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Nuclear Arms Race in the Middle East?; Interview with Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale

Aired January 19, 2007 - 19:00   ET


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, why a surprising announcement could signal a nuclear arms race in the Middle East -- do Arab states now fear Iran more than Israel and could the U.S and China be headed for a high tech war in space? We're going to show you the scary scenario.

Also, my exclusive joint interview with former President Jimmy Carter, former Vice President Walter Mondale. Thirty years after they took charge, they're making some powerful charges about the current White House.

And extreme weather from storms in America's hard hit heartland to wicked winds tearing across Europe right now -- is this our future forecast?

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

Tonight a CNN exclusive -- former President jimmy Carter and his vice president, Walter Mondale, getting tough on the current administration, especially the vice president, Dick Cheney.


WALTER MONDALE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT: This vice president, the current vice president seems to have stepped across a line that we thought was important in our time.


BLITZER: The interview coming up -- all that coming up.

First, though, let's begin with a possible, possible nuclear arms race in the Middle East and a surprising new twist. Intelligence analysts have long suggested that Israel's nuclear arsenal, which has never officially been acknowledged, may include a few hundred weapons. But Arab nations may now be much more worried about Iran's aggressive nuclear program. The latest clue comes in some startling comments by Jordan's King Abdullah.

Meantime, Iran's president is in very hot water back at home for his hard line nuclear stance. Aneesh Raman reports from Cairo -- Aneesh.

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's causing quite a stir tonight in the Middle East. The Jordanian king in an interview with the Israeli newspaper "Haaretz" now says his country wants to pursue a peaceful civilian nuclear program. Now why is this such a big deal?

Because it sets the stage for the Middle East to perhaps confront in the coming years a nuclear arms race. Now it was all in large part sparked by Iran, which over the past few months has been defiantly pursuing a nuclear program of its own. Tehran says it's pursuing peaceful civilian nuclear energy. But of course fears have been raised in the west and parts of the Middle East that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon.

And as Iran moves ever closer to nuclear self-sufficiency, countries like Jordan, Egypt and other Gulf states are increasingly voicing their desire for nuclear programs. Now everyone saying they're pursuing peaceful civilian nuclear technology but keep in mind governments can quickly adapt peaceful civilian nuclear programs to programs that are pursuing nuclear weapons.

And given that the middle east is in such turmoil, it's hard to find anyone that can predict how exactly these governments will look in five years or in a decade when these nuclear programs will certainly mature. So a region very much on edge is now tonight confronting the possibility of another nuclear nation. Wolf?

BLITZER: Another huge complicating factor in the Middle East -- Aneesh Raman in Cairo. Members of the nuclear club, by the way, include the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China, India and Pakistan. And intelligence analysts say Israel has a significant nuclear arsenal. North Korea, by the way, also believed to have a nuclear capability.

Iran's controversial president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is now facing an extraordinary outpouring of anger right at home, taking direct heat for his hard line nuclear stance and his in your face foreign policy. Let's go live to our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's too early to write his political obituary but Iran's president is under fire and could be in danger.



VERJEE (voice-over): His star is falling. Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, usually praised for his defiance of the West, now it seems he's gone too far and his country has had enough. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei handed Ahmadinejad a stinging slap over the country's nuclear policy in a newspaper he owns.

The paper says a U.N. resolution that slams sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program is harmful for the country. And Ahmadinejad calling it a piece of torn paper was too much. It went on to say Iran's nuclear policy needed toughness, sometimes flexibility. Now 150 Iranian lawmakers, some from Ahmadinejad's own party, are publicly blasting his nuclear and economic policies.

AFSHIN MOLAVI, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: The system of the Islamic Republic of Iran is one that is a system of consensus within the ruling elites, and when the ruling elites, particularly his conservative and hard line supporters are abandoning him, I think he's in you know some significant danger.

VERJEE: A new alliance between reformists and hard line conservatives, fearful Ahmadinejad is leading the country down a dangerous road, one he's not capable of navigating.


VERJEE: His hard line nuclear stance and threats to wipe Israel off the map have already isolated Iran. Now five Iranians have been seized by the U.S. in Iraq accused of fueling the insurgency. And the U.S. is making threats of further action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is a sense that the United States is stepping up its level of confrontation with Iran.

