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Tobias Resigns in Sex Scandal; More Iraq Violence
Aired April 28, 2007 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: The next hour of THE NEWSROOM is going where none have gone before with Rick Sanchez. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Let's start this hour by taking a look at some of these pictures. They're coming out of Oklahoma. Take a look at this. I mean, this is something we've been following now for the last couple of hours, it's fire and we're being told that it could take days to burn out. So we're going to be staying on top of this.
Also, let's go to Iraq, more than 50 people there are dead. We're told that death toll might climb. This is a suicide bombing now. Now put yourself in the shoes of the people who were there and affected by this, because it happened while they were heading to evening prayers.
And a so-called madam scandal has ensnared a member of the Bush administration. This is a story of intrigue that's coming out of Washington.
Hello again everybody. We're going to bring you the news out of B control here, this is where we often get a lot of feeds that are coming in throughout the course of the evening. I'm Rick Sanchez here to start it off for you. We're going to be taking new pictures that are coming out of Miami.
This is the president of the United States. I think you've been seeing him in the past, there ready to give a commencement speech at the Miami-Dade Community College. It's the one of the largest single city community colleges in the country, by the way. It's all part of the Miami program. We're going to dip in, by the way as soon as it gets started.
This is important, though, this is going on while one of the members of his administration is being dogged by an apparent sex scandal. Deputy secretary of state Randall Tobias is resigning tonight after admitting that he'd been the client of an escort service.
At first blush Tobias' name didn't ring a bell with us, probably not with many of you, as you possibly hear it for the very first time but we have found out, after doing a little bit of digging, that he may be one of the most powerful names in the world of business. Even prior to his job with the Bush administration, and he's always been a huge GOP donor. CNN's Fredricka Whitfield with more.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is the first high profile official to step down in connection with the alleged DC prostitution ring. The State Department's foreign assistance director, Randall Tobias, resigned Friday, a day after he told ABC News he was a client of Pamela Martin and Associate Escort Service.
His private cell phone number appears on a list of thousands handed over to ABC. Tobias said never had sex with any of the women. He says he called the company for a massage.
The company's owner, Deborah Palfrey is charged with federal racketeering and money laundering. She has pleaded not guilty. Palfrey maintains every part of her business was legitimate and legal.
DEBORAH PALFREY, PAMELA MARTIN & ASSOCIATES: No promises or claims directly or indirectly was ever made to a client that he should expect the associate to perform illegal acts for hire.
WHITFIELD: Tobias is the latest and biggest name to be released in connection to Palfrey's business. The 65-year-old Indiana native is a former top business executive of AT&T and Eli Lily and credited with turning the pharmaceutical company around in the 1990s.
He has received numerous awards. At Indiana University, there is a foundation in his name for leadership and excellence. In 2003, President Bush nominated him to lead his global HIV/AIDS initiative.
White house spokesman Tony Frattto said, "We are sad and disappointed by this news. Randy was an extremely effective leader in the fight against HIVA/AIDS at places like Africa and at USAID." Fredricka Whitfield, CNN, Atlanta.
SANCHEZ: Here's the take on this. Tobias had a significant position in business, at the State Department. He was charged as well with the task of dealing with disasters all over the world. He was the head of something called USAID, now this was founded back in 1961. It's an independent federal agency that receives overall foreign policy guidance from the secretary of state, extends assistance to countries recovering from disaster, trying to escape poverty and engaging in the democratic reforms as well.
Tobias becomes the third member of the Bush administration in the last few weeks to have to deal with a difficult ethical snafu. Alberto Gonzales, obviously you've seen a lot of this in the news, accused by members of his own party of being less than honest about who, why, when, where when it comes to the firing of the eight U.S. attorneys. Paul Wolfowitz is accused of setting up work for his girlfriend, while directing the World Bank.
And later in the hour, we're going to talk with Mike Allen, chief political correspondent for "The Politico" and we're going to talk about that, we're going to talk about Tobias and the impact of the latest scandal and what it might have on the political situation in Washington.
Some more awful news us coming out of Iraq this evening. Within the past hour the military announced the deaths of nine more American troops. Four were killed in separate bombings, this is outside of Baghdad. Five troops died yesterday. Three soldiers, two marines all killed in combat in Anbar province. The official U.S. death toll stands at 3,345.
