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Doug Feith Interview; Spike In Helicopter Losses in Iraq War; Anna Nicole Smith's Death

Aired February 9, 2007 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Kitty. And it's happening now -- an al Qaeda connection depending on officials detour around U.S. intelligence agencies and deceive the nation to make the case for the war in Iraq. I'll speak with the man at the heart of this controversy. That's coming up this hour.
A new insurgent video, does it show an American helicopter being shot down over Iraq?

And one of Anna Nicole Smith's last appearances was at a boxing event at the hotel where she died. I'll speak with the promoter, Don King.

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

New revelations today cutting through the fog of war that's long obscured the run-up to the war in Iraq. Did top Pentagon officials undercut the U.S. intelligence community to make the case for a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda? Results are now in from the Pentagon's own investigation.

Let's get the story from CNN's Brian Todd -- CNN -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this new report says one key Pentagon unit did do (UNINTELLIGIBLE) round on the intelligence community presenting to the White House some very questionable links between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, including one that became almost mythical.


TODD (voice-over): It's become part of pre-war intelligence war, the allegation that 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer five months before Atta crashed a plane into the World Trade Center. A misguided belief that according to a new report bolstered claims by some in the Pentagon like the office of Donald Rumsfeld's then deputy, Douglas Feith that Saddam Hussein's government had solid ties with al Qaeda and war in Iraq was justified.

THOMAS GIMBLE, PENTAGON INSPECTOR GENERAL: The intelligence community thought that that was not a verifiable meeting and subsequently has proven that it did not occur.

TODD: Acting Pentagon inspector General Thomas Gimble says that one of several instances where Feith's policy office presented views about Iraq and al Qaeda to senior White House officials that clashed with the consensus of the intelligence community.

Gimble's report says Feith's office acted inappropriately because it sometimes pushed intelligence that hadn't been bedded property and didn't make decision makers aware that others questioned its reliability.

BRIG. GEN. JAMES MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You better be prepared to put your alternative view through the same type of rigor and scrutiny as everybody else is if you're going to end up doing something about it. If you shop it behind the lines, if you do behind a curtain, if you do it around the end, you're not making the best use of the intelligence community.

TODD: But Gimble's report says Feith's office did not do anything illegal and Feith defends his actions.

DOUGLAS FEITH, FORMER UNDER SECY. OF DEFENSE: It's not the job of policy makers to explain what the intelligence is and then explain how they're varying from it. Our people were simply saying we're uncomfortable with what the CIA was doing.


TODD: Reaction at the White House was more broad. One official said the president has maintained for a long time that the intelligence leading up to the war was inaccurate and he's taken action, like setting up the office of a national intelligence director to make sure it doesn't happen again -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank Brian for that. And Doug Feith, the former Pentagon official who is at the center of this controversy is certainly not taking the criticism lying down. His spirited response in my interview, that's coming up later this hour. You'll want to see this.

Shocking new pictures in the meantime showing a twin rotor helicopter plummeting to the ground. The video just released by insurgents themselves. A group tied to al Qaeda calls it proof that the U.S. chopper went down this week and that it was shot down. What's the real story, though? What's behind the loss of six U.S. helicopters in the past three weeks alone?

Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight U.S. military intelligence is looking at this insurgent video frame by frame, trying to look to see if in fact there is a smoke trail on that video that shows a missile or rocket being launched from the ground, perhaps, perhaps bringing down this CH-46 the day before yesterday near Fallujah, all seven on board being killed.

But there is of course tragic though this is a much broader concern. Six helicopters down now in a three-week period in Iraq, four of them at least by enemy action, military intelligence trying to figure out what is going on. They say they do not see a pattern. They don't think they're connected -- Wolf. BLITZER: All right. Barbara, thank you.

Meanwhile, more troops, more time. The Pentagon will extend its buildup of U.S. combat troops in Afghanistan well into next year, that according to The Associated Press citing a U.S. military official. U.S. troop levels in Afghanistan increased to 26,000 this month, that's the highest of the war. And according to The AP, that number will roughly stay the same next year. And this comes as NATO's top chief hopes for up to 2,000 additional combat troops for Afghanistan.

In other news, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice expected to meet with both Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert later this month. As America's top diplomat, Rice is widely received by many VIPs on the world stage, but how she's been received by many right here now at home is another question.

Let's go to our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Condoleezza Rice came to the State Department a star, but is that star dimming?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's not what I asked.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I asked if we're better off...


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... since the intervention in Iraq.

