Thursday, July 12, 2007

Al Qaeda Strengthening, Pizza Guy Update, Suspicious Earmark, Raw Politics, Police Shootout, And More From Andrew Speaker (Wednesday's Show)

Hi everybody. Anderson Cooper is off somewhere probably earning more frequent flyer miles, so we've got John Roberts holding it down for us tonight. Wait, shouldn't he be, um, sleeping right about now? Long day. Does CNN not have backups for this show? Not that I'm complaining. Because truth be told if I tuned in and found someone I'm not used to I'd probably be all, "where are the Johns?" As in King and Roberts, not guys who pay prostitutes. Ahem. Anyway, we begin with John telling us a new intelligence report has found al Qaeda is doing quite chipper and has "rebuilt its operational capability to a level not seen since the war on terror began." So we're back to square one. And now we have a quagmire too. Awesome. We also learn that part of the reason people are freaking out right now is because DHS Secretary Michael Chertoff says he has a "gut feeling" about a summer attack. Maybe it was just indigestion. Seriously, is he freaking kidding me? Yeah, I'm going to listen to the gut of the guy who screwed up so royally during Katrina he should have been run out of Washington in shame. Uh huh. We're then played a clip of Chertoff saying he has absolutely no evidence of a specific attack, but we should all apparently be very afraid. Good Lord.

Next we're joined by Peter Bergen and security consultant Jeff Beatty for discussion. John asks how strong al Qaeda is now. Peter ticks off a few recent plots and points out the rise in IEDS and suicide attacks. He notes they have regrouped and had other groups join, but he is skeptical as to whether they can hit the US. John then plays another Chertoff clip and asks if we should be concerned. Jeff thinks we should, and then brings up the fact that there are all these guys operating in Pakistan right now and nothing's being done about that. Yeah, I seem to remember something about "countries harboring terrorists" being a part of the "against us." Jeff also points out the underreported fact that Rumsfeld called off a mission to go after al Qaeda in Pakistan. Seriously, what the hell? John then asks if the War on Terror is being lost and Peter says we're certainly not winning. Yeah, well, that's not surprising seeing as it's kind of hard to beat a tactic that's been around since forever. Jeff pipes up that if we don't leave Iraq with a favorable outcome everything will be worse. And how do we do that? John then states that Ayman al-Zawahri has called for attacks on Pakistan and Peter thinks they will occur, noting there's already been an attack on the Red Mosque in Islamabad.

Transitioning now to a Rick Sanchez piece that updates us on the case of the pizza dude who got blown up by a bomb. And there's a twist! It seems pizza dude was both an accomplice in the bank robbery and a victim. How's that possible, you ask? Investigators say that he totally helped plot the robbery and thought he would be wearing a fake bomb, but then he had second thoughts. It is believed that at the last minute he was forced to put a real bomb on his neck and we know what happened from there. Kaboom. Also? He was apparently told to tell people that three black men put the bomb on him. Classy. The flip side is that pizza dude's family totally doesn't believe any of this. They maintain he's completely innocent. Hmm. Sometimes people only see what they want to see. After the piece John has an interview with reporter Jen Mobilia, but it's mostly speculation and retreading through the piece info.

On now to a Drew Griffin "Keeping Them Honest" piece on a $500,000 earmark for a Metro station park in DC that was requested by a Congressman from California. Wha? Has Congressman Jerry Lewis generously taken it upon himself to watch out for our nation's capital as well as his own district? Well, not so much. It seems Lewis actually owns a home not far from the Metro station and the $500,000 sprucing will no doubt give his property value a little oomph. Goodness, gracious, great balls of fire! That's sneaky. Oh, not the same Jerry Lewis? My bad. Anyway, Drew then turns into generic "you paid for it"confrontational local news guy, and actually goes up and knocks on Lewis' door. And he answers! How hilarious would it have been if he was wearing a robe or something? For his part, Lewis thought the whole thing was ridiculous, though we can't actually hear him from our vantage point. Drew tells us that "Lewis and all other House members now have to sign a document stating they have no direct financial interest in the earmarks they're requesting." But Lewis signed without mentioning his house. Typical.

Our 360 campaign song contest reject tonight is U2's "Beautiful Day," and then we're on to "Raw Politics" with Tom Foreman. But Eliza is tired, so we're just going to barrel on into a Jason Carroll piece on a police shootout in New York. I'm guessing they decided to do this story because there's a video. Oh and it intros us nicely into the forthcoming discussion. Speaking of which, John tells us about some controversy over the Tiahrt Amendment, which "bans federal officials from releasing information about gun ownership to the public." We then have Jeffrey Toobin, as always, for the legal low down. Jeffrey explains that supporters of the Amendment believe gun owners have a right to privacy, while critics feel the government already has the info, so why not use it to crack down on illegal guns. John asks if it really restricts law enforcement agencies and Toobin says it does, but officials in New York are most worried about finding where illegal guns are coming from from other states. John notes the amendment was partially written by the NRA and...wait, what the hell? Why are they writing amendments?! Anyway, there's more discussion and then we get this from Toobin: "The NRA always wins." And why is that? Sigh.

Next up we have an interview that Anderson did with Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the CDC, regarding the Andrew Speaker TB case. He first asks why tests have shown that Speaker actually doesn't have extremely drug resistant TB when they initially said he did. Julie says one explanation is that there's especially resistant bacteria mixed in the sample. Anderson points out that all the experts they talked to said having more than one kind of TB in a sample would be extremely rare. Julie says that's not really true, but doesn't site any examples specifically regarding TB to back up the statement. She says it's possible the CDC made a mistake, but it wouldn't have mattered in terms of public health action. Anderson asks if the CDC will be apologizing to Speaker. She then says no and basically goes on about how much the CDC rocks, though I can't say I'm convinced. However, I will give her props for refusing to speculate on Speaker's motives. Then Anderson asks what she would do differently next time, which is a very good question, but she gives a Bush Administration type answer: saying they shouldn't have given Speaker the benefit of the doubt. Uh huh.

Moving on now to an Anderson interview with Speaker himself and hey, he's outside this time. Anderson then asks what Speaker thinks the CDC's mistake was and he says it was the whole having no plan thing. Yeah, that's kind of my concern too. I mean, we can't just hope these things always turn out okay. Hope is not a plan. Hmm, where have I heard that before? Anyway, they then retread some stuff we've heard before and Anderson asks if he has any regrets, but Speaker doesn't really answer as far as I could tell. We're also informed that three passengers are suing him, but he's a little too concerned right now with not dying to worry about that. If they got sick I could totally understand the suits, but c'mon people. I don't know. Maybe they got tested and want to be compensated for that. That's fine, but let's not go overboard here. The Shot tonight is Knut, the apparently formerly cute polar bear. He's getting big. And...that's it for me. B-


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