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Rick Santorum Won the Primary; A Rally Continues in Sanford, Florida, for Justice for Trayvon Martin; Former Vice President Dick Cheney had a Successful Heart Transplant
Aired March 25, 2012 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST (voice-over): A father talks for the first time about losing his son. A soldier, who came home, but suffered with scars of war. How a soldier's parents are coping. And what advice they have for other families whose loved ones are returning from combat.
Vice president Dick Cheney gets a new heart. But how much of a new lease on life is it?
March madness mania. Who will advance to the final four? Plus, this.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: According to the NCAA, men's college basketball outdraws women's by more than a 3-1 margin.
WHITFIELD: How the times are changing for one of the nation's most prestigious college sports programs.
All, straight ahead in the newsroom.
WHITFIELD: U.S. military investigators believe the soldier charged with killing at least 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar returned to his base between killings. Army officials now believe Staff Sergeant Robert bales killed people in one nearby village, came back to his post, left again and killed people in another village. Nine children are among the victims. This timeline is reportedly based on interviews conducted at the scene.
Barbara Starr is on the phone with us now. She is our correspondent at the Pentagon.
So, Barbara, this news that Sergeant Bales probably made two trips in that killing spree, why is that a factor into what happened, how investigators are trying to piece together what happened and how?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, you know, Fredricka, one of the things investigators want to know is, did anybody see him come and go. Did anybody know that he might have been acting outside normal military behavior? If he came back, indeed as they now suspect, was he seen, did he talk to anybody, what were his activities in the period of time that he returned to the base, how did he get in and out without being stopped, without presenting a very good reason to be going off base by himself, because they believe he acted alone.
This is really extraordinary behavior for military base in the middle of a war zone. I can't recall anything like this. So they're going to want to piece all of this together. And it may give them some additional valuable clues. Did anybody else on the base suspect anything? Was there alcohol involved? Were there other activities involved. And of course, where were the commanders during all of this - Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And then, Barbara, if you could help clear up some real discrepancy in numbers. Sergeant Bales is formally charged with 17 counts of murder. But when you ask Afghan officials, they say civilians were killed, they talked about 16 people killed. So why are these numbers not corresponding?
STARR: Yes. I wish I could explain that. We have all asked that for days now and are getting no response from the U.S. military about all of this. I have to tell you that, you know, there are reports out there, perhaps, one of the women was expecting a child. That could be part of it. Perhaps, some other afghan civilian. But let's be very clear here, fundamentally the U.S. military has provided absolutely no confirmed reason why there are 17 charges, when Afghan officials say 16 civilians were killed.
WHITFIELD: And is any more being said by the U.S. officials about the victims' families getting more than $850,000 from the U.S., there in Afghanistan?
STARR: Well, you know, what's interesting about that, this is, of course, a very typical thing done in this culture, in the Islamic culture, payment for loss. And this is being done repeatedly by the U.S. military in circumstances across Iraq and Afghanistan when civilians have been inadvertently killed, for example.
In this case, obviously being done to try and see what possibly could be done to help these families. Many of them, of course, though saying, that what they want fundamentally is justice for their loss. And I have to tell you, there's a lot of concern that the families, how much money in particular is something that the Taliban don't really get a lot of knowledge about. One official saying to me there's concern that some of the Taliban, they realize these families have a huge pile of money, and they could be very vulnerable to Taliban attacks.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Barbara Starr, from Washington.
Meantime, the brother of the man who allegedly went on a killing spree at a Jewish school in France is now implicated in the case. Muhammad Merah's brother is now helping to prepare acts of terrorism. Police believe the two worked together to kill seven people in southern France.
And Pope Benedict XVI will travel to Cuba tomorrow to deliver his first mass. Today he celebrated his first mass in Mexico. Over 400,000 people attended. The Pope urged parishioners to stay true to the faith.
And turning to politics, Santorum's win in Louisiana doesn't do much to change the overall delegate math. Here's a look at where things stand right now. Mitt Romney has 568 delegates. More than double rick Santorum's count. Gingrich has 137 and Ron Paul with just 71.
