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Libya: Land of Confusion; High-Profile Wall Street Insider Trading Trial Begins

Aired March 8, 2011 - 15:00   ET

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


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we want to begin with Libya, the civil war. So far, it has been four weeks of contradiction. Follow me here.

Moammar Gadhafi says there's no revolt in his country, yet live video of clashes and protests indicates otherwise. Libyan protesters celebrate gaining control of a town. The government says, no, it's al Qaeda. Gadhafi tells a reporter in English that all of his people love him, while the U.N. estimates that as many as 2,000 people have died fighting to throw Gadhafi out.

And now, earlier today, we heard that the opposition movement was banging out this deal, this negotiation with Gadhafi to get him out of the country, so he would then give up power and avoid prosecution.

What about that? What about that deal? Now, the word out of Tripoli says, that's nonsense, rubbish. We're hearing the word lies.

So, let me bring in Nic Robertson, our senior -- let me bring in Arwa Damon for me. Arwa Damon is live in Benghazi.

And, Arwa, it seems this whole back-and-forth, this negotiation, or perhaps there never was a negotiation. Help me understand, where does the truth fit in, in all of this?

ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point in time, there is no negotiation for any sort of a truce.

There was some hope this morning that perhaps through backdoor channels, some sort of a deal could be agreed on. However, both the opposition and the government have come out saying that there has been no official talk as of yet, that not entirely surprising.

What we have been hearing in terms of these backdoor dealings is that perhaps people close to Colonel Gadhafi without his endorsement were trying to reach out to the opposition to see exactly what sort of a position he would potentially be in.

But the line from the opposition we're hearing right now very clear. They want him to step down. They want him and his family out, and they do want them all held accountable.

BALDWIN: Arwa, let me throw another question at you. And you may be able to say you have no idea at this point in time. But do we have any idea where Moammar Gadhafi is? We know he is in Tripoli. At least we know that. I know he was a no-show this morning. We were expecting to see him. We did not see him. I think perhaps an interview could be imminent. Do we know anything about a possible upcoming appearance?

DAMON: No, actually, at this stage, I really don't, although I'm pretty sure that if he does make an appearance everybody is going to be fairly interested in what he has to say, although if you ask the opposition leaders here, they believe that whatever comes out of his mouth is nothing short of the ramblings of a lunatic and they quite frankly do not trust a single word he has to say.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about the U.N. Food Program shipment of food and aid, supplies that I'm sure as you know in covering the story in Benghazi are much, much needed. What can you tell me about that?

DAMON: That's right. We have seen shipments coming in from the U.N., a number of other international aid organizations also providing food.

We're being told that, at this stage, there is actually a fairly substantial amount of food, food shortage not top on the list of concerns moving forward. Of course, that situation could change.

But at this stage, it is fairly well-organized. In fact, if you look at the city of Benghazi, for example, on the surface it does appear as if life is moving along as normal. What we do know in terms of the efforts of the aid organizations, those are being targeted in villages and towns that are largely impoverished.

And of course, they're experiencing great difficulties in trying to get into those numerous areas where the fighting is still ongoing at this stage, great concern about what's happening there, where there is very little information coming out and little to no aid going in, be it food or medical.

BALDWIN: All right, Arwa Damon for me in rebel-controlled Benghazi -- Arwa, my thanks to you.

And now we go to our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, who is live, I believe, in Tripoli.

Nic, correct me if I'm wrong there. Nic, tell me where you are. I think you're in the hotel where we're expecting to see maybe Moammar Gadhafi. Do you think you're going to see him?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The level of expectation here keeps growing. I'm down in the hotel lobby right now. And if I sort of step out of the way a little bit here, you can see the hotel doors have been blocked off. There's a red carpet outside there.

And that's where everyone is expecting Moammar Gadhafi to come in. Just to my left here, there are about, I would say, 50 or so journalists. Everyone keeps getting moved around here. There's suddenly been an uptick in activity. More security people have been coming in. But the expectation is that he's going to be coming to the hotel. I can see all the journalists are getting smushed over this way. The expectation is that he's going to come into the hotel here and may be giving some kind of a press conference, may be talking to a group of us journalists here.

But still that's not clear. None of the government officials we have been talking to can nail that down for us either, Brooke.

BALDWIN: So, big questions and we don't know if he will show up or not. You say he could give a press conference. Perhaps he will be addressing what some people are saying were lies, the talk of these negotiations, a meeting of the minds, if you will, between the east and west.

Can you shed any clarity on these negotiations? Is there any truth to them?

