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Congress Hears Petraeus' Report

Aired September 10, 2007 - 19:00   ET


Happening now, the top U.S. commander in Iraq suggests an end to the so-called surge is in sight. But Democrats aren't buying much of what he had to say. This hour, Congress hears a long awaited and controversial progress report on Iraq.

Osama bin Laden on the brink, on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, anticipation builds for a new message from the fugitive terror leader. Tonight, we'll get a chilling preview.

And a side of Jack Cafferty you haven't seen before. In his new book entitled "It's Getting Ugly Out There", Jack reveals painful episodes from his own past. We'll talk about it right here.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin with General David Petraeus. He walked into a congressional hearing room today facing a daunting challenge, to convince skeptics and there are a lot of them out there that there is a light at the end of the tunnel in Iraq. Petraeus and the U.S. ambassador to Iraq presented a mixed progress report and no guarantees of ultimate success.

Our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash is standing by with the Democrats' wary reaction. Let's go to our State Department correspondent Zain Verjee first with the overall presentation of these two officials, the bottom line of their long awaited testimonies, Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's a slow phase-out combined with dire warnings about what may lie ahead for Iraq.


VERJEE (voice-over): The top U.S. general in Iraq, David Petraeus, says the surge is having an impact.

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CMDR. MULTINATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: The military objectives of the surge are, in large measure, being met.

VERJEE: Especially, he says, in western Iraq's Anbar province where Sunni leaders who used to be part of the insurgency against the U.S. are now working with the U.S. to push out al Qaeda. One reason he says, he wants more time. PETRAEUS: The tribal rejection of al Qaeda that started in Anbar province and helped produce such significant change there has now spread to a number of other locations as well.

VERJEE: So when can U.S. troops start coming home?

PETRAEUS: I have recommended a drawdown of the surge forces from Iraq.

VERJEE: General Petraeus says the first surge unit will leave Iraq later this month followed by more troop pullouts by December, reaching pre-surge levels of some 130,000 men and women by next July. The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee called it a token withdrawal.

REP. TOM LANTOS (D, FOREIGN RELATIONS CHAIRMAN: It is time to go and to go now.

VERJEE: Top U.S. diplomat in Iraq, Ambassador Ryan Crocker, says the surge stopped Iraq from unraveling giving Iraqi politicians breathing room.

RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: There is abundant evidence that the security gains have opened the door for meaningful politics.

VERJEE: But he admits progress by the national government, led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, has been slow. The government has yet to pass laws on sharing power and oil revenue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Mr. Chairman, you are frustrated, the American people are frustrated. I am frustrated every day I spend in Iraq.

VERJEE: As protesters voice their frustration, Ambassador Crocker called for more time and patience, warning against abandoning Iraq.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An Iraq that falls into chaos or civil war will mean massive human suffering well beyond what has already occurred within Iraq's borders.


VERJEE: So exactly how much time are they really talking about, Wolf? That's something that they wouldn't even hint at today, only saying that it would be a long commitment and it wouldn't be quick and it wouldn't be easy. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Zain. Thanks very much. Let's get a reality check right now on the ground in Iraq.

Joining us now our correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Ware. That's a very dire assessment from Ambassador Ryan Crocker. As bad as the situation is right now, if the U.S. starts leaving, it's going to be so much more painful, so much worse. Is that a fair assessment from the ambassador?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the ambassador is hitting now directly on the head. I mean any kind of withdrawal, precipitous or not, right now by U.S. forces would create a vacuum or certainly pockets of vacuum that would immediately be filled by elements either hostile to America or certainly destabilizing in the region.

There's no way America can pull out just yet. And the withdrawal, so called, that General Petraeus is flagging, much welcome to weary American ears back home and the families of troops. But let's face reality -- firstly, these troops were pretty much going home next year anyway.

It was the end of the so-called surge or the escalation. It was a one-year deal. And let's not forget, too, that the relief that's being provided in Anbar that might allow Marines and others to go home is essentially built on the back of a deal cut with the Sunni insurgency and the tribes, the Sunni tribes.

