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THE SITUATION ROOM

Democratic Senator Suffers From Possible Stroke; Would U.S. Pullout From Iraq Trigger Regional War?; David Duke Interview

Aired December 13, 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: 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, a Democratic senator in the hospital suffering from a possible stroke. Its 7:00 pm here in Washington, where there are big questions about the state of Tim Johnson's health and whether it could tip the balance of the Senate's power back to Republicans. The U.S. is read the riot act over Iraq, the Saudi king delivering an ominous warning to Vice President Dick Cheney. Could a U.S. pull out from Iraq trigger a regional war?
Also this hour, a former Ku Klux Klan leader turned politician finds a new platform to provoke outrage. Why did David Duke team up with Iran's president and other holocaust deniers? You're going to want to see the fireworks when I asked him that question. All that coming up. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight a spokeswoman for Senator Tim Johnson says the South Dakota Democrat still is undergoing tests at George Washington University Hospital right here in the nation's capitol. He was rushed there earlier today, apparently suffering from a stroke. Now, his colleagues are on edge, obviously very, concerned about Johnson for personal reasons. Also, though, for serious political reasons as well. The Democrats hold on power in the new Senate could be at risk. Our senior national correspondent, John Roberts, is standing by. But let's go to Capitol Hill and Dana Bash for the latest on what we know. What do we know about the senator's condition?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we know that the 59-year-old Democrat from South Dakota is staying overnight at George Washington University for tests, and that's about all we know. His office is not giving us any status at all on his condition beyond what they told us earlier today, which is that he appeared to have suffered a possible stroke. What his spokeswoman Julianne Fisher told us is that we're taking one day at a time, and, quote, saying a lot of prayers and waiting until the morning. What we do know is that the senator was in the capitol this morning on a conference call with South Dakota reporters when he started to have slurred speech. He appeared to recover then, but walked back to his office and then just a few moments later started to have trouble with his right arm and it was clear that he needed some medical help. They called the capitol physician and shortly thereafter, an ambulance which took him to George Washington University Hospital. He was apparently conscious at the time, according to his office. But what is interesting and noteworthy at this time is that we really don't know, as I said, what the condition is of the senator in talking to sources familiar who are familiar with the situation, it does appear to be serious, but we simply do not know how severe. What we understand is that his family is holed up in the hospital and not really talking a lot about his condition to his aides and staff who are there and here at the capitol. Wolf?

BLITZER: We know the incoming Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid is at George Washington University Hospital as well and we wish him, obviously, a very, very speedy recovery, he's a very popular senator here in Washington. But explain to our viewers why the balance of power potentially is at stake right now.

BASH: Well no one is officially talking about that here. But as you said, it is certainly on everybody's mind. That is because Tim Johnson is a Democrat. And the United States Senate will be under Democratic rule by one vote. So, if, for any reason, Tim Johnson wouldn't be able to serve, that would shift the balance of power. It would make the senate 50/50. It's right now 51/49, it would be 50/50. That would make Vice President Dick Cheney in charge of the Senate, he would have a tie-breaking vote and it would put Republicans officially back in charge of the committees and they would be able to rule the Senate floor as they do right now. But it is again, something that nobody is officially talking about but there's no question it is on people's minds, especially as we really do not know how serious or severe the condition of Senator Tim Johnson is at this point.

BLITZER: We'll watch it together with you, Dana. Thanks very much. I want to bring in our senior national correspondent, John Roberts. There are many, many ramifications. And I want to stress to all of our viewers, we certainly hope Senator Johnson makes a very speedy recovery, but talk a little bit John about some of the potential ramifications out there.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As Dana said, Wolf, if Senator Johnson were to be incapacitated in some way and if a Republican were appointed by Mike Rounds, the governor of South Dakota, to replace him, it would tip the balance 50/50 in the senate with Dick Cheney as the tiebreaking vote. And you can imagine that Democrats right now are looking at a nightmare situation. They not too long ago decided all of those chairmanships of all of those very powerful committees, all of those Democrats who have been waiting around for so long just in the off-chance that they would some day gain back control of one of the Houses, if not both, of Congress. People like Senator Robert Byrd, Joe Biden, also Edward Kennedy who finally got a hold of the education committee that he was looking for, for so long. Lieberman, Levin, people like that, who have been longing to get on these committees now face the prospect Wolf of losing the power that they didn't have an opportunity to exercise. It would also make the Congress split again, which would be a pretty good recipe for not a whole lot happening between now and 2008, particularly since you have such a wide open presidential field and so many people will be jockeying on both the Democratic and the Republican side for positioning in 2008.

