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General Petraeus Seeks Iraq Funding Bill Without Withdrawal Deadline; Texas Tornado Kills at Least Seven; Blue Angel Honored; Rove Under Investigation

Aired April 25, 2007 - 15:00   ET


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Suzanne Malveaux, in for Kyra Phillips.

America's top general in Iraq starts a tour of duty in Washington. General David Petraeus heads from the House to the Senate to push lawmakers for more money and less talk of timetables.

LEMON: And shell shock along the Texas-Mexico border, after a deadly tornado. We are live in the center of the search-and-rescue efforts in Eagle Pass, Texas.

You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And severe weather tops our news this hour, twisted metal, collapsed buildings, shattered dreams. A tornado ripped through the border city of Eagle Pass, Texas, overnight. It killed at least seven people. Five were from one family whose mobile home was pick up and slammed into a nearby school.

And, just across the Mexican border, in Piedras Negras, more deaths, more destruction. Three people were killed by the same storm, almost 90 others hurt; 300 homes were damaged there.

More stormy times are in the forecast today. Folks from Houston to Saint Louis are bracing for everything from downpours to possible tornadoes.

And tracking it all for us, CNN's Jacqui Jeras in the Severe Weather Center -- Jacqui.

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Don, we just got a new tornado watch that was issued that includes northern parts of Louisiana and much of southern Mississippi, including the Jackson metro area.

So, these strong thunderstorms developing in this region right here, across I-49, intensifying -- if any of these pull out ahead of that main line, we could start to see some rotation. So, that's something we are going to be watching very closely.

But today's severe weather is very different from what was happening yesterday. Yesterday was the day when we had those big supercell type of thunderstorms. And I want to show you the satellite picture here from yesterday, and watch in this area right here. We went from almost nothing to a huge explosion of an isolated supercell.

Watch as this thing gets larger and it crosses over the Rio. This is the approximate time of the touchdown, right about there. And notice that it gets dark. And that's because this is what we call a visible satellite. You actually have the sunshine to reflect off the clouds to be able to see that image. So, that's why it fades away, but you can kind of see this little bumpy area right in there. That's what we call the overshooting top of the big tall part of the thunderstorm -- so very near where that tornado was.

Let's go ahead and go back to the map and show you where we are expecting some of the heaviest thunderstorms at this hour. They are just crossing out of Texas, moving into western parts of Louisiana. And flooding also a big issue, guys, on the northern part of this storm in Iowa -- Doppler radar estimating between eight and 10 inches of rainfall between Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Denison, Iowa -- so a lot of the rivers starting to fill up and come out of their banks. That could be a big story over the next couple of days.

LEMON: And that system just pushing -- pushing the water ahead of it, right? Is that what happens?

JERAS: Everything is continuing to push on out to the east.


JERAS: And the one good thing about this, Don, is that this is going to bring some drought relief a little bit to some folks in the Southeast.

LEMON: All right. Thank you very much, Jacqui. We will check back with you.

MALVEAUX: And, don, we have seen amazing destruction from tornadoes, but there are some who actually chase these tornadoes. Few of us do it on purpose. But those who do, they would not do anything else.

Our CNN's Reynolds Wolf set out with a chase team in Kansas.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There we go. That's what we're looking for.

REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): We followed tornado chaser Scott Ganson (ph) and Andrew Onaker (ph) nearly 400 miles, from Oklahoma City to outside Wichita, Kansas, to meet the storm.


WOLF (on camera): And what we are going to do is just get right behind it and look to the northeast, and hopefully get a good shot of the funnel. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Well, we have got a confirmed tornado on the ground. Even though the condensation funnel hasn't made contact, you can still see the condensation on one side, the debris on the bottom. And that is what is considered a tornado. And, in tornadoes, it's the debris that is the big killer.

Now we are going into a chaser traffic jam, where you have everybody who's been trying to chase this storm all day.

We got two tornadoes right now. We see two tornadoes right now, just the debris, one forming to the left. You will see another one forming to the right, just beyond a tree that you see on the horizon.

