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THE SITUATION ROOM

CIA Leak Cliffhanger; After Hurricane Wilma; New Bird Flu Cases; Air Force Academy Coach's Remarks

Aired October 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: I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time.
Happening now, it's 5:00 p.m. here in Washington, where we've just learned the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzpatrick met with the chief judge of the D.C. courts today. Did they talk about possible indictments in the CIA leak probe?

And it's 5:00 p.m. in South Florida, where many Hurricane Wilma victims are still waiting for everyday items like gas, water, ice, food. Meanwhile, amazing home video literally shot between the eye walls of the storm.

And how quickly is the deadly bird flu virus spreading? Why Europe is very worried about some new cases.

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

It may be a sign that indictments are imminent. Then again, it may not. As we first told you just a short while ago here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the special prosecutor in the CIA leak case met with the District of Columbia's chief judge this afternoon. We have two correspondents on this story.

Our Suzanne Malveaux is standing by over at the White House.

First, though, our Justice correspondent, Kelli Arena. She is outside the district courthouse where the grand jurors have been meeting. Kelli.

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the grand jury is set to expire on Friday, but special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald certainly has several options before him.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ARENA (voice over): As usual, special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald didn't have much to say as he left the courthouse. And the suspense continues. He could make his case on Friday and ask jurors to decide on indictments then, or Fitzgerald may need more time and will ask to extend the grand jury. He's already done that once. In fact, Fitzgerald met with the judge who would grant that extension on Wednesday. But it's unclear why.

ROSCOE HOWARD, FMR. U.S. ATTORNEY: Let's say that he has one more witness to put in. You can ask for a brief extension. You can ask -- you can ask the chief judge to bring a grand jury back for a very limited engagement -- it could be one day, it could be a couple of days -- but one more time.

ARENA: Another possibility, though legal experts say it's unlikely, the grand jury may have already delivered an indictment and it's being kept under seal.

HOWARD: It's unusual. I mean, it's rare that you seal it for the convenience of the parties.

ARENA: Then again, Fitzgerald may not seek any indictments at all. But lawyers close to the case expect Fitzgerald to bring some type of charges, and they say they probably won't have to do with divulging CIA operative Valerie Plame's name.

ROBERT RAY, FMR. INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Pat Fitzgerald may well decide that there's an important federal interest to be vindicated here simply by a prosecution in the area of obstruction of justice. Again, it remains to be seen, but it would not be unprecedented.

ARENA: Whatever decision he does make, legal experts say he'll be able to back it up by the thoroughness of his investigation. In fact, just this week, FBI agents were out again interviewing Valerie Plame's neighbors, asking if they knew she worked for the CIA before her name was made public.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ARENA: Wolf, that last minute flurry of activity, according to legal experts, doesn't bode well for those involved. Back to you.

BLITZER: What do we know, Kelli, about the members of this grand jury?

ARENA: Well, we know that there were originally 23 of them, Wolf, and that a few dropped out. And that's not unusual for a grand jury that sits for this long.

But we are told by some people that have been involved in this case that the grand jury is one that is very interested, very proactive, asking a lot of questions, really on the ball and engaged in this case. So, you know, the likelihood -- that's why they say the likelihood of Patrick Fitzgerald impaneling a new grand jury is probably very, very slim, and that if anything he will seek that extension.

BLITZER: Kelli Arena over at a windy courthouse for us. Thanks, Kelli, very much.

So, will the grand jury indict any top officials? The White House is certainly waiting and watching. So is our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux. Suzanne, what's the latest?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, of course White House insiders say that they are quite nervous about the outcome of all of this, but they are prepared.

What we are seeing as a change in strategy, or perhaps stepping up a strategy here. Before, where some of the top officials were laying low for a while, Karl Rove in particular, canceling a number of public appearances, today he's become very visible, as well as the chief of staff for the vice president, Scooter Libby. We've seen them coming and going, shuttling back and forth from the White House, as well as offices next door.

The president, as well, has a very busy schedule today. He had two courtesy calls to heads of state, a meeting with the congressional leaders, an economic speech. All of this of course to convey the message that they are going to move forward and try to work on the things that they can control.

In the meantime, of course, they're waiting for the other shoe to drop. They do say of course there is a plan that is in place if there are indictments of those top officials. They are ready, they say, assuming that there will be immediate resignations, that the president would make a brief statement, say that there's an ongoing legal process, and then simply would keep to his schedule and move forward.

Wolf.

BLITZER: This is -- must be a very, very nervous time for top White House officials as they wait. You suggested earlier they were sort of disappointed earlier today that it didn't just happen, it sort of -- the waiting is getting worse and worse. Elaborate a little bit.

MALVEAUX: Wolf, I think it was a collective sigh this morning when they found out that it just wasn't going to happen. People were absolutely exasperated -- everybody, all of us anticipating that we were going to hear some sort of news.

