Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Chavez Still Taunting Bush; "Operation Achilles" Against the Taliban; Anti-war Activists Pressure Dems to End War; Gingrich Admits Affair
Aired March 9, 2007 - 1900 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Thank you.
Happening now, President Bush and Latin America getting a chorus of gringo go home as Venezuela's Hugo Chavez leads a rally against his archrival.
They should see eye to eye, but anti-war Congressman David Obey was in the face of some anti-war activists on Capitol Hill. His tirade caught on camera.
And the House speaker was committing adultery about the same time that the House was impeaching President Clinton. Can this new confession from Newt Gingrich clear the way for a White House run of his own?
Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Right now, one of the president's chief tormenters is leading a chorus of anti-President Bush voices, enough to fill a soccer stadium. President Bush touring Latin America is in Uruguay. But just across the river in Argentina is Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. He's leading a massive so-called anti-imperialist rally.
Our White House correspondent Ed Henry is traveling with President Bush, but let's first go to CNN State Department correspondent Zain Verjee in Washington -- Zain.
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, he's doing it again, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, calling President Bush names at a packed soccer stadium in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Here's his latest jab.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELA (through translator): On the other side of the river is a little gentleman from the north. And we're going to give him a great blow. Gringo! Gringo, go home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VERJEE: And if you think that stung, listen to this, Chavez just called the president a political skeleton that no longer even smells of sulfur, that's a direct reference to when he called President Bush the devil who smells of sulfur, at the U.N. last year. Suzanne? MALVEAUX: And the president, of course, there to combat poverty. What does Hugo Chavez say about that?
VERJEE: Well, he's calling the president's anti-poverty plans a wolf in sheep's clothing. He's also saying that Latin Americans, quote, "don't need tips from the empire". Chavez accuses President Bush of only being in the region basically to improve the U.S.'s image -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: And Zain, how much anti-American sentiment is there in Latin America?
VERJEE: You know, it's too easy to say, look, here's a protest, there has got to be a lot of anti-American sentiment. Polls in Latin America show essentially that President Bush is unpopular in the region, but it's mainly over Iraq. And protests like these, experts have told us, could just be arranged by Chavez to try and create the impression that there's a huge anti-American sentiment in Latin America, when, in fact, that's not quite accurate -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Zain thanks so much.
It appears that President Bush is not letting the crowds, the catcalls, and contempt bother him. He's going along with the business of this, his eighth trip to the region. Earlier Mr. Bush visited Brazil's largest city, Sao Paulo, our Ed Henry was there with him -- Ed.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne at a press conference today President Bush sidestepped a direct question about the latest insult from Venezuelan strong man, Hugo Chavez, go home gringo, the White House does not want to be drawn into a one-on-one with Chavez. That only gives him more attention that he so desperately craves.
But it's clear even if the White House doesn't want to directly engage him that the shadowboxing, if you will, has really come in front and center during this seven-day tour of Latin America, for the president, today touring a bio-fuel plant with his Brazilian counterpart, President Bush took a step at what you might call ethanol diplomacy, inking a deal with Brazilian President Lula da Silva (ph), that President Bush hopes will cut off some of Chavez's power by going after his oil riches.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm particularly anxious to work with the president on helping Central America become less dependent on oil, become energy self-sufficient, it's in the interest of the United States that there be a prosperous neighborhood, and one way to help spread prosperity in Central America is for them to become energy producers. Not become -- not remain dependent on others for their energy sources.
(END VIDEO CLIP) HENRY: Whipped up by Chavez's anti-American rhetoric, protests have been building against Mr. Bush all across Latin America. Chavez himself playing what he calls anti-imperialist rallies against Mr. Bush aimed at overshadowing the president's seven-day tour of Latin America. U.S. officials are now privately charging that all these protests are not happening spontaneously. They charge that Chavez has been paying people to show up at the protest, bolster the crowds to try to show up Mr. Bush -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Ed Henry, thank you so much.
And as air strikes and artillery pounding away in Afghanistan, as Americans and its allies battle Taliban diehards. A big NATO offensive is on the way.
Our senior international correspondent Nic Robertson is with the Royal Marines in Helmand Province.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, "Operation Achilles" is now into its fourth day, overnight last night we could hear a heavy gun battle going on in the vicinity of the town of Sangun (ph). The battle that we could hear involved Apache gunships firing rounds from heavy machine guns.
We could here aerial bombs being dropped (UNINTELLIGIBLE) aircraft and we could hear artillery crashing in on the Sangun (ph) vicinity. The operation is over, about 100 square miles, "Operation Achilles". It is continuing. British Royal Marine commanders are at the forefront of some of the fighting here. What they are doing varies from town to town, in some towns it's a very peaceful message, talking to the people there, and showing that they remain calm, ensuring that they understand what's happening.
