Skip to main content


Return to Transcripts main page


President Bush Reacts to House Passage of Iraq Pullout Bill; British Marines Seized; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Arrive in New York Saturday; Rat Poison Found in Pet Food

Aired March 23, 2007 - 14:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Don Lemon live here in the CNN NEWSROOM. The president speaking out now. Let's go right to it.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Family members of people serving in combat, family members of those who have sacrificed, I am honored that they have joined me here today.

Here in Washington, members of both parties recognize that our most solemn responsibility is to support our troops in the war on terror, yet today a narrow majority in the House of Representatives abdicated its responsibility by passing a war spending bill that has no chance of becoming law and brings us no closer to getting our troops the resources they need to do their job.

The purpose of the emergency war spending bill I requested was to provide our troops with vital funding. Instead, Democrats in the House, in an act of political theater, voted to substitute their judgment for that of our military commanders on the ground in Iraq.

They set rigid restrictions that would require an army of lawyers to interpret. They set an arbitrary date for withdrawal without regard for conditions on the ground. And they tacked on billions for pet projects that have nothing to do with winning the war on terror.

This bill has too much pork, too many conditions, and an artificial timetable for withdrawal. As I have made clear for weeks, I will veto it if it comes to my desk. And because the vote in the House was so close, it is clear that my veto would be sustained.

Today's action in the House does only one thing. It delays the delivery of vital resources for our troops.

A narrow majority has decided to take this course, just as General Petraeus and his troops are carrying out a new strategy to help the Iraqis secure their capital city. Amid the real challenges in Iraq, we're beginning to see some signs of progress, yet to score political points, the Democratic majority in the House has shown it is willing to undermine the gains our troops are making on the ground.

Democrats want to make clear that they oppose the war in Iraq. They made their point. For some, that is not enough.

These Democrats believe that the longer they can delay funding for our troops, the more likely they are to force me to accept restrictions on our commanders, an artificial timetable for withdrawal, and their pet spending projects. This is not going to happen.

Our men and women in uniform need these emergency war funds. The secretary of defense has warned that if Congress does not approve the emergency funding for our troops by April the 15th, our men and women in uniform will face significant disruptions, and so will their families.

The Democrats have sent their message, now it's time to send their money. This is an important moment of decision for the new leaders in Congress. Our men and women in uniform should not have to worry that politicians in Washington will deny them the funds and the flexibility they need to win.

Congress needs to send me a clean bill that I can sign without delay. I expect Congress to do its duty and to fund our troops, and so do the American people, and so do the good men and women standing with me here today.

Thank you for your time.

LEMON: All right. There you have it, the president speaking out to very clear language, very tough language there, saying -- again promising to veto that legislation. He called it an abdication of responsibilities.

Elaine Quijano is standing by at the White House, and Andrea Koppel is standing by on Capitol Hill.

Let's start with Elaine.

Elaine, did you notice that strong language, "abdication of responsibilities by Democrats"?

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. President Bush is trying to send the message here and using the military families and service personnel as his backdrop to try to make the argument that in fact pushing for legislation that includes, among other things, as he puts it, an artificial timetable demonstrates a lack of support for the troops.

How is that? Well, the president himself saying that the Defense Department has said clearly that unless funding is made available soon, that in fact there will be disruptions to the very people that you saw in that room.

Now, it's interesting to note, and I wanted to point this out, Don, it was made clear to us before the president had his statement that he would not be taking questions. At the same time, the White House making clear as well that those military personnel, the active and retired service personnel, as well as their family members, would in fact remain behind to answer questions from reporters, as the White House continues to try to press its case, Don, that certainly it is time the -- we've heard this over and over again from White House Press Secretary Tony Snow in recent days, that the clock is running out, in their view, and that Congress must act and present what they want as a clean bill, we heard President Bush say, one that does not have restrictions for the troops -- Don.

LEMON: All right. Elaine Quijano at the White House.

Thank you.

Andrea Koppel now.

Is this the message the Democrats wanted to get across?

ANDREA KOPPEL, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, President Bush may have called it political theater, but as far as Democrats are concerned, Don, they believe that today's vote was an illustration that they were listening to the American people in November when they were put in office and that the American people want U.S. troops to come home.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, I think the message is -- there's many audiences for this message. I hope the first message goes to the American people, that we know that they have lost confidence and faith in the president's conduct of the war.


