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THE SITUATION ROOM
Insurgent Attack Kills 10 U.S. Marines Near Fallujah; Colleague Of American Hostage In Iraq Speaks Out; Pentagon Paid For Stories In Iraqi Press; Corpses Found In Ohio May Be Murdered Children; Bomb Threat In Connecticut; Economy Doing Well; Interview With John Negroponte; French Doctors Give Transplant Details; TSA Allows Some Objects On Planes
Aired December 2, 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: To our viewers it's 5:00 p.m. here in Washington. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM where news and information from around the world arrive at one place at the same time.
Happening now, it's 1:00 a.m. Saturday in Iraq where U.S. forces have been hit by the single deadliest attack since summer. We'll get a live update from Baghdad.
It's 5:00 p.m. over at the offices of the director of national intelligence. The first man to hold that job, John Negroponte sat down for an exclusive interview with our own David Ensor. We'll show you what he says about national security, U.S. intelligence and the war on terror.
And it's 5:00 p.m. over at Reagan National Airport here in Washington. Passengers there and across the country will soon be able to take items that were previously forbidden onboard their flights. We'll show you what is allowed, what is not allowed under the new rules announced today.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We'll get to our exclusive interview with the national intelligence director, John Negroponte, just a little bit later in this program.
But up first, a very troubling day for the United States military. Ten U.S. Marines killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq and over at the Pentagon controversy over a program that paid the Iraqi news media to run favorable stories. Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre is standing by with that.
But first, let's go to Baghdad, our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is joining us. More on the death of those marines and other U.S. military personnel. Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the very latest is seven Marines who were injured in that roadside bomb attack have now returned to active duty. Four remain injured. But 10 Marines were killed in the blast that was described as being made by several large artillery shells. And we know that Marines, when they are out on foot patrol -- and this was a foot patrol - that they tend to patrol fairly well spaced out -- each Marine covering the other Marine. So that gives an indication the size of the blast from these artillery shells - 10 Marines killed just outside of Fallujah. Twenty five miles away in Ramadi, Operation Shank, 300 U.S. marines, 200 Iraqi soldiers, trying to make the city safe for elections in about two weeks. So far they discovered some bomb-making material.
BLITZER: Let me ask you a question I asked Jamie an hour ago, Fallujah, the battle occurred more than a year ago. I was there in April, end of March, things were relatively quiet. Is it getting worse there or has it stabilized?
ROBERTSON: This roadside bomb was outside of Fallujah, just outside. We don't know how far outside, Wolf. And I think the general perception and understanding is that if you're within the city itself then there's some degree of safety, sort of inside the security cordon, if you will, but outside it's still an area of farmland, river lands where the insurgents can hide in the farms. And that's still the situations it seems today.
BLITZER: Nic Robertson in Baghdad for us. Nic, thank you very much.
Let's get some more on this story. I'm joined by Scott Peterson, he' a correspondent for the "Christian Science Monitor" who was recently embedded with the U.S. Marines near Fallujah. He's joining us on the phone now from Istanbul, Turkey.
Scott, what was it like in recent weeks when you were in Fallujah with the U.S. Marines?
SCOTT PETERSON, "CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR" (on phone): Well, one thing that surprised me, Wolf, was the actual fact the insurgency has come back at all inside the city. I mean I was going on foot patrols with Marines. They were very, very much alert to the kind of threats that they were facing.
And even though often they were finding welcoming waves and that kind of thing that they were getting from Fallujans, they were getting they were also very sullen stares. And a lot of residual anger, of course, the fact of so much destruction had occurred in their city a year ago.
But the fact is that some marines we were with literally turned the corner after handing out candy and one sergeant I know was hit with a grenade on a patrol that we were on, just a parallel one. And that kind of danger is out there every moment.
BLITZER: In November, only a few weeks ago, you were embedded with Fox Company Second Battalion, a Marine unit. Was it your impression that the Marines, the U.S. Army soldiers, were in charge of security or Iraqi military and security forces were really taking charge?
PETERSON: Well, it was a combination of both. I think the remarkable thing -- I think the Marine officers were impressed with this as well. But there was one Iraqi battalion which was running the show completely in the northwest quadrant. This Jolan (ph) area which actually a year ago during the invasion, during the U.S. offensive was one of the worst areas, where the most entrenched insurgents were.
