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THE SITUATION ROOM
Alternate War Strategies Considered by the Bush Administration. Can the Iraqi Government Meet Bush's Benchmarks?
Aired July 10, 2007 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty once again for The Cafferty File.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is, quite simply, the worst president we've ever had. Even Nixon had the decency to resign.
Nick in Pennsylvania writes: Jack, we can't blame the president for all of this. We're almost as much to blame as he is. We, the people, voted him in for a second term and we the people voted for a new Congress. How did that work out?
And Richard in Louisiana: Jack, he already has one. It's called Iraq. No matter what he may do or accomplish in his remaining time, this war will be his everlasting legacy. Ask the mothers, fathers, wives, husbands, sons daughters of the dead soldiers and they will answer in a loud chorus Iraq when asked what Bush will be remembered for Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you, Jack.
And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, lawmakers from both parties turning up the lead on the president, calling for a pull out from Iraq. The president says not so fast.
But does the Pentagon have a Plan B in mind?
More of Michael Moore. A day after his passionate appearance here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the director of "Sicko" is back defending his criticism of America's health care system.
And a leading cell phone company drops a thousand customers for making too many calls to customer service.
How are consumers reacting?
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The president's troop increase in Iraq is coming under increased pressure today from lawmakers, many of whom are calling for a pullout. One measure, if passed, would order the president to begin a withdrawal within 120 days. But President Bush says he won't make a move until he hears from the U.S. commanders in Iraq. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And we just started. He got all the troops there a couple of weeks ago. He asked for, you know, twenty something thousand troops. And I said if that's what you need, U.N. Z, that's what you've got. And they just showed up. And they're now beginning to beginning to -- beginning operations in full. And in Washington, you have people saying stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
Is there a Plan B in the works right now -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, at least when you walk in these Pentagon hallways, you do begin to hear the first hints of the possibility of a new strategy.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
STARR: (voice-over): CNN has learned that some Pentagon planners are quietly considering a revised Iraq military strategy if the so- called surge doesn't result in significant progress by September. And given the violence, it's unlikely that quick progress will happen.
The leading ideas are part of the Iraq Study Group's analysis -- get the troops out of day to day combat and instead have them focus on fighting al Qaeda terrorists, training Iraqi security forces the forces and securing Iraq's borders with Iran and Syria.
The Pentagon knows this potential Plan B is one of the best chances for bipartisan Congressional support.
JON ALTERMAN, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: We'll have some garrisoning around Baghdad. We'll have some border control responsibility. We'll have a training responsibility. And then we'll have an attack capability for insurgent groups.
STARR: But experts say telling the troops to just go after Al Qaeda could be a security nightmare.
JIM CARAFANO, SENIOR FELLOW, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: If it's a domestic bomb factory, you're going to leave it alone?
I mean, you know, you can't tell these things. You're going to go after bad guys who are trying to kill innocent people. So trying to say we'll parse this and we'll only go after the bad guys who are, you know, that we care about, that's almost impossible to do.
STARR: Some military planners are already crunching the Plan B numbers -- how many troops, where would they be positioned and could the U.S. give up some of its bases in Iraq?
(END VIDEO TAPE) STARR: Wolf, keep in mind, officially, none of this is happening. Officially, the Pentagon is sticking with its current strategy. Even Defense Secretary Bob Gates is keeping his distance from Capitol Hill right now. His top aides say his presence there would only stoke the political fires further. That's something Secretary Gates doesn't want to happen -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Barbara, thank you for that.
The United States isn't going it alone in Iraq. The president's strategy certainly depends heavily on the performance of the Iraqi government and the Iraqi military.
And joining us now from Baghdad, our correspondent, Michael Ware.
As, you know, Michael, the administration has to report on these 18 so-called benchmarks, how the Iraqi government is doing and living up to its part of the bargain.
Let's go through a few of them and tell me if it's likely they're going to be able to achieve these goals. For example, providing three trained and ready Iraqi brigades to support Baghdad operations.
So far, I've been told they may have one.
But do you think they're going to have three fully operational brigades, the Iraqis, in to provide security to the capital?
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that might be difficult to deliver.
However, that is one of the few benchmarks where the military may be able to uphold the White House in its report leading to the interim report that there may have been some progress -- or, even, indeed, significant progress.
It's clear that the Iraqis are providing some numbers for the surge in the capital of Baghdad. The question now that remains a mystery and shrouded behind operational security is whether, in fact, they have attained the full three brigades.
But that's one where there was some progress. I don't know if it's a victory, though.
