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THE SITUATION ROOM

President Bush Concerned about Iraq Sliding into Civil War; Will Iran Pursue Nuclear Programs?; Gerald Ford Receives Pacemaker

Aired August 21, 2006 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Kitty. And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you tonight's top stories.
Happening now, it's 3:00 a.m. in Iraq. President Bush says he's concerned about a slide into civil war, but is it already raging?

Decades later he still lurks in the shadows, a man who may have killed more Americans than any other terrorist until 9/11. Did he start the recent war in Lebanon? What might he do next?

And he's gone from a high-style flight to a high-security cell. It's 4:00 p.m. in Los Angeles, but the suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey killing may soon be heading to Colorado. I'll speak with famed attorney Barry Scheck on why DNA testing holds the key.

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

He's juggling crises all across the Middle East trying to keep the lid on, Lebanon hoping to avoid a dangerous escalation with Iran. President Bush today was especially open about Iraq, conceding he's concerned and he's frustrated.

CNN's Aneesh Raman is standing by in Tehran with a story you'll see only here on CNN, but let's begin with our White House Ed Henry -- Ed.

ED HENRY, CNN SR. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president offered a sober assessment of the situation in Iraq admitting he has no idea how long this mission will take.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY (voice-over): The nearly one-hour press conference featured a dramatic admission from the president about just how unpopular the war in Iraq has become.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These aren't joyous times. These are challenging times and are difficult times. And they are straining the psyche of our country, I understand that. Nobody likes to see innocent people die.

HENRY: This as a new CNN poll shows the mission in Iraq has reached its lowest level of support since the beginning of the conflict with only 35 percent of Americans favoring the war and 61 percent opposing. The president acknowledged he's concerned about civil war in Iraq, but in the next breath, declared he has no plans to change direction.

BUSH: We're not leaving so long as I'm the president. That would be a huge mistake. Now, if you say, "Are you going to change your strategic objective," it means you're leaving before the mission is complete. And we're not going to leave before the mission is complete. I agree with General Abizaid, we leave before the mission is done, the terrorists will follow us here.

HENRY: Pressed on whether his stay-the-course-strategy is actually working, with 3,500 Iraqis killed in July, the president made an interesting distinction.

BUSH: If I didn't think it would work, I would change -- our commanders would recommend changing the strategy. They believe it will work.

HENRY: Trouble in the Mideast dominated the press conference, with the president calling for quick deployment of an international force to help save the tenuous cease-fire in Lebanon.

BUSH: The need is urgent.

HENRY: On Iran, the president said he hopes the United Nations will move quickly on sanctions if Tehran does not abandon its nuclear ambitions by the end of August.

BUSH: In order for the U.N. to be effective, there must be consequences if people thumb their nose at the United Nations Security Council.

HENRY: The president also suggested there will be consequences in November for Democrats urging that large numbers of U.S. troops come home from Iraq starting this year.

BUSH: There's a fundamental difference between many of the Democrats and my party and that is they want to leave before the job is completed in Iraq. And, again I repeat, these are decent people, you know, they are just as American as I am. I just happen to strongly disagree with them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HENRY: Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid fired back that success in Iraq is a question of strategy and three years into the war Reid charged, the president's strategy is failing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry, thank you. The United States and other powers have offered Iran incentives to halt its nuclear enrichment program. A response, a formal response, is due within hours, but Iran may have already given its answer in very dramatic fashion. Our Aneesh Raman is the only network correspondent inside Iran right now -- Aneesh.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what little chance there was for Iran to suspend its nuclear program today all but vanished.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAMAN (voice-over): These images broadcast today on Iranian TV send a simple message. If any military force tries to enter Iranian air space, this is what will happen.

(SOUNDS)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE)

RAMAN: It was the latest in a series of war games launched across the country, set to last five weeks, and set to show case what Iran calls its new defensive military doctrine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We have designed and manufactured systems that can make Iran's air territory insecure for enemies in different magnitudes.

RAMAN: On display to Iranian TV cameras and nobody else, a readiness for war, a readiness to protect nuclear sites against a potential strike by the West. To reinforce a message of defiance, a TV appearance by the country's top official, the supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei. He announced Iran would continue to pursue nuclear energy despite a U.N. deadline to stop by the end of the month.

