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THE SITUATION ROOM
New York Monsignor Resigns; PGA Disrupted; Iraq KIA Moms Speak Out; Tennessee Fugitives in Court; Runway Buffers; Inside North Korea; Israeli Withdrawal
Aired August 12, 2005 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's 5:00 p.m. in Washington and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where news and information from around the world arrive at one place simultaneously on these screens behind us.
Right now, live feeds we're getting in, CNN Plus -- that would be in Spain -- ITV in Britain, ERT coming in from Greece, TV Azteca in Mexico. We're also getting live feeds coming in.
It's 5:00 p.m. in New York where taped radio transmissions from 9/11 are now being released. They're being heard publicly for the first time since that very dark day.
It's 4:00 p.m. in Crawford, Texas, where a grieving mother's mission against the war is gaining momentum. She'll tell us here in THE SITUATION ROOM -- she'll be joining us -- why she's doing this. We'll also speak with another mother who's lost a son and who supports President Bush.
And it's 6:00 a.m. Saturday in Pyongyang. Our senior Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy is there. He's reporting live with exclusive pictures from inside one of the world's most secretive societies. That would be North Korea. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
It was a day of horror and heroism. When terrorists struck on 9/11, New York firefighters gave their lives trying to save others. Now, those very chilling moments are being relived with newly released radio transmissions and oral histories.
CNN's Mary Snow is joining us now, live from New York with details. Mary, I've heard some of those tapes and they are chilling.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDNET: They really are, Wolf. And there're 15 hours of audiotapes, 12,000 pages of oral histories released today by a court order. Some say while it's painful, it also serves an important purpose.
SNOW (voice-over): September 11, from the voices of firefighters. 8:46 a.m., Tower One of the World Trade Center is hit.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The World Trade Center Tower number one is on fire.
SNOW: A radio call from Battalion One, two blocks from the Twin Towers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It looks like it was intentional. Inform all units going into the box it could be a terrorist act.
SNOW: At times, bursts of activity on the radio. At other times, lapses of silence. There were calls for every available ambulance and every off-duty firefighter to come to the scene. Other times, there is chaos and desperate pleas for help, like this man whose identity is unknown.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can anybody hear me? I'm a civilian. I'm trapped inside one of your fire trucks underneath the collapse that just happened.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by. There's people close to you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe much longer. Save me. I'm in a cab of your truck.
SNOW: Victims' families and others who pushed to make the transmissions public, say, while the tapes are painful, they are necessary to find out exactly what happened that day.
CAPT. AL FUENTES, RETIRED NEW YORK FIREFIGHTER: I just listened to a couple of audiotapes. And probably it was the hardest time since 9/11. I listened to my men. I listened to my friends. But I have to tell you, and I've always felt, that was our finest day as firefighters.
SNOW: But 343 firefighters died that day and questions remain about whether more would have survived if they were warned the towers might fall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The North Tower is leaning off. All operations are being moved north of the tower. They're afraid of another collapse. Everybody's being moved north of the tower.
SNOW: But that message didn't get to everyone due to problems with radio transmissions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Urgent, urgent, everybody get out. We had a collapse of the second tower. Everybody's running from there.
SNOW (on-camera): Some very chilling moments there. Now initially, the city did not want to release the tapes out of concerns for privacy. Three years ago, the "New York Times" went to court to have them released and victims' families joined that legal battle. They say they'll press for more transcripts to be released.
BLITZER: What a horrible day. Mary Snow, thank you very much reporting from New York. Mary reporting from New York.
Sometimes we can bring you news before it happens. In our "Security Watch", the Department of Homeland Security will lower the threat level for the nation's transit systems. Let's get some details.
CNN's Jeanne Meserve is joining us from not far --, I guess you're near Union Station here in Washington, Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Passengers on these trains behind me and passenger trains all over the country may see a change in security at the end of today's rush hour.
You'll remember that the Department of Homeland Security elevated the threat level in the transit sector alone to orange after those July 7, attacks in London. The fear was that there might be a follow- on attack or a copycat attack here in the U.S.
None, of course, has materialized. And today, the secretary of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff, said there was no specific and credible threat of any attack in the U.S. and so he gave the green light for the threat level to move down to yellow. However, different transit agencies are handling it as they see fit.
Here in the District of Columbia, someone with the Metro system says that although they do expect to scale back the hours that some of their security officers are working, otherwise they'll be very vigilant. They're considering even doing bag searches here. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: All right, Jeanne Meserve with that. Thanks very much. And stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.