BLITZER: All right, let's talk about another one -- reducing the level of sectarian violence in Iraq and eliminating militia control of local security. In other words, doing away with the various militias.
Is that doable in the short-term?
WARE: Oh, no. That's absolutely daydreaming to -- for anyone in D.C. or the Pentagon to believe that that could be possible -- this year, next year, even, let alone by September. I mean the militias have become the fundamental building blocks of much of the conflict here and, indeed, are the essential frame of reference for the shape and nature of the political power as it's defined in this country. Power here, politically is still marked by the barrel of the gun and how many men at arms you can command or how you can turn the streets to violence at your whim.
Now, in terms of sectarian violence here in the capital of Baghdad, where most of the focus of the surge is placed, there's been some dampening on some of the normal indicators on levels of violence.
Nonetheless, we had, what, 500 -- almost 500 executed bodies found on the streets of the -- just the capital alone. That doesn't include the rest of the country.
So, no. And end to sectarian violence or a significant dampening in it, nor a dismantling of the militias, no way -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Michael Ware, we're going to be watching this every step of the way, together with you.
Thanks very much for joining us.
WARE: My pleasure.
BLITZER: Insurgents offered a reality check of their own just a little while ago. A barrage of up to 35 mortar rounds fell inside Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone, supposedly, the safest part of the Iraqi capital. The U.S. Embassy says three people, including a U.S. service member, were killed. Eighteen people were injured, including five American citizens.
We're watching this story for you, as well.
Let's go back to Jack in New York for The Cafferty File -- Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's nothing, in my opinion, quite like Michael Ware's stuff out of Iraq.
Do you agree with that?
BLITZER: I do.
CAFFERTY: I mean he has a depth of knowledge about what's going on over there and can paint in the subtle shades of gray like nobody else that I've seen reporting on that war. It's good to have him back on the program.
BLITZER: And, you know, one thing about Michael I just want to point out, he's a courageous journalist. He's been there for four-and- a-half years.
You know what it's like to spend a few days in Iraq?
He's been there for, what, four-and-a-half years with very limited time off.
CAFFERTY: Yes. If you look up tough guy in the dictionary, Michael's picture is there, I think. He's doing a yeoman's work and we're lucky to have him. When the shakeup is this big and it happens this early, color it ominous. Four -- four of Senator John McCain's top political strategists to his presidential campaign quit today.
Campaign manager Terry Nelson, chief strategist John Weaver announced they're leaving.
Also, out, deputy campaign manager Reed Galen and political director Rob Jesmer.
Just last week, it was Nelson and Weaver who reported McCain had only $2 million in the bank after raising just $11.2 million in the second quarter. At one time, they had predicted McCain would raise $100 million this year.
When McCain was asked if the staff changes are a sign that his campaign is weakening, he said -- quoting here -- "people can make their own assessments. I think we're doing fine. The campaign is doing well."
Fine and well may not be the operative words here. McCain has slipped in the polls. A lot of people not pleased with his continued support of President Bush's troop increase in Iraq, along with his stance on the recently failed immigration amnesty bill.
In fact, just today, with news of the shakeup circulating, McCain was on the Senate floor saying that although violence in Baghdad was at unacceptably high levels, the U.S. in Iraq seemed to be moving in the right direction.
Say goodnight, John.
Here's the question -- what's the future of Senator John McCain's presidential campaign?
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile.
Not looking too good for the senator -- Wolf.
BLITZER: He's been in harsh positions before in his life and he's come through. We'll see how he does now.
CAFFERTY: All right.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
Up ahead, the filmmaker Michael Moore -- why he's highlighting foreign health care in his new movie "Sicko".
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL MOORE, FILMMAKER: We usually don't see those stories on our American media about what they're doing right. And so I thought wouldn't this be a good idea for me to be the balanced one, to provide the balance that the American people haven't received through their media. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: we're going to air part two of the interview with Michael Moore. A lot of people are talking about part one. You're about to see the complete part two, raw, unedited. That's coming up.
Also, we'll take you live to one county now weighing what some are calling harsh action against illegal immigration. We're going to show you what moves are being proposed.
Plus, growing calls in the U.S. Senate for a change in Iraq policy. A growing number of influential Republicans chiming in. I'll talk about it with a strong backer of the president's war policy, the Independent senator, Joe Lieberman. He's standing by live. He'll join us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: As the Bush administration prepares to give a progress report in the coming days on its Iraq strategy, some senators are stepping up their push for a pullout. One measure demands that a withdrawal start in 120 days or so. Another would require troops to spend as much time as home as they do in combat.
Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut calling these amendments "untimely, unwise and unfair."