And so Iraqis are now controlling the show there. I was hearing from commanders, U.S. commanders even as they spoke to their marines during -- before and during operations, I mean, they were making clear they were expecting many more areas to fall under Iraqi military control and that would, of course, lessen the operation tempo of the U.S. forces on the ground.
But one other thing, though, about Fallujah and about this question of Iraqi forces taking over, in Fallujah those forces are very, very unpopular, the military, because they are mostly Shia and, of course, Fallujah is a Sunni strong hold. So there really is a very deep tension there. And people expect that they are going to have to hand the place over to the police eventually before they really are able to have an eventually U.S. withdrawal.
BLITZER: Scott Peterson is a correspondent with the "Christian Science Monitor." Scott, thanks very much for joining us.
After the deaths of these 10 U.S. Marines plus three other American soldiers this week in non-combat operations, as they're called, the U.S. death toll so far this month in Iraq stands at 14; 792 American servicemen and women have died there since the beginning of the year approximately the overall American death toll from the war in Iraq now stands at 2,127.
Now, to a disturbing new development on those -- involving those four Western hostages in Iraq. Let's bring in our Brian Todd. He has got the latest. Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here is what we know so far. Al Jazeera just aired new video of the four Western hostages being held against their will. In it the two Canadians are seen eating. In another shot the American and British hostages are seen but not heard talking. We do not know when the video was shot. According to Al Jazeera two hostages called on their countries to end their presence in Iraq. In a moment I'll explain the verbatim translation of what Al Jazeera said about the video.
No, according to Al Jazeera, the group holding the hostage, the Swords of Justice Brigade has issued a statement with the video. In the statement Al Jazeera says the group will kill the hostages if their demands are not met by December 8. The demands that are listed by Al Jazeera are freeing all prisoners from Iraqi government controlled jails and freeing prisoners from what the group called occupier jails, namely Boka (ph) and Abu Ghraib.
According to Al Jazeera -- quote -- "The American and British hostages called on the U.S. and British government to end all military presence in Iraq." Now, recently I spent one time with one person who knows one of the hostages.
TODD (voice-over): According to his colleagues, Tom Fox and his fellow hostages had no illusions about safety in Iraq.
VIRGINIA COLIN, COLLEAGUE OF TOM FOX: They can be kidnapped, they can be tortured. They can be killed. They know that.
TODD: Virginia Colin has known Fox for more than 15 years. They are both members of the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, and both go to this meeting center in McLean, Virginia. Colin and a member of the humanitarian group to which Fox belongs, the Christian Peacemaker Teams confirm to CNN that Fox sent a correspondence to colleagues telling them if he was taken hostage they shouldn't pay ransom for his return, should reject the use of violence to win his freedom, should not vilify his captors, and instead should try to understand the motives of their actions.
(on camera): Why in the world would he believe that? Why would you believe that if you're dealing with people who would, number one, kidnap him in the first place and, number two, potentially be very violent?
COLIN: That's -- it's a core principle for most Quakers. There is something of God in everyone.
TODD (voice-over): An official with the Christian Peacemaker Teams tells CNN that group is pursuing all diplomatic and nonviolent channels to win Fox's release. The CPT official would not say if the group is working in any way with the U.S. government. CPT and the Quaker group partially financed Tom Fox's trip to Iraq and Colin says she still holds his same beliefs about nonviolence and understanding his captors. But if he's harmed -
(on camera): Will you forgive those people?
COLIN: It would be hard. That's weird. I don't even feel any towards them right now.
TODD: Colin says she and several others in the Quaker group are concerned that Fox's captors may misunderstand his reasons for being in Iraq. She says they were not there to convert anyone to Christianity but were there for purely humanitarian reasons.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting.
Now to new details on a story about the U.S. military's controversial involvement with the Iraqi press.
Our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre has details. Jamie? JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, U.S. commanders call it the information battle space. And they say it's filled with misinformation and propaganda. They insist their efforts to manipulate the media are an effort to counter that with truthfully and accurate information.
MCINTYRE (voice-over): The Pentagon is not denying the basic charge. That a U.S. funded public relations firm took news stories written by the American military, translated them into Arabic and then paid to get them into Iraqi newspapers. But Pentagon officials told the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee in a private meeting that while U.S. commanders in Iraq who approved the stories are still gathering the facts, there was no intent to deceive.