ROBERTSON: The negotiations that have been going on that we have been told about by government officials are negotiations really between tribes, to try and bring tribes on board the government side, to undermine the strength of fighters on the rebel side.

There have been no negotiations, government officials tell us, to -- for Gadhafi to sort of negotiate some kind of step-down and handover of power. They say that's absolute rubbish. They say that that is propaganda on the side of the rebels and that that's never been in the works.

And if you listen to everything Gadhafi and the government and his family have been saying, they have been -- they haven't given any clues away that they are in any way, shape or form about to hand over power. In fact, they have said that the rebels can hand over their weapons and they won't be prosecuted, they won't be put on trial.

And they have also said that only when the country has been united, only when the rebels have been defeated is that when they will begin to negotiate some political reforms in the country. And even that doesn't address the issue of Gadhafi stepping down. So, from the government position, it's a complete nonstarter and rubbish at this moment, they say, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Nic, I don't know if your photographer can hear me, but I think just to illustrate what I imagine is a media circus there outside of that hotel in Tripoli, where so many people are anticipating Moammar Gadhafi's arrival, could you get your photographer to just pan around, to just show the presence of the media there?

ROBERTSON: Brooke, that's going to be difficult for me to do because I'm the photographer on this.

BALDWIN: Oh. Oh.

(LAUGHTER) ROBERTSON: OK. If you could just turn the camera around a little bit, and so we can see the camera -- all the camera crews over here lining up waiting for Gadhafi to come in.

BALDWIN: Look at that.

ROBERTSON: OK. I have been given some excellent help by my colleague Justin here who stepped in just at the right moment to pick up the camera.

BALDWIN: Look at that crowd.

ROBERTSON: But that's it. What you're looking at, there are well over 100 journalists in this city, been gathered here by the Gadhafi regime from all over the world. Some of my colleagues standing next to me here, I haven't seen for years, since our days in Sarajevo, Jerome (ph) right next to me here.

These are journalists who have literally been brought in, invited in by the regime, like -- like CNN, because the regime wants to get greater international coverage here. So what we're looking at right now are the mass of journalists waiting for Gadhafi to arrive. And I must say the expectation is growing at the moment that he will be here very, very soon, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Well, Nic Robertson, I'm going to let you go, so you can wait and watch for Gadhafi. And, obviously, if he does indeed show up, no matter what ends up coming out of his mouth there, we sure would like to come back to you. My thanks to you, our senior international correspondent, who apparently shoots his own live shots. Nic Robertson, thank you. And thanks to your friend Justin as well. How about that?

Also, ladies, think about this one. If a woman wants to end a pregnancy, should she be required to see this first? A sonogram. That is what lawmakers in Texas are working on. We are going to tell you about that legislation that's on the table.

And he may not be a household name, but this man is accused of scamming Americans out of millions of dollars when our economy was at its weakest point. We are going to tell you what may work against him at his trial.

And it is Tuesday. It is Fat Tuesday, in fact. So we're going to peek in on some of the celebrations in full swing. Let the good times roll in New Orleans today, Right?

We will keep you up to speed on the threat also, despite all the partying, of some tornadoes in the South.

Stay right here.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Breaking news here. Staying on the subject of Libya, we now know that the prime minister of the U.K., David Cameron, has just met with President Barack Obama, topic number one, Libya.

I want to bring in senior White House correspondent Ed Henry with a little bit more on the readout as to what that discussion might have entailed.

Ed, what do you know?

ED HENRY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's right, Brooke.

It was a phone call. They didn't have a face-to-face meeting. The president just landed in Boston a short time ago for an education/economic event. But they had a phone call before that.

And the White House readout is basically saying that they agreed that Moammar Gadhafi has got to leave power, that the brutality and violence has to end, a lot of information frankly we have already known for days if not weeks now.

But this readout from the White House goes on to say -- quote -- "The president and the prime minister agreed to press forward with planning, including at NATO, on the full spectrum of possible responses, including surveillance, humanitarian assistance, enforcement of the arms embargo, and a no-fly zone."

But interesting that just as that readout was coming from the White House of the phone call with the British prime minister, Jay Carney was doing a little session with reporters aboard Air Force One. And our readout of that says that a reporter pressed Jay Carney on why it seems like maybe the White House, it is dragging its feet a bit on a no-fly zone.

Jay Carney insisting, look, the president's been clear, he's been considering all these options, but there are a lot of complexities, Jay Carney said, in terms of adopting, implementing a no-fly zone. We have heard that from the administration before.

