tv The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN May 22, 2012 1:00pm-3:00pm PDT
diamond jubilee celebration and it turns out their visit here is pretty positive. a lot of people turning out to see them. certainly nothing compared to the media craze surrounding prince william and kate middleton last year. we are all headed to london to see the masses and crowds celebrating 60 years since her coronation in 1953. join piers morgan and me live from london for this royal extravaganza beginning june 3rd. now to wolf blitzer in washington. to you. thank you. off message and on the hot seat, a key obama campaign surrogate gets in trouble for speaking his mind about mitt romney's business backbackground. i'll talk to ed gillespie. he's standing by live. now a castro, yes, a castro is coming to the united states.
why some cuban-americans are furious. we're going in-depth. first the secret service and now dea agents are under investigation for allegedly hiring prostitutes in colombia. i'm wolf blitzer. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com >> the high-powered campaign surrogate is on the hot seat for going off message after newark's democratic mayor cory booker spoke about the attacks on mitt romney's old firm bane capital. he had to struggle to do damage control and the dust still hasn't settled. let's discuss what's going on with the key adviser of the romney campaign, ed gillespie, former republican of the
national committee. thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you for having me, wolf. good to be with you. >> let's talk about what the president specifically said about mitt romney, his experience at bane capital yesterday and then we'll get your reaction. >> my opponent, governor romney, his main calling card for why he thinks he should be president is his business expense. he's not there touting his experience in massachusetts. he's saying i'm a business guy and i'll fix it and this is his business and when you're president as opposed to the head of a private equity firm then your job is not simply to maximize profits. your job is to figure out how everybody in the country has a fair shot. >> all right. the president, does he have a fair point there in saying, you know what? you want to talk about your business experience? we'll talk about your experience
at bane capital. his understanding of the private sector and job creation, wolf, which this administration doesn't have. that's why we have 23 million americans that are out of work entirely and not working in jobs suitable for their skills and they're underemployed or left the workforce entirely as we saw last month with 430,000 americans dropping out of the workforce. when you look at the president's record relative to governor romney's experience in understanding how to help foster job creation and how to spot opportunities in the economy. >> governor romney loves to talk about massachusetts where he balanced the budget where he took off where unemployment was 6% and unemployment was at 4. 7%
and that's hire unemployment than we've seen under president obama. i think it's understandable that the president's own party and governor rendell and mayor booker would say this is probably not the best message for the obama campaign to be attacking private sector investment and job creation, but i can understand that they'd rather talk about anything other than president obama's record. >> the president says his job at bane capital was to make money for the investors. it wasn't job creatiocreation, obviously couldn't be all that concerned with the people being laid off from their jobs. >> if you look at the record of bane capital, 80% of the companies that bane invested in grew. and when you grow you hire more people. if you look at the start-ups, for example, take, if you look at staples, nearly 90,000
employee, when you look at brighter horizons, 19,000 employees as a result of the start-up that bane capital invested in. if you look at sports authority, 15,000 authorities, those are a lot of workes, middle class people who put their children through college and able to take a vacation and benefit from the investments and they're failures, too, and the obama campaign is going to highlight. there were fewer than 5% in terms of bane's investments that didn't nation, but they tried and that's not for lack of trying unless the governor says you also learn from failures as well as from successes, but when you look at the risked bane it had something partly because we were able to understand where the economy was going and where the opportunities are. that would be valuable for him and the presidency should he win
in november which i think he will. >> joe biden doesn't necessarily agree with you. he was out speaking very firmly today. i'll play a little clip. >> these guys in the house just voted down our veshgrsion of th continuing existence of violence against women act and they cut out big chunks. folks, this is not your father's republican party. ladies and gentlemen, let me make one clear thing absolutely clear to all of you. we will not go back to the '50s in social policy, to the cold war in our foreign policy and to the policies of the last administration on our economic policy. >> let me give ed gillespie a chance to respond to the vice president. go ahead. >> wolf, the fact is when you look at vice president biden, president obama they're the ones who are trying to take this country back, fwook failed
policies of the past where the government intervened in our economy and tried to pick winners and losers like solyndra and other cronyism that we've seen in this administration. that doesn't work. we know that doesn't work. when you try to raise taxes on people who are trying to create jobs in our economy, when you impose mandates and when you have political appointees in washington, d.c., making decisions about where to spend money and to create jobs, it's understandable that we would have millions of americans today that would have lost their homes as a result of foreclosure that ended up in poverty as a result of the president's job-killing policies and 23 million americans who are unemployed or underemployed or out of the workforce entirely. these are a result of failed policies and a lot of americans who put hope in the president
and his promises because the promisy haven't panned out and his policies are resulting in economic stagnation and stagnant growth rates and a pro-growth agenda that would foster job creation as he did in massachusetts with the record of strong leadership as we saw in the olympics. when people look at the contrasting policies between the pro-growth agenda of governor romney versus what we have now as a result of president obama's policies. the choice is very clear in november. we're confidence that the majority of americans will flult higher jobs and higher wages and lower gasoline policies. >> the president of the united states and the former governor of massachusetts. ed gillespie, thanks for coming in. >> thank you for having me, wolf. >> toxic chemicals and the risks
they pose to children. >> when you sit down you release this fine spray of toxic chemicals right in the face of your baby. that isn't right. >> the so-called stroller brigade pushes their babies and pushes lawmakers for more regulation and it is too late for democrats to put hillary clinton on the ticket. paul begala and eric ericsson are both standing by live. why some cuban-americans are so angry about this week's visit. [ banker ] mike and brenda found a house that they really wanted.