There's not going to be a lot of attention paid in a divided Congress if it were to come to that. But, what's speaking in Senator Johnson's favor is, is that he was able to walk, from the time that he first noticed these symptoms from what appears to be a stroke. He was able to walk back to his office. The fact that he wasn't incapacitated right at the beginning is a good sign. You know it varies with heart attacks, Wolf, I used to be a medical correspondent. There is this so called golden hour, that if you can get a victim to a hospital and if it is what they call an ischemic stroke, a blockage in an artery, they can apply these clot busting drugs like TPA and get a pretty good effect as long as too much time hasn't gone by. His staff says that they caught it early so our hopes and prayers are with Senator Johnson tonight for a full recovery.

It's also not clear Wolf exactly what would happen if he were not able to serve because he was incapacitated. In the case of death, and we're not saying that this is the potential outcome here, but just in case of that, there are pretty clear statutes about what would happen. That a Republican would be, that at least the Republican governor would have an opportunity to appoint a senator who would sit out for the rest of the term and then a new one would be elected in 2008. But there's no state statute in South Dakota determining incapacitation. In fact in 1969 there was a state senator who as incapacitated and he went on to serve, his staff did most of the work in South Dakota Wolf. So nothing really clear. That would probably have to be decided on the federal level and we haven't yet had an opportunity to talk with people in Congress who would be in charge of that sort of thing, because very early in the game here -- not saying that any of this is possible, but it's got to be on Democrats' minds right now.

BLITZER: Stand by for a moment, John. I want to go back to Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, she's getting a little bit of additional information. Dana?

BASH: Well Wolf this comes to us by way of our congressional producer, Ted Barrett, who is over at the office of Senator Tim Johnson. His spokeswoman Julianne Fisher just came out to say that as I mentioned earlier, they are doing tests and right now, their understanding is that it actually was not a stroke and was not a heart attack that Senator Johnson suffered. They don't know what it was. But again, his spokeswoman is now saying that it was not, in fact, a stroke, they believe, that he suffered, and not a heart attack but they're not clear what it was. The senator is still at George Washington University going through tests. Earlier today, all day, they understood and believed from doctors there that it was a possible, even probable stroke that he suffered. But now, at this point, they're saying that that's not what he suffered. More details to come.

BLITZER: That would be excellent, excellent news in fact, if that turns out to be the case. And we certainly hope that it does, Dana. I want to go back to John Roberts for a moment. John, a lot of our viewers will remember, it was back in 1981 when then President Ronald Reagan was shot here in Washington, he was rushed over to this very same hospital, George Washington University Hospital. He got excellent medical attention right away, and we know that G.W. has a world-class medical department over there and, presumably, Senator Johnson is getting the best treatment possible, especially in this first hour, as you point out, the so-called golden hour. We can only assume that everything that should be done is being done.

ROBERTS: Sure. Another famous frequent visitor to that hospital is Vice President Dick Cheney, who has gone there a couple of times when he had the shortness of breath, the palpitations in his heart. That's where he got his pacemaker implanted. That's where he goes for regular checkups. They are used to caring for high-profile patients there. They do have a very good cardiovascular unit there and I'm sure that Senator Johnson is getting the best of care at G.W. tonight.

BLITZER: And a lot of people, assuming this late information we're getting in from the senator's office is accurate, they're breathing a lot easier right now, especially those Democrats because the potential ramifications could be very, very serious. John, stand by once again. I want to elaborate a little bit on what John just mentioned a little while ago. Some historical perspective on Senator Johnson's illness. In 1969 Republican Senator Carl Mundt of South Dakota, the same state that Johnson is from, suffered a debilitating stroke, but he refused to resign. He stayed in office until his term expired in January 1973, although he never showed up for work in the years after his stroke. Once again, we wish Senator Johnson a speedy, speedy recovery. We're going to stay on top of this story for much of this hour. We'll bring you any additional information as it becomes available, given the enormous ramifications, noting the election that just occurred here in the U.S. Let's go to New York and Jack Cafferty. The news business, never dull, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY: No. That's one of the reasons it's a joy to come in here every day. There's always something new waiting for us. Yesterday, you may recall, we told you about a poll that shows the public thinks that members of Congress are tantamount to pond scum when it comes to things like ethics and honesty. Some of the reasons why are spelled Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Jack Abramoff, Mark Foley. It's a long and soiled list. When the House was forced to acknowledge that Congressman Foley had a long history of making improper advances to teenage congressional pages, why the House Ethics Committee rushed right in. They took a few weeks, had an investigation and came up with, you guessed it, a whitewash. Nobody broke any House rules, nobody was punished, nothing. It's disgusting.

