan. I mean a political job I will not equate with a military job. The bottom line is we all take jobs in other cities across the country; everyday people. It's not a question I was called to serve by the president, it was still a job.
SWEET: I think a judge may respectfully disagree with you, that it does matter in this case who the employer was. One of the things that Rahm knows is the rough and tumble of Chicago politics. He has an iron stomach, and he knows that every challenge that could come his way, as with anyone who tries to run in Chicago, will be thrown at him. And that's why they're trying to frame this now as an attempt to deny the people of Chicago their right to vote. I hand it to them, if that's what they want as a message. On the other hand I see it as the rough and tumble of Chicago politics at play here.
KING: Is it the rough and tumble at play in a very dramatic because they think if they can't knock him off the ballot, he has the resources to win.
MARTIN: I don't think it's a question of resources. The February election is going to boil down to two things, can you be one of the top two. I don't think there's one candidate that will get 50 percent of the vote. So Emanuel's whole job is I need to be one of the top two. That's the issue there. If you're running against him, it's all about positioning. You look at neighborhoods and you're looking at ethnic groups and different parts of the city. That's what it boils down to. I never believed Emmanuel is the front-runner, because this thing is wide open. The national media says he's a front-runner. I'm not sure that's the case on the ground.
SWEET: Roland, I have been in Chicago a lot recently, and in the beginning I was hesitant to call him a front-runner but there's enough evidence right now to say that he certainly has a very good running start on all the rivals because he has out organized them and has more money and we have a lot of polls showing it. I think there are some data points to look at to say Rahm is running ahead of the other contenders right now.
MARTIN: I would advise him that Senator Hillary Clinton was called an ineligible candidate, and we know what happened there.
KING: All right. Well if you want to understand the rough and tumble of Chicago politics, no one better to talk it over with. Lynn Sweet and Roland Martin, thanks for your time.
SWEET: Thank you.
MARTIN: Thank you.
KING: Up next, government prosecutors win one but lose 284. After what happened right here in New York this week, will we ever see another accused terrorist tried in civilian court?
KING: It's hard to defend a record of one win and 284 losses but that's the verdict in the government's case against Ahmed Ghailani, the first Guantanamo detainee to be tried in a civilian court. The one conviction will keep him in prison for 20 years to live but with a string of 284 acquittals, can the Obama administration now go ahead with plans to hold terror trials in civilian courts rather than before military commissions? With me is CNN's senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and Dafna Linzer, a senior reporter for ProPublica. Dafna and Jeff, we talked about this case as part of a conversation several weeks ago. It was viewed as a big huge test case not only for Guantanamo detainees in general but for the 9/11 co-conspirators like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Jeff Toobin, can the administration now say we can keep our plan to try them in civilian courts? Do we have to say no way try them before the military?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think their plan is barely alive and it will depend on the individual defendants. There are obviously going to have to be some trials before military tribunals. No jurisdiction is going to accept a Khalid Sheikh Mohammed trial given the magnitude of that case. But it's important to remember that Ghailani was convicted. He is going to prison for 20 years to life. This isn't like the result was an accused terrorist walking the streets, but it certainly was not a triumph for the prosecutors.
KING: To that point Dafna, maybe justice is in the eye of the beholder in the sense that the American Civil Liberties Union says "This case should put to rest any unfounded fears that our federal justice system cannot conduct fair, safe, and effective trial in terrorism cases." Yet, many conservatives look at this case and the 284 acquittals and see just the opposite. This is Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. "We're at war with al Qaeda. Members of this organization and their associates should be treated as warriors, not common criminals. We put our nation at risk by criminalizing the war." Who's right?
DAFNA LINZER, SENIOR REPORTER, PROPUBLICA.ORG: The one thing I say about Lindsey Graham is that the one count that the jury found Ghailani guilty of, he wouldn't have been found guilty of a military commission because conspiracy is a big issue in that forum. So I think you know what happens here is everybody is right and everybody is wrong and the administration is just in a tricky place. While I think he's right that the civil court option is in trouble, I think the military options are in trouble too.