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romney locked in a dead heat over who could better fix the economy. that's the top question in voters' minds. 49-46, but on handling the economy, they are dead even at 47%. despite the recent hoopla over other issues ranging from birth control to gay marriage, more than half of americans say the economy will decide their vote. things like health care, taxes and the deficit all rank only in single digits. late in the campaign in 1980. ronald reagan famously asked americans are you better off than you were four years ago. it turns out they weren't and there was a sudden ten-point swing in the closing days in the campaign and the incumbent jimmy carter in the landslide. how about 2012? 20% of those surveyed say they're worse off financially than when president obama took office in 2009, that's almost a
third. only 16% say they're better off. this could make obamaland nervous. probably is. president obama's numbers resemble those of george h.w. bush. he lost his re-election bid due to a rough economy. however, it's not all bad to mr. obama. the polls show voters are evenly split on who could create jobs and who better understands people's economic problems and at the end of the day, many americans may look in the mirror and ask themselves this question. are you better off now than you were three and a half years ago? go to cnn.com/caffertyfile and post a comment on my blog or go to my post on the situation's room's facebook page. >> good question. the stroller brigade has invaded capitol hill. they're pushing for dangerous chem rals found in everyday
products. dana bash is standing by with more. what's going on up there, dana? >> reporter: wolf, this baby bottle is made without a chemical called bpa. bpa used to be in most bottles until it got out that bpa may cause neurological and behavioral problems in children. this was a place where the marketplace took care of it, but what mothers came to washington to say, what else is out there that could harm our children? they want the government to step it up. strollers, babies, breast-fe breast-feeding pillows. usually women walking around the capitol like this are tourists, not act rifts. >> toxic chemicals have to go! >> reporter: but moms like lisa allen came from all over the country pushing to regulate chemicals and products we all use, like mattresses, chemicals and plastics that could be health hazards. >> as a mom it's overwhelming. we do the best we can, but we
still need help. we're hoping our senators will help us to protect our children. >> reporter: earlier this month they reported flame retardant chemicals pushed to prevent fires are also toxins that can cause cancer, fetal impairment and fertility problems. that prompted this protest. >> every time you sit down on the couch, you know what happens? when you sit down you release this fine spray of toxic chemicals right in the face of your baby. that isn't right. >> reporter: i law given authority to veg late chemicals is in need of an update. because of legal and procedural hurdels of the 80,000 chemical, the agency tested just 200 chemicals and has only banned five because of toxic health risks. he authored legislation to make testing and information more available, require manufacturers
to provide information for all chemicals. and require chemical companies to demonstrate product safety before putting products on the market. >> required chemical makers to prove their products are safe before they end up in our children's bodies. >> reporter: the chemical industry strongly disputes the epa numbers, but insists chemical companies agree cysty laws need to be updated. it's just that the democrat's approach will not hurt business. >> they will protect and hospital environment. >> moms like christine who flew in from idaho to talk to her senator says she wants information on make smart choices about what she buys. >> you can't read a label on this pillow and know that it's supposed to confer with rules for fire retardants. that makes you feel like you're doing something safe for your
family. it turns out that we learned the exact opposite may be happening. so until the labels mean something, we are powerless. >> right now there are 18 co-sponsors of this legislation. all are democrats. not one is a republican. wolf, the top republican on the environment committee told me that he does want to update this law and wants to work with democrats, but this particular language is too burdensome for businesses and he and other republicans simply don't like the way the epa works and of course, it's the epa that the legislation is calling on to regulate more. >> so basically means all of this is for naught. the republicans will be able to block this legislation, right? >> right now they can block it, but they also insist that they do want to work with democrats to find a common ground on it. you talked to some of the folks who got this protest together and they claim it's the industry, much like the tobacco was years ago that it's trying
to republicans and even some democrats to not update this law. this is certainly a very, very tough fight with million, literally billions at stake. >> the name is synonymous with communism so why is the u.s. allowing a castro -- yes, a castro to visit the u.s.? >> it's a big offense to all patriots. ♪ how are things on the west coast? ♪ ♪ i hear you... ♪ rocky mountain high ♪ rocky, rocky mountain high ♪ ♪ all my exes live in texas ♪ ♪ born on the bayou [ female announcer ] the perfect song for everywhere
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many cuban-americans especially in south florida are furious at the obama administration that a castro, yes from the castro family is being allowed to visit the united states this week. our correspondent jill dougherties had the story. >> reporter: her family name says it all, castro, and she's coming to the united states. mariela castro, daughter of wrought castro granted a visa by the state department to attend an academic conference. in miami's little havana neighborhood some cuban-americans are furious. >> she's coming here just to spread their communism because that's what it is and that's coming under false pretenses to try to lift the embargo. >> reporter: the 50-year-old directs the center for sex
education in havana. she's an activist for gay rights in cuba that were non-existent in the years of fidel castro's regime, but have changed in recent years. in a 2008 castro is seen brushing off her communist pedigree. the only advantage that the person now president is my. a papa, but don't think i can talk to him a lot. some lawmakers say it's an outrage to do it this time. >> people are in hunger strikes, dissidents in cuba jails. nothing has improved. it's all gotten worse and yet here it's all systems go for the obama administration. raul castro's daughter wants to come to the u.s. sure, she's an academic. let her come. >> ross lleyton points to allen gross. she says the obama administration should send to
the cuban lead are by refusing his daughter a visa. the state department citing privacy concerns won't comment on castro's case. but says about 100 cuban academics were invited. 77 applied for visas, 60 got them, 11 were denied and six were still being processed. a proclamation rules out visas for military police and spice, but it can make exceptions if there are no security concerns and the reason for applying is legitimate. raul castro's daughter appears to have passed that test, but not in miami. >> it's an offense to the cuban-american community in usa and an offense to all patriots. >> reporter: the state department doesn't link visa policies to political and human
rights issues. it is based on law and if congress wants to change that law, the state department says congress can. jill dougherty, cnn, the state department. >> let's dig deeper with julia zweig over at the council on foreign relations and author of the cube "inside the cuban revolution. fidel castro and the cuban underground." it's a significant decision that the oba administration allows 60 of these cubans to come in including the daughter of raul castro. is it linked any way to allen gross, the american held in prison now for two and a half years. >> thanks for having me, wolf. frankly, i don't see a direct link. the cultural exchanges, the student exchanges that the obama administration has started are continuing in this conference in san francisco is part of that. the question of allen gross is