All right, the battle over health care reform hits the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow. The key issue, whether the individual mandate is constitutional. Today lawmakers on both sides of the debate took to the airwaves with predictions.
BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: From a political point of view, this is probably the centerpiece of the debate, and the proper role of government, did the Obama care live up to its billing, in the way it was passed, in the dark of night. Bind the 60 vote behind closed doors. The process was bad. The substance is going over like a lead balloon. The vice president whispered to the president when he signed the bill two years ago. This is a big F'ing deal. Well, now it's become a big F'ing mess for the damn credit card country as a whole.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing that I'm confident of is by the end of this decade, we're going to be very glad the Republicans turned this Obama care. Because when the reality of healthcare is in place, it is going to be nothing like the kind of fear mongering that was done. And now, as it relates to the Supreme Court, we're confident that it's going to be upheld.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And we'll have more on the health care debate later on in this hour.
A new development in the child sex abuse case of former Penn state football coach Jerry Sandusky, a new report indicates a psychologist told police nearly 15 years ago that Sandusky, quote, "showed a likely pedophile's pattern." The psychologist's report was part of an investigation into Sandusky and suspected assault on an 11-year-old boy back in 1998. The report was recently obtained by NBC news. Sandusky is currently under house arrest awaiting trial on more than 15 counts of child sex abuse.
Hoodies appeared in churches across the country today. This is the latest in the protests against the shooting death of an unarmed Florida teen. It is being dubbed wear a hoodie to church Sunday.
CNN's George Howell joins us from Sanford, Florida. And it is a town where the 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was shot dead by a neighborhood watch captain.
So George, what is happening there today, and what's planned for the week? GEORGE HOWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, first off, I want to talk about new news. We learned from George Zimmerman's attorney is he will now use the "Stand Your Ground" law here in Florida, previously he told us that he was planning to just use self-defense in the case his client was arrested. But at this point he will use his "Stand Your Ground" law here in Florida. But the movement here in Sanford u you see it continuing.
Today we're expecting several vigil vigils, one at 6:30 eastern time, and a few more planned, maybe 8:00 tonight, people coming together to support the family. And across the country, Fredricka, as you mentioned, in Atlanta and in New York City, we see people coming together wearing hoodies to church, showing solidarity for the family.
And also today in Orlando, the reverend Jesse Jackson spoke to the crowd there, to the congregation talking about this indication, also talking about the violence that resulted from this case and the need to come together to support this family.
Jesse Jackson here in Florida, all of this is leading up to, Fredricka, what we expect to be a pretty big day tomorrow. A lot of celebrities, a lot of people coming together for a march from a church here in Sanford to the civic center. Now, that's for a regular city hall meeting. They usually hold their meeting at city hall. But tomorrow it will be held at the civic center. A lot of people expected to attend that. And we just also learned that the family may also speak at that meeting, Trayvon Martin's family. So definitely a big day, Fredricka, planned for tomorrow.
WHITFIELD: And we also understand the family is pursuing a civil suit against the homeowners association at the complex where the shooting took place and possibly even against George Zimmerman?
HOWELL: We did learn that today. A lot of things developing. And we are expecting a pretty big week with the case also, the investigation continuing, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. George Howell. Thanks so much.
An Iraq war veteran dies, not in combat, but after he came home, damaged by the war's mental toll. I speak to his anguished parents working, so that no more families suffer as they have. That's next.
WHITFIELD: A New York family is convinced their son died as a direct result of the war in Iraq. He wasn't killed in battle. He suffered afterward, at home. Dan Hamilton's parents say they saw signs of post-traumatic stress disorder and were powerless to stop it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER (voice-over): Dan Hamilton came back from Iraq broken. Not from physical wounds inflicted on the battlefield, Dan Hamilton was broken inside. BRENDA KEENE-HAMILTON, DAN HAMILTON'S MOTHER: When they returned from Iraq, like I said, it was -- he was home in June for a wedding and he looked wonderful. And by December that same year, he looked completely different. He had lost weight. He had the sunken eyes. He was tired. Like what Boyd said, he was a completely different person.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: The return from war to regular duty was not easy. He struggled to adjust, told his family he couldn't sleep. And he was angry.