KING: The options are bad and worse -- what's next? And what specifically in this trial can you apply to many of the other cases. We've had these conversations. You can't bring some evidence in because it's obtained in water boarding or other extreme interrogation techniques. You can't bring in because it involves sensitive intelligence that you won't talk about in civilian court. Are there specific lessons of the Ghailani case that now when the administration goes through that list of all the other detainees and the other suspects that will help them?
TOOBIN: I think the government is going to look very hard at trying any defendant who was subjected to coercive interrogation. That was really the big problem in this case. I think if they go back to civilian courts, they're going to be looking for defendants who were not ill treated in this way. So that issue, at least, is off the table.
KING: Well, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed was waterboarded, so I assume that would weigh pretty heavily in his case. Dafna, when you have looked in the past at the roster of Gitmo, if you will, how many of the detainees would meet that test? Whether it's tough interrogation, coerced to use the kind word, tortured to use the others and certainly in three cases you have waterboarding.
LINZER: Well, right. That's the issue. The Obama administration had started this process where they were looking at every single person inside Guantanamo and who would be eligible for prosecution. They came one a total number of 36 people who would be eligible for prosecution either in federal court or in the military commission. And some of those people, again, were as you say, you know, either subject to torture, to coerced interrogation techniques, however you want to phrase it. That's a real problem. I think the administration had a sense they wanted to go in the direction that would allow them to use evidence that wasn't necessarily coerced even in a trial in which the detainee himself was subjected to torture. This is the perfect example of a case that didn't go their way.
KING: The civil liberties community has howled at the administration where it said in some cases, the administration said it would do it in rare cases that it reserves the right to hold people whether it lost in trial or decided not to bring it to trial, if it decided to have a national security reason to hold them. Jeff, to you first. Do you believe that option will be used much more frequently the administration would like or had hoped because it would be worried to bring them to trial?
TOOBIN: Absolutely. I think the most likely result coming out of this case and coming out of the whole two-year experience is that the administration will do nothing with a lot of these defendants. Because trials are so problematic, that Guantanamo is going to remain open. These people are going to remain uncharged. But I think the Obama administration has made the legal -- the national security, the political calculation that it is better, simply, to take the heat from the civil liberties community than to have a trial that might result in embarrassment or worse.
KING: But Dafna what about the president's argument that he's made on the world stage saying he's going to deal with it because he believes it's a stain on the U.S. image overseas, a, they're held in Gitmo, period, and, b, the United States says they have the right to hold people and never try them.
LINZER: I think this is a big problem. I think Jeff is right. I think that there will be more people held indefinitely without charge or trial in Guantanamo than anyone imagined the day the president was inaugurated. Those 36 people we talked about who were slated for prosecution simply will not see courts. They will become indefinitely detained just like the other 48 who were slated for indefinite detention. So what you're going to have is a very large remaining population of Guantanamo detained indefinitely. And I agree with Jeff, I think that the facility will remain open.
KING: And an enormous political and legal headache for the Obama administration. Dafna Linzer, Jeff Toobin, thanks for your time.
TOOBIN: Thank you.
LINZER: Thank you.
KING: So this is an important question for Pete Dominick if not for you. Do you think the president hums a tune every time he enters a room and there's nobody around? Pete Dominick next.
KING: Let's bring in our off beat reporter Pete Dominick. He's in Atlanta tonight. He's not just a reporter. He's a music guy. When the president was overseas tonight, Pete something --
PETE DOMINICK OFFBEAT REPORTER: And he gets introduced as other world leaders do, to music. Let's take a look.
KING: We've got to get you a song, Pete.
DOMINICK: Does every world leader John always get introduced to music and how used do they get to this? President Obama or President Bush, do they expect this as they enter the kitchen?
KING: At the White House at events it's hail to the chief in the United States. At these overseas ceremonies what usually happens is the national anthems of both countries and then sometimes some military flourish. That's what you hear there. What's your theme song Pete? What do you want?
DOMINICK: I don't have. What do you have? I'll improv to it. Can we play anything and I'll act as if I'm very presidential, very distinguished. You hit it, John. It feels good. It feels good. Cut it. You know what song I like? I like the sound of laughter, John King.
KING: Have a great march into your weekend. Pete, that's all for us. We'll see you Monday. "PARKER SPITZER" starts right now.