Combined with these scenes, it's all meant to reinforce this is a government intent on pursuing a nuclear program and ready to defend against any military attack to prevent that. But do Iranians feel the same one? At one of Iran's war memorials, a solemn arch reminds of a brutal past of the eight-year battle between Iran and Iraq.

We came to see if people were worried that their country's pursuit of a nuclear program could lead to an international conflict. Nobody here questioned the government's claim that its program is strictly for producing energy. It's their right, they say, whatever the consequences.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

RAMAN: It is useless Ali (ph) told us to worry about an attack when a basic need of the people like nuclear energy is being threatened. We will pursue that right against everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

RAMAN: People who believe in God said (INAUDIBLE) are not afraid of sanctions or attacks by the United States. Not afraid and as Iran's military proclaims, ready for whatever may come.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

RAMAN: And, Wolf, late reports on the ground that today Iranian officials denied access to certain nuclear sites for the U.N.'s nuclear watch dog here, a sign perhaps of what is to come when and if the U.N. takes action -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Aneesh Raman in Tehran, thank you very much. And another Middle Eastern leader spoke out today and what he had to say must have been shocking to the Bush administration. The leader of Qatar, friend of the United States and the actual host of the regional headquarters of the U.S. military's central command, offered up strong backing for Hezbollah. Our Beirut bureau chief, Brent Sadler, has the story -- Brent.

BRENT SADLER, CNN BEIRUT BUREAU CHIEF: Wolf, more than a week after the guns fell silent along the Lebanese border, there's growing concern among officials here that delays in sending significant U.N. troop reinforcements into Lebanon could endanger an uneasy stand-off in south Lebanon.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SADLER (voice-over): A close U.S. ally and the Middle East drops a political bomb shell in worn-torn Beirut. The emir of Qatar, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani hails Lebanon's resistance, meaning Hezbollah for delivering the first Arab victory over Israel in nearly 60 years of conflict. He says it was a victory Arabs had longed for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SADLER: The Israelis used to be able to dominate Arabs with military might, says Sheikh Hamad, but this is no longer possible. The emir's unequivocal support for Lebanon follows more than a week of peace after 34 days of war during which time Hezbollah fired some 4,000 rockets into Israel. The war's outcome says Sheikh Hamad could improve prospects for peace in the Middle East, but only explains Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora if Israel understands that decades of conflict with Lebanon have failed to meet Israeli objectives.

FOUAD SINIORA, LEBANESE PRIME MINISTER: Is it more secure? Has this war made Israel more secure? No. So by force they cannot really achieve anything. It is high time to -- really for Israel to believe, to come to the conclusion that the only way how to get safety and security is by talking peace.

(SOUNDS)

SADLER: The terms of the truce call for Israel to withdraw troops from south Lebanon and the deployment of 15,000 Lebanese soldiers alongside an equal number of U.N. peacekeeping forces to fill the vacuum. And Hezbollah is supposed to be disarmed. But that demand in the light of post-war conditions, says the emir of Qatar is unrealistic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

SADLER: Banning weapons from the Lebanese and allowing them for the Israelis, says Sheikh Hamad, is not acceptable. Hezbollah has turned its fighting force into an invisible army that remains in the war-ravaged south, but the Lebanese army, say government officials here, can be trusted to seize illegal arms.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any weapons that are going to be found by the army, then it will be confiscated. And I repeat there won't be any place or area in that part of Lebanon that is not possible for the army to get into it.

SADLER: Israel has little trust, say western diplomats here, in a Lebanese Cabinet that has two members of Hezbollah sitting at this table.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SADLER: And Lebanon's army has neither the resources nor the numbers to force compliance with the terms of the U.N. cease-fire as nations struggle to come up with thousands more troops to secure the uneasy peace -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brent Sadler in Beirut, thank you very much. Let's go to New York. Jack Cafferty has got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, this morning at his news conference President Bush insisted that going to war in Iraq was a good idea. His argument was that while Saddam Hussein didn't have any weapons of mass destruction, he had the potential of one day developing them. Well Iran may already have them. They're hard at work on some kind of nuclear program that they refuse to allow inspectors to look at, according to The Associated Press.

Iran insists they're only developing nuclear energy, not nuclear weapons, so what's the problem? Why don't they want anybody looking at their nuclear power plants I wonder? Iran is so much scarier than Iraq ever was it's not funny and at the moment they're holding a fist full of aces. The United States is mired in Iraq (INAUDIBLE) with no end in sight. Our military is stretched to the max.

