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THE SITUATION ROOM

Hurricane Katrina Heads into Gulf; Darfur Still Suffering; Iraqi Constitution Still Stalled; False DNA Evidence?

Aired August 26, 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 just after 5:00 p.m. here in Washington and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where news and information from around the world arrive in one place simultaneously.
We're following several stories around the world. We got ITV coming in from Britain, CNN Plus coming in -- our Spanish network from Spain. CCTV, the communist television network in China. Channel 2 coming in, Israeli television. We're keeping an eye on all of them.

Happening right now, 5:00 p.m. South Florida, mopping up in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. But the hurricane is already eyeing new targets and picking up lots of steam.

It's 1:00 a.m. Saturday in Baghdad, where one last compromise offer to get a draft constitution is on the table. Can pressure from President Bush ease Iraq's constitutional crisis?

And it's 11:00 p.m. in Paris. The latest allegations against Lance Armstrong drawing an angry answer from the superstar cyclist.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Hurricane Katrina is now prowling the Gulf of Mexico. It's a Category 2 storm, with winds topping 100 miles an hour. It's almost certain to strengthen and strike again. In fact, we just heard, it is strengthening. It could, in fact, be a hurricane Category 4 when it makes landfall Monday.

In South Florida, six deaths already blamed on the storm. Residents are trying to deal with what Katrina left behind. We'll get the latest forecast from our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras. She's watching the storm.

But let's go to CNN's Rob Marciano. He's in Miami-Dade County in Florida with a quick, on-the-scene look. Rob?

ROB MARCIANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, winds and rains have tapered off. We've actually seen some glimmers of sunshine. But obviously, the flood waters remain here in Cutler Ridge, which is just south of Miami by 15 miles, but a full 40 miles south of where the eye came ashore last night. Rains heavy here? Yes, you bet. Fifteen, 18 inches estimated on the Doppler radar.

But winds were a big issue with this storm as well. Thank goodness it's moved away from South Florida, but it's going to spell trouble for other folks. We took pictures, and here is what the situation looked like earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO (voice-over): Many Miami residents woke up to this. Their streets, their backyards swallowed by water. More of the same for blocks and blocks.

Hurricane Katrina lashed South Florida with up to a foot of rain and 80-mile-an-hour winds.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: We've asked for a federal disaster declaration for Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

MARCIANO: A Category 1 hurricane when it hit land, Katrina was still powerful enough to slice the wing off an airplane and crack concrete. An overpass under construction near Miami collapsed.

LT. ERIC BAUM, MIAMI-DADE FIRE RESCUE: We got here in hurricane- force winds, just blinding rain coming at us.

MARCIANO: No one was hurt there, but several deaths were reported in Broward County, where falling trees crushed cars and some people.

SHERIFF KEN JENNE, BROWARD COUNTY, FLORIDA: The only reason you should be out in your car right now is if it's an absolute necessity.

MARCIANO: Snapped branches and limbs took down dozens of power lines. At the height of the storm, nearly a million and a half people had no electricity. Many of them still don't. Most businesses, government offices, and schools in South Florida are closed. Some people, though, found a silver lining, performing jet-ski stunts on neighborhood streets. Still, the hurricane anxiety is just beginning in Florida's Panhandle.

J. BUSH: The storm is coming. You have to assume the worst. You have to prepare as best you can.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARCIANO: The Florida Panhandle is just one of the spots that is anxious about this. Certainly, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi as well. These flood waters beginning to recede. But probably the biggest surprise, Wolf, with this storm coming in, we just forget how strong even Category 1-force hurricane winds can be, and there's damage across the entire southern portion of Florida today.

Back to you.

BLITZER: Rob, thanks very much. And we're now learning Katrina could really be picking up steam. Let's find out what's going on. Our meteorologist Jacqui Jeras standing by in the CNN hurricane headquarters.

Jacqui, pretty ominous the way Max Mayfield of the National Hurricane Center in Miami has just described what could happen. JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. The situation is looking much more ominous. And even just a few hours ago, Wolf -- this is breaking information, just in the last 15 minutes, of a significant change in the forecast track and the intensity of the storm when it makes landfall, expected to be even stronger now, possibly a Category 4. That has winds of 131 to 155 miles per hour. That can bring up storm surge -- that big wall of water that comes up and moves onshore -- anywhere between 13 and 18 feet. And this is a very vulnerable area of the coast. If it goes in the western quadrant, we've always talked about that nightmare scenario, what could happen if this hits New Orleans, as they are below sea level in some areas.

This is the change in the forecast track. It has it continuing on a west-southwest track, like it's moving now, probably for the next 12-plus hours, and then turning westward, eventually making a gradual turn on up to the north. The big difference here is that it's taking longer to make that northerly turn. So we're moving westward a little longer, and that's why we're seeing the shift in the forecast track.