But you can see as these calls, these consultations continue, they're still facing great pressure to actually act and not continue to keep talking about it essentially, Brooke.

BALDWIN: OK, so still no definitive indication that a no-fly zone could happen, but it is indeed mentioned as I'm looking down at the readout as well, pressing forward with planning and perhaps a no- fly zone, just to be clear.

HENRY: That's right, still talking about it, but -- and obviously it's something that does need to be considered carefully, because it is probably not as easy as a lot of people think it is, in terms of you have got to go in beforehand, maybe take out some of Libya's air defenses, et cetera, et cetera.

BALDWIN: Yes. Right, possible airstrikes. HENRY: But the bottom line is, this administration is facing great pressure to act.

BALDWIN: Ed Henry, thanks for the quick turnaround and getting us the latest on that readout. Appreciate it.

HENRY: No problem.

BALDWIN: And now to this. The last couple of years have been tumultuous for the economy, really to say the least. You have the housing market toppling off a cliff, the global economy following close behind and all hell breaking loose on Wall Street, financial scandals as well like Bernie Madoff's multibillion-dollar Ponzi scheme.

But there was this guy Raj Rajaratnam. Do you remember him? Here are the feds arresting him back in 2009, not for a Ponzi scheme, like Bernie Madoff, but allegedly for insider trading -- trading.

Well, Madoff's day in court, you know it's come and gone. But the day has now arrived for Raj Rajaratnam. It is just getting started, in fact, jury selection beginning today.

CNN's Maggie Lake joins me live from New York.

And, Maggie, specifically here, what kind of charges is he facing?

MAGGIE LAKE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you said, Brooke, this is insider trading, which means the government is saying that Raj Rajaratnam, a rising star, a hedge fund manager who oversaw billions of dollars used his place of power, access to a network of experts to get inside tips on companies like Intel and Google that the rest of us didn't have access to and that he made money off that, $45 million, in fact.

Now, Raj Rajaratnam appeared here bright and early in court for the first day of this Galleon trial. He, of course, has pled not guilty to all of the charges he faces. He says his investments were based on legitimate research.

And today was all about jury selection -- 100 potential jurors were in there. And the lawyers are going through and interestingly asking them a lot of questions about how they feel about hedge fund managers, how they feel about the economy. They're trying to figure out if all the public outrage out there over what happened during the financial crisis is going to affect them, in some way make them impartial during this trial.

And that's what this really is about. Raj Rajaratnam is the defendant in this case, but it's about much more than that. It's really about a system that prosecutors say is corrupt, where insider trading is rampant and it's really rigged against the individual investor.

And the U.S. attorney leading this charge, Preet Bharara, according to lawyers that we talk to that know him, they say he's just getting started.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAVI BATRA, ATTORNEY: I see what he's done as nothing short of throwing a neutron bomb on to Wall Street. And, you know, neutron bombs leave institutions intact, but they get rid of people. This man can't be corrupted. He's not looking for a political advantage. He's not looking to become a judge. He's not looking to become mayor of New York City. He's not looking for the next stop.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAKE: A neutron bomb onto Wall Street, that is quite an image. And certainly some people think it needs cleaning up.

But, Brooke, this is a criminal case. They are traditionally hard to win, especially when you're talking about insider trading. The bar is very high. The U.S. attorneys here, the prosecution is going to have to convince the jury that Raj Rajaratnam is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. So they have their work cut out for them.

BALDWIN: As the bar is so high, part of the issue here in this kind of case, you have the high-tech surveillance equipment critical here. Is it different, is it new for this kind of case, insider trading?

LAKE: Well, it is a little bit. I mean, the wiretaps -- and they have been allowed to use them in the case -- this is the kind of stuff we usually see when you're talking about organized crime, money- laundering, racketeering.

It's a little bit unusual to see it, it's not happened that many times, at least at this level, this amount of it, in a case against Wall Street, an insider trading case. And they say -- lawyers say it's going to be key, because a lot of the government's case rests on witnesses that have pled guilty already and have turned state evidence. The defense is going to try to attack their credibility if it comes to he said/he said, she said/he said.

But when you introduce the wiretaps, now you have Raj Rajaratnam's own words. That is going to be tough for the defense to try to counter that -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Changes the game. Changes the game. Maggie Lake in New York, Maggie, thanks so much.

Coming up next, what if a woman who wants an abortion is forced to have a sonogram first? Would it change her mind? Is the government even allowed to mandate such a thing? We are going to tell you about a specific piece of legislation on the table right now.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: In Texas, the Statehouse just signed off on a proposal that would be among the most restrictive abortion laws in the entire country.

