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THE SITUATION ROOM

BTK Killer Sentenced to Life; FBI Seeks New Type of Agent; Senator Hagel Interview

Aired August 18, 2005 - 17:10   ET

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


(BREAKING NEWS DELAYED THE START OF THIS SHOW)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Pat Brown is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with us. She's a nationally known criminal profiler. These are heart- wrenching stories we heard from these family members. I want to first of all get your reaction to what we just heard.

PAT BROWN, CRIMINAL PROFILER: Well, I think my reaction is, this is actually happening all over the United States every day because our serial homicide problem is terrible. We rarely catch these guys. We have an abysmal closure rate, like these families have experienced for 31 years. He wasn't caught for 31 years. They've suffered through three decades and now that he's been caught, there are still other serial killers out there.

So when we listen to their story, we ought to realize there's families everywhere in the United States suffering the same thing unless we improve our homicide investigation and our conviction rate.

BLITZER: When Dennis Rader spoke to the court earlier, just a little while ago, before the judge before the final sentencing, he made several weird statements to put it mildly. Very, very sick. Let's have a little excerpt. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DENNIS RADER, BTK KILLER: I knew after I talked to the police that the evidence, there wasn't any way I was going to get out of this unless we found some way of some evidence that was just totally ...

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: How do you -- what do you make of what we heard him say to the judge.

BROWN: That there's no way out? Well that -- he did get himself in a little bit of trouble there. But what's interesting is we were told on this particular day by the prosecution that we were going to hear the state's case -- the evidence against Dennis Rader. We actually haven't heard it. We've heard him tell the stories of what happened. We've heard more about what happened at the scene. But yet we haven't seen the evidence linking him to each and every one of these crimes.

BLITZER: Yesterday some of the law enforcement authorities did testify before the judge. BROWN: They testified, but we didn't get the specifics and we weren't shown the specific pieces of evidence that are linking him to each and every crime and each crime to each other, for example, the Bright case, what the evidence is to prove he committed that particular homicide. We aren't seeing that.

And what I think he's particularly saying, they've got me on something. So I'm definitely going down.

Now whether he committed each and every one of these cases, all 10, we won't know unless that's proven.

BLITZER: He's confessed to all of that.

BROWN: Of course. Absolutely. He likes to confess. He'll confess to 10 more if you give him a chance.

BLITZER: Listen to this excerpt. Go ahead. Roll it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RADER: Thanks. I can't believe the people that have helped me on this. Starting with -- I think that you in society have to, even though I'm a criminal, I think you have to appreciate the police department. They've done a lot of work. Even though it took a long time, they gathered evidence. They had the evidence pointing at the key suspect, they zeroed in on him very rapidly.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BITZER: It almost sounds, Pat Brown, like he's acknowledging in a book at the beginning of the book or getting an award at the Golden Globe Awards, according to the prosecutor. He's going through and thanking these people.

BROWN: Absolutely. He's a police wannabe. He's always been a police wannabe. Many serial killers are. They actually like the whole concept of the police doing the investigation and looking for them. That's part of the thrill of the power and control. He already knows he's going to prison for the rest of his life. He can say anything he wants. After all, everything is about Dennis Rader, isn't it?

He's a narcissist. Everything has to do with what he gets a kick out of. He enjoyed listening to the families today. He enjoyed people presenting evidence. He enjoys anything because it's focused on him.

What they really need to do is put him away and not let him contact anybody in the public ever again. But my guess is that's not going to happen. We're going to hear from him, unfortunately, over and over in the future.

BLITZER: Unfortunately, indeed. Pat, thanks very much.

Jack Cafferty has been weighing some of the responses to his very provocative question that he put out there earlier. Give our viewers a sense of what our viewers think. JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question we posed, Wolf, is how should BTK killer Dennis Rader have to spend the rest of his days -- assuming he has very many left? And I kind of doubt that to be the case.

Here's what some of you are saying. We're getting just a tremendous amount of mail.

Judith in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, writes, "This man should not be televised. His statements should be made to a closed court. He obviously is enjoying the publicity. He sounds like he's accepting a gold watch for retirement. I don't think anyone should cover him because it only encourages other monsters who crave attention."