We have some new information from the PGA championship in New Jersey, where golfers and spectators alike got a scare when a large tree limb came crashing down. There was an injury.
Our Larry Smith is joining us now, live from Springfield, New Jersey, with details. Larry, what happened?
LARRY SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we have new information just now in. Actually, not one person but three people suffering injuries when that branch fell off a large red oak tree. Two of the people, two men, were employees of Turner Sports and CBS, the two networks who are providing the telecast of this tournament over the weekend. One man suffered a broken left leg. One man suffered a leg injury. The third, a 60-year-old spectator, was treated for bruises and was then OK.
Now, the area has been cordoned off. No one is around this area now around the fourth green. And we were told that after the completion of the second round today, the tree will be removed before the spectators get to the course tomorrow here at Baltusrol in New Jersey -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Any impact on the actual players?
SMITH: No. No players were injured. Play was stopped for a couple of moments. Tiger Woods, actually, was on the tee box, ready to play. No one else was injured. It could have been much worse than what it was.
BLITZER: All right, Larry Smith reporting for us. Thanks, Larry, very much.
Time now for the "Cafferty File," where you get a chance to weigh in on some of the major stories we're following. Jack Cafferty is in New York. He's got our question of the hour.
I can hardly wait, Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: You know, before we get to that, that fourth hole is what they call the signature hole at the Baltusrol Country Club. It's a par three over water. And that big red oak's -- that's right behind the green. They're going to take the entire tree out. It's going to change the character of that hole.
Not that it shouldn't be removed, obviously, if it's a danger. But with all the spectators, one has to wonder if maybe they didn't have a role in weakening those limbs. Sometimes they climb up in the tree to get a better view. Anyway, it's one of the most beautiful golf holes probably on the East Coast, maybe in the country.
The question for this hour, Tennessee teacher sentenced to nine months in prison because she had sex with a 13-year-old student. Pamela Turner pleaded no contest yesterday. It was a deal that will allow her not to have to go to trial on 28 charges of sexual battery and statutory rape. That could have put her away for life.
The former elementary school phys ed teacher will be on supervised probation once she gets out of the joint for the rest of an 8-year suspended sentence. The judge also said that she'll have to give up her teaching certificate and that she will be registered as a child sex offender.
The question this hour is this. Would a male teacher have gotten a harsher sentence? Email us at CaffertyFile@CNN.com.
What do you think, Wolf?
BLITZER: I think it's a good question and we'll see what our viewers think, more important than what I think. Jack, thanks very much. You've played golf, I take it, at that country club, but we'll talk about that later.
Coming up, fighting words in a courtroom where the fugitive couple from Tennessee appeared today. This case just keeps getting more curious.
The recent plane crash in Toronto spotlighting a danger zone in some airports. Coming up, we'll have some details.
And will Iraq war protestor Cindy Sheehan follow President Bush to the White House? I'll ask her. That's coming up live.
BLITZER: They're accused of killing a guard in a daring escape, but the former fugitives are fighting extradition to Tennessee.
CNN's Alina Cho is joining us now, live, here in THE SITUATION ROOM. She's in Columbus, Ohio, with more on today's court appearances by George and Jennifer Hyatte. What happened, Alina?
ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there were some surprise moments and some tense moments in the courtroom today. As you mentioned, both George and Jennifer Hyatte are fighting extradition. But for George Hyatte, it was a spur of the moment decision.
CHO (voice-over): George Hyatte was combative in court, Friday.
GEORGE HYATTE, TENNESSEE PRISON ESCAPEE: I'm not going through this again. I can't (BEEP) feel my hands.
CHO: The 34-year-old ex-fugitive who now faces first-degree murder charges in Tennessee initially was ready to waive extradition.
HYATTE: I will sign my extradition.
CHO: Then, after exchanging words with his court-appointed lawyer, Hyatte changed his mind.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you wish to do? Do you want to speak to your counselor...
HYATTE: No. Let's do whatever my wife did. Whatever
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do not want to waive extradition?
HYATTE: Whatever my wife did, that's what I'm going to do.
CHO: Moment earlier, wife Jennifer Hyatte, who remained silent in court, expressed, through her lawyer, she wanted to fight extradition.
JOHN SPROAT, ATTORNEY FOR JENNIFER HYATTE: We have to take every avenue that we can to represent our client as fully as possible.
CHO: What that means is that the state of Tennessee must now prove this Jennifer Hyatte and her husband George, the ones who appeared in court in Columbus, Ohio, are the same people who allegedly shot and killed a corrections officer during an escape from a Tennessee courthouse on Tuesday. What that means is for now, the Hyattes will remain in an Ohio jail.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted to be together. And please remember, they're innocent until proven guilty.