Women who want an abortion, even those who have been victims of say a sexual assault, incest, would first have to get an ultrasound and listen to a description of what it shows.

The Texas State Senate passed a similar measure last month, but the House version -- and we will show you sort of the differences here -- is a bit tougher. Planned Parenthood is calling this -- quote -- "a defining moment in reproductive rights, not just for Texas, but all across the country."

Wayne Slater is a political writer for "The Dallas Morning News."

Wayne, good to see you once again here. And as I pointed out, before we look at some of the differences, because it's obviously part of the story here, between the House version and the Senate version, I want to talk motivation. I read part of Governor Rick Perry's statement. It says, "The legislation bolsters our efforts to protect life by ensuring Texans are fully informed when considering such an important decision," especially perhaps hoping a woman who gets one of these ultrasounds might change her mind.

Is that right?

WAYNE SLATER, COLUMNIST, "THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS": Absolutely.

Look, there's no question that the supporters of this legislation, like anti-abortion advocates everywhere, have worked to put obstacles and various restrictions and do whatever they can do to restrict and curb abortion.

So this isn't about health. This isn't about the welfare of the child, except for the birth of the child, by the anti-abortion folks, who want to say, we want to do everything we can to make sure that the woman changes her mind and doesn't have an abortion.

BALDWIN: Let me run down some of the differences between the House bill and the Senate bill, first of all, the House bill clearly more restrictive, requires a full 24-hour waiting period after an ultrasound procedure before the procedure. Senate is just two-hours time period.

Also, the House version would require this of all women, even if a victim of rape -- rape, sex assault, incest. And it does not do that. And, finally, the House would strip doctors of their licenses if they do not do this, if they do not perform an ultrasound before an abortion. The Senate version would not punish the doctor.

So, my question to you would be, what are the chances that this clearly stricter version in the House gets the green light in the Senate?

SLATER: Well, it could. Right now, the Senate sponsor, who happens to be a conservative radio talk show host here in Texas, said he thinks he does not have the votes in the Senate for that more restrictive House version. And you're right. It is a very tough version, 24-hour waiting period for the woman, the requirement, in the event that a woman doesn't want to see the ultrasound, she can maybe turn her eyes or -- from the doctor. But the doctor is required to talk to her about what's there. The House version has a chance in Texas. Remember, an enormous Tea Party, very conservative political wave last November washed over Texas, elected a lot of members of the legislature. It's still in the mix.

BALDWIN: Still in the mix, he says.

Now, we do know that there are something like 18 states when you look nationwide here that do regulate ultrasounds by abortion providers, but many of those states -- and here's the big difference between this and Texas or what's on the table in Texas -- they have an opt-out provision.

So I know that Planned Parenthood is at the Capitol today. What are they saying? What's their side of the story?

SLATER: Well, essentially, the big argument by Planned Parenthood is, for all you conservatives who are working hard for this bill and who want to get the government off our backs with respect to economic and other matters, this is one of the biggest intrusions, Planned Parenthood says, one of the biggest intrusions in -- by government into the lives of people, into the parent -- into the patient/doctor relationship.

So, this really is, Planned Parenthood says, a violation of the very ideological principles that conservatives espouse in most other areas.

BALDWIN: Clearly here, when does the bill go back to the Senate?

SLATER: Well, right now, it's effectively back in the Senate. What basically will happen is the Senate will agree with it or not. If they don't, it goes to conference. And who knows. It could be weeks, if not months, before both sides work out some kind of resolution. Each side says they want their bill their way.

BALDWIN: Wayne Slater, thank you so much, live from Texas.

Violent emotion, that is what Joran van der Sloot's lawyer now says caused him to murder a girl in Peru last year. So what does that mean for the amount of jail time he could face? You may not believe this one.

Also, we have new details today in that disturbing case out of Cleveland, Texas, we brought this to you yesterday, remember, where 18 men and boys are accused of gang-raping an 11-year-old girl -- more details and new video today.

But, first, I want to introduce you to more of the nominees for the first-ever CNN iReport awards. And you have shared a lot with us over the last year. And we are honoring you at the upcoming South By Southwest Festival in Austin, Texas. So, take a look with me. These are the finalists in the personal story category. And just a reminder to all of you, you can see all of these nominees. Just go to CNNiReport.com/Awards. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There needs to be more education on this. We can't let these kinds of things, where people are bullied to death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Want to take you first here to Saint Louis, where one deputy U.S. Marshal is in critical condition. The man believed to have shot him dead. The gunfire erupted when federal local authorities tried to serve an arrest warrant on the suspect, who reportedly refused to surrender. Another U.S. Marshal and a police officer were also shot, though they are not injured as badly.