dealt with on a separate track very clearly as the absense of diplomacy shows he's still in prison. >> raul castro's daughter is allowed to come into the united states. that's not just an average cuban academic. that's a big deal. >> it's a big deal and several average cuban academics of high esteem were denied visas. mariela castro coming here to speak about the lgbt agenda, family law and civil society ney cuba is significant and i'm a bit puzzled about the denials, on the one hand to scholars that have taught in our universities and i'm surprised that the visa has been granted to mariela castro. >> 60 out of 77 has been granted and that's a significant number. >> it's significant. i have no idea why professors from harvard and columbia and
m.i.t. that were here under obama and bush weren't given visas. it's a mishmash to me. why mariela and why not the other ten? >> is mariela castro as someone who could emerge as the leader of cuba following her father and her uncle? >> i have no idea, and i don't think she does either. my guess is that the castro brother senior are all we're going to see in terms of family governance. she has a very specific space. it's a very important human rights space about civil society, but we never know and the looking glass is not that bright in terms of leadership succession. >> it seems the past two and a half years in cuba, for the castro regime there's been a totally missed opportunity. he wanted to see an improvement in u.s.-cuban relations and they've taken steps including
alan gross that almost make that impossible to go forward. >> let me tell you what's with absent. i know that what you see is exchanges and some travel and a lot of cuban-american travel and remittances to the island despite what miami says. what we don't have is a diplomatic framework. what we don't have is a policy framework so these issues like alan gross and other longstanding problems can be dealt with and the agency doesn't have a bilateral framework and i don't see the u.s. government taking yes for an answer. most of the political prisoners have been released, not all. significant, economic reforms going forward and actually the changes from the obama administration can be cautious and careful and mindful of miami. >> but if they did release alan gross that would be a significant gesture. >> of course, it would be, but i think the expect that they do so unilaterally because they so
desperately want the embargo to be lifted is the 1980s expectation and a cold war expectation and this is now 50 years in which this cuban government has learned to live with the embargo so the question of unilateral concessions misses what's really happening and that's why i'm emphasizing the need for a diplomatic framework. >> joul julia thanks for coming in. >> a child thinks a toy is just like a real car and drives it into a downtown enter section. we have the frightening video coming up. and something happened to a baseball fan so rare and so improbable, he's expecting a call from "the tonight show." is has leno or letterman gotten a hold of you? >> i hope to be on the next flight to leno in new york city, so --
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lisa sylvester is monitoring that and other top stories in "the situation room" right now. what's the latest, lisa? >> hi there, wolf. new satellite images show a flurry of activities near the country's nuclear test site. they show mining carts and digging equipment. when combined with other recent images that show a mining train and new roads it could mean they -- it tried to launch a rocket just last month. two previous rockets had been followed by a nuclear test. >> a terrifying clip out of china. watch this as a 3-year-old boy drives his toy motor bike through a busy downtown intersection and you can see him narrowly missing busses and cars, completely unaware of the danger. look at that. fortunately, a police officer eventually saw him and brought him home to the grandfather who said he was in the bathroom when the boy went missing. politicians sometimes do
crazy things to get votes. they usually keep their shirts on, not the case in mexico. >> she and other women are topless. she says she's giving voters a wake-up call and even if shees ves wouldn't vote for her. it's rare, but the same fan catching both of them is downright incredible. it happened in t cincinnati reds fan in the game against the atlanta braves. the first one came right to him, but the second one bobbled around before he came up with it. a reporter caught up with the lucky fan after the game. you can see him catch it there. >> i couldn't see it because there was a bird flying right above it and it comes down and i'm, like, i'm catching this and i just snagged it. >> letterman or leno got a hold of you? >> i'm waiting for their call
right now. i hope to be on the next flight to leno in new york city, and maybe to los angeles tomorrow. never know. >> he's here on "the situation room." that's probably something that we'll never, ever see again. pretty impressive, wolf. >> he made it to "the situation room," not bad at all. it is amazing. thanks very much. >> is it too late for democrats to put hillary clinton on the ticket? paul begala and erick ericsson standing by. we'll discuss that and more. now you can apply sunblock
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booker spoke his mind on bane capital. he had to scramble to do serious damage control and the dust still hasn't settled. our national political correspondent jim acosta is here with more. the story continuing and some are saying surrogates gone wild. what's going on? >> cory booker can take some comfort that he's not the only surrogate to go off script this week. he's only joining a club that is growing. >> reporter: in what's become wayward surrogate week who better to send to new hampshire than the unpredictable vice president joe biden. the subject? what else, but mitt romney's former investment firm bane capital. >> your job as president is to promote the common good. that doesn't mean that private equity guys are bad guys. they're not, but that no more qualifies you to be president than being a plumber. and by the way, there are a lot of smart plumbers. >> the romney campaign also
threw caution to the wind putting its own free spirit former governor of new hampshire sununu, he went on to say that bane was a legitimate issue. >> i think the bane record as a whole is fair game and what you have to do is do an honest evaluation. >> this kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides. >> i used the word nauseating on "meet the press" because that's how i feel. >> reporter: that's par for the course in the week that started with newark mayor cory booker veering from the democratic script on bane, only to later explain he wasn't pressured to clarify his comments. got all that? >> they've never pressured me to do anything. >> i certainly did talk with campaign officials, but they didn't force me to do anything. they had good conversations with me. >> earlier in the day on cnn obama campaign secretary said the president's re-election team said they didn't ask to weigh in
on initial remarks. >> yes or no. >> did not ask him to do so. >> he spoke with a dnc official who also did not ask him to record a video, and the obama campaign was not happy. namely, the ex-rivals who endorsed the presumptive gop nominee after once trashing bane, too. >> they wait until they see distressed company and they swoop in and pick the carcass clean and fly away. >> reporter: despite his own ties to bane the president is sticking to this issue. >> this issue is not a, quote, distraction. this is part of the debate that we're going to be having in this election campaign. >> not following the advice of someone who has used bane, but failed to get ahead. >> i think there are things you can legitimately look at in bane capital. there are things you can legitimately look at including mitt romney's record.