CHO (on-camera): And George and Jennifer Hyatte will remain in the county jail here in Columbus, Ohio, until their next court appearance. And, Wolf, that will take place on September 8.
BLITZER: Alina Cho reporting for us from Columbus. Thank you, Alina, very much.
And just hours ago, a funeral was held for the guard Jennifer Hyatte is accused of shooting. CNN's Zain Verjee joining us now from the CNN Center to pick up that part of the story.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Corrections Officer Wayne Morgan was known by the nickname "Cotton" to his friends and family, all of whom are devastated by his death.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody's grieving. Grieving.
VERJEE (voice-over): Fifty-six-year-old Wayne Morgan spent 28 years working as a corrections officer. Morgan died in the line of duty on Tuesday morning, shot at close range, allegedly by Jennifer Hyatte. Witnesses say that in the courtroom a few minutes earlier, he had tried to comfort her distraught husband, George, whose prison sentence had just been extended by six years. Relatives say they're not surprised Morgan was trying to help.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The guy was superb. He makes me feel good when I feel bad. He's just that way. He was the man.
VERJEE: Morgan was a Vietnam veteran who earned a purple heart, a deacon and a Sunday school teacher at his church. He had ten siblings and also leaves behind a wife, two children, and his mother.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Actually, he was well thought of, here in the community, kind of a leader in the community. And, you know, everybody really liked him, and you know, the community's hurt. And I feel sorry for his family, too.
VERJEE (on-camera): More than 1,000 people turned out for the visitation yesterday. This, in a town of just 800 people, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, very sad indeed. Thanks very much, Zain Verjee. We'll get back to you.
It's Friday, August 12. Coming up, a CNN exclusive inside North Korea. Our correspondent is the only Western journalist there. Mike Chinoy, he'll be joining us live.
And getting ready to withdraw from Gaza. Jewish settlers there realize they're having to move much more than just their belongings. We'll go there live, as well.
And in New York, a top Roman Catholic monsignor reported to be the other man in a divorce case. He denies it and so does the woman mentioned. So why is it causing so much stress for the New York Archdiocese? Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Runway buffer zones. They keep planes safe if they overshoot the runway on takeoff or landing. Pilots say Toronto's buffer zone is lacking, but it turns out the same problem already exists at many airports right here in the United States.
CNN's Kathleen Koch joining us now, live, from Reagan National Airport in Washington. What is happening, Kathleen?
KATHLEEN KOCH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Reagan National Airport is a good example of a problem many airports have. As you can see, you've got the Potomac River on one side, you've got a busy highway on the other. There's just very little room to expand the all-important runway buffer zones at the end of runways.
So not surprisingly, at many airports, those come up short.
KOCH (voice-over): Fifteen people have been killed and nearly 300 injured in runway overshoots in the U.S. since 1982. The FAA now requires runways have a 1,000 foot buffer zone to keep planes safe, but 38 percent of runways, all at older airports built before the rule, still don't meet the standard.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wouldn't say that it's safe at all. I mean, the risk is there and we need to do what we can to mitigate that risk.
KOCH: The Federal Aviation Administration says it's not easy to get those buffer zones built.
MARION BLAKEY, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: You know, we'd love to wave a wand and have overnight every airport have the safety buffer zone completely installed. Again, this is something that takes time. It obviously requires resources and money. Sometime there's land acquisition involved.
KOCH: The newest solution relies less on land and more on a system of crushable concrete blocks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perhaps 3,000 or 4,000 of these blocks are assembled like a jigsaw puzzle at the end of the runway. And if an aircraft should run off the runway, it crushes the material and brings the aircraft to a stop.
KOCH: But the engineered material arresting systems, EMAS for short, is in place at just 14 airports. New York's JFK had a buffer of 550 feet before it put in the country's first EMAS system in 1996. Since then, EMAS has stopped three aircraft there and local officials insist putting it in more airports is a no-brainer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, we've had incidents where passengers could have been badly injury or even lost their lives. And when you think about that, you don't think about the dollars involved. We all have to put our heads together and say, we're going to do this.
KOCH: Some predict it will take a deadly runway overshoot and lawsuits to persuade more U.S. airports to improve their buffer zones.
(on-camera): As to which airports come up short, the FAA says, unfortunately, it will not release the list because currently, it's surveying the adequacy of those buffer zones nationwide. And it says it won't have an up-to-date list until the end of the year, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Kathleen Koch, very informative. Thank you very much, Kathleen Koch over at Reagan National Airport here in Washington.