We have seen five tornadoes today. That's our fifth one, the fifth one we have seen. You hit the jackpot, man.

And, just as quickly as it formed, it all melted away, just another sign of the beauty and the mystery of these incredible storms.

Near Nickerson, Kansas, Reynolds Wolf, CNN.


LEMON: All right, Reynolds.

LEMON: Dollars without deadlines, that's what the top U.S. commander in Iraq is fighting for right now on Capitol Hill.

But Democrats are dead set on giving David Petraeus a war chest with a major string attached.

Our Barbara Starr is watching it all unfold at the Pentagon -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, General David Petraeus is now on Capitol Hill, arrived a little while ago, is moving from the House to the Senate side, talking to members of Congress.

And, as you say, what he wants is no deadlines, no timetables for troop withdrawal from Iraq. And he wants that supplemental war funding. But these briefings, these closed-door, secret briefings for members of Congress, are pretty unusual. They are different than when we usually see these open public hearings, the public testimony.

The doors will be shut. The material will be classified. General Petraeus is going to make a very brief opening presentation, and, then, on both sides of the Hill, spend about 90 minutes, we are told, taking questions from members of Congress. The feeling is, with no TV cameras there, nobody playing to the cameras, nobody playing to the news media, they will get down to business, and there will be a lot of tough questions and answers back and forth.

General Petraeus is expected, throughout this series of meetings , today to lay out the basic security situation as it now stands. In Baghdad, where there are more U.S. troops on the ground, the violence is receding. They are seeing progress there.

Out in the west, Al Anbar Province, the so-called Sunni Triangle, violence is down there -- the people, by all accounts, the Iraqi people who live there, getting pretty sick and tired of the attacks, and beginning to make some efforts towards real progress, but a lot of challenges, to say the least -- in Diyala Province, along the eastern border with Iran, a very serious uptick in violence there.

Of course, just a day or so ago, we saw that suicide car bomb attack that killed nine U.S. troops. And it is suicide car bomb attacks, Don, that now, commanders say, are one of the major threats in the country.

This comes at a very tough time for General Petraeus, because April now has shaped up as the deadliest month of the year for the troops in Iraq -- Don.

LEMON: And, Barbara, I have got a question for you. John Negroponte -- why was John Negroponte there?

STARR: Well, you know, it may be Mr. Negroponte's questions and answers that will be the most interesting behind the scenes.

As the deputy secretary of stat state, he is going to talk about reconstruction, building, political progress, oil-sharing, all of the other efforts, all of the non-military efforts.

What General Petraeus has been saying is, that's the stuff that's needed to make real progress in Iraq, that the war will certainly not be won militarily, so they need the State Department effort -- a lot of people saying, OK, we have the troop surge now, but where is the State Department surge?

So, Mr. Negroponte is certainly expected to get a very -- a lot of very tough questions, because the U.S. troops won't be able to come home, the military says, until that other non-military political progress is made -- Don.

LEMON: CNN's Barbara Starr at the Pentagon -- thank you so much for that, Barbara.

They sacrificed their lives, and their deaths now being ignored -- are they being ignored? Yes, says U.S. Army sergeant Jim Wilt at Bagram military base in Afghanistan. In a rare opinion piece issued by the Bagram public affairs officer, Wilt writes that, when a service member is killed, flags should be lowered to half-staff at the base where the soldier was working and in his or her home state. Well, Wilt notes that Bagram lowered its flags to mourn the victims of the Virginia Tech massacre, but he says the death of a soldier is devalued by sheer volume.

Wilt writes: "It is a daily occurrence these days to see X number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq or Afghanistan scrolling across the ticker at the bottom of the TV screen. People have come to expect the casualty counts in the nightly news."

MALVEAUX: He chain-locked three public entrances to a classroom building from the inside. And, then, for nine minutes, Cho Seung-Hui fired at least 170 rounds, leaving more than 50 fellow students and teachers dead or wounded.

We heard lots of new details today when investigators talked to reporters about the April 16 campus massacre at Virginia Tech. We can now tell you they found live ammunition near Cho's dead body. Witnesses place Cho outside West Ambler Johnston dorm just before the first shooting, around 7:00 a.m.