what i'm reporting is the question you asked. i don't think it's politically effective. >> reporter: it wasn't for newt gingrich. the romney campaign released a statement accusing biden of repeating the same misleading attack on free enterprise that has been repudiated by the president's own supporters referring to cory booker. did vice president biden intend to sort of slam plumbers there in that speech today? no response from the campaign. >> some plumbers will be responding to that. >> the next thing on twitter will be the war on plumbers. >> thanks very much. >> let's dig deeper in the strategy session and the cnn contributor paul begala and eric erickson, editor in chief of redstate.com. what do you think, paul, about this whole bane capital cory booker that has been generated
over the past few days. >> i advised the pro-obama ads and the ads featured real people who mitt romney has laid off and he shattered their lives and sometimes it happens in business. i think people understand that, but here's the deal. some of his investments in bain were very smart and he made a lot of money and i think that's great and i applaud that. some went horribly wrong and he still made money off of them, and even as he was laying off people like pat wells who is in one of our ads and that's wrong. he did that many times, but also a whole lot of times he took companies that drove them into bankruptcy and canceled the retirement and jobs of the workers. that's wrong. >> it doesn't look like the democrats will back away and they see it as a lending issue for the president. >> yea, and i'm not sure that it
is. and i get where paul is coming from, and i think the way paul articulates it is what the democrats need to be doing and general attacks on private e quit. you have the president out there having to defend himself to has own supporters and former governor ed rendell of pennsylvania or mayor cory booker. all of whom have said lay off the private equity. dha expound the way small suggesting they go, then romney will be able to defend on other grounds. >> i assume you sought article posted on "the daily beast." michael is a very good reporter. i wrote about it at least six months ago and the possibility that some would say, very, very remote that hillary clinton could replace joe biden on the president's ticket.
let me read a line from what tom tomasky wrote in the daily beast. that bidenay putative asset that he helps a bit with white working class and catholic voters and is it still unlikely? probably, neither of those means it wouldn't produce a blowout. all right, paul begala, i know you like both joe biden and hillary clinton. who would be a better asset on the ticket? >> it's just not going to happen. it's not going to happen. >> well, answer the question. >> i think hillary should have been president and i was for her against then senator obama, so my love for hillary knows no bounds, but she's not running and nor will she run for vice president, leak i tell my keds, nhd, not happening, dude. the truth is this president
should not, if i were advising him and i'm not, i would say mr. president, don't repudiate your first decision for vice president. if god forbid, who could step in and run the country, i think hillary clinton could, and he's been enormously helpful in governing the country and helpful in running for election and there's no chance of that happening. >> what do you think, eric? especially if his polls the next few mocks aren't good. >> i agree with paul. i think he's enormously helpful and he keeps the democrats off message on a recurring basis. i really do like joe biden. he's a turn bite. frankly, wolf, that you and other places in the press corps that the press is engaging in these nonsensical hypotheticals
as if there were reality to it just because you want a click on your website. >> i covered politics for a long time and i'm not saying it will happen this particular time, but sometimes stuff happens as we know. we'll leave it there. we'll discuss the subject on several occasions. you know what? we might discuss it down the road. guys, thanks very much for coming in. a flight from paris is diverted when a woman says she has a device surgically implanted inside her. we have new information on the strange mid-air scare. the u.s. could be on the brink of an environmental disaster and worse than any spill in history. what's being done about the toxic debris being done on u.s. soil? stand by.
>> jack's back with "the cafferty file." >> the question this hour is are you better off now than you were three and a half years ago? >> three and a half years ago bush and cheney were running things and they had started two idiotic wars, dramatically cut taxes for the super rich and were exporting our jobs and
corporate tax incentives. oh, yea, we're better off, bush is gone and america is back, jack. steve in new york, three and a half years ago i had a job and my bank account was earning 4.5%, and now i don't have a job and my bank account is earniearnin earning .5% interest. you tell me if i'm better off. you listen to the news especially those clowns on msnbc they want me to vote for obama again. you've got to be kidding. kay in oklahoma writes the answer is no, no, no. grocery sky high, gas sky high, more uncertainy and more worry. have you ever in your life time worried so much about the future of your children and grandchildren? no. obama and his czars are destroying the united states from the inside out. ben wrights yes, now i have a job, i was able to buy a house and i got married and i'm expecting a daughter. i paid off my credit cards and
for the first time in a long time have enough money to start investing in stocks. my life is much, much better now. ken writes i own an internet business and we are down 50% since obama was elected. i do not see any light the the end of the tunnel. although it took me nine months to find a full-time job i am now employed as an engineer. which presumably their lives are better off than three and a half years ago, too. >> if youio want to read more go to our blog cnn.com/caffertyfile or on the situation room's facebook page. a passenger makes a very scary comments about human bombs. that's coming up at the top of the hour. new information coming in and the first there was the secret service and then the u.s.
military. now dea agents are under investigations for allegedly hiring prostitutes in colombia.n . she's a dietitian and she suggested i try boost complete nutritional drink to help get the nutrition i was missing. now i drink it every day, and i love the great taste. [ female announcer ] boost has 26 esstial vitins d minals, includcalcand vimin dto lp keeg and 10 grams of protein to help maintain muscle. all with a delicious taste. your favorite patient is here! [ dad ] i choose great taste. i choose boost. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
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i tell you what i can spend. i do my best to make it work. i'm back on the road safely. and i saved you money on brakes. that's personal pricing. >> there may be another scandal brewing over american agents hiring prostitutes in colombia. first it was the secret service and then the u.s. military and now dea personnel. our congressional correspondent kate bolduan has details. what do we know, kate? >> reporter: government sources briefed on the matter, three members of the drug enforcement administration are now under administration for allegedly hiring prostitutes in colombia. they were stationed in colombia according to sources.
this involved sexual massages at one of the agent's apartments and while this happened right around the time of mid-april around the president's visit to cartagena for the summit of the americans, sources say these dea agents were not involved with the president's security for the trip, however, the house homeland security chairman peter king tells me this all came to light because a secret service agent was also in that apartment and came forward to confess to secret service officials which led them to these dea agents. i'll tell you, the top republican on the senate homeland security committee, susan collins, i spoke to her and she's been briefed on this and she calls this latest development, reckless and completely unacceptable. listen here. >> suffice it to say, with one of the dea agents, it appears that this was not the first encounter with the woman who came back to the apartment.