Hezbollah, Iran's terrorist protege is in Lebanon coming off a huge win over Israel and the United States. And Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad must be holding his sides laughing. Here's the question. What should be done about Iran if they won't allow inspectors to look at their nuclear facilities? E-mail us your thoughts to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you. And coming up, the new twists in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case; did authorities follow the proper protocol on John Mark Karr's return flight to the United States? Plus the famed attorney and DNA expert Barry Scheck who worked on the case, he's in THE SITUATION ROOM with us tonight.

Also, the most famous terrorist you've never heard of. A closer look at the man who may have inspired Osama bin Laden. Plus, Saddam Hussein on trial again, this time he's accused of using chemical weapons against his own people.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: First there was Bangkok, Thailand, now L.A., next stop, we think Boulder, Colorado. The man accused of killing JonBenet Ramsey almost 10 years ago is being held at the high security Twin Towers Correctional Facility. But John Mark Karr likely won't be in L.A. for too long. An extradition hearing is now set for tomorrow morning.

Karr faces charges in Colorado in JonBenet Ramsey's death. John Karr arrived in L.A. after a rather surreal 15-hour flight from Bangkok, Thailand. Passengers were stunned as the 41-year-old suspect in the Ramsey case sat in business class as immigration and customs enforcement officials looked on.

CNN investigative correspondent Drew Griffin was in a seat in business class not very far away. I assume you were in business class. I hope you were in business class, at least. Drew, give our viewers a little sense of what that flight was like.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It was a routine flight except for that one man in the last row of business against the window, Wolf, surrounded by two large men. They were both -- one was from immigration customs enforcement, the other an investigator with the D.A.'s attorney office in Boulder, Colorado, and a third immigration officer, (INAUDIBLE) and there is Mr. Karr sitting in his seat.

There were lots of media onboard, maybe half a dozen cameras or so swarming him, so that is when passengers noticed that this was no ordinary man. And because they were all coming from Bangkok, Thailand where Mr. Karr was big news, they all knew exactly what he was wanted for and why he was on this plane. It was uncomfortable to several of the passengers I talked to, and at least one Thai Airways flight attendant told our CNN photographer she was very nervous, especially when she had to serve Mr. Karr the three meals that we had aboard this very lengthy flight.

BLITZER: One of the surprising things here, he's a suspect in a murder case. He wasn't handcuffed. He was given champagne, flew in business class, he was wearing a necktie. If you're watching out for suicide watch, that would not be normal. And when they gave him a meal, I understand they gave him a real knife, not a plastic knife. He had a real metal knife in his hands. What was all that about?

GRIFFIN: You know I know it really does sound bad, but you know, Wolf, I think we have to defer to immigrations enforcement. These agents had developed a relationship with the guy. He is not a physically imposing person. He was never alone. The large custom agent there, his name was Gary Phillips (ph), was night next to him, Wolf, at all times watching over him and confided in me that there would be no trouble if Mr. Karr wanted to cause any trouble.

Their job was to get this guy back to the United States and in custody without any trouble at all and there wasn't any trouble at all. They chose this business class primarily because it offered the most isolated spot you could find on a -- on a full plane. They certainly didn't want him back in coach. That's where most of the families were on this flight. This was the last row of business class, so nobody behind him but a wall, nobody in front of him but Ann Hurst (ph), the other immigration officer, and the D.A. investigator. So they chose the right spot. Whether or not he had a glass of champagne or a nice meal, that was all served to everybody in business class and I think that a lot is being made about very little here.

BLITZER: Very briefly, you got a chance to look at him, to study him a little bit. What are your thoughts about this guy?

GRIFFIN: I really can't make heads or tails. He has a kind of a vacuous look in his eyes, but if you ask him a question, which we did many times, he will alert his eyes straight over to you. He's well aware you're asking him a question and almost without turning his head thinking about answering and then darts his eyes right back, Wolf.

He's an odd duck, I'll tell you. He's very neat. He went to the bathroom. He spent a lot of time when he did go to the bathroom combing his hair, changing his shirt, putting on his tie, especially right before he landed. He apparently, for want of a better word, quaffed himself so he could exit that plane looking good. He exited the plane right in the hand of customs officials and was escorted straight out, so I don't think he got quite the reception that he was after. But that's my impressions of him. He's just an odd guy.