Again, they moved forward. They say they're focused on the business at hand. But they also say quietly that this is something that has been weighing on them for some time. They are just ready to get this over, including the president.

BLITZER: Very briefly, Suzanne, we just saw Vernon Jordan introducing the president earlier today. A lot of our viewers will remember Vernon Jordan from the Clinton administration, a good pal of the former president. What was going on? The president and Vernon Jordan earlier today here in Washington.

MALVEAUX: Well, the president was talking about the economic agenda, the pro-growth agenda. And you bring up a good point, because a number of us looked at that picture and thought it somewhat ironic that Vernon Jordan, of course his role with the Clinton administration, the kind of trouble they were in, now praising Vernon Jordan in a very different kind of role. The president of course facing some of his own top officials that may be indicted.

BLITZER: I saw that picture and I said, hmm. Things are happening.

All right. Thanks very much. Suzanne Malveaux over at the White House.

Let's turn now to another situation that we're following, a very important one in Florida. After Hurricane Wilma, there's growing anxiety and there's long lines that are illustrating some of the complexities of the situation. A lot of people without the most basic necessities.

Our senior correspondent, Allan Chernoff, is joining us now live from Oakland Park in Florida. Allan?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SR. CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Hurricane Wilma was so ferocious that indeed it did leave many residents of southern Florida searching for basic needs such as drinking water. For much of the day, people around here were able to find it at the local community center.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF (voice over): FEMA delivers for Ocean Park, Florida, ice and drinking water, precious commodities in a community without power and water purification.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

CHERNOFF: Two days after Hurricane Wilma slammed South Florida from west to east coast, the lines were long, but they moved quickly. People knew where to go by listening to the radio or word of mouth. For most, the wait was no longer than 30 minutes. But there was only so much to go around.

(on camera): After three truck-fulls of water and ice, everything is just about gone. These are the final bottles of water being handed out. And the line still extends all the way down the street.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We went around looking for ice yesterday, and the places that were supposed to have ice did not have any ice. So the trucks didn't come. So we rode around burning out the little bit of gas that we did have trying to get ice, and there was no ice to be given, or water.

CHERNOFF (voice over): Frustrated drivers also were lining up for gas before sunrise.

(on camera): You've been waiting two hours?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two hours. It seems like two hours for me. I don't know.

CHERNOFF (voice over): And at building supply stores like Home Depot, long lines for clean-up and other items.

Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff says FEMA is working around the clock in Florida.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I understand there are frustrations here. As the governor has acknowledged, we can't always get to people what we hope to get to them as quickly as we hope to do it. But I will tell you that people here are working 24/7 to make sure that we do live up to a very high standard the governor has set.

CHERNOFF: Part of the problem lies in critical distribution centers not being up and running 24 hours after Wilma hit. A problem Florida's governor acknowledged.

GOV. JEB BUSH (R), FLORIDA: And my expectation is that within 24 hours we would have our points of distribution set up. Never has that ever been done in any hurricane in our -- we did not meet those expectations. And I accept responsibility for that.

Today is going to be better. Tomorrow is going to be better than today. The day after tomorrow will be -- will be even better.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHERNOFF: Residents have been driving by, stopping here to see if any more water or ice has come by. In fact, we have one vehicle right here. People checking to see what the situation is. But at this point, it appears that they're going to have to wait until tomorrow morning.

Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Allan. Thank you very much.

Still ahead, the power of Hurricane Wilma captured on home video. We'll show you what one family saw and felt and lived through so they could tell their story.

Also, stranded after the storm. How many tourists remain trapped right now in Mexico? And how many are finally going home?

And new fuel for bird flu fears. We're keeping you up to the minute on new cases and how you might be affected.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Welcome back. More now on our top story -- much of Washington waiting for special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald's next move in the CIA leak probe. With indictments possible perhaps in the next two days, legal insiders have a good idea of what Fitzgerald may be going through right now.

One of the best, the former attorney general of the United States, Richard Thornburgh, is joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much, Governor, for joining us.

Take us inside this process right now. First question, though, he met for about 45 minutes, the prosecutor, with the chief judge overseeing this whole process, Thomas Hogan. Potentially, that could mean what? RICHARD THORNBURGH, FMR. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, there are about five options that are open that we have to grapple with during this period of suspense.

First of all, obviously the prosecutor may decide to take no action.

Secondly, he may decide to seek an indictment later in the week before the grand jury expires.

Thirdly, he may have already secured an indictment under seal which he'll announce later on.

Fourth, he could be seeing the judge about an extension of the present grand jury.

Or he could see to the impaneling of a new and different grand jury to hear the evidence.

So all...

BLITZER: Well, that last option is remote, given the fact that this grand jury has met for 18 months, or whatever.