BOYD HAMILTON, DAN HAMILTON'S FATHER: I talked to him all the time about. I would go to the VA for things. And I wanted him to engage to get active, number one, to start working -- I guess basically to help reprogram his brain, to realize to have hope again.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Hamilton's family believes he had post- traumatic stress disorder. And not long after he left the service, he died from what his parents described as an accidental overdose of prescription medication.
BOYD HAMILTON: In the service you're taught to adapt and overcome. You're there to be independent to handle these things on your own. It's seen as a sign of weakness amongst your peers in the service. And that whole mind-set I think has to change has to end. It's normal to feel the way they do when they come home, to be hurt, and sad about things. But they just need to learn to be able to express it and seek help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Hamilton's death devastated the small community of Waverly, New York. Looking for a way to honor him and help families who might face the same problem, Hamilton's extended family took action. They took to the internet and to the streets, these cousins with a cause. They educated people about PTSD and sold battle saint bracelets that benefit the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Foundation, a group that provides clinics for combat veterans with PTSD, and other combat injuries.
BOYD HAMILTON: We need to go out and find these people, be proactive, touch them, shake their hand, hug them. Let them know they're loved. And we're here for them. I'm sorry.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: This family lost a son, a cousin, a man who survived combat. Today they work to spare other families the same kind of loss.
WHITFIELD: Stay right here. In a moment, I'll talk more with Boyd and Brenda Hamilton about their heartbreaking loss and about what they're doing in their son Dan's name and in his honor.
And, Dick Cheney, recovering from a heart transplant, but it took him almost two years to get the surgery. Is that normal? We'll find out.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WHITFIELD: For a look at the top stories. Gas prices climbing yet again, the national average now $3.89. AAA reports that the average for a gallon of regular unleaded gasoline. The price jumped .2 of a cent overnight and is the 16th straight increase.
In southern California, police are investigating the beating death of an Iraqi woman that the family insists is a hate crime. Family members say they discovered the 32-year-old woman lying unconscious on her ding room floor Wednesday. A threatening note was found next to the victim. The family says nothing was taken from the home, which they say further points to a hate crime. Police are calling it an isolated incident.
And in just a few hours, President Obama is scheduled to deliver a speech in South Korea, focusing on U.S. efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. Earlier today, President Obama visited the demilitarized zone that splits the Korean peninsula. He warned North Korea it will face more sanctions and isolation if it moves forward with its plan to test-fire a long-range missile. Pyongyang says it's planning to launch a rocket-powered satellite, not a missile.
Coming up, Cheney gets a heart transplant, but he's 71. Is that pushing the limit?
Plus, a defrocked priest pleads guilty to sexually abusing young kids. Why does something like this keep happening? Straight after this, a victim who recently settled with the catholic church explains.
All right, now, back to our report on army sergeant Dan Hamilton. He came home from the war in Iraq and struggled until his death to get back to normal. Hamilton was never formally diagnosed with PTSD, but his parents tell me they saw all the signs of a young soldier in trouble.
WHITFIELD: What did you see in Dan when he came back from Iraq? What did you recognize about him? Was he the same? What was it?
BOYD HAMILTON: It was -- he was despondent, argumentative, seldom was he ever happy. He wasn't the same Dan. He was sad often. He just had that element of sadness all the time about him.
WHITFIELD: Did you say something to him?
BOYD HAMILTON: And hopeless also, yes.
BRENDA HAMILTON: And hopeless.
WHITFIELD: Do you believe as a result of your experience that once somebody is diagnosed with PTSD, that perhaps they should be honorably discharged, or should they continue to be enlisted? What do you suppose should happen for others that perhaps didn't happen for your son?
BOYD HAMILTON: I think, first and foremost, while in the service, they should be ordered to a mental health facility for a period of time, made to go. Like I said before, a lot of these men and women, they don't want to seek help. It's frond upon. And I think they should be ordered, and made to report to a mental health hospital or facility on base while in the military prior to discharge for evaluation, and counseling. And I feel wholeheartedly that our son's situation could have been avoided, that he could have been saved.