We get this from Teresa in Honolulu, Hawaii, "The media's coverage of Dennis Rader's sentencing hearing must give him a great deal of satisfaction. You're right. The hearings should have been done in a closet. To give this man so much attention is dangerous because it must encourage other monsters like Rader to seek notoriety. Thank you for speaking out so strongly against the media's extended coverage."

Dan in Phoenix writes, "Confined and forgiven. He's the product of a society that we must all take responsibility for creating."

Chuck in Decatur, Illinois writes, "Hallelujah! Finally somebody that has some media time has voiced what the vast majority of Americans feel about sensational journalism that permeates the news over and over and over ad nauseam. We're sick of it. Don't care to hear about all the little details. Don't want to see the perpetrator in court."

Finally, Scott writes from Florida, "I spent time in a prison back in the 1970s. I know the hate that we inmates felt for this kind of inhuman being. Let him go to prison. He won't last long. In fact, I doubt he'll last as long as Jeffrey did." Meaning Jeffrey Dahmer.

We'll read some more in a little while, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. I've been getting swamped with e-mails myself over the past few minutes since you had your last appearance on our program. Almost all of the viewers, Jack, you'll be happy to know, are totally in support of your position. They're very, very angry out there. There's a lot of outrage and you're certainly reflecting that.

Quick question to you. You say we should not have taken this live, this coverage. What about newspapers tomorrow, magazines, radio --should they be reporting on what happened in Wichita, Kansas, today?

CAFFERTY: A printed account of what went on in the courtroom is entirely different than letting television cameras carry this mutant live into people's living rooms when they're clicking around looking for some news and be confronted with this deviant creature, this bad seed. If I want to pick up the newspaper tomorrow and read about this stuff, that's an option I have. I just think it's wrong to give a guy like this a platform. His whole career as a mass murderer, a serial killer was built on the publicity and attention he got by being more clever and playing cat and mouse with the police. And we just played right into his hands along with the court which allowed the cameras in and everything.

I just think it's wrong. Who cares about this clown? Lock him in a hole and forget about him. Throw the key down a toilet.

BLITZER: All right, Jack. We're going to get more viewers' e- mail. Stand by for that. The "Cafferty File," Jack Cafferty in New York.

We're following lots of other news. We haven't forgotten that. Still ahead, defiance in Gaza. The clashes as Israeli police forces move against those Jewish settlers and their supporters. We'll go there live. CNN's Guy Raz standing by as, well CNN's John Vause. The Gaza clashes next on THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Some of the scenes from earlier today in Gaza, where Jewish settlers and their supporters who had come into Gaza clashed with Israeli soldiers, police who were removing them. Illegal for Israeli Jews to be in Gaza right now. All of them -- many of them are now out.

Let's get details and turn to what has been a huge story in the Middle East right now. They're virtual ghost towns right now, but a little bit earlier today, a pair of settlements were battlegrounds in a civil war, not bloody but very violent nonetheless.

CNN's Guy Raz is live at the settlement of Neveh Dekalim.

But let's begin with CNN's John Vause, he is at the settlement of Kfar Darom. John, give our viewers a sense of what has happened today.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, right now, the Israeli army and the police are packing up. Any moment now, they will leave and they will lock the gate, and Kfar Darom will join a growing list of Jewish settlements in Gaza officially declared evacuated. Within the last hour rabbis here removed the Torah scrolls from the synagogue. It was a silent, solemn procession, in stark contrast to the events here earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mainly, what you see here, they are not settlers. They are not living here. So you can see a lot of professional protestors which came from all over.

VAUSE (voice-over): The police finally have access to the synagogue building.

The first police officer now going up the ladder to try to bring down these protestors. Obviously, it appears that the ultimatum has come -- come down without a fight or be carried out. They are looking at if they are ready to come down, but not peacefully.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE (on camera): Kfar Darom was going to be one of the toughest, and the Israeli government now says that this evacuation sends a message to any other settlement which was considering a violent confrontation. Don't.