And there are no known links thus far between Cho and any of his victims.


WENDELL FLINCHUM, VIRGINIA TECH POLICE CHIEF: The gunman was found by officers in a classroom among his victims. A .9-millimeter handgun and a .22-caliber handgun were found near his body.

At this stage of investigation, officers have determined that Cho fired more than 170 rounds within Norris Hall. At this time, there's also no evidence to link Cho to the bomb threats made on the campus in the weeks prior to the April 16 shootings.

COLONEL STEVEN FLAHERTY, SUPERINTENDENT, VIRGINIA STATE POLICE: At this point in time in the investigation, there is no link, in our evidence at this particular point in time, that links Cho to his first victims, either of his first victims.

We are still continuing to pursue leads, look at evidence, and pursue this particular issue. Witnesses do place Cho outside of West Ambler Johnston Hall just prior to 7:00 on Monday morning, near one of the entrances. Evidence also indicates that he returned to his residence hall some time after the first shooting.

The videos mailed to NBC later that same morning, we know now, were made prior to April 16, and not during the period of time between the first shooting incident and the second shooting incident.

Ballistics tests that were conducted by the ATF lab in Maryland confirm for us that the .9-millimeter handgun that was used in Norris Hall was also used in the first shooting event.


MALVEAUX: And police say they have processed more than 500 pieces of evidence just from Norris Hall, and the investigation is far from over.

LEMON: New York State Police have a suspected cop killer surrounded at a rural farmhouse near the town of Margaretville in New York. Now, they have identified the man as 23-year-old Travis Trim. Trim allegedly began his shooting spree yesterday, when an officer approached him as he sat in his car. The trooper was wearing body armor and wasn't seriously hurt.

Then, today, as a manhunt closed in, police say Trim shot two more troopers, one of them fatally.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were so close, 10 feet away. I mean, if we left a second earlier or walked a little faster, we would have been right behind the cop. So, it's pretty -- pretty nerve-wracking to know that something like this is happening here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everywhere, it's just cop cars all over the place. We drove by the -- the fire hall, and it's just, you know, 60 cop cars just parked all along the streets.


LEMON: And we are staying on top of the standoff and will bring you all the latest developments as they happen.

MALVEAUX: In southwest Texas, a tornado ripped through the border city of Eagle Pass. Border Patrol agents and National Guard troops are helping search-and-rescue.

Our own CNN's Ed Lavandera is joining us from Eagle Pass.

Ed, we understand that the governor is going to be talking about this very shortly, trying to give the latest details on the extent of the damage.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. And he will also be meeting with city and county officials here just outside of Eagle Pass, who are already requesting that this area that has been leveled by this tornado be classified as a disaster area, where -- this is just one of the 20 or so homes that were leveled by this -- home.

This is actually a living room here that you are looking at. These two walls right here essentially blown apart, as well as the roof blown off this house. We can see over here, on the wall over here, the -- where search crews have come over here and marked that this house has been cleared out.

We have seen this in various homes around this area as well. And we understand that search teams continue going through this 1,500-acre area, looking at all the homes that have been destroyed, making sure that there still aren't people trapped in the rubble or that there aren't people who were killed by the storm in there as well.

Seven people here in the town just south of Eagle Pass were killed by this tornado. Five of them in one time were inside of a mobile home. It was picked up and tossed about 150 yards, up against a school. Those five people were killed there.

The tornado continued southward, into Mexico, where another three people were killed. So, in all, 10 people killed by this storm that touched down here about 7:00 last night. Many of the folks around here outside of siren warning range only had the warnings come over their cable television.

So, many of them did not have adequate time to get ready for this storm. So, there are about 350 people who will be living in shelters here tonight on the U.S. side. They have been left homeless by this storm, as search teams and crews continue to work through these areas and through these neighborhoods, trying to clean up whatever they can.

MALVEAUX: Ed, a familiar sight, almost. You look at the -- the devastation, almost looks like Hurricane Katrina in some ways.