WHITFIELD: What are you hoping -- you know, families can look forward to, to feel that they have a voice? If they can be a voice for, you know, their service man or woman who doesn't feel like -- doesn't feel like they can speak up for themselves. So a family needs to speak up for them. What empowers a family to be able to do that from this point forward?
BOYD HAMILTON: There are a lot of things available through the VA. But I think the problem is these men and women don't seek it. We have to go out to them. We have to be proactive. There should be a hot line set up. And advertised heavily, something where family members can call and say, hey, listen, my brother, my son, my cousin, this is their name, this is their social, they served, they served in Iraq, they're exhibiting erratic behavior, they're using drugs, they're using alcohol, they need help. And something set up through this system where we go find these people. Whether they would be homeless, I mean, I read statistics online where there are more homeless vets from these two conflicts combined than all of them in the history of the United States. And we need to go out and find these people, be proactive, go out, touch them, shake their hand, hug them. Let them know they're loved. And we're here for them.
WHITFIELD: Boyd and Brenda --
BOYD HAMILTON: I'm sorry.
WHITFIELD: Well, it is a very tough time. It's been only a year. I know this has been an incredible family struggle. Our hearts go out to you. Thanks so much for your time and all the best.
BRENDA HAMILTON: Thank you.
BOYD HAMILTON: Absolutely.
WHITFIELD: Former vice president Dick Cheney is recovering from heart transplant surgery at a hospital in Fairfax, Virginia. He had the procedure yesterday. The 71-year-old has suffered at least five heart attacks since 1978, and he has been on the transplant waiting list now for more than 20 months. Dr. Gina Lundberg is the cardiologist from St. Joseph's hospital right here in Atlanta, good to see you.
DOCTOR GINA LUNDBERG, CARDIOLOGIST, ST. JOSEPH'S HOSPITAL: Nice to be here.
WHITFIELD: This is really extraordinary. Because, now that we've learned that his first heart attack was at the age of 37, all of these years, publicly we've learned that he's had a lot of heart problems, lots of different measures in place. But all that had to precipitate a new heart. Why wouldn't he have wanted to get a new heart sooner if it is an issue of a bad heart?
LUNDBERG: He may have wanted a heart sooner, but you really can't get a heart transplant until all else has failed. He had bypass surgery, he had two stints, a pacemaker and left ventricular assist device. But it's only after everything else has failed that we think you need a heart transplant.
WHITFIELD: In the end it turns out he was a good candidate to be on that list, to get a new heart. Why?
LUNDBERG: It takes into the whole health of the body. How is your brain's function, how is your lungs, your kidneys, your liver. The whole body has to support the heart after transplant. So, you really need to be very physically healthy, and also in a good mental state.
WHITFIELD: So, even at 71, because ordinarily most recipients would be under the age of 70.
LUNDBERG: Well, he was on the heart transplant list for 20 months. So he was probably 69 when he initially --
WHITFIELD: He just barely made that window.
LUNDBERG: Yes. But every program has a different age cutoff. Our hospital transplanted a 72-year-old man last year. And he's doing very well.
WHITFIELD: So what will his recovery be like? What can we -- what can he expect from this point forward?
LUNDBERG: Well, he'll probably be in the hospital at least another week to ten days. For the first month or two, he'll need biopsies of his heart muscles every week to make sure he's not rejecting the heart. And then, it will be a very cautious course over a year or two. He has to watch for infections, rejection of the new heart. It's still a long way to go.
WHITFIELD: So it's still touch and go.
LUNDBERG: He's still critical for quite a while. Heart transplants don't last forever. Very few people have made it 30 years. The average is more like 10 to 15 years.
WHITFIELD: Incredible. Ok, well Dr. Gina Lundberg, it's a fascinating jury that the public has really has watched through Dick Cheney. We've learned so much about stints. We've learned about, you know, defibrillators and all that that we would not have understood more clearly had it been for really kind of his public exposure, his willingness to publicly reveal, you know, his journey with his heart.
LUNDBERG: It's been great for patients. I've actually referred to people who need a defibrillator, well this is what Dick Cheney has. And now we would be able to patients about transplants, saying remember when this was on TV for Dick Cheney, and they'll have a better understanding of what it's all about.