Now, I have some computer models that I want to show you. This is what meteorologists use to help predict where the storm comes. And there are a number of different models that we look at on a daily basis. This is what the forecast models looked like this morning. This was from the earlier runs.

And you can see, some of the lines were bringing it up over Florida, some of them were moving over the Florida Panhandle, and one or two still bringing it over into parts of Louisiana. So we still weren't ruling that area out. But you can see the general consensus was bringing it into the Florida Panhandle, maybe, maybe over into parts of Alabama.

Now, we've got a new spaghetti model, as we call them, because it looks like noodles of spaghetti. And if the control room could kindly pull up the new one for us on the Web site -- this is courtesy of RightWeather.com. If we could get to that, I could show you the differences in the models.

There you go. There you can see the difference. All of those models are much, much farther to the west. There still may be one stray model that's bringing it into the Florida Panhandle. You're still into the cone of uncertainty. One brings it over central Louisiana.

But you can see a good handful of them bringing it in towards Biloxi, Mississippi. And so, the closer the models are together, the more confidence we have in our forecast. And it's looking like we have a pretty good consensus at this time.

Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Jacqui. Very ominous news for people. But they have a couple days to get ready. I suspect they're going to get ready very, very quickly. Appreciate it, Jacqui Jeras, for that.

And coming up, we'll speak live with the mayor of one of the hard-hit counties, Miami-Dade County. That's coming up. Remember, we'll have much more on where the storm is heading, the damage left behind. CNN is your hurricane headquarters.

Here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we can bring you lots of information simultaneously. Here's what's incoming right now. A two-alarm, maybe a three-alarm warehouse fire at a storage facility in a residential area in Ft. Lauderdale, as if they didn't have enough troubles there already.

There have been a few explosions from propane tanks. So far, no reports of injuries, but we'll watch this fire for you. A storage facility, a three-alarmer, in Ft. Lauderdale.

Time now for the "Cafferty File." Jack standing by in New York, once again. What's on tap this hour, Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf. The battle's on, evolution versus creationism. New polls show that Americans are equally familiar with both explanations of how we came to be, and roughly the same number of people believe each theory is true.

When asked which one, though, should be taught in public schools, evolution has a slight edge. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed said evolution should be taught in science classes; 54 percent said creationism should be caught in public school science classes.

Pollsters also asked about something called intelligent design, the idea that some sort of intelligent force must have had a hand in the creation of the universe. Depending on where you look, that's probably open for discussion. Forty-three percent supported teaching intelligent design in public schools. But 35 percent were unsure.

So here's the question for this hour. When it comes to evolution versus creationism, what is the role of the public schools? Email is CaffertyFile@CNN.com. CaffertyFile is one word. And we'll read some letters for you in about a half hour.

BLITZER: All right. Good question, Jack. Thanks very much.

Coming up, here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Iraq politics, in Baghdad and in this country, where President Bush's approval rating may have hit a record low.

Also ahead, who is behind the computer worm that recently disrupted major news organizations, including our own? The FBI helps make an arrest.

And Lance Armstrong's new challenge, fighting allegations that he used performance-enhancing drugs. Wait until you hear what he's saying.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: In Iraq today, more crisis. Lawmakers looked high and low for consensus on the draft constitution, but one negotiator summed up the current situation in two words: no compromise. The head of the Sunni Arab delegation says his group did not reach agreement with Shiite Arabs.

Still at issue, federalism and ridding the government of the former members of Saddam Hussein's Baath Party. Both are still unsettled at this moment -- this, despite a final compromise offer from the majority Shiites. One Sunni negotiator simply says his group is looking at that compromise over and over again. May respond tomorrow, it doesn't necessarily look good. The latest deadline negotiators had set for themselves has now passed. It was an hour ago.

The Shiite compromise offer came after a personal intervention from President Bush. The president called a top Shiite leader, urging him to seek compromise.

Let's get some more details now from our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux. She's near the president's ranch in Crawford, Texas. Suzanne, what happened?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Bush administration officials have been watching very carefully about the whole thing, the development that's unfolded here. The president, of course, being told about all of the happenings that are going on.

They recognize here that this is not only a credibility test for the Iraqi people, but also with the president as well. That is why he has gotten personally, directly involved in this process.

A White House spokesman, Trent Duffy, saying earlier today, confirming that the president, on Wednesday when he was in Idaho before he returned to the Crawford ranch, put in a very critical call that called the Shiite leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, to discuss the developments to see where they were in the draft constitution.