VERJEE (voice-over): With Donald Rumsfeld gone, it's Condoleezza Rice's job to sell the Iraq war. And like Rumsfeld, she's taking the heat he used to bear.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just not true.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is not true.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, SECRETARY OF STATE: Senator, if you'll allow me to finish, I...

VERJEE: More and more lawmakers are critical of the administration's Iraq policy, some calling it...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A fool's paradise.

VERJEE: Her predecessors aren't pulling any punches either, saying Rice should talk to America's enemies, Iran and Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Talking to governments about hard problems is why diplomacy matters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what we hire a secretary of state for.

VERJEE: It wasn't always this hard. Two short years ago, Rice arrived at the State Department a celebrity, bringing both substance and style. She's been praised for engaging Europe over Iran's nuclear program and Asian allies on North Korea. Then a grand vision for a democratic Arab world.

RICE: What we're seeing here in a sense is the growing -- the birth pangs of a new Middle East.

VERJEE: But the new Middle East lost out to ancient rivalries, sectarian and strategic folk lines exploded because of the war in Iraq. After Rice waited, then tried and failed to stop the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, the U.S. lost credibility in the region. It was then forced to turn to authoritarian regimes like Saudi Arabia for help.

CHARLES KUCHAN, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN AFFAIRS: I think her star has fallen in part because the Iraq world has gone very badly and it's difficult to find any ray of light.

VERJEE: Still, she's the most popular official in the administration, her numbers higher than the president. And she's trying to turn things around with a new push for progression in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and uniting Arab allies on Iran's threat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My sense is that Secretary Rice wants to give diplomacy a chance.


VERJEE: The question is does she have enough weight within the administration to push for dialogue, say, with Iran. Experts say so far the answer is no -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Zain Verjee at the State Department for us -- Zain thanks.

From Zain let's go to New York and Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Now that people, Wolf, are getting used to cell phone bans in some places, lawmakers are focusing on other things that tend to distract drivers. In Vermont they are considering a law that would outlaw the following activities while driving -- eating, drink, smoking, reading, writing, personal grooming, playing an instrument, interacting with pets or cargo, talking on a cell phone using any other personal communication device.

You can be fined $600 for doing any of those things while driving a car. Maryland and Texas are considering similar bills. And Connecticut has passed one that bans any activity that interferes with safe driving. The sponsor of the Vermont bill says he decided to go ahead with it after he saw someone driving with a cell phone in one hand and a cigarette in the other and he also said his wife saw a driver playing the flute.

He's probably onto something. A recent study found distracted drivers were involved in almost 80 percent of the crashes or near accidents. So here's the question. What's the most dangerous thing you've seen someone do while driving? E-mail our thoughts to or go to Did you ever try to play a flute while driving, Wolf?

BLITZER: No, but I have seen people use their thumbs to use their Blackberries while they're driving and it scares me when I see that. I tell them to stop right away. Jack thanks very much.

Coming up, former Pentagon policy chief, Doug Feith answering his critics after his prewar intelligence work got slammed in a new report from the Pentagon. Listen to this.


BLITZER: Did you and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Cheney and "Scooter" Libby and the president make a mistake?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, I mean -- lots of mistakes were made and lots of right things were done...

BLITZER: In your analysis?


BLITZER: The heated interview with the former under secretary of defense. That's coming up this hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also, violent clashes at one of the holiest sights in the Middle East. We're going to show you what happened that left thousands of worshipers trapped.

Plus, I'll talk to the promoter Don King, who invited Anna Nicole Smith to what turned out to be her last public appearance.

Also, violent clashes at one of the holiest sights in the Middle East. We're going to show you what happened that left thousands of worshipers trapped.

Plus, I'll talk to Don King, who invited Anna Nicole Smith to what turned out to be her last public appearance. Also the preliminary autopsy results are now in. We're going to share with you the details -- all that coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: There's new information and new developments in the unexpected death of Anna Nicole Smith including autopsy results. The Broward County Florida Medical Examiner says a preliminary result does not show what killed the 39-year-old model and actress. But we now know there were a number of prescription drugs found in her hotel room and the examiner says he'll be investigating that very closely.


DR. JOSHUA PERPER, BROWARD CO. FL, MEDICAL EXAMINER: We'll make a very comprehensive and thorough examination of a variety of drugs and medication, which she probably took. We have a list of the medication which apparently were in the room, but the list of medication doesn't mean that those medications would be found in the person.


