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Al Qaeda Releases New Details of Bombings in Jordan; Bush Answers War Critics

Aired November 11, 2005 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Happening now, until death to they part. Did a husband and wife become a killer couple of suicide bombers in those terror attacks in Jordan? We'll tell you about a stunning new development.
And he may now be hobnobbing with a lot of Republicans, but leave no doubt about it. The former president, Bill Clinton, is raging mad at what he says they did to him. And he has some stinging new words for those who tried to oust him.

And will you have a merry Christmas or a happy holiday? It depends on where you shop. Some Christian campaigners are forcing retailers to put the Christ back into Christmas.

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

A war of words on this Veterans Day in the United States.

In a speech, President Bush sharpened his language and used words as weapons to push back at those who criticized the war and the critics who say he misled the country into going into war.

CNN's Elaine Quijano is joining us live from the White House with more on what happened.

Elaine, what is the White House strategy now?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, really their strategy, Wolf, is to push back and to push back hard against these Democratic criticisms, specifically criticisms administration officials feel have gone too far.

Now, they are looking at in particular the accusation by some Democrats that the White House somehow twisted intelligence on WMD in the run-up to the Iraq war, and they simply feel that's out of line.

That is why we heard President Bush today talk about how it's legitimate to criticize decisions, but in his opinion he said Democrats were trying to rewrite the history of how the war began.

And one senior aide I spoke with earlier today said it is one thing to have dissent, but it's another when something is so blatantly false like that, it's a detriment to our efforts, this administration official said. And here at the White House certainly they feel that those kinds of criticisms are hurting the U.S. efforts in Iraq.

BLITZER: Democrats I've been talking to, Elaine, say that this president, the White House is deeply worried about those horrible poll numbers that they're suffering from right now, and that in effect they say the president is engaging in acts of desperation right now.

How worried are White House officials about those poll numbers?

QUIJANO: Well, certainly those poll numbers are a part of this.

And what senior aides say is that they acknowledge that the headlines like the Scooter Libby indictment, for instance, may have had an effect on the president's poll numbers.

But at the same time, officials here believe that the president can certainly restore those numbers. And they believe they have a strategy to do just that.

So look in the coming days for administration officials, not just the president himself but also administration officials and then also GOP allies on Capitol Hill to come out and defend the way this administration took the United States to war.

BLITZER: Elaine Quijano at the White House, thanks very much.

Now to a report you will see only here on CNN -- inside what's called Operation Steel Curtain, a massive U.S.-led military offensive along Iraq's border with Syria aimed at trying to stop insurgents from coming into the country.

CNN producer Arwa Damon is embedded with the U.S. forces there and she's joining us now live on the phone.

Set the scene a little bit, Arwa, for us. What's going on?

ARWA DAMON, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Wolf, it's 3:00 in the morning here in Iraq, in Karabila, downtown Karabila, and it is deafly silent.

And it has been quiet ever since U.S. forces entered this city yesterday, in the sense that they are not seeing an enemy that is firing at them.

What they are fighting here and what they have been fighting for the last 48 hours are IEDs, improvised explosive devices, that in some ways are much deadlier than an actual enemy that will stand and fight.

As one Marine put it to me earlier, this is an enemy that does not need food, does not need water and does not need sleep and can lie in wait for days, months and even years -- Wolf.

BLITZER: How much of a role are the Iraqi troops that are joining those Marines, the soldiers -- how much of a role are the Iraqi troops playing? Are they actually on the front lines of the battle? Or are they more supportive units behind the scenes? DAMON: No, Wolf, they're definitely here, they're definitely on the front line of the battle.

In Husaybah a few days ago, where there were significant firefights going on, they were right there with the Marines -- taking guidance from the Marines, though. They are not here en masse. They are not here in large numbers.

But they are bringing a new aspect to the battlefield, especially here in western Al Anbar Province, the far reaches of it where there was not really an Iraqi army presence. They've finally gotten an Iraqi army battalion to partake in this operation to serve the very purpose of having an Iraqi presence here to be able to build that bond with the Iraqi civilians that is going to be so crucial when eventually down the road U.S. forces do want to hand over to the Iraqis -- Wolf.

BLITZER: One of our courageous journalists, our producer Arwa Damon covering this story, embedded with the U.S. troops, involved in Operation Steel Curtain.

Arwa, be safe over there. Thank you very much.

Let's move on now to the latest developments in the investigation of those terror attacks in Amman, Jordan, that killed 57 people. There are some stunning new details of who some of those bombers might have been.