Wolf?

BLITZER: So are all the settlers and their supporters where you are right now in Kfar Darom, are they out?

VAUSE: As best as I can tell, Wolf, everyone in this settlement -- there are about 500 people who lived here. There are about 1,000 or so other supporters. They have now left. They have packed up. There was a procession around the settlement. One last look, if you like, before they left.

And very soon, within the next few minutes, the Israeli army and the Israeli police will leave. There will be some soldiers to remain here to secure the settlement, but for the most part, Kfar Darom is now evacuated.

Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. John Vause in Gaza, thank you very much for your terrific work. John Vause reporting for us.

The largest Jewish settlement in Gaza is also now evacuated. Israeli troops and police dragged out protestors who had barricaded themselves inside a synagogue. It was dramatic, very dramatic earlier in the day.

CNN's Guy Raz is still there in Neveh Dekalim in Gaza. What's the latest there now, Guy?

GUY RAZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Neveh Dekalim's settlement is now completely abandoned. Just a few hours ago, broadcast over the public address system here in this settlement, prayers for the dead. But in the final moments of this settlement, strife, as well.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAZ (voice-over): The conflict is within now. For 60 years, Israel battled its Arab neighbors. Today, Israelis battled one another. Brother versus brother. Jew against Jew.

Jews don't expel Jews, the demonstrators shouted, using words as a weapon -- words that strike right at the heart of the national consciousness. Some shouted as they were carried away. Others went, but most simply walked out onto the buses and out of Gaza.

Police didn't want to storm this synagogue, but the demonstrators inside, opponents of the Gaza withdrawal, refused to leave.

(on camera): It's not just about activists versus soldiers, but a reflection of a wider struggle in Israel, religious versus secular -- a struggle that's been played out throughout Gaza during this process.

(voice-over): A struggle some in Israel believe was long overdue. But it stirs questions, conflict, strife. Those who made their last stand here regard Gaza as part of Eretz Yisrael, the biblical land of Israel. Removing them, they say, defies the will of God. But though their struggles are fierce and their voices loud, their will is not backed by most of their countrymen. The majority just wants out of Gaza, no more bloodshed, no more fighting -- just quiet. Peace and quiet.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAZ (on camera): Wolf, more than two-thirds of Gaza settlements are now completely evacuated. The Israeli government believes the entire process could be over by the end of next week.

Wolf?

BLITZER: What happens during the Jewish Sabbath which begins Friday night and continues until Saturday night?

RAZ: Wolf, this is why the Israeli police and soldiers were in a real hurry to evacuate these synagogues today because they want to suspend all of the evacuations by tomorrow at noontime.

Of course, many of the settlers are religious. They don't drive on the Sabbath. They don't use electricity. They observe the Sabbath in the synagogues at prayer. So they wanted to get this process done immediately in order to give the soldiers and the police two days of rest beginning tomorrow at noon local time.

Wolf?

BLITZER: And is there any estimate how many settlers and their supporters remain in Gaza right now that still have to be removed?

RAZ: Well, by our reckoning, probably less than 1,000 now. There's one large settlement, Netzarim. It's right in the heart of the Palestinian Gaza Strip. That's the last major settlement to be evacuated. In addition to a few others, that settlement is expected to be evacuated on Monday. Again, it could be a difficult settlement. A hard-line settlement with many recalcitrant opponents of the government's plan to withdraw its citizens from this strip of land.

Wolf?

BLITZER: Guy Raz, thanks very much for joining us. You've been doing an excellent job.

We're getting a story in from Crawford, Texas. CNN White House correspondent Dana Bash is standing by. Dana, what's happening? DANA BASH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Well, we just got word that Cindy Sheehan is actually leaving Crawford temporarily and it's only because she just got word about 15 minutes ago that unfortunately, her mother had a stroke. Her mother, by the name of Shirley Miller, 74 years old actually lives in Los Angeles. And Cindy Sheehan is going to go back and see how she's doing. We're told that they believe at this point the stroke was not life-threatening. She was taken to the emergency room. She's going to come back they hope soon and they say everything is going to go on here as planned.