It's become ironic that while the surge has achieved many of its military objectives and violence levels have dropped, but for a myriad of reasons, rather than buying political breathing room for the Iraqi government to stand up, what in fact has happened is it's given time for America to begin developing Sunni militias, Sunni militias that are either going to prod the Maliki government into action or will help preserve U.S. interest as things divulge -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I was struck at the beginning of Ambassador Crocker's testimony, Michael, how he made comparisons to the early years of America's own independence during the revolutionary days. It took a long time to deal with issues like slavery and suffrage, women's right, civil rights and that people should be patient with this new Iraqi government. Here's the question in a nutshell. Is Nouri al- Maliki, the Iraqi prime minister, George Washington?

WARE: Oh, no way, absolutely not. He's not even a Hamid Karzai, the unifying president of Afghanistan. There's no one unifying figure waiting in the wings here in Iraq and certainly there is not one in the prime minister's chair right now. But I must admit I was surprised to hear Ambassador Crocker harken back to America's constitutional and revolutionary history.

That is such an old and tired line that we've heard trotted out almost since the beginning of the invasion in 2003. Most significantly, though, Wolf, really what we just witnessed in this testimony is the shifting nature of the war in Iraq. Wolf, it's changed.

How little did you hear al Qaeda mentioned and how much did you hear Iran mentioned? Wolf, we are now ushering in, we are welcoming the real proxy war between America and Iran. We're about to see that become the true rivalry in this country.

BLITZER: Michael Ware on the scene for us in Baghdad, as he has been for the last four years, so Michael, thanks very much for that. Democrats took in today's Iraq testimony with plenty of skepticism and wariness about overplaying their own hand. Let's go to our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She is watching this for us. So were minds changed up on the Hill, Dana?

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It sure doesn't look that way, Wolf. You know all spring and summer, Republicans and Democrats were building this testimony as pivotal to what both parties were sure would be a change of course in Iraq. So far, it's not turning out that way.


BASH (voice-over): It was the day Iraq war opponents had anxiously awaited, yet this pre-emptive strike was a clear sign Democrats don't think the tide of the Iraq political debate is turning in their favor.

LANTOS: The administration has sent you here today to convince the members of these two committees and the Congress that victory is at hand. With all due respect to you, I must say, I don't buy it.

BASH: The general came armed to defend himself against accusations his report was whitewashed by the White House.

PETRAEUS: I wrote this testimony myself. It has not been cleared by nor shared with anyone in the Pentagon, the White House or the Congress until it was just handed out.

BASH: Democrats have been walking a fine line, raising questions about Petraeus' credibility but trying not to directly impugn his integrity. Many thought this crossed that line, a full page ad from the anti-war group General Petraeus or "General Betray Us?", cooking the books for the White House. Republicans pounced.

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA), HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: It's an outrage that we spent the last week prepping the ground, bashing the credibility of a general officer whose trademark is integrity.

REP. ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN (R), FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: I urge my colleagues on both sides of the aisles to publicly denounce the ad.

BASH: Even fierce Iraq critics distanced themselves from, their anti-war ally. I didn't like it, former presidential candidate John Kerry told CNN, I think it's over the top.

REP. JAN SCHAKOWSKY (D), ILLINOIS: To make General Petraeus as somehow betraying the American people, I think, is not an accurate statement.


BASH: Reducing troop levels to pre-surge numbers by next summer is nowhere near what Democrats want and also could give Republicans cover to go home and tell their constituents that some Americans are coming home. And Wolf, it does make it a lot less likely for Democrats to get the votes they need to force robust troop withdrawal from Iraq.

BLITZER: Dana Bash on the Hill for us. Dana thanks very much.

The Democratic chairman of the House Armed Services Committee had at least eight protesters arrested for interrupting today's hearings on Iraq. The anti-war activist, Cindy Sheehan, was among those ejected for shouting in the room. The chairman, Ike Skelton, got a stern warning from a Republican colleague to keep the demonstrators in line. Listen to this.


VOICE OF REP. DAN BURTON (R), INDIANA: I see a number of people in the audience that I anticipate will be making a disturbance. And if this occurs during the testimony by our honored guests, I hope that you will be very firm and get them out of here.

VOICE OF REP. IKE SKELTON (D), ARMED SERVICES CHAIRMAN: You don't have to lecture me -- they'll be gone.


BLITZER: Later, Dan Burton and Ike Skelton picked up that little tiff where they left off. Their voices were picked up during a break in the hearing. Listen closely.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not lecturing you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hell you didn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Listen to me...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Duncan knows I don't need a (BEEP) lecture.


BLITZER: Tough words between two members of the panel. Let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York FOR "The Cafferty File". We love those open mikes, don't we, Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Aren't they beautiful? These are our leaders; they make policy for the rest of us.