In other areas what they are doing is going into areas where they know there are Taliban, where they know there are senior Taliban figures and quite literally driving up to their front doors, drawing them out into firefights and then in those firefights, those they don't capture are being killed. The operation is expected to last another several weeks.
The location we're at is in north Helmand. It's a location that keeps changing and that's the nature of this battle, these war Marine commanders moving around this massive area, trying to draw out the Taliban and get them into the type of firefights that we could hear going on over last night -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Nic Robertson, thank you so much.
It is already Saturday along the Afghan/Pakistani border which means Osama bin Laden milestone may have reached perhaps another milestone.
CNN's Brian Todd joins us now -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, terrorism experts say Osama bin Laden is still very hands on in al Qaeda's operational planning as he turns an important corner in his life.
TODD (voice-over): To all the mystery and myth of Osama bin Laden allow for one more, his birthday. U.S. intelligence officials and some terrorism experts believe Saturday is his 50th birthday. But no one can say that with absolute certainty.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, NYU CENTER ON LAW & SECURITY: But they don't have the same importance within Saudi culture as they do within our culture, and certainly birthdays don't have the same significance for the jihadists.
TODD: As he turns 50, experts say, bin Laden remains the operational and spiritual epicenter of al Qaeda. Young jihadists still clamoring to see the man they call Sheik Osama. But he's also a lightning rod for rumor on his location. U.S. officials put him somewhere along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border. Terrorism experts nudge him further north, possibly near Chetral (ph), Pakistan -- on his health, those long-standing reports of a kidney problem.
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Bin Laden doesn't have life threatening kidney disease. He'd be dead by now if that was the case. He does have some sort of chronic problems, low blood pressure. He suffers some kind of a shoulder wound in the battle of Tora Bora in December of 2001, but these are not things that are going to put him out of business.
TODD: And his family. Experts and U.S. officials tell CNN bin Laden's had five wives. One divorced him. Not clear if any of the other four are consistently with him and somewhere between a dozen and two dozen children, including 11 sons.
CRUICKSHANK: More like half his sons follow him. Some work as bodyguards. Some have fought with him. Some were at Tora Bora with him, but others have not wanted to live that life.
TODD: Among bin Laden's many daughters, according to experts, a young girl born after 9/11, who he named Safia (ph) after a woman in Islamic folklore who killed Jews -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Brian.
Jack Cafferty of course now joining us in New York with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack, what do you have for us?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: An alleged former Washington madam pleaded not guilty today to five charges related to her now-defunct escort business. Deborah Palfrey has threatened to sell the phone records on more than 10,000 of her past clients. Boy, I hope she does. The judge hasn't yet decided on a gag order requested by the prosecutors.
They don't want the customer information made public. I wonder why. I do. Palfrey says she needs the money to pay her legal bills. She was indicted by a grand jury last week on money laundering and racketeering charges. She ran Pamela Martin and Associates escort service, which closed last summer. The company looked for college educated women to entertain well to do clients.
Palfrey's lawyer says his client's company was a high-end adult fantasy company. An IRS affidavit from last year, though, called it an illegal prostitution business. So, here's the question. What might happen if an alleged former Washington, D.C. madam releases records on 10,000 of her past clients?
E-mail your thoughts on that to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. This is the stuff, you know, you sit on Santa's lap and ask for at Christmastime, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: You know I can't imagine what happens if that list comes out.
CAFFERTY: Well, there won't be as many people around the nation's capital as there are today would be my first guess.
MALVEAUX: A mass exodus -- OK, Jack, thank you so much.
Of course coming up, Congress has an angry confrontation with war opponents caught on tape and posted on the Web. We'll show you the video.
Also he played a leading roll in efforts to impeach President Clinton after the Monica Lewinsky affair, now Newt Gingrich has a confession to make.
Plus, concerns that some bomb-sniffing dogs may not be up to snuff. Can they keep up with the latest terrorist techniques?
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: A critic of the Iraq war is criticized by other war critics. Congressman David Obey of Wisconsin, he is the Democrat in charge of the House committee that controls the funds for Iraq. Congressman Obey also helped write the House Democrats new bill designed to bring U.S. troops home. Recently he got an unexpected visit in the halls of Congress by an anti-war activist and it turned into a finger-pointing, shouting match.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAVID OBEY (D), WISCONSIN: How if we don't have the votes? It takes 200...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can filibuster his supplemental request.