The main point of this conversation -- of course, we don't have details, but the main point of the conversation, to push for a consensus, to make the Shiites realize how important it is for Sunnis to participate, to be in the political fold.

They believe the more they participate, the more they're invested in their government. Then the insurgency will become weaker. This is something that the Bush administration strongly believes -- that if the Shiites go around the Sunnis, that would be a very big mistakes.

Wolf?

BLITZER: And what about the latest poll numbers? A new Gallup Poll just out today, not necessarily very positive news for the president, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Well obviously, what has happened here just within the last two weeks, we're seeing the latest Gallup Polls show this is a 5 percentage change here, and it is not in the president's direction. When it comes to job performance, this is 40 percent say they approve, but 56 percent say they disapprove. That has changed just over the last two weeks.

The Bush administration, of course, aware of poll numbers, aware that things are not necessarily going well. But again, President Bush out this week pushing for his message. He believes that there's a military track as well as a political track, that eventually, they will come together. He is trying to project a positive message. He'll be doing the same next week.

Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Suzanne, thanks very much. Suzanne Malveaux reporting for us.

Let's get analysis on today's important developments over the Iraqi constitution, or lack thereof. Joining us is Ken Pollack, research director at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, here in Washington.

Is this an impasse that can be resolved, or are they at a dead- end?

KEN POLLACK, RESEARCH DIRECTOR, BROOKINGS INSTITUTE: I don't think we know, Wolf, to tell you the truth. We've been hearing these rumors, little snippets here and there, from people who are involved in the negotiations. But the fact of the matter is, we keep hearing the term federalism.

Federalism means a lot of different things. And it means some very specific things.

Are we talking about oil revenues, and who gets the oil revenues in what percentages? Are we talking about the status of independent military forces, the militias, which are so important to the Kurds and also to the Shia? Are we talking about the role of the central government?

All of these things are wrapped up in the term federalism, so I don't think we know the extent of the actual differences and whether they could be breached at some later time.

BLITZER: But the key issue for the United States is if the -- let's say the Shia and the Kurds are on board. But if the Sunnis, who represent about 20 percent of the population of Iraq, if they're on the outside, and since the insurgency is largely fueled by Sunnis, this could be really an escalation of what some already say is a civil war, but it could really get out of control.

POLLACK: That's absolutely right. That's why if it does come down to it, this impasse can't be solved in the short-term, the constitutional committee dissolves and they have to go back to the drawing board to start again with new elections.

That actually isn't the worst case. The worst case would be exactly the scenario you've laid out. We could have a bad constitution that only the Shia and the Kurds accept, and the Sunnis go back to their community and basically say, it's war. BLITZER: From the Kurdish and Shia perspective, is this payback time? Because under Saddam Hussein's regime, those decades, the Sunnis really dominated and persecuted both the Kurds and Shia.

POLLACK: Absolutely, and there is a certain element of that going on. To some extent it's payback. Or you could put it in a different way, which is the Shia in particular finally see this as their moment to exercise control over Iraq commensurate with their demographic power.

BLITZER: The fear, there's a great fear that -- let's say the Sunnis do come along. What could emerge would be a fundamentalist Islamic state, where Islam is the dominant -- not only the dominant factor in the laws of the land, but the religion. And that it could be aligned at some point with Iran. Is that so far-fetched?

POLLACK: No, it's not entirely far-fetched. There are some very important groups participating in this particular process who do have a very fundamentalist view of Islam, would like to see Islam play a very big role in the new Iraqi state, and do have strong ties to Iran.

Again, it's one reason, interestingly, why the dissolution of this particular conventional committee might not necessarily be bad. If there are new elections, you might get a new group of Iraqi leaders who are comprised more of Iraqis who are internal to the country, as opposed to some of these exiles, who tend to be somewhat more fundamentalist in their perspective.

BLITZER: And presumably, if there were new elections, the Sunnis this time would participate, and they might have a greater stake, and have more at stake themselves in making sure the democratic political process were to work.

POLLACK: Exactly.

BLITZER: The U.S. ambassador in Baghdad, Zalmay Kahlilzad, he's playing a very important role, a very aggressive role, in trying to forge this deal. But how important is the U.S. in all this? Because the Iraqis themselves, when all is said and done, they're going to have to decide what they want to do.

POLLACK: Right. I think the U.S. is not unimportant, but we're not a critical actor here. You know, look, the president called up Hakim today, and it obviously didn't do the trick because there are bigger issues involved.

I think it's worth pointing out, I think actually Ambassador Khalilzad is doing a very good job. As best I can tell, he's handling his role very well, pushing the Iraqis, impressing upon them the importance of working things out and bringing all parties into it, but not insisting that they meet every single deadline, recognizing that having a good constitution is more important than having an immediate constitution.