It looks like most Iraqis might have a different opinion of the goings on in their country from that of General Petraeus. There's a new poll out of Iraqis conducted by ABC News, the BBC and Japan's public broadcaster, NHK and it gives a bleak assessment of the war and the so-called surge. With a majority of Iraqis saying that the U.S. troop increase has worsened security and prospects for economic and political progress in their country.

Check out some of these numbers, pretty startling stuff. Seventy percent of the Iraqis polled say that security worsened where those U.S. troops were sent, namely Baghdad and Anbar Province. Only 26 percent say they feel very safe in their own neighborhood. Forty- seven percent want U.S. troops to leave immediately. And a full 57 percent consider attacks on coalition forces acceptable.

There's more. Seventy-eight percent say things in Iraq are going badly, 78 percent. Sixty-one percent say their own lives are going badly. And a very telling sign here, in November of 2005, before Iraq's elections, 69 percent of Iraq's residents said they thought that their lives would be better in a year. That number now stands at 23 percent.

Despite these dark views of what's going on, almost all of those polled said separating Iraqis along sectarian lines would be bad for the country. So here's the question this hour -- what does it mean if most Iraqis say the U.S. troop increase has worsened security? E-mail your thoughts to or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: ABC, by the way, says that their pollsters, the Iraqis who went out to do the questioning, most of them were scared for their own lives as they were doing the questioning, so what does that mean when you send pollsters out to interview people and they're frightened?

CAFFERTY: Yes, I don't mean to laugh. But I mean the situation is just beyond bizarre over there and to try to paint it as something less I think is a bit disingenuous, although I haven't personally been there, but I mean these kinds of results from the Iraqi people seem to indicate that you know they're not happy about any of this.

BLITZER: No, I think you're probably right. All right, Jack, stand by because coming up, our interview with Jack is coming up, some insights, very personal insights from Jack himself in his new book that's just hitting bookstores today, "It's Getting Ugly Out There". We're going to share that with you. This is a side of Jack Cafferty none of you -- I can guarantee you -- none of you has ever seen.

Also, Osama bin Laden taunting the United States again while the Bush administration plays down his threat.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a man on the run in a cave who's virtually impotent other than his ability to get these messages out. It's propaganda.


BLITZER: Al Qaeda advertising a second videotape from the terror leader on this, the eve of the anniversary of 9/11.

Plus architect of war, the former defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, still blunt in his first interview since leaving the Pentagon. You're going to find out who he blames for things going bad in Iraq. Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Osama bin Laden releases his first video in years and only days later we may be about to get another one on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary, al Qaeda's propaganda arm is working overtime. Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's watching this story for us. It looks like bin Laden's trying to make a little bit of a comeback.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, his media company promised us he'll be back for the 9/11 anniversary. Now analysts say the message could be simply an excerpt we haven't yet seen from the videotape released last Friday but it still seems to carry a very disturbing image.


TODD (voice-over): A chilling preview of what Americans may see from Osama bin Laden on the September 11 anniversary. In an animated Web banner with an image of a plane headed for the World Trade Center, al Qaeda's production company says bin Laden will introduce a so- called last testament from a 9/11 hijacker. Walid al-Sherri (ph) was on the first plane to strike its target, American Airlines Flight 11, which slammed into the north tower. Experts say this is a familiar media strategy.

OCTAVIA NASR, CNN SR. ARAB AFFAIRS EDITOR: We've seen al Qaeda get very busy around the anniversary date. They release tapes, especially testimonials and last wills left by the 9/11 hijackers.

TODD: Experts say the forthcoming release may be another excerpt from the bin Laden videotape issued on Friday. U.S. officials say they take the messages seriously but they say these videos have never been used by bin Laden to trigger an actual attack and they seem to play down bin Laden as an overall threat.

FRANCES TOWNSEND, W.H. HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: This is a man on the run in a cave who is virtually impotent other than his ability to get these messages out. It's propaganda.

TODD: Propaganda that could offer clues. Analysts say bin Laden's videos are more primitive than those issued by his top lieutenant. Ayman al-Zawahiri's messages often come with features like moving graphics, indicating he may be in a place with better access to production facilities. But they say while bin Laden may be more isolated, he's not completely cut off.