KOPPEL: Now, this is just a first step, but it is the first binding legislation that was passed now by the House of Representatives. It still has to go over to the Senate next week, where a similar bill which also has a goal of March 31, 2008 for all U.S. combat troops to come home, that is going to be voted on perhaps as soon as next week -- Don.

LEMON: And just real quick, because we're running out of time, Andrea, does that one have a chance?

KOPPEL: Not much.

LEMON: Not much of a chance.

All right. Thank you so much for that.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the British want their Marines back, their equipment back, and they want an explanation. This, after a run-in with Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf today. There's much to cover and much still not resolved.

Watching developments on both sides of the Atlantic, CNN's Jamie McIntyre I see there now, also Becky Anderson.

Let's go to you first, Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Pentagon is still trying to figure out exactly what the motivation was for this incident in which 15 Royal Marines were taken at gunpoint after performing an inspection of a ship. They're from the HMS Cornwall, which is one of the ships, part of the coalition patrolling the Persian Gulf region, in particular the northern part of the Gulf which is right near where Iran and Iraq have a border together, and a very complicated system of dividing the territorial waters there.

The British insist they were in Iraqi territorial waters. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy, not part of the regular Iranian navy, insisted that these British Marines were in Iranian waters, and that's why they took them away. But the commander of the ship was pretty clear that he felt they were on -- they were exactly where they were supposed to be.


COMMODORE NICK LAMBERT, COMMANDING OFFICER, HMS CORNWALL: This was a normal, routine boarding that took place fairly early this morning, about 9:00 local time, under the auspices of UNSCR-1723 (ph), and under the instructions of the Iraqi government to patrol on their behalf their territorial waters. So we were boarding a vessel that was trading in the area which had passed one or two trip wires that we were concerned about. For example, its flags and its (INAUDIBLE), and so on.

So the boarding party went in to carry out a routine boarding operation.


MCINTYRE: The big question now is, what was going on here? Whether or not this was simply something that was done at a low level by this Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which sometimes can be operating outside the direction of the Iranian government. Were they in fact involved in the smuggling that might have been going on or concerned about that?

Or is Iran trying to be more provocative as the United States is building up its presence in the Persian Gulf, adding a second aircraft carrier? Are they trying to assert their presence as well? And is there any possibility that this could be linked to the fact that the United States has detained some Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members in Iraq suspected of aiding the insurgents there?

It's not clear at this point, because, frankly, we haven't heard anything from Iran.

KEILAR: And it's not really the first time something like this has happened before, right, Jamie?

MCINTYRE: Well, back in 2004, you did have -- I believe it was eight Royal Marines and two sailors who were in a small boat that were taken into custody. At that time they were paraded on TV, they were forced to apologize, but they were eventually released unharmed a few days later.

KEILAR: Thank you.

Jamie McIntyre for us from the Pentagon there.

And, of course, no official response or even acknowledgement from Iran. But British authorities are very clear on what they want and when.

Let's go now to CNN's Becky Anderson. She's joining us live now from London.

And Becky, this really isn't making headlines in Iran, but that is obviously not the case in Britain.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The reaction from the U.K. government has been unequivocal today. The foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, said that she is very disturbed to hear about the fate of the 15 personnel, and their equipment, who were detained by the Iranians.

This is what she had to say a little earlier.


MARGARET BECKETT, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: As far as we understand, they were in Iraqi waters, they were operating on behalf of the Iraqi government, carrying out a United Nations resolution. It is hard to see why they were detained. But our concern, of course, is to get them returned.


ANDERSON: Right. Well, the Iranian ambassador was summoned to the Foreign Office today -- Margaret Beckett, and her constituency. He spoke to her undersecretary, Sir Peter Ricketts, earlier on. The meeting was described as brisk and cordial.

The British just saying that they want those soldiers back -- sailors back, sorry. And they want them back soon.

Now, as Jamie suggested, back in 2004, there were indeed eight British servicemen who were detained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, as he suggested. At the time, reports had said that they had been seen blindfolded, they were not in -- treated particularly badly, so far as the British were concerned. But it certainly wasn't comfortable for them. They were, though, returned unharmed at the time.

Nothing known about the condition of these 15 personnel as of yet. One expects to learn more as the hours progress here in the U.K.

Back to you guys.

KEILAR: Thanks, Becky.