Wolf?

BLITZER: I believe we will have, Dana, some -- an excerpt of what Cindy Sheehan just told reporters. Let's roll that. Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CINDY SHEEHAN, SON KILLED IN IRAQ: We just had a terrible phone call, my sister and I. My mom just had a stroke. So we'll be going back to Los Angeles. So I'm going to assess the situation. If I can, I'll be back. If I can't, I won't be back, but I will be back as soon as possible. Until then, we have other Gold Star moms here, Gold Star family members, military families to speak out and they'll continue the mission while we're gone.

QUESTION: When are you leaving, Cindy?

SHEEHAN: As soon as possible.

QUESTION: How old is your mom, Cindy?

SHEEHAN: My mom is 70 ...

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: We -- her mom's in her 70s. That cut out just then. Going into this very sad development, the mother of Cindy Sheehan having a stroke, Cindy Sheehan now getting ready to fly back to California, what was going on today, Dana? Because yesterday when we spoke, they were getting ready to move that protest location.

BASH: Well, they're sort of in the process of doing that. They say it's going to be a slow move. In fact, it probably won't be complete until Saturday. Tomorrow, Friday, they had planned to have a prayer service. You remember Cindy Sheehan had tried to invite the president to come. The White House made it pretty clear he's not going to do that. That is going to take place at the current site. Again, apparently they are still going to try to go on with that.

But you just heard her say she does have to go back. She was standing there with her sister, Deedee Miller, she is somebody who actually came here to Crawford almost two weeks ago with Cindy Sheehan. It was almost basically just the two of them to try to knock on the president's door and try to talk to him about the war in Iraq.

So both Cindy Sheehan and her sister apparently will be going back to -- going to Los Angeles to see how her mother is doing.

BLITZER: I know over the weekend, Dana there were another half a dozen Gold Star mothers who had come to Crawford, mothers who had lost sons in the war in Iraq. Do you have any idea how many other mothers who have lost sons are still there in Crawford?

BASH: It's hard to tell, Wolf, because what's essentially happening here is that there are sort of a core group of mothers -- I can tell you maybe about 10, maybe a little bit fewer who have been here. There are people who are kind of coming in and out. It's kind of a natural flow, if you will. People come, they see Cindy, they say hello to her. And some of them just sort of go on their way. Some stay for a couple of days.

I can tell that you over the past several days at any given point, maybe there were 30, 40 people there, a few more last night because they had this candlelight vigil that they staged here and across the country. But I would say in average, maybe 30 to 40 people at any given time.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Dana Bash, reporting that Cindy Sheehan is heading back to California. Her 74-year-old mother has had a stroke. Cindy Sheehan leaving that protest site near the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas, heading back to California. We wish her mother a speedy recovery.

In this post 9/11 era, new threats require new tactics. Coming up, we'll tell you how the FBI is responding with a new recruitment effort. Our Kelli Arena will be live over at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Virginia. That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The 9/11 attacks exposed the failures of U.S. intelligence and counter-terror operations. The FBI is trying to attract a new type of agent to deal with the new threats of a post- 9/11 world.

Our Justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, is over at the FBI Academy in nearby Quantico, Virginia, with more. Kelli, tell our viewers what's happening there today.

KELLI ARENA, CNN AMERICA BUREAU: Well, Wolf, the FBI is definitely after a new breed of agents -- linguists, scientists, people with computer skills. Just before I was over at the shooting range and those agents present a new challenge. The -- one of the instructors I spoke to said that they -- most of the people he's training have never even held a gun in their lives. Very different from the former military and law enforcement types that he's used to training.

Right now, we're at Hogan's Alley. It's a mock village where agents are trained in real-life situations. We're going to see a training exercise right now. Tell -- This is Bobby -- Bobby Tillman, supervisory special agent. Tell us what's going on.

BOBBY TILLMAN, FBI SPECIAL AGENT: Well, The agents have been surveiling an accomplice of a suspect that we were looking for.

ARENA: The suspect on the right?

TILLMAN: The suspect is on the right. The accomplice comes and picks him up...