BLITZER: Ken Pollack, thanks very much for joining us.

POLLACK: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens. We'll be watching every step of the way. By the way, the ambassador will be my guest Sunday on LATE EDITION. This Sunday at noon Eastern.

So where is Katrina right now? How strong is it? Coming up, we'll tell you where the hurricane is howling, where it's headed. I'll speak with the mayor of one of the hard hit counties, Miami-Dade County.

What should your children learn in school, evolution or creationism? We've been asking you that question. Jack Cafferty's been reading your e-mail. We'll check back with him. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The United Nations says it's struggling to feed Eritrean and Ethiopian refugees in eastern Sudan, and millions -- yes millions -- more Sudanese refugees displaced by the long civil war, the ongoing conflict. They're in danger right now. But frustrated leaders at a refugee camp in Sudan's Darfur region have told visiting U.N. officials security for its residents is simply a bigger problem right now than even food.

As CNN's Ryan Chilcote tells us, for the women and girls especially, there's no such thing as a safe haven.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RYAN CHILCOTE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Every time Miriam Ibrahim (ph) goes outside her refugee camp in Darfur to collect firewood, she risks her life and honor. Inside the privacy of her hut, she tells me something she's never told anyone else before. She was raped, she says, two months ago outside the camp's grounds. There were two of them, she says.

To fuel her stove, Miriam, a mother of six, collects small branches. Traditionally, her husband would be in charge of bringing home the larger logs. But he's been dead for more than a year, one of an estimated 200,000 men in Darfur killed by government-armed militia known as the Janjaweed, Arabic for "evil man on a horse."

The men who survived the Janjaweed's terror try not to go outside the camp at all. The French aid organization, Doctors Without Borders, says their aid workers alone treated 500 rape victims in Darfur over a four-and-a-half-month period earlier this year. But many women are too frightened or too ashamed to tell anyone, let alone the Sudanese police, who they say don't want to hear their claims.

Even inside the camp, the women aren't safe. All those we spoke with were being watched by young men wearing sunglasses, government spies, the women say. Even as I spoke with Miriam, they stood outside her hut. Miriam dismisses the idea of going to the police. What's the difference, she asks. They're the same as the attackers.

In what might seem a bizarre approach to protecting the camp's women, the United Nations is funding a program to produce stoves that will be twice as efficient as those used now. The idea, you'll have to go for firewood only half as often.

Miriam doesn't have one of the new stoves yet. Even if she did, she'd still have to make the trek, though she now goes in a larger group. Last week, she says, she and three other women were attacked on the walk home, but managed to escape.

Ryan Chilcote, CNN, Darfur, Sudan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: What a heartbreaking story that is.

CNN's Mary Snow's tracking some of the other day's headlines. Mary is checking in with us right now.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. More decisions today from the base closing commission. Some deep sighs of relief in a couple of states. The commission voted to keep Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota open. The recommendation effectively protects 4,000 jobs. Now, the panel also opted in favor of New Mexico's Cannon Air Force Base staying open, though operations would be reduced.

A 21-year-old Turkish man and an 18-year-old in Morocco are accused of creating and launching a computer worm that infected Windows systems at U.S. government agencies and companies this month. They were arrested in their home countries where the FBI says they'll be prosecuted. The worm crippled computer operations at several large news organizations, including the "New York Times," Associated Press, ABC, and yes, even here at CNN.

A new twist in the disappearance of Natalee Holloway in Aruba. Two brothers who were detained early in the investigation, then released, have been arrested again. Prosecutors say they have evidence that warrants taking Deepak and Satish Kalpoe back into custody. They say the Kalpoes are suspected of taking part in the premeditated rape and murder of the Alabama teenager. A third man has also been arrested.

And the Food and Drug Administration has delayed a decision on whether or not to allow non-prescription sales of a so-called morning after contraceptive pill. The FDA's commissioner says unique issues need to be addressed. He says public comment will be sought over the next 60 days. The FDA wants to determine if an age limit for buying the drug should be set and how it would be enforced.

BLITZER: Still ahead, it left Florida bruised and battered. Are other states now in its sights? Where will Hurricane Katrina hit next?

Lance Armstrong speaks out, answering tough accusations about performance-enhancing drugs.

And, a revolution over evolution. We'll hear your thoughts about what kids should learn in public schools. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Hurricane Katrina is now a Category 2. More than a million people still without power in parts of Florida. Here's a look at some of the pictures sent in by you, our viewers.

Pompano Beach. A mobile home park where one trailer took a beating.

This picture from Gigi Harrison in Marathon, Florida. She says - quote -- "We're getting slammed."

