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THE SITUATION ROOM
Senate Report Denies Saddam-9/11 Connection; Clinton Urges ABC to Tell the Truth
Aired September 8, 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, Lou. 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, new ammunition for the political war over Iraq. It is 7:00 p.m. here in Washington where a Senate report answers the question, was Saddam Hussein in cahoots with al Qaeda terrorists?
Former President Bill Clinton is urging ABC to tell the truth, the mega flap over a mini series plays out right here in THE SITUATION ROOM just days before the 9/11 anniversary. Tonight my exclusive interview with former Clinton aide Sandy Berger and his response to the 9/11 Commission chief, Tom Kean.
And a hot controversy for Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. He says he's sorry for what he said about a Latino lawmaker. You'll want to listen for yourself to the governor caught on tape and why even he says that tape now makes him cringe.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Your security on the line almost five years to the day after the 9/11 attacks. On Monday will terrorists mark the horror that changed America forever by striking again? Here in THE SITUATION ROOM tonight the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff, warns don't let killers play with our heads.
But there are some taunting reminders that Osama bin Laden is still out there and that terrorists still are a very real and deadly threat. Tonight, an exclusive report on security at the Afghan/Pakistani border, but first a nightmare scenario now discredited. A just released Senate report says there's no evidence of a prewar link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq. And it is fueling the election year battle over Iraq.
Let's go to our Congressional correspondent Andrea Koppel -- Andrea.
ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the vote to approve this report among the committee's eight Republicans and seven Democrats was split within the Intelligence Committee and tonight you have got members of both parties accusing the other of cherry picking from the committee's findings to play election year politics.
KOPPEL (voice-over): The bipartisan Senate report concludes that Iraq's former president, Saddam Hussein, had no relationship with terrorists Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and did not provide al Qaeda with either chemical or biological weapons. It also says there is no reliable evidence that 9/11 hijacker Mohamed Atta ever met with Iraqi intelligence in Prague, all claims by the Bush administration before the invasion of Iraq.
SEN. CARL LEVIN (D), MICHIGAN: Today's report is a devastating indictment of the Bush administration's unrelenting, misleading, and deceptive attempts to convince the American people that Saddam Hussein was linked with al Qaeda.
KOPPEL: But in a written statement the Republican chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Pat Roberts, accused Democrats of playing politics saying unfortunately my colleagues continue to use the committee to try to rewrite history, insisting that they were deliberately duped into supporting the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime. That's simply not true. And I believe the American people are smart enough to recognize election year politicking when they see it.
The report also concludes that Iraqi exiles including the former head of the Iraqi National Congress, Ahmed Chalabi, deliberately misled the U.S. intelligence community about Saddam Hussein's efforts to develop WMD.
KOPPEL: But what is potentially the most explosive part of this year's long investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee remains unfinished. That is comparing what members of the Bush administration said publicly before the invasion linking Iraq and al Qaeda to what the intelligence community was providing these members of the administration. Now, Republicans blame Democrats for the slow-up saying that Democrats were insisting the committee go through and evaluate and summarize 40,000 pages of documents. Wolf, tonight they have 1,200 pages. They have a draft. They say it's going to take weeks to go through it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Andrea, thank you very much, Andrea Koppel on the Hill. Let's get to a CNN exclusive right now. Large numbers of Taliban fighters are believed to be hiding in the mountains of neighboring Pakistan possibly along with Osama bin Laden himself. And Pakistani forces say they are doing all they can to keep them out of Afghanistan.
Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is along that dangerous border.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: About half a mile, about half a kilometer in that direction is the border with Afghanistan. We're at a Pakistani army frontier post. They have 28,000 soldiers in this area north Waziristan. The Pakistani government has been very keen to show us how they can patrol and secure this border so that Taliban can't get from Pakistan move across the border into Afghanistan to strike the coalition troops.
They've taken us on a helicopter tour of the border. They've shown us how mountainous it is. They've shown us there are many different border posts in the area. This is typical of a border post. It's quite an old building. They have a number of troops here who go out on nighttime patrols. The patrols here also go out during the day. On the hilltops either side, they have observation posts. They have tracks, roads.
They've built hundreds of miles of roads to help secure the border here in the past few years. The Pakistani army has taken a number of casualties, several hundred killed in many cases by roadside bombs in the past year that have been planted by the Taliban and other insurgent elements in this particular area. But the government here says that the new deal is worked out with the tribes can work, can hold that puts -- takes the army off some checkpoints, puts them in their bases, but allows the army to focus its strength along the border and they say that's the most critical area.