BLITZER: CNN's Carol Costello and John Zarrella are standing by with the latest. Let's go to Fort Lauderdale first to John. We did learn quite a bit today down in Florida, although by no means the bottom line.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's correct, Wolf. And in fact, as far as the Seminole Indians are concerned, the investigation does remain open. Chief Tiger said today that they took all the statements from the witnesses. That is, of course, completed, but that they are going to leave the investigation open until the medical examiner is done with his examination. He has not ruled out anything, Joshua Perper. That includes drugs as playing a part, the prescription drugs as playing a part in what might have caused Anna Nicole Smith's death -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It could take him, what, three, four more weeks before he gives the final results?

ZARRELLA: At least three or four more weeks. It could be up to five weeks he said today before final results are in the toxicology. The things that will absolutely determine what caused her death -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. John thanks very much. John will stay on top of this story. Meantime, we're taking a second look at some of the people who say there were ominous warning signs about Smith's condition in the weeks before her death. Let's go to CNN's Carol Costello. She's in New York with that part of the story -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: You know there were clear signs there was something wrong with Anna Nicole Smith in the days before her death. As investigators try to figure out what killed her, many are not really surprised at her sudden death.


COSTELLO (voice-over): At times it was clear there was something not quite right about Anna Nicole Smith's behavior. She was like a walking, beautiful train wreck, an accident waiting to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) small pizza and an order of the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) rigatoni.

COSTELLO: There she is on page three of the "New York Post" two days before her death.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone in my life has stabbed me in my back...

COSTELLO: And here she is with "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT" Mark Steines 11 days ago, who said she appeared so distant she seemed to forget where her new baby was. And a few months before this interview, she nearly died.

MARK STEINES, "ENTERTAINMENT TONIGHT": We have found out that after the death of Daniel at some point Anna did jump in her pool, attempt suicide at that point and was found by Howard face down in the pool. Howard screamed for help. Her bodyguard, Mo, came out who is a paramedic, and took her from the pool, administered CPR and saved her life at that point.

COSTELLO: Although the Broward County medical examiner cannot say if drugs were involved in Smith's death, a drug counselor we talked to says it looked to him like Smith had both drug and emotional problems.

JOHN GIORDANO, DRUG COUNSELOR: You look at some of the tapes, that blank look, you know that far-away look. And you could see that there's something going on. Now without really sitting down across from her, because I don't know what's going on in reality, but being around and doing this for 20 years and being a recovering addict myself, I kind of know another addict when I see one.

COSTELLO: He says some drugs can make a person lethargic with slurred speech. He also says the fact she spent her life surrounded by body guards with few friends hurt her chances of a full recovery.


COSTELLO: Now as we've been telling you, there were prescription drugs found in Smith's room. The coroner did not find pills in her stomach but he could not rule out that drugs played a part in her death -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol, thank you. What a sad story.

And still ahead here tonight in THE SITUATION ROOM we'll have my interview with Don King. He's the one who invited Anna Nicole Smith to what turned out to be her final public appearance only a few weeks ago.

Also, we're going to take you to Springfield, Illinois where Senator Barack Obama is only hours away from making a major announcement about his presidential campaign.

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


BLITZER: It's a holy place and a flash point for violence. Today there were stones and stun grenades as Israeli police battle Palestinian protesters. The battle broke out at an ancient Jerusalem site sacred to both Muslims and Jews. The spark this time, an Israeli project to rebuild a ramp leading to the compound. Fifteen Palestinians and 15 police were injured. Here's how it looked and sounded.













BLITZER: Tension and drama playing out in Jerusalem. We can see in this aerial map right behind me how Jerusalem is at the heart of the Arab/Israeli conflict. It's located on the edge of this line showing where Israel and the West Bank actually meet. Long divided the entire city, came under Israeli rule after the 1967 war.

At the heart of the political conflict is a religious conflict. Muslims call this sacred place the Haram al-Sharif or Noble Sanctuary where the Golden Dome of Iraq was built in the seventh century, followed a few years later by the (UNINTELLIGIBLE) Hamas. Jews revere the same area the Temple Mount, the site of the biblical temples.

Along the western side of the complex is the Western Wall, once a retaining wall for the temple. It's Judaism's holiest site. Here we can see the Mughrabi Gate, an access point for non Muslims to the mount area. It overlooks the Western Wall and the plaza beneath where Jews gather to pray.

The plan to replace the damaged ramp leading to the gate is the immediate source of the current contention. But any attempt by either side to dig, repair or build in this area has always been a source of dispute. And unfortunately, often of violence as well.

Just ahead, the man at the center of the prewar debate over intelligence involving Iraq. This debate unfolds. Take a listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hang on a second.

BLITZER: Are you ready...


BLITZER: Are you ready to acknowledge there were no WMDs...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, if you're not letting me explain...