ARENA: Hello.

TILLMAN: ... And they execute a car-stop to contain the subject.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FBI. You're under arrest. Get your hands out the window.

ARENA: Now, these are senior agents, right? These are not new agents.

TILLMAN: Correct. These are senior agents working in the task- force setting and they actually are working from different agencies, working together.

ARENA: So, what is going on right now? Have they done exactly what they're supposed to do?

TILLMAN: Exactly. What they wanted to do was contain the movement of the vehicle. The front car came, blocked it in and then once they contain the vehicle, then they want to control the subjects.

First thing they want to do is control the subjects' hands as they're doing -- get them out of the vehicle one at a time. And once they get them out of the vehicle, start bringing them back to a safe zone.

ARENA: Now, the man in the car now is not their fugitive, right?

TILLMAN: Correct. That's the subject that they -- that's the accomplice that the agents have been surveiling up to this point.

ARENA: Well, they got this -- they did this rather quickly.

TILLMAN: Yes. And that's what we want. We want it to go down as fast as possible to prevent them from escaping.

ARENA: Fugitive still in the car.

TILLMAN: Yes.

ARENA: OK. But you've got the guy in the back just in case he's armed.

TILLMAN: Correct. Because at this point, we don't know if they're armed or not.

ARENA: All right.

TILLMAN: And once they get the accomplice back and get him controlled, handcuffed, get him out of harm's way, then they'll start giving commands to the subject in the vehicle.

ARENA: Now, this group of men that you have here is headed out for a trip tomorrow you told me, right, to South Africa?

TILLMAN: Yes. A few of us are going out to South Africa to conduct some training for the South African police.

ARENA: So, this is just getting them ready for what they're going to be doing over the next week or two.

TILLMAN: Correct. We'll be conducting the same type training to the South African police. We conduct this type of training not only to the new agents, but to senior agents and law enforcement officers from around the world.

ARENA: Now, new agents probably make a lot of typical mistakes. What is a typical mistake that a new agent would make in this situation?

ARENA: Well, new agents, they're not accustomed to handling the vehicles. They're not accustomed to taking cover. So, they'll normally not get the vehicle up in time to contain the subject vehicle. They won't be in positions of cover. They won't bring the subjects back to the positions to where the handcuffing should take place.

But those are things we try to encourage and teach them what to do, so by the time they leave here, they will be doing it the right way.

ARENA: Well now, you have 18 weeks of training. So, from week one to, you know, week 18, do you really see a phenomenal difference in the way that they handle themselves?

TILLMAN: Definitely. Definitely. From week one to week 18, it's almost like night and day from the time they walk in the door until the time they walk out. By the time they walk out, they're conducting vehicle stops and other arrest techniques similar to this, in the same fashion as experienced agents.

ARENA: All right. So now, let's see. What do we have going on? Reach over the car. All right. So then, they're cuffing -- they're cuffing the fugitive.

TILLMAN: Right. They've gotten the fugitive out of the car and they're cuffing him. And once they get him in a safe place, then they will continue to clear the car to make sure there's no one else in the vehicle at that point.

ARENA: All right. So, this went off without a hitch, Wolf. You know, new agents probably would've had a little more trouble with this situation. Right, I mean, what are you going to do? But you can see FBI agents at work. Lots of new energy here at the academy, Wolf. It is a new day.

BLITZER: Well, thank you very much, Kelli. Please thank the FBI for letting us get a little insight into what's going on over there. Good stuff. Appreciate it very much.

ARENA: I will do that.

BLITZER: Kelli Arena is our justice correspondent. Zain Verjee is joining us once again from the CNN Center in Atlanta, with a quick look at some other stories making news. Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf.

There's no let-up in the violence in Iraq. The U.S. military says four U.S. soldiers were killed today by a roadside bomb in Samara. That's a very volatile religiously mixed city about 60 miles north of Baghdad. The soldiers were from a unit based in Tikrit.

Police in Provo, Utah, are trying to identify the bodies of four people found dead in a cave. Police say the two women and two men had been exploring the cave early this morning and tried to swim through a narrow channel to reach an underwater opening, but apparently they couldn't get out.