SEN. JOHN WARNER, (R-VA) CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: You pick up our papers here in America and you will see a number of articles carried in there and there's usually the byline paid for and requested by this organization. That's generally what they have been trying to do. Now, it's been discovered in some areas there is an omission of that reference that it has been paid for and that's -- they are looking into that.
MCINTYRE: The company in question, Washington-based Lincoln Group ,has a $6 million contract to place favorable stories in the Iraqi media. And in a statement the company says "The Lincoln Group has consistently worked with the Iraqi media to promote truthful reporting across Iraq. We counter the lies, intimidation and pure evil of terror with factual stories."
At issue is that the fact that the Pentagon has one standard for routine public relations and another for what it calls information operations.
KEN BACON, FORMER PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: There is a natural tension between the military wanting to use information operations as a weapon in warfare and others who want to protect the press as a channel for accurate, legitimate information.
MCINTYRE (on camera): In a press release just released by the U.S. military in Iraq, commanders defended information operations as - quote -- "a powerful and essential tool" - end quote -- even while acknowledging that some articles were published in exchange for the purchase of advertising -- something they said was customary in Iraq. But they also promise to review the appropriateness of the process and correct any improprieties.
BLITZER: All right, Jamie. Thanks very much. Jamie McIntyre is at the Pentagon.
Let's go up to New York. Jack Cafferty is standing by once again this hour. Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf. The Army National Guard is offering a finder's fee for new recruits. The Guard Recruiter Assistance Program pays members a thousand dollars for enlisting a recruit and another thousand if the recruit actually shows up for basic training. It is seen as a way to help meet recruiting goals. And supporters say there is no one in a better position to convince a potential recruit than a current Guard member.
Right now the program is open in five states to part-time Guard members in good standing. They have to go through an online training program. And then they get a kit to go out and help market the Guard.
So the question is this. Is a finder's fee the right way to get National Guard recruits? Your thoughts? CaffertyFile@CNN.com. The answers later.
BLITZER: All right. Good. Good question. Thanks, Jack, very much.
Up ahead, America's first director of national intelligence gives his first television interview. It's a CNN exclusive. We're going to show you what he had to say.
A grim discovery in Ohio, is it the end of a mother's search? And the doctors who performed the first partial face transplant talks about the occupation and the patient.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: A grim discovery in northern Ohio may be the final chapter in a family tragedy that started in New Hampshire.
Our Betty Nguyen is joining us from the CNN Center. She has got the latest on this developing story. Betty?
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, we're awaiting word for the coroner in Summit County, Ohio, whether the bodies unearthed there are those of those of Philip and Sarah Gehring. The father, Manuel Gehring who confessed of shooting them in July of 2003 as he was embroiled in a custody dispute with his former wife. He said he buried the bodies somewhere in the Midwest near an interstate. But he later said his confession was coerced. He killed himself in jail before he could be tried.
Now, his cryptic clues prompted a search spanning 700 miles across the Midwest with the children's mother taking part. She says she is numb at the news that Sarah and Philip may have been found. The bodies were discovered yesterday by a woman walking her dog. So, yes, a grim discovery, Wolf.
BLITZER: Betty Nguyen reporting for us. Betty, thank you very much.
From New Hampshire to nearby Connecticut today, police empty the state's courthouses after a bomb scare. CNN's Chris Huntington is in New Haven with the latest on this story. Chris?
CHRIS HUNTINGTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, about 9:30 this morning an anonymous call came in to a constituent call-in line at the governor's office -- Governor Jodi Rell's office. These numbers are posted online and obviously open to all constituents. That call at 9:30 -- the information was passed on, that there was a bomb placed in one of several courthouses around the state.
Shortly after that 9:30 call the governor's office, a series of additional calls were made to several Connecticut State facilities saying that indeed a bomb or several bombs could be placed in any number of the state's 46 courtrooms and even other unidentified state facilities. That immediately setoff a response from the state law enforcement authorities who first checked out the 46 courtrooms in the state. They cleared them. They swept them. They inspected them all. Nothing has been turned up. The investigation continues at other facilities around the state with assistance from the FBI.