STEVE COLL, NEW AMERICA FOUNDATION: His own accounts of what he's watching and reading suggests to me a lot of exposure to English language media and Pakistan is an English-dominated post Colonial country.


TODD: U.S. intelligence officials have recently said they believe bin Laden is somewhere in Pakistan but Pakistani officials have always denied that. U.S. officials tell us they are still examining the last bin Laden tape for clues to his whereabouts, his health, maybe even any hidden messages, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll watch for the release of this videotape, Brian. Thanks very much. Not everyone agrees with the White House homeland security adviser who called bin Laden virtually impotent.

Let's go to our justice correspondent Kelli Arena. She had an exclusive interview with the FBI director today. Kelli, what did he have to say?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, he and many other intelligence officials do not agree that Osama bin Laden or al Qaeda central is virtually impotent. As you said, I did speak with Director Mueller earlier today and he says that al Qaeda poses a very real threat as do affiliate groups and independent extremists. In fact, Mueller says there are a number of people right here in the United States who are under investigation. And he compared them to those involved in recent plots against Fort Dix and JFK's airport.


ROBERT MUELLER, FBI DIRECTOR: We have persons who we are investigating who are in some way contributing to the provision of support to terrorism in many ways. And I'm not going to go any further in specifying you know a group of individuals here or a group of individuals there. We've got a number of individuals and groups of individuals under investigation at any particular point in time.


ARENA: Now as for the overall threat environment, Mueller says there isn't any intelligence suggesting that any attack against the United States is imminent but he says he does have what he called substantial concerns.


MUELLER: We've been particularly concerned over the last several months, and if you look at the attacks that have happened in Glasgow and London, the arrests were made most recently in Germany, Denmark, you understand our concern. The outset of the summer, we put together a task force to pull together within the government various capabilities that has been running nonstop since the beginning of the summer and the threat period is certainly not over.


ARENA: Now tomorrow's obviously the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, Wolf, and the FBI has warned state and local partners to be especially vigilant. That tape from Osama bin Laden, still being analyzed and as you know we just heard from Brian that we expect another one to be released soon. It's all a stark reminder that we remain a target.

BLITZER: Kelli Arena reporting for us. Kelli thanks very much.

Here's our next story that's coming up, Neo-Nazis in Israel. You're not going to believe this. Their brutal attacks on video and set to music, terror in the Jewish state, you're going to be surprised who's doing the terrorizing though.

Plus, crash land, heart-stopping moments in Denmark. Wait until you see this.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: It may seem unthinkable but police in Israel say they have broken up a violent neo-Nazi gang made up of Israelis. CNN's Atika Shubert has the story from Jerusalem.



ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brutal attacks recorded on home video and set to music. Police say it is a bizarre case, the first of its kind, a homegrown neo-Nazi gang in the Jewish state of Israel. Police say they confiscated this video and other photos from suspects' homes, finding also explosives, weapons and Nazi propaganda material. Police say they have been investigating the group for more than a year.

MICKEY ROSENFELD, ISRAELI POLICE: They planned and were involved in carrying out attacks against innocent people, Jewish people wearing yarmulkes, Asians, foreigners that had strong ties with neo-Nazi cells overseas as well.

SHUBERT: Police have arrested eight alleged members of the gang, bringing them to court on Sunday. They covered their faces, but at least one remained defiant. All are between the ages of 16 and 21, all Israelis, immigrants from the former Soviet Union. They came to Israel by the law of return, a policy that grants citizenship to any Jew that chooses to immigrate to Israel, that includes anyone who has Jewish parents or grandparents, even though they themselves may not necessarily be Jewish.


SHUBERT: Now at least one Israeli lawmaker is demanding the suspects have their Israeli citizenship revoked. Another is threatening to change the law of return, allowing only Jews and not their non-Jewish kin to immigrate.


SHUBERT: But some Israelis dismiss the group as nothing more than a violent, misguided group of teens.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Beating up homeless people, they're thugs. I don't take it seriously.


SHUBERT: But as these pictures play across televisions nationwide, Israelis are left to wonder how it could happen here, of all places.

Atika Shubert, CNN, Jerusalem.


BLITZER: Jack Cafferty says it's getting ugly out there. That's his new book title. He unveils a side of himself you've never seen before, revealing some very personal details of a painful past. That's coming up.