They now have 97 of these border posts along the border, another 50 posts just beyond those. The Pakistani military now say that Taliban cannot get across the border in vehicles. They say possibly, possibly one or two may be able to get across on foot but they feel that they have this border now very well secured, stomping large numbers of Taliban leaving Pakistan going across the border into Afghanistan and striking at U.S. troops there.
Nic Robertson, CNN on the Pakistan/Afghanistan border north Waziristan.
BLITZER: Out of security fears as we near the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, it will be a critical concern for many Americans this Monday, especially for the homeland security secretary, Michael Chertoff.
BLITZER: Mr. Secretary, thanks very much for coming in.
MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Good to be here, Wolf.
BLITZER: Some nuts and bolts first, a lot of Americans are wondering Monday is this day they want to be flying in an airplane?
CHERTOFF: Well history or experience shows that the terrorists do not necessarily pick anniversary dates as the dates to do operations. They tend to plan and then conduct an operation when the planning has been completed. So I wouldn't concerned about a massive terrorist attack but we always have to be careful in an anniversary because you may get some disturbed individual or someone who is sympathetic to a terrorist cause who decides they want to make a statement, much as we saw in Seattle I think a couple months ago when an individual went and shot some people outside a Jewish community center. So I think it is always wise to be vigilant for -- particularly for the odd ball who wants to take some kind of action. But we're not seeing any particular reason to elevate our posture for this September 11.
BLITZER: Because some analysts have suggested with this latest Osama bin Laden video that was released yesterday, old video showing him five years ago before 9/11 with some of his cohorts that that could be a signal to others to do something.
CHERTOFF: Well we always analyze any tape and there now have been quite a number of tapes that have come out of bin Laden or Zawahiri in order to see whether there's a coded message. But the fact than they release something on an anniversary is really a propaganda issue. And I don't think we ought to let them play with our heads. Obviously there was an effort last month to mount an attack that was frustrated. And it's understandable that they may want to put themselves on the board by doing something with propaganda value. So we'll analyze this, I don't see any reason at least at this point as we sit here to suggest there's a particular danger on Monday.
BLITZER: So there's no consideration being given right now to raise the threat level?
CHERTOFF: You know absent something that comes to our attention in the period of time between when I leave this show and 9/11, I don't anticipate something, but you know one thing I have to say, Wolf, is these things can change in a moment. So if something should arise that causes us to think we need to take some additional steps, of course we would do so immediately.
BLITZER: Let me get back to my first question. Would you advise your loved ones to fly on Monday?
CHERTOFF: Absolutely. I mean I wouldn't be hesitant about flying on Monday than I would be any other day...
BLITZER: Even taking a flight to New York shall we say or to Washington D.C.
CHERTOFF: I would not hesitate to fly or go about normal activities on Monday in the same way that I would on any other day.
BLITZER: Here's the nightmare that a lot of people are worried about not only average people out there, but analysts in the U.S. government, in the intelligence community, the law enforcement community, that al Qaeda, Osama bin Laden or some splinter group gets their hand on weapons of mass destruction, maybe even some sort of nuclear device. They come into an American port, in a container cargo and blow it up. At this point five years after 9/11, not 100 percent of the cargo in the containers is being inspected.
CHERTOFF: Well 80 percent of -- by the end of this year, 80 percent will go through radiation portal monitors. In addition, any container that is unknown to us that we have reason to believe is not completely validated is opened up and 80 percent of those are opened up overseas before they even get on to a ship. So we've actually put into place some very, very robust and tough security measures at the ports. A terrorist who was trying to sneak a weapon in would be very ill-advised to try to use a ship container because the chances of our intercepting that are very high.
BLITZER: Because as you know, a lot of Democrats are suggesting that this is the glaring failure of this administration that it hasn't been put in place yet that 100 percent of that cargo is inspected.
CHERTOFF: Well we have to be clear. We are going to be screening through radiation detectors 100 percent or close to 100 percent by the end of the year next year. Not just at the seaports but at the land ports as well. We also analyze all of the containers in terms of intelligence, in terms of what we know about the shipper and the destination and anything that is high risk we actually physically open, so all of that is virtually done.
Now, those people who say you've got to physically inspect every container, my answer to them is that would be the fastest way to shut our ports because it is not physically possible to open every container of the millions that come into the U.S. and that would give bin Laden the victory he wants. Because what he said years ago was I want to bankrupt the American economy. And we should not do his job for him.
BLITZER: Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security, let's hope this day and rest of these days go by very peacefully.
CHERTOFF: Wolf, good to be here.
