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Senators Block Investigation of Bush's Domestic Surveillance Program; Women and Cancer; Interview with Duncan Hunter; Pentagon Downplays Situation in Iraq

Aired March 7, 2006 - 16:59   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, 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 2:00 a.m. here in Dubai. Will the deal to give an Arab firm of control over six American port operations go through? There's a lot of confidence here in Dubai. The chairman of Dubai Ports World tells me he has no doubt the deal will happen.

It's 5:00 p.m. on Capitol Hill in Washington. Is there still room for a compromise on the Dubai Ports Deal? I'll speak live with a powerful congressman who's vowed to torpedo the takeover, the House Armed Services Committee chairman, Duncan Hunter.

And it's 5:00 p.m. in New York. Her devotion to her late husband, Christopher Reeve, and to spinal injury research won her widespread admiration around the country. Now the actress Dana Reeve, a lifelong nonsmoker, has suddenly succumbed to lung cancer at the age of only 44.

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

Welcome to THE SITUATION ROOM. We're reporting tonight live from Dubai.

We will go behind the scenes shortly to watch how Dubai Ports World maneuvers the giant merchant ships and cargo containers in its home port.

Right now, though, there's lots of maneuvering going on back in Washington, especially in the Congress, as lawmakers seek to block the deal which would give this Arab firm control of operations, six American ports. New moves on Capitol Hill to halt the handover of half a dozen American ports. Do they signal a Republican revolt against the Bush administration?

We're going to get to that right away. But first, there's a developing story on Capitol Hill, as well, involving domestic eavesdropping.

Let's go live to our congressional correspondent, Ed Henry -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just minutes ago, the Senate Intelligence chairman, Pat Robertson, and some of his Republican colleagues on the committee, in fact, who are speaking right now to the media behind me, blocked an investigation of President Bush's domestic surveillance program. Senator Roberts, as well as some of his colleagues, like Senator Hagel, Senator Snow, Senator DeWine, say they did that because they have a breakthrough, they have compromise where they just passed creation of a new subcommittee on the Senate Intelligence Committee that will be devoted to providing more oversight of this domestic surveillance program.

And Senator Roberts also declared that he now believes that President Bush will, in fact, sign legislation, compromised legislation drafted by the Republican senators behind me that would basically offer all kinds of new oversight mechanisms, including making sure the domestic program only continues in 45-day increments and also derailing that it would be sunset after five years. So the program would end, and the White House would have to come back to the Congress, a new White House would have to come back to the Congress and basically get them to approve its continuing onward.

Here's Senator Roberts explaining the deal.


SEN. PAT ROBERTS (R), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Before our last recess, I asked the members of the Intelligence Committee to give me more time to continue these discussions in the hope of reaching an accommodation, not confrontation with the administration on both the oversight and the legislative fronts. The committee agreed to continue the discussion and we reconvened today to take stock of where we are.


HENRY: But the top Democrat on this committee, Jay Rockefeller, came out and railed against this deal, saying it will not provide enough oversight, and in his words, this was an unprecedented bow to political pressure from the White House -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lots of maneuvering on that front. What about the port deal? What are you hearing on Capitol Hill right now, Ed?

HENRY: Very dramatic development today. The new House majority leader, John Boehner, of course a very powerful Republican, came out and declared that he believes this whole port deal is, in his worlds, a political hot potato for Republicans up here on the Hill who have to face voters in the midterm election.

He also said, "I'd like to see it go away." He laughed after he said that. Maybe partly in jest.

But Boehner then vowed that, in fact, the House Republican leadership this week will bring up legislation on this port deal, despite the veto threat from the president, despite the White House pleas that Congress wait for the 45-day review to go forward. Boehner also said that, in fact, the legislation will be attached as an amendment to the supplemental spending bill dealing with funding for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. That's really a finger in the eye at the White House because they want -- that's a must-pass bill, where they want to get the money to the troops. They don't want it to be clouded by any other issue, especially not the port deal. So this is -- this fight is just beginning -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry on Capitol Hill watching several important stories for us, as he always does.

Thanks very much.

And coming up, I'll speak live with the House Armed Services Committee chairman, Duncan Hunter, one of the Republicans leading the charge against the Dubai Ports deal.

And we're going to have much more ahead from Dubai, including my behind-the-scenes look at port operations here on the crossroads between east and west. Much more coming up from Dubai.

Let's go to Washington once again. CNN's John Roberts standing by in THE SITUATION ROOM with more on the tragic death of Dana Reeve -- John.