And this from Bruce Gilling. Boats smashed against power lines and bridges in Venetia Islands in Miami. Pictures from you, our citizen journalists.

Hurricane Katrina is now projected to swing to the west and may hit the Gulf Coast as a Category 4 storm. Back in South Florida, though, they're still assessing the damage from its first attack.

Joining us now on the phone, Mayor Carlos Alvarez of hard-hit Miami-Dade County. He's on the phone from the Emergency Operation Centers. Mayor, thank you very much for joining us. From your perspective, how bad was it?

MAYOR CARLOS ALVAREZ, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA: Well, I'm a veteran of Hurricane Andrew, so I've been through a couple of these storms. But it was significant. It was a Class 1 storm. We had sustained winds of 80 miles per hour, with some gusts up to 90.

But what this hurricane did was very unique. It entered -- it hit Florida on the northeast corner of Miami-Dade County and it basically cut the county in half. It exited on the southwest corner. So it basically went through the entire county, always maintaining hurricane-type winds. So it was a substantial storm. We planned for the worst and I think we were prepared for it.

BLITZER: Because a lot of people are already second guessing, they're saying there was a sense of underestimating what was coming. It was a tropical storm first, a tropical depression and eventually became a Category 1 hurricane, that local authorities really weren't ready. You dispute that?

ALVAREZ: Oh, absolutely, from the very beginning. And we've had at least, since yesterday at 7:00 in the morning, where we had our first press conference, I stressed the point that -- and at that time it was only a tropical storm. And I say only, because that's what people were saying. And I said any type of storm is to be taken seriously. A tropical storm is anywhere from 39 miles an hour to 73 miles an hour. Well, if you have 70 mile-per-hour winds, those type of winds are going to cause a lot of damage.

And we knew from the very beginning, and we told the citizens that it was going to be a very wet storm. That was a fact. So I think we got the message out, but I don't know. Sometimes people think that just because it's a tropical storm or is Class 1 hurricane and isn't a Class 4, that the damage is going to be minimal. And the fact is that any type of storm is to be taken seriously. BLITZER: Well that's good advice. Mayor, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck to all our friends in Miami-Dade County. Mayor Carlos Alvarez. He's got a lot of work to do.

Remember, CNN is your hurricane headquarters. We'll have continuing coverage all weekend of this hurricane.

Coming up, Lance Armstrong responds to doping allegations. We'll find out what the cycling champion had to say. His exclusive CNN interview with LARRY KING LIVE.

Plus, the record President Bush probably didn't want to set. What can he do about it? We'll tell I what's going on. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: LOU DOBBS TONIGHT getting ready at the top of the hour. Christine Romans, filling in for Lou tonight. Christine, what's on tap?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is what's on tap, Wolf.

Coming up at the top of the hour, late breaking information on the path of Hurricane Katrina.

Plus, the Dallas School Board's blow against assimilation. Dallas is now forcing some principals to learn Spanish, rather than force students and parents to assimilate into society and learn English. We'll have the debate on this controversial and growing issue.

Another new poll shows President Bush's approval rating at its lowest point ever as the president takes a politically risky move in Iraq. Can a personal appeal from the president avoid an Iraqi civil war?

And the great American giveaway. Stunning charges tonight that the Labor Department is hiding job postings from Americans and giving them exclusively to foreigners instead. We'll have a special report.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right. Christine, we'll be watching. Christine Romans filling in for Lou tonight.

The seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong is answering the latest allegation that he used performance enhancing drugs. Let's get some details.

Mary Snow's here in Washington on that. Mary?

SNOW: Well, Wolf, preposterous is the word Lance Armstrong used to answer these doping allegations. And he called the report slimy journalism.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SNOW: The French newspaper splashed the headline, "The Armstrong Lie". Lance Armstrong spoke out, telling Larry King in an exclusive interview there is no truth to a report in "L'Equipe" that he used a banned substance in 1999, the year he won the first of seven consecutive Tour de France titles.

LANCE ARMSTRONG, SEVEN-TIME TOUR DE FRANCE WINNER: I have never doped. I can say it again. But I've said it for seven years. It doesn't help.

SNOW: "L'Equipe" reported that a four-month investigation found that urine samples from Armstrong in 1999 showed traces of EPO. It's used to boost red blood cells, and is used for anemia patients. But it can also help athletes go long distances. Armstrong blasted the testing method.

ARMSTRONG: Do you think I'm going to trust some guy on in a French lab to open my samples and say they're positive and announce that to the world and not give me the chance to defend myself?

SNOW: On CNN, he told Bob Costas, he doesn't plan to sue.

BOB COSTAS, LARRY KING LIVE CO-HOST: You've been litigious before when you felt it was justified.

