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THE SITUATION ROOM

Iraqi Leaders Delay Constitution Draft; Cindy Sheehan Getting Non-Profit Help in Her Protest; John Roberts Papers Reveal Thoughts on Wage Equity; Conservatives Hold Rally for Roberts; Schwarzenegger Affair?

Aired August 15, 2005 - 16:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's bring back CNN's Ali Velshi in New York. The closing bell is happening right now, Ali.
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Right now. Two seconds away. Let's take a look at what's happening on the Dow and the NASDAQ. The Dow -- there's your closing hammer at the NASDAQ, at the New York Stock Exchange. And we are looking at a close 35 points lower -- 35 points higher, Wolf. I'm so used to saying lower -- 10,635 seems to be the number over there.

And over at the NASDAQ up 10 points to 2,167. As always, those numbers settle in over the course of the next little while, but generally a positive day on market -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Ali Velshi, we'll be checking back with you. Thanks very much.

It's 4:00 p.m. here in Washington. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where news and information from around the world arrive at one place, simultaneously.

Happening right now, one woman's antiwar protest in the president's back yard becoming a cause celebre. It's 3:00 p.m. in Crawford, Texas, where peace mom Cindy Sheehan is attracting big names and big money.

Another twist in the John Roberts paper trail. Does the latest document dump provide new insight about the Supreme Court nominee? Are there any bombshells? We're standing by.

Arnold Schwarzenegger's tabloid problem. It's not the kind you might think. It's 1:00 p.m. in Sacramento, California, where the governor is facing questions about his ties to a publishing company and whether hush money was involved.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

First, it's midnight in Baghdad. It had been the time for a deadline for drafting a new constitution, a crucial next move for that country, and for America's hopes of bringing home our troops. But as we reported just minutes ago, that deadline is being pushed back.

Let's go straight to the Iraqi capital, CNN's Aneesh Raman, to update our viewers on all the dramatic developments of the past 45 minutes.

Aneesh?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, conceding the inevitable, Iraq's transitional National Assembly voting unanimously to amend the law and extend the deadline to have a draft constitution written until next Monday, essentially admitting that they could not find compromise on those key issues of federalism and the role of Islam.

They were to have met first at 6:00 p.m. today, Wolf, local time. Twice delayed. They were to have then met at 10:00 p.m. An hour passed. No one entered the room. Finally, they poured in, including the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, as well as the president, the speaker of the National Assembly, who then called for a vote. All the hands went up in the room, applause as they were able to finally reach agreement on the fact, Wolf, that they could not agree on anything else on this constitution, essentially as it came down to just a half an hour away from what would have been a huge political crisis.

This government, if it had not taken action today, would have been dissolved, would have been a caretaker. A new government would have come in at the end of the year to start this all over again, Wolf.

BLITZER: We had heard in the days leading up to this deadline, Aneesh, especially from U.S. officials, that a failure to get this draft constitution in place by this deadline, tonight's deadline, would encourage the insurgents, the terrorists with their attacks. Getting the draft constitution would undermine the insurgency.

What are the officials saying where you are in Baghdad?

RAMAN: Well, there's almost two issues for them. One is the just political reality. For many of them this was a near-impossible timeline, a brief period to write a constitution that has a permanent legacy with so many issues on the table and with such volatile histories among those taking part in the conversation.

They are aware, though, of what the signal is to the insurgency, and to the outside world, and to the Iraqis, Wolf, who now will question the legitimacy of this government's ability to reach compromise and keep this timeline moving.

They now are locked into next Monday. If it gets delayed any further, it really brings into question the ability of this government to govern and to move forward the political process.

This, though, a concession that they really couldn't do it. They tried until the last minute, just a half hour away from the deadline to reach a compromise, and it could not be done. All the will in the world, all the public statements in the world could not make this happen, Wolf.

BLITZER: Aneesh Raman in Baghdad. Thank you very much. Let's get some administration -- Bush administration reaction. For that we're joined by our White House correspondent, Dana Bash. She's at Crawford, Texas, outside the president's ranch. What is the reaction so far, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, we don't have specific reaction yet to this which just happened. We're waiting for that and I will definitely give it to you when we get it.

But I can tell you that this is not a welcome thing at the White House, to say the least. This is a deadline that they were very intent on making, and there's a good reason for that.

That is because the whole White House strategy on Iraq has been to say while the violence is still occurring -- certainly they recognize that the insurgency is still very strong, maybe even growing -- they have been able to say that the democratic process, the political process on getting a government up and running is on track and that they are meeting their deadlines.