Let's go straight to our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson, he's joining us now live from Amman.

What's the latest, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTL. CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the very latest from here is a statement, a second statement from al Qaeda released on the Internet. It says it was four Iraqis, including a husband and wife suicide team -- the first they've ever claimed that type of attack.

According to Marwan Muasher, the deputy prime minister here in Jordan, they cannot confirm that there was a woman involved in the attack. They say they do believe that there were three attackers.

So far they've been able to confirm three attackers. They also say that they don't know the nationalities of those attackers.

The Jordanians also say that they've arrested 12 people in connection with this -- with these three attacks. They say that among those arrested are Jordanians, but they won't be specific on the nationalities of all of those 12 people -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic, you spent part of today in Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's hometown in Jordan. He's terrorist number one. He's claimed responsibility for these strikes. He's wanted desperately by the U.S. and its coalition partners.

What's the mood there in that hometown? Are these people supporting him or the Jordanian government?

ROBERTSON: Wolf, we went to the mosque right around the corner from where Zarqawi used to live in his hometown of Zarqa. It's a town of over three quarters of a million people just outside the capital of Amman. It is a poor town.

In that mosque we found people who were violently opposed to the actions of Zarqawi. They said that they were opposed to terrorism, opposed to what he had done.

But when you begin to scratch the surface, talk to people, push them on issues, ask them questions, you find that a vast majority of people really don't want to accept that this was Zarqawi. They say, "We don't know that it was him. It might have been somebody else. Perhaps Zarqawi is just a fiction of the U.S. forces."

They say too much is blamed on him.

I also went down to the street where Zarqawi lived until he was about 10 years old. On that street I found staunch support for Zarqawi, people saying there that he wasn't responsible for these attacks; indeed even saying that they supported Zarqawi, continue to support him.

Quite a rough neighborhood that one where Zarqawi was born, but support for him there still quite strong.

We did find one of his cousins. The cousin told us that if Zarqawi was responsible, then he should face the consequences, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right.

Nic Robertson reporting for us from Amman, Jordan.

Thank you, Nic, very much.

CNN's Zain Verjee is joining us now from the CNN Center in Atlanta with a closer look at some other stories making news tonight.

Hi, Zain.


Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made a surprise visit to Iraq today. She made a personal appeal to Sunni Arabs to vote in elections scheduled for December 15th. She said Sunni participation in the recent referendum on Iraq's constitution was encouraging even though most Sunnis voted against it.

Vice President Dick Cheney performed a yearly Veteran's Day ritual today. He laid a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. In an apparent reference to Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr. Cheney said U.S. forces have liberated 50 million people. He said the difficult missions are still to come.

The new movie about rapper 50 Cent has been pulled from a theater near Pittsburgh. The Lowe's Theater chain acted after a man was shot to death at the theater. Officials say they don't know if the film had anything to do with the shooting. Police say the victim had just seen the film when he got into a confrontation with three other men.

And in Kalamazoo, Michigan, anonymous donors are making high school students an offer they're going to find hard to refuse. If you have been in the city's schools since at least 9th grade and you graduate, you get a scholarship good at any public university in the state. The scholarships will cover from 65 percent to 100 percent of the cost of college.

Wolf, that's pretty good.

And, Wolf, I just want to say thank you because I got something really nice delivered to me today. I'm not sure if Jack did, but I got -- "Are You in THE SITUATION ROOM" T-shirt with your mug on the back of it and I got not one, but five fridge magnets.

And this is an over-sized one so I'm -- I don't know what...



BLITZER: They're very, very comfortable. Excellent T-shirt.

Jack, did you get your T-shirt?

VERJEE: Did Jack get this?


VERJEE: Do you ever get anything? No presents, Jack?

CAFFERTY: I got nothing.

BLITZER: We're going to get you the whole nine yards, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, let me ask you a question, do you wear that T- shirt at home on the weekends?


BLITZER: Yes. And I've got the baseball cap, too.

Zain, did you get the baseball cap?

VERJEE: I did. But it was...

CAFFERTY: And how about those orange slickers that they make everybody wear when they're covering the hurricanes?


BLITZER: We don't have that.

CAFFERTY: I don't have any of those things. I got nothing.

BLITZER: All right, Jack.

Tell us what you've got in terms of your question for the hour.

VERJEE: Jack, Jack, Jack?

CAFFERTY: What, Zain?

VERJEE: Good to see you, Jack.

CAFFERTY: It's nice to see you, too.