Coming up, a mother's message.
CINDY SHEEHAN, SON KILLED IN ACTION IN IRAQ: I want to ask the president, why did he kill my son? What did my son die for?
BLITZER: War mothers on both sides of the issue speaking out.
And a CNN exclusive. We'll go live inside North Korea, where our Mike Chinoy is the only Western correspondent in a tightly closed country. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We've been hearing a lot about Cindy Sheehan. She's protesting the president and his war policy. She lost a son in Iraq. We're going to be speaking with her shortly.
But first, let's go to Chicago. Georgette Frank is joining us live. Georgette Frank lost a son in Iraq, as well. Georgette, thanks very much for joining us. Tell us a little bit about your son, Phil, first of all.
GEORGETTE FRANK, SON KILLED IN ACTION IN IRAQ: It's nice to be here with you, Wolf. Thank you for having me.
Lance Corporal Phillip Frank, our loving son, was always a protector. He always championed the underdog, stepped in to help when someone was being picked on -- didn't like bullies -- and wanted to be a soldier from when he was a very little boy.
BLITZER: He eventually wound up in Iraq. And tragically, unfortunately, he was killed. Do you -- you support the president in contrast to Cindy Sheehan and other mothers who have lost sons. Tell our viewers why.
FRANK: To do less would diminish my son's sacrifice. He was a staunch supporter of President Bush, as we all were -- are. We believe that we need to be where we are. We are losing men, but they are there because they're doing their job. Freedom isn't free, Wolf. It costs. We wouldn't have the country that we had today if people did not sacrifice their lives so many years ago.
BLITZER: But you understand the pain and suffering that other mothers like Cindy Sheehan, who oppose this war, are going through right now?
FRANK: Absolutely. There is a grief and a pain that you carry with you every day. It's not out of my life. I just choose not to let it dominate my life. My husband and my family, my daughter, we've found another way to deal with it. And we choose to go on positively.
We support our president. We're supporting our son's brothers and sisters in the military through the Heart of a Marine Foundation, which we're in the process of setting up. And it will be there to help them, whether they're recruits or veterans or deployed. If they need a family, we will be there. We believe in what they're doing and we honor what they're doing.
BLITZER: Do you believe your son died for a noble cause?
FRANK: Absolutely. And he went over there for that cause. He told his father and I, the last time that we saw him, that he wanted to be part of bringing freedom to that part of the country -- part of the world. He wanted to be part of freeing the people out from under the likes of Saddam Hussein.
He said, where can a guy like me be part of something that great? He believed in it. And Wolf, the day the Iraqis voted, my husband and I held each other and we said, well done, Phil. Well done. That's what he went over there for.
BLITZER: Georgette Frank, our heart goes out to you. Thanks so much for joining us here on CNN. We appreciate it very much.
FRANK: Thank you very much, Wolf. And I just would like to add that it's through places like MarineParents.com where we find so much support for one another. And through doing positive things like the foundation, the Heart of a Marine Foundation. That's where you move forward and you move out of your pain and into a life that gives back. Thank you very much.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. Georgette Frank joining us in Chicago.
Let's get a different perspective now, another mother who has lost a son in Iraq, and that's Cindy Sheehan. She's been protesting the president's policies outside his ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Cindy Sheehan, we spoke last Sunday on LATE EDITION, we're speaking again now. Our heart goes out to you, as well.
The president declined your request to meet with him now, for a second time. What goes through your mind as his motorcade, we saw it earlier, passed by where you and others are protesting on that road outside his ranch?
SHEEHAN: Well, first of all, I'd like to extend my condolences to Georgette and her family on the loss of their child, but our kids came home the same way in flag-draped coffins. And obviously, we have two differing opinions. I think the positive thing I'm doing to get over the pain of my son -- which I'll never get over the pain; it's a lesson -- that is to save other lives and to bring them home. You know, when George Bush asked for the War Powers Act, he didn't say anything about bringing freedom and democracy to Iraq. He said weapons of mass destruction and terrorism.
And both of those things have been proven to be false. Freedom and democracy is a little bit harder to prove, and it could take decades to prove that. So, you know, I just want to get out of the way. My positive thing is, I don't want any more children to die. I'm a broken-hearted mom, Georgette is a broken-hearted mom. Why would I want one more mother to go through what I'm going through just because Casey is dead?