THORNBURGH: Yes, I think it is remote, but it's not uncommon.

BLITZER: To get a new grand to jury come in?

THORNBURGH: Yes. Yes.

BLITZER: It still would be -- it's easier simply to extend this one. That would be almost small potatoes.

THORNBURGH: Yes. But there's always some question about the circumstances under which a grand jury can be extended. And obviously we don't know any of this because these proceedings are all secret. So it's all in the realm of speculation.

BLITZER: And as far as a sealed indictment, usually if a mobster, if somebody is in danger, they would do that. For a white collar potential crime that's highly unusual to have a sealed...

THORNBURGH: Normally not the case, but it is a possibility. And we're left with all this speculation. So I don't want to come down too hard on any one or the other of these possibilities.

The grand jury is there to provide protection to those of us ordinary citizens, that we're not subject just to the whim of the prosecutor. I've been in grand juries for many, many years. And they're an interesting group. I've had grand juries that develop such a bond in their consideration of particular cases that they have alumni meetings from time to time. So...

BLITZER: Because they spend a lot of time together for 18 months.

THORNBURGH: They sure do. BLITZER: On that point, it's very interesting. Richard Ben- Veniste, the former Watergate prosecutor, was on this program yesterday speaking about the grand jury. I want you to listen to what he said.

THORNBURGH: Sure.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BEN-VENISTE, FMR. WATERGATE PROSECUTOR: It is unlikely in these circumstances that he would make a recommendation that they would not follow. But we don't know what the recommendation is. If his recommendation is not to bring charges, he could have a revolt on his hands.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: He's talking about a runaway grand jury. Is that realistic?

THORNBURGH: It has happened. I think it's unlikely in the federal system. We had a case when I was attorney general where a grand jury disagreed with the outcome that the prosecutor recommended, and they framed their own report. And they wanted to release that report which named certain people as having violated the law who weren't charged with offenses. Well, that's contrary to the way the system works.

What I think is more likely is that there's a lot of back and forth between the prosecutors and the grand jury. Sometimes there will be grand jurors who are more interested than others in the outcome.

Every once in a while, a prosecutor will say, I'm not making a recommendation. You folks decide what you think ought to be done here. But more often than not, the grand jury is an instrument of the prosecutor, in order to get people under oath, to get their testimony, to be able to force them to testify with immunity and a wide variety of prosecutorial techniques.

BLITZER: It's interesting that as recently as Monday the prosecutor and his staff were interviewing neighbors of former Ambassador Joe Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame. Listen to this -- David Tilotson, one of Valerie Plame's neighbors, quoted in the "Los Angeles Times" -- "They really only had one interest, and that was to know whether Valerie's identity or what she did for a living was known prior to the Bob Novak article. It seemed they were trying to establish clearly that prior to the Novak article she was not widely known on the cocktail circuit."

A couple of those neighbors who were interviewed said they didn't know she worked for the CIA before the Bob Novak article.

THORNBURGH: Well, the reason for those questions is obvious, because that's a crucial element of one of the potential charges that might be brought against individuals who leaked the name. They had to know that she was a covert agent. And they had to proceed purposely to expose her. So if she were, for example, to be widely known in the community as a covert agent, then that robs that particular charge of a very important element.

BLITZER: It suggests to me -- and correct me if I'm wrong -- that they have not necessarily -- the prosecutor, Patrick Fitzgerald -- given up on going after someone on the initial 1982 law that bars the release of the name of a covert CIA clandestine officer, if you will.

THORNBURGH: It could be that, Wolf. It could be simply a matter of their buttoning up their investigation, going back to people to ask them once again. Or it might even be a grand juror, an odd grand juror that might say, have you ever talked to any of the neighbors out there about this? And they say, no, we haven't, and they send them out.

BLITZER: One final thought from you, as having been around in Washington for a long time, a former attorney general, former governor of Pennsylvania, former U.S. attorney, is the cover-up worse than the crime in Washington?

THORNBURGH: Well, it's an interesting juxtaposition. You see now there are a lot of Republicans out there saying, well, these derivative offenses aren't as important as the main offense. So that harks back to President Clinton's ordeal, where the same thing was being said by Democrats.

I think they're both wrong, frankly. I think these are very serious offenses -- perjury, obstruction of justice, conspiracy. These are all elements designed to frustrate the search for truth. And that's what a prosecution effort should be about. And if you're not getting the truth, or if someone is being influenced to give you anything other than the truth, that's a very serious offense, it goes to the heart of our system. We depend on the rule of law. We depend on people telling the truth in grand juries and otherwise.

BLITZER: Dick Thornburgh, thanks very much for joining us.

THORNBURGH: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Up ahead, some dramatic home video shot during Hurricane Wilma. We'll introduce you to a Floridian who says he was caught between the eye walls of the hurricane.