VERJEE: You make me laugh a lot, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Say schedule.

VERJEE: Schedule.





CAFFERTY: Been a tough week here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Obviously we had the bombings in Jordan. Today kind of a somber day, Veterans Day, when we acknowledge all our men and women in uniform.

So, on a lighter note it also happens to be sweeps month for local television stations. When local stations around the country try to come up with these goofy stories to attract extra viewers.

Here in New York City WABC television is reporting on what could be called the new plastic surgery. It's something called voice therapy.

Now, people who hate the way they sound are actually training their vocal cords. They want stronger, more confident voices and are willing to pay between 100 and $250 a session.

So, here's the question. With whom would you trade voices? E- mail us at We'll have a little fun before 8:00 gets here.

BLITZER: All right sounds good. Good way to end the week. Thanks, Jack, very much.

Coming up, a war of words heats up. Senator Ted Kennedy responds to President Bush lashing out at critics of the war in Iraq.

Also lashing out the former President Bill Clinton at his impeachment, and defending his place in history. We'll show you what he said. You'll want to stick around for this.

Plus, what Wal-Mart employees wish--when Wal-Mart employees wish you happy holidays should they really be saying Merry Christmas or should they be saying nothing at all?

There's a controversy over seasonal greetings. Our Ali Velshi will join us to explain. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts did not vote for the war in Iraq, and he's not been shy about criticizing President Bush's handling of it.

In reference to the president's speech today, Senator Kennedy says, "the president" and I'm quoting now, "should come clean about the war."

I spoke with Senator Kennedy just a short while ago.


BLITZER: Senator Kennedy, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM.

On this Veteran's Day the president made a very, very serious charge against his critics of the war, many of the statements made against the war. Listen to this charge made by the president.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These baseless attacks send the wrong signal to our troops, and to an enemy that is questioning America's will.

As our troops fight a ruthless enemy determined to destroy our way of life, they deserve to know that their elected leaders, who voted to send them to war, continue to stand behind them.

BLITZER: In effect, what he's saying, senator, is that the criticism being leveled against him is undermining the war effort, and endangering U.S. troops, and emboldening terrorists.

What do you say to that charge?

SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Well, three things: mushroom cloud, eminent threat, al Qaeda connection.

Don Rumsfeld appearing before the Armed Services Committee, and saying weapons of mass destruction, north, south, east, west of Baghdad, none of which was true, all representations of the administration.

Secondly, on Veteran's Day all Americans pause because of the extraordinary heroism and bravery and sacrifice of American servicemen in Iraq and our veterans before us.

And they deserve the truth. And they deserve a real policy. And their families deserve to know when we're going to begin to bring those honored soldiers back home.

Today on Veteran's Day we ought to have a president that is bringing us together rather than a campaign appearance.

Finally, for those that -- my colleagues that didn't support the -- or did support the war, there was no question that this president was America's president after 9/11.

And the benefit was always given to this president because of the actions that he took after 9/11. But that we have found now historically was the fact that this administration manipulated and misused intelligence information that rushed us to war.

BLITZER: He deliberately referred to a statement made by your Democratic colleague from Massachusetts, John Kerry, the Democratic presidential nominee last year.

Listen to this excerpt from what the president said.

BUSH: Many of these critics supported my opponent during the last election, who explained his position to support the resolution in the Congress this way, when I vote to give the president of the United States the authority to use force, if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein, it is because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a threat and a grave threat to our security.

BLITZER: In effect, he's saying there that John Kerry and the other Democrats in the Senate and the House, and he said there were more than 100 of them, who voted for that resolution, came down with the same side of the intelligence that he was coming down on.

KENNEDY: That is basically because this president after 9/11 had the confidence, the trust, of the American people, including members of Congress and the Senate.

And when he represented that, there was a presumption that was going to be correct.

In spite of that we find out, of course, now, that the president gave assurances to the American people that Saddam Hussein was searching for nuclear materials in Africa even though at the very time he was making that statement the Central Intelligence Agency knew that to be false.

And that he represented a positions from a detainees, al Qaeda detainees, that the intelligence agency were said to be false.

There's no question this was administration that rushed to war. Instead of focusing on the real threat, was a threat of terror, which was Osama bin Laden, which is Afghanistan, that is where the 9/11 plans were made, and we had Osama bin Laden on the run in Tora Bora.

We should have continued that effort and destroyed at that time al Qaeda. Instead this administration rushed to us war in Iraq, and today Iraq has become a base for the training of terrorists. It makes no sense.