ARMSTRONG: Yes. And you know what? At the end of the day when you sue somebody, it just keeps a bad story alive forever. It gives them the opportunity to say, oh, we found this. Oh, we did that. It gives them more credit than they deserve.

SNOW: The newspaper is sticking by its story.

CLAUDE DROUSSENT, EDITORIAL DIR. "L'EQUIPE" (through translator): I can only speak the facts. And for the moment, the facts concerning Lance Armstrong is that he cheated in 1999, because EPO was on the list of forbidden products, but not able to be detected. And today, we have found EPO in 1999.

SNOW: Earlier in the week organizers of the Tour de France said they were shocked by the allegations. A press attache told CNN the Tour de France believes that the results of the lab are 100 percent reliable. And he said if the allegations do prove to be true, then Armstrong looked into people's eyes and lied.

On the streets of Washington, D.C. some dismissed the French report as a case of sour grapes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. I think that Lance is correct. I just think that the French have a vindictive attitude toward the Americans.

SNOW: Unlike some other athletes, Armstrong's legacy has stretched far beyond the sports world as he has fought back from cancer and has gone on to work for cancer survivors. Some think the public has put him on a pedestal that is too high.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of sad that we often glorify athletes too much, that, you know when we find out that they're flawed, they come down harder on them than normal people.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Lance Armstrong also pointed out, of these 1999 samples, the report mentioned six had tested positive. And he's questioning where were the other 11 of those 17 samples? And why didn't they test positive?

BLITZER: All right. Mary, thanks very much. Mary Snow reporting for us today from Washington.

Let's get back to Hurricane Katrina. It's heading out -- it's in the Gulf of Mexico right now. But within the past hour, we learned it could be heading further to the west, maybe even toward Louisiana.

Joining us now on the phone is the governor of Louisiana, Kathleen Blanco. She's joining us from Lafayette. This must be extremely worrisome to you, Governor.

GOV. KATHLEEN BLANCO (D), LOUISIANA: Well, it is very stressful. Our people have weathered a lot of hurricanes and all these threats keep coming. We don't know yet exactly what will happen, but now we know Louisiana is in the strike zone.

BLITZER: So, at what point do you decide to try to evacuate some of the coastal areas in Louisiana?

BLANCO: Well, we have a very deliberate process. Right now what I have done is issued a proclamation declaring a state of emergency. That enables all state agencies to marshal our resources and get prepared.

The Office of Emergency Preparedness, with the National Guard, the State Police, and all of our agencies, will be fully operational early tomorrow morning. We'll have conference calls with the federal government, representatives of FEMA, with our state agencies, and our local agencies.

We have to have a very coordinated effort. That will start this afternoon at 5:00 Central time. And we'll be on conference calls with the National Weather Service. They'll be giving us the best information that they have in order to allow us to make our decision.

BLITZER: The real fear, as far as Louisiana is concerned -- correct me if I'm wrong, Governor -- is New Orleans, which is below sea level. Is that right?

BLANCO: That is correct. It's always a huge concern, because there's a very large lake, Lake Pontchartrain that sits next to New Orleans. And if the hurricane winds from certain directions, there are dire predictions what was may happen in that city. Thus far, we've never had that to happen. But we know that there is a possibility of a very dangerous situation always.

So that is why we are working very hard. We've got a very well- coordinated evacuation plan that will be called into play if indeed, we feel that there is a direct threat. Right now, if the hurricane does go in at Pascagoula as it is currently predicted, we can expect tropical force winds in certain eastern parishes of Louisiana and gale force winds in others.

BLITZER: Well, good luck to you, Governor. Good luck to all our friends down there. We'll be watching every step of the way.

Remember, CNN is your hurricane headquarters. We'll have extensive coverage throughout the weekend and Monday when this Hurricane Katrina, is expected to make landfall.

Just ahead, poll numbers. His approval rating at a record low, should President Bush be worried? Our Carlos Watson is standing by to weigh in.

And creation or evolution? We'll find out what you think should be taught in America's schools. Jack Cafferty will have that.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: There's a very disturbing story developing over at the Pentagon. Let's head over to our national security correspondent David Ensor. What's going on, David?

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Army has just made public the fact that they are investigating allegations that a civilian forensic examiner who works at the Army Criminal Investigation Laboratory at Fort Gillem, Georgia, may have falsified DNA results in hundreds of criminal cases. Now, this could throw in doubt hundreds -- 479 different cases over the last 10 years, we're told. And these cases might be from the other services as well as the Army.

So a very serious matter. These are cases that hang on DNA evidence in some cases. And the Army is looking into it. And you know, sometimes the bad news comes late Friday.

Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. We'll watch this very much. David Ensor reporting from the Pentagon.