And five dead, 28 wounded. We'll bring you more on that deadly suicide bombing in Israel earlier today.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Health officials in Paris are reporting three new possible cases of bird flu in humans. The virus appears to have shown up in residents of a French island in the Indian Ocean who recently visited Thailand.

Tom Foreman is here to map out this story for us. What an awful story. Very complicated, but explain what's going on, Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what's going on now is the way disease spreads. And interestingly enough, what we're looking at here are two issues.

We still don't have this being transmitted from human to human. That's the thing they're afraid of. But we do have humans with the disease moving, going to different places. So their population is spreading out and we're having incidents of it.

What we really have is the bird population. And that's tricky, because I want you to look at this. This is the globe as we see it over in that part of the world. And this is the number of avian flu cases. Look at that.

All those countries that we see there, all the gold -- I'll turn it off and on again -- off and on. We have cases in all of these countries. That gives you an idea of how many around the globe has been touched. Africa is largely clear, we're clear in other areas. But generally we're able to see that this part of the world is covered pretty well.

BLITZER: Contiguous, those countries.

FOREMAN: Yes, they're contiguous. And out here to the islands, however, you would say those aren't contiguous. Well, that's because birds move.

And the big issue here probably is the seabirds. Obviously seabirds follow food supplies. That's what they do everywhere. Some seabirds, like the Arctic Tern, are great global fliers. They can go absolutely all around the globe, and they do.

However, what you're talking about in most of these cases are more simple versions, a seagull, a tern -- some kind of a skimmer on the shore, mixing with domestic poultry, getting the disease and then transferring it.

But now let's look at the cases among humans. If you have this part, and we go to the human cases, it becomes a much smaller footprint. You saw the gold.

BLITZER: It's about 150 or 160 cases.

FOREMAN: There's what we have in terms of the countries where we have seen human cases of this. Not a whole lot of them. But they are, if we put the bird cases back on, they are right next to the bird cases, in the bird cases, and they're bordering on this.

What we haven't seen yet in any of this vast area are the human cases coming up. What we're watching, though, is a migration. And if you keep looking at these bird patterns and you keep looking at the human patterns as they spread out from here, you obviously have to look down here, here, here, and wherever else they'll wind up next.

BLITZER: All right. Good explanation, as I knew you would do. Thanks very much, Tom Foreman, here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Coming up, we'll have more on the fallout from the CIA leak. We're seeing the political damage to the Bush administration. But how much harm did the CIA actually suffer from the outing of one of its officers?

And caught in Cancun. Thousands of American tourists stranded by the storm, desperately trying to make their way home from vacations that turned into nightmares.

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The Bush administration is feeling the fallout as top officials wait for possible indictments in the CIA leak investigation. But what about the fallout over at the CIA itself? Was the agency hurt by the outing of one of its operatives?

Let's turn to our national security correspondent, David Ensor. He's been looking into this story. David?

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, just for starters, Wolf, the nation has lost the undercover services of a 20- year professional CIA officer.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ENSOR (voice over): Forty-two-year-old Valerie Plame Wilson, mother of 5-year-old twins, is now the most famous female spy in America. Exposing her as a CIA undercover officer did damage to U.S. intelligence, U.S. officials say. They refuse to be more specific.

MICHAEL SCHEUER, FORMER CIA ANALYST: To have someone exposed deliberately and, on top of that for political reasons, I think, yes, it probably sent a chill throughout the clandestine service.

ENSOR: What made it worse is that she was not just an undercover officer. She spent part of her career as what's known as a NOC, a spy with non-official cover -- that is, without the protection of diplomatic status -- working, officials say, to recruit foreigners who knew about murky international weapons deals involving weapons of mass destruction.

SCHEUER: It's usually a business of some kind, you know, whether it's an import/export, a bank, some kind of business is exposed. And it takes a great deal of time to build cover facilities so you can operate overseas.

ENSOR: In Plame's case, the cover was Brewster Jennings & Associates, an energy consulting firm, a front company that apparently had no real address. That fact is only public because she listed it with the Federal Election Commission when she contributed $1,000 to Al Gore's presidential campaign.

NOCs are harder to train, can remain undercover longer than conventional spies, and can go places and meet people that other CIA officers cannot. But NOCs are also much more vulnerable than regular spies.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ENSOR: (AUDIO GAP) name appeared in Robert Novak's newspaper column, at least two foreign governments reportedly assigned their spy-catchers to figure out whether Plame had ever worked on their soil, if so, what she had done there.

That is where the damage was most likely done, other nations tracking down Valerie -- Valerie Plame Wilson's contacts and sources and shutting them down.

Wolf.

BLITZER: David, thank you very much. David Ensor reporting.

For more on the damage that may have been done by the leak, I'm joined now by former CIA officer Larry Johnson. He was a classmate of the outed operative Valerie Plame at the CIA's training school way back. How many years ago was that, Larry?