BLITZER: On this Veteran's Day, the president of the United States is basically accusing you of not being patriotic, you and your critics, because your undermining he says the war efforts and endangering U.S. troops.

And on this Veteran's Day, that's a very, very tough charge.

KENNEDY: Well, the best way that you honor the bravery and the courage of American servicemen and women is to tell them the truth.

Tell them the truth about Iraq. And have a real policy. A real policy, not one that's being made up every single day. A real policy that is going to ensure the beginning of the return of those brave men and women back to the United States of America.

That is the best way to honor those veterans not campaign sloganing and not campaign talk.

BLITZER: On this Veterans Day, well, thank you, Senator Kennedy for joining us in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: To rebut words like those from Senator Kennedy the White House dispatched some of the top lieutenants after the president's speech to bolster Mr. Bush's arguments.

The presidential counselor, Dan Bartlett, had this to say when I spoke with him earlier.


DAN BARTLETT, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: If we were to follow the policies of Ted Kennedy not only would Saddam Hussein would still be in control of that country. He would still be in control of their neighboring country in Kuwait.

He voted against this war. He voted against the war in 1991.

And so there is a difference of opinion when it comes to how to protect the American people.

And we believe that President Bush's view of fighting this war on offense is one that the American people not only appreciate. They understand as absolutely necessary to win and protect our country.


BLITZER: Still to come here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, and some of his most candid comments yet on his impeachment. How he views the whole scandal now in hindsight. You'll want to see this.

Plus, the subway ride that nearly cost a mother and a baby their lives. Surveillance tape captured the entire incident. We're going to show you what happened.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Take a look at these live pictures we're getting into THE SITUATION ROOM.

First to Santa Monica, California, sunset now clearly developing on the Pacific Coast. These are symbolic caskets and crosses that you see there representative of the more than 2,000 U.S. troops, who have died in Iraq on this Veteran's Day.

Let's cross the country here in Washington, right next door. This is a live picture you're seeing from the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C.

Live pictures coming into THE SITUATION ROOM on this Veteran's Day.

Let's check in with CNN's Anderson Cooper for a preview of what is coming up tonight on his program--Anderson.


Good evening, everyone. Coming up on 360 some shocking pictures. Never before seen images from inside North Korea. The images from photographers who witnessed a public execution of people whose only crime was talking to outsiders.

It is rare to see images emerge from Kim Jong-il's brutal regime, but with new camera phone technology and the Internet, people in that country are starting to show the world their suffering risking their lives to show you these picture.

A truly shocking look at one of the most repressive countries on earth.

Also tonight, are Americans ruder than ever? A new study says so. But, why? And what do you do that your friends and colleagues think is so darn rude. We'll try to show you all that tonight 10:00 eastern on 360--Wolf.

BLITZER: All right Anderson, sounds good. Thanks very much.

CNN's Zain Verjee joining us once again from the CNN Center in Atlanta with a closer look at some other stories making news around the world.

Hi Zain.

VERJEE: Hi, Wolf.

He was the top deputy to Saddam Hussein, and he was near the top of the U.S. most wanted list after Hussein was overthrown. And now there are unconfirmed reports that Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri is dead. Those reports come from the French news agency Agence France- Presse and the Arab satellite channel, al-Arabiya. They are citing a statement from the party Hussein used to control, known as the Baath party.

Americans may be watching their first female commander in chief only on a television show, but for the west African country of Liberia it's apparently real.

A 67-year-old woman is poised to become the elected commander in chief, a first for Africa. Dubbed the iron lady, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a Harvard educated economist and a political veteran.

Her opponents, former soccer star George Weah says the election was rigged. Now, his supporters are all out on the street protesting. They stoned police, and they marched to the American embassy demanding a halt in vote counting, chanting, no George, no peace.

U.N. forces fired tear gas at them. And the final and official election results, Wolf, are expected soon. But Johnson Sirleaf is already claiming victory.

BLITZER: Zain, African society very traditionally patriarchal. You know this well. You're from Africa. But, tell us a little bit how this is going to fit in with the new president of Liberia.

VERJEE: Yes, as you say, it's a very patriarchal, very chauvinistic sexist society.

I spoke to a few Liberian men today, and what they told me was, yes, fine, but the thing is that she's a very prominent woman. And she is extremely well respected not only by traditionalists in the country, but also the intellectuals there.