Becky Anderson bringing us the latest details on this from London -- Don.

LEMON: All right. And this just in. There is an official response, at least according to the wires here, Reuters, and also The Associated Press.

They're saying that Iran seized a group of British sailors on Friday because they had illegally entered its territorial waters. And that's of course from state television, and also from -- and also from The Associated Press and from Reuters there. Also, Iran summoned the British envoy to the Foreign Ministry over the illegal entries, what it's calling into Iranian waters of military personnel.

President Ahmadinejad is expected to be in Washington this weekend to talk about all of this, and while all of this is happening, as Iran faces the prospect of tighter U.N. sanctions for its renegade nuclear program.

With the latest on that, our CNN U.N. correspondent, Richard Roth, from the United Nations headquarters in New York.

It's happening pretty fast, Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is. Inside a Security Council meeting today, the issue of the seized British sailors did not really come up. The British ambassador alluded to it in some way, but right now it is not a hot potato for this council. What is, is this ongoing discussion about a resolution punishing Iran for refusing to stop uranium enrichment.

I did ask two council ambassadors from important countries on the council -- they have veto power -- whether the seizure of the British sailors and military personnel would impact the discussions.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I don't think this will have a direct impact. Certainly, it's -- you know, we are very, very much concerned.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the incident with the British, though, not complicate the whole picture?

WANG GUANGYA, CHINESE AMB. TO U.N.: I hope not, yes, because it all depends on how the two governments handle this issue.


ROTH: Right now the afternoon drama is waiting for Ahmadinejad. It's certain that it appears he's coming. There's a lot of debate and betting when will this vote and his appearance take place?

It still appears that Saturday is the target, but they first have to agree on when to schedule the vote. There will be more discussions in the afternoon later today, though they have promised before to come up with a firm time only to let that slip. There are still countries that have some problems with the resolution, but they are non-permanent members. They don't have veto power, Don. But the U.S. and others are giving them time to voice and vent as they try to come up with a vote that could be 15-0, which they think would send a signal to Ahmadinejad. And he's certainly going to send a verbal signal back to them across the table when he's here this weekend.

LEMON: All right. Richard Roth, thank you.

As Richard said, more of this happening today. As the details come in on this situation, we'll bring them all to you right here in CNN NEWSROOM.

Thanks, Richard.

KEILAR: first the deaths, then the recall, now the investigation. Ahead right here in the NEWSROOM, the latest on a massive pet food scare.

LEMON: States sued big tobacco, and big tobacco coughed up billions. But what happened to all the that money? .


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most states have taken their money, forgot about what the fight was about, and spent it on highways, or a bad deficit that they might have, or something else.


LEMON: Something else. Things like golf courses? Ahead in NEWSROOM, a story that will have you fuming, for sure.


KEILAR: It's a quarter past the hour, and here are a few of the stories that we're working on here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: High drama on the high seas of the Persian Gulf. Fifteen British troops on routine patrols found themselves surrounded, then captured by Iranian sailors. It happened off the Iraqi coast in a waterway that's been in dispute for centuries.

Our Kyra Phillips knows it well and she joins us now from Baghdad -- Kyra.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR (voice over): I've actually been in those exact international waters and I've been aboard those ships, and also the rib (ph) boats patrolling those international waters, watching how the U.S. Navy and also the U.S. Coast Guard tried to keep the waters safe and also prevent these rogue ships from going back and forth in the waterways, going into illegal areas and transporting weapons and money and drugs in and out of Iraq, and also from other countries.

It was pretty interesting to watch. Just to give you a little taste of one day that we were out there, they took down four separate vessels. Here's just a little bit from that.


PHILLIPS: Right now we're about 40 miles from Iraqi territorial waters. And overnight, commanders of this operation observed two ships coming from Iraq. So this morning this team has to board both of those vessels. First, Captain Mohammed.


PHILLIPS: Maritime International Operations is what they're called -- or excuse me, Maritime Interdiction Operations, MIO operations, and all throughout the day and through the night, Don, they would go out -- and basically they're S.W.A.T. teams. And they would get word through sources and also from air support that something might be traveling into improper waters, possibly bringing over -- smuggling weapons and actually loads of cash from selling certain items that are really hard to get. For example, dates out of Iran. A lot of these smugglers would take dates, sell the dates, bring the money back to Saddam Hussein through these waterways, and that money would go towards supporting his military and keeping force there in Iraq.