Dozens of Iraqi civilians are dead today as well after a suicide bombing south of Baghdad. The blast went off as Shiite worshippers streamed toward evening prayers in their holy city of Karbala, from Baghdad. Here's CNN's Hugh Riminton.
HUGH RIMINTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was approaching nightfall, half an hour before evening prayers at one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam. A suicide car bomber pulled up at a checkpoint, it was as close as he could get to the shrine of Imam Hussein, the grandson of the Prophet Muhammad. The explosion left sacred ground strewn with the bodies of the dead and the dying. It was two weeks to the day since the last car bombing here killed 44 people and injured scores more.
This time, local hospitals were unable to cope with the casualties. Some of the injured were ferried to neighboring provinces.
Karbala suffered one of the first post-invasion sectarian atrocities, more than 100 killed in March, 2004, when an explosion ripped through pilgrims during Ashura, the holiest of the Shia festivities.
It was the bombing of another sacred Shia site, the golden mosque at Samarra north of Baghdad in February last year, that sparked Iraq's full-throttle descent into a sectarian war.
(on camera): Since then, thousands have died across Iraq. Hundreds of thousands have fled their homes. Entire towns have changed hands between Sunni and Shia.
(on camera): While the Sunni aligned terrorist groups favoring massive suicide bombings, the Shia militias strike back with death squads, every night, leaving bodies to be found across the streets of the major towns.
(voice-over): This latest explosion came just hours after radical Shia cleric and militia leader Muqtada al Sadr taunted U.S. President George W. Bush in a letter read to the Iraqi parliament. "You say there will be chaos if america leaves," he said "how could it be worse than the chaos now?"
Hugh Riminton, CNN, Baghdad.
SANCHEZ: Hugh Riminton, as you probably saw, has been doing some amazing work in Baghdad for us and we'll continue to check in with him from time to time to get a glimpse of what the latest is.
Now later in THE NEWSROOM, mission incomplete, a progress report on the effort to train Iraq's armed forces. We're going to try to find out what's taking so long from CNN military analyst General David Grange.
You're looking at live pictures now of President Bush. He's in Miami. I've been following this for you. He's about to give the commencement address at Miami-Dade Community College, a speech that's expected to focus on overhauling U.S. immigration policy.
We're going to be listening in and we're going to have a detailed report for you. Should we now? No, don't need to. We will when the president gets up to speak.
Also today an attempted strike today against a critical U.S. ally, in Pakistan, a suicide bomber tried to kill the country's interior minister. The official survived with minor wounds but the blast killed at least 28 people and wounded another 40.
Islamic militants have tried to kill numerous members of Pakistan's government since Islamabad allied with Washington after September 11th.
Authorities in Saudi Arabia are revealing some new details of a massive thwarted terror plot apparently linked to al Qaeda. Saudis say officials say that militants took pilot training were planning to crash civilian airplanes into Saudi oil refineries and military bases. There were also alleged plans to assassinate government officials and spring accused terrorists out of prison.
In addition, the Saudis say that the suspects were planning attacks on other unidentified countries. In all, more than 170 militants were arrested in roundups going back months.
What about our own government here at home? Is Washington doing enough to protect the nation's ports, its food supply, the power system from terrorist attacks? Anderson Cooper asks that question this weekend in a special report from the CNN INVESTIGATIONS UNIT, "We Were Warned: Edge of Disaster." It's a special that we've prepared for you. It airs tonight and tomorrow right here at 8:00 Eastern.
Smoke and flames are still pouring from the refinery fire in Oklahoma. A lightning strike yesterday morning sparked the blaze. It hit a huge storage tank, triggering an explosion felt miles away. Let's try and get the latest on this now, reporter Adam Slinger is standing by, of CNN affiliate KOCO. Bring us up-to-date on what's going on there right now, Adam.
ADAM SLINGER, KOCO CORRESPONDENT: Rick, the best question this afternoon in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, should the firefighters try to put out this fire? They're going to make that assessment in about two hours, should they use foam or should they let the fire burn out?
Now you can see there is still a lot of black smoke coming up behind me. This fire has been burning consistently for the past day. It started about 11:30 local time yesterday morning when lightning struck this refinery over here. It hit a tank holding 2 million gallons of gasoline. Now throughout the day yesterday it looked like the fire was dying down. Most people went home. Then around 8:30 in the evening, something happened, it looks like the tank actually collapsed. The fire then reignited, spread to another tank. That tank was carrying 1 million gallons of diesel so now we are up-to-date, the fire continues to burn.