Analysts say that she is going to have to win over the warlords in the country in order to run the show properly. Because they are ones that backed George Weah, her opponent. You know, he's a tough guy. He's a big football star, a populist.

And that's really what she is going to do. But, they say, look, she has the experience, and she would make a good president.

And, Wolf, just on another quick note. Some amazing video that was captured by surveillance camera in a South Korean subway. Take a look at this. A mother is desperately trying to save her baby.

She wheels her stroller into the train trying to board the subway train. And what happens is the door closes on the stroller.

And you see, look at that. Another passenger helps the mother free the baby and she falls down. Her jacket gets caught in the train. She is dragged down.

And the train actually stops right before it goes through the tunnel. It was pretty amazing. The baby was picked up by a third person and the baby is OK. Remarkably the baby didn't sustain any injuries. The mother, though, was lucky and she just had minor injuries--Wolf.

BLITZER: What a scare, though, Zain.


BLITZER: Thank you very much. Thank God it turned out OK.

Just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Bill Clinton sounding off on his presidency, and his place in history. Will a little thing called impeachment spoil his record? He speaks out on the matter.

And Christian campaigners have retailers on the run. You may be buying gifts for another holiday, but it's the Christmas shopping season. We'll tell you what is going on.


BLITZER: Welcome back. Bill Clinton is lashing out at his impeachment by Congress, calling it an egregious abuse of the U.S. Constitution. He also challenges those who say history will hold him in lower regard because of his affair with Monica Lewinsky. The former president spoke out last night at Hofstra University in New York.


BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The only thing I ask you to do indeed with me or any of my predecessors, is make sure you've got the facts and then make sure you weigh them properly. One of the American historians I most admire, Mr. Brinkley out here, sitting here, was quoted in the paper today as saying, that I would be viewed as a great president except for the fact of impeachment. It was just there.

So one of the things all of you have to do, for example, is how are you going to deal with that. Now, I told Doug before I came up here I was going to say this, so I'm not catching him unaware. I completely disagree with that. I think you can say you think -- you can say you can think I was not a great president, never mind impeachment.

Or you can agree with his statement, but only if you think the impeachment was justified. Otherwise, it was an egregious abuse of the Constitution and law and history of this country and I should get credit for standing up to it because the statement that -- the statement that I or anybody else -- Andrew Johnson. Andrew Johnson's impeachment was not justified.

But the statement that any president should be judged based on a fact, whether or not that represents good or bad policy, good or bad action, I believe is flat wrong. That was a gamble Gingrich took. I'll never forget the conversation he had with my chief of staff, Erskine Bowles. And Erskine said, Newt aren't you being a hypocrite on this?

He said sure. What's that got to do with it? He said, well, you don't have the vote. He said I will have it by the time we got through whipping him. He let we'll offer him what we've got to offer; we'll take away what we got to take away. We'll get the vote. So he said, you recognize this is not justified by a law or fact.

And let me remind you, this had nothing to do with my misconduct. This is about whether I lied to the grand jury and obstructed justice. Now remember this. And I could not have obstructed justice without lying to the grand jury because that's what the grand jury testimony was about.

And so there's one person coming here who voted for obstruction of justice and against perjury, you ought to ask him how did he that since the whole testimony was about obstruction of justice. And we proved that the person for the House who represented that case on the floor of the Senate, Mr. Hutchinson, did not tell the truth about the chronology and proved it.

So it's still bad and my reputation should suffer. Now if you want to hold it against me that I did something wrong, that's a fair deal. That has nothing to do with this impeachment. Then if you do that, then you have a whole lot of other questions, which is how many other presidents do you have to downgrade? And what do you do with -- and you've got a lot of other problems.

What are you going to do with all those Republican congressman that, you know, had problems? And you have another problem which is, what about other issues? Does that count for more than, for example, the Nixon enemies list or a man I very much like, personally, President Reagan?

You know, I'm a southerner. It was hard for me to get over the fact he decided to announce for reelection in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where Goodman, Cheney, and Schwerner were murdered and tell everybody with a wink and a nod we're going back to state's rights. Everybody knew what that deal was about. I still like President Reagan. I admire a lot about him. But you never hear anybody mention that.

But I'm a white southerner. I grew up in that town. It hurt me, bad. Bad, and I'm not quite over it yet. So how are we supposed to evaluate this stuff? I'm not -- if anybody wants to stand up and condemn me for what I did and say I should be written down in history, that's fair. That's your judgment. But then you have to deal with all these other problems.