Some Democrats are now talking about having an outside agency in charge of ethics enforcement. It's not like the need isn't glaring enough. But, first, they're going to have a bipartisan commission decide whether this is a good idea. And we won't hear from them until spring, if then. In the meantime, as you might expect, there's already a chorus of voices coming from members of Congress saying this is a terrible idea. Some lawmakers say Congress has responsibility for policing itself. That's worked real well. Others say an independent group would be unconstitutional. So here is the question. House Democrats are considering an independent ethics panel. Will it ever happen? E-mail us, casffertyfile@cnn.com or go to cnn.com/cafferty file. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jack, see you in a few minutes. Thank you for that.

And coming up, Saudi threat. Vice President Dick Cheney read the riot act by King Abdullah. We'll find out why the Saudis are now threatening to stoke what some fear could turn into an all-out regional war.

Also, if the U.S. pulls out of Iraq, Saudi Arabia would back Iraq's Sunnis. King Abdullah gave that warning to the vice president. Might that weaken ties between the allies? We're watching that story.

And modern day "jack the ripper", a race against time to find a serial killer. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Another developing story we're following tonight. A stern warning from Saudi Arabia may be complicating the search for an Iraq solution. A senior U.S. official says King Abdullah recently told Vice President Dick Cheney that Saudi Arabia would step in and support the Sunni minority in Iraq if U.S. troops pull out. Let's turn once again to our senior national correspondent, John Roberts. John?

ROBERTS: Hey, Wolf, good evening to you. It's pretty clear that Saudi Arabia is getting very worried about the future of America's involvement in Iraq. A little more than three weeks ago Dick Cheney was summoned to a meeting with the Saudi king in Riyadh, where according to American officials, he got a real earful.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS (voice-over): The debate over pulling American troops out of Iraq hit a solid nerve in Saudi Arabia. U.S. officials say King Abdullah read Vice President Cheney the riot act during his recent visit. The warning, if Iraq Sunni minorities are left to suffer at the hands of ruling Shiites, Saudi Arabia may have to step in.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: If the American troop presence were not there to mitigate the war, the Sunni Arabs with the smaller forces and smaller numbers would almost certainly lose decisively, there could be substantial genocide in the process.

ROBERTS: While Saudi officials acknowledge there have been discussions about supporting Sunnis in the event of a withdrawal and civil war in Iraq, they insist it's only talk at this point, not official policy by a long shot. It's no surprise to Middle East experts that the Saudis would fund the insurgency. They say it's already happening, though perhaps not on an official level.

RAY TAKEYH, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Nobody talks about the fact that two-thirds of the foreign suicide bombers are Saudis. And the Saudi charitable organizations are already sending money in there. Much of the financial base of this Sunni insurgency goes through Jordanian banks.

ROBERTS: What the Saudis are most worried about is the ascendancy of Iran.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: They do have real concerns as Iraqis do, as we do and others in the region, about Iranian meddling in Iraqi internal affairs.

ROBERTS: Iran is predominantly Shiite, Saudi Arabia, Sunni. Iraq sits right on the fault line. If Iraqi Shiites were to prevail at a civil war, it would bring Iran's influence right to Saudi Arabia's front door.

O'HANLON: It's not only a humanitarian catastrophe there, but the first domino falling among other countries along the Persian Gulf where large Shia populations could be supported by the Iranians, even within Saudi Arabia itself.

ROBERTS: U.S. and Saudi officials hope that dooms day scenario could be avoided. But the Saudi warning is useful to the White House, providing another rationale to resist the notion of a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They understand that were the United States to leave without an Iraqi democracy that could sustain, govern and defend itself, that it would create a power vacuum that would have dangerous consequences.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

ROBERTS: The prospect of Saudi Arabia stepping in to support the Sunni population in a potential civil war also carries with it some troubling implications. For example, could the Saudi government end up providing financial and material support to al Qaeda or insurgents who have attacked U.S. troops? Even Saudi officials admit that in Iraq it's difficult to tell the, quote, good guys from the bad. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much, John, for that report. The Bush family has had a long and close relationship with the Saudi royal family. So might this new development affect those ties? Let's bring in our Brian Todd, he's picking up this part of the story. Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, in the wake of what's now being called a tough meeting between Vice President Cheney and Saudi King Abdullah, U.S. and Saudi officials are being careful not to say the relationship is strained. But people who have studied the ties between the Bush family and the house of Saud say the dynamic may never have been less comfortable than it is now. If that's the case, a decades old family bond may be on the line.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Publicly holding hands and greeting reporters, gestures meant to send a message, these ties will endure. For two generations the Bushes and the Saudi royal family have forged common political and business interests into historic personal ties. Experts trace it back to George Bush, Sr.'s first contact with Saudis as an oil executive in the 1960s. Then to Bush's stint as CIA director in the next decade. But Craig Unger who wrote "House of Bush, House of Saud", says the relationship was cemented when Prince (INAUDIBLE) Bandar became the Saudi Ambassador to the United States in the early '80s, working with then Vice President George Bush on a massive contract to sell weapons to the kingdom. That bond, he says, set the tone for the next 20 years.