WHITFIELD: So, he clearly was born with a bad heart.
LUNDBERG: Well, he was born with a lot of genetic predisposition to it. To have heart disease at 37 is definitely considered premature coronary artery disease.
WHITFIELD: All right. Dr. Lundberg, thanks so much. Appreciate that.
LUNDBERG: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. A new chapter begins in the history of the catholic church. A church official may be the first to stand trial for allegedly covering up for priests accused of sexually assaulting children. And the accusations go all the way up to the highest authority in the Philadelphia archdiocese.
CNN national correspondent Susan Candiotti has the details.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Monsignor William Lynn was in charge of investigating priests accused of child abuse for the Philadelphia arch diocese. Now, he's the first catholic church first official criminally charged with knowing about abuse, but conspiring to cover it up.
PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL CONTRIBUTOR: The precedent that this case is going to set will be an important case involving the hierarchy of the Roman catholic church.
CANDIOTTI: It's a case that's had many twists, including allegations that recently deceased Philadelphia cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua ordered abuse documents shredded. And in the latest surprise, one of monsignor co-defendants defrocked priest Edward Avery suddenly pleaded guilty, admitting to raping a 10-year-old altar boy in 1999 at this church.
In a plea deal, Avery was sentenced to two and a half to five years in prison. A fraction of what he could have faced. Father James Brennan is charged with abusing another boy. Church defenders say these cases do not reflect today's catholic church.
BILL DONOHUE, PRESIDENT, THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE: The catholic church, to my knowledge, has the most extensive comprehensive program dealing with people who are going to work there, in the catholic church, or are working in the catholic church as well as volunteers.
CANDIOTTI: Victim advocates insist the church still has problems.
SARBARA BLAINE, PRESIDENT, SNAP NETWORK: We still haven't seen one bishop to be fired or publicly punished for enabling or covering up for a sexual predator priest. RICH GREEN, ALLEGED ABUSE VICTIM: As many days as you make it down there.
CANDIOTTI: Rich Green plans on attending Lynn's trial. As a high school freshman in Philadelphia, Green, the nephew of deceased cardinal John O'Connor of New York, says he was sexually abused repeatedly by his religion teacher, a priest who's now dead. Green settled with the catholic church last year but still feels bitter.
GREEN: Worse than the abuse itself, to know that somebody could have stepped in and stopped it.
CANDIOTTI: A court-imposed gag order prevents all parties from commenting. But when the charges were first announced, Philadelphia's D.A. made a point of saying that as a catholic, he's not targeting the institution.
SETH WILLIAMS, PHILADELPHIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: This is about evil men being held accountable for doing despicable acts.
CANDIOTTI: Either the case could be the credibility of the victims who will testify. Part of the high stakes drama about to play out in Philadelphia.
Susan Candiotti, CNN, New York.
WHITFIELD: Cheating in schools isn't new. But now there's a nationwide investigation into thousands of schools reportedly cheating the system and our kids. Details, coming up.
And people are already ling up outside the U.S. Supreme Court trying to get a seat for tomorrow's debate over health care reform. I'm going to talk with a woman who held off giving birth to her son until after the president signed the bill into law. Her story in a few minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Green shoot, have you heard this phrase? Imagine the forest floor after a wildfire. Eventually those little seeds start to sprout again. That's what's happening in the American economy. And as the sprout to the economy take root, it's up to you to reinvent yourself for the new growth ahead.
We're talking reinvention this morning with someone who many of you probably had started your mornings with. I certainly did. Jane Pauley is an award-winning journalist who anchored NBC's "Today" show for 13 years. She is now the host of AARP reinvention series, "Your Life Calling." You profile people, Jane, so nice to meet you. People who are reinventing themselves. Is there a common denominator of a personality traits that you need to hold on to, to really try to reinvent? JANE PAULEY, HOST, AARP'S YOUR LIFE CALLING: The good news is, there is, the bad news is, I have none of those traits. And the traits that I would look for are volunteering, people with a history of volunteering find reinvention easier, people who are eager to learn new things. It may not be a degree but learning new things. And people who have hobbies, and outside interests tend to find reinvention more easily.