BLITZER: And this note, I'm going to be here in THE SITUATION ROOM to bring you live coverage of the president's address to the nation marking five years since the 9/11 attacks. That airs Monday night 9:00 p.m. Eastern, 6:00 Pacific right here on CNN.
Coming up, after the World Trade Center attacks, experts say the air was filled with concrete, pieces of glass and asbestos, but did officials ignore health risks to people breathing that air?
Also, a story you won't see the same way anywhere else, the back and forth over ABC's planned 9/11 movie. I'll have an exclusive interview with the former Clinton national security adviser, Sandy Berger. He says it is the only television interview he's doing.
And he once called Democrats girly men. Now why is Arnold Schwarzenegger suggesting Cubans and Puerto Ricans have hot tempers? Jeanne Moos takes a look.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Welcome back. With the five-year anniversary of 9/11 approaching new questions tonight are being raised about the air quality at Ground Zero in the wake of the attacks, whether officials were telling us everything they knew.
CNN's Mary Snow is in New York -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, just days after a study showed thousands getting sick following exposure to the toxic air at ground zero, questions are now being raised about whether officials ignored health concerns.
SNOW (voice-over): Less than be a month after the city was blanketed with dust from the World Trade Center collapse, an internal city memo dated October 6, 2001 by Kelly McKinney, an associate commissioner for the Health Department, said "The mayor's office is under pressure from building owners and business owners in the red zone to open more of the city to occupancy. According to OEM, the Officer of Emergency Management, some city blocks north and south of ground zero are suitable for re-occupancy. DEP believes the air quality at those locations is not yet suitable for re-occupancy."
The city's law department says the memo is authentic. The mayor at the time of 9/11, Rudy Giuliani, was not available for comment but his former deputy mayor, Joe Lhota, denies there was pressure to reopen the area around ground zero. Current Mayor Mike Bloomberg shot down claims that city leaders liked about air quality following 9/11.
MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG (R), NEW YORK: The people that ran the city at the time, everyone that I know is a pretty honest person and was trying very hard under circumstances that were very difficult.
SNOW: Adding to the questions former EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman suggests in an interview with CBS' "60 Minutes" that the EPA was not responsible for making ground zero workers wear respirators, saying that was the city's role.
CHRISTIE TODD WHITMAN, FORMER EPA ADMINISTRATOR: We did everything we could to protect people from that environment. And we did it in the best way that we could, which was to communicate with those people who had the responsibility for enforcing what we were telling -- saying should be done.
SNOW: Former Giuliani Deputy Mayor Joe Lhota says Whitman's statements in 2001 conflict with what she is saying now, saying quote, "The EPA publicly reported that the general air quality was safe and the city repeatedly instructed workers on the pile to use the respirators." But that's not stopping lawmakers such as Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer from asking what happens now to the thousands reporting illnesses.
(END VIDEOTAPE) SNOW: And there have been a growing number of complaints not just about people getting sick but not having the health coverage needed to get proper treatment -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Mary Snow, thank you very much. And there's a new development tonight. Senator Hillary Clinton has just released this statement. She says this.
Governor Whitman apparently wants to wash her hands of this tragedy, but her EPA told New Yorkers that the air was safe to breathe. The sad testimony of our first responders and the EPA's own inspector general say otherwise. We know the air was not safe." Senator Clinton goes on to say and it is time to end that debate and get care to those who need it. We'll continue to watch this story.
Still to come tonight right here in THE SITUATION ROOM the uproar over ABC's upcoming 9/11 movie, the chairman of the 9/11 Commission joins us to respond to the criticisms.
Then another player of this controversy responds to him. Former Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, he's here for what he says will be his first and only television interview. It's a SITUATION ROOM exclusive. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Let's check in with Zain Verjee. She's taking a look at some other important stories making news -- Zain.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the Taliban is taking responsibility for the deadliest bomb attack to hit Kabul since the regime was toppled in 2001. Two U.S. soldiers and at least 11 Afghans were killed when a car bomb exploded near the U.S. embassy this morning.
The American Red Cross will have to pay more than $4 million for violating blood safety laws. The Food and Drug Administration says the organization failed to ask blood donors the appropriate screening questions. The Red Cross also failed to follow correct testing procedures, but officials say the violations don't seem to have caused any serious health problems. In a statement the Red Cross says it takes the FDA's concerns very seriously and is addressing the problem.
NASA will try to launch the Space Shuttle Atlantis tomorrow morning. Today's launch was cancelled less than an hour before liftoff because of a malfunctioning fuel sensor. Four earlier attempts were also scuffled -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Zain, thank you. And just ahead, new developments in the controversy over ABC's 9/11 mini series and they're unfolding right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. My exclusive interview with the former Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger who wants to see the movie cancelled and a response from the 9/11 commissioner, Thomas Kean.
