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CNN SUNDAY MORNING
President Obama Warns North Korea; U.S. Pays $800,000 to Afghan Victims' Families; Dick Cheney Gets Heart Transplant
Aired March 25, 2012 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: From CNN Center, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING. Hello, everyone. I'm Randi Kaye.
New information out of Afghanistan -- we've just learned what the U.S. is prepared to offer the victims of Sergeant Robert Bales' alleged attack.
And explosive new development in the Trayvon Martin story as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASHIM NZINGA, NEW BLACK PANTHER PARTY (via telephone): When we get him, they can come and get him from us. And then at that point, they need to charge him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: The New Black Panthers have put a bounty out for Trayvon's killer, George Zimmerman. We'll tell you what they are demanding.
And new information coming out of Afghanistan. As we said, we just learned what the U.S. is prepared to offer the victims of Sergeant Robert Bales.
And the future of your health care goes to the Supreme Court this week. In our main bar/side bar story this week: we'll talk to a constitutional attorney about what's at stake.
And one CEO goes above his corporate duties, way above. We'll talk with Steve Curtis about why he's risking his life to inspire others.
ANNOUNCER: From CNN's world headquarters, bringing you news and analysis from across the nation and around the globe -- live from Studio 7, this is CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
President Obama is warning North Korea: don't mess around with its neighbor, South Korea, or with the U.S. In Seoul today, he and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak emphasized deepening economic trade and military ties between their two countries.
But it was North Korea that got much of the focus. At the heavily fortified demilitarized zone that divides the Korean Peninsula, Mr. Obama peered through binoculars at one of the most reclusive nations on earth.
Later at a news conference, he said Pyongyang will pay the price if it goes ahead with a planned rocket launch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: North Korea will achieve nothing by threats or by provocations. North Korea knows its obligations and it must take irreversible steps to meet those obligations. On this, the United States and the Republic of Korea are absolutely united.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: President Obama is in South Korea for an International Nuclear Summit. It kicks off tomorrow.
Let's get right now to the new information just into CNN on the killings in Afghanistan.
Sara Sidner joins us with much more on this developing story.
Sara, what can you tell us about these payments there to the victims in Afghanistan?
SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Randi, we talked to one of the provincial council members in Kandahar, and he told us he was there at the meeting and what went down was basically a U.S. representative came, spoke with him, spoke with some of the family members who were there, and handed over more than $800,000, the equivalent of that in cash in Afghan money.
Also, we should tell you that the breakdown goes like this: $50,000 for each person who died, $11,000 for each person who was wounded.
What is interesting, if you do the math, is that it looks as if the U.S. has paid for a total of 16 dead, and they have charged a total of 17 people dead. So, we're trying to figure out why there is a discrepancy again and again. As you might remember, the Afghan government also has a list of only 16 people who were killed in that massacre on March 11th, not 17.
So still there's this issue with the numbers, but we do know more than $800,000, the equivalent, has been paid out to the victims now -- Randi.
KAYE: And, Sara, when you and I have talked about this before. It was made very clear by the villagers there that they didn't want restitution, they didn't want any payment, they want justice.
How do you think this is going to be received?
SIDNER: Well, they've taken the money. So, that's the number one thing. But secondly, we've heard this a lot. And in this region, you often hear that in the very beginning, people say we don't want your blood money, we don't want this, we don't want anything because it can't bring back our loved ones. But in the end, often, they do take the money.
Now, here is how the U.S. put it though. They said, look, this isn't compensation, according to our source. This is money given to you as help from the U.S. government.
So, it wasn't put as if it was -- this is a payment for your dead uncle, for your dead child, for your dead mother. It was more said in the way that this is help from the United States after what you've been through, Randi.
KAYE: All right. Sara Sidner, thank you very much for bringing us that breaking news out of Afghanistan.
Dick Cheney is in a Virginia hospital this morning where he is recovering from heart transplant surgery. The 71-year-old former vice president had been on a transplant list for more than 20 months.
Let's bring in Athena Jones. She is outside Cheney's hospital.
Good morning to you, Athena.
Give us an update. I mean, what is his condition right now and what are we hearing from the Cheney family?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Randi.
Well, I have spoken to the hospital this morning. They don't plan to give us any press briefings right now. They're not on the schedule right now. But that certainly could change at any minute.
The latest we have from Cheney's family is a statement put out by his office last night, saying that the vice president was thankful to his team of doctors and medical professionals for their continued outstanding care and then going on to say that "although the former vice president and his family do not know the identity of the donor, they will be forever grateful for this lifesaving gift."
And so, we know, as you mentioned, the vice president waited more than 20 months for this heart. He's recovering here and we expect him to be here for certainly several days, if not weeks or more.