But to give Newt Gingrich what he believed we would all do, which is to stop thinking and legitimize an egregious abuse of power in the Constitution by saying the fact it happened was a mark, whether it was justified or not, I think that's not good for America. If you think it was the right thing, then stand up and say it. If you think it was wrong, don't pretend that it should be given weight.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Bill Clinton speaking at Hofstra University. And joining us now to discuss what the former president said, former U.S. Congressman, Bob Barr, Republican of Georgia, one of the impeachment managers in the House of Representatives. What you did President Clinton says was an egregious abuse of the constitution and law of the country. What do you have to say?

BOB BARR, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, then would he have to take great exception to his wife, Hillary Clinton, who made the very same arguments that we used against Bill Clinton in the year 1998, against President Nixon when she served on the judiciary committee considering the impeachment of Mr. Nixon a generation earlier.

She went back and she looked at the Federalist Papers. She looked at the grounds on which our founding fathers believed a president could legitimately be impeached. And obstruction of justice and perjury, reflecting the immoral behavior of a president was clearly the grounds and a legitimate historically-based grounds for impeachment.

I didn't hear him criticize his dearly beloved wife at Hofstra University. I heard him take shots at Newt Gingrich, and I heard him take a very cheap, unwarranted, disgraceful shot at President Reagan.

BLITZER: Because of what he said when Reagan ran for president went to Philadelphia, Mississippi, and did not speak about the civil rights movement there. Instead spoke about states right, which was, as you well know as a southerner, a code word for what a lot of people believe to be racism.

BARR: It may be on some people's parts but I have never seen or heard one shred of evidence that would give rise to any legitimate argument that President Reagan, either before he served as president or as president, had a racist bone in his body. And to disparage age Mr. Reagan who is no longer with us and unable to defend himself in that way is absolutely disgusting, but it's vintage Bill Clinton.

BLITZER: You were one of the first to call for his impeachment when you were a member of the House of Representatives. Is that right?

BARR: Actually the first. I filed very first inquiry of impeachment in 1997.

BLITZER: But he says if you were holding up other presidents to that standard of moral flaw when he had this affair with Monica Lewinsky or a Republican congressman who had problems, he says that there would be a whole new generation, a whole new group of people out there whose records would have to be reviewed. Wasn't there a double standard there?

BARR: Certainly not the way I proceeded, because when I filed the initial inquiry of impeachment, I didn't even know -- none of us knew -- who Monica Lewinsky was. I filed it based on other -- and I continued to believe -- were more serious national security grounds on which he should have been impeached. But the fact of the matter is, what Mr. Clinton was impeached for had nothing whatsoever to do with his personal behavior or the personal behavior of Newt Gingrich or any other member of Congress, Republican, or Democrat.

It had to do with him taking an oath before a federal grand jury and in front of a federal sitting judge promising to tell the truth and then lying and then going to witnesses and trying to get them to change their testimony.

BLITZER: He was acquitted in the U.S. Senate.

BARR: It doesn't matter for purposes of our historically based duty and procedures in the House.

BLITZER: We'll leave it right there. Former Congressman Bob Barr, thanks for joining us.

BARR: Sure.

BLITZER: And up next, retailers facing a seasonal struggle, what to say to holiday customers. Our Ali Velshi looking at the controversy over seasonal greetings.

Plus, a bank customer on her cell phone. It's not just rude; it's apparently a robbery. But who's she talking to? Stay with us.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lawrence Douglas Wilder has earned a reputation exploring uncharted territory politically, as well as racially. He graduated from the private all-black Virginia Union University after being turned away from all white schools in his native Virginia.

Doug Wilder went on to become a celebrated criminal lawyer, state senator, lieutenant governor, and in 1990, the first black governor ever elected in the U.S.

DOUGLAS WILDER: The people of Virginia have spoken tonight!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To demonstrate distaste for the state's history of slavery, Wilder chose to take the oath of office outside Virginia's capitol, a building that had served as the Confederate capital during the civil war.

Now, at 74, he's beginning a new phase of public service. Last November, following a historic change in the city charter, he became the first mayor elected by the people rather than the council, in his hometown Richmond.

WILDER: What is it that we are to do, and who are you there for? You're there to represent the people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today, Mayor Doug Wilder is a common sight on the streets of Richmond, and Virginia Commonwealth University, where he teaches political science.



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

In Oakland, California, gay military veterans taking to the streets to honor the contributions of gay and lesbian service members and protest the military's don't ask, don't tell policy.