CRAIG UNGER, "HOUSE OF BUSH, HOUSE OF SAUD": Bandar would end up going to Kennebunkport, Maine. He would show up in the kitchen there, to Barbara Bush's astonishment. He became known as Bandar Bush and he would drop by the White House uninvited at times.

TODD: 1991, on the invitation of then Saudi King Faud, George Bush, Sr., launches his forces from Saudi soil and drives Saddam Hussein from Kuwait. In the view of many experts, strengthening the loyalties between the two families. When it's time for his son to seek office, according to reporter Bob Woodward, the former president enlists Prince Bandar to council George W. Bush on foreign affairs. But experts say September 11th, Saudi opposition to the current war in Iraq and another conflict that strikes emotional cords with the Saudis have frayed family ties.

RICHARD MURPHY, FORMER U.S. AMB. TO SAUDI ARABIA: They've mentioned in particular the Arab Israeli issue, Palestinian talks, which this administration has not been seriously engaged in. That's caused great anxiety on the Saudi side.

(END OF VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: So, can the family friendship get back to where it once was? The experts we spoke to seem doubtful, one of them says Iraq has opened up a lot of forces that are getting out of control. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thanks very much, that could be an understatement. Appreciate it very much Brian.

Still to come, unholy alliance. Find out why former Klansman David Duke is now teaming up with Iran's president. He's in THE SITUATION ROOM, we'll ask him some tough questions. Plus, Apocalyptic video gaming. Find out why Wal-Mart's catching heat for a Christian best seller. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: We're fortunate to have Carol Costello here in Washington tonight for a closer look at some other important stories making news. Welcome to Washington Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO: Oh, it's good to be back in my old haunt. Because you know I lived here for many years.

BLITZER: We know, we remember.

COSTELLO: Yeah, thanks.

Hello to all of you. Taco Bell has removed green onions from all of its 5800 outlets nationwide, but now the CDC says it was probably lettuce that carried the E.Coli bacteria that sickened as many as 67 people in the northeast. Most of the Taco Bell's that closed temporarily have now reopened. But 30 in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware remain closed. Corrections officials in Michigan say Dr. Jack Kevorkian will be paroled next June. The 78 year old assisted suicide advocate is in failing health and a spokesman says they took that into account. Last week Kevorkian promised the parole board that if released he would not participate in another suicide. Kevorkian has spent the past eight years in prison for one of the 130 suicides he claims to have assisted.

An advisory panel to the Food and Drug Administration is recommending new warning labels on anti-depressant bottles. They say consumers should be warned that the drugs may raise the risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior in young adults. Antidepressants include drugs like Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil and Simbalta. The recommendation is based on research that sights evidence of suicidal tendencies in about four percent of patients who use them.

A Swiss research has declared a rare fresh water dolphin that makes its home in China's (INAUDIBLE) River most certainly extinct. He completed a 26-day expedition to look for (INAUDIBLE) dolphins with no sightings. There were 13 accounted for in a 1997 survey, the last one in captivity died in 2002. That's a look at the headlines right now Wolf.

BLITZER: All right thanks very much Carol for that.

And just ahead, former Klan leader David Duke in Iran right now for a conference questioning the holocaust. My interview with him that's coming up. I think you're going to want to see this. Plus, when is E.Coli funny? Some would say only on late night TV. CNN's Jeanne Moos will show us. 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, President Bush refusing to be rushed into shifting gears in Iraq, after a strategy session over at the Pentagon today he defended his delay in announcing a new war policy. Administration officials say Mr. Bush is seriously considering a short term increase of troop levels to ease the killing and the chaos.

Also, blood runs through the streets of Iraq again today. Twenty three more people died, 52 were hurt in separate attacks. Among the casualties, once again unemployed workers, simply looking for work. And a 100 billion dollar request. A report from Democratic House staffers says President Bush will soon ask for about that much money in additional war funds for Iraq and Afghanistan. I'm Wolf Blitzer, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Former Ku Klux Klan leader turned politician, David Duke, has spent decades provoking Americans with his opinions on race and religion. Now he's found a surprising new platform in Iran. Duke put himself front and center at a conference on whether the holocaust really happened. In the process, he became an ally of Iran's fiercely anti-American president. I spoke to David Duke, and we'll have that interview coming up in a moment.

First, though, our Mary Snow has more on David Duke and what he's all about -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, whether he's pushing his white race agenda or targeting Zionists, David Duke and extremism have always gone hand in hand. And that extremism was welcome in Iran, where its leader has said Israel should be wiped off the map.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): Meet Iran's new American friend -- David Duke, the former politician and ex-Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. He's applauding Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for assembling a conference of Holocaust deniers. Duke says it's all about free speech. Many see it another way, with one headline in the U.S. reading: "Cringing At Iran Kookfest."