He's joining us now live from Capitol Hill.
Senator, thanks for coming in.
SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: I listened carefully to your remarks today and over the past few days. And one line sort of jumps out at us, when we hear you saying we're winning in Iraq right now. You know a lot of people don't believe that.
LIEBERMAN: Yes, and I understand that. And what I mean is that we've the enemy, Al Qaeda, on the run. We've chased them out of Anbar Province, where they were going to create the capital for the Islamist Republic of Iraq. We've chased them now to Diyala. All of this possible because of the surge forces that we have -- the extra troops at General Petraeus' command. And we've reduced -- our troops have reduced the -- the deaths from sectarian violence.
So the momentum, I believe, has switched in the direction of the coalition and Iraqi security forces.
But this is a war, Wolf, and the enemy would do. And this is an unbelievably unconventionally cruel enemy. It's blowing itself up in increasing numbers in these dramatic suicide bombings, which are aimed at creating more sectarian violence and, frankly, they're aimed at affecting American public opinion and trying to urge the American people to get us out of the war.
BLITZER: When I played the sound bite of you saying the U.S. has the enemy on the run and the U.S. is winning to Senator Jim Webb of Virginia in the last hour, he suggested that it's sort of these tactical victories that he personally saw happen in Vietnam, when he was a Marine during the Vietnam War. But big picture, it's by no means looking very good right now.
LIEBERMAN: Well, I don't agree with that, respectfully. And I appreciate what -- what Jim said. It is a -- and we are achieving some tactical victories now. And I don't think it's over, by any means.
But what I'm saying is it's moving in the right direction. And that's why this is such an unfair and inappropriate time to be mandating a retreat. I mean that would be, basically, legislating defeat when we still have a chance to win. And I think you only want to do that if you don't think it's not worth winning. I think it's worth winning and fighting to win, because if we don't, Iran and Al Qaeda win; Iraq falls apart; the Middle East is in chaos; and they come after us back here at home.
I think it's -- we have a chance to turn this around. And shame on us if Congress, from here, legislates a defeat that our military will never allow to happen over there.
BLITZER: The -- so much of this depends on cooperation and fortitude on behalf of the Iraqis themselves -- the Iraqi government, the Iraqi military. Senator Warner introduced legislation that's now a law -- 18 of these so-called benchmarks on -- to make sure the Iraqis are doing what they're supposed to be doing. And in the coming days, the Bush administration has to report to you -- to Congress -- on whether they're actually implementing, living up to these benchmarks.
Early indications are, Senator, they are not.
You must be disappointed in the government and the Iraqi military, that they're simply not doing what they should be doing.
LIEBERMAN: I am disappointed, but the picture is mixed. It's not all bleak. There's a lot of goodwill over there on the part of the Iraqi leadership and they're worker hard to try to get some of the legislation passed which will show that they are beginning to reconcile their differences.
And I'll tell you one of the most exciting and encouraging things I saw over in Iraq on my last visit, about a month ago, was not at the high government level, but there are district councils that are being formed by people all over Iraq, that are kind of a self-governing grassroots up experience. And of course, the movement of a lot of tribal leaders, which have a lot of clout there, in our direction, because they have decided that Al Qaeda really is their enemy. That's encouraging, too.
But -- but, look, we're there to -- to stop Iran and Al Qaeda. But we're also there to provide some stability and security, in which the Iraqi government has to take hold of its own destiny. And to the extent that they have not done that yet, of course, it's disappointing. And we've got to do everything we can to pressure them to do better.
BLITZER: You caused a stir in recent days by suggesting -- and I'm paraphrasing -- that the U.S. should consider, if necessary, bombing Iran's nuclear facilities. A lot of people were alarmed by that. But tell us precisely what you have in mind.
LIEBERMAN: Yes, because I never did say that. I do think that everybody who says that it's unacceptable -- and most everybody here in Congress -- liberal, conservative, Republican, Democrat -- says it's unacceptable for Iran to get nuclear weapons. We've to deal with what we're going to do if it looks like everything else we try is not working.
So that's why we all say we have to keep the military option open.
But in this case what I was saying is that the American military has given us evidence that the Iranians are training Iraqi terrorists, up to 60 at a time, at three bases outside of Teheran. And we know where they are. And we've presented to come back into Iraq.
and those terrorists have killed hundreds -- and I stress that -- hundreds of American soldiers. We simply cannot sit back and allow Iran to do that.
So my point is we've got to send them a clear message that they've got to stop it. And if they don't, they have to believe that we will take military action against those training bases. That's what I'm talking about.