ROMANS: For smart is the new rich, I'm Christine Romans.
WHITFIELD: The top stories. U.S. military investigators believe the soldier charged with killing at least 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar returned to his base between attacks. Army officials now believe staff sergeant Robert Bales killed people in one nearby village, came back to his post, left again and then killed more people in another village. Nine children are among the victims. The timeline is reportedly based on interviews conducted at the scene.
In Sanford, Florida, tonight, a candlelight vigil will be held in honor of Trayvon Martin, the unarmed 17-year-old was shot and killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer. This morning people attended church services across the country wearing hoodies as a tribute to the teen. Protesters also held rallies al weekend long demanding an arrest in the case.
Plus, attorneys for the family of Trayvon are now planning to pursue a civil case against the homeowners association as well as the shooter, George Zimmerman.
A newspaper's investigation of 69,000 schools in 49 states found suspicious standardized test scores in about 200 schools. That's according to a stunning new investigation by the Atlanta journal- constitution newspaper. The analysis doesn't prove cheating, but it did find troubling patterns in hundreds of cities. The AJC expanded its investigation coast to coast after it found some Atlanta teachers and administrators were changing students' test scores to meet goals under the no child left behind.
All right, tomorrow the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the issue of health care reform. People are already ling up outside the court trying to ensure that they get a seat when tomorrow's arguments begin. It is probably the most explosive case to hit the high court in more than a decade. A real lightning rod in the political arena right now as well.
I want to bring in Elena Young. She has been on the Supreme Court steps, or is going to be on the Supreme Court steps tomorrow taking part in a news conference in support of the health care of reform act. She's joining us right now from Washington. Good to see you, Elena.
ELENA YOUNG, HEALTH REFORM ADVOCATE: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: You got involved in this health care fight quite a long time ago, at the early age of 10. You were a cancer victim. What do you want people to know about your personal battle with health care coverage, and how it has changed over the course of the past two years?
YOUNG: Well, Fredricka, over my whole life, I'm a three-time cancer survivor, and over the past two years, with the implementation of the affordable care act, one of the major things is, the fact that I'm no longer held by the constraints of the preexisting condition clause or maximum caps that premiums really hold on to and lynch a lot of American with.
And my son actually was born on the day that Obama passed the Senate version of the affordable care act. And for me, that is a monumental moment. Because I knew right then and there, that he will have a future in which these limitations will no longer be placed on him. He won't ever have to deal with these preexisting condition clauses, or the lifetime max, or any of these major issues that are affecting Americans, both insured and uninsured.
WHITFIELD: So, I do want to ask you more about the preexisting condition clauses and your worries about whether that will change if any portions of this health care reform, you know, laws are overturned. But meantime, I understand you also -- you kind of delayed, you talked about your son, giving birth to your son the day that this bill was signed into law. I understand you tried to delay this. You prolonged that birth to time out with signing of this law. Why?
YOUNG: Well, I actually I was induced early and because I had a very difficult pregnancy. And I was in labor for several days. And they need to do an emergency c-section. But I wouldn't let them take me to the O.R. until I saw President Obama sign that Senate bill, because I wanted my son to know that at that moment, he was going to be born into a society where he will not hit these same areas of accessing affordable health care that I've hit my entire life.
WHITFIELD: So now, the preexisting condition clauses, these protections that are now in place as a result of this affordable health care act, if any portion of this law is overturned, tell me about your worries about what this would do for whether it be a preexisting conditions clauses or any other protections you feel you have now as a result of this affordable care act.
YOUNG: If overturned, I feel that we will be placed back in a scenario where we'll be controlled by our insurance companies, denying access to care, maximum lifetime annual costs, all of these things that we've been fighting for in the act to no longer be hurdles to get access to care. And if these things are struck down, we lose these protections. We're at the whim of the insurance companies again.
WHITFIELD: Earlier this afternoon I talked with one of the key players in getting this law passed at the onset, former democratic Congressman Bart Stupak. He told me he's glad this case is going to the Supreme Court. And here's his reasoning.