And Donald Rumsfeld apparently doesn't have much to say to his old boss. He gives his first interview since resigning, gives that interview to a magazine. Wait until you hear what he has to say about whether or not he misses President Bush.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: You've heard the expression, tell us what you really think. Jack Cafferty does just that right here every day in THE SITUATION ROOM. His new book went on sale today. Even the title is vintage Cafferty. "It's Getting Ugly Out There: The Frauds, Bunglers, Liars, and Losers Who Are Hurting America".

Jack Cafferty is joining us. You know Jack, I went through the book. I read it over the weekend and I've worked with you now for many years and I know you, our viewers know you. They may love you. They may hate you. But there's a lot of your life that they simply don't know. And when you told us the other day that this book was gut wrenching in putting it together, I now understand why.

Let me read from the beginning of this book or one part of the book. "My folks were both alcoholics who, between them, were married 11 times. It would have been an even dozen, but my dad accidentally killed one of his fiancees." You go on to write, "I'm the product of a very dysfunctional, sometimes violent, Irish background, indeed very little of my back-story qualifies as Hallmark Card material but may help you make sense of the way I see and interpret what's going on around me." Those are powerful words, Jack. We spoke this earlier. I want you to explain some of your background to our viewers that all of us were totally unfamiliar with.

CAFFERTY: Well, don't misunderstand, I didn't put that in the book because I'm looking for a sympathy card from anybody. But I put it in the book so people who watch this program and listen to the things I say might have some sense of where this ongoing questioning of authority that I have comes from. And it's probably rooted in the fact that I learned pretty early on, because of the environment I was in, not to trust everything you see and hear because it's likely a good portion of it isn't going to turn out to be true. That's sort of the reference point. I hope people understand that I'm not looking for somebody to go, oh, poor Jack. On the contrary. I got street smarts by the time I was a pretty young guy that a lot of kids never pick up, because they're in more sheltered, "normal, environments."

BLITZER: I mean it's amazing Jack that here you are on CNN every single day and some of the early experiences that you openly write about in this book, it's amazing you turned out to be as great as you did. I've got to tell you Jack. A lot of kids who went through what you went through with your mom and your dad would not necessarily have turned out to be like Jack Cafferty is today.

CAFFERTY: Well, I wouldn't have turned out this way either except that I was started down the same road that my parents were on. I drank too much for too many years and was in the process of probably destroying a second marriage, as well as the relationship that I value very much with my four daughters, when 20 years ago I made a decision that it's going to be either, you've got to change this and start doing it in some way that makes some sense or you can look forward to this sort of tragic ending that your parents both met. And they both died basically, broke, alone and unhappy people. So 20 years ago, I put down the cigarettes and the booze, all in one year. And that was the year I almost didn't survive. But in looking back, it was the right thing to do and the smartest thing I ever did and my life began to improve rather dramatically after that.

BLITZER: It's amazing how you describe it because one thing that certainly comes through in this book and I think our viewers will love it is they can hear you say every one of these words on these written pages. They know your voice, Jack. It comes, I can see you wrote this book from the heart. And I don't want to just leave the impression that the whole book is just about Jack Cafferty. You have thoughts on the current administration, the political scene, what's happening in our world that you write about at great length as well.

CAFFERTY: Well, I think there's a sense of betrayal on the part of at least a lot of the people that write to me on this program, Wolf, that they've been betrayed by a government that no longer has their best interests at heart, an 18 percent approval rating for our congress, a somewhere between 35 and 40 percent approval rating for our president after as many years as he's been at the controls, and 70 percent rating of people in this country that feel we're headed in the wrong direction. And I get the sense that people are frustrated, disappointed and in some cases extremely angry that this country that they love and feel that they used to be a part of has simply bypassed them for the agendas of the large corporations and the special interests and the things that don't really matter to their lives, a lot of our jobs are shipped overseas. We're celebrating the sixth anniversary of 9/11. We haven't secured the Mexican border.

BLITZER: What was the most difficult thing for you to write about in this book, you said it was a gut wrenching experience?

CAFFERTY: Just going back and kind of revisiting what a maladjusted young pup I used to be. Now I'm a maladjusted old pup. I don't mean to suggest that I've become anything else but you know some of the crap I used to pull on people, my employers, my family, when I was drinking and trying to hide it. I spent a lot of time with the shrinks because that's where you go I guess to get help. And I can remember leaving channel 4 here in New York City and driving to a therapist appointment in New Jersey but I'd stop at the bodega across from Rockefeller Center, get a six pack, put it in the car with me, drink three beers on the way to the doctor's appointment, spend $150 discussing whether I had a drinking problem or not and then drink the other three beers on the way home and then when I got home I'd have a couple of drinks before dinner. So you know, it was a scam. I'm not proud of that stuff and having to go back and deal with again was a little tough.