BLITZER: Are you talking about bombing those training bases?
LIEBERMAN: Well, whatever it takes to -- to knock them out. I mean I think with the Iranians -- look, the Europeans negotiated with the Iranians for more than two years to stop their nuclear program to no effect. They just kept going forward.
I think the Iranian -- this fanatical Iranian governmental leadership, which exhorts the Iranian people to shout "Death To America!," which talks about wiping out Israel, they are not going to do what we simply ask them courteously to do unless they know that there's a credible threat, a force behind that. And that's what I'm saying.
Incidentally, Wolf, I'm very glad that I'm going to be -- to announce to you that I'm joining with some of my colleagues -- Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and others -- and we're going to be introducing a Sense of the Senate resolution on this defense authorization bill that will state the facts that the American military has made public about Iranian actions which have led to the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers. And basically I'm hoping this will give the Senate an opportunity to make a strong, unified statement to the Iranians -- stop it. That's -- that's the message.
BLITZER: And you're saying, actually, these are acts of war on the part of the Iranians against the United States?
LIEBERMAN: Well, look it, when -- when you support an effort, through your proxies, carried out by a section of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which reports to the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, and you're killing hundreds of Americans, to me, that's a hostile act. That's an act of war.
Wolf, I heard your excellent interview on Sunday with General Lynch. And, you know, at one point, you asked him about Iran and he said in a very specific way -- I believe he said that he had lost seven American soldiers in his unit and I believe he said 45 wounded as a result of explosives and other weapons systems that he knew had been brought into Iraq from Iran and were being used by Iraqi terrorists who were trained by the Iranians.
Now, you -- we -- we simply cannot put up with that. No matter what you think about the war in Iraq, you can't let the Iranians be responsible for killing hundreds of American soldiers --
BLITZER: All right --
LIEBERMAN: -- and not feel that we're going to react to it.
BLITZER: We've got to leave it there, Senator.
Thanks for coming in.
LIEBERMAN: thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you.
And coming up, part two of my interview with the filmmaker Michael Moore. This is a section of the interview you haven't seen yet. He puts the American health care system under a very hot spotlight.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOORE: People hate their HMOs. They hate this lousy system. Doctors hate it. Doctors are demoralized. And -- and it has to be fixed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So what does he think should be done?
My interview with Michael Moore. That's coming up.
Also, a proposal for some of the toughest measures in the country against illegal immigrants.
Is it going too far?
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: As the debate over immigration rages here in Washington, just a few miles away, a very large community may soon enact some very tough measures aimed at illegal immigrants
Let's go to Brian Todd.
He's joining us from Prince William County out in Virginia.
What's going on out there -- Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this county has suddenly become a pretty major battleground in this country's debate over illegal immigration.
Hundreds of protestors have converged on this administration building behind me. As you can see, many of them are still here. They are really their wrath against one man -- County Supervisor John Stirrup. They're accusing him of racism, of harassing illegal immigrants because of a law that he is proposing. He's actual -- he's trying to pass a resolution today that he hopes would become law later essentially turning each member of the police force of this county into a de facto immigration agent -- asking anyone who they might temporarily detain, possibly even for a minor traffic stop, what their immigration status is. Essentially doing a background check on that person and then sharing that data, that information, with federal law enforcement -- federal homeland security and immigration agents to try to target those people for deportation.
The important point of difference here is that right now, under law, you can only get that information from someone if they are jailed and/or charged. But Mr. Stirrup wants to radically change that. He really wants to send a tough signal to illegal immigrants. He says he's gotten endless complaints from residents of this county that illegal immigrants are overpopulating neighborhoods, that they're contributing to a skyrocketing crime rate, that they are, essentially, trashing the streets, trashing houses.
Here is what he says he hopes to send as a signal to any potential illegal immigrants.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN STIRRUP, PRINCE WILLIAM COUNTY, VIRGINIA, SUPERVISOR: We very much want to send that signal to -- to future illegal immigrants who might be trying to move to Prince William County and seek a haven here or because they believe that its a sanctuary or it's a comfortable place to live or a conducive atmosphere for illegal aliens. And we want to send that strong signal that that's not the case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Immigrant advocate groups accuse this man, essentially, of profiling and racism.
Here's what one advocate had to say earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICARDO JUAREZ, MEXICANOS SIN FRONTERAS: Why you -- why they will ask that to us, to the brown people, to the Latino people?
So I don't know, you know, if under this law the white officials or the white workers on the -- on the county will request the same questions to white -- a white person.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: So this resolution being debated right now, Wolf.