BLITZER: I will. I'll let you explain, but quickly, are you ready to acknowledge there were no WMD? Are you ready to acknowledge that there was no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda?


BLITZER: The former Palestine policy chief Doug Feith defending his work on Iraq in the wake of a stinging internal Pentagon report that came out today.

Plus, Don King on Anna Nicole Smith's final weeks. He's going to be joining us to talk about her sudden death.

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


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now -- the U.N. Atomic Watchdog Agency says it's suspending almost half the technical aid it provides to Iran. It's intending to punish Iran for its nuclear defiance but needs approval from the IAEA's 35-nation board.

Also, they're up to their necks in snow and in some places over their necks. Parts of upstate New York already have more than 100 inches. And get this, more snow is coming.

And we'll talk to boxing promoter Don King who says he invited Anna Nicole Smith to her final public appearance.

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

Did top Pentagon officials stack the deck when it came to making the case for a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein before the war? Doug Feith was undersecretary of defense for policy. He's at the heart of this controversy and he's not taking the criticism lying down.


BLITZER: The inspector general of the Department of Defense says your actions were, quote, "inappropriate", that you and your colleagues had a mindset to prove that there was a connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda, a connection that the intelligence community simply couldn't confirm but you still went ahead and tried to do that to build a case for the war.

DOUGLAS FEITH, FORMER UNDER SECY. OF DEFENSE: What the inspector general is criticizing is the fact that people in the Pentagon criticized the quality of the CIA intelligence. And the inspector general, I think, wrongly says that the criticism of intelligence was intelligence work. And it was inappropriate for non-intelligence people to do that.

BLITZER: But in this case they were right and you were wrong.

FEITH: No they were not right.

BLITZER: There was no connection that the 9/11 Commission could come up with to show that there was a deliberate pre-war, operable connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein.

FEITH: Which nobody ever claimed. I mean it shows how much misinformation there is even somebody as well informed as you...


BLITZER: What was your bottom line when you wrote that report?

FEITH: The report didn't have a bottom line. What the report said...

BLITZER: It did, if you read...

FEITH: No, it didn't.


FEITH: No, it didn't.

BLITZER: What did it say about the Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda connection?

FEITH: What it said was the CIA's work was not up to quality. And it specifically said the CIA is filtering its own intelligence to suit a theory that it had that secular Baathists would not cooperate with religious extremists...

BLITZER: But that theory was right, right?

FEITH: Well it's absolutely wrong. I mean you could see even in Iraq today. Who are we fighting in Iraq? We're fighting a strategic alliance of Baathists and Jihadists.

BLITZER: But what they were saying -- correct me if I am wrong -- was that Saddam Hussein would not be involved in working with al Qaeda because al Qaeda didn't want to have anything to do with this secular Iraqi leader.

FEITH: What they were saying is the CIA had intelligence, its own intelligence that was inconsistent with its theory that there couldn't be any cooperation. And the CIA was not drawing on all of its intelligence. It was filtering its own intelligence to suit its own theory. It was a proper criticism...

BLITZER: Here's what the Senator Levin said and I'm going to play a little clip for you and give you a chance to respond.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Intelligence relating to the Iraq/al Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high- ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq when the intelligence assessments of the professional analysts of the intelligence community did not provide the desired compelling case.

BLITZER: All right. You want to respond?

FEITH: I mean that's as inaccurate as almost everything that the senator has said on the subject.

BLITZER: What was the purpose of that report you were putting together on this question of a connection between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein?

FEITH: OK, it wasn't a report. It was a criticism of the CIA's work.

BLITZER: Why did they do that?

FEITH: Because the CIA was doing things that people in the Pentagon thought were substandard and the CIA got angry when they got criticized.

As we know, the CIA did not do a flawless job. And we are in trouble in Iraq because of errors that the CIA made. We need more people in the government doing intelligent, professional criticism of intelligence.

BLITZER: Here's the criticism, as you well know. The criticism is that you and your colleagues, whether the defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, the vice president, Dick Cheney, his staff, Scooter Libby, all of you came to the conclusion that there should be an effort to overthrow Saddam Hussein and, as a result, you just needed the weapons of mass destruction evidence, the al Qaeda connection. And as a result the Congress and the American public would go along with it.

FEITH: That's just wrong. That wasn't the analysis at all. I know it's been described that way by critics of the war. It's just inaccurate.

BLITZER: Looking back ...

FEITH: And the record shows insure some day the documents will be exposed and that will be exposed as a false narrative.

BLITZER: Did you and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Cheney and Scooter Libby and the president make a mistake?