Ed Lavandera in Eagle Pass, Texas, thanks again. We are looking forward to the -- getting some more details from the governor.

LEMON: In the Republican race for the White House, one of the top contenders, well, he makes it official today. You will hear from him straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.

MALVEAUX: And floating forecasters -- hurricane trackers send buoys to do a meteorologist's job. Where are the buoys now? -- coming up in the CNN NEWSROOM.


MALVEAUX: It's 18 past the hour. Here are three stories we are working on here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice facing a compelling call from Congress. A House committee has approved a subpoena to find out what Rice knew about the Bush administration's prewar statement that Iraq had tried to get uranium from Africa.

A manhunt in Upstate New York turns deadly for state troopers. One was killed and another wounded today as they closed in on their man. He's also suspected of wounding a third trooper yesterday.

Sinister and deadly, that is how a Los Angeles prosecutor describes Phil Spector. Opening statements are under way in the legendary music producer's murder trial in Los Angeles. Spector is accused of shooting an actress at his mansion four years ago.

LEMON: The awesome destructive power of Hurricane Katrina, well, it reminded us just how crucial it is to know as much as possible before a hurricane hits.

Now, forecasters are in the process of beefing up their early warning system with a series of buoys off the coast of Puerto Rico.

CNN meteorologist Jacqui Jeras following other weather news for us and this new news as well.

This is very interesting, Jacqui.

JERAS: Yes, it really is. And it's very exciting.

And, you know, it's hard to believe that hurricane season is just over a month away, yes, June 1. May 1 is, what, just a few days away.


JERAS: So, it is certainly arriving.

Now, on Monday, NOAA installed two new buoys. They're off the coast of Puerto Rico, one to the north and one to the south. And these are hurricane buoys, as opposed to regular type buoys. And the main difference is, is that these have an internal backup system. So, if a hurricane blows over and wipes it out, it should be able to pull itself back up.

Now, buoys provide all kinds of information. They provide wind speed, wave conditions, barometric pressure, the speed -- or the temperature of the water, and also the temperature of the air. And that's really critical, because we used to only have remote sensing, satellites and radar. So, we would get an estimate of what's going on out there.

And now we have exact information in these locations. And this is an area of the world where hurricanes develop all the time. So, this is really going to be helping them out.

I want to show you on the map some of the buoys that we have here, owned by NOAA, across the U.S. There, you can see them into the Gulf area, also across the Atlantic, and there are just a couple in the Caribbean.

Here are the locations of the two new buoys. And we don't have them put in our weather system yet, because they're so new. They might even calibrating them right now. But I will take a different one just off to the west.

And I am going to show you how we can query the information. There you can see meteorologist Dave Hennen pulling that up for us. And there we can see the buoy number. We can get the temperature there. The air temperature there is 83 degrees, winds coming out of the east. The wave heights are eight feet. And check out the water temperature, guys, 82 degrees. That is extremely warm already for this time of the year.

All you need is 80-degree water temperatures in order to get a hurricane sustained.


JERAS: So, things are going to be kicking up. It's expected to be a busy hurricane season. Of course, the CNN hurricane headquarters, we will be here to keep you covered. LEMON: Yes, good temperature to swim in, but not good weather wise.

Just -- you know me. I'm not -- I don't know all these things. All that information inside, wrapped inside of those buoys, and then you get -- it's like a little satellite, right?

JERAS: It's like a little weather observing system, yes..

LEMON: Yes. All right, Jacqui Jeras.

You learn something new every day.


LEMON: Thank you so much.

JERAS: Sure.

MALVEAUX: I'm learning a lot, too.



MALVEAUX: Well, in the Republican race for the White House, one of the top contenders makes it official today. You will hear him ahead in the NEWSROOM.


MALVEAUX: It's been a one-way ride for the Dow Jones industrials today. It is up, up and away, a new milestone for the most closely watched stock index.

Of course, our Susan Lisovicz at the New York Stock Exchange to tell us about the Dow 13000.

Up, up and away, huh, Susan?