the reason that this is troubling is that these women are unknown to our law enforcement personnel. we don't know if they're associated with drug cartels, whether they've been sent in to entrap the agents or compromise them in some way which could endanger their mission. >> reporter: collins and king both told me that they were briefed on this incident more than two weeks ago, but have been asked to not comment on it until these agents were taken out of the country and taken out of colombia. i should note that while the dea agents are under investigation that secret service agent according to sources is not likely to lose his job because he came forward to authorities and he self reported and according to sources did not know that these were prostitutes at the time and according to one source has passed a polygraph
test. one quick note and important to note for our viewers, the director of the secret service mark sullivan will be appearing before the senate homeland security committee, the committee that susan collins is a top republican on, and that will be tomorrow and this is the first time since this whole scandal has broken out. >> we'll have extensive coverage of that hearing. thanks very much, kate. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, we're learning more about the diversion of a u.s. airways flight and a passenger's claim that she had some kind of device surgically implanted inside her. also this hour on 50. open the door! 12,000 u.s. and and ally troops in position right next door to syria. only cnn is there to see them in action preparing for the
possibility of war. i'll talk with the united states congressman banned from entering afghanistan by the president hamid karzai. mr. karzai had tough words for dana rohrabacher when i interviewed him yesterday. now it's rohrabacher's turn to fireback. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- www.vitac.com top national security officials here in washington have been warning for some time about their fears that terrorists might try to plant bombs in humans. so a note from a passenger onboard a flight from paris to charlotte to north carolina must have played into everyone's worst fears. we have the latest about the latest about the u.s. airways jet and the note that triggered
the security scare. lizzie o'leary is in "the situation room" and you've been working the story for now. >> it's a scary incident that led to u.s. fighter jets and a federal law enforcement official with knowledge of the situation tells cnn this did not appear to be terror related. >> that's the pilot of u.s. airways flight 787 confirming the cockpit is secure just before landing in bangor, maine. a woman onboard had been behaving suspiciously. the plane had headed from paris to charlotte when flight attendants asked if anyone onboard was a doctor. according to a law enforcement official, a woman told the crew shoe h she had some source sort of device implanted in her. >> she and the doctor along with
one or two stewardesses took her to the back of the plane where she remained. heard no more about it for several hours until the pilot made an announcement that we have to land in bangor for fuel. >> reporter: but it wasn't for fuel at all. two f-15 fighter jets were scrambled to accompany the plane to the ground. passengers didn't see the jets and only knew something was amiss when customs officers boarded the plane and removed the woman in handcuffs. >> we saw the security guard come on the plane and i started videoing it and we didn't really know what was going on until we started checking the news headlines and we finally found out what was going on. >> the pilot apologized to passengers for keeping them in the dark saying he was acting at the request of the tsa and customs. according to a law enforcement source briefed on the matter,
was there no national security threat. >> this woman will undergo a psychological indication and at this point she was not on any of the government's watch list. >> out of an abundance of caution they took this step, and get the f-15s to make sure, ooh and. >> and the yerlest place they could vb landed in the united statesing the lk. >> thousands of u.s. and allied forces are training for a nightmare scenario. our pentagon correspondent barbara starr got exclusive access to the mission in jordan, right next door to the most dangerous powder kegs right now, syria. >> reporter: wolf, you've seen the carrot of diplomacy being used to encourage regimes like syria and iran to join the world community. here in jordan, we are getting a look at the military stick that
might be used by a coalition if it comes to that. elite jordanian troops tra [ shots fired ] >> reporter: u.s. special operations forces practice a night raid. they can take down an enemy tag net target in two minutes. 19 countries have sent 12,000 troops here to jordan. commanders say it's all about training, but there are worries, unrest in neighboring syria or tensions over iran's nuclear program could spark a conflict. troops here believe the next time they go to war they will go
together. >> the number one takeaway from this exercise is we are creating partnerships and friendships. >> reporter: troops train for what they may face on a moment's notice. >> aiding refugees in refugee camps, attacking terrorists or safehouses, and releasing hostages. >> reporter: meet u.s. army captain rory. we cannot tell you his full name. we can't show you his face because he still runs a 12-man commando team, but here he says. >> the treatment has been eye-opening. >> if war was to come here maybe so kapt arne todd tinsley, he already runs a military task force watching from iran. he says working together isn't
just talk. >> if we get called up to do contingency we'll do something similar to what we're doing right now. >> this military exercise is being watched throughout the middle east just in case military training becomes a military reality. wolf? >> it could happen, barbara starr in jordan for us. thank you. now a very real safety concern for u.s. troops. a new u.s. senate report shows fake parts are being used in military equipment and it's being put in spotlight back on allegations that china isn't doing enough to crack down on the market for bogus parts. brian todd, what's going on? >> many americans don't know this, but every year the government buys parts for military equipment from china and according to the new senate report, there are millions of bogus parts compromising the safety of american service members. a compromised night vision
system that could bring down a key submarine helicopter. bogus parts in the massive cargo planes that could cause them to crash. >> it's just something which must be stopped for the security and safety of our troops. >> the senate oorms sers committee chair, talking about the investigation into counterfeit parts. the probe fines more than 1 million fake parts and most of them coming from china. and if i sell them right back to the defense industry here and it is pervasive. >> reporter: like counter mitt memory devices that were launched in tests, bogus components that cost taxpayers millions to replace. the pentagon was unaware that counterfeit parts had been installed in some defense systems until the investigation. the response? >> we take this as a very important issue.
