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CNN WOLF BLITZER REPORTS
George Galloway Tears into Senate; Judicial Impasse in Senate Reaching Climax; Iraqi and Iranian Foreign Ministers Meet; "Newsweek" Story Still Having Ramifications
Aired May 17, 2005 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST "WOLF BLITZER REPORTS": Happening now, Iraq and Iran -- look at this picture. The new Shiite-led government in Baghdad and its Persian neighbor, patching up their relationship. Is this what the Bush administration and its coalition partners had in mind when they went to war against Saddam Hussein?
Also, only moments ago, the United States arresting a Castro foe accused of terrorism against the Cuban regime.
Stand by for hard news on WOLF BLITZER REPORTS.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER (voice-over): Oil-for-Food fight: a British lawmaker, accused of taking money from Saddam Hussein, squares off with the Senate, with a vengeance.
GEORGE GALLOWAY, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: I turned out to be right, and you turned out to be wrong, and 100,000 people have paid with their lives -- 1,600 of them American soldiers, sent to their deaths on a pack of lies.
BLITZER: I'll speak with member of parliament George Galloway and Senator Carl Levin.
Jerusalem plot: you saw the reaction to the alleged desecration of the holy book. Imagine if Jewish extremists attacked this holy shrine.
Portraits of hope.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be a doctor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I grow up, I want to be a superstar.
At schools and hospitals, thousands of kids put their visions down in bright colors, and now their hopes are soaring for the whole world to see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is WOLF BLITZER REPORTS for Tuesday, May 17th, 2005.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for joining us. It was a spectacle rarely seen in the nation's capital -- an angry British lawmaker linked to Saddam Hussein in the Oil-for-Food scandal showed up on Capitol Hill today with the gloves off. He bitterly flung the allegations right back at his accusers in the United States Senate and added some of his own.
Our senior United Nations correspondent Richard Roth has been following the twists and turns of this saga. He's here in Washington with us today. Richard?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN UNITED NATIONS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it was great theater on Capitol Hill during what is sometimes a numbing, complicated Oil-for-Food scandal, a counterattack by an angry British politician.
SEN. NORM COLEMAN, (R) MINNESOTA: You swear the testimony you're about to give before this subcommittee is the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?
GALLOWAY: I do.
ROTH (voice-over): Taking the oath was about the only thing British Parliament Minister George Galloway accepted from the Senate committee investigating Oil-for-Food corruption. The fiery Galloway was accused by the committee last week of being rewarded by Saddam Hussein with the rights to 20 million barrels of oil for opposing economic sanctions. The committee chairman, Senator Norm Coleman, reminded him.
COLEMAN: Senior Iraqi officials have confirmed that you in fact received oil allocations and that the documents that identify you as an allocation recipient are valid.
ROTH: Right from the start, Galloway went on the attack.
GALLOWAY: Senator, I am not now, nor have I ever been, an oil trader, and neither has anyone on my behalf. I have never seen a barrel of oil, owned one, bought one, sold one, and neither has anybody on my behalf.
Now, I know that standards have slipped over the last few years in Washington, but for a lawyer, you're remarkably cavalier with any idea of justice.
ROTH: Usually, witnesses before congressional committees show deference -- not the anti-war activist who vowed to appear with both barrels blazing.
GALLOWAY: Senator, in everything I said about Iraq, I turned out to be right and you turned out to be wrong, and 100,000 people have paid with their lives -- 1,600 of them American soldiers, sent to their deaths on a pack of lies.
ROTH: The bipartisan committee report said Galloway funneled oil allocations through two companies and a charity named after a 4-year- old girl suffering from leukemia.
GALLOWAY: What counts is not the names on the paper. What counts is where's the money, Senator. Who paid me hundreds of thousands of dollars of money? The answer to that is nobody, and if you had anybody who ever paid me a penny, you would have produced them here today.
ROTH: Later, Senator Coleman said it wasn't a wrestling match, but important to get on the record.
COLEMAN: And, I think that Mr. Galloway's credibility is certainly very, very suspect, and if in fact he lied to this committee then there will have to be consequences to that.
ROTH (on camera): And in his post-match interview, Galloway said he didn't take any money but he did say that's the $64 million question, Wolf.
BLITZER: Richard Roth, we'll have a lot more on this coming up. Coming up, I will speak with British MP George Galloway and with Senator Carl Levin, the ranking member of that subcommittee probing the Oil-for-Food scandal.