I should also mention that presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, who is friends with Vice President Cheney, also put out a statement last night saying that his thoughts and prayers are with the vice president and his family and that "Callista and I hope that his recovery is peaceful and we wish he and his family all the best" -- Randi.
KAYE: All right. Athena Jones for us with the update -- thank you.
Well, Louisiana mark's the 11th state won by Rick Santorum and the third Southern state this month. But he's still not the GOP front-runner. Rick Santorum won 49 percent of the vote in Louisiana's primary. Mitt Romney pulled in 27 percent. Newt Gingrich 16 percent. You see it there. Ron Paul won 6 percent of the voters.
Santorum thanked the people of Louisiana for coming though.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK SANTORUM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I just want to say to the people of Louisiana, thank you very much. You have come through and come through in a big way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Now, to new developments in the Trayvon Martin story. The gated community where he was killed will soon be the subject of a civil lawsuit. That's according to attorneys for Martin's parents who announced they will pursue charges against the Twin Lakes Homeowners Association, saying the group told residents to call George Zimmerman if they say suspicious activity and could no contact police.
Police say Zimmerman shot the unarmed Florida teen last month. Zimmerman says it was self-defense. He has yet to be arrested, which has sparked outrage and protests all across the country.
But now that outrage has taken a whole new twist.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CROWD: We want justice! We want justice! We want justice! We want justice!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Members of the radical New Black Panther Party are offering a $10,000 bounty for the capture of Martin's shooter, George Zimmerman.
Zimmerman has been staying out of sight. His attorney and his father both say Zimmerman may be fearing for his life. But the national spokesman for the Panthers told us that this is not a call to violence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NZINGA: George Zimmerman should have followed the police instruction and stayed in his car and he shouldn't have took Trayvon's life. No, we're not inciting violence. We're doing what American citizens have been doing for many, many years. We're doing a citizen arrest.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: The Black Panthers bring a volatile presence to an already explosive situation. Nationwide, the New Panthers claim to have thousands of members, but offer no exact numbers. They're a black separatist group that believes black Americans should have their own nation. Groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center believe the New Panthers a hate group, calling them a, quote, "racist and anti-Semitic organization."
The original Black Panthers, who were active in the 1960s and '70s, reject them and their ideas as well.
Let's say good morning now to Reynolds Wolf.
Reynolds, I guess we're looking at kind of a rainy Sunday, huh, in parts of the country?
REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A little bit of something for everyone across the country. You know, along parts of the Eastern Seaboard, the story is all going to be some rain. You might have some scattered thunderstorms. But out towards the West, rain in the valley and in the higher elevations more snow.
Hard to believe, some of the highest, around 5,000 feet, now could see up to a foot which is great for skiers. But travelers along parts of I-80 could be kind of dicey by late in the afternoon.
Meanwhile, we had some record highs yesterday across much of the nation. We may see temperatures get nice and warm again, almost summer-like in fact. Well, that, plus your travel weather coming straight up.
KAYE: Sounds good, Reynolds. Thank you.
WOLF: You bet.
KAYE: And now, back to the main bar. Our big story that we investigate from all angles to give you some context at home.
The Supreme Court prepares to tackle one of the most politically explosive appeals in more than a decade. Tomorrow, the epic debate over the constitutionality of health care reform begins. Nine justices will hear six hours of oral arguments from four cases. The process will take at least three days, we're told.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law March 23rd, 2010. It's a massive bill, 2,700 pages, and some 450 provisions attached.
A key provision to the law is what's called the individual mandate. It's been the rallying point for opponents of the new law. It requires all Americans to buy health insurance by 2014 or face a fine.
It is your health and your money. Still many Americans don't even know what's at stake. So after the break, we'll bring you a side bar to our main bar story with a constitutional law professor who will help us understand the law and how some justices may vote.
KAYE: Welcome back.
Time now for our side bar to today's top story: the politically charged appeal to the Affordable Care Act. Tomorrow, the Supreme Court will hear the case that will affect your health and your money. On one side attorneys will be arguing why the bill is legal, and on the other side, why it reaches beyond the federal government's authority.
Joining me now to break it all down is Robert Schapiro, the interim dean and professor of law at Emory University.
Good morning, Dean. How are you?
ROBERT SCHAPIRO, EMORY UNIVERSITY: Good morning. Great. Thanks.
KAYE: Let's talk about the central issue being argued starting next week. I think Tuesday is when they take up the individual mandate. That's the biggie, right?
SCHAPIRO: That's right. Overall, the goal of the law is to expand health care and the main way that's done is by saying that insurance companies will have to sell you insurance and won't be able to charge you more based on your individual condition. But to make that all work, Congress said everybody would have to buy insurance, otherwise you'd just wait until you were sick, and it wouldn't be insurance at all. So, that's the requirement of the law, that you have to buy insurance and that's the central issue before the court.