LARRY JOHNSON, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: 1985, September.

BLITZER: So, you were basically with Valerie Plame...

JOHNSON: Right.

BLITZER: ... in that training. How long does that go, a year or so?

JOHNSON: For me, it went a year. For Valerie, she was on what they called the extended program, because she was young. She had just come out of college. She was 22.

BLITZER: So, they basically teach you how to be a spy.

JOHNSON: They -- yes. And they expose you to a whole variety of training, paramilitary activities, field tradecraft, the -- the whole nine yards.

BLITZER: Did you get to know her quite well or not at all -- you know, not at all during that year that you overlapped?

JOHNSON: I knew her well enough to know that she was a good professional. But she was a single 22-year-old. I was a married 30- year-old guy. So, we kept our distance. It was a professional relationship only. But the thing that distinguished her at that time was, she was very mature, very professional, not at all a goof-off. And -- and she took her job seriously.

BLITZER: Now, in order for any charges, an indictment, to really have weight, I think what everyone wants to know is, was there serious damage done to U.S. national security? And I have been trying to find out if the CIA actually did a postmortem, a damage assessment. You have been looking into that as well.

JOHNSON: Now, CIA did a postmortem. There's no way that they could not have. They have not delivered any written report to Congress, to the House or Senate Intelligence Committees. But what they had done with this report, they had to do it internally, because...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Is there a piece of paper there that's written?

JOHNSON: Yes. There will be a written -- there's a written document within the CIA. There has to be, because every time that someone like this is outed, it's not just the person. In this case, it's the front company. It's other NOCs who may have been exposed.

BLITZER: Non-official cover is the NOCs.

JOHNSON: Non-official cover officers, also other intelligence officers who were exposed to that company, as well as intelligence assets overseas who were working with Brewster-Jennings who didn't know that it was a CIA front, and some who may have been unwitting...

BLITZER: Well...

JOHNSON: ... assets.

BLITZER: ... do you know whether or not they concluded that serious damage did occur?

JOHNSON: I have heard that serious damage did occur.

BLITZER: In terms of lives lost, agents, foreign agents...

JOHNSON: To that...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: ... U.S. allies?

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: To that extent, I don't know. But what I do know for certain is, we're not just talking about Valerie Plame. We're talking about an intelligence resource, a United States national security resource that was destroyed by these White House officials that went out and started talking to the press about this. Reckless. And they have -- they have harmed the security of this country. They're trying to pretend no harm, no foul, and find lots of excuses.

BLITZER: Let me read to you from a Bob Novak column in the "Chicago Sun-Times" and other newspapers October 1, 2003, a couple of months or so after he revealed her name.

He writes this. He wrote this, at last -- at least, two years ago: "It was well known around Washington that Wilson's wife worked for the CIA. Republican activist Clifford May wrote Monday, in 'National Review Online,' that he had been told of her identity by a non-government source before my column appeared and that it was common knowledge. Her name, Valerie Plame, was no secret either, appearing in Wilson's -- Joe Wilson -- "Who's Who in America" entry".

JOHNSON: Yes. Well, that's...

BLITZER: That doesn't make it sound like she was very covert.

JOHNSON: Not only does -- you know, Bob Novak once again demonstrates he doesn't know what he's talking about. And that is a lie. I defy anybody -- I have got $5,000 that says that you can't find a reference to Valerie Plame and the CIA prior to Robert Novak's column. Can't do it. The fact that she's married...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Well, why would Clifford May say that he knew about it?

JOHNSON: Clifford May has been wrong on a whole variety of things.

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: But he's a respected guy, Clifford May.

JOHNSON: Well, he's respected by some people. I don't respect him, because I...

BLITZER: I have known him for many years...

JOHNSON: I...

BLITZER: ... going back to when he was a reporter for the "New York Times."

JOHNSON: His information -- his information -- his information on this issue has been repeatedly wrong. And, again, I'll bet Clifford May $5,000. Find the reference prior to Robert Novak's column in which that information was out there. It wasn't out there.

Not only that, when Valerie wrote that check to Al Gore's campaign as a member of Brewster-Jennings, she was living her cover. Not a single neighbor knew that she worked for the CIA. She protected that cover. She was in the process of moving from non-official cover to official cover, but, under the law, official cover still protected.

BLITZER: Because there is some suggestion that she had been outed by other -- by Aldrich Ames or others...

JOHNSON: Well, my...

BLITZER: ... who were U.S. -- were American spies spying for...

JOHNSON: Sure.

BLITZER: ... the Soviet Union or other countries.

JOHNSON: My understanding is that, as a result of the Aldrich Ames betrayal, the damage assessment there came up with the possibility that she may have been compromised, so she's moved back to the United States, home-based here, but continues to operate from here, traveling overseas as a consultant with Brewster-Jennings. So, she was continuing to work overseas.