VERJEE: And disappoint that Ahmadinejad hasn't delivered on his campaign promises of more jobs and a stronger economy. Instead, unemployment and inflation are on the rise.


VERJEE: Experts say this move to clip Ahmadinejad's wings won't necessarily change his posture on Iran's nuclear policy, but they expect that it could lessen the rhetoric to an extent that we haven't heard in the past -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Why have these religious leaders, the top leaders in Iran, why have they let Ahmadinejad make some of these statements, including the statements calling for Israel to be wiped off the map?

VERJEE: You know Wolf at the time experts that we've spoken to said they felt they could really tolerate it and it wasn't really hurting Iran. And Ayatollah Khamenei just basically let it go. Now they're beginning to realize that the more he comes out and makes these sorts of statements it really galvanizes the international community against Iran. And what it also does is that it undermines Iran's own position at a time of delicate nuclear negotiations -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Zain is at the State Department for us.

Meanwhile, the new Democratic leader in the U.S. Senate warned President Bush today not to launch any attack against Iran without first getting formal authorization from the U.S. Congress -- the majority leader, Harry Reid, accusing Mr. Bush of saber-rattling at the Tehran government. The White House insists it has no plans to attack Iran. China's successful test of a satellite killing missile, knocking one of its own spacecraft out of the orbit has very ominous implications for the United States. Those eyes and ears in space are certainly vital but they're also very vulnerable.

Could China soon be capable of blinding the U.S.? Pick up this story with CNN's Brian Todd -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Chinese already blinded one U.S. satellite temporarily when they illuminated it last year. And experts say this latest missile test exposes at least two major weaknesses of America's military in space.


TODD (voice-over): The first weakness, the U.S. military's dependence on satellites. If hostilities broke out, experts say China could take out dozens of America reconnaissance or communication satellites within hours. Then...

JOHN TKACIK, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: We simply couldn't function. You couldn't get data through. You couldn't get voice communications. You couldn't get any kind of telecommunications. You couldn't see the battle space.

TODD: The second weakness, vulnerability. Experts say many American GPS satellites which guide smart weapons and troop movements are more than a thousand miles into space, mostly out of range of China's ballistic missiles. But the reconnaissance satellites, which take pictures of the targets for those bombs, missiles and soldiers, are sitting ducks.

JOHN PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG.: Our imagery and intelligence satellites are in orbit only a few hundred miles up, the same altitude as the target satellite the Chinese shot down.

TODD: And experts tell us the reconnaissance satellites the U.S. military does have are too big, about the size of a city bus, easy targets. They say efforts are under way to make them smaller and to equip satellites with stealth technology. How can the U.S. go on the offensive?

Like China, experts say the U.S. can jam satellites by throwing noise at them and can hit them with ballistic missiles. Ground-based lasers have also been tested. And an analyst with Jane's Defence Weekly believes U.S. military planners are at least thinking of developing satellites with attack capability. How could one of these orbiters blast another from space?

STEPHEN TRIMBLE, JANE'S DEFENCE WEEKLY: It can dock with it and damage it in some way or it can obliterate it by shooting pellets or some kind of munition.


TODD: But that creates its own danger. Scientists are already warning that satellite China just destroyed could have broken into about 40,000 pieces which may travel at high-speed through orbit for as long as a decade and that could damage several other satellites -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And the ramifications for all of us enormous, Brian.

Jack Cafferty is in New York. He's got "The Cafferty File". I know we reported on this yesterday, Jack. You're pretty concerned about this latest development as well.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, I don't know how concerned I am. But I -- you know I would think certainly it should be cause for concern for the people in Washington, D.C. China is getting our lunch eaten on several fronts. They own a lot of our debt. They sell a tremendous amount of stuff they make here in the United States. We have huge trade deficits with them. And our foreign policy at the moment seems concentrated in Iraq, which is not exactly bearing a whole lot of fruit.

However, I have a topic a little less daunting than that. California could become the first state that outlaws spanking. A proposed law would make spanking a child under 3 years old a crime, punishable by up to a year in jail or fines of up to $1,000. It's not clear how much support there is for such a bill.

One poll in the San Francisco area found 57 percent of parents opposed to it, 23 percent said they would support it, 11 percent said they were undecided. Supporters say the U.S. is way behind other countries on this issue, many of which have outlawed spanking. They also say it protects a defenseless child.