There's new information, as we've been reporting over the past hour, coming in on Hurricane Katrina. It's now forecast to make a big shift toward the west, expected to reach Category 4 status, and likely to hit Mississippi or southeast Louisiana on Monday.

On the phone now from Jackson, Mississippi, Robert Latham, the director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency. Mr. Latham, thanks very much for joining us. What information are you getting as far as your state is concerned?

ROBERT LATHAM, MISSISSIPPI EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AGENCY: Well Wolf, as you said, this latest shift in the track is a significant concern of ours. We started early this morning, actually, making preparations. The governor has signed a state of emergency and executive order to deploy the Guard. We are deploying resources to the Gulf Coast tomorrow. We'll have FEMA liaison teams in the state tomorrow, making preparations for water and ice distribution and preparing to send search and rescue teams forward to be ready post- landfall.

Certainly this shift in intensity and track is a concern for the citizens of Mississippi.

BLITZER: What about evacuations? At what point do you decide when to start evacuating people?

LATHAN: Well Wolf, because it's a weekend, you know, we have a lot of tourists on the Gulf Coast. And we probably will start doing some recommended evacuations, I suspect, late tomorrow afternoon. Certainly by Sunday we'll be looking at possibly mandatory evacuations.

I will be on the Gulf Coast tomorrow, working with local officials as we sift through that and try to determine, based on the track and what we have, the latest information what it would take to get our citizens out of harm's way in an adequate amount of time.

BLITZER: Robert Latham, the director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, good luck to you. We'll be checking back with you throughout the weekend and Monday.

Remember, CNN's your hurricane headquarters.

Other news we're following. President Bush often says he doesn't pay attention to the polls. But with a record low job approval rating that may be hard to do.

Our political analyst, Carlos Watson, is joining us today from L.A. Carlos, thanks very much.

Let's show our viewers these poll numbers. How is President Bush handling his job as president? Forty percent approve. That's a record low. It's a pretty significant development for the president. Can he turn it around?

CARLOS WATSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, we know that he can turn it around. In each of the last six presidents, this may be little comfort, but going from LBJ to Bill Clinton, all of them have touched or even gone below 40 at some point.

So certainly there can be a turnaround. We saw Bill Clinton touch 40 and ultimately end at close to 60 and, at points, above that.

But I think for this president, a couple of big questions stand out, Wolf. Will this affect his ability to be successful on Capitol Hill?

You know, this is a president that's labored frequently in the 40's over the last year or so. But again and again, every time someone's counted him out, we've seen him pass a number of major bills. Most recently, we saw the energy bill, we saw the highway bill and we saw CAFTA.

And so as he gets ready to look at a major change in immigration, potentially to bring up some major tax issues and even to tackle the John Roberts nomination, you can't count him out that early.

BLITZER: Carlos, I remember when President Bill Clinton was in trouble early in his first term. He shook up his team, brought some new faces in. What do you think of that strategy as far as this president is concerned?

WATSON: Wolf, you know, we've seen presidents tackle that in a variety of ways. But certainly, a staff shakeup if this were to persist, for example, into early '06 when members of Congress may start to say, Mr. President, when it was just your numbers and only your election you had to worry about, it was OK. But now that my election is around the corner, I want you to make changes. You could hear more about a staff shakeup.

Now, will it be what Jimmy Carter did back in '79 when he asked his whole cabinet to resign? Probably not. Will it be a surgical change, a la the switch of John Sununu who was then the chief of staff under the first president Bush? Perhaps. Or will it be an addition, a la, as you suggested, David Gergen, maybe bring in someone from another party. Remember, David Gergen was a Republican advisor brought in by Democratic President Bill Clinton. Or will it be someone who is seen as more senior, very much what Jim Baker did, as you recall, during the Florida recount. I think it's something to watch if these numbers continue in the low 40s in the next four five months.

BLITZER: As bad as the president's numbers are, Arnold Schwarzenegger's numbers in California, where you are, are even worse. Only 34 percent job approval numbers. What does he have to do there to turn things around?

WATSON: Well there are a couple of issues. And in fact, Arnold may have just dodged a fairly significant bullet. You remember Gray Davis, the former Democratic governor, was felled in many ways because of rolling electrical blackouts. We actually saw those this past week in Southern California. Between 250 and 500 thousand homes were affected. But the good news for Governor Schwarzenegger, this is the end of summer. He's probably missed most of the big worries.

But he's got another big battle on is in hands. In this particular case, you've got Democratic governors -- that's right -- Democrats in New Mexico and Arizona saying that they're calling for a federal emergency or declaring a state of emergency, rather, in terms of illegal immigration. But Arnold's getting a lot of pressure to do the same. He's got to make a move on immigration. And he's got to make a move, as well, on the economy and working with some of these teachers on the ballot initiative.