DAVID DUKE, FORMER KU KLUX KLAN LEADER, FORMER LOUISIANA STATE REPRESENTATIVE: And the Zionists have used the Holocaust as a weapon to deny the rights of the Palestinians and to cover-up the crimes of Israel.

SNOW: World leaders have expressed disgust.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair says Duke's presence just points to Ahmadinejad's extremism.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I had to get someone to go and check twice that they actually invited this -- this person who is the former head of the Ku Klux Klan there. I mean, you know, it's just unbelievable.

SNOW: And Iran's not the only spot aboard where Duke's found a receptive audience. Last year, he took his anti-Zionist rhetoric to Syria. The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups, says Duke has been getting an international audience larger than he gets in the U.S.

MARK POTOK, DIRECTOR, THE INTELLIGENCE PROJECT: I think David Duke is, without question, the best known white supremacist leader in America today. You know, that said, he is not anything like he was 10 or 15 years ago.

DUKE: The time is coming when the American majority will find its way to its rights and its heritage.

SNOW: Then, Duke was in the thick of politics, saying he put his days as a Klansman behind him. He served in state office in Louisiana and at one time tried running for president.

In 1990, even though he lost in the Louisiana U.S. Senate race, he startled many when he won more than half the white vote there. In 2003, he went to prison for tax and mail fraud. And some say because he was discredited in the U.S., he searched for new audiences.

POTOK: Well, I think that what Duke is doing in Iran it really giving life to the Holocaust denial movement. And it is helping to stoke very dangerous fires in the Middle East and in Arab countries in general.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (on camera): On Tuesday, the White House called the Iranian conference an affront to the entire civilized world -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary, thank you.

Mary Snow reporting for us.

The former Louisiana state representative, David Duke, joined us here in the SITUATION ROOM just a short while ago from Tehran.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Mr. Duke, thanks very much for coming in. What do you say to those who say -- who charge, and there are many, that you're there in Tehran at this Holocaust conference simply because you hate Jews?

DAVID DUKE, FORMER KU KLUX KLAN LEADER: Well, first off, Mr. Blitzer, I resent the introduction you made of me. You mentioned the Ku Klux Klan 11 times. That was over 30 -- well, 30 years ago in my life, and since that time I got elected to the House of Representatives, I became -- and I received a full doctorate, I have been a teacher, I have one of the best selling books in the world.

And you interview many former communists in governments all over the world and you don't introduce them by saying former communist and certainly not 11 times. I think you're biased because you're a former lobbyist for AIPAC. You're a Jewish extremist, supporter of Israel, so you want to bias anyone who criticizes Zionism.

BLITZER: Well, do you hate Jews?

DUKE: No, I don't. Do you hate people who don't want to be controlled? Do you hate Americans who don't want the Israeli lobby to have Americans fight and die and thousands maimed because Israel wants it in the Middle East? We have a war in Iraq because Israel wanted that war, not for American interests.

They lied to us about weapons of mass destruction, and now they're trying to get America into war against Iran, and I think it would be a tragedy for this country, a tragedy for the world. And you don't like what I say against Zionism so you want to talk about the Ku Klux Klan rather than the issues facing the world...

BLITZER: Do you...

DUKE: ... the terrorism of the Israel state for instance.

BLITZER: Do you believe, Mr. Duke, that there was a Holocaust?

DUKE: I'm sorry? I believe, sir, that the only way we can know whether there was a Holocaust or the nature of it is freedom of speech. I don't think we should be locking people in prison in Europe, even elderly people in their 80s, because they dare to have a different opinion about an historical event.

The American government shouldn't be saying that the Iran conference -- the Iran conference was a conference for freedom of speech. I heard many mainstream Holocaust speakers at this conference, many. This conference allowed freedom of speech on the issue.

The American government and Tony Blair and George Bush should be saying its a disgrace that David Irving, a worldwide historian with books in almost every library in the world, is in prison right now in Austria because he said something the Zionists don't like about the Second World War.

BLITZER: Do believe in a two state solution to the Israeli- Palestinian conflict, a new state of Palestine living side by side with the state of Israel?

DUKE: I think that's probably the best solution. I think you have to ask the people who live there, of both Israel and the Arab countries. But I know one thing. You can't impose a solution from the Zionist's domination of American foreign policy.

Pearl and people like Wolfowitz, Feith, Wurmser, Kristol, Abrams -- we can go on and on. It sounds like a Jewish wedding. They have set American policy and they have hurt American interests in the Middle East. Just as I have said for years, as Walt and Mearsheimer of Harvard have said, it's a fact.