KAYE: Why is that such a problem? I know Congress has said they're leaning on the Commerce Clause for this, right? Because it's commerce.
SCHAPIRO: Exactly. Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce. And Congress says, this is commerce. We're regulating the insurance industry. And when someone buys insurance, that's commerce.
On the other side, the opponents of the law say, where is the commerce? There's no commerce until you're forcing somebody to buy insurance. And Congress can't do that, can't force somebody into commerce. That's not a regulation of existing commerce.
KAYE: So that would be the main argument on both sides that we're going to hear you think?
KAYE: Let's talk about some of the justices and how you think they might lean. We have a little graphic for the folks at home to play along with us. Those who you think might uphold the law would be Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, Ginsburg and Breyer.
Why do you think that is?
SCHAPIRO: That's right. Well, really, one of the central issues here is if you look at this as an overall regulation of a larger economic activity, insurance, which incidentally infects a couple of people, or do you really focus on what the national government is doing to the individuals? And those four justices have generally taken the broader view that if Congress says we need to regulate the national economy and to do that, individuals will have to do their share, they have been more receptive to that.
KAYE: Let's look now at those who you think might strike down the law. There's only two here, that would be --
SCHAPIRO: That would be Justice Alito and Justice Thomas. And, of course, this is all really just guesswork. But those justices, particularly Justice Thomas, has been pretty skeptical of the view that Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce includes the ability to force individuals to do a variety of things, perhaps to buy insurance.
KAYE: All right. And the swing votes here. We have Chief Justice John Roberts, as well as Justices Scalia and Kennedy. Why do you think they're swing?
SCHAPIRO: Right. Well, in prior cases Justice Scalia and Justice Kennedy have gone both ways. Sometimes, they've been moved by the argument that this is a regulation of interstate commerce.
There was a case about whether you could prevent an individual from growing marijuana for home consumption, and those justices said sure. If Congress can ban the overall marijuana industry, then you can ban individuals from growing it. In other cases, those justices again have been a little more skeptical of that kind of argument.
And maybe it's Chief Justice Roberts' major case. He may not want to be so involved in a political issue to strike down a law like this.
KAYE: Right. Let's talk about Medicaid, because that's also a biggie here. The state certainly -- if this law remains on the books, the states are going to have to pick up a lot more of the Medicaid expenses. That's the issue, right?
SCHAPIRO: Well, indeed. One of the ways in which the law seeks to expand health care coverage is by expanding Medicaid eligibility. In general, Medicaid helps to pay for health care for poor people. Medicaid is a shared federal/state program. So, when you increase the number of people who are eligible, it increases the amount that states have to pay.
Now, the federal government is going to foot the extra charges, at least for a while. But eventually, the states are going to have to pay more and the real argument there is, can the federal government do this to the states.
Now, the federal government says if the states don't like it, then you don't have to participate in Medicaid. And the states say, as a practical matter, it will bankrupt us not to participate. That's no real choice, and Congress can't just force us to spend that extra money.
KAYE: All right. Dean Schapiro, we certainly appreciate you coming in and helping us break that down. A lot to get through on that law. Thank you very much.
SCHAPIRO: My pleasure.
KAYE: No mountain is too high for Steve Curtis. He's attempting to climb Mt. Everest for charity. You'll meet the man taking on the mountain, next.
KAYE: Steve Curtis is taking leadership to a whole new level, or in this case, heights. The 32-year-old CEO is setting out on a two- month adventure to conquer Mt. Everest. He's raising money for his charity Adventure 2 Advance, while inspiring his employees to set bigger goals in life and work.
Joining me via Skype from Vancouver, the man himself, Steve Curtis.
Steve, good morning to you.
I guess the obvious question, you leave in two days. Are you ready?
STEVE CURTIS, FOUNDER, ADVENTURE2ADVANCE.ORG: I don't know if you're ever ready for something like this. But I think we're about as ready as we can get.
KAYE: How is the training going? What have you done to train?
CURTIS: It's been a lot of training. I set this goal a couple years ago, so there's been a few mountains leading up to this, and it's been a little challenging to get out on as many mountains as I wanted this year. We've done a few. Practiced some mountain skill course and some glacier skills course and using crampons all that good stuff.
But one of the big foundational pieces of the training have been the stairs in my building. I live on the 40th floor. So, I throw on a back pack and do 10,000 stairs to get ready.
KAYE: Ten thousand stairs -- wow. I'm winded after just walking up one flight.
Well, listen, tell me about your charity, Adventure to Adventure. You fund take a hike, at-risk youth foundation. Who are these kids you're trying to help.