That's why even you heard from the U.S. ambassador to Iraq this weekend. He was putting even public pressure on them to get it done. So this is something that is going to be quite disappointing at the White House.

BLITZER: And what's the latest, Dana, on Cindy Sheehan, that mother who lost her son in Iraq who's been protesting not far from where you are in Crawford, Texas, over these past few weeks, and those protests were pretty widespread over the weekend? What's going on today?

BASH: Well, Wolf, they were pretty widespread over the weekend, both pro- and anti-Cindy Sheehan protests, if you will.

Today, what Cindy Sheehan is trying to do is essentially keep the focus on her, on her cause. And she even had a move which a White House official even said to me they thought was kind of clever. She said today that she wanted the president to come at the end of the week and pray with her. She also said today that she is going to call for a candlelight vigil on Wednesday night. And Wolf, she is getting the help doing all of this from very sophisticated war -- antiwar groups and paid professionals.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I need you all to back up one step.

BASH (voice-over): Paid help from Fenton Public Relations, a firm associated with liberal causes, helping manage and maximize Sheehan's anti-Bush message. Footing Benton's bill, a blank check from True Majority, founded by the guy who brought you Chunky Monkey, Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's.

Despite the help, Sheehan insists...

CINDY SHEEHAN, ANTIWAR PROTESTOR: They are working for me and my message. They're not taking over anything. I'm in charge here.

My name is Cindy Sheehan.

BASH: Sheehan's Gold Star Families for Peace paid to air this ad in Crawford for just $15,000, funded by online donations, easier to spring for when other costs are absorbed by new friends.

SHEEHAN: Every need I have has been met mostly by the Crawford Peace House.

BASH: Just days ago the Peace House, a liberal beachhead in conservative Crawford, couldn't pay bills. Now contributions are pouring in to support Sheehan.

JONATHAN WOLF, CRAWFORD PWACE HOUSE, SHEEHAN SUPPORTER: We've gone from a brand-new account to over $84,000 in three maybe four days.

BASH: Anti-Sheehan protesters are here now. Some call her a liberal pawn.

DON DOIKER, BUSH SUPPORTER: I think there are some groups that have gotten hold of her and are just directing her like a puppet.

BASH: Pressed about support from partisans, Sheehan bristles.

SHEEHAN: Get off the politics. You know, the war is -- this war is not a partisan issue. This war is wrong, whether you're a Republican or Democrat. Nobody asked my son, "Are you a Republican? Are you a Democrat?" before they sent him to die in an illegal war.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BASH: But Wolf, she has been weighing in on issues beyond Iraq. She called Israel's -- quote -- "occupation of the Palestinian land" something that she does not support. Today, Wolf, though, she came out and said that making those kinds of statements took her off-message. That was a mistake and she's going to get more of a focus now on her mission, which is, she says, trying to get the troops home from Iraq.

BLITZER: All right, Dana. We'll stand by for getting White House reaction to this latest development in Iraq, the decision to extend for another seven to 10 days the effort to come up with a draft constitution.

Let's bring in our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield. He's following all of these developments.

Jeff, first of all, the Sheehan story, what do you make of what's going on?

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's one of those things in a media age, and actually for the last half century we've seen it with mass media, when an individual can kind of become an iconic symbol of something. But whether -- and also, by the way the fact there's a platoon of reporters in Crawford, Texas, Dana Bash being one of those enlistees or draftees, with not much news makes this something that's going to get a lot of coverage.

The idea that this is going to change a lot of minds, I think, is a different -- just a different prospect. Not just become this has become politicized. She's backed by MoveOn.org, by people who have long held strongly negative views about Bush and the war in Iraq and war in general.

But also, because I think for most people, the idea that when a mother loses a son, a parent loses a child, we can understand, any of us who is a parent, how that dwarfs every other consideration. But logic tells you that's not necessarily proof that a war is wrong.

And so I think this in and of itself doesn't change a lot of minds. It may underline people who already didn't like the war and didn't like the president -- which is not to say, Wolf, that the president isn't in some very serious trouble on Iraq. It's just not because of this, I think.

BLITZER: And how does this failure to meet tonight's deadline for this draft constitution play into all of this?

GREENFIELD: That's where I think you're seeing part of a genuinely troublesome period of time for the president.

Look, the country has turned very negative on the war in Iraq. They disapprove of the president's conduct of it. And more to the point, according to our most recent poll, most Americans think the war in Iraq was not worth fighting, that it has made us less safe.