Dedicated mother, tireless crusader for victims of paralysis, that's how many people are remembering Dana Reeve, who died last night of lung cancer at the age of 44. She is the widow of Christopher Reeve, the man made famous playing "Superman." He was paralyzed after a horse riding accident in 1995 and died in 2004.

Dana Reeve's mother died a few months later of ovarian cancer. And then Dana herself revealed that she had lung cancer, although she was never a smoker.

Shortly after her husband's death, she spoke with CNN's Larry King about the private trials of the couple's very public ordeals.


LARRY KING, HOST, "LARRY KING LIVE": Did you and Chris talk about dying?

DANA REEVE, ACTRESS: Definitely, because we were living a life that was really always on the edge. There was a lot of challenge and a lot of hardship.

When you live with a spinal cord injury, there are life- threatening situations on a regular basis. There are a lot of issues that you deal with. And we were not afraid to have big talks, and we were not afraid of emotion. And luckily, though, in a way, I think people take for granted sometimes their life and what they have, and we were very much aware of what we had, and the gift of life.

And that's one of the ironic hidden gifts behind disability is that you just realize that the gifts that you have are precious. And family and relationships.


ROBERTSON: We'll talk more with Larry King about Dana Reeve in our 7:00 p.m. hour.

For more on Dana Reeve's life, CNN's Mary Snow joins me now from Pound Ridge, New York, where Dana Reeve lived.

Good afternoon, Mary.


You know, people in this small West Chester County town where Dana Reeve lived say they are simply devastated. One man I spoke with who said he saw her in recent weeks, said he was especially shocked because he had hoped she was improving. This, after she made her last public appearance two months ago.


SNOW (voice over): The date was January 12, 2006. Dana Reeve sang for her friend Mark Messier as he retired from the New York Rangers.

That same month, those who saw her in person describe Dana Reeve as thin and wearing a wig, evidence of cancer treatments. She only recently learned her body was failing, says a board member of the Christopher Reeve Foundation.

In November, Reeve still sounded upbeat.

REEVE: But I do feel that with the support that I've received, and just our family unit is so tight, that we're going to get through this like we got through everything else.

SNOW: Dana Reeve went public with her diagnosis of lung cancer last August. The news came less than a year after the death of her husband, actor Christopher Reeve. She said she was looking towards him for inspiration in battling the disease.

It was a battle that touched many in Pound Ridge, where the couple had lived with their son Will, who is now 13 years old.

Neighbors describe Dana Reeve as always appearing upbeat, even as she cared for her husband for nearly a decade. That long-term care followed a horseback riding accident that left him paralyzed.

JOANNE PACE, POUND RIDGE RESIDENT: Seeing her and the strength she had gave me the strength to go through anything. If she can go through what she went through with Christopher and still keep her family together and be so loving and supportive, it makes you think you can do anything.

SNOW: Some say Dana Reeve's mission to honor the legacy of her husband with the Christopher Reeve Foundation put her in a league of her own.

EVELYN OLSEN, POUND RIDGE RESIDENT: It's almost like being patriotic. I mean, he was her -- her cause, and she just gave, you know, so much to him and to us, just as an example.


SNOW: And John, to give you an idea of how much admiration people in this town had for Dana Reeve and Christopher Reeve, the police chief, who came to know both of them, called them two of the most special human beings that have ever been put on this earth. He said the world is a lesser place, not just Pound Ridge -- John.

ROBERTS: Both of them really were people to look up to.

Mary Snow in Pound Ridge.

Thanks very much.

Dana Reeve was increasingly politically active in the past couple of years, seeking to promote her husband's cause of increased funding for stem cell research. She endorsed John Kerry's presidential bid in October of 2004, just two weeks after Christopher Reeve died.

Today, Kerry paid tribute to her on the floor of the Senate.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I can't tell you how incredible it was that within two weeks of Chris passing away, less than two weeks, Dana took the time, found the courage, somewhere, and the strength, and the sense of purpose that she described to me as coming directly from Chris himself, to come out on the trail and fight for what he had been fighting for. I will never forget the grace and the strength that she showed that day.


ROBERTS: And Democratic chairman Howard Dean issued a statement today saying, "In this time of great sadness, we owe it to Dana Reeve to recommit ourselves to the cause that she so eloquently championed. The best way to honor her life is to continue fighting to ensure that we do everything possible to realize the full promise of scientific and medical research."

We'll continue our coverage of the death of Dana Reeve this afternoon, including more information for you on lung cancer.