They hope to pass the resolution. They hope to make it into a law later.
One important point here. The police do not like this. They say it adds too many layers of bureaucracy to what they're doing and it will essentially turn the immigrant population against them -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thanks for that.
Coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the filmmaker Michael Moore and what he says is the real problem in the United States. Part two of my interview with Michael Moore -- complete, unedited. That's coming up next.
Also, we're going to show you which cell phone company is cutting off thousands of customers and why.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a Louisiana senator apologizing for what he calls a serious sin after his phone number is linked to an escort service run by the so-called D.C. Madam. Republican David Vitter says he's received forgiveness from god and from his wife and won't discuss the matter further.
Also, dueling speeches on Iraq by the top Democratic presidential candidates. Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama appearing just blocks apart in Des Moines, Iowa.
Obama noting that he opposed the war from the beginning. Clinton, who voted to authorize the invasion, saying it's time to begin the end of the war.
And the Muslim cleric leading the standoff over that mosque in Pakistan's capital, killed in the crossfire by a raid by government forces. Pakistani officials say 15 militants also died.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
The filmmaker Michael Moore lashing out at the news media in general, CNN in particular in a passionate, sometimes heated interview right here on THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday. We talked about his new film "Sicko" taking a critical look at the U.S. health care system and getting some criticism in turn. Moore was clearly fired up and had lots more to say, so we kept the cameras rolling.
Here is part two, unedited, of that interview.
BLITZER: And joining us now, Michael Moore. The documentary entitled "Sicko."
Michael, thanks for sticking around. We had part one of the interview yesterday. This is part two. Let's go through some of the criticisms of the film "Sicko," because I want to give you a chance to respond to the critics.
MICHAEL MOORE, DIRECTOR, "SICKO": Yes, sure.
BLITZER: Here is...
MOORE: Wolf, can we all -- can we just point out though, first, that even though this is today and we are saying it is part two, we actually taped this yesterday. Because I don't want people to think I slept in these clothes, and you know, didn't change for you there.
BLITZER: No, OK then, fair enough. We taped it after the first part. And we are going to run this interview as is. We are not going to edit it. We are not going to cut it up or anything like that.
MOORE: OK, good.
BLITZER: All right. So let's talk about, one of the criticisms, and you have heard it, is that you have taken the best of the Canadian system, the best of the British system, the French system, the best of the Cuban system and highlighted that in the film, and you have really taken the worst of the American system and highlighted that.
Is that a fair criticism?
MOORE: Well, first of all, when you are trying to find a better system, you would actually look for the best things in those other systems. So that is what I went and did. Because all we have heard for how many years -- you know, all the bad things about the Canadian system, all the bad things about the British system.
I mean, really, I think if you went through your own archives here at CNN, I would be thrilled to see if there was a piece in the past that said, look how great the Canadian system is here, or look at the French system and how they take care of their people, not just with health care, but free college, low-cost daycare, et cetera, et cetera.
So we don't usually see those stories on our American media about what they are doing right. And so I thought, wouldn't this be a good idea for me to be the balanced one, to provide the balance that the American people haven't received through their media.
And so in this film, you get to see Canada the way it has never been shown, and France, and Britain. And you learn how they are doing so many things that are right. Yes, are there problems with their systems? Absolutely. There are flaws in any system that is run by human beings.
But we know what those are. We have heard a lot about them. I want to know what is good about them, because we need to fix our system here. And let me tell you, I didn't have to go very far to show just how bad the system is here.
I think just about any one of your viewers can tell you a story that they have had with the health care system, or a story that a family member or a neighbor has had. I mean, this is so predominant throughout the country.
People hate their HMOs, they hate this lousy system. Doctors hate it. Doctors are demoralized. And it has to be fixed.
BLITZER: And one of the most powerful parts of the film, right at the beginning of the film, when you make the point, this is not a film about those 40 million or 50 million Americans who don't have health insurance, this is a film about the 250 million who do have health insurance.
Another powerful part was when you took those 9/11 rescue workers to Cuba. And they got some treatment there. It was a very emotional ending to the film. What is the latest on the U.S. government's complaints, if there are serious complaints, that you broke the law about A, going to Cuba, and B, that those three rescue workers may have violated the law by going with you to Havana?
MOORE: Well, first of all, the law says that you can go to Cuba for journalistic endeavors. That is what this is. It is a non- fiction film. It is a work of journalism. So whatever trouble the Bush administration is trying to cause is -- they are just using their federal agency for political purposes, that is not unusual for them.