BLITZER: Amazing stories you tell in this book. And they have the added advantage, Jack, of being true, which is pretty good.

Let me read a quote from the book. "It doesn't matter who they are or how long they've been there, time to go. We want our government back." And then you write, "If it doesn't work, hey, maybe you and I will run for office." What are you hinting at, Jack? Are we going to hear about Congressman Jack Cafferty or something?

CAFFERTY: No, absolutely nothing. The editor of the book called me one day and he said, you know this thing has a weak ending. You've got to rewrite it. So I sat down and re-wrote it and I was thinking, you know, if we can't start voting these crumbs out of office, we're never going to get term limits from the government we have. We have to impose the term limits from the government we have because they'd be denying themselves reelection and a job. So it ain't going to happen. We have to impose the term limits and the way to do that is at the voting booth. Incumbent, you're out of here. The idea of this government as envisioned by the founding fathers was sort of like jury duty. You come in for a couple of years off the farm or out of the town and you go to the capitol and you serve your country. You do the nation's business with a good, pure heart and do the best for the people you represent and then you go back. You don't spent 40 years and build up these power bases and these pork projects and all of this garbage that our government's come to represent.

So I was trying to suggest at the end, look, let's start voting them out. If that doesn't work, hey, maybe you and I will take a shot at it. But I'm just kidding. This is much more fun to sit here and throw rocks at them than to actually be one of them.

BLITZER: Well, you know the book is a fabulous read. I'm beginning to understand, it's a scary thought, but Jack I'm beginning to understand you a little bit.

CAFFERTY: You'll be in therapy next.

BLITZER: I've got to say, it's a good experience. Jack Cafferty's new book, "It's Getting Ugly Out There, the Frauds, Bunglers, Liars and Losers Who Are Hurting America." The publisher is Wiley. I hope you sell a million copies, Jack. Thanks for coming in.

CAFFERTY: Thank you, Wolf. BLITZER: Donald Rumsfeld has some choice words for his critics. The former defense secretary gives his first interview since resigning, gives that interview to a magazine. You're going to hear him respond to criticisms of his Iraq war decisions.

And why would a hateful message from the world's top terrorist inspire jokes? That's what's happening after that videotape from Osama Bin Laden. Jeanne Moos with a most unusual story. That's coming up.


BLITZER: Right now, as a lot of Americans here in Washington talk about Iraq, we also want to get the view from inside Iraq itself. Our own Anderson Cooper is with troops at Camp Victory in Baghdad.

Anderson, I take it you had a chance to visit a detention center in Iraq today. Give us a little sense of what's going on. What are you seeing?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, what's interesting, one of the least known side effects of this so-called surge in U.S. troops is there's been an actual surge in Iraqis in detention. There are more than 24,000 Iraqis now in detention, 60 of them are coming in every day. U.S. detention facilities are basically near capacity. We went to one of the detention centers today, Camp Cropper, a rare look inside there.

And what we learned is essentially that the counterinsurgency that's happening all over Iraq is actually being mirrored inside the detention center. Major General Douglas Stone, who's in charge of all detainees, says he's fighting a counterinsurgency inside the detention centers, attempting to isolate the extremists, the al Qaeda prisoners and separate them from the moderate Iraqis and get the moderate Iraqis to stick to moderation. To embrace the moderate version of Islam so when they leave, they'll carry that message with them and thereby adding overall to the counterinsurgency, Wolf.

BLITZER: You've been to Iraq on several previous occasions. And you're going to be there all week. I'm going to really be anxious as this week continues to hear some of your comparisons, Anderson, what you're seeing now as opposed to a year ago or two years ago. I know you're going to have a lot more coming up later tonight.

Anderson Cooper on the scene all week this week in Iraq for us. You can see a lot more of Anderson reporting coming up on "ANDERSON COOPER 360." That airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. eastern only here on CNN.

One of the prime architects of the Iraq war is now speaking out. Several months after the former defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld resigned, he says he sleeps fine regarding the decisions he made. Let's go once again to Brian Todd. He's watching this story for us.