CURTIS: Sure. So our business, ZAG, started Adventure 2 Advance as a unique charity. The idea is that people have dreams and a lot of those are adventures, and why not leverage the power of those dreams to raise attention important causes and raise money? So our Web site Adventure2Avance.org is where you can follow us. And the cause that we're raising for is at-risk youth. So kids actually like me, I was one of these kids -- 14, 15, 16, 17, kids that are falling off the track either because of a learning disability or because of drug abuse problems, or a serious abuse issue in their family.
And so, we help these kids who are experiencing trauma and having issues by getting them out in the wilderness, getting them out in the woods, going on expeditions, really which teaches them how courageous they can be and the power they have to persevere through challenging circumstances and we get therapists out with them on that journey and to the classroom and help them heal that trauma and set goals and move forward.
KAYE: That's so great. I think what you're doing is wonderful. Have you also noticed a change in your employees as well? I mean, are they inspired by your unique way of encouragement?
CURTIS: Yes. You know, I think so. We had our kind of going away party on Friday, and our new brand, Zen-d, it's an anti-stress drink that we just created, it's really about people channeling their dreams. So we spend a lot of time at our company really trying to figure those things out.
And I think they were a little concerned, two months is a long time, but what's really neat is that in talking about leaving, a lot of people had some powerful dreams to share and I think it was a really great discussion point. And I think also me going away for two months, they're really going to learn what they're made of. They're not going to miss at all.
My prediction is profit goes way up and everybody is a lot happier actually.
KAYE: Well, listen, I hope they have fun while you're out playing on Mt. Everest but we wish you the best of luck and maybe we'll have you back on when you get back and see how you did. Thank you so much.
CURTIS: Sounds good. Thanks, Randi.
KAYE: Let's take a look at some weather. Reynolds joins me now.
What kind of weekend are we looking at here in terms of travel and good stuff like that, Reynolds?
WOLF: A little bit better weather than they'll have on Mt. Everest when he makes his way up there, that's for sure, one to accomplish.
But, you know, it's very hard for us to really grasp how high that is. The highest peak we have in North America is Mt. McKinley, also known as Denali, around 20,000 feet. Everest 29,000 feet. So, we're talking -- it's amazing the accomplishment that people have when they go up on that peak. Speaking of peaks, it's going to be the peaks out towards the West, and the Sierra Nevada that are going to have some of the heaviest snowfall today, Randi. Some place up to a foot of snow.
As we make our way across the center of the U.S., Central and Southern Plains, it's going to be beautiful. A lot of warm weather there expected with plenty of sunshine. And then back in the East, we can see some scattered storms in parts of the Carolinas, eventually moving to the Atlantic. So, that's the good news.
But the best news we have, as I mentioned in the Central Plains, where yesterday, we had record highs in spots like Midland, even (INAUDIBLE) got in on the action. Back in Galveston, 81 degrees was the high, 74 in Colorado Springs, Duluth, Minnesota, and Idaho Falls also record temperatures mainly in the 70s.
But your highs today very similar pattern today, where you have the big ridge in the center of the U.S., still very mild in the Ohio Valley and back into Chicago, where 64 degrees will be your expected high. A bit on the cool side for Boston, all you Red Sox fans, 49 degrees the expected high; 70 in Washington, D.C.; 81 in Tampa; 82 in Dallas; 88 for El Paso; along the border; 57 in Los Angeles; and wrapping up in San Francisco and Portland and Seattle with highs mainly into the mid to low 50s.
That's your forecast. Back to you, Randi.
KAYE: All right. Reynolds, thank you.
Georgia's attorney general says the health care reform is not just expensive, it is downright unconstitutional. And he'll be in Washington when the Supreme Court hears arguments on this controversial case. But before he heads out, he'll join me right here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
Our conversation is coming up just two minutes from now.
KAYE: Welcome back to CNN SUNDAY MORNING. I'm Randi Kaye at the CNN Center in Atlanta.
Checking out top stories:
The U.S. has paid more than $800,000 to the victims in that Afghan shooting rampage led by a U.S. Army sergeant. An Afghan official saying the payment was made in cash and the currency was Afghani.
.S. representatives saying it was not compensation but the American government offering help. Sergeant Robert Bales has been charged with 17 counts of murder.
President Barack Obama also today warning North Korea to halt a controversial rocket launch planned for next month. He says Pyongyang will achieve nothing from threats or provocation. The president is in South Korea for an International Nuclear Security Summit.
Dick Cheney recovering from heart transplant surgery in a Virginia hospital this morning. The 71-year-old former vice president has a history of health troubles suffering five heart attacks since 1978. He had been on a cardiac transplant for 20 months.