Remember, that's the linchpin of Bush's argument: we've got to fight them over there so we don't fight them over here. And now according to an A.P. survey of a couple of weeks ago, more people think the president is not honest and trustworthy than he is, which is the underlying political strength he's always had.

And when you see things like the failure to reach agreement that, as Dana pointed out, the White House has been really strongly committed to, you add to that the fact that one military official says anonymously, well, we can start pulling out troops. Another one two days later contradicts it. And then the president says we might need more troops.

When you see people on the president's side of the political aisle, like Congressman Walter Jones, turning against the war from North Carolina; "The Weekly Standard," a very influential conservative magazine, more or less calling on Donald Rumsfeld to be fired, because he's speaking defeatist language.

Here, I think, is where there is trouble for the president of a serious kind, not the symbol of one anguished woman who lost her son, who we can all sympathize with. But you know, to me, that's -- that's not nearly as important as the fact that events on the ground are turning people, I think, even some of the president's allies, against the war.

BLITZER: Jeff Greenfield, our senior analyst. Jeff, thank you very much.

Now the latest installment of the John Roberts files. Almost 5,400 more pages now in the public domain. And as you'd expect, activists for and against his nomination to the high court are going over them with a fine-toothed comb.

So are journalists, including our own congressional correspondent, Joe Johns. He's joining us from outside the National Archives here in Washington.

Any major surprises so far? I know these are a lot of documents to go through, Joe, but what are you seeing so far?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Can't really say anything was that surprising, Wolf. When you look at all these documents, as you said, thousands and thousands of pages, nothing shocking on the critical issue of abortion. Anecdotes really, for example, on school prayer. Of course, we learned today that Roberts was critical of prohibiting prayer in public schools.

But also on the issue of gender equality in the workplace. There was an interesting exchange of documents that was very revealing from more than two decades ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): Buried in more than 5,000 documents newly released by the National Archives, a highly critical assessment by John Roberts of the approach to gender equality on worker wages known as comparable work, equal pay for equal work, regardless of job description.

It was the winter of 1983. Roberts was associate counsel at the White House under President Ronald Reagan. After a court ruling in Washington state that found women to have been paid less than men holding jobs of comparable worth, three Republican members of the House -- Claudine Schneider, Nancy Johnson and Olympia Snowe, who's now in the Senate -- wrote a letter asking the administration to refrain from getting involved in the case.

John Roberts prepared two memos on the issue for the White House counsel. In a writing dated February 3, 1984, he slams the concept -- quote -- "It is difficult to exaggerate the perniciousness of the 'comparable worth' theory. It mandates nothing less than central planning of the economy by judges."

And then a little over two weeks later, he writes of the members of Congress seeking to defend the comparable worth concept -- quote -- "I honestly find it troubling that three Republican representatives are so quick to embrace such a radical redistributive concept. Their slogan may as well be 'From each according to his ability, to each according to her gender'."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: Of course, now Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine comes from a state that's been targeted by both sides in the battle over John Roberts. Apparently the administration deemed this important enough to give her a heads up that these documents were on their way into the public domain. Apparently, that call came sometime today.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Joe Johns, outside the National Archives here on a hot, steamy day in Washington. Joe, thanks very much.

Now it's your chance to sound off once again on stories we're covering here in THE SITUATION ROOM. CNN' Jack Cafferty is in New York with the "Cafferty File" once again.

What's the question this hour, Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: We may create a run on bows and arrows here, Wolf. We're approaching the fourth anniversary of 9/11, and the government, apparently, is getting ready to perhaps ease up on some airport security measures.

The Transportation Security Administration will decide later this month if they should left the ban on passengers carrying razor blades, small knives onto airplanes. If approved, the changes will also allow scissors, ice picks and the aforementioned bows and arrows.

It was box cutters, you'll recall, that the 9/11 hijackers used to take over those ill-fated aircraft.

A TSA spokesperson told CNN today that she didn't know if box cutters were going to be on the list being considered and perhaps approved, but -- quote -- "Box cutters are not what's going to bring down a plane in this day and age. The passengers wouldn't let that happen."

Where do they find these people? They're not getting them at a Mensa meeting, are they? The box cutters are what were used by the -- anyway, the government out there working hard to protect us.

The measures would also cut down on the pat down searches and having to remove your shoes, which I've had to do a couple of times. The question this hour is, should people be allowed to carry razor blades and small knives onto airplanes? CaffertyFile -- one word -- CNN.com. Share with us your thoughts.

BLITZER: And just to -- just to underscore, we're not making this up, Jack. Our Mary Snow is over at LaGuardia Airport. That would be in New York City. She's got a full report on this in the next hour, but we're going to get the e-mails this hour. Jack, stand by for that. Thanks very much.