And when George Bush came by today twice, once past us and once going back, what he saw was a couple of hundred people out here that have opposing viewpoints to him. And he rarely sees that, because he is so insulated from real America. We usually have to stand out in Freedom of Speech Zones, which are about a mile away from the president, and he never lets people who disagree with him into the same room as he does. So when he drove by, he saw, here we are. And we do not agree with your policies. And we're standing here with the Gold Star Moms, because we want them to change.
BLITZER: I want you to listen, Cindy, to what the president said, referring directly to you yesterday in Crawford. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And I thought long and hard about her position. I've heard her position from others, which is get out of Iraq now. And it would be a mistake for the security of this country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: You want to respond directly to that point?
SHEEHAN: Well, he -- that's not what I'm asking him. I'm asking him to tell me what is the noble cause my son died for, and to stop using my son's sacrifice to continue the killing. I didn't say, pull the troops out of Iraq. Even though, you know, that would be my goal. He didn't even address the questions that I asked him.
BLITZER: Are you going to be coming to Washington? Assuming he doesn't meet with you while he's on vacation in Crawford, Texas, will you be following him to the White House?
SHEEHAN: We are going to take this vigil and put it on as close as we can get to the White House. And it's going to be a 24-hour perpetual vigil for peace until our troops are brought home. I won't be there 24 hours of course, but we're going to rotate.
BLITZER: A lot of our viewers are e-mailing us with this question -- and I'd like to give you a chance to respond, Cindy. More than a year ago, the president did meet with you. And at that time you emerged from that meeting and you were quoted by your hometown newspaper as saying this -- you said: "I know he's sincere about wanting freedom for the Iraqis. I know he's sorry and feels some pain for our loss. And I know he's a man of faith."
Do you still believe all that?
SHEEHAN: I -- I think he might -- he might believe about freedom and democracy, but I know -- I know he knew he lied to the American public when he was talking about weapons of mass destruction and terrorism, because the Downing Street memo proved that.
He's probably a man of faith. And I still agree with that.
But you know, June of 2004 and August of 2005 are two different times. I have studied. I've informed myself. And I have seen the reports come out that prove that his positions are wrong. And the more that -- the more the proof comes out that he lied, or the policies were not true to get us into this invasion, occupation of Iraq, the more I become more focused to bring the rest of our kids home, because my son should still be alive. You know, tens of thousands of other innocent people should be alive. And our -- he's using our troops, who are brave and honorable and good, in a dishonorable cause, and that's the occupation of a country that was no threat to the United States of America.
BLITZER: All right. Cindy Sheehan, our heart goes out to you. Our heart, as I said earlier, goes out to Georgette Frank as well, and all the parents of all the troops who have died in Iraq.
SHEEHAN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Appreciate it very much, Cindy Sheehan joining us from outside the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas.
Her campaign to speak with the president is getting lots of attention with the bloggers. Our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner, checking in with us to see what the situation online is -- Jacki.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Wolf, we actually wanted to show you what the situation was online, not just in the blogs. We plugged Cindy Sheehan's name into Google, one of the big search engines. And just to give you an idea of how many people are talking about Cindy, writing about Cindy, it yielded close to 400,000 hits.
Put this in perspective for you -- we put your name in, Wolf, and it came up close to 250,000 hits, which means 250,000 cases of people mentioning you in some capacity or another.
But this didn't happen for Cindy Sheehan by accident. There was a huge liberal push online. MoveOn.org, a liberal political action committee, taking on her cause. MichaelMoore.com, a liberal activist taking on her cause. And then the bloggers, like you mentioned, Wolf, blog swarming around Cindy Sheehan. Huge push online for this story, Wolf. BLITZER: I suspect it's not going away any time soon either. Thanks very much, Jacki, for that.
Still ahead, we'll go inside North Korea. We have exclusive pictures. And we also have the only Western reporter inside that secretive society right now. Our Mike Chinoy will be reporting live for us.
And when Israel pulls out of Gaza, it won't be just the living who are forced to move.
And a scandal swirling around a famous Catholic landmark. Why a top cleric is stepping down.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the hot shots, the pictures coming in from the Associated Press, still photographs, pictures likely to be in your hometown newspapers tomorrow.
Let's move on, though, to a CNN exclusive. Our senior Asia correspondent Mike Chinoy is the only Western journalist inside North Korea right now. He's joining us live from Pyongyang with an exclusive report. That's the only words coming out of my mouth, Mike. Tell our viewers what's going on.
MIKE CHINOY, CNN SR. ASIA CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, I'm just outside the North Korean Central Broadcasting Headquarters. And behind me are a series of panels, which really give you a good idea of the sense of the personality cult surrounding North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and his family. These panels have three pictures -- Kim Jong Il, his father, late President Kim Il Sung, and Kim Jong Il's mother. The panels commemorate visits made to this broadcasting headquarters by all three.