BLITZER: Drew thanks very much. And this note, CNN's Larry King will have an exclusive interview tonight with Professor Michael Tracey, the man who led police to John Mark Karr. He'll be joined by Ramsey family attorney Lin Wood. "LARRY KING LIVE" airs 9:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

And still to come here tonight in THE SITUATION ROOM, on the trail of a self-confessed killer. The famed attorney and DNA expert Barry Scheck, he's in THE SITUATION ROOM. He used to work in the Ramsey investigation.

Also, one of the most wanted terrorists you've never heard of. He's killed more than 200 Americans, he's still on the run, and he's still quite capable of striking again, that special report coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: There she is, Zain Verjee. She's standing by for some other important stories making news -- hi Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf. Doctors in Minnesota have implanted a pacemaker into former President Gerald Ford. A spokesman for the Mayo Clinic tells CNN that the 93-year-old Ford received the device this afternoon and is now resting comfortably. Ford was admitted to the clinic last Tuesday and is expected to remain there for several more days. It's the fourth time since December that Ford has been hospitalized.

A new trial but the same attitude from former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. Hussein refused to enter a plea today on charges he killed tens of thousands of Kurds in 1987 and 1988. Among his co- defendants are his cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali". Previously Hussein was tried for ordering the murdering of 148 Shia men and boys in the town of Dujal (ph). The verdict in that trial is expected on the 16th of October.

A 24-year-old Virginia man faces capital murder charges following a two-day manhunt. Officers recaptured 24-year-old William Morva near the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Virginia this afternoon. Morva overpowered a guard and escaped from a Blacksburg hospital early on Sunday. Police say he later killed a hospital security guard and a sheriff's deputy. His escape prompted university officials to cancel the opening day of full classes today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Zane, thank you very much. And just ahead, you've probably never heard his name or seen his face, but a terrorist lurking in the shadows may be the real victor of the war between Israel and Hezbollah. He's destroyed records of his past, but we'll unveil him.

Could DNA evidence link John Mark Karr to JonBenet Ramsey or prove he's innocent? I'll speak with renowned DNA expert, the attorney, Barry Scheck.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Happening now, stunning words today from President Bush and a sign the war in Iraq could take center stage in November's elections. The president warns the violence there is straining the psyche of this country. But he also says it would be a disaster if the U.S. pulls out troops right now.

Sifting through evident and searching for clues. Will (INAUDIBLE) videos provide the answer? British authorities file charges in the alleged plot to blow up airplanes bound for the United States.

And a pit stop at a high security L.A. jail for the former school teacher accused of killing JonBenet Ramsey. John Karr may be headed to Colorado as soon as tomorrow. What DNA evidence from 10 years ago could show now in this case?

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

He's been in the shadows for decades, an arched terrorist who helped turn Lebanon into a hell for Americans during an earlier war. A look at the most famous terrorist you may never have heard of.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(SOUNDS)

BLITZER (voice-over): Much of south Lebanon is in ruins after the summer's month-long war, but the Lebanese organization Hezbollah and its sponsor Syria and Iran boast of an historic victory over Israel.

Hezbollah's TV network showed pictures of destroyed Israeli tanks and the face of Hezbollah, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, proclaimed a new order in the Middle East.

(SOUNDS)

BLITZER: But the spoils of victory may actually belong to a man who remains unseen, a terrorist in the shadows who knows killing first-hand, a man who before 9/11 murdered more Americans than any other terrorist.

(SOUNDS)

BLITZER: While Osama bin Laden makes statements on television, there are almost no pictures of Imad Mugniyah. He doesn't care whether you even know his name.

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: He is head shoulders above any other terrorist in the world. Whatever trade craft, how he picked it up, I don't know, but it is so good that it's probably unbeatable.

(SOUNDS)

GARY BERNTSEN, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Imad Mugniyah is the leader of Hezbollah's terrorist arm. He is the person that has managed operations, which included attacks on U.S. embassies, U.S. embassy annex (ph) in the early 1980's (INAUDIBLE) 1983, attacks on the Marine barracks in that same year, (INAUDIBLE) 41 Marines died.