In Iraq, gunmen killed a Shiite Muslim cleric a day after two missing Sunni clerics were found shot to death. As concerns grow about all-out sectarian violence, Shiite Iran today sent its foreign minister on a groundbreaking visit to the new Shiite-led Iraq. CNN's Ryan Chilcote reports from Baghdad.
RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The top diplomats of Iraq and Iran stood side by side in Baghdad to declare a new era of friendship.
HOSHYAR ZEBARI, IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER (VIA TRANSLATOR): This is the first visit of a foreign minister, Arab or Islamic, from any of Iraq's neighboring countries to Iraq since the change of regime, and since the elections of the Iraqi people, where their authority and representation through clean and legitimate elections. This is proof of their respect for this authority and for the Iraqi people.
CHILCOTE: Foreign minister Kamal Kharazi is also the first high- ranking official from Iran to visit Iraq in decades. Under Saddam, this visit would have been unthinkable. Iran and Iraq fought a brutal eight-year war in the 1980s. More than a million Iraqis and Iranians are thought to have died. After it ended, the hostility remained. Saddam bankrolled Iranian opposition to the Islamic nation's Shiite rule. The Iranians funded the Shiite-led resistance to Saddam and its predominantly Sunni rule. Iraq's new Shiite and Kurd-dominated government is led by people from that resistance who benefited from Iran's support. Today was a thank you to an old ideological friend. Iran's foreign minister promised Iran will stand by the new government. KAMAL KHARAZI (VIA TRANSLATOR): The Islamic Republic of Iran is fully prepared to assist the formation of the Iraqi government in any field, whether it is in security, economy, or any other field, and this will be a joint effort.
CHILCOTE: But behind the pleasantries, there are real issues. Many Iraqis and the United States blame Iran for secretly trying to destabilize Iraq.
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: I have no belief that the Iraqis intend to trade the terrible, brutal yoke of Saddam Hussein for the leader -- to serve under the mullahs of Iran. I just don't see that as the future that Iraq sees for itself.
CHILCOTE: Iraq's minority Sunni Arabs are equally wary of Iran's influence. They already believe they're being shut out of the new Iraqi government.
(on camera): The Iraqi government believes the insurgent attacks are increasingly sectarian in their nature, part of an effort to turn Iraq's Sunnis and Shiites against one another and start a civil war.
Ryan Chilcote, CNN, Baghdad.
BLITZER: And, back here on Capitol Hill, Senate Republicans are threatening to blast their way through a logjam over judicial nominees by using their majority to change the procedural rules. Democrats say that would turn the Senate into a rubber stamp for the president. As a showdown looms, let's go live to our congressional correspondent, Joe Johns. Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the stage is just about set in this drama with two of the leading players coming to Capitol Hill today for a visit.
(voice-over): Republicans launched a media blitz for two stalled judges -- Janice Rogers Brown and Priscilla Owen. They visited Capitol Hill and, earlier, the White House, where they met with President Bush himself.
SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The role of the Senate is to provide their advice and consent. It's not to provide advise and block.
JOHNS: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid dug in further -- Frist arguing that judges need a straight up or down vote.
SEN. BILL FRIST (R), MAJORITY LEADER: Are they really out of the mainstream, or is this really just politics? The best way to decide is take it to the floor of the United States Senate. JOHNS: Reid insisted Democrats have the right to block judges they oppose and accused Republicans of trying to break filibusters in a power grab. Reid, a former boxer, says Democrats are ready.
SEN. HARRY REID (D), MINORITY LEADER: We've done everything that we could. We've trained hard. The fight is about to begin.
JOHNS: The basic issue -- Republicans want a simple majority vote on judges, but with a possible Supreme Court nomination looming, Democrats won't give up their right to demand 60 votes before controversial judicial nominations can go forward.
Perhaps the best prospect for averting a showdown lies with Senators John McCain and Ben Nelson, a Republican and a Democrat trying to find a way out of the impasse. But those talks seem to be moving very slowly, while the rush towards a confrontation appears to be accelerating.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: We're just -- continue to work right up until the last minute, trying to avert what could have severe repercussions, obviously, for our ability to conduct business for some period of time.
JOHNS (on camera): The Senate is expected to spend the rest of this week debating judges. The first test votes on getting rid of the filibuster expected early next week. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Joe Johns with the latest. Thanks very much.