But right now, it's back to Dubai and more of Wolf Blitzer's exclusive reporting -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What a sad, sad story this is, John. Thank you very much.

John Roberts in Washington.

Let's go to New York. Jack Cafferty is standing by with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.


It's a horrible disease, this cancer, but we are making progress. Last month, it was reported the number of Americans dying from cancer actually dropped for the first time ever. Encouraging news, to be sure. But when it comes to lung cancer, the news isn't very good.

Lung cancer is the most lethal of all the cancers. It kills about 160,000 people every year. Almost 60 percent of those diagnosed with the disease die in the first year. Eighty-five percent are dead within five years.

When celebrities like Dana Reeve or Peter Jennings succumb to lung cancer, it makes headlines. For a few days, we hear about how bad smoking is and how important a good diet and exercise are. But for those of us who don't fight the disease on a daily basis, do we hear enough?

Here's the question: Are Americans aware enough of the dangers of cancer?

E-mail us your thoughts,, or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The answer is no, unless you've directly been affected by it, as so many of us have been by the loss of loved ones.

Up ahead, a tugboat tour of the Port of Dubai. We are going to take you along as we exclusively examine how this port operates. We're going to go behind the scenes. Who handles security? How container and shipping traffic is managed and how well they're doing?

And if he has his way, the current Dubai deal will be blocked. Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter has legislation to torpedo the Dubai deal. He's standing by. I will ask him about that in a one-on- one interview.

And we'll have more on Dana Reeve's death. Reeve died of lung cancer, although she was not, repeat, not a smoker. How is that possible? We're going to ask a cancer specialist.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting tonight from Dubai.

How does the company that wants to take over key American ports handle affairs in its own home port? Earlier, I got an exclusive behind-the-scenes look. Now it's your turn to take a look. Something you'll see only here on CNN.


BLITZER (voice over): During our morning tugboat ride in the harbor of Dubai's Jebel Ali Port, one clear fact emerges. Dubai Ports World, the firm that wants to take over operations at six major U.S. ports, has had huge success operating in this part of the world.

To watch this smoothly-functioning mega-port in action is proof, say top company officials here in Dubai, that this government-owned Arab firm is qualified to operate ports in the United States, as well. But what about the security concerns which are at the heart of a 45- day interagency national security review in Washington?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The company (ph) goes to the Customs, gets the clearance. If it needs to be inspected, it goes either through the x-ray machine or it goes through a physical inspection.

BLITZER: While Dubai Ports World officials acknowledge they play a role in port security, they maintain it's the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, including the Coast Guard and Customs, as well as the various port authorities, which will determine security in the New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Miami and New Orleans ports if the deal goes through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They used to go to (INAUDIBLE) number 10, where is right down in the corner there. And at the moment, we just shift them to another place for the security purpose. This all (INAUDIBLE) terminal.

BLITZER: Still, after spending three days getting exclusive behind-the-scenes access to DP World, it's clear the port operator can have a significant impact on port security for good or for ill.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, good afternoon. Will you please proceed to tanker (ph) number seven (ph), please.

BLITZER: This was evident when we went upstairs to the control tower. The decisions made by DP World employees up here include controlling which ships go to which birth (ph).

DP employees control the giant cranes that lift the huge containers off the ships. They determine how fast the ships will be loaded and unloaded.

The DP World employees have the passes that get them through the security gates to operate the equipment. And that's what critics in the U.S. are worried about: the background checks, the inside information that may be available to some employees, information that could be of value to those who would do the U.S. harm.


BLITZER: And when we come back, we'll go live to Washington. The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Duncan Hunter, we'll speak to live about this Dubai Ports deal.

Much more from THE SITUATION ROOM right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from Dubai.

There's powerful opposition back in Congress to the takeover of American port operations by Dubai Ports World, but the chairman of the company just told me a short time ago he has no doubt, no doubt that the deal eventually will go through.

California Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter is the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. He's put together a bill aimed at stopping this deal and others like it.

Duncan Hunter is joining us now live from Capitol Hill.

Mr. Chairman, thanks very much for joining us.

Listen to what Sultan bin Sulayem, the chairman of the Dubai Ports World company, told me in the past hour. Listen to this.


SULTAN BIN SULAYEM, CHAIRMAN, DUBAI PORTS WORLD: I think these 45 days that we have volunteered for review is a good chance for all of us, I think. And I think by the end of this, they will realize that there is no fear, no worry about security. Security is a very important thing for us.


BLITZER: What's your reaction, Mr. Chairman?