BLITZER: American intelligence officials also believe Mugniyah was behind the murder of CIA Beirut station chief William Buckley (ph) in 1984 and Lieutenant Colonel William Buckley in 1984 and Lieutenant Colonel William R. Higgins in 1988 and the attack in 1996 on the Kobar Towers, a Saudi facility that housed U.S. troops.

And according Danny Yatom, a former head of Israeli intelligence, it's Mugniyah's unseen hand that struck the first blow in the recent war between Israel and Hezbollah.

DANI YATOM, FRM. MOSSAD DIRECTOR: It looks as if he's the one that is responsible also to the last attack that killed eight Israeli troops and kidnapped two Israeli troops after which we started our operation in Lebanon.

BLITZER: Mugniyah is said to have destroyed all records and documents that describe his past. He's believed to have been born in 1962 and grew up in the Shiite neighborhoods of Beirut. The teenaged Mugniyah was recruited by Palestinian militants eventually serving in Yasser Arafat's elite guard.

The 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon further inflamed his hatred for the Jewish state. And when a U.S. peace-keeping force landed in Beirut that year... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was against the interests of the Shia and against the interests of Iran. And Iran, of course, the single most important sponsor of Hezbollah. And he therefore worked with Iranian intelligence hand in hand to conduct attacks on us.

BLITZER: Like the terrorist shot heard around the world, an attack that became the model for future terrorist attacks against the United States.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Mugniyah was responsible for the marine barracks attack in 1983 that killed 241 American soldiers. And bin Laden saw that as a model for his future attacks, because if you think of that attack, pretty much immediately afterwards, President Reagan order the United States out of Lebanon. And so that's the model that bin Laden wanted to implement everywhere, attack the United States in places like Yemen or in Kenya or in Tanzania or even in the United States itself and it will pull out of the Middle East.

And so bin Laden saw Mugniyah as a sort of a role model.

BLITZER: And a role model for countless others on the Arab street.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is a folk hero in Tehran. He is a folk hero among the Shia in Lebanon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's just a killer of innocent people, killer of anybody.

BLITZER: Kurt Carlson (ph) is that rarest of westerners, a man who came face to face with Mugniyah and lived to tell about it.

He was badly beaten, but survived the brutal hijacking of TWA flight 847 in 1985. He's convinced Mugniyah was the ring leader who came aboard the flight at the Beirut airport and could easily have ordered the deaths of all the hostages over the following terrifying days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mugniyah looked like a fanatic. And as he talked about Israel, the tone of his voice kept rising until he was just screaming and his eyes were glassy and we didn't know what he was going to do. I mean, I thought he was going to pull out a gun and start shooting.

BLITZER: For the man in the shadows, Flight 847 may have been his one careless move. He left a fingerprint on the plane. That placed him on the FBI's most wanted terrorist list with a $5 million bounty on his head. Why UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do not know what looks like today. You will find people that will insist that he's injecting silicone, giving himself a turkey waddle here, you know, major surgery. His hair is gray, he has a beard, doesn't have a beard.

BLITZER: Israel has come close to finding Mugniyah and killing him. In 1992, intelligence agents tracked him and his brother to a Beirut garage.

YOSSI MELMAN, AUTHOR: They shadowed his brother and they planted a bomb in the garage knowing the Mugniyah would arrive there, but he was late and the bomb exploded and the brother was killed. Probably they missed him by a few minutes, yes.

BLITZER: Mugniyah has surfaced only a few times in the past 25 years. But on every occasion, the result has been deadly.

The fighting this summer in Lebanon may be a warning of things to come.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would expect that Hezbollah will respond using its terrorist capabilities outside of Israel in order to retaliate of the significant losses that its taken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If this turns bad and they turn against us, and Imad Mugniyah who has got explosives all around the world, we know for a fact, he decides to use those on airplanes. He himself could close down civil aviation worldwide.

If the Iranians want to turn him loose, beware.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And even right now he remains on the FBI's most wanted terrorist lists.

That report first aired as part of "CNN PRESENTS: Terror 2.0." And this programming note, a very important one, don't miss CNN's new special report on Osama bin Laden. "CNN PRESENTS: In The Footsteps of Bin Laden" debuts this Wednesday, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 Pacific.

Stay tuned for that.

Up ahead tonight, nearly ten years after JonBenet Ramsey was found dead at her family's house, could DNA evidence from the scene link the suspect in the case to her death or prove he didn't do it? I'll ask famed DNA expert, the attorney, Barry Scheck. That's coming up.