And it's been that trend we have seen for about three weeks running now. Just two months after the Dow plunged 416 points, the blue chip average is now well above a new threshold, 13000. And, ironically, that big drop in February was partly due to a decline in durable goods orders.

Today, it's those big-ticket items, from toasters to airplanes, that are helping to power the market higher. One of the big concerns on Wall Street, inflation, but, an hour ago, the Federal Reserve said, in its report on regional economic activity, that inflation appeared to be under control and that most parts of the country are growing at a moderate rate.

Roll that in with some big gains from Alcoa, IBM and ExxonMobil, and you have got yourself a Dow record, and not only that -- triple- digit gains for the Dow Jones industrials. This rally is gaining strength, not weakening, as we get closer to the closing bell -- the Dow right now up 1 percent. The Nasdaq composite, meanwhile, is up 23 points, also 1 percent -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: So, millions of us invest in the stock market through our 401(k), for the plan. I mean, what can you tell us for retirement? But we are not always reading the fine print when we hand over our money.

LISOVICZ: That's right, Suzanne.

I mean, that's -- a lot of us invest in the stock market passively, in that, you know, we have our retirement programs, the 401(k). And not reading the fine print can cost you money, because it usually talks about fees.

A government report shows that 80 percent of people who invest in a 401(k) plan don't really know how much they're paying in fees. Those fees add up and can make a dent in your retirement account.

Under current law, fees do not have to be fully disclosed. But the Labor Department is looking to change that. And it's asking for a little help directly from investors. Starting today, you can e-mail your ideas on how to improve disclosure rules to the address at the bottom of your screen. It may be well worth your time to weigh in on that.

Coming up, talking about weight and weighty, Dow 13000, it's in the rearview mirror now, as the blue chips continue their climb. Where will they finish? I will be back for the closing bell in about 30 minutes -- Don and Suzanne, in the meantime, back to you.

MALVEAUX: Good to know. We have got that e-mail on the screen there, that -- that e-mail address.

LEMON: All right.

At least 10 people are dead already. Will today bring more casualties? Ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM, we will take you to Eagle Pass, Texas, for an update.


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

MALVEAUX: And I'm Suzanne Malveaux, in for Kyra Phillips.

New pictures are coming in from Eagle Pass, Texas, stunning proof of a tornado's deadly power. We've got the latest on search and rescue efforts.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

LEMON: Search and rescue in high gear along the Texas-Mexico border. That's where tornadoes took aim overnight, killing at least 10 people and devastating two border cities.

Judge Jose Aranda is on the phone with us from Eagle Pass, Texas.

And I understand, Judge, you are one of the few county officials there who can help coordinate the response to all of this.

What are you working on now?


Yes, we pretty much are getting through with all the search and rescue work. And at this time, I guess the positive results of that is that no more bodies or injured people were found.

The total number was seven, with one person that had been transported to the hospital dying early this morning. There's about 80 people that had -- were taken to the hospital, and at this point now we are getting ready to do the assessment of the entire area and identify exactly how much of a loss it is.

LEMON: So you said earlier you were looking to make sure that you didn't find any other people inside of the debris or found among the debris, and so far you have turned up nothing and don't believe that you're going to turn up any more, correct?

ARANDA: Exactly.


ARANDA: So now we go to the next step, and one of those things we did since last night was asked Governor Rick Perry to declare a disaster area, a statewide disaster area. And we're on our way right now to pick up Governor Perry at the airport, and we're also asking that this be designated also as a federal disaster area.

LEMON: OK. Thank you for making news right here in the CNN NEWSROOM. You're going the ask that this be declared a federal disaster area. And again, I guess the governor is coming to tour the devastation, correct?

ARANDA: Yes, that's correct.


What are you doing now? Because we're looking at this video and it just looks like these buildings are demolished. I'm sure a lot of people don't have places to live, don't have places to go. What are you doing to help them out?

ARANDA: Well, we do have a couple of shelters. We have about 350 people in shelters. And we're pushing forward to making sure that we can clear the areas for those people and they can come back into their homes. And that by that, we relieve the pressure on the shelters and so forth.