And we are dying right now in Iraq because we're there for Israel's interests. We've gotten no oil out of this war. I said -- I went around the world, around the country before this war, and said there were no weapons of mass destruction.

BLITZER: Well, let me interrupt for a moment, Mr. Duke. As far as I know, the president of the United States, who is the commander in chief, is not Jewish. The vice president of the United States is not Jewish. The secretary of defense is not Jewish. The national security advisor to the president, not Jewish. The director of the CIA, not Jewish. Are these people simply tools of the Zionist conspiracy?

DUKE: They're not tools of a conspiracy, but they are definitely tools of the Zionist media and political power. Even the "Washington Post" said that 60 percent of the contributions for the Republican Party come from Jewish sources. Plus, if any politician in America dares to criticize Israel, millions will go to his opponents and he will be attacked in the media where Zionists have incredible power.

Even the "Jewish Chronicle," the "Jewish Los Angeles Times" -- excuse me, not the "Los Angeles Times," the "Jewish Times of Los Angeles" stated that four of the five conglomerates of -- the largest media conglomerates are owned by Jews, and the fifth is even more pro- Israel than some of those conglomerates. We have a controlled media in the United States, and that's why we're not hearing the truth about this conference.

This conference is about the fact that there must be freedom of speech. And this is insane that people are being criticized. This conference is being criticized when there are people in prison right now for freedom of their conscience.

BLITZER: If there's a controlled...

DUKE: Now, if you think that David Irving should be in prison right now in Austria -- I'm asking you a question, sir.

BLITZER: Well, I'm the one who asks the questions in these interviews...

DUKE: Do you think David Irving should be in prison in Austria for voicing an opinion?

BLITZER: ... and we invited you on. And the question is...

DUKE: Exactly.

BLITZER: ... if we invited you on, why is there a Zionist conspiracy if we're letting you on television right now? How do you explain that?

DUKE: How do I explain that? I think that you can't affect the news. You've got -- I think you have to put some spin on what's happening in Iran.

BLITZER: But we didn't have to invite you on CNN.

DUKE: And you want to -- it's an attack mode, always an attack mode when people like myself come on there. But you thought you could handle me with your 11 connotations of the Ku Klux Klan.

BLITZER: All right, let me...

DUKE: But you know something? You can't handle me, and you can't handle the truth, and the fact is, you are an agent of Zionism. You work for AIPAC...

BLITZER: Listen -- all right. Listen.

DUKE: ... the lobby in this country that controls Israeli policy.

BLITZER: Listen, Mr. Duke...

DUKE: You're not an honest broker of television.

BLITZER: ... I am going to read to you what Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said... DUKE: You're an Israeli agent.

BLITZER: All right. I'm going to read to you what Mr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the president of Iran, has said and then you can respond if you agree of disagree with him. "Israel must be wiped off the map and, God willing, with the force of God behind it, we shall soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism."

That's what he said on October 28th, 2005, according to Al- Jazeera.

DUKE: All right, first off, that's a complete misquote. He never said wipe off the map, and he was talking about the Zionist control of the United States. In fact, I heard his last speech, and I read articles all over the world where he said Israel will be wiped off the map.

He said Israel would have a change in government just as the Soviet Union changed. Obviously, the Russian people weren't killed. Israel wasn't wiped out, and this was to garner hatred against Iran to support the Holocaust and maybe the nuclear strike against Iran.

BLITZER: Well, what about when he says we "shall experience a world" -- when he says we should "soon experience a world without the United States"?

DUKE: I'm sorry, sir. I couldn't hear you.

BLITZER: When he says we should "soon experience a world without the United States and Zionism."

DUKE: I know what the translation was. He was referring to the control -- Israel uses the United States as its proxy. They use the -- as Mahaper (ph) said from Malaysia, Israel is able to dominate our policy through their money, through their media control, and they're leading us to disaster.

Richard Pearl and Paul Wolfowitz he were the formulators of the Iraq war. Pearl, Wurmser and Feith wrote a paper for Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel calling for war against Iraq , Iran, and Syria. And that's exactly what we did. They made up the lies of weapons of mass destruction because Americans were not willing to die in thousands and spend billions of dollars for Israel's strategic objectives. That's the reality.

BLITZER: David Duke, we have to leave it there.

DUKE: And there are so many lies that are going on right now.

BLITZER: The satellite is about to go down. So we have to leave it right there. But you're in Tehran.

DUKE: Well, people can find information at DavidDuke.com -- DavidDuke.com.

BLITZER: I'm sure they'll have plenty of opportunities to hear what you have to say. That's it. David Duke joining us from Iran.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: And still ahead tonight, a modern day Jack the Ripper on the loose. A killer targets prostitutes and taunts police in a crime spree that's now shocking Britain.