All right. Time now for another side bar to our "Top Story"; tomorrow the Supreme Court will begin hearing arguments to the Affordable Care Act. The case has reached the high court after the new law was challenged by 26 states. Opponents claim that individuals cannot be forced to buy insurance.
Georgia is one of the states in this fight and Attorney General Sam Olens will be at the Supreme Court to represent the state tomorrow and he's here in studio with us. How are you?
SAM OLENS, GEORGIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: I'm doing great.
KAYE: Well listen, you are leaving at 3:00 today so we're glad we caught you before you left town. What is -- why was it so important for you to be there? And what are the issues that you're most passionate about?
OLENS: Well, you're watching legal history. Commerce clause cases are infrequent in the court. This case involves the principle of federalism. It involves the amount of authority the federal government has upon our daily lives. So this affects the Tenth Amendment. This affects what we're taught in law school is that what restraints are there on federal jurisdiction.
KAYE: What is -- what is at stake? I mean, Georgia is one of the states that would like to see this reform law go away. What's at stake for -- for -- for everyone?
OLENS: Well, health care is about one-sixth of the nation's economy. Whether the Congress can tell someone that if they don't buy a product they're taxed or penalized is a big issue, the way that the federal government can regulate our lives.
So there's also an issue with regard to the expansion of Medicaid, what happens to Medicare. There's numerous issues relating to medicine, but this in principle is literally what degree of power does the federal government have upon our daily lives?
KAYE: Well, Congress has said they could do this because they're leaning on this commerce clause but you don't buy that.
OLENS: Right, no absolutely not. Commerce Clause generally involves interstate commerce. Here for the first time Congress is seeking to tell someone that if you've never bought a product so it's economic inactivity that they can still regulate you or penalize you.
KAYE: What exactly will you be saying? What will be your argument?
OLENS: Well, our main lawyer is Paul Clement, who was Bush 43 Solicitor General and he'll be arguing that Congress did not have the authority to render this act and that we need to try once again to improve health care in this country.
KAYE: Anyone who is watching may be they -- maybe they don't agree with you and they are saying -- they might be saying -- what's your plan then? If it's not this, what's the alternative?
OLENS: There are plenty of legal ways to improve health care, permitting people to buy insurance policies across state lines; high risks pools for people that have pre-existing conditions; the ability for small groups of people to get group rates. There's many ways to improve our health care. Unfortunately, this process was not bipartisan. It did not seek to take advantage of the numerous ideas from many people and to fashion a remedy that would really help us.
KAYE: And when it comes to Medicaid, as you mentioned, do you think that this -- this law puts a burden, a great burden on the states?
OLENS: We're going to just in Georgia have an additional 650,000 to 750,000 people on Medicaid. You can't find doctors now that will take new patients with Medicaid. So we're creating inferior health care as a result of this act, not improved health care.
KAYE: So what are your -- what are your feelings about the individual mandate? I mean are you confident that the court might actually strike this down and if it does what happens to the rest of the law?
OLENS: Well, that's going to be the issue on Wednesday, whether or not the issue of severability applies where the rest of the law is still legal or you throw out the whole act. You know frankly I think the individual mandate is clearly unconstitutional and I think congress ought to go back and pass a good law that's bipartisan that all sides can work with.
KAYE: Attorney General Sam Olens thank you very much. I know you want to get to Washington in time to see some of the protests there before night fall. So keep us posted.
OLENS: Thank you very much.
KAYE: All right, thank you.
The shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida is taking a front row seat today on the "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley. She's up next with a preview of her exclusive interview with Florida Governor Rick Scott.
But first today on the "Next List" CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to Hugh Herr, a double amputee who believes there is no such thing as a disability, only bad technology.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUGH HERR, AMPUTEE: I'm just in love with, enamored with the design of the human body, its elegance. Nature has often these very powerful principles, if captured in a technology in a device can -- can be very, very extraordinary in their capacity to help people move again.
So it's -- that's the basic thesis of our work. We steal from the cookie jar of nature. We apply that and we build synthetic constructs that emulates that functionality.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE: Welcome back.
Imagine filing your income taxes only to be told that someone else already has done the very same thing in your name and walked away with your refund. As I found out, every taxpayer is at risk. Here is how it's been unfolding in some Florida neighborhoods where it's become a way of life.
KAYE (voice-over): We've just rolled up on what police say is evidence of one of the biggest and easiest frauds in America to pull off; a crime hidden on a piece of plastic; a debit card.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got the cards he just purchased them it looks like.
KAYE: Those debit cards, police say, are used to take advantage of fast tax refunds from the IRS. Here is how it works. The thieves are stealing those refunds by stealing people's Social Security numbers from insiders at hospitals, doctors' offices, even car dealerships; any place where you have to give your personal information.