It was a real-life soap opera on the set of the soap opera "Guiding Light." The New York-based show says the cast was quarantined after mercury spilled on the set. The substance spilled from a cracked blood pressure device that was part of the show's fake emergency room. Six fire engines and a HazMat team showed up to collect the mercury.

And it's a first for his papacy. Pope Benedict XVI is in Cologne, Germany, today on his first foreign trip since becoming pope. The pope is there for World Youth Day.

Wolf?

BLITZER: Zain, thanks very much. Zain Verjee at the CNN Center in Atlanta.

Coming up, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel. He's taking on President Bush once again. He's mincing no words in his comments about Iraq, the anti-war movement, Cindy Sheehan and the president's response. Our interview with Chuck Hagel, that's coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a quick look at some of the hot shots coming in from the Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow. These are Palestinian militants in Gaza. They're clearly celebrating the Israeli withdrawal.

And check this out. A Jewish settler holding her child as she's escorted away.

In Germany, Pope Benedict XVI arrives for World Youth Day.

And in Los Angeles, a 6-year-old joins protesters in support of Cindy Sheehan.

A baby giant panda at the National Zoo gets some health examinations as well.

Pictures likely to be in your newspapers tomorrow.

Republican Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska has been known to come out swinging on the subject of Iraq, putting him at odds with President Bush and his top advisers. With growing pressure on the president to bring U.S. troops home, I spoke with Senator Hagel just a short while ago.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Senator Hagel, thanks very much for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Let's get to some controversy first. Your Democratic colleague from Wisconsin, Russ Feingold, the senator from there, suggesting that the U.S. -- the Bush administration put a firm deadline for getting all U.S. troops out of Iraq by the end of next year.

What do you say about that?

SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), FOREIGN RELATIONS CMTE.: Wolf, I have never thought that firm deadlines, any artificial timetable for withdrawal from Iraq or any other area of combat is a wise course of action. I would not support that.

However, I do believe that the United States will be withdrawing troops from Iraq next year. But I don't think we want to set these deadlines for many reasons.

One is I don't think we ever want to tie the commander-in-chief's hands on something like this. There are many uncontrollables, many different factors that will play into this, are playing into it.

But the fact is these next six months are going to be very critical in Iraq, not just the constitution writing, referendum, the election, but also within that six months' period, we're going to see whether the Iraqis are really going to be capable of defending themselves, governing themselves and supporting themselves.

And I don't believe after three years there -- we've been there two-and-a-half years -- that we can sustain a continuation on the same level that we are now, nor do I think we should.

The fact is, the bottom line is the Iraqi people will determine their future, not the United States.

BLITZER: Feingold says this. Among other things, he says, "There is a deepening feeling of dismay in the country about the way things are going in Iraq." And he goes on to say, "I think not talking about end games is playing into our enemy's hand."

In other words, he says it would be better for the troops just to set a date, let the Iraqis know that the United States is going to pull out and they're going to have to get the job done themselves.

HAGEL: Well, I think Senator Feingold has a very important point there.

As I've just said it, maybe in a different way, the fact is the Iraqis will determine their future. And that means that they are either going to have to be in a position sometime next year to really step up in governing themselves, defending themselves, supporting themselves, or we can't continue to stay there indefinitely.

I mean, the casualties we're taking, the billion dollars a week we're putting in there, the kind of commitment we've got, we're not going to be able to sustain it. Public opinion won't allow it. I don't think it's a wise thing to do.

We are seen, unfortunately, as occupiers by most of the people in Iraq now, in the Middle East. We have put our troops in a very difficult spot. Every day that goes by, they're going to be in a more and more difficult spot.

But I don't like timeframes, because it gives the president no flexibility, and I think you always must have flexibility in these things and a judgment call by the president.

BLITZER: You caused quite a stir back in June in those comments you made in "U.S. News & World Report" when you said, "Things aren't getting better; they're getting worse," referring to what's happening in Iraq. You said, "The White House is completely disconnected from reality. It's like they're just making it up as they go along. The reality is that we're losing in Iraq."