I accept that that is how they behave. And we will deal with them. And I'm not worried about it. For them to think about going after the 9/11 rescue workers who received treatment down there, I just can't imagine that they would do something as crass and disgusting as that.
So let's hope that that doesn't happen, because they were able to get care down there from the Cuban doctors that they weren't able to get here in our own country. And of course, the reason we went there wasn't to go to Cuba, it was -- if you have seen the movie, it was to go to Guantanamo Bay, which is American soil there on the Cuban island. We went there because we found out that people -- al Qaeda detainees, or those who are accused of being al Qaeda there, in Gitmo, get better care than the 9/11 responders who ran down there to save lives. It just made no sense to me. So I just wanted to take the rescue workers down to Gitmo to get the same care that we are giving al Qaeda.
BLITZER: And I said, that was a powerful part of the film. The Iranian news agency is reporting you are going to go to Iran and show the film there. I wonder if that is true?
MOORE: Really? No.
BLITZER: That is what they are saying.
MOORE: Really? Are they saying that? Or is that FOX News?
BLITZER: That is what apparently they are saying. I have no idea if that is true or not.
MOORE: No, no, no, I'm not going to Iran.
MOORE: Ooooh! Scary, is that our next boogieman?
MOORE: Hey, let's the war drums going. No one is going to fall for it anymore, are they? I don't think so.
BLITZER: Are you satisfied, are you happy with the response you have gotten from this film?
MOORE: Absolutely. Oh man, I will tell you, it has been incredible. And the letters I'm receiving from people, there are so many stories. God, I would love to share some of them with you. I would love to see you guys do some of the stories on the things I'm hearing and seeing of what people are having to go through with our health care system.
Would you be willing to do that, if I shared some of this with you?
BLITZER: Yes. We would very happy to...
MOORE: I mean, I can't...
BLITZER: We would love to follow up. This is a critical issue. I have seen the film and I have covered this story for a long time. I was the White House correspondent during the Clinton administration when Hillary Clinton tried to get something going. And I remember what she did and I remember the aftermath, very, very personally because I was right there watching all of it unfold.
And I know what has been tried and failed over these many years. This is a serious problem that we face in the country. And I think everyone agrees. The only question is, how do you fix it? You have some ideas. Mayor Giuliani has some different ideas, as we pointed out in part one of this interview.
Let me just wrap it up with Iraq right now, because you have leveled some serious charges, and "Fahrenheit 9/11" was a powerful film as well. What do you see happening right now? Because the country clearly has turned dramatically against this war and they would like U.S. forces out as quickly as possible.
MOORE: Well, that is what has to happen. We have to bring our troops home. No mother, no father tonight should have to get a knock on the door saying that their son or daughter died for what? I just -- I can't imagine that happening to myself and I don't want that to happen to any parent in this country.
And frankly, I would like to see, you know, a few of our elected representatives, especially the Democrats, who were elected in November to do a job -- the American people gave them direct orders, end this war. And they haven't done it. And believe me, that hasn't been lost on the average person who has watched the Democrats.
That is why your polls show that Congress gets even a lower approval rating than Mr. Bush. They are not happy and the members of Congress and the Senate had better figure this out, because they are not going to find people storming to the polls next November to support them if they feel that they have been deceived and conned by people who said that they would end this war and then didn't do it.
BLITZER: And on this issue, you like Al Gore as well?
MOORE: Well, Al Gore is good on so many issues. I mean, whether it was about the war, global warming, health care, I mean, you know, I'm not endorsing him or anybody else, but I'm just saying that I would like to get the debate and the discussion going here with -- I don't want to see cookie-cutter candidates saying the same thing here, and being afraid to be bold leaders.
I mean, what has happened to this country? I mean, Wolf, we used to have leaders like FDR, who defeated -- with our allies, defeated the Nazis and Mussolini in less time than our commander-in-chief has been able to secure the road from the airport to downtown Baghdad.
I mean, that is just -- that should just disgust everybody. But we used to have real leaders then. We had another president who said we are going to put a man on the Moon in eight years. And it happened.
Government used to work. The problem isn't government here. The problem is that we have elected people who appoint "heckuva job" Brownie to fill a position that then ruin it for everyone. And that is what has to change. And I think that is what people are hopeful about at least.
BLITZER: Michael Moore's film is called "Sicko." Michael, thanks for sticking around.
MOORE: Thank you, Wolf. And thank you for telling me during the break that you really liked the film.
BLITZER: I thought it was a powerful film. Thank you.
MOORE: Thank you very much.
BLITZER: And up ahead, our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, is standing by to join us live. As you may remember, from yesterday's SITUATION ROOM, Michael Moore responded to Sanjay's report. Sanjay is going to talk to us about that. That's coming up next.