A new defense strategy for Joran van der Sloot. He is accused in the killing of a 21-year-old woman last year in Peru. Now, van der Sloot's lawyer is asking for a reduced charge of -- quote -- "violent emotion murder." Apparently, that's the equivalent of manslaughter here in the U.S.

And it could bring a reduced sentence of five years, instead of the minimum of 15, if a jury convicts van der Sloot of first-degree murder. Van der Sloot was arrested twice, but never charged in the 2005 disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba.

And follow-up on this one today, police in Spain announcing they have now discovered the body of that American college student missing for over a week. Austin Taylor Bice disappeared February 26. They have now found his body after draining part of a river near where he was last seen. And, so far, police say the body does not indicate any violence.

Gas prices, everybody enjoying this one not so much. They're up for the 14th day in a row, AAA says the national average for regular unleaded now $3.52 a gallon.

And, move over, McDonald's. There's apparently a new fast-food king, sort of. Subway has surpassed McDonald's as the restaurant chain with the most locations worldwide. As of yesterday, Subway had more than 34,000 locations. McDonald's, however, still reportedly makes more money.

And we're still more than a year from the next presidential election, but last night a group of Republicans took to Iowa to test the waters a bit. And guess who was there. Jessica Yellin. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JESSICA YELLIN, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brooke. It's only march, a year and a half before the presidential elections. You might wonder, who wants to start listening to political speeches now? Iowa caucus-goers, that's who.

And Christian conservatives are among the most reliable caucus- goers in this state. So five would-be Republican candidates have come out to start wooing them with a message that social issues and economic issues go hand in hand.

At a Faith in Freedom Forum last night, the would-be candidates pushed hard for renewed fight against same-sex marriage and abortion rights. Newt Gingrich made the case that a balanced budget is a moral issue. Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty says this nation needs to turn towards god. And Rick Santorum, the one-time Pennsylvania senator, insists this is no time for a truce on social issues.

But there were two out of the box candidates who also wooed the crowd, the former CEO of Pizza Empire, a tea party favorite, Herman Cain, and also Buddy Roemer, the former Louisiana governor who got the crowd roaring with his pledge to take no more than $100 per donor and eliminate any support from special interests. He was a surprise hit of the night.

Keep in mind, only two of these five possible contenders has even formed an exploratory committee, and there were prominent no-shows. Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin among them. They would need to start to get out and about meeting voters in Iowa by late spring, early summer because voters in this state expect a lot of hand-to-hand contact with their candidates before they consider caucusing for them.

The big takeaway is that the Republican voters believe social issues, embracing them, is the only way for the Republican Party to triumph in November of next year. Brooke?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Jessica Yellin, safe travels from Iowa.

Now this just in to CNN -- 21 priests in Philadelphia have been put on administrative leave for allegedly behaving improperly with children. You remember just last month a grand jury found 37 priests accused or suspected of misbehavior of minors are currently serving in the ministry. The city's archbishop says the church is acting in response to the ruling.

And coming up next, promised we'd follow up on this story for you -- 18 men and boys accused of gang-raping an 11-year-old girl. Well, today we are getting the first images from inside that trailer where this whole thing allegedly took place.

Also, what would you do here? Here is the situation. You and your spouse are both active members of the military but you have a two-year-old son and deploying at separate times has been hard on your marriage. So do you decide it's better to deploy together and leave your child behind? One couple did precisely that. We'll hear from them coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: We've got some new details on the disturbing case out of Texas. First, take a look at this video with me. This is our first glimpse inside that mobile home where that 11-year-old girl was alleged gang-raped by more than 20 men and boys. And you can tell here, we've slow-mooed part of it, it is a total wreck. You see the mess inside the bathroom and bedroom, condom wrapper on one of the twin mattresses there. That's a look inside.

In the meantime, stepping back here, 18 men and boys have been arrested in this case. At least half of them were in court just yesterday. But take a look at what happened when they walked in. Several of the young men went in the courtroom, but see the blanket there? Their relatives brought it in, holding it up to hide the boys' identities and shield them from the news cameras.

The suspects are accused of raping the sixth grade girl after a 19-year-old man talked her in to leaving her house. Listen to what allegedly unfolded next.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CINDY HORSWELL, SENIOR WRITER, "HOUSTON CHRONICLE": It started out he asked her to go riding around with him with three other young men I think it was. They first went to another person's house, and it kind of started actually at this one house. And then when a relative of that person came home, they scrambled out the back window and they ended up in that mobile home and it continued on there.