Officials here say that Kim Jong Il has made 109 visits to this facility, and the Korean writing there is his what they call on-the- spot guidance about the importance of broadcasting. Officials saying that what Kim Jong Il said was that the importance of broadcasting was to serve the party and encourage the people to devote their energies to revolution and construction.
This kind of mass devotion to the leadership is something you see all over North Korea. Indeed, Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung both have their own flowers: the Kimilsungia, which is an orchid and the Kimjongilia, which is a red begonia. And you see posters of that all over town, as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: There have been lots of articles, lots of reports, as you know Mike, that the North Koreans are actually experimenting with some economic liberalization, moving away from hard-core communism. Have you seen any evidence of that?
CHINOY: Yes, I have. In fact, as you drive around Pyongyang, you can see signs on the streets. There are kiosks, vendors, places where people can go and get bread or ice cream. There are shoe repairmen, all signs of more individual initiative. The state ceding some control over the economy.
It's all part of an attempt by the government here to revive the economy, which has been through a very rough patch in recent years. Aid workers who travel through the countryside say they see the same thing. You see bicycle repairmen, food vendors, cigarette vendors. Markets have become an increasingly important part of North Korea's economy. And a lot of dips feel this is potentially significant going forward.
BLITZER: And very briefly while I have you Mike, any word -- are they saying anything about their nuclear program? And if there's any possibility that they're going to step back from that?
CHINOY: North Korean officials with whom I've spoken say that they are willing in principle to give up their nuclear weapons, but they do insist on the right to have what they call a peaceful civilian nuclear energy program. They point with some frustration to what they say is a double standard on the part of the U.S. in terms of allowing India, for example, which is a not a signatory to the Nonproliferation Treaty to have the capability. And the U.S. is even talking about cooperation with India. North Korean officials noted this to me.
They say, though, the key issue really is lack of trust, lack of confidence and what they see as hostile American policy. They are still suspicious that the Bush administration's ultimate goal here is not denuclearization, but regime change. And until that changes, the North Koreans are going to dig in their heels and insist on keeping their nuclear capabilities -- Wolf.
BLITZER: CNN's Mike Chinoy reporting from Pyongyang in North Korea. Excellent work. We'll have more of that coming up. Thanks very much. Mike Chinoy in North Korea. Another CNN exclusive.
From North Korea to the Middle East. As Israel prepares to withdraw from Gaza, some Jewish settlers find they're having to uproot, not only their lives, but dig up their dead as well. CNN's Zain Verjee once again joining us from the CNN Center -- Zain.
VERJEE: Wolf, some settlers in Gaza say their misery at being forced to leave is compounded by the thoughts of having to move their deceased loved ones.
BRYNA HILBERG, GAZA SETTLER: Yohannan (ph) was a soldier. Yohannan (ph) died for his country. And now his country is pulling up his grave. It's something I have a lot of trouble dealing with.
VERJEE (voice-over): Bryna Hilberg's son was an Israeli soldier killed in combat in Lebanon eight years ago. She is fiercely opposed to leaving Gaza and to relocating his grave.
HILBERG: No official has ever given us a reason why we're being evacuated from our homes. And to add to that, we have to take our dead with us. VERJEE: But Israeli officials are concerned the graves may be desecrated when the settlers have gone. The Army has set up a special team of soldiers and rabbis to oversee the exhumations.
But that's no comfort to Hilberg. She imagines what her dead son would say. Mother, I am trying to yell at them, enough. Go away from here. I am resting here. I am laying here in eternal rest. Enough.
VERJEE: Some settlers say they've heard nothing from the government about relocating the graves. Officials say they've tried to talk to the families, but in many cases, their efforts have been rebuffed -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Zain Verjee, thank you very much for that report.
A high profile cleric stepping down, a divorce case causing tabloid turmoil for the archdiocese of New York.
If she had been a man, would she have gotten a harsher sentence? Jack Cafferty has your views on a teacher sex case.
And you've let us know what you think about our new program. Now it's Jeff Greenfield's turn. Our senior analyst analyzes the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: A prominent Catholic monsignor named as the other man in a messy divorce case. It's a tabloid story for the Archdiocese of New York City.
CNN's Brian Todd has been looking into this story. And he is joining us live -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, right now the story is full of no comments and denials from some of the key players. But it has inflicted a very heavy toll at what may be the most famous Catholic landmark in America.