OBEY: There is no filibuster in the House.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well in the Senate they can do it, all they need is 41 votes.
OBEY: I'm sorry. I'm sorry. No I'm not going to vote for it. I'm the sponsor of the bill that's going to be on the floor and that bill ends the war. If that isn't good enough for you you're smoking something that ain't legal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm -- no, I'm not, sir, no I'm not.
OBEY: You've got your facts screwed up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would it affect the war? It's non- binding. How would it affect what he's doing on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue?
OBEY: We can't get the votes. Do you see a magic wand in my pocket? How in the hell are we going to get the votes for it? We ain't got the votes for it. We do have the votes if you guys quit screwing it up. We do have the votes to end the legal authority for the war, that's the same as defunding it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That won't? How can we help?
OBEY: Yes it would.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tell us how we can help.
OBEY: I'm not going to debate it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because your facts are wrong?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sir, last question is just how can we help, can we talk together.
OBEY: Go talk to somebody else.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Joining me now is our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash, and Dana, you know I'm quite startled by this tape, I've never seen anything like this before. Explain to our viewers who don't know David Obey. Is he not a proponent of bringing the U.S. troops home?
DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He sure is, Suzanne. He's probably one of the most liberal members of Congress and that's what makes that confrontation now flying around the Internet so interesting. Because it really illustrates the pressure that anti-war activists are putting on Democratic leaders now in the majority, of course, to do whatever it takes, to do more, actually, to stop the war, and it also illustrates and shows the frustration that Democratic leaders have.
What David Obey just did there, lost his cool, is something along the lines of what another Democratic leader told me about just yesterday, which is that they are frustrated that activists come up to them in the hallways, come up to them in their offices and say, look, bring the troops home now, and what David Obey was saying was it's not that easy, we don't have the votes and at the end there he also said that he thought they were, quote, "liberal idiots", obviously going a little bit over the top in terms of what he was -- how he was making it clear to them he didn't agree with them, but nonetheless, doing it in a very energetic way, let's say.
MALVEAUX: Well, Dana, has Obey had any comments since this tape has surfaced?
BASH: He did. Today he released a statement apologizing, essentially, and I'll read you a part of the statement. He said, quote, "I am sorry that I yelled at them. I respect their passion on the issue. I wish they would respect mine. We are both frustrated and that led us to have an argument that we never should have had, because we both want to see an end to U.S. involvement in that war."
And, you know, this incident that was caught on tape, Suzanne that happened on Monday, before the House Democrats unveiled their plan, just yesterday, that would bring troops home by the end of 2008. David Obey helped write that, but this also, the bottom line is, this is not enough for staunch anti-war Democrats. Not only those in the hallways but also some in Congress, and they want troops to come home. They want to cut off funding in order for that to happen and leaders are just saying they are not going to do that right now.
MALVEAUX: All right, Dana. Thanks. Obviously a lot of confusion and frustration -- thanks for following that for us this afternoon.
Of course in other news, the FBI improperly and sometimes illegally used the Patriot Act to secretly obtain personal information on individuals without a court order. That's according to an internal audit from the Justice Department. It involves so-called national security letters or NSLs. The government uses them to obtain financial, phone, Internet, and other very personal records on individuals, without a judge's approval.
But the Justice Department's audit says at times the FBI's use of NSLs constituted a serious misuse of its power and it says the FBI under reported its use of NSLs to Congress by 22 percent. The report says none of this involved intentional wrongdoing. The director of the FBI says the use of NSLs is absolutely essential, but he says he partly bears the blame for any misuse. And some in Congress are already pointing fingers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: I am the person responsible. I am the person accountable, and I am committed to ensuring that we correct these insufficiencies, and live up to these responsibilities.
SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: As Senator Leahy knows there will be oversight hearings, and I think we may have to go farther than that, and change the law, to revise the Patriot Act, to impose statutory requirements and perhaps take away some of the authority which we've already given to the FBI, since they appear not to be able to know how to use it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Earlier today, Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy equated the FBI's actions to bending the law.
Up ahead tonight in THE SITUATION ROOM Iraq's prime minister on the dangerous streets of Baghdad. We'll show you what he's hoping to prove.
Plus, the Reverend Al Sharpton on his surprise family ties to a former segregationist.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. .
MALVEAUX: And Carol Costello is in New York monitoring stories around the world. Carol, what is crossing the wires right now?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: A couple of things to tell you Suzanne. A videotape showing Pentagon officials' final interrogation of al Qaeda suspect Jose Padilla is missing and that is raising questions about whether federal prosecutors have lost other recordings and evidence in the case. Padilla is a U.S. citizen. He's scheduled to stand trial next month on charges of being part of a North American terror support cell; two co-defendants also will stand trial.