Onlookers of this event, we know it was at least on one day and might have been on other dies also things happened. But on the one main event, apparently videotaped and photographed things with their cell phones.

And so it was getting -- becoming a very popular -- went viral basically around the school, and someone reported it to the school authorities that they had seen this. They were very upset because they knew the young girl and they recognized her.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So the aftermath of that alleged gang-rape is so explosive that the 11-year-old girl now basically in hiding. She's separated from her family. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HORSWELL: The parents tell me that she's been put in foster care as a safe house because, as these names come out, as this trial goes on, that it's going to become, you know, dangerous for actually them, too. They should move from the area, they believe, because there could be -- there have been people calling the house and just saying, like, where is she? And they don't believe the mother that she's not there. Then they cuss and get upset. And they're worried it could become worse than that, and so they just kind of don't want any more pressure on her or the family.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Now, this investigation out of Cleveland, Texas, not over yet. Again, 18 arrests thus far. More are expected.

Should members of Congress hold hearings this week on so-called radical Islam? They still plan to and apparently half of Americans think it is a good idea. But what does a man who wrote the book on Islamophobia - really. The title is "Islamophobia, Making Muslims the Enemy," what does he think? I'll ask him.

And they were rarely together serving overseas at different times. So what did this couple decide to do? Serve at the same time. But the only glitch here, they have a two-year-old son they have to leave behind. We'll hear from them about that decision, tough decision, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The majority of Muslims are outstanding Americans. Seems like a fairly reasonable statement. But the same guy who said that, New York Congressman Peter King, is holding hearings Thursday on the radicalization of American Muslims. What do you think about that?

I want you to look at this recent poll. Here are some of the numbers we've pulled out of it. And 56 percent of Americans say they think these hearings, which start Thursday, are a good idea, 71 percent of Republicans back the hearings while 45 percent of Democrats support them.

Peter Gottschalk is an associate professor of religion at Wesley University, also the co-author of "Islamophobia, Making Muslims the Enemy." Let me first ask you this, Peter. I know you've seen the numbers, you wrote the book on Islamophobia. Does there seem to be a split with Americans along ideological lines when it comes to Muslims in America?

PETER GOTTSCHALK, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF RELIGION, WESLEYAN UNIVERSITY: I'm sorry. Can you repeat the question?

BALDWIN: Do you think that there is a split among ideological lines within America when it comes to Muslims in this country?

GOTTSCHALK: Yes. I think it's -- there is a split along ideological lines. I think that more conservative Americans are more willing to believe that Muslims have become radicalized and to see them kind of as a whole who aren't to be trusted, whereas more liberal Americans are more likely to have a sense of diversity and give the benefit of the doubt that it's not a wholesale issue about Islam in general.

BALDWIN: I want to ask you obviously what you think about Congressman King's hearings Thursday, but I want to get that answer after we listen to the imam from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the oldest mosque in America. Tawa Tahil stands behind Congressman King, but also told me this. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

IMAM TAWA TAHIL, MOTHER MOSQUE, CEDAR RAPIDS: I do admire also his vigilance to be proactive and to be alert and aware of what's going on in al radicalization, whether it is coming from Muslims or Christians or Zionists. There are radicalizations across the board.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Peter, so he talks about radicalization across the board, across the country. Do you agree with that? And how do you feel about Thursday's hearings?

GOTTSCHALK: I do think that it's pretty obvious that the United States is becoming more I'd logically split along a lot of different lines. I'm not sure that what we find in the Muslim community is necessarily reflective of that.

I think that in some ways if you look at the motivations behind some of the Muslims behind some of the most recent crimes, which are very few in number, of course, they talk about being motivated by a sense that Islam or Muslims themselves, are the target of the American government. I think that's more the reason for radicalization than anything else in the United States.

BALDWIN: So, that said, let me ask you again how you feel about the hearings Thursday -- good thing, a good thing America will have the conversation about the radicalization?

GOTTSCHALK: Well, I think that if we were talking about the radicalization in general that would be a good thing. But unfortunately we're specifically looking at Muslims. And the majority of Americans in the poll you cited, about 71 percent said that the hearings should really be about radicalization in general, not specifically about Muslims.

GOTTSCHALK: So you echo what the Imam Tahil told me yesterday, the fact if we're talking Muslims, we should talk Jews, Christians, across the board. Peter Gottschalk, thank you for coming on and talking to me about that.