TODD (voice-over): An official with the Archdiocese of New York tells us it has been a very stressful time as one of the most recognizable figures at St. Patrick's Cathedral is caught up in scandal. The archdiocese confirms it has accepted the resignation of Monsignor Eugene Clark, the rector of St. Patrick's, reported to have had an affair with a woman who worked at the church.
The archdiocese official tells CNN, leaders there confronted Clark earlier this week when they were contacted by New York newspapers about Clark's alleged relationship with Laura DeFilippo. The "New York Daily News" tells CNN it obtained these photographs allegedly of Clark and DeFilippo from DeFilippo's husband filing who is for divorce.
Monsignor Clark's attorney did not return our calls, but the archdiocese confirms he has strongly denied having an affair. And the archdiocese says Monsignor Clark resigned -- quote -- "for the good of the church."
And when contacted by CNN, the attorney for Laura DeFilippo said in a statement, "Miss DeFilippo is shocked and deeply saddened that her husband has intentionally distorted and sensationalized an innocent event in order to cause her and her children public embarrassment." Laura DeFilippo's husband and his attorney did not return our calls.
Monsignor William Kerr, director of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington has met Monsignor Clark several times.
MONSIGNOR WILLIAM KERR, POP JOHN PAUL II CULTURAL CENTER: He's a very articulate, a very intelligent man who has worked very hard for the church and for its endeavors.
TODD: Kerr says it's important to reserve specific comment until more about the case is known. But he says the church is going through more anguish with each new scandal.
KERR: The temperature in the church rises. I mean, there are -- everybody from the -- the people who work in parishes and Catholic institutions to the highest ranking members of the hierarchy who are troubled when things happen like this.
TODD: In the meantime, an official at the New York Archdiocese says they are actively looking for a new rector at St. Patrick's -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, very disturbing story. Thanks very much, Brian, for that.
We're seeing lots of different opinions on our question of the hour. CNN's Jack Cafferty once again in New York with the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Before we get to the e-mails, the tabloids in this city are brutal. This is the way "The Daily News" headlined the story of the monsignor's resignation. "Father Frolic Quits." And an earlier front page up here, "The Beauty and the Priest." They're tough at these tabloid papers in the big town.
A Tennessee teacher sentenced to nine months in prison for having sex with a 13-year-old student. Nine months, that's it. She'll be on probation for eight years. She will lose her teaching license. She will be listed as a sex offender. But other than that, nothing.
The question this hour, would a male teacher have gotten a harsher sentence? The answers are as follows. Mike in Atwater, California, "If it were a male teacher, he would have been lynched before he got to the courthouse. She got off easy because she's easy on the eyes."
Katie in Sunnyvale, California: "I think that had it been a male teacher or a less attractive female teacher, the sentence would have been much more harsh. I wonder what the makeup of the jury was. Were there lots of men on the jury?"
Arline in Maitland, Florida: "Yes, a male sex offender would have gotten a longer sentence. She should have gotten a longer sentence. Those young male victims will be affected the rest of their lives, just as female victims are. She will always be a predator."
And Saint in Houston, Texas writes: "Wolf, love the new show. Don't forget to play music when Jack Cafferty's talking. I love seeing him lose his concentration."
You don't have to play music to see that happen.
BLITZER: I want that music back. Why are we not playing the music, Jack?
CAFFERTY: Because that music is awful and it's annoying. And I hate it, and we're not going to do it anymore.
BLITZER: Well, we'll see. Sometimes we will. Jack, thanks very much. Have a great weekend.
CAFFERTY: You too, Wolf.
BLITZER: Coming up, if it walks like a duck, Jeff Greenfield has some fun as we close our first week in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: We've had a great first week here in THE SITUATION ROOM, and we've gotten lots of feedback directly from you, our viewers. Keep that e-mail coming in.
We've also gotten feedback from our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield. He has his own ideas about what we should and should not be doing.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. ANALYST (on camera): A new show, a fresh start, a chance for something different. But also a chance not to do what's been done and done and done to death. So based on an in- depth look at my personal preferences, here's what I hope we'll be seeing a lot less of on this new venture.
JUDY WOODRUFF, FORMER CNN ANCHOR: Our new poll...
CHRIS MATTHEWS, HOST, HARDBALL: I've got a brand new poll here...
TUCKER CARLSON, HOST, THE SITUATION: It's a straw poll.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Hillary is the nominee.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mitt Romney.
RON BROWNSTEIN, LOS ANGELES TIMES: Mark Warner, who was just in your poll.
GREENFIELD: Well, sharks got to swim, bats got to fly.
WOODRUFF: Wide open for 2008.