And humor the Bush way. Jeanne Moos checks out what gets President Bush laughing. Stay with us your in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The man who has confessed to being with JonBenet Ramsey when she was killed appears in a Los Angeles court tomorrow morning. John Mark Karr flew in from Thailand overnight. A judge will decide when he'll return to Colorado to face possible murder charges.

The truth about Karr's role in the 1996 killing could lie in DNA samples taken from the little girl's clothing.

And joining us now, the famed attorney Barry Scheck of the Innocence Project. Barry, thanks very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. I want to remind our viewers, the district attorney brought you into this investigation within three months of the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, so you studied it, you know a lot about this case. What is your take on what's happening right now, this frenzy over this -- this suspect?

BARRY SCHECK, THE INNOCENCE PROJECT: Well, you know, I think that the very simple thing to do is follow the admonition of John Ramsey, I have a lot of respect for what he said. And, you know, we just keep an open mind and presume him innocent until there's real evidence.

I mean, we know that there is some real evidence in this case that could be subject to DNA testing, That Is DNA profile that was find in the underwear of JonBenet Ramsey. There may be other things they might want to do with that. They may retest the original DNA extract if there is any. I really don't know at this point, and get some better results.

But, first and foremost, let's find out whether he can be included in the DNA testing that's already in existence in this case.

BLITZER: And if his DNA doesn't match, the DNA that the prosecutor, as the district attorney has, from the underwear, is it over with? Is the case closed as far as he's concerned?

SCHECK: Well, I think -- I don't know if it's over. I don't know what else they have, obviously. But that's the one piece of real evidence here, that I think you can look at. I've seen a lot of press reports about fingernail scrapings and I don't think those are really a factor from what I recall.

BLITZER: What's taking so long in making a match if in fact there is a DNA match? Usually they can do that rather quickly, right?

SCHECK: Well, that's true. I don't know if -- I read reports where they took DNA from him in Bangkok. They may take some more. It's really not an issue, I think, frankly, of testing his DNA. If I were involved in this case now, you may want to go back and look at the DNA extract after all this testing is done many, many years ago and there may be some additional DNA marker systems that could be used on the old evidence. Whether they've already done that or they'll do that in the future, remains to be seen.

BLITZER: There was some question raised of the quality of that DNA extract that was found in the underwear. You studied it, I assume. Is it good enough quality to potentially make a match?

SCHECK: Well I have to be a little careful about how I have to talk about that because this was grand jury evidence. But there's been a lot of press reports about it, and the fact is it was an -- my recollection an old DNA marker system, it was not semen. There was a mixture of JonBenet's DNA and DNA from another source. So we don't know whether that's saliva or what, whether that's skin cells, you know, there was -- it could be DNA from the original manufacturer of the underwear. I know Dr. Henry Lee went out and bought underwear of the same kind and took it out of the plastic wrapper and took a cutting and extracted DNA and got some profiles from it. So, I mean, it's a little unclear, but it was the feeling I know of Alex Hunter that when you had that kind of DNA in the underwear that couldn't be accounted for, that was a factor that really prevented him from illuminating the intruder theory.

So certainly if there's DNA testing and Mr. Karr is excluded as a possible source of DNA on that underwear, that would -- that would be a reason that one would not necessarily credit but appears to be some admissions that he's making.

BLITZER: Alex Hunter was the district attorney who brought you into the case and who eventually decided not to seek charges against the parents of JonBenet Ramsey. And you were involved in that -- I assume you were involved in that decision-making process, right?

SCHECK: Well, I mean, I wouldn't say -- there were a number of consultants: myself, Dr. Henry Lee, there were a lot of police officers. They had big meetings, everybody reviewed things. Many people made suggestions about an assessment of the evidence.

Mr. Hunter brought in district attorneys from neighboring counties to help assess the evidence. A lot of people looked at it, and then he made the decision not to go forward because he didn't believe he had the evidence to indict anybody.

So I hope that District Attorney Lacey is going through a similar process now and she'll take a look at the biological evidence and I'm sure that could be an important factor in deciding whether or not to move forward with Mr. Karr. We really don't know what they have. Maybe they'll proceed with the preliminary hearing and if that happens, I guess a lot more of this evidence will become public.