Plus, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger now apologizing for comments that were caught on tape. We're going to play them for you.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Happening now, former Clinton administration officials want ABC to correct its mini series, "The Path To 9/11", or yank it from the air. But ABC says the film is still being edited and the criticism is premature. Just ahead, the former national security adviser under President Clinton, Sandy Berger, talks exclusively with us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is apologizing for suggesting Latinos are naturally temperamental, saying his own words made him cringe. His words to advisers caught on tape. We'll play it for you.
Police in New York think they have one of the FBI's most wanted men now cornered. Ralph "Bucky" Phillips is believed to be hiding in a wooded area along the New York/Pennsylvania state line. He's suspected of killing two police officers and wounding a third since escaping from prison in April.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Right now the brewing storm over how to tell the story of 9/11, it's uniquely unfolding here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Some Clinton administration officials are asking why would one of the most disastrous and distressing events in American history need made up stories to make it more dramatic. ABC is defending its film "The Path To 9/11", but one of the key Clinton administration officials depicted in the film is here in THE SITUATION ROOM blasting the film. Former Clinton National Security Adviser Samuel Berger joins us for his first and only interview but first our Brian Todd has new details on this story -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, more controversy tonight, letters from Bill Clinton's office, his former national security adviser and former secretary of state calling for the ABC movie to be cancelled. No indication that will happen but the fallout still a critical mess.
TODD (voice-over): Officials at ABC are not tipping their hand on any revisions being made in their controversial mini series, "The Path to 9/11".
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not safe (INAUDIBLE).
TODD: But ABC is certainly not safe from fallout as a former president and his top aides launch a multi-pronged attack.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think they ought to tell the truth, particularly if they're going to claim it is based on the 9/11 Commission report. They shouldn't have scenes, which are directly contradicted by the factual findings of the 9/11 Commission. That's all. I just want people to tell the truth, you know and not to pretend it is something it's not.
TODD: One proposed scene that has gotten Bill Clinton and his former aides upset is at the very least being reviewed according to 9/11 Commission Chairman Tom Kean, a consultant on the film, and CNN contributor Howard Kurtz, who spoke to his own sources.
HOWARD KURTZ, CNN'S "RELIABLE SOURCES": I am told that ABC is going to change, for example, a very explosive seen involving the former national security adviser, Sandy Berger, supposedly putting a red light up when CIA people in Afghanistan were about to capture Osama bin Laden.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're ready to load the package. Repeat, do we have clearance to load the package?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stand by.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our officers are in place, sir. They're in danger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I understand that, Patricia, but I don't have that authority.
TODD: An incident that never happened according to Berger and the 9/11 Commission. ABC has given no indications that it is considering canceling the $40-million movie but the network is also dealing with fallout among the film's cast.
HARVEY KEITEL, ACTOR, "THE PATH TO 9/11": I had questions about certain events and material I was given in "The Path To 9/11" that I did raise questions about. Yes, I had some conflicts there. You can't put these together, compress them and then distort the realty.
TODD: Contacted by CNN, an ABC official had no immediate response to Harvey Keitel's comments and the network is sticking to its previous statement that the film is a dramatization. The editing process is not yet complete. And criticisms of film specifics are premature and irresponsible.
On the political front, ABC is accused of a heavy slant against Democrats. Tom Kean, a republican, and the only 9/11 Commission member consulted for the film, got a letter from Clinton's office saying, your defense of the outright lies in this film is destroying the bipartisan aura of the 9/11 Commission.
Tom Kean's response to me, quote, "What possible political motivation could I have? Everybody who has seen it who is nonpartisan has praised it. The people in both administrations," Kean says, were inept to stop the plot."
TODD: Media observers the controversy over this movie will likely generate huge ratings for ABC but there's another snag, President Bush has requested network time for an address at 9:00 Eastern Time Monday night, that's when part two was scheduled to air. An ABC official tells me they're still figuring out how to deal with that, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, thank you. Brian Todd reporting. One of the claims about the ABC movie is that it does not mirror the factual findings of the report from the 9/11 Commission. Just a short while ago I spoke with the chairman of that commission, Thomas Kean.
BLITZER: Governor, thanks very much for coming in. I want to read to you from this latest letter to you. I don't even know if you've seen the actual letter from the former secretary of state Madeleine Albright.
THOMAS KEAN, 9/11 COMMISSION CO-CHAIR: I haven't gotten any letters, Wolf, from anybody.
BLITZER: I'll just read to you from what they say because we received a copy of the letter from ...
KEAN: They sent them to you but not to me.