GREENFIELD: And we got to talk about the next presidential race, with poll numbers that have all the significance of those lucky numbers you find in Chinese fortune cookies.
Never mind that at this point four years ago, Joe Lieberman was a frontrunner. These are facts, right? Hard real numbers, right?
Would McCain beat Bayh in Michigan? Would Brownback edge out Edwards in Ohio? Would Ali have beaten Jack Dempsey?
Let's ease off a bit. After all, 68 percent of regular news viewers think there is too much reporting on polls today. OK, I made that up, but it's probably as reliable as those other numbers.
Now, shows like this are going to feature a lot of political conversation with people who hold strong views and who are determined, as they say, to stay on message. This is OK up to a point, but what happens when staying on message is apparently the only thing they're prepared to do?
KEN MEHLMAN, RNC CHAIRMAN: George Bush says...
GREENFIELD: This instinct crosses political and ideological lines, but right now the champ appears to be Republican National Chair Ken Mehlman. Here's his take on news reports about Karl Rove and that White House CIA leak story.
MEHLMAN: The information exonerates and vindicates, it does not implicate.
Exonerates and vindicates, it doesn't implicate.
Vindicates and exonerates him, not implicates him.
GREENFIELD: By the way, that's not a loop. Those were all separate comments.
Now, this isn't a conversation. This isn't even a debate. It's a recitation. It's what George Orwell in "1984" called "duck speak" -- literally, the ability to quack out chunks of processed words, like a duck. And that phrase, "duck speak," provides a solution for us as well.
On Groucho Marx's old game show "You Bet Your Life," a duck would come down whenever the secret word was uttered. So maybe on this show, Wolf, whenever someone says exactly the same thing three or four times -- like this: It's not a tax, it's an investment. It's not a tax, it's an investment. It's not a tax, it's an investment. It's not a tax...
GREENFIELD: We want vigorous debates, but we also need some sense of realism here. When you put the chairs of the two major parties on the air, as was done last election night, here's what you get.
ED GILLESPIE, FORMER RNC CHAIRMAN: I feel great. I am very excited about it.
TERRY MCAULIFFE, FORMER DNC CHAIRMAN: Wolf, I've never felt better. You can feel the excitement.
GILLESPIE: I'm not worried about anything right now.
MCAULIFFE: It's exciting what's going on.
GREENFIELD: Well, what were you expecting? Was the Republican going to say, I'm sweating buckets those debates might kill us? Was the Democrat going to say, Kerry had to go wind-surfing, didn't he?
Now, this is a tough one to solve, but I wonder whether we could save a lot of time and money not booking these guests at all, but resorting to a much cheaper form of debate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush bad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush bad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush bad.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bush good.
GREENFIELD: So the key to making this new venture work, Wolf: Innovate, don't emulate. Innovate, don't emulate. Innovate, don't...
BLITZER: I get the point. Thank you very much. Excellent advice from Jeff Greenfield.
To our viewers, we try to bring you the news raw, unfiltered sometimes. Sometimes it isn't pretty, as I've been saying. Ali Velshi had a great idea to show us how an oil refinery works earlier in our program. It didn't quite work as planned. We have our fingers crossed this time, Ali, that it will.
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: I'm heavily staffed now. We've got our interns, Nevin (ph) and Amy (ph), with us right now.
Now, the point is, my refinery, that I showed you earlier, was offline. That's exactly why gas prices in this country are high, and I, like most of the major oil manufacturers, am working now -- there, you see it? Do you see that -- this is crude oil that I'm pouring in -- it's actually coffee -- and it's coming out as gasoline and there -- I've got it to work.
There is no news value to this, Wolf. I'm not going to pretend there is. This is now just about preserving my ego.
BLITZER: Hey, Jack, what do you think about this?
CAFFERTY: I think this is the kind of stuff they teach you to do in therapy class.
VELSHI: It's been very therapeutic, to be able to get to the end of the -- end of the show and be able to -- Zain, are you listening to this?
VERJEE: I have...
BLITZER: Go ahead, Zain.
VERJEE: I am actually, and I'm wondering, did you come up with this all by yourself, Ali?
VELSHI: I suspect that somebody invented how to do this a long time ago, but I learned today. And you know what, in learning, you just get a little better at the whole thing, and now it's the weekend, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, the weekend. Have a great weekend to all of you, all of our staff. We're in THE SITUATION ROOM weekdays.
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT starting right now, Kitty Pilgrim filling in for Lou -- Kitty.
KITTY PILGRIM, GUEST HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Hi, Wolf. Thanks.
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