BLITZER: Barry Scheck, as usual, thanks very much for joining us.

SCHECK: My pleasure, Wolf.

BLITZER: And up next, one of the newer players in the global nuclear game is not playing by the rules. Could Iran be positioning itself for a show-down with the West? And later, what should be done about Iran if it doesn't let inspectors look at its nuclear facilities? Jack Cafferty wants to know what you think. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: In today's "Welcome to the Future" report, is a show- down looming with Iran over its nuclear program? And are Tehran's missile tests an ominous sign of things to come? CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has the latest -- Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, new worries about Iran's military capabilities. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): Iran's latest military exercises, these missile firings, designed perhaps to send a message that Iran is determined to be a player on the world stage. These maneuvers come just as the country's leaders say Iran will not suspend its nuclear enrichment program despite international pressure. For President Bush publicly there are no alternatives but diplomacy.

BUSH: Imagine how difficult this issue would be if Iran had a nuclear weapon. And so therefore it's up to the international community, including the United States, to work in concert to -- for effective diplomacy.

STARR: But there is little indication that U.N. sanctions, if imposed, would change Iran's mind. So what next?

COL. SAM GARDINER (RET.), NATIONAL WAR COLLEGE INSTRUCTOR: The primary military option on the table right now with respect to Iran seems to be an air operation, an operation that would involve maybe four or five nights of very intense air attacks, it would include cruise missiles, b-2 bombers, b-52 bombers with cruise missiles, striking the Iranian nuclear facilities and probably other military targets.

STARR: Analysts say support for a strike against Iran would be tough. U.S. forces in Iraq would have to be protected from Iranian retaliation. U.S. military assets such as tanker aircraft and ships must be put into position. A U.N. peacekeeping force first must be deployed in Lebanon to protect Israel. But perhaps toughest?

GARDINER: The long pole in the tent is to convince the world and the American people that Iran has reached the category of serious enough that it requires a strike.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Senior U.S. military commanders say there are no plans to strike Iran, but they also acknowledge that Tehran certainly seems emboldened these days, especially with Hezbollah still operation inside Lebanon -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Barbara, thank you very much. Let's go to New York. Jack Cafferty's got "The Cafferty File." Jack?

CAFFERTY: That's the question of the hour, Wolf. What should be done about Iran if they won't allow inspectors to look at their nuclear facilities? Got some pretty good mail.

Evelyn writes from Newport, Vermont, "If the U.S. does anything to Iran, they either need to take the country off the face of the earth or stay home and mind our own business. We don't need another country to hang out in for a few decades."

Doug writes, "I hate to answer a question with a question Jack, but does the United States allow the U.N. to look at our nuclear facilities?"

Lonny in Baltimore, "In order to solve the Iranian puzzle we need to first impose a peace upon Israel. We must make them give back the Golan, the entire West Bank, settlement free and the Shebaa Farms. By doing this we remove the ability or Iran and other terrorists to play the Israel card. When we've done that, only then will we be able to see whether their intentions are really only for us to act fairly in their corner of the world, or Islamic domination of the world. If it's the former, we win. If it's the latter then let's do this war and get it over with.

Tony in Washington, "Please, if Iran fails to comply then send a message. The problem with America is we tolerate terrorism instead of beating it into the ground. We're supposed to be a superpower, so let's start acting like one. We sent a message in Hiroshima 50 years ago and it seemed to work. These times are no different."

Al in New York, "It's time to assemble another coalition of the willing, with military heavies like Estonia, Bulgaria and Bahrain. Iran is sure to roll over and listen to us. Next we need a snappy name such as "Operation Magic Carpet" and allegations that Somalia provides yellow cake and we're off to set up another Democracy.

And Mark in Indiana writes, "I think Iran officials should be flown business class and offered fried prawns and champagne until they cave in and tell us more about their nuclear program."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, go the CNN.com/CaffertyFile where we post more of these online. Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you very much. Let's go up to New York and stay in New York, Paula is standing by with a preview of what's coming up at the top of the hour. Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome home, Wolf. I haven't seen you since you got back to home base.

BLITZER: Good to be home.

ZAHN: Good to have you back. Coming up at the top of the hour, where does the JonBenet Ramsey case go from here? Well, we're going to analyze some of the challenge facing the defense and the prosecution as suspect John Mark Karr prepares for an extradition hearing in Los Angeles tomorrow morning.