The Environmental Protection Agency, though, is out here right now testing the air, making sure that it is safe. They have gone to a few other communities here in Oklahoma. So far they say everything is OK. Also, no injuries, no evacuations, Rick.
SANCHEZ: Adam, I don't get it. Why not pour everything at it and just put the thing out?
SLINGER: That is the big concern. They don't want to take all their foam and use all of their energy to go into something that's not even worth saving. Most of it right now is a total loss in those tanks so why not just wait it out? That's one of the things they have to take into consideration. They are saying the best case scenario, this fire could be out as early as midnight, worst case, sometime tomorrow, Rick.
SANCHEZ: What about the environmental effect and the effect on people nearby, all of the smoke that we're seeing blowing into the air? Isn't that a reason to go in there and get it out?
SLINGER: That's one of the questions we posed to the EPA when they were down here trying to figure out exactly how dangerous it was.
Again, they're saying the smoke is not dangerous because it is going straight up into the air. There's really no wind out here as you can see. It's going straight up and as the old phrase says, dilution is the solution to pollution, so basically that smoke is going up into the air, filtering out and basically just not a problem, the EPA says. There's no problem for any other communities or residents in Wynnewood.
Again, no evacuations. In the past though, last May there was a similar incident and they did evacuate about 150 people.
SANCHEZ: Dilution solution pollution, got it. Thanks for the good explanation, Adam. We certainly appreciate it.
News about the DC madam and the member of the Bush administration, yet another scandal that could possibly further plague this administration and those to the right of him as well. We'll be keeping you up-to- date on those.
Up next in THE NEWSROOM, take a look at this. It's Alberto Gonzales, Paul Wolfowitz and now Randall Tobias, all with embarrassing ethical dilemmas. How does this affect the president's ability to do his job? Reaction from politico.com, next.
Also a Chicago church becomes a refuge for this illegal immigrant but her story is part of a much bigger picture. In fact, about 600,000 people are living in America without visas. That story is coming up. And also this ...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW": Today it is announced that there is an arrest warrant out for you in India.
RICHARD GERE, ACTOR: Thank you for reminding me of this. It was really sweet of to you bring that up, thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: The kiss that, well, shook up India, at least some of it. We're going to be bringing you this.
And also let's go ahead and put up the pictures for Miami-Dade Community College, if you could, Claude. President of the United States, he's giving his commencement speech. Why don't we hear a little bit of it, just out of respect, if nothing else?
GEORGE W. BUSH, U.S. PRESIDENT: You're on your way. Christopher, thank you for your fine introduction. I know, I see your mom over there. I know she's awfully proud of you.
SANCHEZ: Sounds like it's the beginning of the speech. We just wanted to check. The president is giving the commencement speech. Anything said of import, we'll turn it around for you right away. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
SANCHEZ: And we welcome you back. I'm Rick Sanchez. We're here in B control and there's a story brewing out of Washington that you almost get a feel being in this business will get legs, that means it may last a little bit.
This story involves a sex scandal and involves a member of the Bush administration who is now admitting to a massage. His name is Tobias and what's interesting about the story is when we first heard the name, when most people first hear the name they think well it must be some low-level bureaucrat in the Bush administration who made a mistake.
More on that in a minute. Let's talk about these three guys you're seeing on the screen there. Obviously all the way on the left as you look at it at home is Alberto Gonzales. The recall question becomes a big issue where he's concerned, because Republicans, not Democrats, Republicans have been criticizing him for not being clear. Some have said that he's less than honest.
In the middle there of course you saw Paul Wolfowitz, the scandal there involves a girlfriend and misdeeds at the World Bank where he is the chair.
And now we're talking about Tobias himself and to do more on that let's bring in now if we possibly can Mike Allen, he is the chief political correspondent for politico.com. He and I have spoken in the past.
You heard what I just said, right, about Tobias. I think most of us in the business, not yourself, who follow this closely, but not most people say, oh maybe, low-level member of the bush administration probably made a mistake. It's a one-day story. Your take?
MIKE ALLEN, POLITICO.COM: Well, good afternoon, Rick.
In addition to the obvious embarrassment of this, and as you suggested, there's almost a "Ripley's Believe It or Not" quality to what next could happen to this administration. The area that Mr. Tobias was involved in was sensitive and makes this especially harmful.