And coming up, religious conservatives in search of justice. What was the driving message of their big Sunday church event, and did some Supreme Court -- did the Supreme Court nominee John Roberts get lost along the way? Candy Crowley has more on that.

Also ahead, Lance Armstrong getting a powerful new biking partner. Will it be an uphill or downhill ride?

And guess who's serving dinner at the White House? The newly named chef who's making history.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back.

In the culture wars this Monday, the conservative group Progress for America announced a 14-state two-week tour promoting Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. Roberts' friends, former colleagues and legal experts will barnstorm the country in the lead up to his confirmation hearings, schedule to begin September 6.

Many Roberts supporters turned out yesterday for the church-based event Justice Sunday II.

Let's bring in our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley, who's watching all of this. That event did not necessarily turn out to be all about Judge Roberts, did it?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It didn't. It started out long ago, it was sort of conceptualized as a time to talk about Judge Roberts. The problem has been along the way, as you know, there have been a couple things that have become worrisome to conservatives in the party.

We certainly didn't hear any negative John Roberts talk, but we heard things like, well, it would appear that he's non-controversial, or so far he seems to be all right. Obviously, there were some on the right that were concerned about the news that John Roberts did some pro bono work for a gay rights group that won a landmark Supreme Court decision, but I think it's more what they don't know at this point.

So there's some caution there that perhaps there wasn't before. They're waiting on the hearings. They certainly weren't opposed to him, but this was not a rah, rah. Let's all go do it for John Roberts.

BLITZER: So there's some concern, at least there's some concern he could be, from their perspective, another Justice Souter, David Souter, someone who -- who went in with high expectations from the conservative perspective but didn't turn out like that.

CROWLEY: Exactly. I mean, there's some hesitation there. It's pretty clear.

BLITZER: What about the Senate majority leader, Bill Frist? He was so prominent at this first rally they had -- it was only about a month or so ago. At this one, I take it he was invisible?

CROWLEY: Wasn't there as a matter of fact. Look, certainly if we extrapolate here, what we find is that Bill Frist did go to Justice Sunday I. It created quite a controversy, as a matter of fact. But he obviously, if he runs for president, this has been a man that has courted the conservative part of the -- conservative Christian part of his party.

He then comes out and takes a new position on stem cell research, allowing broader embryonic stem cell research than most conservatives, many in this group, would like. He doesn't come to this one.

Now what are we told? We're told, well, he was at the last one, so he didn't really need to be at this one. But you can certainly read in that and don't even have to extrapolate, because they said beforehand they're very unhappy with Senator Frist about the stem cell research decision.

BLITZER: Do they have plans for a third such rally? Or is this it?

CROWLEY: I can imagine they do have plans, but right now I'm not sure they're on the drawing board.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Candy.

It's been a rough year politically for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Will new allegations make it even rougher? Coming up, we'll go live to Los Angeles for what could be the California governor's newest political problem.

And hail to the saxophonist. The former president, Bill Clinton, putting out his own CD. That's right. We'll tell you what tunes are on the disk.

And later, this woman making history over at the White House. There she is. We'll tell you what's going on.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here are some of the hot shots, the pictures coming in from the Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your newspaper tomorrow. Take a closer look at those.

CNN's Zain Verjee is standing by at the CNN Center in Atlanta for a closer look of some stories making news right now.

Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, a Muslim cleric in California's Central Valley is being ordered deported to Pakistan. The man was among several arrested in June in the town of Lodi near Sacramento, all accused of belonging to a terrorist cell. Two other men have already been ordered deported.

A manhunt is under way in Pontiac, Michigan. Four men escaped from police custody at the courthouse there. There are reports as many as three of the men were captured soon after. It's not really clear what charges the men were facing, but there are unconfirmed reports at least one was accused of murder.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon addressed his nation just a few hours ago, saying the pullout from Gaza is painful but essential for Israel's future. Israeli soldiers are handing out eviction notices to thousands of Jewish settlers, telling them they have until Wednesday to leave voluntarily or be removed by force.

The voice and flight data recorders from the 737 that crashed in Greece will be examined in France for clues. All 121 people died when the Helios Airways flight from Cyprus to Athens slammed into a mountainside north of the Greek capital. The coroner says tests show that six victims were alive when they went down, but they were not necessarily conscious. Investigators are looking into whether the airplane suffered a catastrophic loss of cabin pressure. Autopsies are under way.