They then use the stolen information to go online and file a tax return making up the income the person earned for the year. The IRS then puts the refund money on a debit card purchased by the thieves.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So this is what they're buying. See green dot money cards, Target. He went to Target and spent $600 and he paid -- he paid with a debit card.
KAYE (on camera): I'm just curious what you do for work that you drive such a fancy car.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know nothing about that.
KAYE: You don't know nothing about that? Can you tell me if you know anything about identity theft happening around here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know nothing about nothing.
KAYE: Are you involved in any of the tax fraud?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know nothing about nothing.
KAYE (voice-over): Detectives Craig Catlin and Rocky Fessta of the North Miami Beach Florida Police Department will later charge him with buying these gift cards with stolen tax return money.
(on camera): How easy is it to do this?
DET. CRAIG CATLIN, NORTH MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA POLICA: The fraudulent refunds are easy it's like the federal government putting crack cocaine in candy machines. It's that easy.
KAYE: The criminals cash in those debit cards as quickly as possible showing off their riches with expensive luxury cars. They flaunt fancy watches, diamond pendants worth $55,000 and other jewelry; this one inscribed with the words "money hungry".
Just a few hundred miles north up in Tampa, police estimate the fraud approaches a staggering half billion dollars in the last two years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's over $2,000 in cash.
KAYE: Just one example of what is happening nationwide. Police Chief Jane Caster says the IRS efforts to curtail it aren't working.
JANE CASTER, POLICE CHIEF: I don't think that I have ever seen this magnitude of fraud that is just wide open. It's wide open, and there just doesn't seem to be much being done about it.
KAYE: For its part, the IRS identified $6.5 billion in tax refund fraud related to identity theft last year.
CASTER: I'd like to hear the other side of that equation, too and an estimation of how much got through.
KAYE: That's what we wanted to know, too. Just how much fraud has gone undetected? After weeks of asking, the IRS's Deputy Commissioner Beth Tucker couldn't give us an answer.
So just to be clear, I know you can tell us how much has been caught but the IRS can't say how much of this fraudulent money has ended up in criminals' hands.
BETH TUCKER, IRS DEPUTY COMMISSIONER: We process $140 million tax returns at IRS on a given year. We're -- we're doing a balancing act because one thing we want to do is get refunds out to the hands of legitimate taxpayers as quickly as possible and with as little intrusion, but for the actual, you know, size of the problem we probably need to get back to you with a number.
KAYE: Law enforcement tells us there's a simple solution to curbing much of the fraud -- don't allow the refunds to be put on debit cards.
(on camera): Why hasn't the IRS stopped that? TUCKER: Not every taxpayer has a bank account and so the debit cards that are issued by a third party provider are a legitimate way for taxpayers to get their refund.
KAYE: The man who you saw being arrested has not entered a plea for either the marijuana possession or grand theft charges. Police say the victim in the case actually had her purse stolen and that's how her personal information was obtained.
You can watch more of my report tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern on a special "CNN PRESENTS".
We'll talk with Candy Crowley next. Back in two minutes.
KAYE: Time to see what's ahead on "STATE OF THE UNION" in just a few minutes; Candy Crowley joining me now from Washington. Good morning Candy I understand that you'd probably be making some big news today. You have an exclusive with Florida Governor Rick Scott probably talking about the Trayvon Martin case.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN HOST, "STATE OF THE UNION": Absolutely. We will do that and also talk about some other things. Florida's economy, number one -- he thinks he's done a lot to improve it. His critics say something else as they prepare for what's going to be a very big state obviously in the upcoming election.
But you're right, the Trayvon Martin case, he's -- the Governor, Rick Scott, has already done a couple of things, appointing a special counsel to look in, or a special panel to look into the "Stand Your Ground Law" that has come up since this whole case, but just, you know, a very difficult time.
I think I had an opportunity to talk to him last night at an event and he said it's just a really difficult time. I know he has talked to both of Trayvon's parents. So we want to kind of get his lay of the land as he watches this moving forward and trying to calm down some of the really raw feelings as the result of what, by the way, across the board, Republicans and Democrats, all the Republican nominees and the President all talk about what a tragedy this was, how it shouldn't have happened.
So there was a brief bit of unanimity there party to party when it came to this case.
KAYE: Obviously though the biggest story this week out of D.C. is the health care debate at the Supreme Court starting tomorrow. If the law is struck down Candy, I mean how big of an impact do you think this might have on the President's re-election campaign?
CROWLEY: Well you know it's interesting. I think it'll have an impact. Now what I can't tell you, the law is not that popular. It's pretty split. When you ask about certain elements of it, they're quite popular. You know as in taking the caps off, no lifetime caps, that sort of thing, no denying insurance because of pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents' health insurance coverage if they can't get it elsewhere up until the age -- up into their late 20s. So there's elements of it that are very popular.