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: Well, I think it's clear, Wolf, that these people move cargo very effectively and efficiently, and that's the problem. The 45-day review that they are going to do can't wipe away the 66 high-speed electrical switches that are used to detonate nuclear weapons which were transshipped through Dubai in 2003, and over the objection of American officials, the government of Dubai insisted on shipping those. They would not stop them for the United States.

It doesn't wipe away the 70 tons of heavy water that was being moved by former Nazi Alfred Hempel from Russia and from China, and it doesn't wipe away the front companies, Iranian front companies which exist in Dubai.

In 1996, Germany identified six of them. Their job is to suck up technology and components for weapons systems. And right now, they focusing, obviously, on nuclear systems.

The problem with Dubai, is that Dubai is a place where you can effectively ship anything from anybody to anybody, and those are precisely the wrong people to be operating American ports.

BLITZER: Well, how do you explain, then, Mr. Congressman, the stance of the president of the United States, the vice president, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all of whom have come out and say that that was then, but since 9/11, the United Arab Emirates and the United States have worked out an excellent security cooperative relationship?

HUNTER: The problem, Wolf, is that the 66 high-speed electrical switches which can be used to trigger nuclear devices were shipped in 2003, two years after 9/11. And lastly, the president -- I had a chance to talk briefly with the president today when we met with a number of congressmen on India, and I gave him some of the information that we had and gave his staff some of the documentation we had on some of these transfers of technology.

My take on this is that the president is a good man, national security is his strongsuit. And I don't think that he had the information about these transfers. I think that he trusted his so- called CFIUS -- that's the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States --to do a thorough look at this thing, and they did a very superficial look.

They didn't go into the security breaches and the transshipments of deadly materials through Dubai. But once they do do that and we have this opportunity to do this, I'm optimistic that this administration and Congress are going to say, this is one of the operations you want to have owned by Americans, managed by Americans and operated by Americans.

BLITZER: What do you think of this compromise proposal that your colleague Peter King, Republican of New York, has put forward to let Dubai Ports World work with an American subsidiary, if you will, and let them operate these six U.S. ports?

HUNTER: Well, that's the so-called firewall concept, and I haven't seen Peter's legislation. But I respect him a lot. He's a good man. He's head of the Homeland Security Committee.

I think, personally, that -- that it's a difficult situation to have the ownership firewalled, although we do it on some occasions in some areas, firewalled from the operations. I think it's a much cleaner break to require American ownership, American management and American operations.

So I'm glad Peter's got some legislation that hopefully will fix this situation, but I still think we should -- we should have Americans owning, operating and managing. And Wolf, we've got a ton of great Americans coming out of the war-fighting theaters in Afghanistan and Iraq, great American military personnel who really know security, who know it in the context of the war against terrorism, who can do a great job of managing American ports. Lots of Americans to do that.

BLITZER: Right now, as you know, forget about this six port deal with Dubai Ports World, but 80 percent -- 80 percent of all U.S. port operations are now conducted by foreign companies. In the legislation you're -- you're advancing right now, you would have zero percent of that conducted by foreigners. Is that right?

HUNTER: That's right, Wolf. And what I introduced, together with the ranking Democrat and a number of great colleagues, Jim Saxton, who's the chairman of the Terrorism Committee, and the ranking Democrat, Ike Skelton, and Mr. LoBiondo, who's chairman of the Coast Guard Subcommittee, what we have is a -- we have a bill that would require divestment of those -- of those operations that are owned by foreign entities.

And what that means is that they're going to have -- that the owners, while they have to change the management -- that is, the board of directors and the chief operating officers have to be Americans, and they have to change that immediately -- the owners will have up to five years to sell that operation. So there's not going to be any fire sales. People aren't going to be bankrupted, and operations in our ports should not -- should not be effected. I think we can do this in a seamless way.

But, you know, Wolf, we have a number of areas where, in fact, we require American ownership because we think it's critical. And our bill says the secretary of Defense and the secretary of Homeland Security shall decide what is critical infrastructure in this country. It will probably include ports, it will probably include some power plants and other things. Once they make that decision, what is critical infrastructure, that infrastructure has to be owned, managed and operated by Americans.

BLITZER: All right.

One final question, Mr. Chairman. And I will read to you what the executive director of the Marine Exchange of Southern California is quoted in the "L.A. Times" as saying the other day.

He said this: "Barring foreign companies from operating port terminals would," in his words, "shut most of the major container ports down in the United States, including the Los Angeles-Long Beach Port. That would be an absolute disaster."