this is something that we've addressed for a number of years. >> reporter: the senate probe didn't identify any single instance where a counterfeit part led directly to a service member's death or injury, but it is hard to know for sure. as one stafford told us a faulty error came to make a far turn. i spoke with china's involvement. >> these are want just anomalies with the chinese? >> no, this is not just that they happen to make a defense part. it's premised on the whole notion of counterfeits. there are whole districts in southern china that is basically known to be the counterfeit district and the factories are 10,000, 15,000 people that are making counterfeit goods. we know that and they know this. this is an endemic part of the chinese economy. >> the report says they've
failed to take steps for senate staffers to travel to mainland china to investigate on this, and on the report's overall findings. we got no response. wolf? >> how is it possible to get u.s. counterfeit parts off of u.s. equipment? >> robert atkinson says the three things need to happen, the u.s. has to do better job of interdicting the part ofs and the customs department needs to do a better job than they are now and he says the govern am has to do a better job of getting these parts made in america. remember, that won't happen any time soon, but you have with these things. >> it's a national security issue. >> a united states congressman is now firing back at the afghan president hamid sckarzai after
jack cafferty is here with the cafferty file. >> wolf, memorial day weekend dead ahead and the unofficial start of summer just around the corner. you may be surprised to learn that many visions have no vacation time in sight. a recent study shows a majority, 57% of working americans have unused vacation time at the end of last year. most of them had 11 days left or more than 70% of their allotted time off. who only takes 30% of their vacation? one of the biggest reasons people skip vacation is because they feel like they have too much work. others say they can't afford to
travel. no surprise, the economy is a little tricky and still others say they're afraid to take time off work in an unstable job market and also not surprising with unemployment stuck above 8% you can come back and they can say sorry, we don't need you anymore. the u.s. playsby different ruleand st other developed ies en it com tion. th does not require the companies to offer paid vacation. ave worker gets 13 paid days a year. compare that to italy where the average worker gets 42 days off and france, 37. and you cansert your own je ght heexy a l s is cultural. many of these cultures have strong labor unions and some like paris shut down for part of the summer when everyone goes on vacation. the trend is for people to take long weekends instead of one or
two-week vacations. understandable people are worried to leave the office for too long in a shaky economy, but it does make it harder to recharge our batteries after this toil. why don't most americans take all of their vacation time. go to cnn.com/cafferty file and post a comment on our blog. do you use all of your vacation time? >> i don't, and i should. i say every year i will, but you know the news business. stuff business and the news comes first and there goes the vacation, but this year i'll use my vacation time. >> there you go. >> can i go with you on vacation? >> of course, you can. >> all right, jack. thank you. president obama and mitt romney are running neck and neck in a new national poll less than six months before the presidential election. one issue dividing voters on the economy. asked who would best handle the economy, obama and romney are
dead even, 47% each. let's go to our chief political analyst gloria borger. it's one of the reasons why the obama campaign and obama supporters keep bringing up the issue of bain capital. sure. they look at those numbers and they get nervous. mitt romney is campaigning as a job creator, he wasn't a job creator, he was a job killer and this is a twofer issue for them. it does something else. it burnishes their credentials when it comes to character. who do you think has the best character to serve as president and another question asked by "the washington post" poll. president obama has a 14-point advantage. so they believe that the bain issue says okay, he doesn't have the values to be president either, never mind the economic experience. >> when someone like cory booker, a popular mayor of new
jersey, early supporter of president obama in new jersey, when he says, you know what? this isn't necessarily it. nauseating is the word he used that both sides are playing these gotcha game. this does pose a potential problem for the president. >> first of all, you want to sing out of the same book no matter how cory booker tried to take it back. the one thing president obama has going for him is people like him. 52% of americans like him and when you act like just another politician, wolf, you erode your own likability. third thing is at some point the president has to start talking about his own record because in the end, when you have an incumbent up for re-election it will always become a referendum on his record. >> ted kennedy used bain capital as a weapon against mitt romney. i guess four years ago when he
was running he had the presidential candidates at the time. newt gingrich and santorum and they all use tap approximately. why does his president and his team think using bain capital will work for them? >> it worked, for example, with ted kennedy, but they want it as kind of a part of things. they will talk about his record as governor of the state of massachusetts, but in the end, if you ask me, it's going to come down. you tell me what the unemployment rate will be next october. you tell me whether people feel optimistic about their future. only 16% of americans think they're better off than they were when president obama took office. that's a daunting number. it's very difficult to overcome. they have to feel hopeful about their future and now only 54% are hopeful. 42% are anxious.
so he's got to sort of get rid of some of that. he's got to get rid of some of that anxiety. >> he's got five and a half month to try to do it. >> you can now own a piece of presidential history especially ronald reagan, stand by. and a first for the american space program. >> and launch of the space x falcon 9 rocket as nass turns to the private sector to resupply the international space station. the private sector to resupply the international space station.
new signs iran could be open to broader nuclear inspections. lisa sylvester is monitoring that and other top stories in "the situation room." what's the latest, lisa? >> the head of the international monetary fund it comes one day after they gather to discuss the nuclear program. the iaea has been pushing for greater transparency amid concerns iran is building a nuclear weapon. iran insists its program is for peaceful purposes. and a dramatic new era in space exploration begins. >> two, one, zero. and launch of the space x falcon 9 rocket as nasa turns to the private sector to resupply the international space station.
>> the first unmanned private rocket bound for the international space station blasted off today on a test mission delivering more than 1,000 pounds of supplies to astronauts onboard. it successfully could usher in a new wave of commercial space travel. the capsule is in reach of the robotic arm on friday. >> and a vial reportedly containing dry blood residue from ronald reagan's attempted a assassination is online currently bidding for $20,000. the head of the reagan presidential foundation is reportedly threatening legal action to stop the sell. can you believe that, wolf? $12,000 for a vial of dry blood? >> pretty gross, if you ask me. people buy whatever they want. >> thank you. a u.s. congressman is banned
from entering afghanistan. president karzai told me it's because the congressman disrespected his country and now that congressman, dana rohrabacher, republican of california is firing back. also, a look at junk from japan now landing on u.s. shores. >> reporter: i've seen pictures of huge yards and anchors of these things stacked up and they're all empty now and this is where they all are. there's another way to help erase litter box odor. purina tidy cats. only tidy cats has new odor erasers... making it easy to keep things at home... just the way you want them. new tidy cats with odor erasers.