When we come back, he came to Washington accused of wrongdoing and took the Senate by a storm, accusing the U.S. government of wrongdoing.
We'll hear directly from the British member of Parliament at the center of the oil-for-food investigation. My interview with George Galloway, that's coming up next.
Cuba protests: Hundreds of thousands rallying against the Bush administration. The reason? They say the United States is harboring a known terrorist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Years ago they couldn't get anybody to run for school board. And now we've got 18 people fighting for it.
BLITZER: There's big interest, national interest, in a local election. At the center of the campaign: the debate over evolution. We'll tell you what's going on.
BLITZER: More now on our top story, that bitter Capitol Hill hearing on the oil-for-food scandal, pitting a British lawmaker against a United States Senate subcommittee.
I spoke with the member of Parliament, George Galloway, shortly after his contentious testimony.
BLITZER: Mr. Galloway, thanks very much for joining us. It was an explosive moment in the U.S. Congress today;members of Congress clearly not used to what goes on in the House of Commons in the Parliament. But you really let them have it.
But then again, they let you have it. It's an explosive charge that has been made against you; in effect that your opposition to the war, your support for Saddam Hussein, was the result of a financial payoff, namely in oil.
GEORGE GALLOWAY, BRITISH PARLIAMENT MEMBER: Well, it's the mother of all smokescreens. The committee chairman, Senator Coleman, the most pro-Israel, pro-war, neocon senator on the Hill, first called for the dismissal of Kofi Annan, the secretary-general of the United Nations.
Then he attacked me, the government of France. And sharp-eyed viewers will see a connection between the three of us. We were the people that said that invading Iraq would be a disaster. We were the people that said there was no justification for it and it would have quite the opposite result of that which its proponents were claiming.
We've been proved right. They've been proved wrong. So both for reasons of revenge and reasons of diversion it suits people like him to have people talking about rubbish like this. As I hope I made clear...
BLITZER: Mr. Galloway, let me interrupt for a second. Did you ever take any money from the regime of Saddam Hussein?
GALLOWAY: Well, I've just said on oath in front of the United States Senate that I have not. And I was never offered any money. I never asked for any money. I never took any money. I've never bought or sold a barrel of oil or anything from Iraq.
I did what I did because I believed in it. And you've been interviewing me for at least 12 years. Long before there was anything called the oil-for-food program, you interviewed me in 1990 and '91. You could have interviewed me in 1981 or 1971, and I would still have been taking the same political stand that I'm taking today.
And agree with it or not, I do it because I believe in it, not for the sordid reasons of personal enrichment.
BLITZER: Why do you believe this permanent Senate subcommittee, chaired by Senator Coleman, singled you out and your name? Because a lot of other names have come forward in their investigation, how did your name get on that list?
GALLOWAY: Well, it's a good question why the others have not been singled out, because people like the secretary of the late Pope John Paul II was on the original list as was Nelson Mandela's office bureau chief on that list, originally.
So it is interesting -- you're right -- that the list was boiled down to the three people who are currently on it. But all I can say is this: Anyone can write anyone's name on a piece of paper. Who knows who wrote my name on a piece of paper? Who knows when they did it?
The facts are I have never bought or sold anything from Iraq. If I had, you'd know about it. If anyone had ever given me hundreds of thousands, millions of dollars when I was the most scrutinized man in British politics during the period 2000 to 2003, if anybody had ever made me a millionaire in that period, you'd know about it.
BLITZER: Are you a wealthy man?
GALLOWAY: Not at all. It's absurd -- palpably absurd.
BLITZER: Is it -- so what do you do now? Because there's a smear that was made against you, and you obviously came to Washington voluntarily to defend yourself, and you did that earlier today. What do you do now?
GALLOWAY: Well, to be honest, the credibility of those throwing out the smear is pretty close to zero outside of the neocon bubble here in Washington.
Nobody believes much that the British and American governments say about Iraq anymore because of all the lies that have already been unmasked.
So I didn't come here to persuade two senators in a Senate committee room. I came here not as the accused, but as the accuser.
I tried to turn the tables on my accuser using the worldwide media interest in the event. Most of the traffic in my ear seems to indicate that I succeeded in that.
BLITZER: George Galloway, thanks for spending a few moments with us here in Washington.
We'll speak to you next time, probably when you're back in London.
GALLOWAY: You're welcome.
BLITZER: And for more on today's no-holds-barred hearing, Senator Carl Levin is joining us from Capitol Hill. He's the ranking Democrat on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.