But according to critics it's an intrusion on the family, some call it nanny government. There's also the question of how you go about actually enforcing a law like this because most spanking occurs in the home and it would be tough for kids under 3 to report it.

As for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, he says he's open to hearing more about the proposal. The governor says he got smacked about everything, entirely understandable growing up in Austria, but he never spanks his own children.

So here's the question. Should spanking your kids be illegal? E-mail your thoughts on that to or go to What do you think, Wolf?

BLITZER: Good question. Let's see what the governor comes up with. He's probably going to be considering this for a while. We're going to see what our viewers think. That's a lot more important, Jack, than what you and I happen to think.

CAFFERTY: Nice dodge.

BLITZER: Thank you. I practice that for a living.

Coming up, former Vice President Walter Mondale and former President Jimmy Carter, they're here for a joint exclusive interview 30 years after they took office. We're going to hear their stinging criticism of the Bush White House. Exclusive interview, that's coming up.

Also, CNN: Special Investigations Unit takes you to the streets of London where there's a battle going on for the hearts and minds of young Muslims on the verge of extremism. Christiane Amanpour with a special report.

And hurricane force winds sweeping through Germany leaving death, destruction and a lot of unanswered questions in their path. What's behind this wild weather? Carol Costello working that story.

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


BLITZER: In Britain, police are trying right now new ways to reach out to young Muslims at risk of turning into terrorists. CNN: Special Investigations Unit is exploring a new breeding ground for innocence transformed into extremists.

Here's our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour -- Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as we're exploring this division between two strains of Islam, the radical minority and the moderate majority, we're trying to figure out what it's going to take to finally get the moderate, the mainstream, not just in Britain but around the world to seize back their religion. And what we found is here in Britain at least that person-by-person, individual by individual, whether social worker, artist, activist or imam, Muslims are trying to seize back the debate.


AMANPOUR (voice-over): Extremism can thrive among kids who see no way out of their ethnic ghettos.

HANIF QADIR, YOUTH WORKER: They're into all kinds of vices. They're into street crime, gun crime, drugs, car theft, and credit card fraud. But then you've now got another threat.

AMANPOUR (on camera): What's the new threat?

QADIR: The new threat is radicalism. It's a cause. Everyone wants a cause.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): So Hanif's cause is to break the ice. This time in a pool tournament between the police and the young men who often find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On the street they just hate the uniform at all. So this is to break them barriers. I think it is a brilliant idea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is unusual to see it, but it's probably good at the same time because like the kids and the police are mixing together. I personally feel it's a great thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All it takes is just one pool table. And it wasn't just the game. It was them being here. They were in the same room having a laugh and a joke. They're the same guys that they've arrested many times or may arrest again, but you know what, they've got one thing in common. They're playing pool and (inaudible).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Active Change Foundation pool tournament...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... October 2006. Well done.


AMANPOUR: It's a good start for Waldon Stowe (ph), but it is only a start.

QADIR: You can be Muslim and you can be British, you know, like you can be Christian and you can be -- you can be Jewish and you can be British.

If the British-born Muslims really want to do something to stop people damaging Islam, then start reading up on your book, explain it to your children, come out your denial phase. The only conspirators against Islam at the moment, right, and the biggest threat to Islam at the moment is our enemies within.


AMANPOUR: And Hanif Qadir really sums it up. And it takes quite a risky venture to go out and confront the extremists and the radicals. There are a lot of threats that come back at them. But we found that now more and more people are ready to do that because they're tired of being tarred with the same brush, mostly since 9/11, that the whole Muslim community feels that it's under suspicion as terrorists.

There's a huge rise in Islam phobia that's been documented here in Europe and whether you're moderate or mainstream, the policies of the last several years since 9/11, whether it be the war in Iraq, whether it be the ongoing Palestinian crisis, or radicalizing people, so people now are trying to fight back to win back those ready pool of recruits who could go one way or another -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Is it the same in Britain as it is in France or in Belgium, other parts of Western Europe, the trends that you're seeing?

AMANPOUR: Yes, in a certain way, it's the same. What is the same is this mass anger and unease amongst the Muslim community. Whether you're violently disposed or not or whether you're peacefully predisposed, people are very uneasy in the Muslim community. And there is an outfit that tracks what it's calling trends against ethnicities and it's found a rise in Islam phobia amongst 13 million Muslims around Europe who are facing threats, abuse, discrimination and who do feel that they're paying a collective price for 9/11. And there's a lot that needs to go on to change that. Because it does affect the security of the U.S. as well, as you know.

BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour doing some excellent reporting for us. Thank you, Christiane.

And this important note, "The War Within" is the first report of CNN: Special Investigations Unit. It premiers this weekend, Saturday and Sunday evening, 8:00 p.m. Eastern. I think you're going to want to see it.

A CNN exclusive is coming up. The former President Jimmy Carter and his Vice President Walter Mondale. One strongly defending Carter's controversial book on the Middle East, the other has some problems with it. You're going to hear for yourself.

And an update on the health of the Cuban leader Fidel Castro from his close ally, the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Is Castro's prognosis as grim as some reports suggest?

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


BLITZER: Tonight Senator Hillary Clinton offers a vote of no confidence in the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki. The possible presidential contender is sharpening her criticism of President Bush's war strategy after a trip to Iraq.

Our senior national correspondent John Roberts went one on one with Senator Clinton. John?

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SR. NAT'L CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the senator told me that she has seen a marked deterioration in Iraq from the last time that she was there. A steady diet of bad news, setbacks, mistakes and problems is how she described it. An assessment like that could be expected from a potential Democratic presidential candidate, but it is interesting to note how her language has shifted over the years from a staunch supporter of the Iraq war to now one of its fiercest critics. She also didn't have much good to say about Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whom she met in Baghdad last Saturday.


ROBERTS: Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, do you have any faith that he is the guy who can bring Iraq back to a state of security?

HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: I don't have any faith.

ROBERTS: No faith in al-Maliki?

H. CLINTON: Whether there's a gap between his intentions and his will and capacity is the real problem or whether he's doing what he intends to do to mark time and further the, you know, the dominance of his sectarian supporters, it's hard to tell.


ROBERTS: While the Senator is opposed to President Bush's troop increase, she wants to cap the number of boots on the ground in its January 1 level. She still will not say that her vote in favor of the war back in 2002 was a mistake or that she regrets it.

When I asked her why she hasn't recanted that vote like some of the other Democrats have, she told me that you don't get do-overs in life. You take responsibility for the decisions you make and then you try to make the situation better. A presidential slogan? She wouldn't say if she's running, but she did tell me that she'll decide soon -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very, very soon we assume. John Roberts doing some excellent reporting. And by the way, you can see more of John's interview with Senator Clinton on "This Week At War". It airs Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, Sunday at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, right after "LATE EDITION," only here on CNN.

Just ahead, some of Jimmy Carter's top advisers are parting ways with the former president over his new controversial new bestseller about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. They call it one-sided and inflammatory. He'll explain why he chose to use the word apartheid in the title. Part of my exclusive joint interview with Jimmy Carter and former Vice President Walter Mondale. That's coming up next.

And Jack Cafferty wants to know should spanking your kids be illegal? Jack is standing by with "The Cafferty File" -- all that coming up here 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 White House occupants have stinging words for the current residents. Thirty years after they took office, Jimmy Carter and Walter Mondale critique the Bush administration and they're not mincing any words. You'll hear from them in an exclusive joint interview. It's coming up.

Also, Fidel Castro is, quote, "battling for his life". That's what the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez now says. Chavez says he recently spoke with Castro. Castro is battling an unknown illness, his condition a state secret and he's not been seen in public since July.

And for having sold his clout as a congressman for golf trips, tickets, food and campaign donations, one disgraced Republican now says he's sorry. Today Bob Ney was sentenced to 30 months in prison. The 52-year-old former congressman from Ohio will serve his time in a minimum-security federal prison in West Virginia.

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

They dealt with international crises. They pursued peace in the Middle East. They experienced both highs and lows and public opinion. So former President Jimmy Carter and his Vice President Walter Mondale are uniquely qualified to talk about the pressures of a U.S. presidency. Just a short while ago I spoke with them exclusively 30 years after they took office. They compare and contrast their White House with the current one.


WALTER MONDALE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: One of the things I am proudest of about our four years together was that we told the truth and we obeyed the law and we kept the peace. It doesn't sound like much, maybe just what is expected, but I think we're seeing evidence of what happens when you stray from these fundamentals principles.

BLITZER: It sounds, Mr. Vice President ...