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rohrabacher. >> definitely not. >> ever? >> until he changes his tongue. until he shows respect to the afghan people, to our way of life and to our constitution. >> congressman rohrabacher is standing by and he'll join us in just a few moments to respond, but first some background on a feud that played out overseas as well as right here on "the situation room." several of us -- >> reporter: dana rohrabacher was part of a congressional delegation to afghanistan last month ready to board a u.s. military plane from dubai to kabul. sudden he he got a call informing him that president hamid karzai wouldn't let him set foot in afghanistan. it was a stunning turn of events, even more so because leon panetta and secretary of state hillary clinton went along with it. >> she just felt that another mini crisis that might erupt because karzai hated me so much that he would create a crisis
and she just saw it as disruptive to our ability to get her job done. >> reporter: we didn't know then, but do know now that the obama administration was in the midst of delegate negotiations and the announcement of the strategic cooperation agreement. >> rohrabacher had asked tough questions about the afghan government, how it's run and how it's spending u.s. money, but congressman rohrabacher said he's banned as a matter of principle. ginning me now is congressman dana rohrabacher. thanks very much for coming in. i want to discuss what's going on, but to give our viewers the full perspective, here's the entire exchange i had about you and president karzai in my interview with president karzai yesterday. watch this. >> you said you're not going to
let this democratically elected congressman into your country, why? >> a democratically elected congressman should not be talking of an ethnic divide in afghanistan, should not be interfering in afghanistan's internal affairs and should not be asking afghan people to go against the afghan constitution has asked for, should not be speaking disrespectfully about the afghan people or the various ethnic groups in afghanistan. if an afghan did that in afghanistan, how would you react to him in america? >> so you're not going to let him back into your country, dana rohrabacher? >> definitely not. >> reporter: ever? >> until he changes his tongue. until he shows respect to the afghan people and to the constitution. no foreigner has a place asking
another country to change their constitution. have we ever asked the united states to change? >> eventual that america has done for afghanistan? >> it doesn't give you the right to play with our lives. >> you think he's that dangerous to you? >> not dangerous. it's a matter of principle. international relations are based on certain principles. we're afghanistan. >> there is a concept known as freedom of speech. >> the freedom of speech is good. we respect that, but the freedom of speech with regard to other countries is another issue. he has freedom of speech within the united states and we have freedom of speech within afghanistan, but if an afghan member of parliament stood up and said the united states should be divided in five different regions, would you accept that? >> let's discuss what we just heard with congressman rohrabacher. first of all, are you ready to
apologize? are you ready to back away from some of your earlier statements in order that president karzai would give you a visa to come back to afghanistan? >> well, i will tell you that if i thought i was being inadvertently disrespectful to the afghan people i would apologize, but i obviously have a deepfelt respect for the people of afghanistan and their courage and their principle behavior. they are tough people who are actually a model for courage in this world. so i respect them. it's karzai i don't respect so i don't think i owe an apology to the people of afghanistan and of course, karzai is a corrupt and incompetent leader and i certainly owe no apology for trying to get to afghanistan to do some investigative work. >> let's talk about some of the specifics what he's complaining about. >> hes you speak of an ethnic
divide in afghanistan. is that true? >> no, it's not. in fact, what we have is a constitution that was written by foreigners, i might add that was modeled for karzai and his clique. what it does is put all of the power in kabul which is totally inconsistent with afghan culture and tradition and what i've been calling for is for all of the groups to get together and have some constitutional reform that, for example, karzai points all of the provincial governors of the states. that is not dividing the country. that's a federalist approach that will keep the country unified because you have, as we have in the united states, different people operating at different levels and that people leshth their leaders. >> you can understand where he's coming from. you believe there should be a change in the constitution. you're not an afghan.
you're an american. >> yea, i think that they should be making sure that the afghans make those changes and that the power in afghanistan isn't being held by some corrupt clique. now remember, i'm the chairman of the oversight and investigation subcommittee. i was going to afghanistan, among other things, not just to talk about perhaps constitutional reforms that they might consider, but i was also going there to investigate corruption on the part of the karzai administration. >> he also says you're disrespectful of the president of afghanistan, namely karzai. you tweeted this, and i'll put it up on the screen. government control, karzai equals pak puppet, centralized regime contrary to afghan tradition and values. what do you mean afghan is the puppet? >> that's the biggest problem right now is the pakistanis are
financing the insurgencies that we're strong put up in afghanistan. karzai is a longtime ally of the pak. he was -- even before he was in power, these are the people he dealt with. so, yea, he is overly, overly associated with pakistan, and he's not sitting down with his own people. he's sitting down with the paks for guidance. i'm sure he disagrees on that. in total disagreement with the total partnership agreement that the u.s. and pakistan have signed and also in total disagreement from what we're hearing from the republican presidential candidate mitt romney. >> i don't know what mitt is saying about it, but i am absolutely opposed to what the president just did. >> we should be looking for ways to get troops out of afghanistan at a quicker pace and we shouldn't be committing ourselves to another ten years
of military involvement in afghanistan and we can do that if we worked with all of the afghan leaders rather than putting all of our eggs in the karzai basket and trying to force everyone to accept his power. >> what governor romney says there should be an open-ended mil commitment in afghanistan. he doesn't like the timeline, if you will, but he's even more aggressive in making sure that u.s. troops stay there to bolster the afghan think goment and make sure there's security there. what i'm hearing you say is you disagree not only with president obama, but with governor romney, as well. >> i totally disagree with the governor. if that is indeed his position i would like to talk to him about it. >> congressman rohrabacher, thanks very much for joining us. i suspect the story will not die down any time soon. >> thank you. a father of three turns into a subway hero. we'll talk to him about that. and a look at a possible toxic
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there are some experts out there who believe the united states could be on the brink of an environmental disaster even worse than the oil spills in its history. tons of toxic debris from japan, devastating tsunami in fukushima turning up on the beaches of southern alaska in danger of wild life polluting the ocean more than a year since the disaster hit and the worst may yet be in the works. cnn's casey wian is joining us from the alaska coast with an in-depth look with the alarming
details. casey, what are you seeing there up close? >> reporter: wolf, let me give you a picture of where we are. we're at an estuary in southern alaska on the banks of an estuary and what you can see across this waterway about 300, 400 yards in the distance is a long sandbar and across that sandbar is the pacific ocean and we went out there and let me give you a look at some of the debris that we found out on the sandbar. you can see these giant buoys. this one says made in japan. these over here, this is foam used in construction material. look willas here say they've never seen this before. very concerned about the environmental impact of this. also we are very near a fishing village. you can see down there, there are fishing huts around that point. several hundred people, but the environmental damage in a place called montague island, northwest of here, is even