BLITZER: What about the argument that she was driving in and out of Langley, CIA Headquarters, on a daily basis for her job as an analyst in counter -- nuclear counter-proliferation?

JOHNSON: People saying that just demonstrate their further ignorance of the CIA. At least 40 percent of the people driving through those gates every day are undercover. They are -- sometimes, they are here in the United States for two or three assignments, then they go back overseas. Their acknowledged relationship with the CIA is unacknowledged. They're presumed to work for some other U.S. government agency. Their covers are backstop.

So, just because they are driving through the gates there doesn't mean that they're not undercover. I was out there for four years driving through the gates. I was undercover until the day I left. And the only one who knew I worked with CIA was my wife.

BLITZER: Were you surprised that, after her name was revealed, that she posed for pictures, that famous picture in "Vanity Fair," that she posed for pictures elsewhere with her husband? Because a lot of people have suggested, you know what? This was no big deal.

JOHNSON: Well, that's...

BLITZER: It's small potatoes. And look at her. She's sort of flaunting it.

JOHNSON: Yes. With the benefit of hindsight, I don't think Joe and Valerie would have done that again. But they also recognized, at the time when they did it, her career had been completely destroyed. And she had received death threats overseas from al Qaeda. So, as a result of that outing...

BLITZER: How do you know she got death threats from al Qaeda?

JOHNSON: I have heard it directly from people that have been told that there was a threat.

BLITZER: Because she is a...

JOHNSON: Because...

BLITZER: ... a former CIA operative?

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: ... operative and outed by Robert Novak.

There were three people that were identified as having a threat. And she was contacted by the FBI.

BLITZER: Does she get security protection...

(CROSSTALK)

JOHNSON: She did not.

BLITZER: Why didn't she?

JOHNSON: She called...

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: She still works for the CIA.

JOHNSON: She called CIA and was told, you will have to rely upon 911.

BLITZER: Larry, we will continue this conversation. Larry, thanks very much.

JOHNSON: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Larry Johnson, former CIA officer, worked at counterterrorism at the State Department as well.

Still to come, the wrath of Wilma. We will show you some frightening footage shot by a resident of South Florida.

And race and sports -- the U.S. Air Force football coach made some controversial comments about why his team lost. Was it racism?

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: When you think of Iowa, you probably think of the nation's top corn producer. But "Money" magazine sees Iowa City, home the University of Iowa, as one of the best to retire.

CYBELE WEISSER, WRITER, "MONEY": Iowa City has a lot of great cultural opportunities. I mean, there's no reason to be bored for a minute in Iowa City. And, you know, it also has great Big 10 sports. People love it.

The University of Iowa has a senior college. It's sponsored by the alumni association. And that offers classes to retirees that you can take, everything from philosophy to photography.

Think about where Iowa City is located. And you probably think, it probably gets a little cold in the winter. And sure enough, it does. On the other hand, a lot of people love having four distinct seasons. That's very important to them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: (AUDIO GAP) ... bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.

What are we getting, Ali Velshi?

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: This is just coming in now, a ruling in the Manhattan Supreme Court that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey can be sued by the families of the six people, and the 1,000 who were injured in the 1993 World Trade Center blast. This was February 26 of 1993.

We're getting these reports from Reuters and the Associated Press. We will have confirmation of it in just a moment. But the -- the case hinged on reports that the Port Authority knew and had discussed the fact that the access to the public parking garage at the World Trade Center was a security vulnerability. The Port Authority had argued in court that, in fact, it wasn't -- that it was public parking. It was that there were determined militants who wanted to bring the building down and wanted to bomb it.

The -- the allegations were that they knew it was dangerous. And now a Manhattan Supreme Court judge has ruled that the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey can be sued for the liability for those families who had victims killed on the February 26, 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center in New York.

Now, interesting to note that the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center on September 11 was not allowed to be discussed at this court case. This -- this hinged entirely on the preparations for the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and whether the Port Authority knew that there was danger in the fact that they had a public parking spot -- space underneath the building.

So, that's what we're getting in right now, Wolf. We are working to get independent confirmation of the fact that this ruling has been made.

BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Ali Velshi. We will get back with you.

Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his program. That starts right at the top of the hour. Lou, what are you working on?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you. Coming up at 6:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, we will be reporting on new developments in the CIA White House leak investigation -- the special prosecutor in the case today meeting with a top U.S. judge in Washington.

Also tonight, outrage in Florida after Hurricane Wilma -- why residents there, all of them warned for days before the storm hit, why they are still unable to find vital, much needed supplies and who is to blame.

And, tonight, a sudden reversal by the White House on a measure that cut the prevailing wages for all working to rebuild the Gulf Coast -- that anti-worker policy decision by the White House, today rescinded. We will have that special report.