MONDALE: I was never ...

BLITZER: It sounds, Mr. Vice President.


BLITZER: Excuse me for interrupting -- that that's an implied criticism, if not a direct criticism, of the current president and vice president.

MONDALE: Well, that's acceptable to me if you want to draw that conclusion. But the fact of it is that ours was an honest administration, you could believe what you were told, we never played games with the law.

We were true to that oath of office and we did everything we could to enhance American power based on our principles and tried to avoid war. And we accomplished that and I feel good about it.

BLITZER: Is this a dishonest administration?

MONDALE: You know, let me just say this. A lot of the things -- I never used that word. A lot of the things we were told proved not to be true.

BLITZER: But was that a deliberate -- was the president and the vice president -- here's the question, Mr. Vice President. Both the president and the vice president, did they mislead the American people or were they misled themselves?

MONDALE: I have been very careful about avoiding words like deceit or lying and so on.

What I am talking about is our four years during which I am absolutely positive we told the truth, we obeyed the law and we kept the peace. That's what I'm talking about. We now have an administration that stumbled over these values and is having its own great difficulties trying to sustain public leadership in part because of the things they said that got us into this war. They surely have been contemptuous of enforcing the law.

And they have been -- they have dumped, basically, the whole foreign intelligence surveillance system. They may be bringing it back. And it seemed for awhile they just recklessly wanted to get involved in international military conflicts and I think it's been at great cost to our country.

BLITZER: Mr. Mondale, about Dick Cheney. You have been critical of him, the relationship he has had with the president. Contrast that to the relationship you had when you were vice president with President Carter.

MONDALE: This vice president, the current vice president, seems to have stepped across a line that we thought was important in our time. I tried to work as a representative of the president. I didn't go around volunteering my own policies. I considered myself that kind of office holder and not a prime minister, not a deputy president or something like that.

This vice presidency is troubling to me because time and time again, we've seen the establishment, for example, of almost a parallel National Security Council, the involvement of the vice president in trying to pressure, influence the kind of information that flows to the top and up to the presidency.

And I think that political scientists ought to study about whether there should be a recognized line that a vice president must obey to prevent that kind of problem that we're seeing today. Many of the things we've been told that has helped get us in trouble here I think is a reflection of that problem.

BLITZER: Mr. President, how far should the Congress go in trying to stop this war in Iraq? Specifically, should it use the so-called power of the purse?

JIMMY CARTER, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think that's perfectly legitimate, Wolf, not dealing with our military already over there. We don't want to cut them off because they haven't been adequately supplied, as you know, with body armor, armored vehicles and other facilities. But I think the Congress should use its maximum authority.

BLITZER: Mr. President, you've written a best-seller entitled "Palestine: Peace not Apartheid." It's generated a lot of controversy, as you well know. Fourteen members of the Jimmy Carter Center, the board of councilors, wrote a letter to you on January 11th.

Among other things they said this in their resignation. "It seems that you have turned to a world of advocacy, including even malicious advocacy. We can no longer endorse your strident and uncompromising position. This is not the Carter Center or the Jimmy Carter we came to respect and support."

Was that a mistake to include that word "Apartheid" in the title of this book?

CARTER: No. That was not a mistake. The two basic thrusts in this book -- and they are very important ones. One is to rejuvenate the dormant or dead peace process in the Middle East after six years of absolutely no effort, not one single day, of substantive discussions to bring peace to Israel.

And the second one is to end the abominable and relatively unknown, horrible prosecution or persecution of the Palestinian people. And that is the thrust of the book. And not a single critic of the book, so far as I have seen, addresses either one of those issues in a negative way.

Most of the criticisms of the book have been the one word in the title, "Apartheid," and the other one is personal attacks on me. Anybody that goes to Palestine and looks over the plight of the Palestinians will agree that there is mandatory separation inside Palestinian territory, between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and terrible persecution and oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis.

And that is a basic issue that has got to be corrected before Israel can have peace.

BLITZER: Here is what your former adviser, Professor Ken Stein of Emory University, who worked with you for many years at the Carter Center, told us on CNN. Listen to this.


KENNETH STEIN, EMORY UNIVERSITY: There is too much emotion in Arab-Israel conflict already and I think this adds heat rather than light. When you use the word "Apartheid," what you are doing is you are saying that what Israel is doing to Palestinians in territories is equivalent to what happened to the blacks of South Africa.