BLITZER: Right. Madeleine Albright and Samuel Berger. I assume you'll get it eventually. After going through their complaints, they say this. "And so we ask that you use your influence to persuade ABC to withdraw the broadcast altogether. Failing that, we urge you to sever your relationship with this grossly misleading production."
What do you say about that?
KEAN: Well, I think it's a very powerful production and one that's going to move the ball forward. I think when people see the whole thing - and a lot of people that are talking now haven't seen it. I haven't even seen the final cut -- they're going to find something where they learn more about the hijackers, more about the plot, more about the ways they tried to deceive the United States government, more about al Qaeda and hopefully in understanding that, they'll understand why it's so important that more of our recommendations get implemented by the United States Congress and the administration to make the people safer. That's the bottom line.
BLITZER: Have you spoken with ABC in recent hours or days? Are they actually planning on running the film Sunday and Monday night?
KEAN: Oh, yes, best of my knowledge. I don't think they'll ever change that decision.
BLITZER: What about the changes in these controversial scenes? What are you hearing about the controversial scenes involving Sandy Berger and Madeleine Albright, for example?
KEAN: Well, they've been very open to that kind of criticism from me and from others. I mean, they re-shot a whole scene that I had a question about. And they've taken this very seriously.
The 9/11 report isn't their only source. They've got former CIA people who are working on the film. They've got people who were in some of these meetings. They've got authors of books who wrote on the subjects. So they've got a number of sources. When a criticism is raised they've gone back to talk to the original sources. And in my experience, if they feel they're wrong, they've made a change.
BLITZER: And have they changed the -- because you're a public figure. You can obviously understand that Sandy Berger and Madeleine Albright, if an actor is putting words in his or her mouth that they didn't utter or portraying them as doing things they didn't do, they would understandably be pretty upset.
KEAN: Well, I understand and I have great respect for both people. I really do. And I would -- I think, for instance, on the thing that Mr. Berger is so upset about, our findings on the 9/11 Commission were that the person that pulled the plug on that operation was probably not Sandy Berger but George Tenet. I assume Mr. Berger knew about it. Because he should have known about it in his position. I think George Tenet was the one that made that decision. I've communicated that to ABC.
BLITZER: And have they told you that they are changing that particular scene?
KEAN: What they've done is they go back to their sources, back to their writer and everything else and they make a decision. I'm not part of that decision and probably shouldn't be.
BLITZER: What about the scene involving Madeleine Albright? You suspect they've changed that one as well so that she is not projected as someone who tipped off the Pakistanis about a missile attack on Osama bin Laden and there may have been a leak which allowed him to escape?
KEAN: Well, I don't know about that scene. I think that scene is a little different because I think there was a real conflict between two areas of government as to whether you don't tell people you're going to hit Osama bin Laden in case he gets away and other branches of government that say if you send a missile over Pakistan, they may think it's India, they could start another war. So that was a real conflict and a real problem.
And whether it was Madeleine Albright or somebody else, I suspect that probably took place.
BLITZER: What about -- It was definitely someone else because Secretary Cohen, William Cohen, the former defense secretary said he dispatched the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Ralston, to go to Pakistan to brief the Pakistanis once the missiles were on their way to the al Qaeda target and Madeleine Albright was not specifically involved in that.
But that was another apparent distortion in the film. I don't know if the film has been changed. But what about the bigger picture? Because you investigated the Clinton administration and the Bush administration in the events leading up to 9/11. Those who have seen the film -- and I have not seen it -- say that the Clinton administration over the eight years they were in power, in office, that they, -- at least you come away from the movie convinced that they were negligent, that they missed opportunities for a variety of reasons to destroy Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda.
KEAN: Well, two administrations missed opportunities. This starts on President Clinton's watch with the attack on the World Trade Center I. Then it covers eight years of the Clinton presidency. It covers six months of the Bush presidency. So obviously there's more about the Clinton administration.
But you've got to remember the area they were working on. I mean, to be very fair to the Clinton people, a lot of this was done before we knew how bad Osama bin Laden was. This was before the attacks on the embassies in many cases. It was before certainly the attack on the Cole. We knew he was bad and there were people in the Clinton administration pursuing him pretty hard.
But we didn't know he was bad as he was or certainly what he was planning on 9/11. So it's unfair to look back and put their motivations in light of the attack on the World Trade Center, because it just didn't -- it's just not that way. It was a different kind of a world and they made decisions with different facts than we have right now.
BLITZER: I'm going to read to you one more excerpt from this letter that Madeleine Albright and Samuel Berger have written to you, although you haven't received the letter we have. I'll read this section.