I spoke directly to an FBI spokesperson who says they are putting all their resources to bear. The State of Connecticut special bomb teams have been brought in to bear. The investigation continues. No known motive. Nobody taking credit for the call-in threat. But judicial proceedings throughout the State of Connecticut disrupted all day long.
Reporting live from New Haven. Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Thanks very much. Chris Huntington reporting for us.
Coming up, a CNN exclusive -- the first television interview with a director of national intelligence. Our David Ensor asks John Negroponte this question, is America safe? A rare interview. You're going to see it only here on CNN.
And coming up in our 7:00 p.m. hour. A call for nurses in the United States. There's a severe shortage of them, prompting new strategies to recruit more. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: "Vibrant," "cooking along," "humming," that's how the president and that's how some of the top advisers are describing the country's economy right now after the latest positive reports. But the nation's chief banker warns there could be some clouds on the horizon.
Let's go to CNN's Elaine Quijano. She is live at the White House with details. Elaine?
ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And Wolf, at a time when President Bush's approval ratings continue to be weighed down in large part by Iraq, today was an opportunity for the president to focus on some positive developments and claim credit in another area, on the economy.
Now, in a brief two and a half minute statement in the Rose Garden this morning President Bush touted the economy and the latest jobs numbers; 215,000 new jobs added last month and unemployment remaining at 5 percent. Now, President Bush pointed to other signs including lower gas prices and increases in consumer confidence and said the economic horizon is as bright as it's been in a long time.
But while Mr. Bush was touting that rosy economic forecast, the outgoing Federal Reserve chairman, Alan Greenspan, was more sober in his assessment warning what might happen if the problem of budget deficit is not addressed. The White House economic advisers say President Bush is on track to cut the deficit in half by the year 2009. And Wolf, look for the president to talk about the economy again when he travels to North Carolina on Monday.
BLITZER: We will indeed. Thanks very much, Elaine for that.
Let's get a little reality check on the economy from none other than our own Ali Velshi. He is here in Washington with the "Bottom Line". Ali?
ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: Good to see you, Wolf. The "Bottom Line" is most Americans would rather have a tooth pulled than think about the economy. The economy only means this to most people -- the jobs, your investments and your home. On the jobs front the president knows he's touting 215,000 new jobs. Katrina wiped out half a million jobs.
So when Americans think they are getting jobs or jobs are safe, that's good. On the flip side of that we have seen layoffs, GM 30,000. Kodak 25. We've seen Delta's bankruptcy, Northwest, Delphi. So the job situation is looking good -- not fantastic.
House prices, they are not on fire the way they have been for the last few years, but they are still going up. So as long as your investment in the house feels good, you feel good.
And the third thing is your investments. It didn't happen today, we're looking for a Dow that's going to hit 11,000. We're feeling good about the economy. You keep spending. And that's what keeps the economy going.
BLITZER: Ali Velshi has got the "Bottom Line". He's in Washington and he's going to be hosting ON THE STORY at George Washington University before a live studio audience. That airs tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Ali Velshi, ON THE STORY, 7:00 p.m. Eastern tomorrow night.
Coming up, he's the nation's first intelligence director giving his first TV interview to our own David Ensor. An exclusive and candid conversation with John Negroponte. That's coming up next.
Plus, formerly forbidden items soon to be allowed back onboard. We'll show you what the new rules are and what they mean for all of us the next time we fly.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Turning now to a CNN exclusive. The shock of 9/11 triggered urgent demands for changes in the American intelligence community. A year ago the U.S. Congress finally acted. It created a new post responsible for reform and oversight of the nation's spy agency. Our national security correspondent David Ensor sat down with John Negroponte, the new director and he's here to tell us all about this exclusive interview.
DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the director, John Negroponte, agreed to do his first television interview as director of national intelligence to mark the upcoming anniversary of congressional passage of the law, as you mentioned, that set up his job. He wanted to talk about how intelligence reform is going, nothing else. But he was ready to take on his critics, as you know there are a number of them.
I first asked him, is America safer now?
JOHN NEGROPONTE, DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: I certainly believe America is safer since 9/11. And I believe that from an intelligence point of view that our intelligence effort is better integrated today than it was previously. I think we're doing a good job at bringing together foreign, domestic and military intelligence.
And in addition to that, of course, we are on the offensive against al Qaeda and its affiliates around the world. So in that sense, I think our country is safer today than it was before.