Also, there has been another shakeup in the McCain presidential campaign. Jack Cafferty wants to know what you think of the future of the senator's campaign.
And you probably know only too well what it's like to have your cell phone call dropped. But what is it like when you cell phone company drops you? Our Mary Snow has the answer. That's all coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The filmmaker Michael Moore unhappy with criticism of his new film on the U.S. health care system entitled "Sicko." Our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, checked out some of the facts in the film. He's joining us now from the CNN Center in Atlanta.
We did a set-up piece, if you will, a background piece going into the interview yesterday, you heard Michael Moore make some angry comments, Sanjay. Tell us what you think about the charges that he leveled against you?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, I mean, look, there's a lot of interest in health care, where the system is going and what can be done about it. There are people very concerned about health care in this country. And obviously, Michael Moore is one of them.
In that fact-check piece that you're talking about, Wolf, I did make a mistake as I've talked about and apologized for. There was a misquoting of Michael Moore with regards to per capita spending in Cuba for health care. He said it about $251. I misquoted him as saying it's $25. I got the number wrong there.
And as a doctor and as a journalist, I want to get these numbers right. Because I think it's important to make this discussion go forward. That's why we're going to have this discussion tonight, hopefully a concrete, productive discussion with Michael on "LARRY KING LIVE" to get at a lot more of these sorts issues, Wolf.
BLITZER: So let me just be clear with the viewer. You're going to be on together with Michael Moore later tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE" and you're going to go through a lot of these points, his criticisms of you and where you see the situation standing.
GUPTA: Yes, absolutely. And I think this is a worthwhile discussion. Look, this isn't a debate. It is a discussion. I think the one thing that I'm pretty confident we agree on is that the health care system in this country is not where we want it to be. There are a lot of people who are going without basic health services. And that's something that we need to fix. I think everyone agrees on that.
I think that this film has done a lot of things, but one of the things it does is brought this discussion back to the forefront. And we want to make sure to use this as an opportunity to educate people about this. So hopefully, again, it's a concrete, productive discussion.
BLITZER: You have seen the film, I have seen the film. But do you think it's really going to have an impact and really change the nature of the health care system here in the United States? And A, people who have no insurance are going to be able to get insurance, but B, people who do have insurance are going to be able to get the kind of treatments, get the types of benefits that they really need to stay healthy and survive?
GUPTA: Well, I think you bring up two very important points. As far as whether it's going to make a change, I hope so. Look, there has been a disconnect for a long time between what people understand the health issues to be and how they vote when the important elections come.
People don't always vote their conscience at the ballot box. And you know, hopefully that will change this time around with regards to what people want out of their health care system.
But also with regards to the services they need, we spend so much of our health care budget towards taking care of people after they have already become sick instead of preventing some of those diseases in the first place. Medically and morally it makes a lot of sense to keep people from getting sick in the first place. And I think that has got to be a big component of fixing the health care system overall -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to see you and Michael Moore together with Larry King later tonight here on CNN, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Sanjay, thanks very much for doing this. Let's check in with Lou Dobbs to see what is coming up right at the top of the hour.
Lou, what are you working on? LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Yes, Wolf. As I was listening to you and Sanjay, I was thinking that Michael Moore hasn't had much impact, his two previous films in point of fact not working out so well in terms of affecting change, at least certainly heightening public consciousness. But it's an interesting consideration.
Wolf, tonight at the top of the hour, we'll be reporting on a looming population crisis in the state of California. The so-called Golden State's population likely to almost double over the next 40 years. Massive illegal immigration, the primary reason. And that could further push California's vital services and infrastructures to the breaking point. We'll have that report.
Also, communist China flooding this country with possibly dangerous food and other exports. But American consumers addicted to those imports, buying more than ever. We'll have the story.
And the State Department struggling to find enough volunteers to serve in the American embassy in Iraq, so diplomats could soon be ordered to serve in Iraq, just like our soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines.
And among my guest tonight, Senator Olympia Snowe, Republican, whose support for the president's conduct of this war is changing. We hope you'll join us for all of that and a great deal more, coming up at the top of the hour.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: We'll be watching, Lou, thank you. Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, a cell phone company drops customers for making too many calls to customer service. Will this set a precedent?
And remember that "Crush on Obama" video? Well, Hillary Rodham Clinton has her own musical admirer, coming up at our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Normally a company courts customers, but in a new twist, Sprint is cutting some cell phone customers. Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow, she is watching the story for us.