All right, looks like we don't have that sound bite. But he essentially said he thought it might strengthen the argument over the need for health care. That in his view, he felt that the U.S. Supreme Court was going to uphold the law and he said if the Supreme Court in his view does in fact do that, it will help kind of solidify, you know, the support, and the strength of this affordable health care act. Do you agree with that potential?
YOUNG: I do. And the thing is, this isn't just about the uninsured Americans, this is about the insured Americans as well. As I mentioned earlier, talking about lifetime caps. We'll no longer have to deal with these lifetime caps, or annual caps that if you're struck down with a, you know, life-altering disease or cancer, that your insurance company won't deny you. And these are insured Americans. So this is -- health reform affects not only the uninsured but the insured as well. That's something that really needs to be emphasized.
WHITFIELD: The issue at hand is the constitutionality of that affordable healthcare act. Bart Stupak, again, earlier today, he believes that law is constitutional. And it's his view that it will be upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. But of course, we'll begin to hear those arguments this week to see ultimately what will happen.
Elena Young, thanks so much for your time. Appreciate it.
YOUNG: Thank you, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk some college hoops. During March madness, the focus, it's usually on the guys. But we're switching gears, giving the ladies some attention this go-around. A look at the number-one women's team this season. Plus ,the latest from the March madness matchups, next.
WHITFIELD: All right, March madness is winding down and busting brackets, mine included. What can I say?
Kentucky made it to the final four today. The men's team beat Baylor 82-70. The wildcats will face home state rival, Louisville in New Orleans on Saturday. And then Ohio state plays the winner of the UNC- Kansas game which is going on right now.
And there's more to talk about. So don't switch over as yet. On the women's side, Notre Dame dispatched St. Bonaventure to make it to the elite eight. The team has a devoted hard core fan base second only to the fighting Irish men's football team.
Ted Rowlands explains why.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the Notre dame women's basketball team takes the floor at home, the arena is usually packed. In fact, the women draw more fans than the Notre dame men's team. Not bad for a school that's only had women enrolled as students since 1972.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's nice to have the fans here every night. Just knowing how loyal they are to us.
ROWLANDS: According to the NCAA men's college basketball outdraws women's by more than a 3-1 margin. Many fans say they simply don't like watching women's basketball.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just not as fun to watch, man. They can't dunk. I think it's that simple.
ROWLANDS: It may be that simple for some fans, especially younger ones. But women's basketball at Notre dame draws a different audience.
Our fans tend to come from a different sort of segment of the population. They tend to come from families, senior citizens, the community at large as opposed to more of the student body.
ROWLANDS: Notre Dame's success in filling seats is from winning that shows the team had the best record in the big east and 30-3 overall record heading into the NCAA tournament. But the team, also, actively recruits fans off campus.
MUFFET MCGRAW, COACH: We get out in the community quite a bit. We're out talking to the schools, helping at the food bank, doing something for St. Vincent de Paul. We are going to try to get involve because this is our community too.
ROWLANDS: Hall of fame coach, Muffet McGraw, says if they can get someone to just come to one game, her girls can hook them. She thinks the women's game now is where the NBA was 25 years ago.
MCGRAW: You had Larry Bird. You have magic Johnson, a game that's played in a fun way with a lot of great passes, a lot of great scoring, but not a lot of dunking. And that's the way the women's game in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we're becoming more like the guys' game in that you never know who will win the game. Everybody's getting better. Anybody can beat anybody on any given night.
ROWLANDS: More superstars are also emerging in the women's game, including Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins who was the big east player of the year. She believes it's only a matter of time before the ladies start getting the respect she thinks they deserve.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we're capable of playing at a faster level. We've shown this, the three-point arc is the same. So our ability to shoot the ball is not different.
ROWLANDS: Notre Dame, of course, football is number one. But these women are not jealous. Women's basketball was number two behind football at the school last year in average fans. The team made it to the NCAA championship game but lost. This year the goal is to win it all and bring in more fans.
Ted Rowlands, CNN. South Bend, Indiana.
WHITFIELD: Go girls. Love that girl power.
Don Lemon, up next. You like that girl power, right?
DON LEMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.
WHITFIELD: I mean, usually you talk about women's ball, you talk about UCONN. Now another team is getting a little time.