An appeals court's decision today to shoot down Washington D.C.'s gun ban has the city's mayor outraged. Mayor Adrian Fenty (ph) says the decision flies in the face of laws that have helped decrease gun violence. He says the city will appeal. The ban, which prohibits residents from having a gun in their homes, took effect in 1976. Those who fought the ban include residents of high-crime neighborhoods who wanted guns for protection.
In the middle of downsizing, Ford is hoping to put the brakes on low employee morale. The automaker is giving bonuses to most of its workers despite its record loss last year of more than $12 billion. Most salaried workers and supervisors will get 300 to 800 bucks, but that is quite a contrast to Ford's new CEO, the value of his stock bonus just went from 5 million to 6 million.
That's a look at the headlines right you now, Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Carol, thanks for bringing us the very latest.
And just ahead, while House Republicans were impeaching President Clinton, their leader was having his own extramarital affair, but find out why Newt Gingrich says he's no hypocrite. That's coming up.
Also former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and firefighter at odds -- we'll have new details of the grudge that could impact Giuliani's presidential campaign.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
MALVEAUX: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the man who loves to torment President Bush is not letting up. Right now, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is leading a chorus of anti-President Bush voices, enough to fill a soccer stadium. That's in Argentina. Not far away across the river in Uruguay is President Bush.
Also the U.S. has started secret hearings over the fate of terror suspects held at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. At issue is 14 alleged terrorist leaders should be declared enemy combatants. That would mean they could be held indefinitely and face military tribunals.
And a sad new development from that deadly bus crash in Atlanta. Another baseball player on board the bus has died. The 18-year-old had been in critical condition since the crash last Friday. The death toll now stands at seven.
Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich is making a confession. He cheated on his second wife at the same time President Clinton was impeached.
Let's go back to Carol Costello with more on this story -- absolutely amazing, confessions all around.
COSTELLO: I know. It is amazing. And the timing is pretty darn interesting too. On the heels of his book "Rediscovering God in America", Gingrich is on the "I'm sorry" campaign. Why? Well, some say he clearly is testing the presidential waters.
COSTELLO (voice-over): Newt Gingrich, possible presidential candidate, conservative darling, seeking redemption from, well, God.
VOICE OF NEWT GINGRICH (R), FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: I believe deeply that people fall short and that people have to recognize that they have to turn to God for forgiveness and to seek mercy.
COSTELLO: It's been done before with dramatic flair.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have sinned against you, my Lord.
COSTELLO: Fallen evangelist Jimmy Swaggart perfected it in '88 and survived his own adulterous affair to preach another day, and while Swaggart chose the pulpit, Gingrich chose the next best thing, conservative evangelical James Dobson's radio show. There Gingrich confessed, minus the tears, to multiple marriages, admitting he had bailed on wife number two after cheating on her with a congressional aide.
GINGRICH: There were times when I was praying and when I felt I was doing things that were wrong, but I was still doing them.
COSTELLO: And he was doing them at the very same time he as House Speaker was supporting the impeachment of Bill Clinton over the Lewinsky affair.
GINGRICH: Well the fact is that the honest answer is yes, but that it was not related to what happened. The president of the United States got in trouble for committing a felony in front of a sitting federal judge.
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I did not have sexual relations with that woman.
COSTELLO: And while Democrat Clinton survived, many other politicians have not, Gary Hart, Wilbur Mills (ph), and the man nominated to replace Gingrich as House speaker, Bob Livingston (ph), who resigned on the very day that Clinton was impeached.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, WASHINGTONPOST.COM: So I must set the example that I hope President Clinton will follow.
COSTELLO: As for Gingrich...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hypocrisy is obviously there. I don't think it's anything new as it relates to Newt Gingrich. I think we always knew that this was going to be an issue, it's just a question of how does it strike voters and we don't know that yet.
COSTELLO: No, we don't, so we shall see. Do you realize, though, that between the five or six Republicans who are thinking of running for president, there are eight marriages among them? Suzanne, that is a lot of alimony.
MALVEAUX: Many, many wives. And everybody, Carol, is talking about this story. I talked about Gingrich's adultery in our "Strategy Session" today with Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and editor-at- large of Human Events Terry Jeffrey.
MALVEAUX: Let's start off here. We have just got to listen to the sound, because it's really quite unbelievable.
Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
NEWT GINGRICH, FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: I believe deeply that people fall short, and that people have to recognize that they have to turn to God for forgiveness and to seek mercy, that -- somebody once said that, when you're young, you want justice, and as you get older, you want mercy.