He's referring to what I discussed earlier, the fact that 80 percent of port operations right now are conducted by foreign firms working here in the United States.

HUNTER: Wolf, look -- look at the military operations we've got around the world where Americans, through their ingenuity and creativity and capability can extend American power, maritime power and air power and land power halfway around the world in a very short period of time.

The idea that Americans aren't capable of operating a port, which is not exactly rocket science, doesn't make a lot of sense. There's lots of Americans who can do these jobs. And if a lot of these port operations weren't subsidized by the foreign company, they wouldn't win the bid, they wouldn't be able to bid that low.

Most of this is a matter of low bidding. It's not a matter of a particular expertise. American cans do this job, Wolf.

And incidentally -- last thing, Wolf. My reading of the Dubai law is that you couldn't -- you couldn't buy a McDonald's and own it in Dubai, because they require -- they bar all foreign investment, not just in critical infrastructure, but I don't think you can buy anything in Dubai. So I think they will understand this.

BLITZER: Well, I've been here the last three days, Congressman. I've seen a lot of American companies, a lot of foreign companies operating here. I assume they have good partnerships with local citizens in the United Arab Emirates. But we'll check that out.

We've got to leave it right there.

Congressman Duncan Hunter, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a very strong opponent of this Dubai Ports deal.

Congressman, thanks very much.

HUNTER: Hey, thank you, Wolf. Have a good trip home. Be safe.

BLITZER: Thank you.

The U.S. ambassador to Iraq, meanwhile, is quoted today as saying the invasion of Iraq opened, in his words, a "Pandora's box of ethnic and sectarian tensions which could escalate into civil war." Over at the Pentagon today they're trying to close the lid on such a scenario.

Let's bring in our Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR MILITARY AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a familiar refrain from the Pentagon, namely, that the news media is making things in Iraq look worse than it really is.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): The Pentagon denies, the recent rise in violence in Iraq is statistically significant. And Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld insists, Iraq is nowhere close to descending into civil war.

DONALD RUMSFELD, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I think that these things go in bursts. And the burst is past. And -- and -- and it has been handled pretty well.

MCINTYRE: A new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll found that 80 percent of Americans believe the recent sectarian violence makes civil war in Iraq likely. Rumsfeld blamed that perception on what he called exaggerated accounts of violence by U.S. and Arabic media outlets, which he did not name, but which he said reported inflated numbers of Iraqi deaths and attacks on mosques.

RUMSFELD: The steady stream of errors all seem to be in -- of a nature to inflame the situation and to give heart to the terrorists.

MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld, flanked by his senior military adviser, argued, the fact that Iraqi troops took the lead in quelling violence, and Iraqi government and religious leaders appealed for calm, were clear signs Iraq is not on the brink of civil war. GENERAL PETER PACE, CHAIRMAN, JOINT CHIEFS OF STAFF: The Iraqi people, Sunnis, Shia, Kurds, have walked up to that possibility. I believe they have looked into the abyss and have said, this is not where we want to go. We -- we -- we want to have calm. We want to have a peaceful future.


MCINTYRE: Rumsfeld said the latest violence, in his words, may or may not dim the prospects for fewer U.S. troops reductions in Iraq, something the Pentagon hoped might happen over the next couple months. We will let this settle down, he said, and see where we are -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jamie, thanks very much.

Zain Verjee is standing by at the CNN Center in Atlanta with a closer look at other stories making news.

Hi, Zain.


A sheriff's deputy in Southern California's San Bernardino County is charged with attempted manslaughter. It stems from the videotaped shooting of an unarmed Iraq war veteran, following a car chase in which the victim was a passenger. The deputy can be heard on the tape ordering the man to stand up. But, when he did, the deputy shot him three times.

An FBI agent grilled by lawyers for confessed terror conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, as the sentencing phase of his trial continues -- the defense is trying to refute prosecution claims that Moussaoui alone could have alone stopped the 9/11 attacks, if he hadn't lied to investigators. The defense is arguing, the FBI already knew more about al Qaeda plans than Moussaoui, who could get the death penalty.

And, in Houston, the prosecution's star witness took the stand in the trial of former Enron bosses Ken Lay and Jeffrey Skilling. Former CFO Andrew Fastow testified that they knew all about the partnerships designed to inflate company earnings. Fastow's testimony is part of a plea deal. He faces 10 years in jail.

And the bottom line on the markets today, it was a mixed session for the major markets. The Dow was up, but the Nasdaq and the S&P -- S&P fell, in part because of concern over rising interest rates -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Zain, thanks very much.