ENSOR: There are some critics who charge that your office is moving too slowly with change in the intelligence community.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: There are four words missing, I think, from the way I sense the system is currently operating with the new director of national intelligence. Those are speed, intensity, urgency, and accountability.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEGROPONTE: Well, I think the -- the story is quite the contrary.
I was confirmed in my position on the 17th of April. The president approved a series of recommendations, based on the report of the Robb-Silberman Commission. And he approved those recommendations on the 30th of June and issued them as a directive to me, 70 recommendations in all.
And we are -- we have steps under way to implement all 70 of those recommendations.
ENSOR: There are other critics -- I might mention John Lehman, who is a member of the former 9/11 Commission -- who argue, actually, that you are already bloated, that there are already too many people working for you, and it's another layer of bureaucracy and sort of a moving around of the musical chairs, and too many of the people are from the old intelligence community, and, really, the country is not safer. How do you respond to him?
NEGROPONTE: Well, again, I -- I just think the truth is about 180 degrees from that. We have no desire or intention to create a -- a bloated bureaucracy in the directorate of national intelligence. In fact, our aim is to try to enable and strengthen the capacity of the individual intelligence agencies, to strengthen their core competencies by finding synergies between the agencies and by giving them leadership and direction.
ENSOR: How many people work in the directorate?
NEGROPONTE: It's less than 1,000 people, which...
NEGROPONTE: ... when you're talking about a cabinet-level government agency, is not a large number of people.
ENSOR: Now, some intelligence information from the federal government led New York City recently to greatly beef up security in the subways. And, then not too long after, there was an incident with the Baltimore transport tunnel, where intelligence from the federal government caused the locals to feel they needed to take extreme measures to improve their security.
And I -- I remember, at the time, hearing from intelligence officials almost immediately that they were pretty suspicious about the -- the quality of this intelligence.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: I am concerned that some recent meltdowns, at least in terms of understanding the intelligence information with respect to the New York subway system and the tunnels in Baltimore, are -- are omens that the DNI isn't as visible and active as he needs to be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEGROPONTE: I think, first of all, we're all grateful that nothing happened in either of those incidents, and that nothing occurred in either Baltimore or New York.
I think you could say, in some respects, the system worked here. We had information. We had threat information, which was of perhaps -- while perhaps of questionable reliability, nonetheless, because of the importance of the target, and the magnitude of the risk, it was considered important to pass that information to local authorities.
Now, it's -- one doesn't want to second-guess what local authorities do with information that is passed to them, since they have responsibilities to protect the people of their localities and to protect the infrastructures.
ENSOR: The secretary of State of the United States is going to be -- she has promised the Europeans some kind of an answer about the news media reports of CIA prisons in Europe and other places.
Now, I know you don't want to talk about anything with specifics of that story, respond to that story. But, in terms of intelligence reform, in terms of how the U.S. community is now set up, who gives her the answers that she takes to the Europeans? Is that your job or is it someone else in the community? Who -- who deals with things like that?
NEGROPONTE: Well, I don't think that I want to give you a -- a detailed description of the decision-making process. But I would say that this is a collective effort that involves the intelligence community and the State Department and other interested agencies. So, this would be an interagency effort.
But I suggest that it might be best to just stay tuned for Ms. Rice's trip. She's about to go to Europe. And I think you ought to stay tuned to what she says during the course of that visit.
ENSOR: When you brief the president, as I guess you frequently are the person who does it in the morning -- is topic A usually Iraq? And there are critics who have argued that you spend too much time on that process. How do you respond to them?
NEGROPONTE: First of all, one of my functions is to be the president's principal intelligence adviser. And -- and, in that capacity, I attend the morning intelligence briefings that he receives. But those briefings are presented to him by professional briefers, who do nothing else but that as their full-time jobs. And there's, in fact, a very dedicated staff that works every day and most nights preparing those daily briefs.
So, I myself would estimate that I spend about two hours a day preparing for those sessions, one hour in the night, in the evening, when I read the draft of the daily brief, and then one hour in the morning, where I get myself updated on whatever intelligence might have come in overnight.
ENSOR: The legislation that we're here to mark the passing of a year ago, there are some who are worried that it doesn't give you enough authority.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BRENNAN, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence, that component is insufficient to really change the way activity takes place in the intelligence community on a day-to-day bases.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NEGROPONTE: I think now we ought to let the dust settle and we ought to ourselves and the other agencies in the intelligence community time to implement the new law.