I also believe that there are things in my own life that I have turned to God and gotten on my knees and prayed about and sought God's forgiveness.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Terry, who is this man? Who -- is this the same man that we saw who was going after Clinton over Monica Lewinsky? Or is this someone who is running for president?
TERRY JEFFREY, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, HUMAN EVENTS: Well, clearly, Newt Gingrich wants us to believe that is a different man. He is a different man today.
And I think -- you know, I believe Newt Gingrich understands that the American people believe in two things. They do absolutely believe that the personal behavior of people in public leadership matters. It matters what Bill Clinton did in the White House. It mattered that Rudy Giuliani has been married three times. It matters that Newt Gingrich has been married two -- three times.
But I think Newt Gingrich also understands that the American people believe in redemption. And if he can make people believe that he, in fact, is sorry for what he did, and that he's a different person and a better person, then I think he's going to have a better political career ahead.
MALVEAUX: Donna, do you buy that? Is he absolved now? Is he redeemed?
DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, I think this is another election-year conversion. A lot of that is taking place on the Republican side, if you look at some of the candidates. And they are trying to explain their views from the past on gay rights, abortion rights.
I -- the timing is clearly suspect. Is he cleansing his soul, or just clearing the deck, so that he can run this fall? I believe that, if he's ready to admit to adultery and to apologize, he should. That's a good thing to do.
On the other hand, if this is just a political opportunity to try to appeal to conservatives, then I think that's suspect.
MALVEAUX: Well, Terry, what do you think? I mean, is -- are the conservatives that frustrated, that they are not getting their agenda across, that they don't have the type of candidates they need, that they are going to put forward Newt Gingrich?
JEFFREY: Well, the conservatives aren't going to put Newt Gingrich forward. Newt Gingrich is going to put forward himself. And I will say this.
MALVEAUX: They may support him.
MALVEAUX: They may back him. JEFFREY: More than any of the other potential front-running candidates, and he is ranking rather high in the polls, Newt does a good job of expressing what it is conservatives believe.
And I think, before today, there wasn't any question that his personal history, the fact that he had been married three times, is something that bothered conservatives, just like it bothers them with Rudy Giuliani.
So, he's trying to deal with it. I think this very clearly is a signal that Newt Gingrich is seriously interested in running for president, because what Newt Gingrich did in the past is a matter between him and God, his conscience and God. It's not a public matter.
What he's doing now is bringing it into the public realm precisely because he is interested, I believe, in seeking public office.
MALVEAUX: An old dispute a coming back to haunt a leading presidential candidate. It is a grudge by firefighters dating back to the 9/11 terror attacks against former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. CNN's Mary Snow joins us live from New York with this controversy -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, the old wound is being exposed by a new rift. At issue, Rudy Giuliani is not attending a bipartisan presidential forum hosted by the nation's largest firefighters union. Union members vow to tell what they describe address the real story of Giuliani and 9/11.
SNOW (voice-over): Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, friend to the first responder. It's a familiar image on the campaign trail.
RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What's your mascot?
SNOW: Giuliani's candidacy has been largely defined by 9/11. But the International Association of Firefighters is vowing to expose what it describes as Giuliani's offensive and personal attack on firefighters following the September 11th attacks.
HAROLD SCHAITBERGER, PRES., INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF FIREFIGHTERS: For this union, but more importantly, so many of our members, it's an act that will not be forgiven or forgotten.
SNOW: It was November of 2001. Then-Mayor Giuliani reduced the number of firefighters allowed to enter the pile at Ground Zero to recover remains, citing safety concerns.
GIULIANI: We were given very, very strong advice several weeks ago that this site was a disaster waiting to happen. SNOW: Firefighters protested, saying they wanted to continue searching for the remains of their brethren. When firefighters tried to enter the pile, raw emotions spilled over. Fifteen firefighters were arrested.
SCHAITBERGER: The mayor, I believe, showed disrespect in understanding the importance of allowing us to continue with that recovery.
SNOW: The IAFF is angry again, this time that Giuliani won't attend the union's upcoming forum, where presidential candidates from both parties make their cases to members. Giuliani's supporters, like retired New York City firefighter Lee Ielpi, are coming to his defense. Ielpi lost his son, also a firefighter, on 9/11. He's now part of the campaign group, Firefighters for Rudy.
He accuses the union of partisan politics and points out that the IAFF endorsed Democratic presidential candidate, Senator John Kerry, in 2004.
LEE IELPI, RETIRED FDNY/GIULIANI SUPPORTER: I mean, it has turned into nothing more than another one of those political venues where they figure they could use their power to sway an election. And I think it's really tasteless that they're doing it this way.