"Your continued defense of this deeply flawed production is especially hard to understand in light of your commendable leadership of the 9/11 Commission. Like much of the country, we were impressed by the care you and your fellow commissioners took to stick to the facts and to get it right for the American people and for history.
"Unfortunately, as co-executive producer of this miniseries, you and your new associates have chosen to go another way."
We're going to be speaking momentarily to Sandy Berger. I wonder, governor, what you would say to him. What would you like to say to him, knowing what you know about this film, knowing your role in helping ABC and knowing, obviously, your role with the other members of the 9/11 commission in putting together that final report.
KEAN: Yeah. This is not a 9/11 Commission Report and this series is based on a lot of other things besides that report. It's a miniseries. It's not a product of ABC News. It's not a product of a documentary. It's very different. And it says right up front with a disclaimer exactly what it is. Nobody should have any doubt about that.
Having said that, I think it's a very powerful, very powerful series and I think we'll understand a lot more about al Qaeda when you watch it. But I would encourage people to look at it, make their own decision. We're having a tremendous debate on this and nobody has seen it. Let's look at it and I think perhaps we can have a constructive debate about it afterwards.
BLITZER: Does ABC, in your opinion, governor, owe Sandy Berger an apology?
KEAN: I don't believe anybody owes anybody an apology. We haven't even seen the film. I mean, let's look at the film and then we can talk about what's what. I don't know, Wolf, if you've seen the film. Even I haven't seen the final cut.
And I think to talk about this thing before people have seen it, my impression is it's going to be a real contribution. And I think it's very well done. But people will make their own mind up when they see it.
BLITZER: I have not seen it, but I will, governor. I suspect millions of other people will be seeing it as well. Governor Tom Kean, the 9/11 Commission co-chairman. Thanks very much for joining us. Really appreciate it.
KEAN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And just ahead tonight, we now heard from governor Tom Kean. Up next we're going to be joined exclusively by former Clinton administration official Sandy Berger who wants the film scrapped.
And later California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger calls a Latino lawmaker hot. CNN's Jeanne Moos is hot on the trail of this political bombshell. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Now a SITUATION ROOM exclusive about the upcoming from about 9/11 on ABC. In that movie, an actor plays former Clinton national adviser Sandy Berger, and one scene is said to show him refusing to order the killing of Osama bin Laden. For the first time, Samuel Berger gives us his reaction.
BLITZER: Sandy Berger is joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
You're very upset about this. Have you been told that they've revised that one specific scene involving you?
SAMUEL BERGER, CHAIRMAN, STONEBRIDGE INTERNATIONAL: I haven't been told that at all, Wolf. And I've not seen the movie. I've not seen -- been provided with a copy of it. Those who have seen it describe it as misleading, inaccurate, and in some cases, a fabrication. The producers themselves say it's fictionalized. The events of 9/11 are very real and we don't need to play fiction with 9/11. BLITZER: Is it a problem of those scenes? Because in this letter that you wrote, you together with Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state, you want ABC to simply pull the entire film. What's wrong with simply making those last-minute edits, those changes so that the controversy perhaps would go away?
BERGER: I don't think this is just a question of fixing something around the edges, Wolf. My impression is that this is a misleading film to the core. And it seems to me the only appropriate thing at this point is for ABC to withdraw the series.
BLITZER: I know you've had friends, former Clinton officials, who have actually seen it who have said to you that -- what have they said to you about the film?
BERGER: They said that some parts of it are fabrications, other parts of it are misleading and inaccurate, and this is simply a work of fiction, as the producers have said. In some cases, they've said the actors improvised on the set. Well, you know, 9/11 is something very powerful to the American people and we shouldn't be playing fiction with 9/11.
BLITZER: Have you spoken to your former boss, former President Bill Clinton about this?
BERGER: I have.
BLITZER: And what did he say to you?
BERGER: He's very upset about it as well.
BLITZER: And did he -- can't one of you or both of you pick up the phone and call Bob Iger, the chairman of Disney, and complain?
BERGER: I have written to Mr. Iger and said that we believe that the scenes that we're talking about are complete fabrications. They simply did not happen. They should be fixed. But quite honestly, at this point, I don't think this is something you can fix. I think you just have to yank it.
BLITZER: Do you have any sense they will do that?
BERGER: I would hope so. I think that's appropriate. The credibility of this show has been called into question.
BLITZER: Do you know if the former president has called Bob Iger himself and said, you know what, yank this film?
BERGER: I have no idea what the president and Mr. Iger did or did not say. But I can tell you my own view is this is not something that we should be showing to the American people.