What is this all about, Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is an unusual step. Sprint is giving the boot to customers who complain too much.
SNOW (voice-over): It's not the message you expect from your cell phone provider. You're disconnected and it's because you've called customer service too much. Sprint penned the equivalent of a "Dear John" letter to about 1,000 customers, telling them the number of inquiries you have made to us during this time has led us to determine that we're unable to meet your current wireless needs. Some consumer groups are seeing red.
CHRIS MURRAY, CONSUMERS UNION SR. COUNSEL: If customers are calling into the care center, there's generally a reason. And companies shouldn't just be terminating people willy-nilly because they feel that they're calling too much.
SNOW: But Sprint says, hold the phone. The people affected called customer care 40 to 50 times more than the average customer every month over an extended period. Does the company have the right to fire its customers?
MICHELE SALAMI, SPRINT CUSTOMER: I would say if someone is calling their cell phone service 40 to 50 times a month, I wouldn't blame Sprint for cutting them.
RYAN HOPE, SPRINT CUSTOMER: If I need their customer service, I want them to be there. I don't want to be dropped just because I'm asking questions.
SNOW: A spokeswoman for Sprint told us: "We need to make sure that the other 53 million customers who are on average calling less than once a month are being serviced to the best of our ability and that we are able to service them."
ERIC DEZENHALL, CRISIS MANAGEMENT CONSULTANT: This really is a landmark decision. Because the old rules of thumb are the customer is always right and the old rules of public relations are make nice, make nice.
SNOW: But before it shows its customers the door, Sprint tells them one more thing. If they have any questions regarding the transfer of their number to the another wireless carrier, please call the customer care department.
SNOW: A little ironic. Now as to whether the company will show more customers the door, a spokeswoman says Sprint is keeping its options open, but says these customers are calling anywhere from 25 times a month to, in some extreme cases, 300 times a month -- Wolf.
BLITZER: How many times does the average person call customer service? And what about the other companies, what are they doing?
SNOW: Well, they're saying that the average person calls less than once a month. And as far as AT&T and Verizon, the two other top wireless carriers, they say they don't cancel contracts because of the volume of calls to customer service, but they say there have been some isolated cases where they have terminated a contract when someone is abusive to a customer care person.
BLITZER: Mary, an interesting story, thanks very much for bringing it to our viewers. This footnote, by the way, there are 233 million subscribers to cell phone service in the United States. Ten years ago, the number was only 50 million.
Up next, Jack Cafferty wants to know, what is the future of John McCain's presidential campaign? Stick around, we'll be right back.
BLITZER: Let's get back to New York and Jack Cafferty for the "Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: There's a good idea. Thanks, Wolf. The question this hour is, what is the future of Senator John McCain's presidential campaign? Four of his top campaign officials resigned today.
John in Poughkeepsie, New York, writes: "It's ridiculous to consider whether John McCain is finished with well more than a year to go before the election in 2008. John McCain will be there, because where else will conservative Republicans go? Romney? No. Giuliani? No. Reasons, the immigration issue is dead until after 2008. And Iraq might prove McCain was right after all, rather than wrong. What's distressing is the media in search of any story to keep busy before the important story deserve our attention. Give John McCain some leg room and find another story."
James in Eugene, Oregon: "John McCain's presidential campaign is going no place. His support of a failed Bush policy and his whacked out immigration bill will be remember as John McCain's career-ending acts. This is without a doubt his last term as a U.S. senator."
Erica, Valencia, California: "I think people are forgetting it's still more than a year until the elections, and it's months until the primaries. To have a chance to win the nomination, McCain clearly has to make changes to his campaign. And he is doing so. I think that is more of an indication that he might have more of a chance than he would have if he had stayed on his earlier course. That said, if he's going to be changing his campaign staff, perhaps he should take this opportunity to augment some of his political stances as well. That would certainly increase the chances of him winning in this race."
Doni writes: "Dear Jack, as a register Arizona Republican, my answer to John McCain is, you're all washed up in this town."
Camden in Pittsburgh: "The future is gloomy, but on the positive side, if McCain doesn't run for president, he will have time to enlist and fight that war in Iraq, which he so famously promotes."
And Barry writes from Palm Desert, California: "Brief and bleak. But I've gone on much too long about it."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to cnn.com/cafferty file. We post more of them online, along with video clips of the "Cafferty File." The jury is still out, I guess, on John McCain, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. I'll see you back here in an hour. We're in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons, 4:00 to 6:00. Back at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Until then, thanks for watching. Let's go to Lou Dobbs. He's in New York -- Lou.
DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf. TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com