FEITH: Well, I mean, in the -- lots of mistakes were made and lots of right things were done.

BLITZER: In your analysis? FEITH: The issue here was not that we did an analysis. The issue was we criticized the CIA's analysis.

BLITZER: But right now.

FEITH: Hang on a second.

BLITZER: Are you ready to acknowledge there were no WMDs ...

FEITH: You're not letting me explain the essence of the problem.

BLITZER: I will let you explain but quickly. Are you ready to acknowledge there was no WMD, are you ready to acknowledge that there was no connection between Saddam and al Qaeda?

FEITH: We did not find WMD stockpiles. We found WMD programs. And the Duelfer report as I'm sure you know, was very clear on what we found in the WMD area, although we did not find the stock piles. We found that he had the facilities, he had the personnel, the intention. So there was a WMD threat but it wasn't the way the CIA described it.

BLITZER: There wasn't the stockpiles. What about on the al Qaeda connection?

FEITH: On the al Qaeda connection, George Tenet on October 7th, 2002 wrote an unclassified letter to the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee laying out the relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda.

BLITZER: So you believed there was a connection?

FEITH: I believed George Tenet.

BLITZER: But now you know that was now false.

FEITH: I never heard it was false.

BLITZER: You believe Saddam was working with al Qaeda?

FEITH: I believe that what George Tenet published in October of 2002 was the best information on the subject. And as far as I know, that is largely -- I mean, there may be -- look, I've not been in the government the last year and a half.

There may be some more intelligence on that subject. I'm telling you from the time George Tenet published his findings on the Iraq-al Qaeda relationship which is that they had a relationship for 10 years and they talked about various things, bomb making and save haven and other issues, that that was the U.S. government's best understanding of the subject. I never criticized that in public or in private.

BLITZER: All right. Let's talk about Senator Jay Rockefeller. He is the new chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee and he says the I.G., the inspector general, may have concluded you didn't violate the law, you didn't break the law, your actions were ...

FEITH: He did conclude that everything we did was lawful and authorized said we did not mislead congress.

BLITZER: He said your actions were inappropriate. That's the word he uses. Even though you didn't break the law. He's not claiming you did break the law. But Rockefeller is saying you may have and he wants to hold hearings on what's called the 1947 National Security Act. He says this, Senator Rockefeller, "Section 502 of the National Security Act of 1947 requires the heads of all departments and agencies of the U.S. government involved in intelligence activities to keep the congressional oversight committees informed."

Did you inform, whether the Armed Services Committees or the Intelligence Committees of your intelligence operation at the Department of Defense?

FEITH: We didn't have an intelligence operation and we didn't do intelligence activities. Here's the heart of the issue.

BLITZER: Because the I.G. says these were intelligence operations.

FEITH: Let me finish the sentence.

BLITZER: All right.

FEITH: That's precisely what I disagree with. The inspector general said that the criticism of the CIA was an intelligence activity. That's preposterous. Policy people criticize intelligence every day. Calling that criticism an intelligence activity improper for non-intelligence people to do means that policy people can't criticize intelligence.

By the way, it's an interesting thing. Senator Rockefeller and Senator Levin have severely criticized the CIA. Now when the policy organization criticized the CIA, that's called by them ...

BLITZER: Inappropriate.

FEITH: An inappropriate activity that only intelligence people should do. When they criticize the CIA what is it, statesmanship?

BLITZER: These are serious -- When you were confronted by the I.G., the inspector general, who disagrees with you on the nature of whether or not this was intelligence or nonintelligence, you made your case but he didn't buy it.

FEITH: The inspector general, with all due respect, was in an area of opinion for which there are no legal standards and he made an argument that is self contradictory, doesn't hang together. The essence of his argument was that criticism of intelligence is intelligence work. Ridiculous.

The other argument that he made was that our work was not the highest quality. How did he do that? He didn't evaluate our work and the work we were criticizing. He didn't look at the underlying intelligence. What he did of said the work we did was he said the work that we did was at variance with the consensus of the intelligence community. Of course it was. It was a critique of the intelligence community's consensus. That's exactly what it was intended to be.

BLITZER: But I just want to be precise on this. Rockefeller says you never informed Congress of your activities. Is he right on that front whether or not legally you were required to do so according to the '47 National Security Act?

FEITH: In fact -- all of these activities were the subject of hearings and document requests. I mean, Congress was thoroughly informed. What he's saying he was calling something that was a perfectly reasonable policy project of criticizing the intelligence, he's calling that an intelligence activity and then saying we should have informed it as an intelligence activity to Congress and it wasn't an intelligence activity.