In Ramallah on the West Bank, a boy holds a portrait of the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat at a rally to mark the one-year anniversary of his death.

In Brazil, boxer Mike Tyson followed by the news media. He went to court today in San Paulo to answer charges of assaulting a cameraman at a nightclub.

In L.A., endangered Sumatran tiger cubs making their public debut.

That's some of today's hot shots, pictures often worth a thousand words.

Attention Wal-Mart shoppers. The company wants you to know it's not the Grinch who stole Christmas. But what can a sales person at Wal-Mart say to a customer during the holiday season?

Our Ali Velshi is joining us from outside a Wal-Mart in New Jersey right now. What's going on, Ali?

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Hey Wolf, there's a Wal-Mart right behind me. One of the thousands of Wal-Mart's in this country. And it is cold here. As you can see, I'm bundled up in New Jersey. Cold means the beginning of that beloved holiday shopping season.

Or, in this case, the Christmas shopping season. Now, when you use the term happy holiday, or merry Christmas, to some people that's just a choice of words. To others, that is about American identity.

Now, to Wal-Mart today, making the choice to explicitly refer to Christmas might be what they needed to guarantee them a happy holiday.


VELSHI (voice-over): It's a sign of the times. Long-awaited proof that the world's biggest retailer was taking the Christ out of Christmas, came in an e-mail.

KIERA MCCAFFREY, CATHOLIC LEAGUE: It was the ramblings of an insane man is what it sounded like.

VELSHI: The e-mail came from a Wal-Mart customer service representative, identified only as Kirby. It was sent to a customer upset that Wal-Mart was using happy holidays instead of merry Christmas in its greetings to customers.

The e-mail read in part, the majority of the world still has different practices other than Christmas, which is an ancient tradition that has its roots in Siberian shamanism. The colors associated with Christmas, red and white, are actually a representation of the amanita mascera mushroom. Santa is also borrowed from the Caucuses, mistletoe from the Celts, yule log from the Goths, and the thyme from the Visigoth. And the tree from the worship of Baal.

MCCAFFREY: It's not Wal-Mart's place to be revising the history of Christmas.

VELSHI: Wal-Mart's head office defended the use of holiday, saying that the season from Thanksgiving to New Years also includes non-Christian holidays, like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

Unconvinced, the Catholic League called on 126 religious organizations to boycott Wal-Mart if it didn't meet three demands. And apology, a withdrawal of its explanation of the origins of Christmas and a clarification on its Web site.

By Friday morning, Wal-Mart had addressed all three demands and had fired the author of the offending e-mail. The Catholic League called off the boycott.

Most analysts we spoke with say Wal-Mart's decision to put the word Christmas back into the holiday season comes down to it being the most profitable time of the year.

One of them told CNN, Wal-Mart just doesn't need the fight. As for the holiday fever, it's catching. Last year several conservative Christian groups cited Target, the nation's second-largest retailer, for banning Salvation Army bell ringers. Target said it did that to be fair to other charities.


VELSHI (on-camera): Now that holiday fever continues to be catching. Apparently Federated department stores doesn't want the fight either. That's the parent company of Macy's and Bloomingdale's. Criticized last year for not using the word Christmas in its holiday promotions.

Well, Federated today said that they are doing six things to make sure Christmas is in the holiday season. They'll be having Christmas gift cards available at every cashier, they'll have Christmas, the word Christmas in their ad jingles, and their print ads, and those famous windows on 34th Street, Wolf? This year, they're going to be titled Christmas in the city. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Ali, thanks very much. Ali Velshi reporting.

Let's get some more on this story. Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton is standing by to show us what's happening online. Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, one of the complaints the Catholic League had was with Wal-Mart's Web site. It's since been addressed.

What they didn't like was when you searched on the word Christmas, you actually got directed to a page about holidays. That in contrast to searching, for example, on the word Kwanzaa, which took you directly to 77 items related to that word specifically.

That's now changed. If you search on Christmas today, you get almost 8,000 hits. We looked around different retailers. You can tell how carefully people are treating this., for example. In Britain, they say simply give this Christmas.

Here in the United States, they say simply give. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.

Up next, the cell phone bandit. A bank robber with a unique M.O. Why she has investigators scratching their heads. Stick around.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

Just as the sunset out in California, Santa Monica, California, a memorial service underway on this Veteran's Day.

Here in Washington the World War II Memorial, people going there to honor the U.S. veterans.

To all those veterans out there, thank you very much.

And just when you think your cell phone bill is getting a little bit too expensive. Try using your daytime minutes while robbing a bank.