So what do you make of his flat denial, Senator Levin? SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) MICHIGAN: Well, the problem is that the political organization which he founded received significant money from a Jordanian who is a partner of Mr. Galloway. And that Jordanian clearly had oil dealings with Saddam Hussein.
Mr. Galloway's name and his Jordanian partner's name appear on document after document after document that the Iraqis have.
So his problem is with documents. He doesn't claim they're forgeries. He tries to explain them away by saying that he personally did not get any money. And the suggestion, of course, doesn't answer the problem, which is that his political organization got significant contributions because he was trying to get the U.N. to drop their sanctions against Saddam Hussein.
So Saddam was using oil allocations in order to attack the U.N.'s sanctions against him. Mr. Galloway was opposed to those sanctions, and so his political organization got significant contributions from the Jordanian with whom Saddam was giving those allocations.
BLITZER: Well, he says that -- when you say he was a partner of this Jordanian millionaire who was getting rich, in part, on the oil shipments from Iraq outside of Iraq and then this Jordanian was making contributions to his political organizations, when you use the word partner, what do you mean specifically? Galloway and this Jordanian -- partners in what? Financial partners?
He was -- he selected the Jordanian as an agent. He acknowledged that the Jordanian businessman was his agent in Baghdad. That was not in dispute. And that he was the best man at the Jordanian's wedding. That's not in dispute that they were partners, friends, close friends, and indeed that he had selected that particular Jordanian as his agent in Baghdad. So that's not the issue.
BLITZER: You heard him say, his argument is yes, he's very friendly with this Jordanian and yes, the Jordanian gave money to his political causes, but he had no idea how this Jordanian was making money and that certainly he wasn't getting personally wealthy as a result of this relationship.
When I asked him today whether or not he would be troubled if he found out that this Jordanian was paying kickbacks to Saddam Hussein in order to get those oil allocations and that as a result of those kickbacks going into Saddam Hussein's pockets that then money was made available to the Jordanian off these oil contracts, which then went to Mr. Galloway's political organization, would he be troubled by that, by having that corrupt money go to his political organization, he just simply would not address that issue.
But the big issue here is that the U.N. had a program. It was called the oil-for-food program. They were trying to reduce the impact of the sanctions on the Jordanian people. And the U.N. together -- this was all the members of the Security Council except for Cuba and one other that abstained.
But China, Russia, everybody agreed on an oil-for-food program and that Mr. Galloway and others, Zhirinovsky and others, were trying to undermine, weaken and eliminate a U.N. program.
This was truly an attack on the United Nations program, and one of the aiders and abetters was Zhirinovsky, and one of the aiders and abetters was that Jordanian who got all that money, who then contributed part of it to the political organization of Mr. Galloway.
BLITZER: We'll leave it over there, but I'm sure the discussion will continue.
Senator Levin, thanks for spending a few moments with us.
LEVIN: Good being with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up at the to be of the hour, Lou Dobbs will talk to Senator Norm Coleman. He's the Republican chairman of that subcommittee. He had the most explosive exchanges with Galloway earlier today. That's coming up on "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." That begins less than an hour, a little bit more than half an hour or so, from now, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT," top of the hour.
One more note -- after my interview with George Galloway, he made this comment -- take a look at this -- to underscore his contention that he did not get rich off the Oil-for-Food program.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GALLOWAY: As your colleagues will testify, the sole is coming off my shoe, and I'm living in the worst hotel in Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: George Galloway, earlier today.
A controversial Cuban exile, legendary for his plots to kill Fidel Castro, detained by U.S. Homeland Security officials in Miami.
Sacred target: Israeli police thwart a suspected plot to attack one of the most contentious and holiest spots in the world.
And, taking a megabyte out of crime, how one woman tracked down her stolen goods and the thief on eBay. Our Brian Todd has the story.
BLITZER: While "Newsweek" magazine has retracted its report that U.S. interrogators desecrated the Koran, that's not the first such claim about the Guantanamo Bay detention camp. But do any of those accusations really hold up? Let's go live to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre. Jamie?
JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, so far the Pentagon hasn't substantiated any allegations of Koran desecration, but in part it's because it hasn't deemed any of the allegations specific or credible enough to investigate.
(voice-over): U.S. investigators never confirmed interrogators at Guantanamo flushed a Koran down the toilet as ""Newsweek said in its now-retracted report. But unsubstantiated allegations of Koran desecration have been made repeatedly over the years, both by detainees who've been released and by lawyers whose clients are still in custody.