LEMON: Yes. So, no power, I would imagine there? ARANDA: No power.

LEMON: Very few services available, right?

ARANDA: Well, the water -- water services and wastewater in the area that you have, wastewater services, are intact. There is no electrical power, and that should be coming on sometime later today.

LEMON: Are you on your way to the airport now? It sounds like you are in a car, correct?

ARANDA: Yes, I am.

LEMON: Yes. You're going to pick up the governor.


LEMON: Yes. All right.

Jose Aranda, who is a judge in Eagle Pass, Texas. So much devastation happening there.

We're so sorry for your loss. We wish you the very best. But again, thank you, sir, for joining us.

ARANDA: Thank you, Don. I appreciate your call.

LEMON: And again, he is making news here that Governor Rick Perry has been asked by the officials there to declare this a federal disaster area so that they can get some federal money to help out there. And he's also on his way.

MALVEAUX: And of course, we are looking at new pictures just coming in here now. These are members of the Blue Angels. The body of Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis heading home to Pensacola this morning.

Remembering, of course, that fallen angel. The Blue Angels say that the body of the pilot who crashed on Saturday, as we know, during that air show in South Carolina will be flown to Pensacola aboard what is called the Fat Albert, the Blue Angels C-130 transport plane this afternoon.

Members of the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron will be presenting full military honors. And, of course, the family of this fallen angel is asking that in lieu of flowers, that donations be made to the Make a Wish Foundation in honor of Blue Angel Number 6, Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis. And you see here members of the Blue Angels lining up and ready to receive the coffin.

LEMON: Yes. And Suzanne, we're looking at all of this unfolding right now. This is happening live.

It was just a sad story that we followed all weekend here on CNN. They were doing what is called the diamond formation at an air show in Buford, South Carolina, when this very devastating crash happened. This is all happening now. And as Suzanne just told you, this is the body of that fallen Blue Angel, or as they are calling him, a fallen angel.

It's going to be taken off of that plane. I would imagine -- yes, taken off very soon at his home town here.

When something like this happens, every member of the armed services and every member of a service organization really pulls together to make sure that these folks are honored in the way that they should be honored. Many peel who take part in these things who are part of the Blue Angels and part of organizations like this have extensive military service and extensive military training. And many of them have gone off to war, so they deserve every bit of pomp and circumstance that is befitting to them.

And we're just going to watch a little bit. I'm not sure if we have any sound here. I'm going to shut up for a second and just -- to honor this person and take a listen.

Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis is headed home to Pensacola this morning, and that's where this is all happening. His body being carried from South Carolina, flown to Pensacola aboard Fat Albert, which is the Blue Angels' C-130 transport plane.

Obviously a very sad day, not only for the members of the armed services, members of the military, but also for the United States here. This is a man who served his country.

MALVEAUX: And a devastating loss for his family. It was really quite shocking to see over the weekend the kind of pictures that we saw just because of the number of hours of training that's involved in becoming a Blue Angel and really in serving one's country in that way.

LEMON: It's really -- it's -- when you serve in the Blue Angels, that's quite a distinction.

OK. You know, it's a really sad moment here. And you see all of that unfolding, Suzanne, and full military honors there for this man who really deserves it.

MALVEAUX: You have to feel for his family.

LEMON: Absolutely.

Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis. I'm sure more -- we will learn more about when the services are going to be held for him, and we'll bring it to you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.

But again, as Suzanne pointed out, and I think this is very important, in lieu of flowers -- because I'm sure a lot of folks will be touched by this around the country -- his family is asking that donations be made to the Make a Wish Foundation in honor of Lieutenant Commander Kevin Davis.

We'll move on now. MALVEAUX: In another story, winning the war and fighting for funding without conditions. Twin missions today for General David Petraeus. He is the top U.S. commander in Iraq, and he's on Capitol Hill today. He is pushing lawmakers to pay for the war without setting a deadline for pulling troops out.

General Petraeus may come out to speak shortly, and, of course, we'll be monitoring that.