BLITZER: Thanks very much e for coming in.

FEITH: Thank you.

BLITZER: And still ahead tonight, a major announcement from Barack Obama that's almost certain to have a huge impact on the race for the White House. We'll have details of what he's expected to say.

Plus, my interview with boxing promoter Don King. He invited Anna Nicole Smith to an event at a Florida hotel where she would later die. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: More now on the death of Anna Nicole Smith. Here final public appearance was at a boxing match at the Florida hotel where she later died. The invitation coming in from the event's famous promoter.

And joining us now Don King, a man who needs no introduction whatsoever. Don thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Sorry we have to meet under these circumstances. I know you were close to Anna Nicole Smith. Tell us about the last time you saw her.

KING: Well, first of all, let me say I'm deeply saddened by her untimely death. Was shocked when I heard the news yesterday. I love the woman. And when we were together on January the 6th, I had a big event, the Mitchell Cypress (ph) who is the chairman of the Seminole Indians tribal council, he and I invited Anna to the fight.

BLITZER: That was at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino down in Hollywood.

KING: That is right.

BLITZER: And what was -- Tell us about her demeanor that night. What was her mood? What was she like?

KING: She was delightful that night. She just -- you know, she took a deep breath and just sucked in all in. She was very distraught about her son. That was very traumatic for her and naturally, all the other problems she was beleaguered with. But she was the type of person that could put aside any of the things that are critical and just suck in and go on out there and put on her public persona. She was just a terrific lady and she could take the consequences of her actions as well as the rewards.

BLITZER: She was distraught about the death of her 20-year-old son in the Bahamas a few months earlier. Did she look different? You'd met her on earlier occasions. Did she look healthy, did she look not so healthy?

KING: She looked sensational, man. She was intoxicatingly beautiful. She was curvaceous, voluptuous, a charming smile that exuded charm and magnetism. And you wouldn't know she had the trauma in her life that she did have and that she was suffering. She was an enjoyable person. A lot of levity. A lot of fun. Glad to be out there at the ringside. It was just a wonderful occasion and my heart rejoiced.

BLITZER: Did she open up and talk to you about her loss, about the loss of her son?

KING: About the loss of her son, I already expressed in meeting her - because she lived right across the hall from me in the hotel. I express my condolences and sympathy for that. But she was just Americana. She is a person that is an achiever. Have a dream, their dream came true.

And was just similar to Marilyn Monroe. They did their own thing. They marched to a different drummer as Henry David Thoreau would say. And they lived the life they loved and loved the life they lived.

BLITZER: You had met her on earlier occasions. Tell our viewers something they might not know about this woman.

KING: When we was on the Jimmy Kimmel show, as we crossed paths on different celebrity interviews and things and I had Lennox Lewis with me. And she was looking at him and she felt his big arms and she said, wow, you're so strong. She was just a comic. She was a jovial person and she was a very warm, personal human being.

You could see how she could capture people's minds and imaginations. She had a show on "E". And we used to talk about some of the things. She would do outrageous, risque behavior. At the same time she would laugh and chuckle about it and continue to do her thing in spite of whatever criticism that may be leveled on her.

That's what I like about her, because she had that American attitude, that never say die, and to be happy in spite of and not because of whatever you say or do. She stayed focused and to the course. BLITZER: Don King, as unusual, thanks for joining us. Sorry it has to be about a sad subject like this.

KING: Likewise. My condolences and sympathy goes out to her family, the sadness about the little baby that will be without a mother. Those were the things that would concern me because Anna was a giant in her own right and I just loved the woman and I think it was a terrific thing about the way she lived and very sad about the way she had to expire.

BLITZER: Don King, thanks very much.

KING: God bless America and God bless my President George Walker Bush.


BLITZER: Still ahead, the buzz on Senate Barack Obama. His camp says he'll be making that major announcement tomorrow morning in Springfield, Illinois. You know what that announcement is all about. Our Candy Crowley has a preview from the campaign trail.

And is it nit-picking or is it a good tip? Senator Hillary Clinton gets some unsolicited advice on her bid for the White House. I want to see if you agree with what that advice is. CNN's Jeannie Moos will have the story.


BLITZER: Tomorrow a lot of eyes will be on him. That would be Democratic Senator Barack Obama. From his home state, he'll make a major announcement about his presidential plans. Let's get some more from our senior political correspondent. Candy Crowley. She is joining us from Springfield, Illinois. Candy?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the senator from Illinois has made quite a splash on the national scene over the past two years. Still he doesn't have the name recognition that Senator Hillary Clinton does. That's what tomorrow is all about. Senator Barack Obama introducing himself to America.


SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), ILLINOIS: The time for waiting in Iraq is over.

CROWLEY (voice-over): He opposes the war in Iraq and favors the Bush-backed immigration bill. He is against same-sex marriage but supports civil unions. He favors universal health care.

REV. ALVIN LOVE, LILYDALE 1ST BAPTIST CHURCH: I've known Barack for 20 years and I'm not sure that I know whether he's a liberal or a conservative. I really think sometimes it depends on the issue.

CROWLEY: Republicans describe Obama as a pragmatic left of center politician who works both sides of the aisle to get things down -- sunup past sundown.

KIRK DILLARD (R), ILLINOIS STATE SENATE: Senator Obama had the social skills that helped him as a legislator. In Springfield, he played basketball. He played poke with a number of legislators from downstate Illinois after hours. He would have an occasional drink. He would smoke a cigarette, bum a cigarette, from legislators.

CROWLEY: He spent eight years in state politics, the last two in national politics. It is, in the end, the biggest question on the Barack Obama bandwagon -- is that enough to be leader of the Western world?


CROWLEY (on camera): Part of Obama's response to those who think he has not been on the national scene long enough to be president will be seen in symbolism here tomorrow. Obama will launch his presidential campaign in front of the old statehouse here in Springfield, Illinois. Here is where Abraham Lincoln gave his, "A house divided against itself cannot stand," speech. Abraham Lincoln had eight years in the Illinois state legislature and two years in the U.S. Congress before he was elected president. Wolf?

BLITZER: Candy Crowley reporting. Thank you. Remember CNN is a partner with WMUR Television and the "New Hampshire-Union Leader" for the very first presidential debates of the campaign season. Scheduled for April 4th and April 5th of this year. Let's go to Jack Cafferty. He is in New York with the "Cafferty File." Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Are you going to moderate those debates?

BLITZER: Yes, I will.

CAFFERTY: Up there in New Hampshire.

BLITZER: It's a lovely time of year to be in New Hampshire.


Question this hour is, What's the most dangerous thing you have seen someone do while driving? It was prompted by a law that they're considering in Vermont that would outlaw almost everything except driving your car, which is probably not a bad idea.

Pamela in Mosinee, Wisconsin. "Mascara, yes, Jack, mascara. I- 75 in Detroit, morning rush hour, traffic galore and this woman doing her eyes in the rear-view mirror. So I honk the horn at her and she flips me off."

Jennifer in Houston. "On the highway between Houston and San Antonio, my friends and I once passed a woman who was reading a novel while driving. A novel propped up on the steering wheel. God bless Texas."

Gary in Midwest City, Oklahoma. "The scariest thing I've witnessed while driving was a guy next to me staring at me while I tried to play my flute. This country is in trouble when people start dictating what you can do in your own car. Next it will be in your own home."

James in Canada, "A driver trying to stop his parrot from flying out the window doing 60 miles per hour on the highway. I have never seen so many feather and parrot blank in my life. Thank God there was a guard rail there or there would have been a major pile up."

Bruce in Houston. "My secretary in 1978 had a wreck driving to work. When I asked her what happened she blushing said I was putting on my panty hose and the car in front of me stopped and I rear-ended him. I didn't see it but the image is burned deep into my memory."

William who is now a music professor in Tennessee. "When making the long drive back from the University of Miami back to New York, I always practiced my guitar. I used to take the music to the rear view mirror. It helped me stay awake on the long drive home."

My favorite is from John in Dickinson, Texas. "Many years ago, I witnessed a man and woman having sex while he was driving a Corvette. I remember it well. I was the one driving the Corvette."

And H., Port LaVaca, Texas. "Corpus Christi, a woman driving 80 miles an hour while fixing her hair in the mirror. That included placing hairpins with both hands while holding a comb in her mouth and looking in the rear view mirror. I couldn't see but I think she was steering with her knees."

And Rick in Pennsylvania, "I watched a gentleman pick apart and eat a roasted chicken as he drove almost 30 miles on our way back from Pittsburgh. He put his wrists on the steering wheel as he picked a apart and ate the chicken."

If you didn't see your e-mail here you can go to and read more of them online.

BLITZER: Some people don't just have a cup of coffee, they have a whole meal while they're driving.

CAFFERTY: A lot of stuff going on out there on the highways.

BLITZER: All right, Jeff. Thanks very much. Have a great weekend. Let's find out what's coming up in the top of the hour. Paula is standing by. Paula?

PAUL ZAHN, CNN HOST: Wolf, before I get to that, one of my weirder sightings, seeing someone floss as they drive. Have you seen that yet?