Coming up, like Dana Reeve, as many as one in five women who get lung cancer are nonsmokers. We will hear from one of the nation's top lung cancer experts on what you need to know.

And our Larry King has interviewed Chris and Dana Reeve on many occasions. In the 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, Larry King will join us live, right here on THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: I will have much more from Dubai. That's coming up.

But, first, let's go back to CNN's John Roberts. He's back in THE SITUATION ROOM in Washington, watching the very, very sad story, the sudden death of Dana Reeve -- John.

ROBERTS: All right, thanks, Wolf.

And more now on one of the top stories that we are following today, the death of Dana Reeve at age 44 from lung cancer. The widow of actor Christopher Reeve was a nonsmoker, as are some one in five women who develop lung cancer.

For more on this, we are joined now by Dr. Eva Szabo. She's the chief of the National Cancer Institute's Lung Cancer Research Group and Division of Cancer Prevention.

Dr. Szabo, the thing that surprised people the most about Dana Reeve's diagnosis was the fact that she had never smoked a cigarette. But if we are to look at these statistics, it shouldn't be a surprise at all.


You know, unfortunately, about 15 percent of women have lung cancer -- 15 percent of women with lung cancer never smoked. And there are also men with lung cancer who never smoked. There are probably environmental exposures. There's secondhand smoke, which a lot of us get exposed to. There's radon. There are other environmental exposures, asbestos, which is probably not the case there.

So, there are other factors besides smoking, although, by and large, smoking is the most important risk...

ROBERTS: Genetic...

SZABO: .. factor.

ROBERTS: Genetic factors as well?

SZABO: There -- it is felt that there are some genetic factors.

Because smoking is such an important component, it is hard to know how much is an interaction of genes and environment. But there are genes that have been -- at least one gene that has recently been associated with familial lung cancer. So, it is felt that there is a genetic component for sure.

ROBERTS: One of -- one of the most troubling and frustrating aspects of -- of this type of cancer is the high mortality rate.

ROBERTS: Once...

SZABO: Right.

ROBERTS: ... somebody develops lung cancer, what are the chances for survival, and -- and what are the treatment options?

SZABO: It all depends on how early it's caught.

Now, unfortunately, part of the reason for the high mortality is that lung cancer is usually not found early. It is usually spread, at least locally, and often distantly. And, once it has spread, it is very hard to treat. So, if it's caught early, surgery is the option. If there is some regional spread, we usually give chemotherapy as an adjuvant, in other words, to get rid of those extra lung cancer cells that couldn't be found that may have spread.

And with distant metastatic disease, it is only chemotherapy. And, since most of the disease really reaches that point, that -- that's a real tough problem.

ROBERTS: Our senior chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in our last hour, talked a little bit about pre-screening for cancer, and -- and that there's still a -- a debate raging on this.


ROBERTS: The jury is out. What about this idea of, if you are in your 30s or 40s, going in and getting a CAT scan, just to see if you have got it?

SZABO: There are studies ongoing, including the National Cancer Institute, a national lung screening trial, the NLST, which are looking whether C.T. scans, spiral C.T., would be a good way to detect lung cancer. But, right now, that's not the recommendation.

Now, in the past, people have looked at X-ray or sputum cytology as ways to detect early cancer. But those really...

ROBERTS: Now, aren't -- aren't some people also researching -- researching dogs being able to sniff out lung cancer?


SZABO: There is all kinds of research going on. But there's no data to show that there is anything you can do right now. The studies are ongoing.

ROBERTS: And -- and last question -- she was 44 when she died.


ROBERTS: That seems -- that seems pretty young to be developing lung cancer.

SZABO: Most lung cancer occurs later. It's a -- it's how long you have been smoking, usually. But there are definitely -- there is non-smoking-related lung cancer, and that occurs early. It's the young, non-smoking women that get it when it is not associated with -- with smoking. It's -- it's not that uncommon. I wish it was more uncommon.

ROBERTS: So, a -- a quick tip, if you will, for somebody who thinks that they might be at risk of developing this disease.

SZABO: Well, the first thing is to talk to your doctor, you know, and talk about options that are good for you. If you smoke, stop smoking.

The best thing is, teach your children never to start smoking.

ROBERTS: Mmm-hmm.

SZABO: And discuss it with your doctor.

And screening may be appropriate, but, in most cases, the data just isn't there yet.

ROBERTS: Good advice.

Dr. Eva Szabo from the National Institutes of Health, thanks very much.