SNOW: A Giuliani aide says Giuliani's schedule is preventing him from attending next week's forum. The head of the group Firefighters for Rudy responded for the campaign, saying it was honored by the support of so many first responders -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Mary, thanks for that report.
Ahead, my interview with the Reverend Al Sharpton. He'll update us on the battle over James Brown's body, still unburied more than two months after his death.
Plus, four-legged fighters in the war on terror. Bomb-sniffing dogs, why some say their efforts aren't up to snuff.
MALVEAUX: One is a prominent civil rights leader, the other a notorious former segregationist. So, imagine the surprise of Reverend Al Sharpton when he learned some of his ancestors were owned as slaves by ancestors of the late Senator Strom Thurmond. Al Sharpton joins us now from New York.
Thank you so much, Reverend, for being here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: Thank you. MALVEAUX: I understand you recently went on a trip to South Carolina, to the Thurmond plantation. I think there might have been some unmarked graves of slaves. What did you find there, and what were you feeling?
SHARPTON: Well, I went to visit the graveyard that was in the church there in Edgefield, South Carolina, that showed that the Thurmonds and the Sharptons, the owners of my forefathers, actually were buried together. And then I was told that the plantation of Sharpton -- of Jefferson Sharpton, who was married to Anita Thurmond, who directly owned my great-grandfather, was about three or four miles away from there on, ironically, Sharpton Road. That's how big they were as slave owners, the road was named after them.
So I went over to that plantation. And actually, the guy who owns it, a gentleman named White, had maintained most of the main house and the shack that the slaves stayed in, because he's a history buff. So he wanted it like it was.
And I was literally able to walk in the shack that my great- grandfather probably stayed in as a slave because it was 200 years old. It was a very eerie feeling. But it also gave me a connection to the whole plight of people that I could now directly tell the story of how we came as property and chattel and were able to rise through the abolitionist movement, all the way to the civil rights movement.
So, as much as it gives you a sense of outrage and pain, it gives you a sense of obligation to live up to what your great-grandparents and grandparents would have wanted you to be, having options they didn't have.
MALVEAUX: Reverend, let me ask you as well if this as painful, as you know, the late Strom Thurmond secretly -- he had an affair with a housekeeper, so he had a biracial -- a black daughter he kept secret all of his life. Her name, Essie Mae Washington-Williams.
And she said of your reaction to finding out your connection here with the family, she says that: "In spite of the fact he was a segregationist, he did many wonderful things for black people. I'm not sure that Reverend Sharpton is aware of all the things he did. I kind of feel that there was an overreaction."
SHARPTON: Well, I mean, you know, she's talking of a father, whether he denied it or not. I mean, I don't know what I overreacted. I said to the reporter, well, did you ask her, overreacted how?
I said I was shocked. I said that it was something I never expected. How is that an overreaction? I did not call him names. I didn't go to the cemetery and desecrate the cemetery. So I think it's kind of, you know, questionable to say I overreacted.
I think anyone would react the way I did if they found out that the exact story of someone just three generations away from them is a shocking story. And to be connected to Thurmond, you know, one can say all they want about he may have privately done some things for blacks, he never publicly denounced being a segregationist. He never apologized publicly for the policies he upheld. So later...
SHARPTON: ... in life if he moderated or not, he never denounced what he did for what made him famous.
MALVEAUX: Reverend Sharpton, let me turn to presidential politics. This, a quote, Minister Louis Farrakhan, when he was asked today about the chances for Barack Obama to become president.
Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOUIS FARRAKHAN, NATION OF ISLAM LEADER: I think he's capable of being an answer. But who will provide him with the money so he can contend with Mrs. Clinton and her big bank, or Giuliani and McCain and their growing bank? So the people that bankroll you, they're the ones that ultimately call the tune.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Reverend, what do you make of his comments?
SHARPTON: I mean, I don't know the whole context of his comments. I think that many of us see that Senator Obama has good talent, and certainly great potential. But I think that a lot of people are trying to see what his campaign will represent and who will be a part of it.
I've had more conversations with him of late, have become more aware of his background in terms of some of the things he has done around issues that I'm concerned about in Illinois. But frankly, we just didn't know him enough.
MALVEAUX: The last time you and I spoke here on THE SITUATION ROOM, a very sad occasion, as you know, the death of the late James Brown. Can you give us any kind of update on the status? I understand there's a lot of controversy over whether or not the body has been buried.
Do you know?
SHARPTON: He will be entombed in a matter of days. The -- his six children have put together their own funds and said they are not going to wait for the continued battles over the estate, or whatever is going on in the courts. Their father should be laid to rest with dignity, and they are going to make sure that happens. They've done it out of their own pocket.
I think he would be sad that it would have to come to that, but I think he would be proud they would do it. And I think the courts will decide the other issues. I think they want to protect the legacy of James Brown, who more than deserved that.
MALVEAUX: Reverend Al Sharpton, thank you for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
SHARPTON: Thank you.
MALVEAUX: And up ahead, how to keep terrorists from smuggling nuclear weapons into our nation's ports.
And President Bush busts loose in Brazil, you do not want to miss this.
MALVEAUX: Iraq's prime minister is trying to show that the U.S.- led crackdown is making progress. Today, Nouri al-Maliki toured parts of Baghdad, but was surrounded by armed guards.
In the coming hours, Iraq and its neighbors will discuss ways to end the violence. The U.S. and Iran will have seats at the table, but do they have anything to talk about? Zalmay Khalilzad is the outgoing U.S. ambassador to Iraq.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: This is all going to come down to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Do you trust this man? Is this someone you can work with?
ZALMAY KHALILZAD, OUTGOING U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Well, there are a variety of groups inside Iran. There are people who have opposed President Ahmadinejad's policies and the statements that he has made.
MALVEAUX: But you've got to work with the president here. You've got to -- Mr. Ambassador, obviously you have got to work with the president here. I mean, clearly, there are other religious leaders, as well, but you have to work with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Do you trust him?
KHALILZAD: Right. Well, I -- it is not up to me to decide who the president of Iran will be. I personally do not think that he can be trusted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Ambassador Khalilzad says the U.S. is prepared to talk with Iran, quote, "if it is useful."
Now, how vulnerable are U.S. cities when it comes to smuggling nuclear weapons into the United States? CNN's John Roberts joins us with a special report from "THIS WEEK AT WAR."
MALVEAUX: So, John, what have you learned? JOHN ROBERTS, HOST, "THIS WEEK AT WAR": Suzanne, there's a fascinating article in week's New Yorker magazine by Steve Coll, in which he details this ring of nuclear shielding that the United States, the Department of Homeland Security wants to create.
Basically they want to start in the United States with radiation detectors at every port and then start branching out from there so that you have radiation detectors at literally every port around the world, where material is coming into the United States from.
He also details in this article an incident that happened in 2005, where a shipping container was spotted. It set off alarm bells in Colombo, in Sri Lanka, that's where they lost the trail.
Listen to Steve.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE COLL, THE NEW YORKER: One of the detectors that they had placed at the port of Colombo rang, but they couldn't determine which container it was until it had been loaded. So they tracked down five different ships in the open seas.
ROBERTS: With satellites?
COLL: Satellites, and they scrutinized their manifest. They sent out the atomic bomb squad to board a couple of the ships to make sure they were clean. They stopped two other ships in U.S. territorial waters about 10 miles off New York City.
ROBERTS: And it turned out to be?
COLL: They found the ship eventually in Asia, and it had essentially contaminated radioactive material mixed in with scrap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERTS: So these are these NES teams, these nuclear emergency security teams that you hear so much about. But, really, what this proves is that it took two weeks for them to locate this cargo, even though it was trash, had it been a nuclear bomb that was contained inside this container, the United States definitely could have been at risk.
MALVEAUX: So what is the biggest threat here -- or the bigger threat, the nuclear weapon or this dirty bomb?
ROBERTS: Well, you know, we hear about all of these supposed suitcase bombs that Russia has that has gone missing. There are also all of these nuclear weapons that are being decommissioned and shipped around the world. But really according to Coll in his article, the bigger threat is from materials that could be used for a dirty bomb, because these could be old medical devices.
There's a tremendous amount of radioactive material that's used in certain types of medical imaging devices. It's used for a lot of different things. So when it comes to what is the larger threat that the United States is probably most concerned with, it would be somebody who could have a bomb that had TNT at its core, but put this radioactive material around it so that they could contaminate quite a large area of a city, which the Department of Homeland Security has estimated could cost between $10 billion and $20 billion to clean up.
MALVEAUX: OK. Well, thank you very much, John.
ROBERTS: You bet.
MALVEAUX: "THIS WEEK AT WAR" airs on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern and Sunday 1:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
An important weapon in the war on terror, the highly sensitive nose of a bomb-sniffing dog, but not every canine can do the job.
Here's CNN's Kelli Arena.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here we go. Good boy.
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meet Archie. He's an ATF dog used to detect explosives. He trains every day because he has to.
RICH CLABEAUX, ATF SPECIAL AGENT: The only way he gets to eat is when he sniffs explosives.
ARENA: Archie is one of about 800 dogs specially trained by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to detect explosives such as TATP, highly volatile and favored by terrorists like shoe bomber Richard Reid. But experts worry other sniffer dogs aren't up to scratch. That's because even now, six years after 9/11, there's no mandatory national standard for bomb dogs.
TERRY BOHAN, CHIEF, ATF CANINE PROGRAM: At the end of the day, if an explosive is missed, that will be a huge tragedy. And that's what we train to prevent.
ARENA: With so much riding on these noses, the ATF is hoping its law enforcement partners will run with its standard. The ATF training and testing requires dogs to identify 10 key substances and never miss a single one, or they don't get certified.
BOHAN: The seriousness of the business, anything below 100 percent in this is not acceptable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good girl.
ARENA: Many agencies, including the marshals, the CIA and local law enforcement, like Washington's transit police, are already on board and out on the job.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good girl. Good girl. That's a good sniff. Good girl.
ARENA: Canine specialists say technology has nothing on a well- trained dog. They are mobile, adaptable, and it turns out you can teach an old dog new sniffs.
(on camera): The ATF is conducting testing like this across the country. As one trainer put it, having a dog that isn't properly trained is like having an unloaded gun. It's just for show.
Kelli Arena, CNN, Washington.
MALVEAUX: And let's find out what's coming up on "PAULA ZAHN NOW."
PAULA ZAHN, HOST, "PAULA ZAHN NOW": Hi, Suzanne. Thanks so much.
Tonight we are going to take a look at the hidden secrets of some 8 million Americans are struggling to overcome, in one way or another, they suffer from eating disorders. Secretly bingeing or suffering from the agony of secret starvation. We're bringing it all "Out in the Open" at the top of the hour.
Suzanne, I know you've been exposed to a lot of eating disorders through your reporting, and some of this is really devastating.
MALVEAUX: Thank you, Paula.
And up ahead, President Bush cutting loose in South America.
And what might happen if an alleged former Washington madame ousts her clients? Well, Jack is back with "The Cafferty File."
MALVEAUX: During his visit to Brazil today, President Bush got a chance to let loose. President Bush was treated to a performance of the samba. He grabbed a Brazilian rattle and shook it along to the music. First lady Laura Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice joined in for the dancing.
Jack, it just doesn't get any better than that. What do you have?
CAFFERTY: Nothing like a little kabuki theater to end the week on. The question tonight, what might happen if an alleged former Washington, D.C., madame releases records on 10,000 of her past clients?
Karen in Idaho Falls: "We'll have a lot of congressmen headed to rehab since that's the usual road they take when they get caught. We'll also have a whole new Congress after the next election. Wouldn't you just love to see that happen? I hope she reveals all."
Jerry in Newton, Iowa: "It will probably show that our elected officials have been using the taxpayers' money to buy prostitutes, which means they are doing to the prostitutes exactly what they've been doing to the taxpayers for years."
Patricia, Good Hope, Illinois: "At the risk of sounding blase, I think 90 percent of the people in Washington would get a laugh out of it."
Bobby in Stockton, California: "Jack, when the world finds out you've been jetting down to D.C. for professional services other than investigating what is wrong with Walter Reed, who will I e-mail anymore?"
Don't worry about it. That ain't going to happen.
Mike in Charlotte, North Carolina: "If the Secret Service sees Laura Bush headed to the Oval Office with a rolling pin, we'll know the names have been released."
Jean in Murdoch, Washington: "Jack, without a doubt, our government would have to shut down. And all of these years, I thought they only worked four days a week so they could spend more time with their families. I am just shocked."
Mark in Oklahoma City: "It would confirm that Jack is not on the list, thus proving why he is always so cranky."
And Craig in Tampa, Florida: "It would explain why Jack came up with a collapsed lung story to cover up the beating his wife gave him when she found out what he was spending his bonus money on."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to cnn.com/caffertyfile and read more of these online.
MALVEAUX: Well, Jack, good being with you this week. I hope you have a great weekend.
CAFFERTY: You too, Suzanne. You have done a terrific job. If I was Wolf, I wouldn't be taking a lot of days off, you know, got to be looking over his shoulder, because you're right there. You've done a great job and it has been fun.
MALVEAUX: Well, thanks, Jack. Maybe he will take a couple of more days. And Sunday on "LATE EDITION," the Iraqi foreign minister, he will be joining Wolf Blitzer and -- 11:00 a.m. Eastern. And of course, thanks for joining us.
I'm Suzanne Malveaux. Up next, "PAULA ZAHN NOW."
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com