LEMON: How you practice?
WHITFIELD: I'm afraid you would ask. I am non-existence. I am like a blip on the screen. Look. I'm such a blip that I am not even there.
LEMON: My Go. And then Randi. Wolf is there.
WHITFIELD: Where are you?
LEMON: I was at -- I am way at the top. I am so good I have two spots. Stop pointing it out.
WHITFIELD: That's OK. At least you're not at the bottom, which is where I am. I am off the screen. But that's alright. I didn't pretend to know what I'm talking about.
Anyway, you got a lot of - straight ahead.
LEMON: Yes. We have some serious staff that we have pointing up. You have been reporting on - it's really a startling revelation. A startling revelation out of Afghanistan in the investigation involving a U.S. soldier and the shooting massacre that left 17 Afghan civilians dead. The army now believes that staff sergeant Robert Bales killed people in one nearby village, and went back to his post and then went to a second location.
Our Sara Sydner is in Kabul. She is going to have details for us and that were also, looking at the new details about the U.S. government offering to help Afghan people, the victims of this massacre. Some are calling it compensation. As I mentioned, the government says it's an offer to help. We are going to talk to retired army general about that. What is that mean? Is that an admission of guilty? Are they paying for silence? If it's that - that's a criticism.
WHITFIELD: Yes. It's not unusual.
LEMON: It's not unusual, yes.
WHITFIELD: They find it as not president said and it's just there are degrees of circumstances but questions in military. For more details on that, Don Lemon, thanks so much. Good to see you. Much more in the NEWSROOM in how many minutes? Nine minutes and counting.
LEMON: It's eight right now.
WHITFIELD: My God.
WHITFIELD: You looking for a little bottle or something to give to your mom?
WHITFIELD: Look at this sparkler. My God!
LEMON: I saw this.
WHITFIELD: It makes my heart stop.
LEMON: John, if you are watching, Fred wants this.
WHITFIELD: Look at this. It is a dozy. Look. There is no other metal, nothing on it. It is all diamond, all bling all the time. We got more on it. Yes.
WHITFIELD: All right, some news that will get you talking. Lions Gate hits a bull's eye with the hunger games. The film called in hundred city by million bucks this opening weekend. It is the third best opening of all times.
And is Tiger Woods back? Looks like he could pull of a win at the around Palmer invitational. He is currently two under and on the 16th hole. If he wins, it would be his first big win since 2009 when he won the Arnold Palmer for the sixth time.
And check out this. This bauble, oh my goodness. It makes me have a heart attack right now. It is made out of one solid 150 karat diamond. But don't fall in love too fast. Well, I am already in love. I know, fan me. Help me out, Don. It's valued at 68 million bucks. The Swiss jewelry designer calls this the first ever all diamond ring.
So, who is going to drop this money more for this rock? We will see. Don, you got a cool 68 mill?
LEMON: Yes. I will send it to you in a check.
WHITFIELD: OK. All right, Jacqui Jeras. I know your heart is a flutter as well.
JACQUI JERAS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: You know what, I'm living on it.
WHITFIELD: Come on, don't kill me now.
JERAS: Where would you wear that thing? It would break?
LEMON: No. Diamonds are very strong.
WHITFIELD: I will take it. I will try it out. JERAS: All right. I would rather go to Hawaii like 20 times.
JERAS: Anyway. We are tracking the weather here. And remember the big storm system that hit much of the country with flooding and severe weather all week long? Well, today it's sitting right here. You can see it spinning across the Carolinas and it is finally going to be making its exit late tonight. But we still have to get through the evening with the light risk of severe thunderstorms here looking for large hail in the east and damaging winds being our biggest concern. And then we are going to watch things begin to move out. But, we got a bid cool down to go along with it, Fredricka. Goodbye to the record 70, hello to the 30s and 40s for high in the northeast.
WHITFIELD: Ok. Thanks so much.
Now we are prepared for the rest of the week. Jacqui, appreciate it.
All right, that is going to do it for me. I'm Fredrick Whitfield. Good to see you this weekend. More of the NEWSROOM straight ahead with Don Lemon.