And E. coli might not seem like a laughing matter. But no one told that to late-night comedians. Jeanne Moos with that story. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Five bodies in 10 days -- now British investigators think they may have a serial killer on their hands.

CNN's Alphonso Van Marsh is in Ipswich in England with the latest -- Alphonso.

ALPHONSO VAN MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, hopes are fading that two missing women will be found alive this evening. This comes as a mysterious string of murders has this ordinary English town -- in fact, the whole nation -- in shock.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VAN MARSH (voice-over): These may be some of the last known images of prostitute Paula Clennell. Before the mother of three went missing, she was asked why she had worked the streets knowing a killer or killers were targeting prostitutes.

PAULA CLENNELL, MURDER VICTIM: I need the money, you know?

QUESTION: Despite the dangers?

CLENNELL: Well, that has made me a bit wary about getting into cars.

VAN MARSH: Police fear Paula may be one of two recovered bodies under investigation outside Ipswich on Wednesday, the latest of five women found dead this month in Suffolk County, additional police forces dispatched here to help with the hunt for a possible serial killer. The crimes have shocked the nation.

TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We support the police fully in dealing with the horror of this situation and also with the entirely understandable fear there is in the community.

VAN MARSH (on camera): This is one of the neighborhoods where so- called working girls would pick up their clients from the streets. But the prostitutes have been replaced with police tape. Many of these working girls still hesitant to go to the police.

(voice-over): That's because many prostitutes fear that if they go to the police, their illegal activity will land them in jail whether or not the police solve these murders. The lead investigator says as long as there's a killer or killers out there, he doesn't care what they've done.

STEWART GULL, SUFFOLK POLICE: I've got one priority, and that's to find the person or persons responsible for the deaths of these girls. I'm not interested in any soliciting, any curb calling offenses.

VAN MARSH: Authorities say all the women's bodies were dumped within 10 miles of each other, leading some to suspect the killer or killers are taunting police.

CLIVE SIMS, CLINICAL FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGIST: This is a person who is targeting specifically these young ladies, and therefore he has specific psychological problems and he is not gaining financially, he's not gaining in anything other than something psychological.

VAN MARSH: Helping the psyche of a local community traumatized by these events, a national newspaper is offering 250,000 pounds, almost a half million dollars, for information leading to the capture and conviction of the Ipswich killer or killers.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAN MARSH: Almost a half a million U.S. dollars. Big money, but perhaps little comfort for this ordinary English town that until now always thought that something like this would never happen here -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Alphonso, thanks very much for that.

Let's find out what's coming up at the top of the hour. That means Paula is standing by.

Hi, Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf, thanks.

We got so much response last night from "SKIN DEEP: RACISM IN AMERICA" that we're going to dig even deeper into the issue tonight with some remarkable video. We're going to take you inside a Ku Klux Klan meeting and we'll seeing how white supremacists are using the Internet to recruit young men.

Also, one of the most difficult aspects of the race issue. What would you do if your children couldn't go to your neighborhood school because of their skin color? Two cases being decided by the Supreme Court right now. We'll delve into those in another special hour of racism coming up tonight, Wolf, at the top of the hour.

BLITZER: All right, excellent work yesterday and I'm sure tonight's will be excellent as well. Thank you, Paula, for that.

ZAHN: Thank you.

BLITZER: As Christmas approaches, Wal-Mart is facing pressure over a video game based on the popular Christian book series "Left Behind." Liberal groups say the superstore chain should shelve the game, in which players convert or do battle with non-believers because they claim the video game is too violent. Let's bring in Jacki Schechner.

She has the details -- Jacki.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, the video game is called "Left Behind, Eternal Forces," and you assemble a Christian army to fight the anti-Christ in the streets of New York City.

There's no actual blood, guts or gore in the game, but at least one organization, the Campaign to Defend the Constitution, an online liberal advocacy group, is asking Wal-Mart to pull the game from store shelves. It is selling it. They say that it is sending a message of religious violence and intolerance.

Now, the -- Wal-Mart says it's putting it on store shelves where there is a demand for the game and that it is actually selling. You can also get the game online and also at other retailers across the country. It's in 10,000 stores and Christian booksellers.

Now, the president of Left Behind Games says that any accusation of violence is unfounded and ridiculous and the conservative Focus on the Family, headed up by James Dobson, agrees. They reviewed the video game and the organizations says that it's a game that mom and dad can play with junior -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jacki, for that.

Up ahead, Taco Bell's troubles turn into fodder for late-night comedians. CNN's Jeanne Moos will show us what they're actually saying.

And Jack Cafferty wants to know will the independent ethics panel that House Democrats are considering ever happen? Jack with your e- mail, "The Cafferty File." All that coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack for "The Cafferty File." Jack?