KRISTINE HUSKEY, ATTORNEY FOR DETAINEES: What my clients told me, what they had witnessed, was that the Koran was mishandled and mistreated, and I am not shocked nor surprised.
MCINTYRE: The Pentagon has never deemed any previous allegations that Korans were thrown in the toilet worthy of investigation, dismissing the claims as lies by sworn enemies of the U.S.
LARRY DI RITA, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: And in fact, in their own training manuals, they say here's what we'll do if we ever get into a court. We allege torture, we allege abuse, we allege all kinds of things to influence public opinion, and that's happening.
MCINTYRE: But now, after the "Newsweek" report apparently sparked last week's deadly protests in Afghanistan, a document review is under way. Some 31,000 pages of records from Guantanamo Bay have been searched, and no indication of any intentional desecration of the Koran has been found, according to the Pentagon.
The Pentagon does say an inadvertent mishandling of a Koran by a military police officer in late 2002 prompted a January 2003 memo, outlining procedures for "respecting cultural dignity of the Korans" and urging troops to "avoid handling or touching" them "whenever possible." If handling can't be avoided, then "clean gloves will be put on" and "two hands will be used in manner signaling respect. Handle as if a fragile piece of delicate art," the 2003 guidelines say, and make sure a Koran is "not placed in offensive areas such as near a toilet."
Last week the chairman of the joint chiefs quoted U.S. commanders in Afghanistan as saying the violence was not at all tied to the "Newsweek" article.
(on camera): But now Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other Pentagon officials say they do believe the "Newsweek" report was a factor in those violent demonstrations, even as they concede they probably would have occurred even without the report. Wolf?
BLITZER: Jamie McIntyre reporting. Thanks, Jamie.
Thousands of protesters taking to the streets of Havana -- find out why one man being taken into custody in Miami has some new details about what's happening in Havana -- Miami and Havana and Cuba's Castro, calling him a terrorist. We'll have details coming up. Suspected plot revealed: an attack against this religious site could lead to war. What Israeli police have learned and what they're doing now to protect the Temple Mount.
And later -- a town divided over the origins of life: how the evolution debate is rocking one community's school board election. Our Mary Snow, standing by with a story.
ANNOUNCER: From our studios in Washington, once again, Wolf Blitzer.
BLITZER: Welcome back.
Marching in anger: Hundreds of thousands of Cubans protesting because they say the United States government is harboring a known terrorist. We'll get to that.
First, though, a quick check of some other stories now in the news.
The search is on in Idaho for two missing children after their mother, older brother and a man were found dead. An Amber Alert is now in place for 9-year-old Dillon Groene and his 8-year-old sister, Shasta. Investigators are searching for the children near the family's home where the victims' bodies were found.
In Atlanta, courthouse shooting suspect Brian Nichols entered not guilty pleas today in his arraignment. He faces 54 counts, including murder, kidnapping, robbery and escape. Nichols is accused of killing four people, including a judge, in a March 11th shooting spree.
In Los Angeles, a bruising runoff election in the mayor's race. Voters are choosing between the incumbent, James Hahn, and his challenger, Antonio Villaraigosa. Both men are Democrats.
Villaraigosa is trying to become the first Latino mayor of the nation's second biggest city. The election: a rematch of the race four years ago.
Two months after he sneaked into the United States, a Cuban exile accused of terrorism in his homeland is now in custody in Miami. Federal agents arrested Luis Posada Carilles, a one-time CIA operative, as he was preparing to leave the country.
Only hours earlier the case sparked a massive march in Havana, with Cubans accusing the Bush administration of hypocrisy in the war on terror.
Details now from CNN's Havana bureau chief, Lucia Newman.
LUCIA NEWMAN, CNN HAVANA BUREAU CHIEF: Not since the days of Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban rafter boy, had Fidel Castro organized such an enormous march in anger past U.S. diplomatic mission here in Havana. This time it wasn't about a little boy, but about a 77-year-old man, Luis Posada Carilles, the Cuban exile who spent his life advocating Castro's violent overthrow and who's now in the United States.
Posada Carilles is one of the most bloodthirsty exponents of imperialist terrorism against our country, said Castro.