Japan's prime minister is expressing what he calls keen remorse and heartfelt apologies for his country's role in World War II. Junichiro Koizumi's remarks come in a statement marking the 60th anniversary of the end of that conflict. He also vows the country will never again take what he calls the path to war.

BLITZER: And straight ahead in THE SITUATION ROOM, American Media. It's the company that publishes the "Star" and the "National Enquirer" tabloids. Now it's in the spotlight, and so is California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The details coming up.

Protecting U.S. troops in Iraq. The Pentagon speeds up the delivery of armored vest plates, but how long will it take before all troops have the new gear? We go live to the Pentagon at the top of the hour.

But next, he just won the Tour de France for a seventh straight time, so what does Lance Armstrong do next? The answer moments away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's time now for our "Political Radar". This Monday, the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan said the president of Mexico, Vicente Fox, was right that the Mexican immigrants in the U.S .take jobs that -- quote -- "not even blacks want."

Farrakhan's defense of Vicente Fox puts him at odds once again with many other African-American leaders who had urged Mr. Fox to apologize for what he said.

The first cyclist is getting ready for the ultimate joyride. President Bush is expected to go mountain bike riding this weekend with the world's top cyclist, Lance Armstrong. The seven-time Tour de France winner says riding with the president is a dream scenario for him. Mr. Bush has become a cycling fanatic, since he had to give up jogging because of a knee injury.

Speaking of presidential pastimes, saxophonist and music lover Bill Clinton is getting his own CD. It's a compilation of some of his favorite tunes, including John Coltrane's "My One and Only Love" and Judy Collins' "Chelsea Morning." Clinton's library and museum are working together to put out the CD, expected to go on sale in about a month.

Thousands of pages of documents shedding new light on Supreme Court nominee John Roberts. We'll talk about that in our "Strategy Session." That's coming up.

Also, details of a major change over at ABC News following the death of Peter Jennings.

Plus, they're among the top dangers facing U.S. troops in Iraq. The hunt for homemade bombs known as IEDs, improvised explosive devices. We'll show you what's going on. That's coming up in our next hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Just to update our viewers, only in the past hour the Iraqi National Assembly voted to postpone the deadline for approving a draft constitution. That deadline had been set for 4:00 p.m. Eastern, just a little but more than a half hour ago, but it's going to be another seven to 10 days before they say they can get their draft constitution in place. Let's talk about that and more in our "Strategy Session."

Joining us, our contributors Donna Brazile and Bay Buchanan. Did the U.S., Bay Buchanan -- let's get to this in a second. But on this delay, is this a big deal or little deal for the president of the United States?

BAY BUCHANAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think the delay itself is not a big deal at all. Wolf, the key is that what comes out of this process is something that Americans can support and be proud of. The president talks about democracy over there. We want to make sure this constitution is indeed moving in that direction. But I think it's also important to note seven to 10 days, no problem, even 30, 45 days, but it has to be on track so we have elections in December. I think that's the bigger number day.

BLITZER: If the Iraqi people want a Shiite-led Islamic fundamentalist state and they democratically want that, the majority -- I'm just asking the question -- is that something the U.S. could tolerate?

BUCHANAN: No, I would throw back the question, can the United States have troops overseas fighting to defend the establishment of a government which we would absolutely oppose? No, I don't think we can do that. I think the president has a real problem, is what's in the constitution and it's done in a timely enough manner so we have elections in December.

BLITZER: That's a question, though, that's increasingly being asked, Donna. How does the president deal with that? Because from the U.S. perspective, it's a very worrisome development.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, I'm sure the president is on the phone right now with his ambassador trying to get a political assessment so to speak what's holding it back, why the delay, and whether or not they can resolve some of the outstanding issues over the next seven to 10 days. I don't think they'll resolve all the issues in 10 days, but perhaps they'll get this process back on track, so they can have elections in October and of course what follows in December. But this is clearly a setback for the administration.

BUCHANAN: I think the administration may even be involved in making certain we postpone it rather than to move heard with the way they were going, to be quite honest. We've heard in the last two other three weeks the kind of development, that they were moving in a direction that we were not comfortable with. Much better to wait the seven to 10 days. I think we may well have been behind that.

BLITZER: Certainly if waiting a few days can achieve a better constitution than putting something out right now, it makes an enormous amount of sense.

BRAZILE: Especially for women, because the administration over the last six months has been talking about Iraqis making progress for women. This has been sort of the centerpiece of a model democracy for women in the Middle East. And all of a sudden we've heard in the past couple days that women may have been placed on the sideline or even on the back burner. That's a problem also for the administration.