As far as authorities are concerned, it gives authorities substantially in excess, substantially beyond what the director of central intelligence used to have, including very important reprogramming authorities, both for personnel and for budget. And we have already taken on some fairly difficult budgetary decisions. I'm not at liberty to go into all the details, but we have taken some tough decisions that have implications for substantial amounts of money and resources. So, I think we have got ample authority. I think it's more a question of what we do with it. We are working hard to carry out the responsibilities that have been given to us by the law. And I'm optimistic that we can be successful.
BLITZER: John Negroponte speaking with David Ensor. David, good interview.
His background, though, was not in espionage or intelligence. He was a diplomat. He was the U.S. ambassador in Iraq, the U.S. ambassador at the U.N. How has he been received by the pros, by the professionals?
ENSOR: Well, he's a long-time consumer of intelligence, and always been a careful reader of it. And people in the intelligence community say he's always taken it seriously.
I think they respect him. I think they regard him as a tough Washington player. At the same time, he's got a longer learning curve -- there's just no way around it -- than an appointee who had been in the intelligence community. And that may be part of the reason that there are critics out there saying it's not going fast enough.
BLITZER: What about the relationship that he has developed with Porter Goss, the CIA director?
ENSOR: He's working with him. And, from what I hear, they get on fine.
BLITZER: Porter Goss reports to John Negroponte.
ENSOR: That's right. Of course, the key relationship is with the president.
BLITZER: But Porter Goss doesn't necessarily go to those daily briefings with the president. It's Negroponte who goes.
ENSOR: That's right. Porter Goss did it as acting -- as acting DCI. Now he's just the CIA director. Negroponte is the one who sits in there with the briefers and gives his two-cents worth from time to time, when he thinks the president needs to hear something from him.
BLITZER: The big criticism of the intelligence community, the failures leading up to the war in Iraq, was the lack of human intelligence.
Did he suggest to you that they have done a better job with spies, with actual penetration of enemies out there, because, as we now know, there really wasn't any good human assets inside Saddam Hussein's regime going up to the war?
ENSOR: I think this is one of the biggest areas that human intelligence that the U.S. intelligence needs to improve.
He did not suggest that they are getting better at that. What he did say is, they are doing a lot to get there, to bring in new recruits, to meet the new higher levels the president has ordered, 50 percent more of the CIA. It takes time to build a smart CIA officer who can go into the streets of Karachi or Istanbul, or you name it, Kabul, and find secrets. That takes years of training. It's not easy. So, they are trying to build these guys, but they are not claiming yet to be doing it better than we were.
BLITZER: Tough mission, indeed.
David, good work. Thanks very much, David Ensor, an excellent exclusive, the first television interview with John Negroponte, the head of the U.S. intelligence community.
Still to come here in THE SITUATION ROOM, hurricane season officially over, but can you believe there's a new hurricane to tell you about? It's hard to believe, but there is. All that coming up in THE SITUATION ROOM.
And a woman mauled by her dog gets the world's first partial face transplant. We're going to hear from the doctors involved in this procedure.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: Betty Nguyen once again joining us from the CNN Center in Atlanta with a closer look at other stories around the world. Hi, Betty.
NGUYEN: Yes. We're going global now, Wolf.
An apparent end to a tense situation in Haiti. Gunmen have released 14 Haitian children and an American missionary kidnapped in separate incidents yesterday. Police say American missionary Phillip Snyder was set free today. Officials say he's being treated for a gunshot wound to the arm. Now, the children, they were released last night, hours after their school bus was hijacked. There have been no arrests in that case.
In the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, a trial will begin next week for a man accused of trying to assassinate President Bush. That word comes from the city court in Tbilisi, where a grenade was thrown last May during a rally. The grenade did not explode. It landed about 100 feet from where President Bush and his Georgian counterpart were speaking.
And one day after the official end of hurricane season, there's yet another one. Wouldn't you know it? Hurricane Epsilon is about 1,100 miles from the Azores. It poses no current threat to land. And it's expected to weaken soon. That's good news. Epsilon is the 14th hurricane of the season -- way too many -- breaking the previous record of 12, set in 1969.