BLITZER: Is that what you are saying, Mr. President?

CARTER: Well, yes. But I make it very clear in the book, as Ken Stein well knows, that this oppression, or "Apartheid" separation mandatorily in the West Bank and Gaza is not because of racism, which was a primary motivation in South Africa, but is based on a small minority of Israeli leaders who have a greed for Palestinian territory.

So there is quite a bit of difference there. And I have never alleged that the framework of Apartheid existed within Israel at all, and that what does exist in the West Bank is based on trying to take Palestinian land and not on racism. So that is a very clear distinction. BLITZER: Mr. Vice President, I have known you for many years. You have always been a very, very strong supporter of Israel. Are you comfortable with President Carter's use of the "Apartheid" in this new book?

MONDALE: The president and I haven't talked about this. I have read the book. I think there is a lot of good materials in there. I do have a few problems with it. But if I might, I would like to talk to the president about it first.

This conference is not about the book, it is about what we did when we were in office. And one of the things we did for four years, and I was involved working with the president almost daily, was to pursue policies that strengthened the security of the state of Israel in ways that almost have not occurred under any other administration.

And I saw the president daily working to achieve those results. And I admire that.

BLITZER: What...

CARTER: And that is still a major goal of my life, Wolf, is to bring peace to Israel. And I think that this book might be a factor in helping to bring that about.

BLITZER: Is that possible when you have the Hamas leader of the Palestinians, the Palestinian prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, who said this on December 8th, 2006, he said: "We will never recognize the usurper Zionist government and will continue our jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem."

CARTER: Well, he has said all kinds of things, Wolf, in addition to that. He has also said that he was -- would welcome peace talks between the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, and the prime minister of Israel. And if they evolved a satisfactory peace agreement and submitted it to the Palestinian people in a referendum and it was approved, that they would accept that as a basis for the future.


BLITZER: And tune in this Sunday, 11:00 a.m. Eastern to hear a lot more from this interview, including the highs and lows of President Carter and Vice President Mondale in their own words. They'll look back on their administration, what happened then. The exclusive interview continues on "LATE EDITION," the last word in Sunday talk, this Sunday, 11:00 a.m. Eastern.

Up ahead tonight, hurricane winds in Europe, snow in Malibu? Find out what in the world is going on?

And corporal punishment -- should you be in jail -- put in jail, that is, for spanking your children? It could become law in California. Jack, with your e-mail when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: People are cleaning up right now from one of the deadliest storms to hit northern Europe in years, blamed for at least 47 deaths so far. And we're also seeing severe and very unusual weather in many parts of this country.

Let's go to CNN's Carol Costello. She is live in New York. She's got some details -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, do you find yourself asking yourself, what the heck is going on? Unbelievably strong winds in Europe to vicious snow storms here at home, a lot of us is wondering if this is not just another change in the weather but a permanent one.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Call it extreme weather -- in Germany, wind gusts as strong as 118 miles per hour. They sent solid steel girders at one train station plummeting 120 feet to the ground. Bad enough that the government warned people to stay inside.

CHRISTOPH HARTMANN, GERMAN METEOROLOGICAL SERVICE (through translator): What's unusual about this storm is that it will affect all of Germany and not just certain zones. That's a very rare event.

COSTELLO: It's almost as bad in Britain. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had to hang on to her plane after landing in London.

And I know what you are thinking. What about us? Parts of the United States are suffering, too.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Well, it could happen again.

COSTELLO: Say it ain't so. Parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, and west Texas are expected to get walloped once more by feet of snow coming down as utility crews try desperately to restore power to tens of thousands of people knocked out of service by the last storm.

Between this agony, rare snowfall in Malibu earlier this week, and the recent 70-degree temperatures in the Northeast, you get some extreme behavior.

Chris Henson, who lives in Connecticut, a state that averages a foot of snow in January, went on eBay and bid $200 to have three snowballs shipped from Colorado.

CHRIS HANSON, MILFORD, CONNECTICUT: I have gotten letters from people going, "You are nuts." You know, "Why are you buying snow?" And I'm like, because I don't have any.

COSTELLO: But before you go the Hanson route, hold on. I asked meteorologists about that gnawing question, are these weather extremes due to global warming?