So it's interesting just to go aboard these ships, watched how they do it, and watched what these men were up against, because a lot of times these captains don't want to tell you what they're doing, they don't wan to show you their manifest, they don't want to show you I.D., because they're operating illegally.

So what we saw happen today was happening even before what went down with these British Marines. It's not safe out there, whether you're talking about the ground in Baghdad and throughout Iraq. It's the same way in these international waters. There's a high threat and it's not safe.

LEMON: Yes. And you mentioned smuggling, Kyra. And you said dates and things like that. When you were with them, what were these rogue teams -- ships smuggling?

PHILLIPS: Well, it's interesting. Well, like I said, one of the most popular, of course, is weapons, and they would take these delicacies like dates and smuggle those to make money.

But I just remember these S.W.A.T. teams would go aboard these ships and then give the all-clear for us to come aboard once they had everybody detained and they were able to get all weapons out of the hands of those that were on the ship, because they weren't quite how sure how dangerous it could get. And then it's a constant interview process, because a lot of times these captains will give up other bits of information on other vessels that are out there, other ships that are out there, and what are on those ships. And, of course, at this time it was all about making money for the Iraqi regime. Now the Iraqi regime has been taken down, Saddam Hussein has been taken down, and you're seeing other elements of smuggling and also violence on the high seas, the same exact waterways where we were just a couple years ago.

LEMON: All right. Kyra Phillips in Baghdad.

Thank you so much for that report, Kyra.

KEILAR: Dozens of brands suspected, millions of cases recalled. Is any pet food safe? E-mail your questions for our guest, veterinarian Dr. Jeffrey Werber (ph). He's going to join us live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And we know the pet food recall has many of you worried about your furry friends. So the veterinarian to the stars' pets is going to join us live. So e-mail your questions to



LEMON: All right. This new information just in.

We told you just moments ago that Iran has summoned the British affairs minister to Tehran on Friday. That's today. This is according to Reuters and The Associated Press, to protest over what it said was illegal entry of the British naval personnel into Iranian waters.

So let's get the very latest now from Aneesh Raman. Aneesh Raman is there.

Now, Aneesh, the Brits -- let's talk about that situation in the Persian Gulf today. What can you tell us about that?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, we had been waiting all morning, into the afternoon, from some reaction from the Iranian government. Just moments ago on Iranian state-run television, sourcing foreign ministry officials, the government is confirming that a number of British military personnel were arrested today after, in Iran's view, they crossed illegally into Iranian waters.

There was no mention of how many British personnel were taken, where they are being held or for how long they will be held. Again, according to Iran state-run television, the British charge d'affairs in Tehran, the ambassador out of the country, was summoned to the foreign minister to meet with officials there. Iranians have rejected so far the British explanation as to how this took place.

They have told, we understand that envoy, that this should not happen again. They also, in terms of the news that was broadcast on Iranian television, have made reference to the fact that this has happened before. They didn't specifically say it, but clearly it would seem that they're referencing what happened in June 2004, when eight British military personnel were seized by Iran. At the time Iran said they had crossed into Iranian waters. The British contended then as they do now that they were in Iraqi waters in terms of the time frame to give some context back then, the military personnel were held for three days. During that time, chilling images of them were broadcast on Iranian TV blindfolded, and still that dispute remains, Iran saying they had crossed into Iranian waters. So again there are a number of answers that we're still waiting to hear from the Iranian government, but it was just broadcast, all of this information just moments ago on Iranian state-run television. Don?

LEMON: Aneesh Raman on the ground in Tehran, any more developments happen, he'll bring them to us right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. Thank you so much Aneesh.

KEILAR: Well we know the pet food recall has many of you worried about your furry little family member. So the veterinarian to the (INAUDIBLE) is going to join us live in the 2:00 eastern hour to answer all of your concerns. E-mail your questions to and we'll answer them for you here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


LEMON: Hello, I'm Don Lemon live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.

KEILAR: And I'm Brianna Keilar in for Kyra Phillips.

More than a dozen pet deaths, a huge recall, a class action lawsuit and today word that lethal pet food was tainted with rat poison. We're going to have more on the investigation and talk to a vet about what you can feed your pets. You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Sixteen dead pets, thousands of terrified owners, now investigators think they're a big step closer to solving the case of the tainted dog and cat food. And CNN's Alina Cho staying late for us today to work on this story out of New York. Hi there Alina.