And, finally, French doctors who performed the world's first partial face transplant are giving new details about the groundbreaking operation. The patient is said to be recovering very well from the operation, which stirred some controversy all around the world. But the doctors say they believe they did the right thing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. JEAN-MICHEL DUBERNARD, SURGEON (through translator): When you saw this person's face, how severely disfigured, you will understand why we had to take on this challenge.
NGUYEN (voice-over): That challenge, an unprecedented 15-hour operation transplanting the nose, lips and chin from a brain-dead donor to a woman who had been mauled by her own dog -- she's a 38- year-old divorced mother of two who has chosen to remain anonymous.
The attack, which happened in May, not only disfigured her, but made it difficult for her to speak and eat. At a news conference today, her doctor said they determined conventional plastic surgery wouldn't do enough for the patient, physically or aesthetically. But, they say, they knew the alternative would be controversial.
DR. BERNARD DEVAUCHELLE, SURGEON (through translator): There were some ethical issues, and there was a point where we had to make a decision.
NGUYEN: They are now convinced the transplant was the right decision. They say Sunday's operation went smoothly, and they are especially pleased that the texture and color of the donor skin matched the patient's almost perfectly.
The final result, they say, will be a new face, not exactly like her old one, but not exactly that of the donor's either. Psychologists have been working closely with the patient, who will have to take anti-rejection drugs for the rest of her life.
She is also said to be pleased with the results of her surgery. The doctors say her first words were, "Thank you."
NGUYEN: And we may soon see a full face transplant in this country, Wolf. Ohio's Cleveland Clinic has been cleared to perform such a surgery and is now screening patients, with burn victims among the most likely candidates -- big news. It can really change their lives, obviously.
BLITZER: What a story. What a story, indeed. Thanks, Betty, very much -- Betty Nguyen reporting.
Up next, the rules for screening airline passengers are changing in the United States. We will tell you what to expect the next time you head out to the airport.
And our Jack Cafferty has your views about a new way to recruit for the U.S. National Guard.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: In our CNN "Security Watch," the Transportation Security Administration confirmed today that screeners will let airline passengers carry on items like knitting needles, small scissors and small tools.
Our CNN Homeland Security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, is joining us now, live from Washington's Reagan National Airport, with the details. Jeanne.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you travel a lot. You know there's a real routine to security procedures. Well, the TSA wants to shake those up. And it's changing some of the specific rules. For instance, scissors like this, four inches or less from the fulcrum to the point, you will now be able to put them in your carry-on bag. You will also be able to put on small tools, seven inches or less. But other things will still be forbidden, things like knives.
MESERVE (voice-over): Knives, hammers, ice picks, saws are still banned, as are box cutters, like those used by the 9/11 hijackers. But the decision by the Transportation Security Administration to end the prohibition on small scissors and tools has brought an outcry.
REP. EDWARD MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: TSA should not make it easier for future Mohamed Attas to arm themselves with razor-sharp objects and bring down a passenger plane.
MESERVE: The TSA says the changes, which will take effect on December 22, are a matter of priorities.
KIP HAWLEY, TRANSPORTATION SECURITY ADMINISTRATION DIRECTOR: I'm convinced that the time now spent searching bags for small scissors and tools can be better utilized to focus on the far more dangerous threat of explosives.
MESERVE: To better detect bombs, the TSA will select passengers at random for pat-downs, which will include arms and legs, as well as the torso. Screeners are also receiving additional training on recognizing bomb components, especially detonators. But most commercial flights don't just carry people; they carry cargo.
CLARK KENT ERVIN, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: That's a huge vulnerability. And it's really inexcusable, to me, that we have not already begun a program to begin screening 100 percent of cargo.
MESERVE: Hawley says the changes were not the result of any specific intelligence, but that terrorists have done surveillance of screening, and so the TSA is going to vary the procedures, to make them harder to predict and harder to circumvent.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: Jeanne, do they offer an estimate if -- if this is going to cause further delays or less delays for the traveling public?
MESERVE: Well, they hope it's going to be a wash, because, they say, screeners will have to spend less time picking those little scissors and tools out of your bag. But they will obviously be spending more time doing pat-downs of passengers. They have done pilot studies at three airports. They believe that it will not result in any further delays at screening checkpoints.