BLITZER: I guess the other fundamental question is, if Iraq deteriorates into a Kurdish state in the north, a Shiite-led state in the south, and something in the middle, is that good -- breaking up the territorial integrity, the national identity of Iraq, is that something, if the people want to do that, that the U.S. should accept?

BUCHANAN: I think we have to fight to keep that from happening. I think we use our clout, our presence there, their ability to form this government with us there helping them, defend themselves will be the clout we have to use to make certain that doesn't happen. Because, if you remember correctly, we supported the existence of Iraq so that Iran would not win that war, so we would have that as a whole country there, as a buffer zone. For us to have that break up and have Iran very likely join forces with the Shiites would be a terrible, terrible development.

BLITZER: This is really a crucial moment right now. Because if you take a look not only at what's happening in Iraq, but from the president's perspective his poll numbers, when things seem to be going relatively well in Iraq, his poll numbers improve. When things deteriorate and lots of Marines and soldiers are getting killed and it looks like a fundamentalist state could emerge, his poll numbers are going to go down. So he's got an enormous amount of stake on this issue probably more than any other issue.

BRAZILE: Especially given the fact that the administration said this would a cakewalk, it would be a walk in the park, this would be an easy victory. And now some 1,800 lives lost and thousands maimed. There's no question the administration is suffering because of all of these setbacks, and of course, the potential of civil war if they can't bring this country together. BLITZER: Let's talk briefly about Cindy Sheehan, this grieving mother who lost her son in Iraq and this protest movement that has emerged outside the president's ranch. What about the whole -- what about the latest twist in this story from your perspective, Bay? What do you make of it, the political problems the president has, in so far in refusing to meet a second time with her?

BUCHANAN: I think the problem here, Wolf, is she's out there, obviously a great tragic figure, having terrible difficulty dealing with the death of her son, and our hearts go out to her.

But the president has a difficult position, too. If he were to go in there -- now that the media has made this the center of the antiwar movement, and many liberal groups are joining forces. If he goes out there, then there is just going to be another one next week, another one next week, so I think he has to be cautious about what he's done. He has met with the family. He has shown real compassion for her, but I'm not sure it's in his best interest at this stage.

BLITZER: Who came up with the idea for Cindy Sheehan to go outside the Crawford ranch where all those White House reporters are sitting around, they don't have much to do right now? So politically it was a pretty good maneuver.

BRAZILE: From everything indication I've read on blogs and people down there, this was her idea to go to Crawford. She said, look, he'll be there for five weeks, why not just pay him a visit and see if he'll meet with me. I think the president has met his match. This is one determined, stubborn woman, who is willing to sit out in that ditch until the president comes out and meetings her, or invites her over for a cup of coffee.

BLITZER: All right. We'll leave it right there. But we'll continue these discussions down the road. Donna Brazile, thanks very much, Bay, thanks for coming in as well.

Coming up here on the SITUATION ROOM, controversial carry-ons. Razor blades and small knives on planes once again? We've been telling you about the suggestion. Now let's get your thoughts. Jack Cafferty standing by with your e-mail.

And guess who's cooking in the White House kitchen? It's a first, happening to a woman. We'll tell you what happened.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get right to CNN's Zain Verjee at the CNN Center in Atlanta. She's following several important stories.

Zain?

VERJEE: Wolf, in Chicago, hundreds of people including many VIPs turned out for the funeral of John Johnson, the pioneering publisher of "Jet" and "Ebony" magazines. Among those attending, former President Bill Clinton and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. Johnson's magazines provided the country's first positive look what was then a new black middle class. He died last week at the age of 87.

A new era and new name for ABC's flagship newscast. The network says it's droppings Peter Jennings' name from "World News Tonight." The long-time anchorman died last weekend from lung cancer at 67 years old.

You're looking at the end of a tense standoff in the Georgian capital Tbilisi. Police say five men stormed a pawn shop and took employees hostage. It ended with a shootout in which one policeman was wounded.

Wolf, back to you in THE SITUATION ROOM.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Zain. Let's find out how all of our viewers, or at least many of our viewers, are responding to the question this hour. Jack Cafferty is standing by in New York with the "Cafferty File". Jack?

CAFFERTY: You know, it just occurred to me, Wolf. It would be news if ABC decided not to take Peter Jennings' name off the nightly newscast, since he is no longer among us.

BLITZER: But they waited several days to do this.

CAFFERTY: Well, you know, corporations can respond just like that.

Transportation Security Administration will decide later this month if they should lift the ban on passengers carrying razor blades and small knives as well as ice picks, bows and arrows, and scissors onto planes. If approved, the changes would allow passengers to bring things onboard that haven't been allowed since September 11.