Now we can start point out we're all sinners but when you're in public life you have to be concerned about the views of the world.
ALLEN: And Mr. Tobias in his role first, as the president's AIDS ambassador and now as the head of foreign aid has been pushing other governments to be more transparent, pushing against corruption in the use foreign aid there's a little bit of a practice what you preach here.
In addition to that, I think reasonable people will say that the president can't personally be blamed for every dumb thing that someone does, but we do each our children you're known by the company you keep. And that's why this starts to be a problem.
SANCHEZ: Let's bring people outside of the circle there, the loop in Washington, in on this story as far as this madam is concerned. You guys in Washington have been seeing this story grow in terms of there's this madam with this list, and it's got a bunch of players in Washington, oh, my goodness, who could be on that list? And now we hear this name, biggest name so far?
ALLEN: Well, definitely, Rick, and what she had been saying was that she had prominent people's cell phone numbers and said she had this large volume of phone records that she was going sell to a news organization and she was trying to use this as a bargaining chip with prosecutors.
They told her she could not sell it but she provided it to ABC News, which has been combing through these cell phone numbers and they certainly hit pay dirt with this one. We're told that on Thursday they called Mr. Tobias. He acknowledged as you said he had gotten a massage.
Now a lawyer who lives quite a bit racier life than I do, said you wouldn't believe how hard it is to get the gals to come to the condo just for a massage. There's no way this looks good. What's a shame about this is that this was someone who had put points for compassionate conservatism on the board.
The president's overseas AIDS program .... SANCHEZ: But Mike, before we even go there, let's talk about, because you know, supposing he was a young guy or a 30 or 40-year bureaucrat who made a mistake. You probably wouldn't be on the air talking with us about this now.
One of the reasons I think this story deserves a little bit of amplification is the following. This guy wasn't just in the Bush administration. He's a huge GOP donor, ran Eli Lilly, boss of AT&T. This guy was a major player in the United States of America.
TOBIAS: Right, and in addition, as people in the administration who cared about compassionate conservatism really appreciated the work he did and they see him as a big loss, and just last week the president had another meeting about his AIDS relief and the options he has in front of him are all to expand it. He remains enthusiastic about it. And so that's why this is a terrible black eye.
SANCHEZ: Do you think it's proper to combine the Wolfowitz ethical situation, the Gonzales ethical accusation and now the Tobias ethical situation and look at it and say oh, my gosh, what's going on here?
TOBIAS: Well, Rick, putting aside the different facts, clearly for a president who needs credibility on Capitol Hill, who needs credibility around the world, these make that more difficult.
It looks like the Paul Wolfowitz situation may take care of itself next week. The president said he supports him but hasn't said a lot more than that.
The attorney general was asked last week for some more information by Congress, so the trajectory of that story is unclear.
The only person who quickly took himself out of it was Mr. Tobias who as soon as he made the comment to ABC News on a Friday afternoon, what a surprise, Rick decided to head out of town.
SANCHEZ: Mike, this has got to be a problem. We don't have a lot of time. You have about 30 seconds to answer this, is this a problem with the president and the religious right or the administration or future Republicans who hope to hold that office?
ALLEN: I don't think you can generalize from that but I can say this will add fodder to the presidential candidates on both parties who say that one of their missions will be to improve U.S. relations around the world, and I think a conversation, Rick that, we're going to have in the '08 campaign, who would be most effective at improving America's relations abroad.
Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, Democrat, is among those who have said that that would be one of his chief missions and he's selling himself as someone who would be good at that.
SANCHEZ: That's interesting. Mike Allen, thanks, very appreciate it.
ALLEN: Rick, have a great weekend. SANCHEZ: Not just hot at the White House, by the way. The Southwest is facing some brutal temperatures as well. Jacqui Jeras is checking on this for us as she usually does so dutifully and she's there now. Hello, Jacqui.
SANCHEZ: I'll right. We'll look forward to it.
Also coming up, she's lived in America for seven years. Her son was born here but for the last nine months this illegal immigrant has been living in a church to avoid deportation. Another human face to put on a growing problem, the immigration debate, still to come right here in THE NEWSROOM.
SANCHEZ: We welcome you back here to B control. The president of the United States happens to be giving a commencement speech now at the very place, did you know, Claude, where I took many summer classes and learned to type. Miami-Dade Community College, there he is. Let's step in on the president.
BUSH: ... hose who have only just arrived.