What is not popular is this individual mandate, this saying you must buy health insurance or there will be a fine. That's where a lot of the focus is going to be at the Supreme Court. I think it will hurt the President's re-election at some level.
But let's remember if he is up against Mitt Romney, Mitt Romney also had mandated health insurance in Massachusetts. Now, Romney says that was a state thing, this is a federal thing; the federal government can't do this because of the constitution, et cetera.
But I think it's kind of a mixed bag for the President because what they have to do is sell the good points, the points about this law that so many people like and downplay the downside of this and obviously the Supreme Court decision will play into that.
KAYE: How interesting do you find it that President Obama is in South Korea this week for the nuclear summit while these hearings are taking place?
CROWLEY: Well, it is interesting, but I will tell you we have David Plouffe, a senior advisor on the show today, so they are out there talking about it. There had been some criticism that, oh look, here is the two-year anniversary of this law being enacted and the White House is doing nothing about it. Certainly they didn't have any grand ceremony to mark it.
The Republicans this week were all over it because they think it's a very good issue for them, but it is true that the President did not have some huge thing, but they have a new Web site up with people who have benefited by that part of the law that has already gone into effect.
So they're not running away from it --
CROWLEY: But it's not a full embrace at this point because really, honestly the public is so mixed about portions of this law.
KAYE: Well, it sounds like you have a great show planned. We will be sure to stick around for it. And everyone at home you should keep it here for "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley. It starts in about 14 minutes at 9:00 a.m. Eastern time, 6:00 a.m. Pacific right here on CNN.
With the global economy recovering, there is one thing that could badly shake things up. "New York Times" columnist Nick Kristof joins me next to tell us what that is.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) KAYE: Welcome back.
As the international community continues to argue about Israel's possible military strike against Iran, my next guest writes the following about what he calls a, quote, "false debate".
"Outside of Netanyahu's aides and a fringe of raptors, just about every expert thinks that a military strike at this time would be a catastrophically bad idea. That's not a debate, but a consensus."
We want to extend a special welcome to "New York Times" journalist and author of the paper's "On the Ground" blog, Nick Kristof joining us today.
Oh, I'm told we just lost him. Hopefully we'll get him back. He's going to be joining us via Skype. So you never know about technology.
We'll take a quick break and we'll be right back.
KAYE: All right. We're back. We got our technical difficulties worked out.
We want to welcome "New York Times" journal, Nick Kristof to the program this morning. We're talking about Iran and Israel and a possible attack by Israel. So, Nick good morning to you; why do you say that a potential strike by Israel is such a bad idea?
NICK KRISTOF, JOURNALIST, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, you know, I think we in the news media sometimes we're used to covering debates, and that means that there are people on each side, and we do that very well. But I think we don't always we always convey the depth of each side.
And I think maybe on climate change that's one example and it seems to me that this is another where almost everybody who is a security expert who has really looked at the military options closely thinks that for right now this would be a really bad idea, that a military strike would accomplish relatively little, set back the Iranian program only one to three years, and meanwhile risk collapsing the world economy again and starting a new regional war that would suck the U.S. in.
I know that you have talked with a lot of experts and you did give several reasons why this strike could have disastrous results. You just mentioned one: that it would really only set back Iran's nuclear program by about one to three years. Why is that?
KRISTOF: It's partly because the Iranian program is quite dispersed and indeed if there are other sites that we don't know about it, it might not even accomplish that much. Some of the sites are hardened and deep underground so we don't really know to what extent a strike would damage centrifuges that are deep underground. And I think there's a feeling this is a little like the 1981 Israeli strike.
KAYE: All right. We're going to have to try that again. We're going to get these kinks worked out, I promise, because we'd like to have Nick back for more conversation on this.
In the meantime, let's check some top stories this morning.
Afghan officials say the U.S. is paying $860,000 to the families of the victims in that Afghan shooting rampage by a U.S. Army sergeant. An Afghan official saying the payment was made in case. A U.S. representative says it's not compensation, but the American government offering help. Sergeant Robert Bales has been charged with 17 counts of murder.
President Barack Obama warns North Korea will achieve nothing from threats or provocation. He says Pyongyang will only deepen its isolation if it goes ahead with a planned test firing of a long-range missile next month. Mr. Obama is in South Korea for an International Nuclear Security Summit.
More protests planned today over the shooting death of unarmed teen Trayvon Martin. Neighborhood watch volunteer, George Zimmerman has told police that he shot Martin in self-defense. An attorney for Trayvon Martin's family says they will file a civil suit against the homeowners association for the neighborhood where the shooting took place.