COSTELLO: What is it then? FELTGEN: It's an El Nino winter, simply put.

COSTELLO: Which means a warming of the equatorial waters in the Pacific Ocean that temporarily causes shifts in normal weather patterns.

So, take a deep breath. It's going to be OK.


COSTELLO: All right. So maybe you don't feel any better, but consider this: El Nino is already starting to weaken, so by March you won't even remember it -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And, Carol, check this out. We're now getting some new pictures in and our Abbi Tatton is watching all of this European wild weather online.

Abbi, what do you see?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, these images are coming in through CNN's i-Report from England, from German, the Netherlands, and we're showing you some here. This is the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. Thomas Vind sent these pictures in of a crane collapse and hurricane force winds at the university where they were constructing a veterinary school. Only six people escaped with minor injuries. Incredible pictures.

Here moving to Germany, Holger Rothemund sent these in, Nuremberg, Germany, a tree coming down there on Herr (ph) street, crushing some cars.

And the videos that we're seeing demonstrate just how strong this wind is. Back to the Netherlands here. This is Delft University of Technology. A young man there trying to ride his bicycle against the wind. The gusts there in the Netherlands about 70 miles per hour -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Windy, indeed.

Another story we want to follow up on. We reported yesterday that "Consumer Reports" is now backtracking on its reporting about the danger of some infant car seats. But some safety advocates now fear the damage already has been done. Let's turn to CNN's Mary Snow.

She has got some more details in New York -- Mary.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's a rare retreat for the trusted consumer guide which now finds itself in the position of separating fear from fact.


SNOW (voice-over): It was a warning that horrified parents when "Consumer Reports" asked, "What if this were your child?" Side-impact crash tests, it said, found most infant seats failed disastrously. So alarmed, the government conducted its own test and says "Consumer Reports" was wrong.

NICOLE NASON, NATL. HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMIN.: And they really didn't run their tests properly. And when we calculated what they had done, we realized they were simulating crash tests at speeds somewhere between 70 and 80 miles per hour.

SNOW: The mistake? That's twice as fast as the 38-mile-per-hour speed "Consumer Reports" says they clocked in their tests. The consumer advocacy group has done an about-face, withdrawing the entire report.

KEN WEINE, SPOKESMAN, "CONSUMER REPORTS": Of course, what we have to do is commit ourselves, as we are, to as quickly as possible finding out what went wrong in these tests.

SNOW: Spokesman Ken Weine says an internal review has been launched and is now handling a crisis in confidence at Consumer Reports, a publication with a widespread following.

PHIL ROSENTHAL, "CHICAGO TRIBUNE": It's sort of the gold standard of product ratings these days, and I think that's why the initial report had such impact.

SNOW: Some safety advocates fear because the warning had such an impact that parents won't use car seats.

PHIL HASELTINE, PRESIDENT, AUTOMOTIVE COALITION TRAFFIC SAFETY: Some parents and caregivers may be sufficiently discouraged that they don't restrain their children at all. And that's absolutely wrong.

SNOW: "Consumer Reports" is now faced with undoing the damage

WEINE: We take this extremely seriously. It goes to the heart of the DNA of "Consumer Reports," which is providing accurate, comprehensive safety information.


SNOW: And as part of the damage control, "Consumer Reports" says it plans to reissue guidance on the safety of child seats as soon as possible -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Mary, stick around. I want you to see this.

Up ahead, should a controversial form of punishment be a crime? Jack Cafferty will be back with more on this debate over spanking.

And Art Buchwald isn't letting death stop him from making people think and laugh. Our Jeanne Moos has been listening to messages from the grave. You're going to want to hear what Art Buchwald is now saying. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the hot shots coming in from our friends at the Associated Press. A SWAT team carries out a raid during a practice counterterrorism exercise.

In Indonesia, a government official sprays disinfectant at a chicken coup to stop the spread of bird flu.

In Tokyo, Leonardo DiCaprio meets fans before the Japanese premiere of his film, "The Departed."

And in Iraq, the sun sets behind the green zone in Baghdad.

Some of today's hot shots, pictures often worth a thousand words.

Let's find out what's on your mind. That means Jack Cafferty has your e-mail -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, there's a proposed law out in California, where else, that would make spanking a child under 3 years old a crime, punishable by up to a year in jail and fines of up to $1,000 fine.