Keep in mind here, we're going to continue this conversation at CNN. A little later this month, CNN's Soledad O'Brien takes us into the dramatic fight over this construction of a mosque in Tennessee. We're calling it "Unwelcome, the Muslims Next Door," Sunday, March 27th, 8:00 p.m. eastern.

And now this --

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETTY OFFICER FIRST CLASS CHAT RICE, U.S. NAVY: We have decided that we would rather go together than be apart for another year.

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BALDWIN: Imagine this. They've left their two-year-old son behind for seven months while they go serve their country, serve in Afghanistan. Why they made the tough decision and how it's working out for them now. That is next.

Also, check out this video. Can you even tell what this is? Folks, those are dead fish, a lot of dead fish. We are just now finding out what killed them. I don't know if you're going to believe it, but we'll explain it to you next.

But first, here is Stephanie Elam with some free money advice.

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STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Time now for the help desk where you get answers to your financial questions. With me this hour, Ryan Mack, president of optimum capital management and Doug Flynn, certified financial planner and founder of Flynn-Zeto.

Our first question from Katie in Alaska, "I'm about to graduate from college and want to refinance my school loans so I only have one large payment. What criteria should I keep in mind when looking for a bank to refinance with?" Doug?

DOUG FLYNN, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER: Well, you have to watch variable rates because that can really cost you as rates go up over time. You want to take a look and sometimes the lower rate might be the variable, but what you want is a fixed rate that will be as long as you possibly can pay it back, with no prepayment penalty. That's what you want to do, shop between the banks and find the longest fixed rate, longest time and no prepayment. That's the best option.

ELAM: Next question comes to us from Whitney in North Carolina -- my husband may get laid off soon. We should get about $20,000 from retirement and paid leave, but have so many bills to pay. How should we use the money to get us to the next job? A lot of questions. Ryan?

RYAN MACK, CEO, OPTIMUM CAPITAL MANAGEMENT. Definitely great concern for many families, but this question highlights the fact of why we need an emergency fund, not live so close to our means that when times like this happen we have a cushion we can land upon.

What they have to do is downsize as fast as possible. Look at their budget, see which bills they can reduce, how many credit card companies can they call and negotiate interest rates lower. How many things they can eliminate completely, get rid of the cell phone bill, additional cable Bill maybe and get just basic service, these types of things and more.

Maybe he can get an additional jobs on the side to make additional capital and maybe he should start to get some community classes at the community college to get additional training and improve his resume before shopping for a new job.

ELAM: Yes, and get that resume out as quickly as possible.

MACK: Exactly. ELAM: Thank you so much. If you have a question you want to get answered, we'd love to help you out. Send us an e-mail anytime to the CNNHelpdesk@CNN.com

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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BALDWIN: I'll tell you what. If you're there, you've seen the pictures and seen what's going on in Redondo Beach, California. What we're looking at is dead fish, a lot of dead fish. Fish and game officials in California say the millions of anchovies and sardines now floating in a marina apparently suffocated. Here's hoping they don't get on pizza.

Here's what happened. The fish swept in from the ocean, used up all the oxygen in their new enclosed surroundings. There are no signs of oil or other chemicals in the water. They just used up all the O2.

We'll talk about a tough decision here. Have you two parents serving in the military. They have a two-year-old little boy, so is it better for them to deploy overseas at separate times so that one of them is always home with their son, or is it better for them and their marriage here to deploy together, leaving their son behind for months.

Chris Lawrence got to talk to them about their tough, tough decision.

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CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: It's the hardest choice this couple ever made, leaving their 2-year-old son for seven months while mom and dad deploy to Afghanistan at the same time.

RICE: I don't think a mother could ever describe that feeling, leaving your son and especially I was leaving him for the first time.

LAWRENCE: But last time she got back from a tour in Iraq she barely had a chance to get the bills before Jeff got deployed again. This is Jeff's eighth deployment.

RICE: We decided to go together than be apart for another year.

LAWRENCE: With Seth and his grandparents in Ohio, their saving grace has been Skype.

RICE: You want mommy and dad to play? OK.

LAWRENCE: Remember, he's just two years old and whatever comes along with that. So sometimes he doesn't want to come along. But at least they can see him, watch him play. Things they would never be able to do before.

RICE: Technology has been so amazing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's on your shirt, buddy? LAWRENCE: They are lucky to be on a base with fast internet service.

JAMIE RICE, SETH GRANDFATHER: We know that a lot of families don't get that same -- excuse me, I just feel sorry for those that don't get that pleasure, you know.