ALINA CHO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there Brianna. You know this recall is exactly a week old and today for the first time we're hearing about the potential source of the contamination. In very simple terms, rat poison was found in cat food samples of Menu Foods products. Now, Menu Foods, you'll recall, is the manufacturer of the nearly 100 brands of dog and cat food that was recalled last week. This is a massive recall, 60 million cans and pouches in all. Pet owners are understandably outraged and some of them are now taking action.


CHO (voice-over): Two-year-old Princess a 90-pound bull mastiff was always healthy. So when owner Sandy Bobb found her usually feisty dog suddenly sedate, she started to worry.

SANDY BOBB, SUING PET FOOD MANUFACTERER: She was at the bottom of my basement stairs, just laid out, with her nose in a corner. I said, this isn't right.

CHO: Her husband immediately took Princess to the vet.

BOBB: He kept saying, do you think she could have eaten anything? He goes, it's toxic. Everything is coming up toxic.

CHO: The next day Princess's kidneys failed and she died. The Bobb family was stunned. So was Jackie Johnson, her cat Gumby got sick a month ago.

JACKIE JOHNSON, CAT OWNER: She immediately vomited, which is not usual. And during the week she progressively got worse.

CHO: Gumby, like Princess, was diagnosed with kidney failure but the 14-year-old cat survived and a month later is still on an IV. Johnson gave Gumby IAMS brand select bites, Bobb fed Princess Natural Choice Pouches. Two of the 95 brands of cuts and gravy styled dog and cat food recalled last week. Sixty million cans and pouches in all. While pet owners everywhere are worried, Johnson and Bobb are taking action, both have filed lawsuits against manufacturer Menu Foods. The company would not comment on the lawsuits.

BOBB: Sick to my stomach at how a company like that could, you know, where is their quality control, how does something like this happen?

CHO: Investigators believe the source of the contamination is rat poison, found in samples of cat food that were lab tested.

PATRICK HOOKER, N.Y. STATE AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER: The New York State Food Laboratory identified aminopterin, which is a toxic chemical that has been identified as a rodenticide, although it is not registered in the United States. In cat food samples from menu foods.

CHO: Menu Foods has temporarily shut down a plant in Kansas in response to the recall. Veterinarian Kathy Langston, who's treated a dozen cases linked to the recall, including Bunky, says she's never seen anything like this.

DR. CATHY LANGSTON, THE ANIMAL MEDICAL CENTER: I'll admit that I was almost crying as I walked home last night thinking about all the animals that are effected by this.

JOHNSON: The goal is not retribution, per se, it's justice. We need to find out what happened.


CHO: Now Menu Foods for its part would not comment on this latest development, at least not for now, but the company's president and CEO will be leading a news conference at 4:00 p.m. eastern time about 90 minutes from now, that's out of Toronto. The FDA for its part will also be issuing its own statement later today, but Brianna, clearly a lot of people watching this story very, very closely, especially when you consider this, 60 percent of all American households have pets, and a lot of those pet owners are clearly very worried about their very own pets in the wake of this recall. Brianna?

KEILAR: Yeah Alina, that's exactly right. You look at the Bobb family and the Johnson family and their pets, and you think you know that could be my cat or dog, so it's so difficult.

CHO: That's absolutely right. And you know a lot of people are so confused because consider this, 95 brands of dog and cat food have been recalled. A lot of people are confused about exactly which states are affected and so forth. But the best advice, because I've gone to the Web site, is go to the company Web site, that's And there's really a lot of good information there. If you have any more questions you can recall the number there on the Web site as well. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right thanks Alina Cho, live for us in New York. And you can also see a complete list of the recalled pet foods at We'll get you there so you can see all of the brands and the product details.

Also Dr. Jeffrey Werber veterinarian to the stars' pets is going to take your questions about the pet food scare in just a few minutes.

LEMON: Well he was one of the first to publicly offer his support to Elizabeth Edwards after she told the world about her cancer recurrence. Well today White House Press Secretary Tony Snow made his own health announcement. Snow says test have found a growth in his abdomen and he plans to have it removed.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: In a recent series of CAT scans and PET Scans and MRI's, we have found a small growth in my lower abdomen. Blood tests are negative, PET scans are negative, but out of an aggressive sense of caution, I'm going to go in for surgery on Monday and have it removed. I'll be out for a few weeks, because it still -- you know, they're going to cut me. It will take me a little while to heal up so I'll come back here a little lighter. In I don't know, a few weeks, maybe three or four weeks.