BLITZER: What about the bigger picture? Forget about that one specific scene, because the 9/11 Commission, a lot of other people, say it wasn't you that pulled the trigger on going after Osama bin Laden, it was George Tenet, the CIA director. I wonder if you want to clarify that before we move on.
BERGER: On no situation, Wolf, did we ever refuse authorization to the CIA for an operation against bin Laden. The one time we had good information about bin Laden's whereabouts was in August of 1998. We fired 50 tomahawk missiles into the camp where we believed he was.
We apparently missed him by a few hours. There was no other occasion while we were in office that we had an opportunity to get bin Laden or eyes on bin Laden. And the fact is, Wolf, five years later, despite the fact that we have thousands of American troops in Afghanistan, we still have not gotten bin Laden.
BLITZER: Because there was one incident. There was some intelligence that he was in a place -- Osama bin Laden -- called Tarnak Farms. You remember that incident?
BERGER: That incident -- I believe in that situation the CIA itself called off the operation because they didn't believe it was reliable.
BLITZER: But that's -- in the film, at least in the earlier version ...
BERGER: That never came to the ...
BLITZER: ...it was -- it depicted you as saying this.
Let me read, though, from the 9/11 Commission report, a reference to you specifically. "In the memo's margin, Berger wrote that before considering action, quote, 'I will want more than verified location. We will need at least data on pattern of movements to provide some assurance he will remain in place,'" the suggestion being that you were overly cautious in giving authority to the CIA or others to go out and kill bin Laden.
BERGER: I don't think we were cautious at all. I think we made it very clear to the CIA that we wanted to get bin Laden. The fact of the matter is, if you try to get bin Laden and you miss and you fail, that strengthens bin Laden. It doesn't strengthen us. It simply embarrasses the United States.
And so we wanted to make sure the information was reliable and the one time we had reliable information we went after bin Laden. And I assure you we were not serving subpoenas with those cruise missiles.
BLITZER: Here was another reference from the 9/11 Commission report specifically referring to you. "In his handwritten notes on the meeting paper, Berger jotted down the presence of seven to 11 families in the Tarnak Farms facility, which could mean 60-65 casualties." Were you, with hindsight, overly concerned about civilian casualties and that perhaps spared Osama bin Laden?
BERGER: Absolutely not, Wolf. We would have incurred the cost of casualties if we had reliable information of where bin Laden was. And the one time when we had good information, we took a shot at bin Laden. Unfortunately, we didn't get him. You know, I wish to God we had got him at that time. I wish we had gotten him over the last five years, but we haven't. It's a hard target.
BLITZER: Were there things now, with hindsight, that you could have done over those eight years you were in office, first as a deputy national security advisor, then as the president's national security advisor, that you wish you would have done with hindsight?
BERGER: You know, clearly, with hindsight, you wish you had done more. But I think we did with -- as Governor Kean just said, with the information that we had, we did the best that we could. And, you know, we've learned a lot more about al Qaeda and bin Laden since 9/11 than we knew before.
BLITZER: So if they go ahead and they air this miniseries Sunday night and Monday night is there -- you're a lawyer -- is there a legal action that you might take against ABC, against Robert Iger, against others who were involved in putting this film together?
BERGER: I'm not talking about legal action at this point. I'm talking about responsible action on the part of ABC. Their program has been called into question by historians, by members of the 9/11 Commission. They can't fix this along the edges by tinkering in the last-minute in some desperate effort to edit it. This thing is just rotten to the core.
BLITZER: George Mitchell, former U.S. senator, Democratic leader in the Senate, he's now involved in Disney. He's one of the top officials there. Have you called -- he's the chairman, I believe. Have you called him and asked that he get involved?
BERGER: No, I've not talked to Senator Mitchell. But I have written to Mr. Iger and told him what I thought of the show and suggested that it be fixed. But I think the more I learn about it, you can't fix it, you've got to yank it.
BLITZER: And you haven't received any response ...
BERGER: No response at all.
BLITZER: A lawsuit?
BERGER: We'll see.
BLITZER: All right. We'll see. Sandy Berger, thanks very much for coming in. Appreciate it.
BLITZER: And the publishing giant Scholastic pulled down the original education materials it created to coincide with ABC's 9/11 docudrama. Scholastic has now posted a revised guide online.
Let's bring in Jacki Schechner for details -- Jacki.
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, a big difference between the original teaching materials that Scholastic had put online in regard to "The Path To 9/11" and the ones that are online now.
The original materials, which were posted on August 23rd and then taken down on Wednesday, refer to some events in the film as "fact." The guide that is up now encourages students to be more critical viewers. For example, there's one lesson plan that has students watching the film, picking a scene, going to the Internet, downloading the 9/11 Commission report, and comparing the two.