These posters depict a Cubana Airlines plane blown up in 1976 with 73 people on board. Posada Carilles is still a fugitive from justice in Venezuela, where he's accused of having masterminded the bombing. Posada denies responsibility, although recently declassified FBI and CIA documents link him to a meeting where the plane bombing was planned.
PETER KORNBLUM, NATIONAL SECURITY ARCHIVE: There is another CIA document where a confidential source says to the CIA that Posada was overheard in September of 1976 saying we are going to bring down a Cuban airliner.
NEWMAN: In a New York Times interview, Posada did claim responsibility for planning a string of 1997 tourist hotel bombings in Havana that killed an Italian businessman.
"In one second -- two or three, I don't know -- this very same spot became a pool of his blood, liters of blood, the same as you and I have, there on the floor, and Fabio was dead," says Justino Di Celmo.
In the same hotel lobby where Fabio Di Celmo died his father appeals to the United States to arrest Posada so he can be tried by an international court.
While U.S. officials aren't saying much, Fidel Castro can hardly talk about anything else, accusing President George Bush of only fighting terrorists whose causes he doesn't like.
Fidel Castro says Cuba is renouncing its claims to Posada Carilles so he can face trial in Venezuela, whose government has just asked Washington for his extradition.
Lucia Newman, CNN, Havana.
BLITZER:: Jews call it the Temple Mount. Muslims call it the Noble Sanctuary. It's where two sacred mosques stand on the ruins of the biblical temples above Judaism's Western Wall. The complex has been the target of previous plots by Jewish extremists. Now Israeli authorities have arrested six men suspected of planning an attack, the type of incident which could unleash a wave of violence across the Islamic world.
CNN's Guy Raz reports from Jerusalem.
GUY RAZ, CNN (voice-over): Jerusalemites like to joke that the next world war, if it comes, will start right here, at the holiest site for Jews and the third-holiest for Muslims. But jokes are sometimes tinged with truth, brought to an uncomfortable level recently after Jerusalem police uncovered a plot by Jewish extremists to attack the site.
The men allegedly planned to acquire an anti-tank missile, haul it up to a Jerusalem rooftop like this and then launch it toward the mosque. Once police arrived on the scene, the plotters would then lob grenades in one final act of suicide.
Israeli security officials believe plots like these are just the tip of the iceberg. Protecting the site from religious extremists has become a top priority.
In a statement, police said they are particularly sensitive about this issue and determined to uncover any intention to harm the Temple Mount. They will act strongly and aggressively to prevent any such intention.
To Muslims around the world the site is known as the Noble Sanctuary, home to two important Islamic shrines. Tensions high in the area these days, with regular standoffs between police and religious demonstrators.
RAZ (on-camera): If somebody was able to do any kind of attack here, what would you imagine might happen?
ADNAN HUSSEINI, DIRECTOR, ISLAMIC TRUST: I imagine that it is a disaster. And I wish that we should not see this day and the Israeli government should understand that it will hold the maximum responsibility.
RAZ (voice-over): Israeli intelligence officials believe a small band of Jewish extremists seeks to attack the site to fulfill a dream of rebuilding the ancient Jewish temple, remnants of which lie underneath the Islamic Dome of the Rock.
Yehudah Glick, who runs a museum that depicts life during the ancient temple period, says religious prophecy suggests the temple will one day be rebuilt. But he condemns any attempts to attack the site.
YEHUDA GLICK, DIRECTOR, TEMPLE INSTITUTE: Anybody who wants to use the holy temple for a means of political or even religious reasons, he's missing the whole thing.
RAZ: Missing, he says, the goal of maintaining peace in the area. But either way, Israeli security officials are worried enough about the threats to make securing the site their top priority.
Guy Raz, CNN, Jerusalem.
BLITZER: The stakes there in Jerusalem clearly, clearly enormous.
Let's take a quick look at some other stories making headlines around the world. Dozens of injuries are reported after a clash between riot police and striking construction workers at a plant near Seoul, South Korea. The workers are demanding higher wages and better working conditions.
From Mexican President Vicente Fox, an apology for some comments that have stirred anger north of the border. He's called civil rights leaders Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, telling them he regrets any offense to African-Americans when he said Mexican immigrants in the United States take jobs, quote, "that not even blacks want to do."
In a tradition-laden ceremony, Britain's Queen Elizabeth opened the new session of parliament. In her speech, the queen outlined dozens of bills Prime Minister Tony Blair is pushing. They include measures to fight terrorism.
From Australia, there's word that pop singer Kylie Minogue has been diagnosed with breast cancer.