The question is this, should people be allowed to carry razor blades and small knives on the airplanes?

Police Officer Jennings writes, "As a cop who used to work in the airport, I can tell you any decision made by the TSA is based on facts that are wrong or simply made up. Box cutters were used on September 11. And they'll be used again if allowed to be carried onboard. But then again, that's TSA, which stands for 'Thousands Standing Around'."

Sort of like "UN" which we think usually stands for "Usually Nothing."

And then Mike in Atwater, California, "Is there a flight out there that lets you cut boxes in mid-flight instead of watching a movie? If people want to bring a blade with them, they ought to check it."

Millard writes, "The 9/11 hijackers were successful because they gained entry to the cockpits. That cannot be done now. That is why security restraints should be relaxed as proposed. Tell the full story, Cafferty."

And Dan in Los Angeles writes, "Can the U.S. government be any dumber? Yes. See border control and the war in Iraq for details."

BLITZER: Just to remind our viewers, Jack, these are just proposals. None of this has been implemented by the TSA.

CAFFERTY: No, no, they're just thinking about doing it. And I suppose there's some logic to the idea they've secured these cockpits. But then again do you have an idiot terrorist with a box cutter doing the kinds of things they did on those plane? On September 11, they butchered people with those things. What's the point? Why do you need a box cutter on an airplane anyway? What do you use it for?

BLITZER: Maybe when you get to where you're going you have to open boxes.

CAFFERTY: Okay, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll talk about it. Mary Snow is over in LaGuardia Airport and she has a full report on all the details of this proposal. That's coming up in the next hour. Thanks very much, Jack.

Coming up, Arnold Schwarzenegger and the tabloids. We'll go live to Los Angeles for some new developments.

Also ahead, a growing danger for U.S. forces in Iraq. Roadside bombs. A huge danger. We'll have the latest on this often deadly program and why it's actually getting worse.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: In California this hour, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has yet another controversy to contend with. It involves the publisher of the "National Enquirer" tabloid, allegations of an affair, and hush money.

Donna Tetreault is joining us from Los Angeles. She is following this story. Donna, what's going on?

DONNA TETREAULT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, according to the woman who was reported to have an affair with Governor Schwarzenegger, no affair ever happened. But she says there was a deal made with the tabloid publisher American Media.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TETREAULT (voice-over): According to biographer Lawrence Leamer, who details a deal for Gigi Goyette that he says was for her to keep quiet about her relationship with the now governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Prior to the election, he says the long-time friend of Schwarzenegger was paid thousands by the tabloid publisher American Media to keep quiet about an alleged affair.

LAWRENCE LEAMER, BIOGRAPHER: She definitely told she was paid. She was given a wire transfer of $20,000 and I have seen the contract, I have a copy of the contract. It explicitly says $20,000. And it explicitly says she is never to talk about her relationship with Arnold Schwarzenegger to anybody else. TETREAULT: Goyette denies the affair. She says she and Schwarzenegger were nothing but friends and co-workers, but she does admit to the payment.

GIGI GOYETTE, ALLEGED TO HAVE HAD AN AFFAIR WITH SCHWARZENEGGER: I didn't feel I was being bought to be quiet. Just basically they were saying to me let's not talk about anything until after the election. It's a sensitive time right now.

TETREAULT: In 2001, American Media reported in its "National Enquirer" magazine that Goyette had a seven year-long affair. Several phone calls to the company have gone unreturned. The governor had this to say.

QUESTION: Did they cover up an affair?

GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, (R) CA: Not that I know of. You have to ask them. I have nothing to do with that.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TETREAULT (on camera): Another note, according to Lawrence Leamer, America Media had a financial interest in Schwarzenegger. At the time, the soon to be governor, was set to receive at least $5 million to work as executive editor of two fitness magazines owned by the company. Just last month, though, Schwarzenegger ended his million dollar deal with the company. Legislators and watchdog groups claim the part-time arrangement was a conflict of interest. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Donna Tetreault with that. Thanks. Donna is in L.A.

The Bush administration is trying to bring diversity to an inner sanctum of the White House. That would be the kitchen. First Lady Laura Bush is getting kudos of choosing the first woman and the first minority to be the chef in chief at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Our national correspondent Bruce Morton is joining us with some food for thought, shall we say, Bruce?

BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, people have been speculating here in Washington, it is August, and it is kind of slow, about who the new chef would be. But we should have known.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (voice-over): When Laura Bush said of her husband, I would really like for him to name another woman, she was talking about the Supreme Court vacancy. And he didn't. He nominated John Roberts.