ROBERTS: How could someone with lung cancer ever get the disease without smoking a cigarette? Beyond tobacco, the leading cause is from naturally occurring radioactive gases called radon, which Dr. Szabo just talked about. Are you at risk for exposure?

Our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner, has more on that for us now -- Jacki.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: John, well, radon is a naturally occurring gas in the environment.

It comes from the breakdown of uranium in the soil. And it is invisible, and it is odorless. And we don't pay any attention to it, because there are no immediate signs or symptoms. But we should. It gets into your lungs. It is the second-leading cause of lung cancer.

And the EPA told me today that one in 15 homes has the possibility of having a very high level of radon. Now, how does it get into your home? Well, cracks and crevasses. It's very simple. It does come up from the soil. What do you do?

Well, you test your home. It's very important. The EPA has put together a map of zones where they say there's a probability that the radon levels could be higher. But they emphasize that this is just a probability. It could be any home in the United States. Go to the EPA. They have a lot of really good information about how to do the test. Go to your local hardware store. Go pick up one of these $10 to $15 tests. And then you can also go to their site and find a state-qualified professional to help you get the radon out of your home -- Wolf.

Or John -- I'm sorry. I thought we were sending it back to Wolf -- John, back to you.

ROBERTS: All right, Jacki, thanks very much. We will have more on the death of Dana Reeve coming up in our 7:00 hour, including an interview with Larry King, who has spoken with her several times.

But, right now, back to Dubai and more with Wolf Blitzer on his exclusive look at the ports deal -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, John.

Lou Dobbs getting ready for his program -- that begins right at the top of the hour.

Lou, what are you working on tonight?


Coming up at 6:00 here on CNN, no deal, Mr. President. The House Republican leadership challenges the White House on the Dubai ports deal. We will be live on Capitol Hill with the political showdown on this critical issue of national security.

Also tonight, is just about everything in this country for sale? It seems that way. Ports, highways, airport facilities, it turns out they are, and foreign companies and governments buying them -- but at what cost to our national security and at what cost to our country? We will have a special report on the collision between commerce and our national security.

I will also be talking with two Democrats outraged by the ports deal. Senator Barbara Boxer, Congressman Harold Ford will be my guests. And I will be talking with a Republican as well, Senator Jeff Sessions. He says Senator Arlen Specter's immigration reform bill amounts to an eight-foot bridge attempting to cross a 10-foot ravine.

And we are going to have a special guest tonight, Wolf. I will be talking with you about what you have learned this week in Dubai.

I hope you will all join us -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: We will certainly do that. Thanks very much, Lou -- coming up right at the top of the hour.

Still to come here on THE SITUATION ROOM, I have been in Dubai now for the past several days. And, no matter what your opinion is of the ports deal, Dubai has to be seen to believe. I'm going to take you on a special tour. That's coming up next.

And, later, with the tragic death of Dana Reeve, the cancer community is coming together online. We're going to take a closer look at that as well.


BLITZER: It's a long way from THE SITUATION ROOM back in Washington to the skies over Dubai. A bustling port on the edge of the desert, Dubai is clearly looking toward the future, and it's best seen from the sky.


BLITZER (voice-over): Our helicopter tour of Dubai is with American pilot Joe Kiefer (ph). It began near Dubai's World Trade Center, but, within moments, we were flying over truly amazing structures, the Burj Al Arab, dubbed the world's only seven-star hotel.

It's located on a manmade island, only 180 feet shorter than the Empire State Building. It's a white sail-shaped building, and has become a major landmark.

Check out the helipad at the top.

Then, there are the malls and the entertainment centers, including this giant indoor ski slope. Think about it, manmade snow in the middle of the desert, enough snow for a 400 meter or about 1,300-foot run.

What's billed as the world's tallest building is now under construction. There are lush golf courses in Dubai. Tiger Woods was here recently for the Dubai Desert Classic.

But there are other, more exotic and controversial sporting events, including camel racing, controversial because the jockeys are young children. Dubai is promising UNICEF it is banning underage jockeys. It is even exploring robot jockeys.

Our primary purpose on this visit was to explore Dubai's ports, the Rashid and the Jebel Ali. They are among the largest and busiest in the world, something that's very clear from either the ground or the air.

One can't help but gasp at the pace of construction on both real desert land and manmade land. This is Palm Island, where multimillion-dollar villas spread out across the Gulf. It is shaped like a date palm tree. Some 12,000 palm trees have been grown in a local nursery to be planted here.