BLITZER: Carlos Watson, have a great weekend. Thanks very much.

WATSON: Very good to see you.

BLITZER: Here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we're plugged into almost everything that's happening online. Let's take a closer look at what's hot on CNN.com right now. Our Internet reporters Jacki Schechner, Abbi Tatton are checking the situation online. Ladies?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, we wanted to show you the top story both on CNN.com Domestic and CNN.com International right now, and that is the re-arrest of the two brothers in the Natalee Holloway disappearance in Aruba. Deepak and Satish Kalpoe were re-arrested today according to the prosecutors for working together with others in raping and killing the Alabama teen.

But on this Friday, we did want to turn it to a much lighter note for you. And the number two story on CNN International is that Robert Redford and Paul Newman may be teaming up again to do another movie. It's not going to be a prequel or a sequel to "The Sting" or "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid." But there is some talk that it might be Bill Bryson's travel book "A Walk in the Woods."

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Another popular story online -- popular with us in any case -- that we wanted to bring you, is out of London. The London Zoo this weekend will be launching a new exhibit, The Human Zoo. Eight humans are going to be frolicking all weekend around an enclosure there at the London Zoo for the viewing pleasure of the zoo's visitors with only fig leaves to protect their modesty.

These eight were picked out of 30 entrants. They'll be there all weekend. It's a holiday weekend, so maybe this is the way some people would like to spend it. Wilson's Blogmanac is one place that picked up on it. You don't need to worry about their safety. They'll be cared for by the zoo's keepers. Human Zoo, Wolf, happening this holiday weekend in London.

BLITZER: All right. Anxious to see that. Thanks very much, guys. Appreciate it. Have a great weekend.

Coming up, science, religion and the schools. Should students be taught evolution or creationism? Jack Cafferty standing by with your e-mail. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a quick look at hot shots coming in from our friends over at the Associated Press. Pictures likely to be in your hometown newspapers tomorrow.

Charlotte, North Carolina. The Reverend Billy Graham and his son at the groundbreaking ceremony of his new library.

London, a 6-year-old celebrates the birthday of the Hindu deity Krishna.

Belgium, U.S. runner Justin Gatlin takes first place in the 100 meter.

Berlin, an eight-week-old snow leopard shows his teeth.

Hot shots from the best photographers around the world.

Jack Cafferty standing by with your e-mail. Jack, give us the answers -- what our viewers think about that question you offered.

CAFFERTY: I'm going to do that and then it's going to be time to get out of THE SITUATION ROOM.

New polls show Americans are equally familiar with evolution and creationism. And when asked which one should be taught in the public schools, evolution has about a 7 percentage point edge over creationism.

Here's the question. When it comes to these two subjects, what is the role of public schools?

Edward in Bath, South Carolina says, "Science should be taught in schools, religious theories in church. My children don't attend school to learn religion, and don't go to church to learn math."

John in Rohnert Park, California. "The purpose of an education is to simply learn. We can best accomplish that by honestly presenting all theories of creation. However in a public school no one theory should be held up as the only valid theory."

Naomi writes, "It's clear the American public education system is falling behind the rest of the industrialized world. Do we really need to add dubious religious pseudo-science to the curriculum? The fact is the rest of the world will not teach this, and our students will continue to be at a disadvantage in the global market place."

Thomas in Spring Grove, Minnesota, weighs in with, "The role of schools is to teach both theories, especially when church-going numbers are so low. It also gives the students a chance to think a little."

And Tom in Alma, West Virginia, says, "Conservatives consider the theory of evolution, global warming and cancer from tobacco as junk science, but believe creationism is the gospel truth. Sometimes I think the Earth is the insane asylum of the universe, but that should not be taught in the schools. And neither should creationism."

BLITZER: Those were three good questions you had today. And you got a lot of response, didn't you?

CAFFERTY: About 1,600 letters today on a Friday in August. I don't know, some of you people need to get a life. You know what I'm saying?

BLITZER: They like to watch the show and be online at the same time. When you watch television, are you online at the same time?

CAFFERTY: No, sir. I don't spend very much time doing either one of those two things.

BLITZER: All right. You've got other things to do. But have a great weekend, rest up, we need you at full strength Monday. CAFFERTY: Get back here in THE SITUATION ROOM and give 'em hell, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Jack. See you Monday. We're in THE SITUATION ROOM every weekday afternoon three to six p.m. Eastern.

This Sunday on LATE EDITION, among my guests the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad. Sunday, noon Eastern, 9:00 a.m. Pacific.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. LOU DOBBS TONIGHT with Christine Romans filling in, starts right now.

END

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