But when she got to make the choice, she did. The new chef is the first woman, Cristeta Comerford and the first ethnic minority, a naturalized citizen who came here from the Philippines. She will be in charge of this place, with five employees, up to maybe 25 for state dinners. These pictures show them getting ready for the egg roll, no pun intended. But one of the Filipino national dishes she may want to try on the Bushes is lumpias, a kind of Asian egg roll, shrimp or chicken vegetables wrapped, sometimes served with sweet potatoes.

Well, maybe not. She will show off at big state dinners, but she'll also cook supper for the first folks. Mrs. Bush, they say likes Mexican food. Enchiladas, maybe a mole. The president's favorite, White House staffers say, is cheeseburgers. No problem cooking those for the family, but if the president ever decides he wants that at the state dinner, she may have a problem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MORTON (on camera): 500 people, say, what do you do, stand there and say, well done, line up over here, you medium rare guys go that way? That could be a crowd scene worth remembering.

BLITZER: All right. Let's hope we're all invited to have some of those excellent meals at the White House. Thanks very much, Bruce Morton for that.

Here in THE SITUATION ROOM we're plugged into almost everything that's happening online. Our Internet reporters Jacki Schechner and Abbi Tatton are back to take us "Inside the Blogs". What's happening right now, Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's a story you're familiar with, Cindy Sheehan's plight continues on-line. She is blogging at the Huffington Post, this is Ariana Huffington's big old celebrity blog, we like to call it. And she has got day nine at Camp Casey.

I also want to show you a new blog we found, crawforduptdate.blogspot.com. There's some photos outside of Crawford, Texas. You can see the press interest, the national press interest and the local press interest how many reporters are standing by and taking photographs and interviewing Cindy Sheehan right now.

It's not just in this country. We're looking at Iraqi bloggers earlier today, looking for stories and accounts of what's going on with the draft constitution out there. We actually found Cindy Sheehan's story out there in Baghdad. This is Iraqthemodel.blogspot.com, started by a couple brothers out in Baghdad. They're both dentists, Omar Muhammad, posting out there since 2003. And then today they have a message to Cindy Sheehan. This is a blog that's generally pro-American, pro-the U.S. presence and efforts in Iraq, and a very post that goes along with that. If you look, the most precious value in this existence, that is freedom. They're saying that's what Casey Sheehan died for, that she should not feel desperate about this struggle.

ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just for fun, Wolf, we did decide to plug her name into Google one more time just to see if it picked up any steam. In fact, it had. Go to google.com, one of the big search engines, and put in Cindy Sheehan and what you end up getting, 1.4 million hits for Cindy Sheehan. That means Google has sent out a mechanism, a spider they call it, to track how many people are talking about Cindy Sheehan or referencing her in some way. We did plug your name it, by the way, and you're still hovering around 250,000, so apparently you didn't do anything huge over the weekend that Google picked up on.

BLITZER: That's good news for me. I don't know what the situation is for Cindy Sheehan, but I want to use these opportunities to explain to our viewers some of the information you're providing how you're getting it. And a lot of our viewers have no clue about the Internet, no clue about blogging, search engines. Jacki, explain in simple English what a search engine is.

SHECHNER: It's interesting you should bring that up. A search engine is a way to find things online. I don't have a real technical term for you. What I can tell you is sometimes when you're looking for something, you can put it into one of these search engines, we call it. It basically goes out onto the Internet and finds articles or sites or resources that will reference what it is specifically you're looking for. One of the stories we wanted to show you today actually came from a new little search engine we found you called leftyblogs.com. This was a collection of 500 progressive blogs or liberal blogs that really aggregate stories from all different states. Abbi found a really cool story, Wolf, out in L.A.

TATTON: There was one story that was out in L.A. that we really wanted to bring you, the power of the blogs there. This is Mayor Sam's Sister City. When Councilwoman Janice Hahn parked, or her car was parked in Los Angeles last week in a disabled spot, parked illegally, it was in an illegal spot. It was spotted by a couple bloggers who had a digital camera and posted those pictures online.

In their words, this was in clear violation of city rules and a true abuse of power. Other people posted pictures also of the car to verify that this was indeed the same license plate. And because of this blog, Councilwoman Janice Hahn had to give a statement saying, "I'm embarrassed, absolutely embarrassed," that she was called out in this way. She says she wasn't the one who parked the car, "It was something that I personally would never do." So the power of the blogs, you can't get away with anything anymore.

BLITZER: All right. Abbi and Jacki, thanks very much for that useful information. We'll get back with you.

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