That's what happened apparently in northern Virginia. A woman allegedly holding up banks while chatting on her cell phone.

Let's go out to CNN's Brian Todd. He's joining us now from Ashburn, Virginia--Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the sheriff here in Loudoun County tells me in 25 years of law enforcement he has never seen anything like it.

A bank robber who is incredibly brazen, the same time she is blending in with the customers.


TODD (voice over): She looks distracted. Maybe even rude, but law enforcement officials in northern Virginia say this young lady is more focused than she appears. SHERIFF STEVE SIMPSON, LOUDOUN COUNTY, VIRGINIA: This particular bank when she went in, was apparently on the cell phone when she went in the door.

Went over to the teller, handed her a note, opened up a brown purse, and showed her that it was a handgun inside the purse. The teller gave her the money, and out the door she went.

TODD: At this bank and two others in northern Virginia law enforcement officials say the woman was on her cell phone while conducting robberies.

They say she has robbed a total of four banks in the area over the past month. All of them branches of Wachovia Bank.

No one has been hurt, and officials won't say how much money she has gotten away with.

But there are key questions authorities say they cannot answer. Is she talking to an accomplice? Is the person at the other end directing her, reassuring her, or even threatening her? Is there someone at the other end or is the phone just a prop?

Authorities and criminologists also have different theories on why she is using a phone.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She might be thinking that it's a distraction. She just looks like a normal person talking on the cell phone. And the bank teller isn't suspicious in anyway, shape or form. And there's no guns blazing. There's no hooded scary people coming in.


TODD: Only a person now described by authorities as a Hispanic woman, 18 to 20 years old, about five foot five with dark curly hair and a very unique M.O.--Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks very much. Pretty amazing story.

Still ahead, first came Trading Spaces then Trading Spouses. And now trading voices.

Jack Cafferty has been going through your e-mail. We'll share some of them with you when we return.


BLITZER: Our Jack Cafferty has been going through your e-mail this hour.

What have you come up with Jack?

CAFFERTY: A lot of stuff.

Here in New York City, sweeps month, WABC television reports on what could be the new plastic surgery, something called voice therapy. People who hate the way they sound are training their vocal cords. They want stronger, more confident voices.

And apparently, are willing to pay between 100 and $250 per session for this stuff.

So, the question we are asking is, with whom would you change voices or trade voices?

Tom writes, "One of those Indian tech support guys. Then I'd use it back on them and drive them nuts."

Tiffany in Hollywood, California, "Sean Connery. He's got, by far, the most distinctive, smooth voice ever. The downside would be how odd the voice of Sean Connery would sound coming out of a 2-year- old girl."

Ren writes "My answer is I'll trade voices with you Jack. Your voice is a voice of credibility."

Dan in Delray Beach, Florida, "Elvis."

Bill in Springhill, Florida, "No contest: James Earl Jones." That's the guy who says this is CNN. I wonder what they paid him for that.

BLITZER: A lot of money.

CAFFERTY: Yes, three words, right?

Paul in Waterloo, Ontario, "Hey Jack, I don't know about you, but Zain Verjee has a pretty cute accent...wouldn't mind switching with her."

And Robert in Port Richey, Florida, "I would like to trade voices with God. Then I could talk directly to President Bush and I could tell Pat Robertson to shut up and sit down."

BLITZER: Very good stuff from our, you know, our viewers. I learn a lot from them. I go through a lot of the e-mail we get, and they always have something good to say.

CAFFERTY: Do you wear THE SITUATION ROOM t-shirt when you are going through those e-mails?


CAFFERTY: I want to see you in that t-shirt.


CAFFERTY: I want to see you in that t-shirt.

BLITZER: All right. We're going to get you the whole ensemble, Jack. And you're going to wear it. Maybe you'll wear it on your weekend show. CAFFERTY: Yes, right. That would be the last one of those they ever did here.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, he's with us in THE SITUATION ROOM weekdays at this time, including 7:00 at night.

Jack, thanks very much.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: Have a great weekend.

And to our viewers don't forget from now on we are in THE SITUATION ROOM weekdays at this time, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, as well as four to six p.m. Eastern.

I'm also back this Sunday at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, our new time, for "Late Edition The Last Word."

In Sunday talk among my guests this Sunday, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Chalabi, a very controversial figure. He's here in Washington.

Until then, thanks very much for joining us.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

Let's go to Rick Sanchez filling in for Paula Zahn.

Hi, Rick.


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