Also, noticeably absent from the new materials is the ABC logo and the phrase, "generously sponsored by." Scholastic terminated its contractual arrangement with ABC on yesterday.
On its Web site, Scholastic has also posted a letter from its chairman saying it hopes that the new materials will help students understand the difference between fact and fiction. We reached out to ABC once again to get their response to Scholastic's decisions, and they did not have a response for us -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jacki, thank you.
And up ahead, California's terminator tries to terminate a new political embarrassment. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a closer look.
BLITZER: California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is apologizing for some controversial comments he made that were caught on tape. CNN's Jeanne Moos has details.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This wasn't just a tempest in a tea cup. This was a tempestuas Latina in a tea cup.
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: She has been my buddy.
MOOS: No, it's not a sex scandal. It's just that the "L.A. Times" got hold of a taped conversation Arnold was having with his staff when his chief of staff admiringly brought up California Assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia.
SUSAN KENNEDY, CHIEF OF STAFF: Is she Puerto Rican?
SCHWARZENEGGER: She seems to me like Cuban.
MOOS: The next thing you know Arnold unloads.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Puerto Rican or same thing as Cuban to me. They're all very hot. They have part of the black blood in them and part of the Latina blood in them. That together makes it.
MOOS: California's governor said what?
(on camera): He said part black blood and part Latina blood makes them hot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think he was right. The only thing people don't like to hear things.
MOOS (voice-over): Unless you think it applies to you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're crazy. Those races put together, we're crazy.
MOOS: But Arnold said that when he saw his own words in the paper it --
SCHWARZENEGGER: It made me cringe.
MOOS: So he came before the media with his fellow Republican.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Bonnie Garcia, I apologized to her, if she got offended by that. I mean she and her, we joke about all this many, many times, when she says I'm a hot Latino.
BONNIE GARCIA (R), CALIFORNIA STATE ASSEMBLYWOMAN: Governor, there really is no reason to apologize. I'm not mad that he recognizes that I am passionate about the issues.
MOOS: But the word hot is a hot potato.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hot seems to describe something that would be a sexual connotation. So therefore I would not choose those words if I were in his professional position.
MOOS (on camera): So you don't think that part black blood and part Latino blood makes them hot?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it makes them hot.
MOOS (voice-over): The thing we didn't get was why the governor is taping himself in his office.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Because I have a certain way of speaking.
JAY LENO, THE TONIGHT SHOW: California, California, where is he from India now?
MOOS: Arnold says he tapes himself so his speech writer can capture the texture of how he talks.
SCHWARZENEGGER: So I don't sound like any other politician speaking. I always like to sound like Arnold. How would Arnold speak.
MOOS: Like a guy who has trouble terminating his tongue.
SCHWARZENEGGER: Are you all having a good time? MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: Let's find out what's coming up right at the top of the hour. Paula is standing by. Hi Paula.
PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi Wolf, thanks so much. Our top story tonight, the surge in violence in Afghanistan. We'll go in depth to see what's fueling the Taliban's attempted comeback. We'll also get a live update on the top story in crime. As we speak authorities think they have one of the FBI's most wanted fugitives boxed in. There has already been some shooting. We'll have the very latest on that coming up at the top of the hour. We hope you all will stay with us through the next hour.
BLITZER: We certainly will, Paula.
ZAHN: And beyond and beyond and beyond, in to the night. No one has anything to do on Friday nights.
BLITZER: Thank you Paula, thank you very much. Still ahead, a happy moment on the streets of Baghdad. That's coming up in today's Hot Shots.
BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the Hot Shots coming in from our friends at the Associate Press. Baghdad, the roads are deserted thanks to a Friday vehicle ban, enacted to reduce car bombings.
Shuttle Security, a NASA helicopter heads off to escort the Atlantis crew to the launch pad, planned lift off tomorrow.
Sidney, Australia, video artist Daniel Crooks (ph) uses a motorized scooter and multiple video cameras to create a panoramic movie.
And in Cali (ph), Columbia an eight day old ant eater rides on the back of his mother. Some of today's Hot Shots, pictures often worth a thousand words.
That's all the time we have tonight. I'll see you though this Sunday, 11:00 a.m. Eastern for "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk. Among my special guest, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and the former Democratic presidential nominee Senator John Kerry. "Late Edition" airs 11:00 a.m. Eastern. We go for two hours, until 1:00 p.m. Eastern. I'll see you this Sunday. Until then, thanks very much. Let's go to Paula in New York, Paula.
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