The Democrats are on track to pass a bill that requires troops to start pulling out by October at the latest. So, where does Petraeus go from here? Earlier, I talked with our military analyst, retired General David Grange.


BRIG. GEN. DAVID GRANGE (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Petraeus' job is to provide two main set of conditions for our country and for the Iraqi people -- a safe and secure environment, so quality of life can be established and the Iraqi government can success to some level, and also train the Iraqi army and police forces to a capability that's sufficient to transfer that authority to them, where U.S. forces can come out. And Petraeus is saying, to really see a benchmark of achievement is going to take at least to the summer to measure that, and then overall it's going to take the rest of this year and part of next year.

So, yes, throwing a mark on the wall and what they're saying is probably very close to being the same. But I'm totally personally against setting that mark, because war does not go by time.

MALVEAUX: So, General, so what does Petraeus need to say? What does he need to tell members of Congress today to say, look, hold off, be patient, take this timeline out of the bill, just go straight with funding? How can he convince them?

GRANGE: Look, this is probably the last chance. I think the will of the American people has gone its course much more than another year or two. I mean, it just -- I just -- I think most people feel that way.

And Petraeus knows those two conditions I just described, a safe and secure environment and training Iraqi forces, are preconditions to make this happen. And he's saying, look, we've committed a surge, I've only got part of the surge over there. It's being partly successful in different areas of Baghdad and Anbar province, it's being successful in training these forces. Give me now that time and those resources for success. If you cut me off at the knees now, there's no way, we just might as well go home tomorrow.


MALVEAUX: House leaders are confident that they can pass a war funding bill, withdrawal deadline included, as early as today. The Senate could approve the same bill tomorrow, despite a promised veto from President Bush. LEMON: And still ahead here in the CNN NEWSROOM, the Republican race for the White House. One of the top contenders makes it officials today, and we'll hear from him straight ahead.


MALVEAUX: The architect under the microscope. A little-known federal agency has launched a broad investigation into the long reach of President Bush's top political adviser, Karl Rove.

The Office of Special Counsel wants to know whether Rove illegally inserted partisan political interests into policy matters.

Earlier today on CNN's "AMERICAN MORNING," our own John Roberts spoke with the head of that agency.


JOHN ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: This investigation is taking you inside the Office of Political Affairs, which many people know is run by Karl Rove. What led you in that direction?

SCOTT BLOCH, U.S. SPECIAL COUNSEL: We have several investigations open. We are the exclusive agency that investigates these allegations of illegal political activity and use of official authority to affect elections. We have these allegations concerning the head of the GSA, or the General Services Administration, and that has allegations of a presentation that was put together by the Office of Political Affairs, which may prove to be partisan political activity.

ROBERTS: What's the connection to Rove then?

BLOCH: Well, there is a nexus with the White House office of Political Affairs, and there is a great deal of information in the public domain through congressional investigations and other allegations we've received from individuals that suggest that we need to be looking in that direction and to be asking people in that office about these presentations, as well as use of e-mails and other aspects.

ROBERTS: Has he done anything wrong that you have found out yet?

BLOCH: No, not that we know of.


MALVEAUX: Scott Bloch himself is under investigation. The White House Office of Management and Budget is looking into whether he retaliated against some employees who disagreed with him. He denies any wrongdoing.

LEMON: Well, he's running for months, he's been running for months, but GOP senator John McCain made his campaign for president official today in New Hampshire, whose primary he won seven years ago. McCain told the cheering crowd he's not the youngest candidate, but he is the most experienced.

He took a few jabs at the Bush administration as well, as well as one of his rivals, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When Americans confront a catastrophe, natural or manmade, they have a right to expect basic competence from their government. They won't accept that firemen and policemen are unable to communicate with each other in an emergency because they don't have the same radio frequency. They won't accept the government's failure to deliver bottled water to dehydrated babies, or rescue the infirm from a hospital with no electricity.

They won't accept substandard care and indifference for our wounded veterans.


MCCAIN: That's not good enough for America, and it's not good enough for me.