This diversity is one of the great strengths of this city. It one of the great strengths of this college, and it is one of the great strengths of America.
Over the years, America's ability to assimilate new immigrants has set us apart from other nations. What makes us Americans is a shared belief in democracy and liberty. And our nation faces a vital challenge, to build an immigration system that upholds these ideals and meets America's needs in the 21st century.
Washington, we're in the midst of an important discussion about immigration. Our current immigration system is in need of reform. It is not working.
We need a system where our laws are respected, we need a system that meets the legitimate needs of our economy, and we need a system that treats people with dignity, and helps newcomers assimilate into our society.
We must address all elements of this problem together, or none of them will be solved at all. And we must do it in a way that learns from the mistakes that caused the previous reforms to fail.
I am a strong supporter of comprehensive immigration reform. That will allow us to secure our borders and enforce our laws once and for all, that will keep us competitive in a global economy, and that will resolve the status of those who are already here, without amnesty, and without animosity.
At Miami-Dade you know firsthand that contributions that immigrants make to our country. You see everyday the values of hard work and family and faith that immigrants bring.
This experience gives you a special responsibility to make your voices heard. One of the great strengths of America is that the most important issues are decided by the will of the people, that's why an educated citizenry is so vital to the success of our country.
SANCHEZ: There you have it, the president of the United States. This is a difficult tightrope that the president is walking on this issue. There are those who say that the president should probably be a little more lenient when it comes to immigration, and there are certainly plenty of those who say the president should be -- or tow a harder line when it comes to immigration.
If you watch CNN at all, you certainly know of a gentleman named Lou Dobbs who's very critical of this administration, very critical of this president, and how he should tow a much more difficult line when it comes to immigration.
It's a very complex issue, and I decided to sit and have a very heated, heartfelt, smart, intelligent conversation with Lou Dobbs. We do so tomorrow night. You're going to be watching it right here on CNN. Sanchez and Dobbs, mano a mano on a very heated, complex, but very important conversation, very important topic to the outcome of our nation.
So we'll be bring you that tomorrow right here at 10:00 eastern. It's good. Also, we're also going to be telling you what's going on in Iraq through the eyes of a general. New plan, according to one newspaper that possibly would deemphasize the idea of training Iraqi troops.
That's a strange suggestion in the eyes of many so we'll discuss that as well. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back. I want to show you something now. Seven hundred firefighters are still struggling to try and contain this massive wildfire, it's in southeast Georgia. This has been burning now for 12 days. It's right near the Okefenokee Swamp.
And right now firefighters are trying to keep the blaze from crossing U.S Highway 1 and reaching some bone dry forest and beyond. Interestingly enough there was a lot of rain in the Southeast recently. We know, we live here in the Southeast. They didn't get any of it down there. It's not that far from where we are.
So far the fire's burned nearly 100 acres, we're told of the area down there. Let's go to Jacqui Jeras, am I right, Jacqui? Because I know we've got a ton of rain here. They didn't get any of that?
JERAS: We didn't get a ton but we had some, we had some good downpours. The Southeast kind of missed out on it a little bit. There was increased moisture and humidity so that helps them out a little bit but in terms of measurable rainfall really very little and the cold front has blown through, so the winds are kind of gusty here today and a dry air mass has come in to replace that.
So that has really brought it down to critical levels, so just massive fire growth potential here, not just in the fire area but all across southern parts of Georgia and also into northern parts of Florida.
The drought conditions are existing as well so we're going to continue to see problems, we think, over the next couple of days and there's little to really zero rain in the forecast for the next five days.
And this is a really cool thing, if you haven't seen this yet, by the way you look and go hey maybe there's a rain shower near there. Well, believe it or not, this is Doppler radar picking up the smoke and some of the ash, some of the particles in the atmosphere from the fire so it looks like a rain shower to you at home but this is actually the fire and you can see the smoke pushing in from the south and to the west.
SANCHEZ: Well, I'll tell you this, OK? Thursday in Peachtree City, it rained all day long.
JERAS: Not all day. You had a break.
SANCHEZ: Well, when was that? Tell me.
JERAS: I'll check the measurable rainfall for you and let you know, I'll send you a top line. It wasn't like three inches like they had in Iowa.
SANCHEZ: I know they weren't big drops but a lot of drops.
JERAS: It was rain to you.
SANCHEZ: You be the expert on meteorology, OK? Thanks, I appreciate it.
Would your church do anything to protect an undocumented person in the United States? Well, there's a church in Chicago that will. Drawing a line, in the immigration debate, they say illegal or not, they deserve our help. It's a controversy.
Also has the United States taken its focus off of training Iraqi troops? That's what some people are saying. We'll be talking about that with a former general. You're in CNN NEWSROOM.
SANCHEZ: Oh, we do welcome you back.
As the debate rages on over undocumented immigration in the United States, a lot of workers remain determined to stay in the United States. Some going as far as trying to take refuge in their own churches. This is an interesting story, controversial story.
CNN's Jim Acosta looks at what's called the sanctuary movement. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elvira Arellano is wanted by the law, an illegal immigrant who refused to surrender to a court order for her deportation. She refused because her son, Saul, was born in this country and is a U.S. citizen. Arellano doesn't hide the fact she's taken refuge in 24 church on Chicago's west side, a modern variation of that age old tradition of churches providing sanctuary to fugitives and so far, it's working.
Without the help of the churches, where would you be?
ELVIRA ARELLANO, IMMIGRATION FUGITIVE: In Mexico.
ACOSTA: In Mexico?
ARELLANO: Yeah, deported.
ACOSTA: And where would your son be?
ARELLANO: I don't know.
ACOSTA: Is that hard to think about?
ARELLANO: It's difficult (ph).
ACOSTA: Based on Arellano's success, the sanctuary movement is growing, from Long Island, New York, where 40 pastors are opening their churches to undocumented workers.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We cannot in good conscience ignore such suffering and injustice.
ACOSTA: To the entire city of San Francisco.
MAYOR GAVIN NEWSOM, SAN FRANCISION: We are a sanctuary city. We don't cooperate with the federal government as it relates to these raids.
ACOSTA: But to illegal immigration critics, this is blatant law- breaking.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if you know someone's illegal and you hide them from authorities in your basement and provide them with a quote, "safe house" then yes, you are actively knowingly and facilitating illegal immigration into the United States.
ACOSTA (on camera): Leaders of this church insist Arellano is not in hiding. In fact, when she moved in here last August, she sent a letter to immigration authorities, letting them know where they could find her. To this date Arellano says she has yet to hear from them.
(voice-over): But in a statement, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, known as ICE told CNN it has the authority to arrest illegal aliens in all locals. Arellano's pastor doubts they'll come for her here. REV. WALTER L. COLEMAN, ARELLANO'S PASTOR: I think the sight of ICE agents coming in and separating a mother from her child in front of the cross of Jesus is something that they didn't want to do.
ACOSTA: Next week, advocates for undocumented workers are planning a big push to expand the use of church sanctuaries like Arellano's across the country, calling the practice a well-organized form of civil disobedience. Jim Acosta, CNN, Chicago.
SANCHEZ: We want to tell you something that's important. CNN is going to be turning the spotlight on the issue of immigration this week. Now, Tuesday is May 1st so we're going to have coverage on that day throughout the entire day. You'll recall last year there were those huge protests all over the country from both sides, a lot of flag waving. A lot of people, a lot of opinions, a lot of heat.
So we're going to be trying to cover that for you on Tuesday by bringing you rallies that have been taking place all over the country. We'll also have smart analysis of this topic, the heat, but also smart, intelligent debate on what's going on in this country and what direction we're headed in. It's good stuff, that's our focus all day Tuesday right here on CNN. You can depend on us.
Is Iraq's army ready to stand up when the U.S. troops stand down? Well, to do that, you've got to continue training them, one would think. I'm going taking about this issue with the man that you're going to see right here!
There is he, General David Grange, about the U.S. troop surge in Iraq, also the wall and this article in "McClatchy" newspaper saying there may be a de-emphasis on training Iraqi troops. It's good stuff. Stay with us. We'll be right back.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Although her husband works, Corina Alvarez still needs help when it comes to feeding and taking care of her year-old baby.
CORINA ALVAREZ, WIC RECIPIENT: I like for them to give me ideas and I'm a new mom.
GUPTA: So every month she receives checks for food from WIC. This is a federal grant program designed to improve the health of low income women, and their children, by providing food and counseling on good eating and health care.
REV. DOUGLAS GREENAWAY, EXEC. DIR., NAT'L WIC ASSOCIATION: The foods that WIC provides are really the tools that reinforce that nutrition education message that's delivered in 10,000 WIC clinics around the country. GUPTA: Since WIC was founded over 30 years ago, thoughts on nutrition have changed. You see, the problem then was malnutrition, not obesity. So most WIC vouchers are for cereal, breads, crackers, milk products, checks for fresh fruits and vegetables don't exist.
So last August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture decided to add produce to the voucher system, to give clients a more balanced diet. They're expected to be available next year but some say that might not happen, because WIC is on the chopping block, slated for a $145 million cut in President Bush's 2008 budget.
GREENAWAY: It really threatens the availability of (inaudible) fruits and vegetables, culturally diverse foods, to increase the incidence of obesity and overweight that we're finding among WIC mothers and children.
GUPTA: Nutritionists say that's not good because the WIC produce vouchers could help control obesity.
KATHERINE TALLMADGE, AMERICAN DIETETIC ASSOCIATION: Studies have shown that women and children and infants who participate in the program have improved nutrition, mothers give birth to fewer low birth weight babies but save medical costs.
GUPTA: Congress is debating the finances for WIC. The final decision will likely come in the fall, until mothers like Corina Alvarez, will have to continue waiting for produce checks available. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.
SANCHEZ: Welcome back to B control. We promised we would be talking about some of the developments taking place in Iraq. We should mention it has been a very bloody day there for Iraqi citizens, as well, unfortunately, for U.S. troops. CNN military analyst General David Grange is good enough to join us now. I almost said Petraeus, if you can believe that. Boy, he's got something on his hands, doesn't he?
GEN. DAVID GRANGE, (RET), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: He sure does.
SANCHEZ: Let's talk, if we could, general, talking about the situation with the McClatchy newspapers who seem to be reporting that there's a possibility that there might be a drawdown, if we can use that term, on the training of Iraqi troops which really flies in the face of everything we've been hearing about, you know, they'll stand up, we'll stand down. What do you make of that?
GRANGE: It's hard for me to believe they would stand down on some of these training requirements, because the training that's one of the two key ingredients to the strategy, one is to provide a safe and secure environment to the Iraqi people, to get on with their quality of life, their prosperity and of course that depends also on the Iraqi government but the other one is, a trained Iraqi force to some level and police force to take on some of those duties, so if they're not trained, I don't see how we can trade that out.
SANCHEZ: Is it possible that either, A, they're so well-trained they really don't need our help anymore or B, they're such a mess that we have just decided you know what? There's never, we're never going to be able to train these guys properly?
GRANGE: I think what the point may be is that we can train to a basic level of proficiency, Iraqi military to shoot, to move, and communicate, basic military skills. But we'd have a hard time doing, and in a very short time is to train the Iraqi army to understand how to serve a democratic elected government and the people of the Iraq nation.
That's a little foreign to armies in this part of the world and that's changing culture, that's changing a value system. That, I don't think we can do in a short period of time, nor maybe are they willing to accept that type of philosophy. That's very difficult.
SANCHEZ: Well, is it, if it's not doable, then do you think at this point that we might be drawing down our own troops by the end of this summer?
GRANGE: I think that if all the debate's going on with the administration, with Congress back and forth, everybody talking about pulling out, don't pull out, no dates, everybody wants to get out of there. There's no doubt about it. And in a particular military commanders, they feel just like the privates. They would like to end this thing and get out.
SANCHEZ: Well, the American people seem to want it and every poll that's taken. You know, I talked to my own friends who are in the military, and they're not exactly excited about the idea of going back there for another tour. The question is, what about the politicians who are running this inside both the State Department, inside the Pentagon, you know, what are they, you think, ready to do?
GRANGE: Well, I don't think that -- they want to have conditions to an acceptable level to withdraw honorably, with leaving Iraq in some position of a chance to succeed, and not collapse and not really get involved or us get involved in a regional conflict and that could in fact happen. So I that's the worry. And be assured that the two things are critical. One, if the Iraqi government won't commit themselves to try to make this happen, no matter what we do, it won't happen, and number two, this war will be won or lost not on the battlefield but in Washington, DC.
SANCHEZ: Doesn't it strike you as odd that it was Schwarzenegger and it was Powell and it was Cheney during the first bush administration who warned don't go into Baghdad and take out Saddam Hussein, because as strange as it sounds he's a stabilizing force against the Shias and Iranian control of the region and now we're talking about the possibility of us pulling out and the Iranians going in and taking over Iraq, in a sense, and destabilizing the region, lo and behold.
GRANGE: I don't think we're going to allow Iran to do that, even though I think that's part of their strategy, to have a certain level of control, at least part of Iraq, regardless of how we withdraw, I do not think that the United States will allow that to happen.
SANCHEZ: But you admit that's a potential, a bad potential for us and for the region, but a potential?
SANCHEZ: Oh, boy. David Grange, we thank you, general, for taking the time to talk to us on this day.
GRANGE: My pleasure.
SANCHEZ: A little levity now. You've heard the saying, a kiss is just a kiss? I won't sing it for you. Apparently that's not the case in India. Richard Gere's criminal offense and the story behind the cultural clash.
And by the way, did he go a little overboard? That's coming up in about three minutes. You're watching CNN, the most trusted name in news.
SANCHEZ: Now that so-called sizzling smooch that some in India are calling downright salacious, actor Richard Gere has stirred up a bit of a firestorm for a controversy in kissing an actress from Bollywood actress. That's what they call their version of Hollywood over there for those that might be confused at that term.
IT was at an AIDS awareness event. And here is CNN's senior international correspondent Satinder Bindra with more.
SATINDER BINDRA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's been 12 days since Hollywood star Richard Gere kissed Indian actress Shilpa Shetty. He kissed her once, then twice, then several times more.
Both actors trying to raise AIDS awareness in India but ended up raising hackles across the country. Hundreds took to the streets. Some burnt effigies of the Hollywood star, accusing him of being insensitive to India's values.
Following the protest and a complaint by an attorney, a court in western India has charged both actors with committing an obscene act in public.
JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW: Please welcome to the show Richard Gere.
BINDRA: The court put out an arrest warrant for Gere. Back in the U.S. he tried to make light of his troubles in an appearance on the network, Comedy Central.
STEWART: Today it is announced there's an arrest warrant out for you in India.
RICHARD GERE, ACTOR: Thank you for reminding me of that. It was really sweet of to you bring that up, thank you.
BINDRA: Gere blames the small section of ultraconservatives in India for fanning the flames.
GERE: There's a very small right wing, very conservative political party.
STEWART: We're talking about in India?
GERE: In India.
STEWART: Oh, OK. Sorry. I didn't know where you were talking about. It was India.
GERE: And they are the moral police in India. They do this kind of thing quite often.
BINDRA: Gere has now apologized to Shetty and other Indians saying, quote, "My clumsy attempt at a 'Shall We Dance' dance move was a naive misread of Indian customs."
His supporters in India are embarrassed by the whole saga.
MEENAKSHI KHANNA, GERE SUPPORTER: I mean, where are we, are we living in a banana republic, where anybody can just come and tell us, we can issue an order and arrest you without any reason whatsoever?
BINDRA: As for Shilpa Shetty who recently grabbed international headlines when she won the U.K.-based reality TV show "Big Brother." Her agent issued this statement. "This action is far more damaging to the perception of Indian society than anything that Shilpa and Richard did that night on stage. Shilpa did nothing to be ashamed of."
(on camera): Shilpa Shetty has been ordered to appear in court May 5th. She can ask for a postponement but many here believe she'd prefer to have the matter resolved. After all, the offense she's been charged with carries a maximum sentence of three months in jail. Satinder Bindra, CNN, New Delhi.
SANCHEZ: What a story.
Well, there's still a whole lot more right here on CNN. Up next, LOU DOBBS THIS WEEK is coming up, and a look at why federal officials are taking on the Salvation Army. That's coming up in about three minutes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: When Hispanics define themselves in terms of illegal immigration, which is what I hear you doing, that's troubling. Because you're being very racial.
SANCHEZ: I'm not defining myself according to illegal immigration. I'll tell you how I'm defining myself, defining myself as the son of Paco and Adella (ph) who came to this country as refugees, who came to this country as immigrants ...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: We're going to have, shall I say, a heated discussion about immigration. We're going to have it right here. It's a smart, good discussion between two leagues. Then our Sunday spotlight, tomorrow night at 10:00 Eastern we're continuing our focus on immigration into next week, Tuesday, May 1st, and we're going to have coverage throughout the entire day. Among other things we're going to be covering immigration rallies that have been taking place all over the country.
"Immigration Nation," that's our focus all day right here Tuesday and we'll have a check of the day's top stories right after this. Stay with us.
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