And we will have more on Able Danger and whether they had information a year before 9/11 -- all of that and a great deal more coming up at the top of nine hour.

Please join us. Now back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lou. We certainly will.

Recent arrivals in South Florida, one couple got more than they bargained for when Wilma struck. And they have got the home video to keep that scary memory from fading.

Let's bring in our -- our Brian Todd. He's watched that video. Brian, what happened?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, just a short time ago, we interviewed the young man who shot this video.

Now, for those of you who have never been through it, this will give you a snapshot of what it's like inside a hurricane.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JONATHAN EWING, HURRICANE WILMA SURVIVOR: We're in that area.

TODD (voice-over): Downtown Fort Lauderdale early Monday morning. As he shoots this video, Jonathan Ewing later tells CNN he's caught between eye walls of Hurricane Wilma.

EWING: The rain, when it hits, feels like little BB pellets.

TODD: When the first powerful winds from the hurricane sweep through his neighborhood, Ewing says, he and his wife are hunkered down inside their small home. They get through one wave. Then Ewing ventures outside with his digital camera to assess the damage.

EWING: This car has been just totaled.

TODD: While outside, Ewing narrates as the storm picks up intensity again.

EWING: And now it's starting to really come down, too. Whew.

TODD: Ewing rides out the storm inside, shooting out a window, capturing scenes of tiles flying off a neighbor's roof. He and his wife are newcomers to South Florida. He later tells CNN, at this point in the storm, they weren't sure they would make it through.

EWING: I was terrified. My wife and I came down here from Chicago. We have lived here for about a year. And we're not real used to the hurricane thing yet, even though we have been through six of them now. But we were both hunkered down in the bedroom. And when the house started to shake and shimmer and windows started to expand and come in, we did. We thought that we might die.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now, as Jonathan said, he and his wife moved to Florida from Chicago, so that he could go to law school. Since they arrived -- you heard him say it -- they have now lived through at least four, and he says closer to six, hurricanes, give or take a couple. One of those was Hurricane Katrina. But he says, in his area, at least, Wilma was the most intense of them all.

Wolf.

BLITZER: A lot of people think it was the worst in 60 years in Fort Lauderdale, in that area. Thanks very much, Brian Todd.

Let's get some more on Wilma, the power outages in Florida.

Our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, is checking that situation online. Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for those viewers that might have a friend or a relative affected by Hurricane Wilma in Florida who might have lost power, check out this Web site. It's Florida Power and Light. This is the people in charge of trying to restore power to those around 2.5 million customers down there who don't have it currently. There are maps where you can go county by county, looking at the hundreds of thousands of people affected by this.

There are also estimated restoration plans for the electricity, maps there as well. Let's take a look, for example, at Broward County, over 800,000 people affected right now, lost power. Their estimated time, it looks like they might have a long wait -- estimated restoration, on or before the 22nd of November there.

You can also, if you know your relative's zip code, other information, where they are in Florida, you can pinpoint when that estimated restoration time is on this site, again. We did that for Jacqueline (ph) Schechner's mom, put in her code. She's in North Dade County. And it looks like she is going to be waiting around for her power until around November the 15th, so, that at Florida Power and Light.

Wolf.

BLITZER: November 15? Oh, my God. Thanks very much. I'm going to check that out. Got some friends down there as well.

Still to come, stranded after Wilma, thousands of American tourists have been able to leave Mexico. But what about those who still can't make it out? We will have an update.

And Wal-Mart under fire. An internal memo shows the company wants healthier employees. But how will they achieve that goal?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: CNN's Andrea Koppel is joining us once again from the CNN Center in Atlanta with a closer look at other stories making news. Hi, Andrea.

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Hi again, Wolf.

Well, we're going to start out with a call by Washington, in particular from the White House, on the Palestinian leadership to dismantle terrorist networks in the wake of a suicide bombing in Israel today. In that bombing, five people were killed and 28 were wounded when a blast ripped through a crowded marketplace in the afternoon in the city of Hadera. The militant group Islamic Jihad says the attack was in response to the killings of one of its leaders by Israel on Monday.

Meanwhile, in Tehran today, Iran's president said Israel should, in his words, be wiped off the map. He made the comment at the conference attended by some 3,000 conservative students. White House Spokesman Scott McClellan said the remark underscores Washington's concern about Iran's nuclear intentions.

And now to Wal-Mart, which is taking fire for on an internal memo on possible ways to hold down spending on employee health care and benefits. The memo suggests that the company should consider recruiting a healthier work force and hiring more part-time workers. A spokesman for Wal-Mart Watch, which is a strong critic of the company, says the new health care plan doesn't address the needs of the majority of employees.