BLITZER: So, the bottom line, those little pocketknives are not allowed, but scissors are. The flight attendants, you reported earlier in the week, are not very happy about this, because even those scissors, they can be opened up; they can be sharpened; and, potentially, they could be a danger.
MESERVE: That's right. And we have talked to some security experts. And I will tell you, they are of two different minds. There are some who agree with the flight attendants. There are others who say these may propose -- may pose some sort of personal risk to the flight attendants, but it's not a national security risk. They doubt very much that any of those little implements could really be used as an effective weapon -- weapon to bring down an aircraft. So, a real split decision amongst the experts and amongst various interest groups. But the TSA has clearly made its decision.
BLITZER: Jeanne, thanks very much. Jeanne Meserve reporting for us from Reagan National Airport.
Before you go on that next trip, you had better go online, if you have a computer, if you know how to do it. Our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner, is joining us to tell us why. Jacki?
SCHECHNER: Not as hard as everybody thinks it is. Yes, before you travel, you should go online to TSA.gov. That's where the list is of what you can and can't bring. Now, here is what is up there right now. December 22, like Jeanne mentioned, is the day that this is going to change. But you can take a look and see what this list looks like.
Now, you guys mentioned knives. And I just want to point something out. Everybody has been asking about the small pocketknives, the ones that you mentioned. I called the TSA, because the fact sheet that they have online does not specifically mention these. They are smaller than four inches. So, it makes you wonder, do they qualify? The answer is no. They are still knives. So, unless you want this to end up on eBay, don't bring it to the airport.
BLITZER: All right, good information, Jacki. Thank you very much.
I think, increasingly, most of our viewers know how to go online. But there are some out there who still don't.
Remember, stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.
Up next here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Uncle Sam wants you. But is a finder's fee the best way to get recruits? Jack Cafferty has your views when we return.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is still in New York. He's got the "Cafferty File" once again. Jack?
CAFFERTY: We're in THE SITUATION ROOM annex here in the Big Apple.
BLITZER: Nice place.
You know what is nice about it? We don't have that silly music up here.
CAFFERTY: The Army National Guard's offering a finder's fee as a way to get new soldiers.
The Guard Recruiter...
CAFFERTY: Don't. (LAUGHTER)
CAFFERTY: Please. I'm begging you.
CAFFERTY: Just, please don't.
CAFFERTY: The Guard Recruiter Assistant Program is what it is called. It pays members $1,000 for enlisting a recruit, and another thousand dollarsI if the recruit actually shows up for training. It's seen as a way to help meet recruiting goals.
The question we're asking, is a finder's fee the right way to get National Guard recruits?
Susan writes from Pittsburgh, Missouri: "Paying recruiters a finder's fee to sucker in young people by any means reminds me of back when the British buccaneers used to get sailors by tricking them aboard the ship, and then enslaving them for the full tour of duty. No. Stop paying the fees right now."
Steve in Palmetto, Florida: "Paying recruitment finder's fees is not a great way to increase membership in our armed forces. But our troops are so poorly paid that it may be effective."
Elaine writes in Florence, Oregon: "Maybe a better way to obtain recruits for the National Guard would be to stop sending the existing ones to Iraq."
Yes. It's National Guard. They are -- they are supposed to guard here, this nation.
Jaire in New Canada, Maine: "Apparently, we have become very desperate to bribe for an army. Sad situation. Next, we will be going to the Cub Scouts offering iPods, computer games, and Hummers if they agree to sign up when they become of legal age."
Charlie in Long Beach, New York: "What's next, a free toaster if you get somebody to join the Navy? Or maybe a clock radio if you get somebody to sign up for the Marines."
J.W. writes: "Finder's fee? No. Draft? Yes. Time to draft the ladies. Let the men stay home as the protected and privileged gender for a while. Time to get the old equality ball rolling."
BLITZER: J.W. has got a good sense of humor. All right, Jack.
CAFFERTY: ... don't call me. I'm leaving now to go eat a sandwich. And I don't want to hear any nasty calls about that.
BLITZER: I will see you in one hour in THE SITUATION ROOM.
CAFFERTY: Yes, sir.
BLITZER: We're on weekdays, 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, 7:00 p.m. Eastern. We are back in one hour.
LOU DOBBS TONIGHT starting right now. Kitty Pilgrim sitting in for Lou tonight. Kitty?
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