All right. It's time to take a look at some of the important stories that will be making news this week. Would you like to join me for that, Reynolds?
REYNOLDS WOLF, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Absolutely. Absolutely. Could not be happier.
KAYE: Should we do a little R & R as we like to say?
WOLF: We could do that. I think we've got some pretty good stories to share with people.
KAYE: I don't know how important those are but they're kind of fun.
WOLF: Yes, they are.
KAYE: A little R & R time for us. So let's get to those.
KAYE: One of the things that we have is this wedding, this royal surprise at the wedding which is actually pretty funny. I don't know if any of you at home have seen this but a couple got a pretty big royal surprise. Queen Elizabeth unexpectedly dropped by a wedding. Just out of nowhere, she's a wedding crasher, Reynolds.
WOLF: I had no idea. I didn't know about this particular story. You know what's funny though -- you know how at every single wedding there's always people who are very protective of both the bride and groom. I'm sure if they saw someone walking in, they saw this lady and thought, "Who the hell does she think she is? Is she the Queen of England?"
WOLF: Well yes, she is. She is the Queen of England and she shows up.
KAYE: Imagine if somebody went up to her and said, "Do you know someone here?" or "Were you invited?"
KAYE: It would be pretty funny.
But anyway, the BBC says that she was touring the city as part of her diamond jubilee celebrations which I will mention CNN is going to be covering live in June.
WOLF: Unreal, wow.
KAYE: But, yes. I mean so you have the Queen of England or Owen Wilson or Vince Vaughn. Who would you want crashing your wedding?
WOLF: I think I'd like the Queen of England? She's pretty cool. She's got a great history. But also, I wonder what the protocol is if you show up unexpectedly at a wedding. Do you still have to bring a crock pot? Maybe, you know, a table? What do you do?
KAYE: Maybe she brought some royal jewels, who knows?
WOLF: Maybe. See what I'm talking about? See where we're going. So yes, I think I'd definitely go for the Queen.
KAYE: You never know.
KAYE: All right. One thing we always like to show, we can't resist a good explosion here on CNN SUNDAY MORNING.
So take a look. An Orlando arena demolished this morning. Wow.
WOLF: What better way in the world to start a Sunday morning than with a great demolition. It is a cool thing to see.
KAYE: It is. We always show them because they're just --
WOLF: You know, one of the coolest things too is if you were to re-rack the tape and run it in the opposite direction, see the smoke go back toward the structure and watch it rebuild. You know, that's always a fun thing that we can show --
KAYE: Yes. That's the magic of TV.
WOLF: It is the magic of TV.
And you know, we have some magical weather for you today. It's not a bad way to round out the weekend especially in the southeast. We started Friday with some rain. Now we're looking at plenty of sunshine and thank heavens, with it we have fairly dry conditions, very low (inaudible) we expect; at least lower in parts of the southeast.
Rain for the mid-Atlantic states; breezy for you in the Northern Plains. Back out west, it's going to be a combination of rain and even some snow in the higher spots, but nice and warm for you -- another warm day in Texas perhaps. Looking at highs yesterday: going to 91 in Midland, 80s for Galveston; Colorado Springs up in the Mile High (ph), you got near the Mile High -- you had 74 degrees; actually 74 in the Mile High in Colorado Springs. They had about 70 I think in Denver. In Duluth, 70 degrees. Also, 70 in Idaho Falls.
Today we expect the warm air to continue to pop up in spots like Dallas, back over to Memphis, even in Washington, D.C., 70 degrees out by the cherry blossoms; should be a spectacular day especially about the afternoon as the rain moves out. But rain in San Francisco expected with 55 and 57 as we wrap it up in Los Angeles.
KAYE: All right. Reynolds, thank you very much.
And now it is time to take a look at those important stories that will be making news this week.
Monday thru Wednesday the U.S. Supreme Court takes up the Affordable Health Care Act with three days of hearings. The court is expected to rule on this challenge to President Obama's health care plan this summer.
Also Monday President Obama attends an international nuclear summit in South Korea. The official agenda will deal with nuclear terrorism and how to secure the world's nuclear material. Although North Korea is not on the agenda, it is likely to be discussed on the sidelines.
Next Saturday is the final four of the NCAA basketball tournament. Louisville and Ohio State have already qualified. The other two teams will be decided in some games today. Well, my team is out. We know that already. I know.
WOLF: You still did fine. You're still doing great. You still have three teams that still have a possibility of being in the final four and you still have a little --
KAYE: You know my bracket better than I do.
WOLF: It's a good one. It's a very good one.
KAYE: Well, that will do it for us this morning. "STATE OF THE UNION" with Candy Crowley starts right now.