And now New Orleans, where Mayor Ray Nagin has been holding the first in a series of town hall meetings. Nagin says money -- it's not surprising to hear that -- is a problem. According to Nagin, the city has enough revenue to operate through the end of March of next year. Nagin says they are still working -- quote -- "on a loan" -- "to get a loan from the federal government" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Andrea. We will see you back here tomorrow.

They went to Mexico to stay in beautiful beach resorts. Instead, they stayed in shelters, as Wilma pounded the so-called Mayan Riviera. As the days drag on, many are finally heading home, but thousands of American tourists are still stuck.

CNN's Mary Snow is joining us. She has more. Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, by boat and by plane, thousands of stranded American vacationers are being evacuated from Mexico's Cancun and Cozumel, hard-hit by Hurricane Wilma. But the process is slow-going. Flights, for one, are limited.

The latest information from the State Department, it says about 4,000 Americans were able to leave Mexico Tuesday, but it estimates that 10,000 Americans still remain in Cancun and the town of Merida, which is about four hours away. Many are staying in shelters. On Cozumel, which has been much more difficult to reach, the State Department says about 650 Americans are believed still stranded on the island. Several hundred, it says, were able to get out by boat. It says a cruise ship should arrive tomorrow with supplies.

Now, at least nine commercial flights were scheduled to arrive in Mexico today to help evacuate people. And, for those who are getting out, they say they have learned a lesson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JERRY FLORES, RESIDENT OF PENNSYLVANIA: We had to learn the hard way not to book a -- a vacation on hurricane season. It was -- it was rough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Officials say it's expected to take several days to get everyone out.

Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Mary, thank you very much. Mary Snow reporting.

Up next, new information on a football coach's controversial comments -- that story just coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

Stay with us.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: It was a shocking sideshow captured by TV crews gathered at the L.A. County Courthouse to cover the Robert Blake hearing in 2003.

Attorney Gerald Curry was at the courthouse for an unrelated case when William Strier approached him, asked his name and opened fire. Strier then calmly walked away.

He was apparently angry that Curry was representing Strier's sister in a dispute over a trust fund. Curry was shot in the neck, both arms and shoulders and taken from the scene by paramedics.

Curry survived, recovered completely and still lives and practices law in Southern California.

GERALD CURRY, ATTORNEY: When I leave the office, when I go to court, when I go to the parking structure, I tend to keep, you know, my eyes open, look around.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where's the gun?

SNOW: Curry's shooter, William Strier, was ruled mentally unfit to stand trial and remains in a state hospital. But Curry says he doesn't harbor any bad feelings for Strier. CURRY: The odds of this happening were probably one in a million. And, so, therefore, I -- I try not to let it affect my life or not have any bitterness and try to maintain a positive and optimistic outlook.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: College football is not always pretty. And the rants from the coaches can be pretty harsh. But, that said, why is one coach under so much fire right now for what he thinks?

Our Brian Todd has some new information on what's going on. Brian?

TODD: Well, Fisher DeBerry is under fire for that, because he was thinking out loud about the issue of race in sports. And he's now doing damage control.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

FISHER DEBERRY, AIR FORCE ACADEMY FOOTBALL COACH: That's the way to put it, boy. That's the way. That's the way.

TODD (voice-over): Faced with the possibility of a second consecutive losing season, frustrated by a drubbing from Texas Christian University on Saturday, Air Force football coach Fisher DeBerry was quoted as saying the loss was due in part to his opponent having more African-American players who could run well. Here's what he said when asked later to elaborate.

DEBERRY: African-American kids can run very, very well. That doesn't mean that Caucasian kids and other descents can't run, but it's very obvious to me that they run extremely well. I just want to recruit speed. We need to find speed, as much as anything. But the black athlete seems to have, you know, statistically, program, program, program, you know, seems to have an edge as far as the speed is concerned.

TODD: Late Wednesday, the coach issued this apology.

DEBERRY: I have made a mistake. And I ask for everyone's forgiveness. I regret these statements and I sincerely hope that they will not reflect negatively -- negatively -- toward the academy or our coaches or our players.

TODD: In more than 20 years at Air Force, Fisher DeBerry has been hugely successful, 17 winning seasons, 12 bowl victories. With that, he's said to have acquired enormous power at the academy. One former player told CNN that DeBerry, a civilian, has the nickname Five Star.

The coach is also an evangelical Christian who at one time hung a banner inside the locker room saying, in part, I am a member of team Jesus Christ. At the school's request, he took down that banner and the academy says he no longer preaches to his players as he once did. As for DeBerry's future:

DEBERRY: There is no -- been no consideration for stepping down from my job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Air Force Academy at the news conference with DeBerry voiced support for the coach and say they're not asking for his resignation.

Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting.

We're here in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. I'm Wolf Blitzer.

LOU DOBBS TONIGHT starts right now. Lou is in New York. Lou?

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