Do you still stand by those comments?

HAGEL: Well, I do, Wolf. It gives me no great pleasure to have said that and to say that now. But as Henry Kissinger wrote in the "Washington Post" a week ago, we're going to have to come up with some measurement of progress.

All I can do is, based on the matrix and the measurements that are plain to the American people -- are casualties rising? Yes. We lost four more people yesterday, four more the day before. Yes. They're increasing at a very significant rate: more dead, more wounded, less electricity in Iraq, less oil being pumped in Iraq, more insurgency attacks, more insurgents coming across the border, more corruption in the government.

So how do we measure this? Are we winning or are we not winning?

And Kissinger was right in his piece. There must be some measurement here of where we are. Are we making progress or not?

We had to see, unfortunately, a seven-day delay in the constitution being completed. I think it is important that the end product be the most important thing, but it is disconcerting that we're having to see these deferrals. And maybe we'll get to a point here where that constitution is applicable, is workable, is relevant, is acceptable.

BLITZER: Senator Hagel, after your comments in "U.S. News & World Report," I sat down with the Vice President Dick Cheney and I asked him about what you said. Listen to this exchange that we had.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD B. CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The fact of the matter is the town has a lot of people in it who are armchair quarterbacks or who like to comment on the passing scene. The bottom line is...

BLITZER: Chuck Hagel is...

CHENEY: Wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Do you think the vice president is wrong?

HAGEL: Well, it was the vice president who said a couple of months ago that the insurgency was in its last throes. I didn't say that; the vice president said that.

The fact is -- the facts speak for themselves, Wolf.

Maybe the vice president can explain the increase in casualties we're taking and all the other issues that I just addressed. If that's winning, then he's got a different definition of winning than I do.

BLITZER: What are your thoughts on this woman, Cindy Sheehan, who lost a son in Iraq and has been protesting outside the president's ranch in Texas, wants another meeting with the president?

You lived through Vietnam. You were decorated. You served during the Vietnam War.

Do you see a parallel emerging now on the home-front as to what happened now and then? And should the president meet with Cindy Sheehan?

HAGEL: Well, there is no question there is a parallel emerging here between Iraq and Vietnam.

I have said from the beginning, and still say, there are a lot of mostly dissimilarities, but there are some similarities. And the longer we stay in Iraq, the more similarities will start to develop -- meaning essentially that we are getting more and more bogged down, taking more and more casualties, more and more heated dissension and debate in the United States as evidenced by the situation in Crawford.

So, yes, absolutely. You now have peace demonstrations all over the country. We just had them in Nebraska. You're going to have more and more of them. And it's coming from -- not all cases, but many cases like the mother of the fallen soldier in Crawford from the parents of these young men and women who have been killed.

As to, should the president see her? I do know that he met with her and other families prior, but I think the wise course of action, the compassionate course of action, the better course of action would have been to immediately invite her into the ranch. It should have been done when this whole thing started. Listen to her.

These are tough situations. Certainly, the president takes no joy from seeing these casualty lists. I know that. I think all Americans do. But I think she deserves some consideration, and I think that should have been done right from the beginning, the president seeing her.

BLITZER: Senator Hagel, we've got to leave it right there. As usual, thanks very much for joining us.

HAGEL: Thanks, Wolf. Thank you.

BLITZER: And coming up, Jack Cafferty is getting tons of e-mail from you, our viewers, on the BTK killer. We're going to go to New York. The "Cafferty File," that's coming up.

Plus, the pain of the pullout for Israelis. It's a deeply traumatic conflict. We'll show you some simple still pictures that capture this day's extraordinary emotions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's been an extremely emotional day in Gaza that's been captured in some very compelling pictures. Zain Verjee takes a look. She's joining us once again from the CNN Center. Zain?

VERJEE: Wolf, we've witnessed some of the most intense moments of confrontation in the modern history of Israel. We want to show you some of the still pictures that were captured, and they captured those moments of drama and trauma.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE (voice-over): Their pain comes through so clearly in these images. Not the physical pain, although there were violent confrontations. It's the emotional pain of those being forced from a land that they believe was given to them by God.