worse. >> we're going to cut across the middle of montague island to the outside on the part of alaska coast and that's where a great deal of tsunami debris has already come up. >> reporter: nearly 4,000 miles from fukushima, japan, is montague island, alaska, reachable only by helicopter or boat. >> we're in the wilderness, as much wilderness in the united states and we're sitting in the land phil. >> this shore is facing away from japan, actually, but the way the currents and the winds work, it swirls it around and dumps it in here. the influx of tsunami debris really concerns us mostly because of the amount styrofoam and also the toxic chemicals that are coming. we think they'll have a detrimental impact on the environment long term. >> chris has been cleaning debris here for 15 years and now the task is becoming next to
impossible. >> this is the spray and building foam. we never got much of that before and now if you walk you see big chunks and it's all up and down the beach. i've seen pictures of storage yards in japan, huge yards and acres of these things stepped up before the tsunami and those yards are empty now and this is where they all are. i've never seen a big yellow one like this, pretty big. they're all up and down this beach. billions of pieces of it. the other thing issal bat ross and seabirds eat this stuff like crazy and it's killing them. tests of the first tsunami debris have found no abnormal levels of radiation. still, much of it is toxic. >> i have no idea what was in this. >> bowl cleanser. that's not something you'll want to dump in your salmon or
herring spawning area. it will take years to clean this mess up. >> i think this is the leading edge of the tsunami debris. it blew across the pacific very quickly. i think we're looking at the heavier stuff will come progressively later. >> reporter: the immediate concern, how to clean all of this debris off these beaches and who will pay for it? wolf, the long-term concern, no one really knows what kind of toxic substances are out there in the pacific and potentially heading this way over the next couple of years. >> not just in alaska, but even further south, canada, oregon, washington state and obviously california. we'll watch this together with you, casey. thank you. here's the latest look of the noaa model showing where the debris is. you see the highest concentration of the tsunami garbage just north of hawaii. more than a million tons of material is making its way to
the u.s. and canadian pacific coast right now. jack has your answers coming up next and then a father of three describes how he saved a woman's life from an oncoming subway train. , start a claim with our smartphone app. you name it, we're here, anytime, anywhere, any way you want it. that's the way i need it. any way you want it. [ man ] all night? all night. every night? any way you want it. that's the way i need it. we just had ourselves a little journey moment there. yep. [ man ] saw 'em in '83 in fresno. place was crawling with chicks. i got to go. ♪ any way you want it ♪ that's the way you need it ♪ any way you want it ♪
your dad is being called a hero for single-handedly saving a woman from being killed from a subway train. to make things even more stressful his children were watching. our own mary snow has more on this remarkable story. >> reporter: wolf, roughly 5 million people ride new york city subways every day and it's uneventful. for one manhattan father taking i had kids to a festival he walked into a situation he never expected. for the wetzel family riding the subways comes with a warning. greg always tells his three children to stay far away from the platform edge but on saturday he abandoned his own advice. >> as we approached this area about 20 feet, you could see a woman lying on the tracks there, and i had the three little ones and had to make a decision about going. >> reporter: to make that decision, greg looked to see when the next train was due to barrel through. you looked up at the clock t
said two minutes? >> that's when it said two minutes. >> the woman was unconscious, with his kids watching, greg jumped in to move her away from the deadly third rail and towards the platform. >> regardless of how much you weigh, again, dead weight of a human being is heavy, unusually so, you'd be surprised. >> did she respond at all? >> no the at all. >> reporter: with time at a minimum, he raced to come one a plan b, getting her to the gap between the tracks. >> i felt if i could at least maneuver her in that area and jump out, worst case scenario the train would roll over here. the way she was laying she was across the tracks. >> reporter: greg managed to get the unconscious woman close enough to the platform for bystanders to lift her out. paramedics took her to a local hospital. ems says she was apparently intoxicated when she fell and didn't provide her name. days later her sneakers still mark the spot where she was rescued. the wetzels are hoping the
warnings to the kids will stick with them. did you think it was that dangerous before? >> no, but now i know it's really dangerous. >> reporter: these arrival signs that were put in, in recent years are there for convenience but in this case they were life-saving. wolf? >> mary snow, what a story that is. jack cafferty joins us now. that guy is a hero. i'm sure you agree. >> there are a lot of stories in this town. new york gets a bad rap for being a cold, heartless city. it's not at all. if you need help there are a lot of people usually will step that i mindneim y come estions why don' mo take all their vacation time? the fact of the matter is th oset time off and we don't use it all. bob in philadelphia writes my wife has four weeks' vacation, won't take a single day for the fear of the company's going to blow her out and she's worked at the same company for 15 years. it's a damn shame american workers have to feel this way. work yourself to death and worry every day whether or not you'll
have a job to go to. matt writes because it costs money they don't have. many feel threatened about being replaced. of course we could have everyone get six or eight weeks like in europe, look where that got them. john in alabama writes many companies pay their employees if they don't take vacation time. the tough economy makes it more inviting to take one's vacation in cash or double pay for the time not taken. henry in michigan writes, some are workaholics, some are frayed they'll be let go and the rest just can't afford it. brad in oregon writes, because bosses explicitly or implicitly tell employees that if they're not in the office or working remotely, then they're not team players and are expendable in the next round of layoffs. it's management by fear, which is one of the reasons unions were invented. jane writes, i'm self-employed. what is this vacation time you speak of? and bob writes, hey, jack, you seem to be on vacation every friday. if you do the math that's 352 vacations days. the french and italians got
nothing on you. that's correct. if you want to read more about this, you go to my blog at cnn.com/caffertyfile or through our thing on the facebook situation, the prompter is not moving. back to you, wolf. almost timer my next day off. >> that guy caught you pretty good. very observe ant viewant viewer. >> a 911 operator who snored during an emergency call. great shot. how did the nba become the hottest league on the planet? by building on the cisco intelligent network
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there, elbow falling off the armrest as we fall asleep. >> to live up to their purpose and potential. >> reporter: it's one thing to snooze during a speech and another to snooze during a 911 call. >> no. >> caller: that's not just breathing. that's snoring. around 12:30 in the morning, a call came in from this apartment complex to montgomery county, maryland, fire and rescue. >> fire and ambulance. >> hello? hello? >> caller: the dispatcher apparently nods off. >> hold on one second, ma'am, let me try to get them on the line. >> caller: a second dispatcher takes over but the sleeping one remains on the line as the caller reports her husband is apparently unconscious. >> right now he's all blue. >> caller: but the snoring confuses the second dispatcher, mistakes it for the victim having trouble breathing. >> tilt his head back. >> yes? uh-huh. >> okay, is that him i hear doing that snoring noises?
>> yes. >> okay, are you able to keep that airway open like that? i see the snoring noise stopped. >> caller: not for long. >> is the blueness going away? >> to me, he looks not good to me. >> caller: you can hear the dispatcher snore maybe 17 or 18 times during the course of the 911 call. according to deputy fire chief scott graham -- >> in my 24 years here this is the only incident that i can recall where a dispatcher has fallen asleep on a 9 11 call. >> i don't know what to do. >> is he still making the snoring noises? >> a little bit, but he stopped breathing for a little while. >> caller: it turns out the sleeping firefighter was 17 hours into his shift. >> he was about 20 minutes away from going into his rest period. >> caller: now he's on paid administrative leave. as for the patient -- >> he's blue again. >> caller: the deputy chief says thes incident had no adverse impact on the victim's