So we thought we would ask, should spanking your kids be illegal?

Ron in Princeton, Minnesota, writes -- "If spanking were a crime here, my dad would just now be getting out of jail, and I'm 63 years old. We don't need the government micromanaging our lives."

Wayne in Toronto -- "Absolutely. Spanking only hurts, lowers self-worth, and creates walls. Discussion and severity of problems can be much better handled by debate and loss of privileges."

Jason writes -- "I think the fact that it's become politically incorrect to spank your child is a leading cause for the decline in behavior in kids these days. Most adults I know that love and respect their parents and are well-grounded had some discipline in their lives as children."

Dan in San Juan -- "If family rights means that it's OK to hit a child for any reason, it's wrong. I should know. I was hit with a stick by my mother and father, and it caused me many years of pain and anger toward authority figures."

Charlie in Midland, Georgia -- "Yes, I spent some time as a high school teacher and I saw the lack of respect today's young people show. they have a 'you can't do anything to me' attitude, and getting into trouble is a status symbol. I don't believe in beatings, but the older generation who got whippings from mom learned respect and ethics."

And Luke in El Paso, Texas -- "Heck no, Jack! The government needs to stop telling people what to do in their personal lives, including how they raise their children. Maybe if President Bush was spanked as a child, we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to and read some more of them online. We got a lot of mail. Some of this stuff is pretty funny -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I think our viewers are going to want to go to to read it. Jack, have a great weekend. I'll see you back here Monday.

CAFFERTY: You too. See you Monday.

BLITZER: OK. Good work.

Up ahead, the humorist Art Buchwald gets the last word. CNN's Jeanne Moos is on the story and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: There are voices from beyond. Well-known figures and their lasting words. Here's CNN Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Even a grave can't stop humorist Art Buchwald from popping up postmortem.

ART BUCHWALD: Hi, I'm Art Buchwald and I just died.

MOOS: Buchwald may have died this week, but his "I just died" video obit just keeps on loading.

TIM WEINER, NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: I think that his opening line is one of the great leads in the history of journalism.

MOOS: Now, the printed obituary hasn't met its own death. But "The New York Times" Web site is putting a new face on it. They call it...


MOOS: In Buchwald's last word, he says he became a...

BUCHWALD: Celebrity through death.

MOOS: Because so many journalists wrote about how he outlived expectations of his imminent demise.

Most voices of the dead tend to be chilling -- taped messages left behind by suicide bombers, for instance.

MOHAMMAD SIDIQUE KHAN, LONDON SUBWAY BOMBER: Our words are dead until we give them life with our blood.

MOOS: Or the recorded ramblings of the Heaven's Gate cult leader who committed mass suicide with 38 followers.

MARSHALL APPLEWHITE, HEAVEN'S GATE LEADER: This is a very exciting time for us. Who is us? I'm Doe, for starters.

MOOS: Or messages intended to save folks from making the same mistake. Yul Brynner was smoker, on screen and off, and after he died of cancer, he left this.

YUL BRYNNER, ACTOR: I'll tell you, don't smoke. Whatever you do, just don't smoke.

MOOS: But Art Buchwald was cheery, even as he taped his last word six months before his death for a "New York Times" reporter who dreamed up the idea of video obits.

(on camera): It must kind of be weird to ask people if you can do their video obit.

WEINER: Jeanne, what is the most fascinating story in the world?

MOOS: Your own.

(voice-over): Tim Weiner says people leap at the chance to talk about their own lives. So far, the "Times" has 10 last word interviews in the can. They won't name names, but they range from a former president to a famous scientist. All shot, for heaven's sake, in high-def.

Now, maybe you would like to send that special someone an e-mail after you're dead. Well, there are Web sites that allow you to do that. Web sites like Or Apreslamort -- after death.

But if you get one of those after death e-mails, don't bother to click reply.

Art Buchwald would see the humor in such encrypted messages from the crypt. After all, he's now a dead man talking.

BUCHWALD: I'm Art Buchwald and I just died.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: What a fabulous journalist Art Buchwald was.

I'll be back this Sunday for "Late Edition." Among other things, you can see more of my exclusive interview with former President Jimmy Carter and former Vice President Walter Mondale this Sunday 11:00 a.m. Eastern on "Late Edition."

Until then, thanks for watching. Let's go to PAULA ZAHN NOW.


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