This historic move has pitted Jew against Jew, in many cases youth against youth. The ordeal is hard on some of the young Israeli soldiers as it is on the settlers and their supporters.

At least the adults can comprehend. The Jewish children, whose parents chose to defy the order and stay in Gaza, can't. Confusion is written on their streaked faces. They can only watch, helplessly, as the only world many of them know crumbles around them. And they are led with their parents into an uncertain future.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: These have been difficult moments for the people of Israel. Though the withdrawal has divided Israelis, most actually support it.

Wolf?

BLITZER: Zain, this is sort of a microcosm of the bigger struggle that's part of this region.

VERJEE: Yeah, it is. You know, we talked to a number of analysts today, who said really, when you witness the struggles and the confrontations today, what you're seeing are two separate visions for the future of Israel.

On the one hand, the government and most Israelis are saying, you know what, it's just not worth it. It's not worth it economically, and it puts way too many people at risk.

And then on the other hand, you have the settlers and their supporters, who say it is incredibly important, critically important for the security of Israel, and this is our land, given by God.

BLITZER: Zain Verjee at the CNN Center. Thanks, Zain, very much.

We're also getting some dramatic firsthand accounts of what's going on there from the Web. Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, checking the situation online. Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. We're seeing that division of Israelis in the blogs, as well. Blogs like this one, JoeSettler.com. These are people who have been going into the settlements, trying to help, trying to protest. But those protesters not always getting a warm reaction from other Israelis.

This is On the Face. This is Lisa, who's from Tel Aviv. She's gone into the settlements this week. She was reporting from one of them that used to have only 40 people, and just recently swelled to 150, as people in her description, religious right teenagers from the more extreme settlements on the West Bank, from Jerusalem and Brooklyn, flooded in. And she's saying some of them treating it like this was their Woodstock. So not always positive reaction, Wolf, from Israel there.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Abbi.

And coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we've been talking about it all hour, for the past several hours. The BTK killer's crimes, his punishment. What do you think? Jack Cafferty is standing by with your e-mail.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: "This Week in History", beginning August 15, 1969, a milestone in the history of rock n' roll, when thousands gathered for three days of peace, love and music.

JIMI HENDRIX, MUSICIAN (singing): Purple haze is in my brain...

ANNOUNCER: On August 16, 1977, Elvis Presley was found in his bathroom, and pronounced dead that same day. Said to be the King of Rock n' Roll, Presley was most known for his hip-thrusting moves and earthy singing style. Presley died at the age of 42 in Memphis, Tennessee.

And that is "This Week in History".

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty has been reading your e-mail. Let's go to him live in New York. Jack?

CAFFERTY: Richard in Seattle writes this, Wolf: "Dennis Rader should serve his life sentence in solitary confinement, without reading material, writing material, television, radio or a computer that might help him pass the time of day or night. He should not even have a light bulb in his cell. Can they do that?"

Kai in Greenwich, Connecticut: "For the first time, I find myself in utter agreement with Cafferty in his condemnation of the mainstream media's moronic, sickening coverage of the BTK killer. Despite much feigned outrage on the part of breathlessly excited reporters, the media's obsessively lurid sensationalism continues to elevate serial killers to celebrity status."

Ed in Virginia: "I think Mr. Cafferty should be fired for badmouthing CNN for covering the sentencing. He's an employee of CNN. Be quiet and do your job."

Marge writes: "I agree with everything you said regarding this monster. I personally wouldn't watch the court proceeding. Maybe your executive should ask you what should be aired." That will happen.

And Greg writes: "Jack, it's important for people to see what evil really looks like. Not enough of them get CNN, and therefore can't use you as an example."

BLITZER: I think overwhelmingly, though, Jack, a lot of our viewers agreed with you. Thanks for telling us how you really feel. You do every day. Jack Cafferty with the "Cafferty File." Appreciate it very much.

We're in THE SITUATION ROOM weekdays 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. I'm Wolf Blitzer.

LOU DOBBS TONIGHT starting right now. Lou standing by in New York.

END

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