LAWRENCE: In 2001 the military divorce rate was lower than the national average. After ten years of deployments, it's higher. Counselors have even used Skype for marital counseling during deployments.

KELLY HRUSKA, NATIONAL MILITARY FAMILY ASSOCIATION: But it can be a double-edged sword.

LAWRENCE: Kelly Hruska is an advocate for military families and also a sailor's wife who said her husband in Iraq got frustrated when their daughter avoided Skype.

HRUSKA: "Why doesn't she want to talk with me?" And we found out her way of coping with the deployment is out of sight, out of mind, and that by talking to him on the phone, by Skyping with him, it was just a reminder that he wasn't there, and it was hard for her.

LAWRENCE: Technology also means trips can't immerse themself in war like they used to. And some say I can't leave my problems at home. They are there every night. Now it's almost time for Seth to move back with his mom and dad.

RICE: It was very, very difficult, but I know that we're doing -- we're doing this for our future, and we can have more time with him.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Wow. Chris Lawrence, that is tough, tough. That grandfather, he's a good man to take care of that little boy, but let me ask you with all the risks involved obviously in deploying, serving in Afghanistan, the military does indeed allow both parents to deploy together.

LAWRENCE: They do, Brooke, as long as they designate a caregiver. In this case it would be the grandparents. Really, it's almost like they had to sign over custody because the grandparents have to have the ability to make emergency medical decisions if something were to come up with Seth.

But the reason they decided to do it together was some studies show that up to 80 percent of kids who have mom or dad deployed have trouble in school, have trouble sleeping, have anxiety, so what they try to do is say, look, this will allow us to keep the entire family together for a longer period of time. The only drawback to that might be that it was grandpa that broke Seth off the bottle. It was grandma and grandpa who really got him potty trained, so Seth may have a little separation anxiety from his grandparents who he's been living with for seven months. BALDWIN: Like I said, they are fortunate enough to have the grandparents. Not everyone would be in the same situation.

LAWRENCE: Very lucky.

BALDWIN: That's a great piece, Chris. Thank you for sharing that with us. Thank you.

Now let's check in with the president. There he is speaking live talking education, speaking at a school in Boston. When we come back, I'll speak with Wolf Blitzer to tell us why the president chose to visit this particular school and why he's also joined by Melinda Gates. Be right back.

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BALDWIN: Now let's go to Washington to check in with my colleague Wolf Blitzer with the latest off the CNN Political Ticker. Wolf, what do you have?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM": The president is speaking at an event in Boston at a high school there called Tech Boston Academy, and 95 percent of the graduates there go on to college. It's a remarkable success story. Most of the students there, 80 percent to 90 percent are first generation potential college applicants.

The president is there with Arne Duncan and also Melinda Gates, the co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The foundation has given money to the school to develop itself in an inner city area, tremendous success rate and the president, and together with Arne Duncan, they are trying to showcase some of the opportunities out there to improve education.

As you know, he wants to increase education spending in his new budget. He's come under some criticism for that saying a lot of the conservatives saying that's great but the U.S. simply doesn't have the money. The first lady, by the way, Michelle Obama, she was over at the State Department with the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, today at an event commemorating, honoring the 100th anniversary of International Women's Day.

Did you know, Brooke, there was an International Women's Day? And today is the 100th anniversary. They're working hard to promote women's interests around the world. And they are also now collaborating with Goldman Sachs and the 10,000 Women Project of Goldman Sachs to increase opportunities for women to work at State Department, so that's what the first lady and the secretary of state, among others -- a lot of distinguished women from all over the world have come to this conference in Washington.

Finally, I'm working on Libya. We're going to have a lot coming up on Libya in "THE SITUATION ROOM," including an in-depth analysis, who those people, those Libyans who are fighting Gadhafi and his forces, who they really are. Who are these rebels? Do they have a similar background? Are they a different, disparate kind of group? We're going in depth on the opposition to Gadhafi.

That's coming up later in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Brooke, lots happening today.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. Apparently, right now there's a red carpet waiting for Moammar Gadhafi if he shows up at a hotel in Tripoli. We are going to check in with Nic Robertson here momentarily.

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BLITZER: By the way, that red carpet has been out there for several hours. So he could be a no-show or just a late show.

BALDWIN: For several hours. We will wait and see, Mr. Blitzer. We will wait and see. Thank you, Wolf. We will check in with you a little later this hour, see what else is going on for "THE SIT ROOM." Also we will get another update, political update for you in half-an- hour. You can always get the latest update online. Go to CNNPolitics.com. Check them out at @PoliticalTicker.