And then a little bit later on we're going to head to London for the development today in the airline terror case. British officials have charged 11 suspects. Eleven more are still being held without charges. All that and more in just a couple of minutes. Wolf, hope you hang around.

We will.

ZAHN: Not that you haven't had enough of this today already.

BLITZER: I'm always ready for some more. Thanks very much, Paula, for that.

The photography collection is unlike any other in the world and today, the Smithsonian her in Washington is putting many of these extraordinary images online. It's a glimpse at never before seen photos and a chance to make history. Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton is standing by with details, Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, an 1868 photo of the Egyptian pyramids, the first ever launch from Cape Canaveral and a cluster of photographers there in the foreground recording the 1950 event. Look at this one. Behind the scenes of a presidential photo shoot, a sheet of photographs of John F. Kennedy and daughter Caroline, who is yawning and playing with her father.

These are just a sampling of the 2,000 or so photos put online today by the Smithsonian Institution, a third of them never before seen. And the Smithsonian is not just asking for the public to view this vast collection, but also participate in cataloging some of the photos. You can add key words online to any of these pictures. Smithsonian researchers are then going to go through and consider adding them to the database. This is an institution with 13 million photos in total and images.

This set today online is the first, they hope, of what will be about 50,000 photos that they add to the Internet, Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi thank you. And still ahead the president of the United States, President Bush the jokester. The commander in chief turns up the charm with the press. Jeanne Moos has the story. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: President Bush may be showing his lighter side today. CNN's Jeanne Moos reports on his presidential sense of humor.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He's coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two-minute warning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About two minute warning

MOOS: Two minutes until the jokes start, one of the president's favorite weapons to deflect and disarm is humor, which is why seersucker was the star at Monday's presidential press conference.

BUSH: By the way seersucker is coming back. I hope gets it.

KEN HERMAN, COX NEWSPAPER: I think he insulted my suit no less than three times, but who's counting.

BUSH: Yes, Herman

MOOS: Ken Herman has reported on President Bush for more than a dozen years. He's used to the Bush brand of humor.

BUSH: Let me finish my question, please. His hand's going up and I'm kind of getting old and you know, just getting into my peroration, look it up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Peroration.

MOOS: Peroration, the concluding part of a discourse. But even in the beginning part of his discourse --

BUSH: Helen. What's so funny about me saying Helen.

MOOS: There was a little ripple in the room because the president stopped calling on Helen Thomas for a couple of years.

BUSH: Let me finish.

MOOS: And when he had finished...

BUSH: It's kind of like dancing together, isn't it?

MOOS: Though Helen later joked, I don't waltz with this man.

BUSH: Stretch. Who are you working for, Stretch?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The "Washington Examiner."

BUSH: Oh good, I'm glad you found work.

MOOS: Actually Stretch's full nickname is super stretch, since he's six foot seven. There's also little stretch and plain old stretch. Sometimes the president stretches his luck.

BUSH: Peter, are you going to ask that question with those shades on?

PETER WALLSTEN, "LOS ANGELES TIMES": I can take them off if you want.

BUSH: No, I'm interested in the shade look, seriously.

WALLSTEN: All right, I'll keep it.

MOOS: Turns out "Los Angeles Time's" reporter Peter Wallsten has eye disease. The president later called him to apologize. Monday's Q and A took place in the new temporary press briefing room. The old one is being remodeled. Reporters fear they'll never get back in the White House.

QUESTION: Are we coming back?

QUESTION: Ever?

BUSH: Absolutely you're coming back. You're coming back to the bosom of the White House. MOOS: But being bosom buddies doesn't guarantee the question asked will be a soft ball. The president talked about 9/11 and Iraq in the same breath. Ken "Seersucker" Herman interjected.

BUSH: What did Iraq have to do with that?

HERMAN: The attack on the World Trade Center.

BUSH: Nothing.

MOOS: Another blood sucker disguised in seersucker.

HERMAN: If I can make the leader of the free world happy with what I'm wearing, so be it.

BUSH: Ridiculous looking outfit.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: That's all of the time we have. Thanks very much for joining us. Join us tomorrow in THE SITUATION ROOM, among our guests Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. He's fighting to keep his job, calling for a member of the Bush team to lose his job. See you tomorrow. Let's go to Paula in New York, Paula.

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