LEMON: He appears to have a good attitude about it. Snow was treated for colon cancer in 2005 before he joined the White House staff. He's asking reporters not to leap to conclusions about the growth, because, in his words, we don't know what this is.

A day after announcing she's again battling cancer, Elizabeth Edwards plans to accompany her husband John as he campaigns for president out west. Several private campaign receptions are scheduled today in California. Mrs. Edwards also plans to be with her husband tomorrow in Las Vegas. She's scheduled to speak at the City Club of Cleveland on Monday.

KEILAR: Well, states sued big tobacco and big tobacco coughed up billions. So what happened to all of that money?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Most states have taken their money, forgot about what the fight was about and spent it on highways or a bad deficit that they might have or something else.


KEILAR: Things like golf courses? Ahead in the NEWSROOM a story that's going to have you fuming.


LEMON: It is a case of kids, tobacco, and billions of dollars. For almost a decade now, cigarette makers have paid out vast sums to help states treat sick smokers and to try to keep kids from lighting up. But a lot of states are having trouble keeping their hands off all that cash. Our investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has been looking into this and I'm sure you uncovered a lot Drew, otherwise we wouldn't have you here. So what do you have for us?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Other groups have uncovered a lot too. You look at all the money, this $246 billion gift that keeps on giving year after year Don, the money that the states supposedly were going to use to spend on treating victims of cancer, but especially on stopping people from smoking, they just can't do it. Less than 3 percent of that money year after year is spent on what some people say it should be used for.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I do.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): It was one of the biggest legal battles in history, big tobacco against just about every state in the nation. And these two men were on opposite sides. Haley Barber, a Republican operative, was lobbying Congress for the tobacco companies. Mike Moore, then Mississippi's Democratic attorney general, was leading the nation's attorneys general in the fight against big tobacco. In the end, Moore won and the tobacco companies lost. Cigarette makers agreed to pay the states a total of $246 billion over 25 years. Just part of the cost of treating people for tobacco-related illnesses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So what we thought is, could we recover some money to try to help repay that cost but also take a portion of the money and prevent young people from ever smoking in the first place.

GRIFFIN: But instead of spending the money on preventing and treating tobacco addiction, most states, according to the non-profit Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, spent it on regular bills. Jumping the money year after year into their general funds. Some states even used the money for pet projects, sprinklers for a golf course in New York, college scholarships in Michigan, a horse park in North Carolina.

One state that year after year has used some of the money to fight tobacco use was Mississippi. Now that former tobacco lobbyist is Mississippi's governor and he wants to change how his state spends its tobacco money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, raise your hand if you know what the word addicted means.


LEMON: All right, so it looks like you focus a lot here on Mississippi and -- because you talked about the governor there. Why the big focus in Mississippi?

GRIFFIN: Mississippi was the first state to settle with tobacco. A separate settlement that said they were going to set aside money to fight tobacco, a specific amount Don and year after year they did it, $20 million. And guess what, smoking went down, down, down in Mississippi. Comes in the new governor, he's got a new plan. The new governor is the same tobacco lobbyist that was fighting on the other side the last time and you can imagine what happened. Right now the anti-smoking program in Mississippi at this moment is in turmoil.

LEMON: So I guess, what's the bottom line on all of this? Is it -- because that money, after all of this happened, it should have been earmarked for certain programs in certain areas. Is the bottom line, get it in writing?

GRIFFIN: The bottom line is definitely get it in writing. Mike Moore, the guy who led the charge back when he was attorney general, says all the states swore to me this is what they would do with the money, that they would use it for the right reasons. He told me just a few weeks ago, boy, they lied to us, we should have got that in writing. And he blames his own state too, because without that in writing, without that letter of the law, these states have done what politicians do, they get their hands on that money and they great ideas for it, everybody wants to put it in their district.

LEMON: Yeah, everybody needs the money. Like they say, everybody has their hands out, right, there you go. Blogging about this, because I know you blog a lot?

GRIFFIN: I did blog on it. You know we're fighting with Anderson Cooper, he's in Thailand, wrestling with elephants, man, he has some great blogs going all week long. But you can get the blog at "AC 360". I'm not sure if I will make it today, but check out Anderson's got great stuff.