LEMON: McCain says the country faces formidable challenges, but he's not afraid of them.

Well, McCain enters officially a crowded Republican field in which he's currently running second. Here's the average of several polls conducted this month.

Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani leads the way with 32 percent. McCain trails with 19 percent. And Fred Thompson, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich round out the top five, even though Thompson and Gingrich are still just considering a run.

Is John McCain the Republicans' best hope to hold the White House in '08? Well, Larry King goes one on one with the candidate about his chances. That is tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

MALVEAUX: And showbiz rumor becomes showbiz fact. Rosie is, in fact, moving on. Ahead in the NEWSROOM, details on a big change for "The View".


MALVEAUX: After months of big ratings, big controversy, big bucks, Rosie O'Donnell is leaving "The View". Word first leaked out last night on ABC confirmed it this morning. And straight out of the gate on today's show, Rosie and the gang addressed it.


ROSIE O'DONNELL, "THE VIEW": I have decided that we couldn't come to terms with my deal with ABC, so next year I'm not going to be on "The View".

However, I will be coming back and guest-hosting, I will be doing one-hour specials on autism and depression and stuff that I'm interested in. I'm just not going to do the everyday thing, because we couldn't -- you know, they wanted me three years, I wanted one year.

And then they were like, OK, well what if we did two? I was like -- and it just didn't work. And that's showbiz.

But it's not sad, because I loved it here, and I love you guys. And I'm not going away. I'm just not going to be here every day.



She's not going to go away. And, of course, you could have predicted this next part.

Donald Trump, of course, he weighed in earlier today, saying, "I wasn't surprised. Rosie is basically a loser. I believe ABC wanted her out badly and fast."

Those are his words.

You can get all the Rosie news on "SHOWBIZ TONIGHT" on HEADLINE NEWS.

I think we're going to see a lot more of her.

LEMON: Make it stop! Maybe it will after this.

Time now to check in with CNN's Wolf Blitzer. He's not going anywhere. He's staying right here.

MALVEAUX: Yes. He's standing by in "THE SITUATION ROOM" to tell us what is coming up in the top of the hour -- Wolf.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, guys. Thanks very much.

A deadly chemical bomb attack in Iraq, a controversial wall, and the definition of success. I will talk about all that and more with the top military spokesman in Iraq, Major General William Caldwell.

Also, a stunning claim by a top Taliban commander. Did Osama bin Laden personally plan an assassination attempt on Vice President Dick Cheney?

Plus, Democrats outraged and firing back at Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. Find out what he said, what happened, if a Democrat were to win the White House.

All that coming up right here in "THE SITUATION ROOM".

Back to you. LEMON: Hey, Wolf, you know, it was Malaria Awareness Day, and you're not going to believe this video we have coming up. You have to stay tuned and watch.

BLITZER: All right. I'll watch.

LEMON: All right. We'll watch for you at the top of the hour, too. Thanks, Wolf.

The closing bell and a wrap-up of all the action on Wall Street, plus that video straight ahead.

Stick around.


MALVEAUX: OK. I'm so sorry. OK.



Well, there he is. He's at an anti-malaria event in the Rose Garden, but he got distracted a little bit. He's with the West African Dance Group.

Oh, and who knew? Who knew he could bust a move?

LEMON: How does this compare to the rappin' Rove? What do you think?

MALVEAUX: Well, you know, you get the feeling that they are trying to distract us. Between this and Karl Rove dancing, you get the sense they need us to focus on something else besides all the other bad news.

LEMON: Oh, my gosh. Can we run that back? That is hilarious.

Play that back, please. This is the best video of the day.


MALVEAUX: It's kind of a combination -- I don't know.

LEMON: I can't even talk.

MALVEAUX: "Walk Like an Egyptian," the "Boogie Oogie Oogie".


MALVEAUX: I just think he needs an outlet. I think he needs -- I think he needs an outlet.

LEMON: Oh, my gosh.

MALVEAUX: It's very stressful at the White House. LEMON: It looks like the guy playing them on "The Tonight Show".


MALVEAUX: There you go.



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