And that's our look "Around the World."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(on camera): A raging debate and a town divided; evolution versus so-called intelligent design. We'll show you how the controversy is consuming a local election.
Also, word of more possible benefits from aspirin. Yes, aspirin. Important news coming up for cancer patients.
Plus -- she found her stuff on eBay, but she didn't put it there: how one robbery victim tracked down the thieves.
BLITZER: Eighty years after the so-called Scopes monkey trial, teaching evolution in American schools is once again a subject of heated debate as a small Pennsylvania town is finding out the hard way.
CNN's Mary Snow is joining us now, live from New York, with more on this story. Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a school board election in Dover, Pennsylvania, is being closely watched because it touches on a debate taking place across the country, a debate on the origins of life, evolution, and how it should be taught in school.
(voice-over): Throughout Dover, signs of a heated school board race. At the heart of it, months of debate involving Dover High School, where a line is being drawn in the debate over separation of church and state.
In October, the board approved a mandate introducing the idea of intelligent design that challenges evolution. A statement read to high school biology students says that "because Darwin's Theory is a theory, it continues to be tested" and "gaps in the theory exist for which there is no evidence."
JEFF BROWN, SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATE: This issue is dividing the community.
SNOW: The issue forced Jeff Brown to resign from the school board, but he's once again running for election. Brown says religion is at the heart of the debate of intelligent design, which considers the theory that the universe could not have been created without some kind of guiding force. Brown says the debate pits Christians against fundamentalists, who support the teaching mandate.
BROWN: To their mind there are only a handful of troublemaking atheists out there, and these are the only people who truly believe in evolution, according to them, and so this is a fight between these two groups.
SNOW: Those who support the mandate say intelligent design is a scientific theory.
ALAN BOSWELL, SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATE: There's a one-minute statement that's being said to our children, at our students, one time in January and one time in June. It just mentions basically, to get the kids aware that there is other theories out there besides Darwin.
SNOW: Science teacher Jennifer Miller says she's having a hard time mixing facts with faith.
JENNIFER MILLER, DOVER H.S. TEACHER: And it's made us very unsure of what we can say, what we can't say in the classroom, whereas before we were very comfortable, you know, teaching in the classroom. Now, I've had several occasions where I had to ask, well, is this OK to say, you know what I mean, can I do this, can I do this?
SNOW: Other candidates believe the theory should be taught but not in science class.
ROB MCILVAINE, SCHOOL BOARD CANDIDATE: It needs to be put in the proper learning context such as a comparative religion class, a social studies class, but not in a science class.
SNOW (on camera): And a group of families has also filed a lawsuit against the school district, claiming that, by introducing intelligent design, that the school district is bringing creationism into the classroom. Wolf?
BLITZER: Mary Snow reporting. Thanks, Mary. I suspect this debate's going to unfold elsewhere around the country as well.
Let's check some medical news, important medical news. Word of more possible benefits from aspirin. There's already proof it's good for your heart, but a new study shows it may also help colon cancer patients. It found those who take at least an aspirin a day after surgery and chemotherapy reduced their risk of recurrence and death by about 50 percent -- and the dosage didn't seem to matter. Even baby aspirin showed the same results.
The study also found the controversial Cox-2 inhibitors like Celebrex and Vioxx seemed to reduce colon cancer recurrence and deaths. More study, though -- needed.
Coming up at the top of the hour, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT." Lou standing by in New York, as he always is, with a preview. Lou?
LOU DOBBS, HOST "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Wolf, thank you.
At 6:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN we'll be reporting on the escalating confrontation between Republican and Democratic senators over the fate of the filibuster and judicial appointments. A battle on the Senate floor could begin as early as tomorrow.
Also, an explosive showdown between senators investigating the U.N. Oil-for-Food scandal, and a controversial British lawmaker accused of receiving oil rights. We'll have that report.
And Mexico's president, Vicente Fox, says he won't apologize for making what appear to many to be racist comments about African- Americans. He does say he regrets the misinterpretation of his statement. The Reverend Al Sharpton and the Reverend Jesse Jackson among those he's invited to Mexico. Reverend Sharpton is our guest tonight.
All of that and a great deal more coming up here on CNN in just a few moments. Please join us. Now back to Wolf Blitzer. Wolf?
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lou. We'll be joining you.
When we come back, lost and found, how a robbery victim tracked down her stolen items online and tracked down the thief who took them. A remarkable story, Brian Todd standing by with that.
And later, portraits of hope. How this blimp is helping young children to overcome adversity and to realize their dreams.
BLITZER: They say you can find almost anything on the Internet. A Maryland woman found her own property and the man who allegedly stole it. CNN's Brian Todd joining us now with the story -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we've heard it from security experts so many times. Any information you put on the Internet is vulnerable. But it looks like in this one case, the tables were turned on an alleged thief.
B. TODD (voice-over): With one click of the mouse, Karen Todd might have created a whole new class of cybersleuth.
KAREN TODD, CYBER SLEUTH: Five, seven, six, nine.
B. TODD: Last month, a burglar broke into Todd's home in Bowie, Maryland, in broad daylight.
K. TODD: There was a patio stone sitting over here on the floor. Broken glass all over the floor.
B. TODD: The thief made away with a laptop computer and a couple of other items, including an iPod she'd bought for her husband.
K. TODD: I had ordered it for my husband for Christmas, and when you order it direct from Apple, you can have it inscribed. And so I had a song lyric inscribed on the back.
B. TODD: For a couple of weeks, Todd says, she tried to think like the burglar, surfing the Internet auction site Ebay for her items. One day, a picture popped up -- an Ipod. On the back, that same inscription, lyrics of a country rock song.
K. TODD: And I was just shocked. I was like, it's mine, it's mine. I couldn't believe it was there.
B. TODD: It had been there for about six days. And Todd says the auction was about to close the next day. She called the Prince George's County police. Within a couple of hours, they recovered her laptop and Ipod from this sports memorabilia store in Beltsville, Maryland.
The next day, an arrest -- 21-year-old Ibrahima Toure, who police now link to more than a dozen burglaries in three Maryland counties, and who they say might have accomplices.
DET. RAY GIGNAC, PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY POLICE: I'd say she helped crack it wide open.
B. TODD: The haul from Toure's alleged burglaries, more than $18,000 in stolen property. He's being held on multiple charges. The owner of the memorabilia store tells CNN he didn't know the items were stolen. He says, quote, "I buy anything of value." But detectives tell us the store owner may also face charges.
K. TODD: All those...
B. TODD: All because of one savvy working mother, who's now just thinking about some needed repair work.
K. TODD: I'm glad we got the stuff back. As soon as the door gets put in, we'll be back to normal.
B. TODD: Karen Todd tells us one thing she'd like to see is for Ebay to require sellers to post serial numbers for all items. Now, we contacted Ebay. They say it's impossible to do that, because not everything has a serial number, and they never actually take possession of the goods sold on their site. An Ebay official says the company cooperates very closely with law enforcement when it's believed stolen items are posted, and they say anyone who believes their stolen item has been placed on Ebay should do exactly what Karen Todd did, call the police first -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Now, Karen Todd, no relation to Brian Todd...
B. TODD: She's much too technically savvy to be related to me.
BLITZER: She's very savvy, but so are you. Brian, thanks very much.
When we come back, you've seen the Goodyear blimp. You've seen other blimps. But you've never seen an airship like the one we're about to show you. Check it out. We'll have details coming up. We'll tell you about the Soaring Dreams and why it looks this way.
BLITZER: There is a work of art in the sky this summer, the most colorful airship you've ever seen.
BLITZER (voice-over): This airship is named Soaring Dreams. Think of it as a huge canvas.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to go on the back side of the...
BLITZER: It's the latest project of an organization called Portraits of Hope, which helps people suffering from illnesses, disabilities and other adversities, create art. Five thousand children in the hospitals and after-school centers produce the paintings that cover the airship's skin.
ED MASSEY, FOUNDER, PORTRAITS OF HOPE: This gets kids actively engaged in thinking big. It's about dreaming big and going after your goals. It's rare in life that a child can say that they were part of something that the whole world gets to see.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My name is Ashley Cowl (ph), with a W, and when I grow up, I want to be a lawyer, and I need to get an education before I can be a lawyer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I want to be a violinist when I grow up.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My dream (INAUDIBLE).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be a doctor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want to be a family therapist.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I grow up, I want to be a superstar.
BLITZER: Soaring Dreams will be flying across the country this summer.
BLITZER: And the next scheduled appearance of Soaring Dreams is at America's -- Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas, May 28th.
That's it for us. "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now. Lou standing by in New York -- Lou.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Thank you, Wolf. Have a great evening.
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