LEMON: Hey, I'm sure the reaction that you'll get from this, you'll eventually get that blog up. So thank you Drew Griffin and as Drew said, you can see all of this entire report on "AC 360," 10:00 p.m. eastern, right here on CNN, don't miss it. Thanks Drew. Brianna?

KEILAR: Dozens of brands suspected, millions of cases recalled, is any pet food safe? Go ahead and e-mail your questions for our guest veterinarian, Dr. Jeffrey Werber will join us live here in the CNN NEWSROOM.


KEILAR: For most of us, cats and dogs they aren't just pets, of course they're part of the family. So news of potentially deadly pet food has meant sleepless nights and even countless calls to vets. So we'd like to address some of your questions now about this recall. Joining me now from Los Angeles is Dr. Jeffrey Werber, veterinarian to Lassie and other celebrity pets. Thanks Dr. Werber for being with us.


KEILAR: So I want to get to our e-mails first because a lot of people have written in with questions. Mary Ann wants to know, "Approximately how long would it take for symptoms to show up in a cat that has eaten the tainted food?"

WERBER: What's interesting is we don't really know exactly. I would say people should be very cautious for at least a few weeks, up to three weeks before an incident. I did have one incident, fortunately it wasn't that bad and the food was fed three weeks ago and it was a temporary, they normally didn't feed the food. What I'm finding is there a lot more people or dogs and cats that have been given this food than there are incidents of problems.

KEILAR: OK and actually this next question is something that I was really curious about, Sy asks, "My dog had two cans over a period of four days a couple of weeks ago and she had symptoms before the recall but appears to be getting better. Should she still be seen by a vet?" Because obviously Dr. Werber, maybe some of these animals, this isn't the only thing they're eating.

WERBER: I would absolutely say that Sy should bring his pet into the veterinarian, however, this is exactly what I'm seeing more than anything, they seem to be getting better on their own, they go for several days of just not doing quite well, a little bit off of food, maybe drinking a little bit more. And the dogs and cats that I have checked fortunately have been in good shape, but we do see that they oftentimes seem to be getting better on their own, and again with the number of possible cases and possible pets exposed, it is rather surprising that relatively so few have had the really severe reactions.

KEILAR: All right, well I guess that's good news that there are so few. Kathy wrote in, she wants to know, "Is no dry dog food affected? Is it a different manufacturing plant than the wet food? She said this is very important because our dogs are our fury children," which is the case with many people.

WERBER: And yes, I agree with Kathy, our pets are our children. We have eight at home, but yes, we have found that so far, no link to dry food, that the plant, the Menu Foods manufactures only the moist foods and a lot of the gravies, and none of these manufacturers including Nutro, including the Hills and the IAMS that do have potentially wet food, canned foods affected have their dry food made at this plant by Menu. So dry foods, as we know so far, are safe.

KEILAR: OK, dry foods safe. And Next Jeanine wrote in asking, she wants to know, "My dog ate the canned food that was recalled. He vomited once on Tuesday so the vet tested him for kidney problems. On Wednesday the tests came back normal. Can the rat poison have any long lasting affects that I need to be concerned about?" Doctor?

WERBER: Now, this particular poison, it's aminoterin, it's not approved for use in the United States. We do know very little about it, other than it has been used, actually in the '50s and '60s as an anti-cancer drug. They found that it did have some affects on birth defects noted. Also used to treat leukemia. We do not use it as a food additive. However in Asia, in some countries, it is still used as a food additive, and therein may lie the problem, because they found that this particular batch of the wheat gluten may have come from China. I would say that we should be cautious. I also have found many of our pets did not have severe incidence of kidney problems, did not have elevated kidney enzymes, but I would be very cautious, obviously stay away from those foods, and possibly in a few weeks have your pets rechecked to see if there are any changes in those kidney values.

KEILAR: Thank you, Dr. Werber so much for taking the time because these pets they really are part of our families and these are questions that are just really important to get answered. They mean so much to us. Thank you.

WERBER: I'm glad I could help and thanks for having me, and yes, they are part of our families.

LEMON: This one is not a pet. Playful one minute, they can be dangerous the next. Check this out. Anderson Cooper's extreme encounter with an elephant. You don't want to miss that, next in the NEWSROOM.



© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines