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Blunt Talk About Iraq; Tony Blair Stepping Down; Midwest Flooding

Aired May 10, 2007 - 09:00   ET


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Heidi Collins. Hi, everybody.

Watch events come in to the NEWSROOM live on Thursday morning, the 10th day of May.

Here's what's on the rundown.

The Iraq war: Republicans delivering a strong message to their president. Democrats setting up a vote today on a second bill to pay for the fight.

HARRIS: Ten years at Number 10. Tony Blair stepping aside as British prime minister. His tenured reviewed. Our Christiane Amanpour live from the U.K. this morning.

COLLINS: Prime farmland under water. Stretches of the Missouri River out of its banks until the weekend.

Midwest floods, live in the NEWSROOM.

Frank talk about frustrations over Iraq. Republican lawmakers laying it on the line in a meeting with President Bush. The discussion described as blunt and candid.

White House Correspondent Ed Henry joining us now live.

Good morning to you, Ed.

What exactly is the significance of this meeting at this time?


The significance is that even the White House spokesman, Tony Snow, is acknowledging, as you said, that the talk was really blunt here Tuesday afternoon. These Republican lawmakers, about a dozen of them, with the president, along with Karl Rove, Secretary of State Rice, and others.

And Tony Snow is trying to say, well, look, while it was blunt, not all 11 Republicans blasted the president, that different views of Iraq were batted about. But one of the Republican lawmakers in the room, Representative Ray LaHood of Illinois, told CNN this morning that these lawmakers really took the bark off, that they gave the president the unvarnished truth that in their districts back home, all across the country, patience is really running out for the mission in Iraq.

And here's how the president responded.

Take a listen to Mr. LaHood.


REP. RAY LAHOOD (R), ILLINOIS: He listened very carefully. And I think he was a little -- I don't know if surprised is the right word, probably maybe sober.

The fact is that, you know, I don't know if he's gotten that kind of opinion before in such a frank and no holds barred way. And -- but he was -- he was very sober about it. And he listened very intently. And, you know, frankly, he wasn't defensive. I think he appreciated the fact that people were willing to really open up and give it to him.


HENRY: Now, the bottom line is this shows that there's a Republican earthquake building here. The question is: where is it on the political Richter scale?

Right now it might be 3.0, 4.0, because if you look at it, the lawmakers in the room were relatively junior and they had previously expressed concerns about the war in Iraq. But come September, when General Petraeus he'll give this progress report about where things stand, about this increase of troops on the ground in Baghdad, if there has not been a serious turnaround, that political Richter scale can really get jacked up to 7.0, 8.0, you name it, because then you're going to see a lot more senior Republicans come forward and say, look, there needs to be a dramatic change -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Well, Ed, speaking of Petraeus and the military, we know in the next hour President Bush will be heading over to the Pentagon. What do we expect out of that statement today, this afternoon, I believe?

HENRY: The president, at about 10:00 a.m. or so Eastern Time, is going to be getting a briefing behind closed doors with senior defense officials about not just Iraq, but Afghanistan as well. We're expecting the president will make brief remarks after that about where things stand.

Obviously, he also wants to get out there on this whole war funding debate. Yesterday, the White House announcing that this second version of the bill being crafted by Democrats would also be vetoed by the president if he still doesn't like it. And let's not forget that Vice President Cheney spent the night in Iraq last night. He's still there right now, and that's all about the White House, partly in reaction to this meeting with the Republican lawmakers, trying to show to Republicans on the Hill, we get it. There's a problem, and we're trying to pressure Prime Minister Maliki to speed up progress on the ground -- Heidi.

COLLINS: All right. Ed Henry for us at the White House this morning.

Ed, thank you.

HENRY: Thank you.

COLLINS: And now paying for war. House Democrats pushing a new measure that splits Iraq war funding into two parts.

The first, almost $43 billion. It would fund the conflict only through July. Then lawmakers would check the progress. If satisfied, they would approve almost $53 billion more to fund the war through September.

Critics say the short-term approach will hurt the war effort. The White House says President Bush will veto the measure if it reaches his desk.

HARRIS: The end of an era. British Prime Minister Tony Blair stepping down as head of his party and his country after a decade at Number 10. His announcement just hours ago before supporters.


TONY BLAIR, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I've come back here, to Sedgefield, to my constituency, where my political journey began and where it's fitting that it should end.

Today I announce my decision to stand down from the leadership of the Labor Party. The party will now select a new leader. On the 27th of June, I will tender my resignation from the Office of Prime Minister to the queen.


HARRIS: And live now to London and CNN Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour.

Christiane, good morning to you.

Tony Blair will step aside, as you just heard there, as prime minister on June 27th. The question is, why now? I can remember hearing calls for his resignation last summer.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, in general, Tony, he has been suffering an increasing lack of support from within his own party. You know, he is a prime minister who defied all odds, the first Labor prime minister to have been elected three times by very healthy parliamentary majorities. And yet, because of the war in Iraq, to a large extent, to the greatest extent, he has been facing huge pressure from what we call here in England backbenchers, rebels, so-called, in the Labor Party, and he realized even several months ago that it was time for him to start stepping down.

He went back to his home constituency where he is MP, where he represents the people there in Sedgefield, and he said good-bye. And he said, "Ten years is a long time, perhaps too long a time for me and for the country" -- Tony.

HARRIS: And Christiane, who is Gordon Brown for our domestic viewers? Who is Gordon Brown? Introduce him to us, and tell us, will he be the successor?

AMANPOUR: Gordon Brown is likely to be. Basically, there is no leadership contest of any real import right now. Those who may have had a chance of challenging the leadership have stepped aside. There are a few, as we say, Labor rebels who might try, but it's generally considered that Gordon Brown will succeed Tony Blair.

Now, Gordon Brown himself is a powerhouse within the Labor Party. He's been Tony Blair's political partner for the last at least 10 years, and he shares with Blair the triumph, at least the economic triumph and the standard of living that has risen so phenomenally in England over the past decade.

So, he is known as a very positive and progressive thinker in the world of economics. He's made Britain one of the most attractive capital investment countries in Europe, one of the most attractive places for business and business people all over Europe and all over the world, frankly, to come here and set up their businesses to invest or open branches here.

So, he's also an Atlanticist, and he will continue, obviously, Tony Blair's strong support of the United States as a principle. But as you know, Tony Blair has paid a very heavy price, the ultimate price, really, for standing so close to the American president and being so identified over this particular policy that's Iraq. And it is generally considered to have failed.

HARRIS: Yes. And I've heard you describe it this morning as Iraq being the millstone around his neck. One more -- no.

Go ahead, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: Well, yes, because so much of his legacy will be positive, so much of his foreign policy will stand in history as positive and unique intervention, whether it be Kosovo in the Balkans, at the beginning of his prime ministership, whether it be, you know, a sort of unlikely venture into Sierra Leone. He committed British troops and established peace there after a really vicious civil war.

And many of his other situations, northern Ireland. Just this week, after a nearly 10-year effort by Blair and partners, the former commander of the IRA, Martin McGuinness, the ultra British nationalist, Ian Paisley, the rejectionist of the peace process, stood on the stairways in Stormont in Belfast and shook hands for power sharing. This is a massive triumph after 30 more years of northern Ireland troubles, and Tony Blair is behind that.

HARRIS: CNN's chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, with us this morning.

Christiane, as always, great to talk to you. Thanks.

COLLINS: Roads and farmland under water and rivers still rising.

Our Sean Callebs is in the Missouri town of Big Lake, which has become one big lake.

Sean, good morning to you.


I want you to just take a look at this image where we are. The water may not be terribly deep, but really as far as the eye can see in all ways, just water everywhere.

They say the water is receding, but only ever so slightly. One thing that is on the rise here in this community, frustration. Frustration because this happened back in '93, and a lot of local residents say that the levee system that's supposed to protect this area really isn't very good.


TOM BULLOCK, BIG LAKE, MISSOURI, RESIDENT: And I knew all that had to come down here.

CALLEBS (voice over): Forty-nine-year-old Tom Bullock guides his small boat over just what days ago was a healthy field of freshly sprouting corn. Now the flood has put a lot of livelihoods in peril.

(on camera): But you've got to be angry, frustrated.

BULLOCKS: Well, I am, because you would, too, if you could have had footage of the joke we have for a levee down there.

CALLEBS (voice over): As thousands of acres flooded, he watched helplessly. Like many in the Big Lake, Missouri, area, Bullocks makes a living in farming, and like so many here, Bullock is reliving a nightmare.

BULLOCK: Because in '93, we had a little bit of water.

CALLEBS: Just like the historic Midwest flood of 1993, Missouri River water came pouring in fast. Once this starts to recede, Bullock wonders what will be left.

BULLOCK: When the water starts going down, it will -- it will have a pretty good current to it going south back to the river. And hopefully a lot of this trash will float out of here with it. CALLEBS: Then it's time for folks here to roll up their sleeves and get back to work.

BULLOCK: I don't care where you go. Farmers hang tight to each other. They'll put their neighbors ahead of themselves a lot of times.


CALLEBS: Well, farmers may be hanging tight, but, boy, they remember 1993, the historic flooding that hit this area. Back then it had rained for days and days and days, the ground saturated, the levees just almost wiped out in many areas.

That time it took weeks for this water to recede, close to a month. This time they're hopeful it will be gone in a week or so, but really no one knows.

They're keeping an eye on the forecast to make sure that there's no more rain to the North, because if that would happen, of course, it would wash down this way, Heidi. And interesting, you may have noticed that we had Tom out on his boat. He said the last time he used that little outboard motor was back in 1993, the last time this area flooded -- Heidi.

COLLINS: I had a feeling you were going to say that. Wow.

All right. Sean Callebs reporting for us from Big Lake.

Sean, thanks.


COLLINS: Taking the Army's pulse. Troop levels and deployments, recruitment goals, medical treatment for the injured. The Army's vice chief of staff answering questions live, right here in the studio in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Also, it is a word that preschoolers can't pronounce, but it is making them sick. Shigellosis spreading in day care centers. We are calling Dr. Sanjay Gupta to the NEWSROOM for answers.

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: And I'm Kelli Arena here on Capitol Hill. The attorney general is getting ready for another uncomfortable session with Congress.

I'll have more for you just ahead in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: And the band played on, while in the balcony a brawl.

HARRIS: Oh, man. What's going on?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Then there was a big scream, and then you could hear chairs falling over. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard a bump and a scream, and we thought somebody might have fallen.


COLLINS: Fists go pop at the Boston Pops.

You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: Heading back to the hot seat, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales faces new questions about fired federal prosecutors. The grilling begins this hour.

Live to Capitol Hill and CNN Justice Correspondent Kelli Arena.

Kelli, good morning to you.

ARENA: Good morning to you.

HARRIS: OK. Here we go.

ARENA: Again.

HARRIS: It's been three weeks since the attorney general has been before Congress. Do we expect to hear anything different this time around?

ARENA: Well, you know, I got a hold of his opening statement that he's going to deliver this morning, and he says very much what he said three weeks ago, that nothing improper happened here when those U.S. attorneys were fired, that he doesn't have anything to hide, that he takes full responsibility for the poor way in which this was handled. But, you know, Congress is not exactly thrilled with him right now.

And, you know, the last time he appeared before the Senate, there was a lot of grumbling because he didn't answer a lot of the questions. I mean, by some counts, he didn't answer as many as 70 questions that were asked of him.

And he was at an unrelated event yesterday, and reporters asked him, well, look, you've had three weeks to refresh your memory, do you think it will be any better tomorrow? And here's what he had to say.


ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, we'll see tomorrow. As always, I intend to cooperate with the Congress. I'm just as interested as the Congress in getting to the bottom of what's happened here. And I can only provide information as to what I know and what I recall, and that's what I intend to do, as I have done in the past.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ARENA: Just remember here that he does enter that room today with the support of the president. And unless there is some really major revelation, you know, from this question-and-answer session today, or as a result of the investigation going forward, it looks like, you know, he's got his job.

HARRIS: Yes. All right. So, Kelli, I'm wondering, if there's nothing new in the opening statement, I'm wondering why are we going through this dance again? Have some new issues cropped up?

ARENA: Yes, they have. Well, number one, there's the issue of the U.S. attorney in Kansas City now who wasn't part of that -- that original group that we were talking about.

There are some new suggestions that that U.S. attorney was let go a few months before this other group was let go. Again, the allegation is that it was done for political reasons, because he wasn't doing the Republicans' bidding. And then there are more allegations about the guy who replaced him, a guy named Brad Schlozman, who some critics say was hiring career lawyers over at the Justice Department based on their political affiliations.

Again, these are allegations at that point. But that is something you can well expect Congress to dig into.

There were also -- a letter was released within the past three weeks showing that there were some Justice officials -- Kyle Sampson, who you remember, was Alberto Gonzales' chief of staff, who resigned, that he and another woman, Monica Goodling, the one who said she was going to take the Fifth, that they had a lot more power than originally thought in terms of hiring and, you know, making those decisions.

So, there's a lot more here.


ARENA: You k now, Congress is not satisfied that they've got the whole story. They want answers from Gonzales. They want answers from the White House. And they're not getting them.

HARRIS: Yes. And some questions, I understand, about diversity within the DOJ and critics saying the lack thereof.

ARENA: Yes. That's right.

HARRIS: You'll be following it for us. All right, Kelli...

ARENA: And the civil rights division, that's another issue.

HARRIS: That's right. All right, Kelli.

ARENA: So, you know, every day you open the paper, Tony, you've got another one.

HARRIS: That's right. All right. Kelli Arena for us this morning.

Kelli, thank you.

COLLINS: Day care center concern. Since November, nearly 500 people in the St. Louis area have come down with Shigellosis. Most of those who have gotten sick were children in day care centers.

Our Dr. Sanjay Gupta is taking a look at this, and here to talk about it now.

First of all, we should start off by saying, what is Shigellosis?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's bacterial infection caused by the Shigella bacteria. And there's usually about 18,000 cases in any given year, with several different subtypes of the bacteria.

Some of them just pass through your system, you never even know that you've had them. The most common sort of symptoms that people get, though, are the stuff that makes you miserable for a few days.

That's a picture of the bacteria in case you're curious. That's what it looks like, yes.

COLLINS: They always look horrible, don't they?

GUPTA: Yes, nothing you want to have.


GUPTA: Although, they're actually not that bad as far as bacteria goes.

Some of the symptoms -- diarrhea, fever, stomach cramps. That's what's happening, mainly in kids.

It can get to the point where it is so severe that you become dehydrated and you need hospitalization for that reason. As you mentioned, it's been going on since November, so a fairly long outbreak. The longest outbreak they've ever had was about eight months. We're sort of getting there.

Sixty day care centers now affected, 500 people have gotten sick. But no hospitalizations, no deaths. So that's some good news there, as well.

You know, seven months of this, I think it's going to die down at some point soon.

COLLINS: I hope so. So, several questions to follow up with. When people hear about this, especially parents, you know, they immediately get concerned for their kids.

How do you keep it from spreading? What can be done before it might possibly get worse? GUPTA: Right. This is one of those classic person-to-person transmissions. You know, you have kids, I have kids. Kids can be little Petri dishes of germs and bacteria.


GUPTA: And this is not the greatest morning show topic, but it is about dirty diapers and dirty hands, and that sort of thing. That's how it's typically spread.

There are things you can do. It means keeping diligent about your kids washing their hands. You know, making sure they do it in the morning, after they eat, after each restroom visit.

You know, what we find is that typically in schools, they've really got to be -- in day care centers, they've really got to be diligent about it over there, when you're watching lots of different kids. Certainly, before they go home.

What was an interesting here from an epidemiology standpoint is kids would go home, they might give it to an older sibling who would go to a different school district, give it to another kid...


GUPTA: And that's why you get 60 day care centers suddenly involved in this.

COLLINS: Yes, no kidding.

Quickly, how is it treated?

GUPTA: Well, typically antibiotics. This is a bacteria, so you can give antibiotics. But what they found with this particular one, it is 100 percent resistant to Ampicillin, which is the first line. You don't want to -- so no Ampicillin.

COLLINS: Any cillins (ph), or just Ampicillin?

GUPTA: The Ampicillin is the one that they've tested. But typically, what it means is that it's a few miserable days. It's going to go away on its own.

Make sure your kid stays hydrated. Don't give antidiarrheal medications. You want this bacteria to flush through the system, if you will.

COLLINS: Get out of the system.


COLLINS: OK. All right. Shigellosis.

GUPTA: Shigellosis.

COLLINS: All right. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you. GUPTA: Thank you.

HARRIS: Out of the beltway, into the battle zone. Dick Cheney defending longer deployments to the troops now serving there. The vice president in Iraq and in the NEWSROOM.

COLLINS: Paying for war. When money becomes a weapon. Today, a new battle on Capitol Hill. Two lawmakers weigh in this hour.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The Fed holds steady on interest rates. So what does this mean for the markets?

I'm Stephanie Elam in new York. And I'll tell you coming up in the NEWSROOM.



TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: The bottom of the hour.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And it's time to take you to the stock exchange.


Here it comes.

HARRIS: Any moment now.

COLLINS: I can feel it.


HARRIS: And good morning, again, everyone.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.

I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: And I'm Heidi Collins.

Good morning to you.

HARRIS: we want to talk to you about Vice President Dick Cheney for a moment now -- rallying the troops in the shadow of Saddam Hussein's hometown. Cheney spent the night as a U.S. base in Tikrit. There, he praised troops for their sacrifices and spoke of their mission's vital importance.


DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm hear to say thanks. Because of your willingness to serve today, our children and grandchildren will grow up in a better world and you will be proud of your service for the rest of your lives.


HARRIS: Cheney's visit to Iraq is the first stop on a Middle East tour.

His mission?

To shore up support for the war among moderate Arabs.

COLLINS: A no-holds-barred discussion about the war in Iraq. President Bush gets a blunt message from members in his own party. Moderate Republican House members expressing frustration in a private meeting with the president. A source says lawmakers warn they face political trouble at home unless there is progress in Iraq.

Another source says the president was told his administration has lost credibility on the war.

This morning the president gets a briefing on Iraq and Afghanistan at the Pentagon.

And more insights on U.S. troops and the war in Iraq from the Army's vice chief of staff, General Richard Cody. He will be live in the studio right here with us today, coming your way 11:30 Eastern 8:30 Pacific right here on CNN.

HARRIS: And right now we want to get you to Fredricka Whitfield in the CNN NEWSROOM She's following a situation in Boulder, Colorado, a situation at a high school there.

And, Fred, I don't want to say any more because the reporting on this has been a little mixed.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: That's right, because very little is being said. very little is being explained about this suspicious incident taking place at Boulder High School. What we know is Boulder High School is on lockdown. You're seeing in this video the police presence. They're taking this suspicious incident very seriously. They're not saying anything more about what is at hand.

But note that the school was not even in session yet, just shy of students actually appearing at the school to attend classes.

Right now only faculty and staff are at the school. But because of this reported incident, police are on the scene there.

The school is in lockdown. All the entrances and exits to the school are closed. No one allowed to enter or exit right now as authorities work out details about what this suspicious incident -- this emergency is.

And, of course, when we're able to get any more information on it, we'll be able to bring that to you.

HARRIS: Yes. WHITFIELD: But for right now, Boulder High School on lockdown.

HARRIS: And you're smart to leave it right there for now, until we get more information.

Fredricka Whitfield following the situation at a Boulder high school for us in THE NEWSROOM.

Fred, great to see you.


WHITFIELD: all right.

COLLINS: Paying for war when money becomes a weapon. Today, a new battle on Capitol Hill. Two lawmakers weighing right here in THE NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: Opening night at the Pops or Wednesday night at the fights?

The crowd in Symphony Hall. Lose your shirt and your seat. The story coming up in THE NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: The Iraq War and the battle to pay for it -- another showdown taking shape on Capitol Hill. House Democrats pushing a measure that would fund the war only through July. Then Congress would consider new funding measures based on progress in the war.

Joining us congressmen from opposite sides of the aisle, Republican Duncan Hunter of California and Democrat Steve Israel of New York.

Gentlemen, great to see you.

Thanks for your time.

REP. STEVE ISRAEL (D), NEW YORK: Good morning.

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), CALIFORNIA: Good to be with you.

HARRIS: All right, you know the proposal that's on the table that will be voted on today.

Congressman Hunter, a good idea or bad idea?

HUNTER: Well, I think piece-mealing this -- this defense bill -- this defense spending and carrying this only to July, with about a $43 billion piece of the war funding is not a good idea. It's what I call working the cliff. We push out next to the edge of the cliff and nobody knows whether or not you're going to drop off it in August.

That's not the kind of underpinning that we need to give to our forces in Iraq, who need to have some surety that they're going to continue to have all the ammunition, all the supplies, all the protection that they need right through this operation.

The idea that the Democrat leadership is eking this support out a drop at a time and that we're going to be on the edge of the cliff again in a couple of months is not the way to go.


So what do you want?

What's -- what's -- what's the bill look like? What do you want?

HUNTER: Well, what I'd like to see is full funding. That's the full funding that was offered in the president's bill without all of the restrictions. And, you know, some of the restrictions that were on the bill were terrible. One of them said that no American unit could go into Iraq without a 15 day waiting period having notified our committee, the committee on armed services.

That means if you've got a Delta Force that has to go in to save people that are hostages, they have to wait two weeks. If you want to make an air strike on a Zarqawi-level target out of, say, Incirlik, Turkey, you've got to wait two weeks after notification.


HUNTER: That's disastrous in the way that we run operations right now. We move military teams across lines on a daily basis. So the idea of having a two week waiting period before you can do that is bad for the forces.

HARRIS: Gotcha.

So Congressman Israel, you've actually come up with interesting language in the bill linking trained Iraqi security force members with the redeployment of U.S. troops of out Iraq.

ISRAEL: That's right.

HARRIS: I'd ask you to explain it, but the president he's going to veto it.

So how does this feel to know that the president is going to veto the hard work you've put into this new bill?

Well, first of all, let me just comment on something that my friend Duncan Hunter said.


ISRAEL: He's saying that the Democrats are piece-mealing the war.

No. It's the White House that's piece-mealed this war. We've been fighting this war for four years. Not at any point did the president come to Congress and say I want a budget for this war. He keeps coming back every few months saying I need another hundred billion here and another there. He's been the one who's been funding this piecemeal.

And when he comes to us, he says don't put accountability on me. Don't ask me to report on the progress. Don't ask for any honesty with the American people.


ISRAEL: I just want a blank check and I want to spend it externally. We want to put a stop to that.

What we've proposed is a commonsense compromise in the supplemental appropriation...

HARRIS: Can I stop you Congressman?


HARRIS: Because it will be vetoed.

ISRAEL: It will be vetoed.

HARRIS: You know it's going to...

ISRAEL: Well,...

HARRIS: But here's -- here's what I want to ask you.


HARRIS: You just rebutted Congressman Hunter, so let me follow up with this question.

HUNTER: But not effectively.

HARRIS: Congressman Israel...

ISRAEL: Yes, sir?

HARRIS: Are you prepared intellectually to de-fund this war?

ISRAEL: No, in fact, we are --


ISRAEL: ... we continue to offer the president commonsense compromises.

The vote that we're going to take today gives the president all the funding he asked for and then some -- more money for Afghanistan, more money to fix the Walter Reed Army Hospital, more investments in veterans' healthcare.

But it says to him, we'll give you everything you ask for, but come back to us in July. Certify the progress. Be honest with us.

And then, my friend, Mr. Hunter, in July, can make the determination that the strategy is working, progress is being made, we should continue the cost of operations in Iraq or others can make the determination that we need a different strategy and need to effectuate the redeployment of forces into Afghanistan to continue the hunt against Al Qaeda In Iraq.

But at least give us that opportunity to make that decision in July.


ISRAEL: If the president vetoes this...

HARRIS: Great.

ISRAEL: ... he's saying to the American people, blank check, eternal spending.

HARRIS: Congressman Hunter, what is the president saying behind closed doors?

Is he saying this is my war, I'm running it, along with the generals, and if the American people don't like it, OK.

If Congress doesn't like it, well de-fund it.

HUNTER: Well, first, the president did ask for $142 billion for the war through the next year. So, with respect to whether or not he's piecemeal funding it, he did ask for the full $142 billion. He didn't ask for two months, four months, six months, but the full $142 billion.

I wasn't in the membership or the meeting that the president had yesterday. We were, in fact, marking up the defense bill with his full request for the full war yesterday for 15 hours. So I didn't go down to that meeting.

The president is -- the president's firm, though, on winning the war against terror. This isn't a -- this isn't a situation where he confides that he thinks he only has a little time. He's being the leader of the free world. He's being the commander-in-chief. And we've got forces out there now that are about halfway through this so-called surge.


HUNTER: The surge is going to go to 157,000. We've got about 150,000 soldiers In country right now; about another 7,000 or 8,000 to go.

HARRIS: So we're not even through this surge yet. So short of the American people sort of storming the White House and saying we're done with this war, Mr. President, please listen to us, the president is going to continue to move forward in the way that he sees as being best?

HUNTER: Well, listen first nobody is saying that you simply accept -- some of the Democrats -- you simply pack up and leave post- haste.

The key to winning this war is to standing up the Iraqi military -- that's 129 battalions of the Iraqi Army -- getting every on the of those battalions into the fight for a three or four month combat operational period, then letting them rotate into the field and displace the American heavy combat units.

That's the right way for the United States to leave Iraq successfully.


I want you to listen very quickly to our Arwa Damon's reporting from a short time ago on this morning's parliament meeting and the outrage that was expressed here over the upsurge in violence in Diyala Province, that is being linked, at least by this one lawmaker, to the security plan for Baghdad. And then I've got a question for you.


ARWA DAMON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Parliamentarians were screaming at one another. One woman member of parliament stood up and demanded that Prime Minister Nuri Al-Maliki Nuri Al-Maliki be brought into parliament and held accountable for the security crisis in Diyala and throughout all of Iraq.

This led to an even further debate about what was happening throughout the country. And eventually the speaker of parliament stood up and berated the members of parliament, saying to them flat out 75 percent of you are responsible for the killings and for the displacement of people in this country.

This eventually ended up in complete and total chaos and the session was brought to an abrupt end.


HARRIS: Congressman Israel, how can we work with that parliament when they can't seem to work with one another?

ISRAEL: Well, first of all,...


ISRAEL: ... it doesn't sound so much different than our Congress at times. That report could have been given on the steps of the Capitol.

Second of all, this is exactly why we are pursuing the legislation we are pursuing. We are demanding accountability from the Iraqi government. We are demanding oversight. We're demanding that they step up to the plate. Why would they step up to the plate unless getting pressure from the American government and the American Congress?

We are putting the pressure on them and demanding improvements and accountability.

I want to add one other thing. What Mr. Hunter just said about standing up Iraq forces, that is exactly what my language, which was originally conceived of by Congressman Ike Skelton, says.

It says that for every Iraqi that stands up and achieves combat proficiency, an American is redeployed.

But it does something that the president never agreed to.


ISRAEL: It requires him to certify to Congress the number of Iraqis that are standing up instead of giving this nebulous ambivalent rhetoric.

HARRIS: I have to give Congressman Hunter the last word. This is a man running for president.

Congressman Hunter?

HUNTER: Well, listen, the Iraqi politicians yelling at each other is precisely what people do when you have free elections and you elect people and they blame things on each other. And so you've got a -- you've got a political mix there which is not surprising, not unusual.

That's why America's successful exit from Iraq stands not on what the politicians do. I think that the oil division; the conciliation, Sunni and Shiite, those things will be a long time coming.

What you can do is you can order a battalion commander to saddle up...


HUNTER: ... his Iraqi battalion and move them into the battlefield. We need to get all 129 Iraqi battalions battle hardened, get them reliable. Then they can move into the battlefield and displace American heavy combat units. That's the right way to leave Iraq.

HARRIS: Congressman, I am so long in this segment, you can't imagine the trouble that I'm in.

Thank you both for your time this morning.

ISRAEL: Thanks.

HUNTER: Hey, many thanks.

Thanks, Steve.

ISRAEL: Thanks.

COLLINS: We want to go ahead and take you directly now to Boulder, Colorado.

We are getting some information just into us here at CNN about Boulder High School and the fact that it is on lockdown at this hour for an unknown emergency.

We want to make sure that you understand school was not yet in session.

As we see all of the police going into the building, I'm understanding that they are searching that building right now. But what we don't know is for what and what the circumstances are.

We want to bring in John Hall from KOA in Denver, an A.M. news radio station there.

John tell us what you know at this point.

JOHN HALL, KOA RADIO CORRESPONDENT: Well, the call came in a little over an hour ago. And a cafeteria worker called 911 saying he saw two people dressed in camouflage and ski masks going into the school.

And, as you said, school was not in session yet. It was about 6:30 Mountain time here, so kids had not really arrived at the school yet. There were a few administrators and maybe some teachers inside.

They were evacuated. The school is on lockdown for at least another two hours or more while they do search the building.

So far we have no reports of any weapons, but certainly these two suspicious individuals were reported. Police taking this very seriously.

And -- all right, they are surrounding the school right now.


I want to make sure we understand correctly here.

We are hearing from the school recording -- like if you call in to find out what the situation is -- that classes are canceled. But I believe that you're reporting, and I heard some of the helicopter reporting from your Amelia up there in the sky, that just delayed until 10:00.

Any sort of verification on that yet?

HALL: Yes. They are delayed until 10:00 while they continue to assess the situation. The message on the phone is actually a day old. And so that -- that's been a source of some confusion this morning, as well. COLLINS: OK. Great to clear that up.

Also, I understand that students and parents are actually starting to arrive now, as we get a little bit later into the morning, but actually being turned around.

Sent back home or sent to some sort of staging area that I'm learning about, as well?

HALL: They are gathering at a spot nearby the school there. They're waiting for information, just as -- as we're around the school waiting for the information there, as well. And we should point out, this is the end of the school year and we don't have any reports of any weapons thus far. Certainly, police taking it very seriously. But this time of year Is when you might see a senior prank or something along those lines.


HALL: Maybe some kids weren't thinking when they were doing this how it would be -- how it would be seen.

But certainly right now a very serious situation. Kids are not in school. Police shutting it down and shutting streets around the school down, as well.

COLLINS: Yes. Those memories of Columbine and, of course, Virginia Tech so very fresh in everyone's minds.

We certainly hope that it's not a prank.

But we know you will continue to follow it for us.

We'll check in with you should anything develop on the ground there.

Jon Allen of KOA out of Denver for us this morning.

Thank you, John.

HARRIS: And still to come this morning, praying for rain and hoping the fire lines hold. Firefighters battling stubborn blazes from the South to the West. Details in THE NEWSROOM.


COLLINS: We really want to stay on top of the situation that we're learning a little bit about out of Boulder, Colorado this morning.

Apparently, Boulder High School is on lockdown right now for an unknown emergency.

We know that the police are inside the building searching it right now. You can see, it's a very large high school. So quite a bit of area there to search and make sure everything is OK. Briggs Gamblin is on the phone with us from the Boulder Valley School District.

Briggs, we want to make sure, first, that we have the very latest information.

What do you know about this "suspicious" incident?


We have -- sometime between 6:00 and 6:30 this morning, Mountain Daylight time, a food service worker arrived at Boulder High School to prepare the kitchen for the day and saw -- spotted two suspicious looking men in the building wearing camouflage gear and ski masks.

At this point, we have no reports of weapons but that's what we know. They called police and they called district security.

The police are on the -- the Boulder Police Department is on the scene. The building is locked down and there's a thorough search of the grounds and sweep of the building going on by police right now.

School is obviously delayed until at least 10:00 a.m. Mountain Daylight time. Any parents who choose to keep their students home, those students will receive an excused absence. But at this point, we are still planning -- if the police are finished with the building and verify that it is secure -- we are still planning to open at 10:00 a.m. Mountain Daylight time.

And if we -- if that changes, we will announce it immediately.


Briggs, any idea if these two suspicious men have yet been found or questioned?

GAMBLIN: Not -- not that I am aware of. And the Boulder Police Department has not indicated that they have found anyone yet.

COLLINS: All right.

So, quickly, I, also, wanted to clear up -- we had mentioned with John Hall of KOA just a few minutes ago about some sort of message that is on the Boulder High School recording if you call in to get the latest information. That recording says school is closed today.

But, really, we are learning from you and from several other reports that only delayed at this point until 10:00 a.m.

GAMBLIN: Right. 10:00 a.m. Mountain Daylight time.


I just wanted to make sure on that. So, also, we are learning that parents and students coming to the school are being sent away, certainly not let into the building or anywhere near that at this time.

GAMBLIN: That's correct.

That's correct.

COLLINS: Parking lots are blockaded right now? All the entrances being protected into the building, as well?

GAMBLIN: That's correct.


There's also a staging area, we understand, a university apartment building which is just across from the baseball diamond, I believe, Boulder High School.


COLLINS: Tell us about that.

What will be happening there?

GAMBLIN: That is -- that is this is being run by the Boulder Police Department. And their -- their contact would be Julie Brooks.

I -- and our security personnel are part of that, but it is -- that is -- that staging center is being operated by the Boulder Police Department.


Very good.

Quickly, before we let you go, Briggs, give us an idea of how many kids go to Boulder High School. It looks to be, you know, a fairly large school.

GAMBLIN: It's just under 1,900 students. It's the second largest high school in our district. Our district is about 28,000 students overall, about 500 square miles in parts of three counties and taking in parts of -- taking in all or part of 10 cities and towns.

COLLINS: All right.

Briggs Gamblin this morning, coming to us out of Boulder.

And Boulder Valley School District on a lockdown that this school is going through right now. Police are inside that building and searching it, making sure everything is OK, after apparently around 6:00, 6:30 this morning, two suspicious men were seen going into the building with camouflage and ski masks on.

They're trying to find out exactly what is going on there. School is delayed at least until 10:00 this morning.

We'll stay on top of it for you.

Briggs Gamblin, thank you.

HARRIS: Using the military to become A better criminal?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why were you there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To just gain knowledge, gain understanding. The military made me a better recruiter, organizer and propagandist.


HARRIS: Gang members in uniform in THE NEWSROOM.


HARRIS: So we want to get you the very latest on the situation at a Boulder, Colorado high school.

Chris Parente of our affiliate there in Boulder, KWGN, has more.

CHRIS PARENTE, KWGN CORRESPONDENT: Before 7:00, that call came in. Apparently some staff members here at the high school observed what they thought to be two suspects in camos, possibly wearing masks.

They phoned that into police. The result is what you see now. These, of course, are live pictures of Boulder High School here at Arapahoe and 17th.

The entire perimeter of the high school has been cordoned off. There is police tape around the entire high school. And there are police officers stationed here probably about every 20 to 30 yards around the entire perimeter, again, of the school.

About a half hour ago, I saw a SWAT team with weapons drawn, rifles, German shepherds enter the high school. And I'm told they are doing now a room by room search of Boulder High School, searching for whether or not these suspects actually were in the high school or not.

Again, reports very preliminary, this phone in by staff members.

In the meantime, a lot of students arrived, expecting to go to class this morning, along with teachers. They were met by police tape, officers telling them, of course, to keep off the school property.

We have a couple of students right now.

Good morning.


PARENTE: You're a junior here at Boulder High School?


I'm Kathryn (ph).

PARENTE: And how did you discover what happened this morning?

KATHRYN: I was on my way to school and I got a call from a friend that there were cops around and to go home, but I came anyway to pick someone up. And there was caution tape around the school and the cops were telling us to leave. But my car over here is blocked in, so I had no choice.

PARENTE: It seems a lot of students were in the same boat. A lot of you drive to class. You came here and found this. It has to be frightening to you.

KATHRYN: Exactly. I was terrified. I just hope that there's no students inside the building that are in harm's way.

PARENTE: And, certainly, as far as you know, you've been -- you've gone here all three years of high school?


PARENTE: you feel pretty safe here at the school?

KATHRYN: I do, generally.

We actually had a threat a couple of weeks ago that kind of scared everyone, as well, so...

PARENTE: So you and your friends at this point are just sort of waiting it out?

KATHRYN: Yes, exactly. We're kind waiting to see what happens.

PARENTE: All right, thanks for your time this morning. Appreciate it.

KATHRYN: Thanks to you.


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