ZAHN: That is dangerous, let me tell you. You don't want to be around a driver who is doing that.

Coming up in just about eight minutes from now, we're bringing you the latest in the Anna Nicole Smith investigation. Right out into the open, a surprising number of developments today. For starters, just who is her little girl's father?

Also something about Senator Barack Obama that hasn't been out in the open much, he has been a smoker and even though he is trying to quit, can any presidential candidate afford to light up. We're going to debate that and a whole lot more at the top of the hour. Wolf?

BLITZER: I hope he quits not just because he wants to be president. I hope he quits for his own health, Paula. Thank you very much.

ZAHN: I think there's a lot of spousal pressure on him at the moment to do so.

BLITZER: He should quit just like everybody who smokes.

All right, Paula, thanks very much.

Just ahead, teacher rants caught on tape. Is it a new trend in student revenge?

Also, up in arms over pants. We are going to show you who is criticizing senator Hillary Clinton and her wardrobe. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: When it comes to Senator Hillary Clinton, the question isn't who wears the pants it's why. Here is CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First it was her hair. Long, short, head band. There was even a Hillary wig. Then there was the time she was criticized for showing too much cleavage. But now something now is cleaving apart the nation.

(on camera): You're pro pant suit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just does wonders for women.

MOOS: You're anti-pant suit?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am unfortunately.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like pantsuits. I love my pantsuits.

MOOS (voice-over): Pantsuit lovers of the world unite. Hillary's favorite outfit is under attack by fashion designer Donatella Versace.

(on camera): Donatella advised Hillary to lose the pant suits.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wrong. They're the most comfortable things in the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They usually wear pants when their legs aren't that good ...

MOOS: Is he with you?


MOOS (voice-over): In an interview with a German newspaper, Versace says, "She should treat femininity as an opportunity and not try to emulate masculinity in politics."

As New York's fashion week wound down we got fashionistas wound up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she looks great in a pantsuit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She could glamour it up a little bit.

MOOS: (on camera): Think she is too understated - dowdy, did you say?


MOOS (voice-over): Political junkies haven't had a fashion player-up like this since Condoleezza Rice showed up in Germany dressed in all black with high heel boots. They said her clothes brought to mind the "Matrix", not to mention a dominatrix.

At least you can't pin that on a pantsuits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary's legs are like tree stumps. It's better that she wears pants.

MOOS (on camera): Wow, tree stumps.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever seen them? Oh, terrible.

MOOS (voice-over): Take it from a costume designer with fuzz on his feet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are homemade.

MOOS: Some thought Hillary should cling to the skirts of another first lady.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like Jackie-O? Did you ever see Jackie in pants?

MOOS (on camera): What are you wearing? Let me see what you're wearing.


MOOS (voice-over): At least Hillary hasn't done what Dick Cheney, show up at a solemn memorial service dressed up like a hiker. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think she's at the top of her game, frankly. She's the best she's ever looked.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NY: I'm in it to win it.

MOOS: And she got in it in a pant suit. Imagine having every part of your body scrutinized. Remember that's a voting booth not a dressing room.

(on camera): I haven't worn a skirt since 1975.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And Catherine Hepburn never wore a skirt. They're ridiculous. Men should wear them if they think they're so fashionable.

MOOS (voice-over): Hear that, Rudy? Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: A California school district is reexamining its policies after one of its teachers was secretly recorded with a cell phone and posted online. Let's turn to Jacki Schechner for more. Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the authenticity of that California video is in question. I want to show you another one from a teacher in New Jersey yelling at his students. We blur out the faces. Take a listen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to hear a sound. Not a sound.

SCHECHNER: This is one of many videos on YouTube of teachers yelling at classes or getting upset. For example, teacher here arguing with his students. Another one throwing a cell phone. We talked to YouTube about these videos. They won't talk about specific videos but they will remove content if it appears to violate their terms of service.

As for the schoolteacher in New Jersey, their school board there says they took disciplinary action but they wouldn't specify specifically what exactly went on there. We talked to the National School Board Association and they say many schools are banning cell phones in class. Others are making it impossible for students to get onto social networking sites like YouTube from school computers.

As for the school in California that's re-examining his policy in week, they are trying to balance teacher privacy with student's rights to free speech. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jacki, thank you.

And to our viewers, I'll be back Sunday morning, 11:00 a.m. Eastern for LATE EDITION, that last word in Sunday talk.

Among my guests on Lieutenant General Karl Eikenberry, the former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. That's it from me. Let's go to Paula in New York. Paula?


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