BLITZER: And you can see the Burj Al Arab right behind me, the tallest hotel in the world, the so-called seven-star hotel. We are going to have more on this hotel, and the ski slopes, indoor, here, coming up later in THE SITUATION ROOM, during our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour. You will want to stick around for that.

But, up ahead, cancer kills thousands of people every year. But how well do Americans know the dangers of the disease? Jack Cafferty has been going through your e-mail, testing your knowledge.

And, in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, more on the life and death of Dana Reeve. I will speak with CNN's Larry King. Dana appeared on his program in her first live prime-time interview after her husband's death.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Let's go back to Zain Verjee at the CNN Center in Atlanta with a closer look at other stories making news -- Zain.

VERJEE: Wolf, the United States and Russia say they are resolved to find a solution to the nuclear crisis with Iran.

Today, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov. They say both countries hope to find a diplomatic solution to the problem with Iran. And they denied a reported Russian compromise that would have allowed Iran to enrich a small amount of uranium on Iranian soil.

Baseball's Barry Bonds says he's not interesting in reading about allegations that he used steroids. A new book says Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs, including steroids and human growth hormones, for at least five seasons, starting back in 1998. An excerpt of the book, "A Game of Shadows," appears in an upcoming issue of "Sports Illustrated." Bonds has repeatedly denied using performance-enhancing drugs.

And ABC News anchor Bob Woodruff is said to be making significant progress. The president of ABC News says Woodruff is uttering a few words, and he's starting to walk now as well. Woodruff's brother David even says that his brother can now recognize people. In January, Woodruff and his cameraman, Doug Vogt, were hurt in a roadside bombing in Iraq -- back to Wolf now in Dubai, in front of the Burj Al Arab.

Wolf, I hope you are having a good time and finding some time to have fun.

BLITZER: Well, I'm working hard.


BLITZER: But it's a fascinating place, Zain. Thanks very much.

Coming up, are Americans aware enough of the dangers of cancer? Jack Cafferty is standing by with your e-mail.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: We want to go back to one of our top stories, following the tragic death of Dana Reeve. Let's once again go to our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner -- Jacki.

SCHECHNER: Wolf, just wanted to show you the power of the Internet and community when dealing with something like cancer.

Of course, there's the American Cancer Society Cancer Survivors Network. This is a tradition opportunity for people to come together and talk about their experiences.

But a couple of people we wanted to show you that are doing it a little unconventionally. Dr. Phil Berman is a radiologist who is fighting his war online. He has invited other people with cancer to blog at this organization,, the toenails for every year he survives. He's up to two now.

And, then, there is also Brian Fies, who has created a comic strip that chronicled his mother's battle with lung cancer. He says he has received a tremendous amount of support from people who say that the humor and the voice has helped them really understand and to move on -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jacki, thanks very much.

Let's go to New York. Jack Cafferty is standing by with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.


In light of the death of Dana Reeve from lung cancer, the question is: Are Americans aware enough of the dangers of cancer?

Nancy in Ellicott City, Maryland: "No. My 14-year-old daughter was diagnosed with bone cancer in September of 2005. We were taken completely by surprise. Things like this only happen to other people. It has completely changed our lives and reset our life priorities."

J.K. in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania: "I believe Americans are aware of the dangers of cancer. However, money plays a very large role. People who can afford health insurance -- good health insurance -- will see doctors and get the proper treatment. People with no insurance or poor insurance are just as aware of the danger, but, unfortunately, for them, their cancer is their death sentence."

Betty writes: "Yes, as Americans, we hear all about the dangers of smoking and lung cancer. Our problem is that, as individuals, we believe that it only happens to 'other people.' I'm a classic example. My father died of lung cancer. On his deathbed, he told me to put down those cigarettes. And all that time, I thought I had hidden the fact that I smoked."

Richard in Utica, New York: "As long as you keep repeating was not a smoker, you are part of the problem. No one with half-a-brain doesn't think that the cause of Dana Reeve's cancer was inhaling secondhand smoke while working as a singer in a smoky nightclubs." And David in Denton, Texas: "I made fun of all of those I referred to as hypochondriac, you know, always in for checkups. I found last August I have stage-four cancer. I waited too long" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, you hear those stories. They're heartbreaking, all across the board -- cancer, what a killer.

Thanks very much, Jack. We will see you back here in one hour, in THE SITUATION ROOM.

I'm reporting from Dubai. We will be back -- much more coverage on the port deal.

We're also watching the tragic death of Dana Reeve.

Until then, thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now.


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