CAFFERTY: The question House Democrats are considering an independent ethics panel. Will it ever happen?

Ralph in Phoenix: "Jack, please pay better attention here. As the phony Democrats under that pair of idiots, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have already sold the voters out on impeachment, illegal alien amnesty, enacting the 9/11 commission reforms, et cetera. And you expect them to do honest, real ethical reforms, do you? Good luck, Jack."

Robert in New York: "Jack, an independent ethics oversight panel is exactly what the Congress needs. It makes total sense. The timing for its inception couldn't be any better. That's exactly why it will never happen." Ed in Washington: "An independent ethics panel may be created for show. But you can bet it will be toothless. Whichever party is in power, it's likely to bite them in the rear otherwise."

Tyler in Minnesota: "Will it ever work or happen? I don't know. But we can only pray. We now know that Pelosi will let anything slide after this Jefferson farce. What happened to her making a priority of cleaning up government? We obviously need someone else to do it."

Pat in Ft. Worth, Texas: "It's a great idea. We're outsourcing everything else in this country. Why not ethics? Maybe the Chinese will do it for a fee or perhaps our friends in Mexico."

And Lawrence in Durham, North Carolina: "Jack, we are the independent ethics review. You just keep telling us about their exploits and we'll vote the scum out of office. Why not? It worked in November."

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

BLITZER: Jack, thank you for that, Jack Cafferty is with us in THE SITUATION ROOM weekdays. Still ahead, comedians make a run for the border finding humor yes, humor in Taco Bell's troubles. Jeanne Moos is on the story for us tonight. You're going to want to see her report. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The Centers for Disease Control now says lettuce was the most likely cause of an e. Coli outbreak that sickened 67 people and forced the temporary closure of more than 90 Taco Bell restaurants. Green onions were originally suspected, but have now been ruled out. Most of the affected restaurants have now been reopened and the incident has moved from crisis to comedy, as far as late night TV is concerned. CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a look.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Chances are, you won't be tossing your tacos. The e. Coli induced belly aches may have died down, but not the belly laughs.

DAVID LETTERMAN, TALK SHOW HOST: By the way, Taco Bell has a new menu, it's the chile con coli.

MOOS: The late night comedians are a company's worst nightmare.

JAY LENO, TALK SHOW HOST: Remember the good old days where the only thing you had to worry about at a fast food restaurant was maybe finding a finger in your bowl of chili?

MOOS: You sure couldn't count the Wendy's jokes on the fingers of one hand. And now it's Taco Bell's turn.

CONAN O'BRIEN, TALK SHOW HOST: Good news from Taco Bell. MOOS: But even good news from the company...

GREG CREED, PRESIDENT, TACO BELL: Well certainly our food is safe.

MOOS: Has turned into jokes.

O'BRIEN: Taco Bell's spokesman said our customers can go back to experiencing the quality diarrhea they're used to.

MOOS: Yuck. But we're not afraid. Taco Bell has even set up a hotline, 1-800-TACO-BELL.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you are calling about e. Coli, press nine. Many of the people who became ill did not report eating at Taco Bell.

MOOS: And though that's reassuring...

(on camera): ... Would you eat at a Taco Bell yet?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Give it a while. I want to make sure no one else is going to get extra ill.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would. I already forgot about it.

MOOS (voice-over): Hard to do when Letterman is doing the top 10 questions to ask before eating at Taco Bell.

LETTERMAN: No. 5, should I go somewhere safer for lunch, like Fallujah?

MOOS: Don't answer that question on the Taco Bell hotline.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you want to know if Taco Bell products are safe to eat, press three. Taco Bell products are absolutely safe to eat.

MOOS: Dunkin Donuts once went through a similar thing. The "New York Post" got a photo of a mouse scampering through the donuts in the window of a New York City franchise. Letterman joked for months. For instance, the top 10 new slogans for Dunkin Donuts.

LETTERMAN: The donuts that squeal when you eat them.

MOOS: As for the food that took the fall in the Taco Bell case, those poor much maligned falsely accused green onions, AKA scallions. Maybe the scallions should sue the latest suspect, lettuce.

(on camera): Would you eat at a Taco Bell?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hell no. I want to live to see the holidays.

MOOS (voice-over): I just want to live through this piece. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you would like to know the symptoms of e. Coli, press four. E. Coli 0154H7 usually develops within two-to- four days after exposure to the bacteria.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Only Jeanne Moos does those kinds of reports. She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM as are we, weekday afternoons from 4-6 p.m., back for another hour at 7 p.m. Eastern. Tomorrow, Congressman Tom Tancredo will join us. He's compared Miami to a third-world country, but he's now canceled a visit there. Tomorrow, we'll ask him why. Let's go to Paula now in the meantime -- Paula?

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

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