Brian, he had a lot more to say about what's going on in Iraq.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He sure did, Wolf. On the very day the debate over Iraq resumes on Capital Hill, Donald Rumsfeld quoted for the first time since leaving the Pentagon and he defends his handling of the war.


DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: America remains a nation at war.

TODD: Nine months out of office, he's still chided for being an architect of a war that's gone wrong in so many ways. But the woman who interviewed Donald Rumsfeld says flat out, the man does not do regret.

LISA DEPAULO, GQ MAGAZINE: If he feels any kind of remorse or pain or sorrow, he's just not going to say it. That is not who he is. If he did, he wouldn't be Donald Rumsfeld.

TODD: In his interview with "GQ" magazine, Rumsfeld says he sent a memo to the president about the danger of invading Iraq. "I wrote down all of the things that could be problems: That we wouldn't find weapons of mass destruction. That there'd be a Fortress Baghdad, and a lot of people would be killed."

Former Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who Rumsfeld says he was never close to, acknowledges Rumsfeld issued those warnings but also speaking with "GQ," Powell says, "We didn't do the contingency planning on what we would do about it. So we watched those buildings get burned down, and nobody told the divisions, 'Hey, go in there and declare martial law."

Rumsfeld says they did have a plan, but still he believes Iraq hasn't worked out as well as Afghanistan. "It's been a big success. The Iraqi government has not been successful as yet. What the department of defense is doing is working. What isn't working is the diplomatic side."

Despite Iraq being the reason for his departure, Rumsfeld told the magazine that wasn't the toughest moment in his life.

DEPAULO: In his mind, he believes that being Gerald Ford's chief of staff was harder than being the architect of the war in Iraq.


TODD: Rumsfeld said that before last November's midterm elections he decided that he would resign if the republicans lost either the house or the senate. But if the republicans had kept control of congress, would he have acted differently? Without elaborating, he said he would have, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much. Brian Todd, reporting.

Apparently Rumsfeld and President Bush don't have much to talk about these days. Rumsfeld told "GQ" he couldn't remember the last time he and the president actually talked to each other. When asked if he misses the president, Rumsfeld replied, according to the magazine and let me quote specifically, um, no.

It's every traveler's nightmare, a plane with problems making a dramatic landing that causes a fire. You're going to find out what happened in the end as this plane landed.

And the message is frightening. But some are making jokes about the video. We're also going to share with you why Osama Bin Laden's beard is becoming the butt of some headlines. Jeanne Moos with a most unusual story. That's coming up as well.


BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Carol, what's the latest?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's start with a little drama, Wolf. An evacuation going on in western Tennessee after a fire and explosions at a magnesium recycling plant. The five or six explosions caused no injuries among the 30 workers. Magnesium produces a light ash when it burns and it reacts with water. So firefighters are expected to let the fire burn itself out. Camden is about 70 miles west of Nashville.

Tonight, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is going a step farther to distance herself from a fund-raiser who until recently was a fugitive from a grand theft charge. The democratic presidential candidate is returning $850,000 raised by Norman Hsu to donors. Clinton previously announced she was giving $23,000 she got from Hsu to charity. Some other democrats have given away money from Hsu including Clinton's presidential rival, Barack Obama.

A reputed drug kingpin is now under arrest in Columbia. Diego Montoya was on the FBI's top ten list with a $5 million price tag on his head. Police say Montoya was caught hiding in the bushes outside of a house wearing only his underwear. He is said to be the head of Columbia's largest drug group. Authorities say the cartel is responsible for exporting tons of cocaine to the United States.

And the actress who was Ronald Reagan's first wife has died. Jane Wyman won an Oscar for Johnny Belinda for her portrayal of a deaf rape victim. She later starred in a TV series "Falcon Crest." Wyman was in her early 90s.

And take a look on the wide screen tonight. Heart-stopping moments in Denmark. A Scandinavian Airlines plane carrying 73 people made this emergency landing. Pretty scary, isn't it? The right landing gear gave way and the plane spun out on the runway. Five people were slightly hurt. The crash landing did affect other flights coming into other airports including Copenhagen but the good news here, Wolf, nobody was seriously hurt.

BLITZER: That's amazing. It's amazing that they captured it on video, too. Carol, thanks very much.

Jack Cafferty once again joining us with the Cafferty File.


CAFFERTY: With the General Petraeus going to Capitol Hill today, ABC and BBC did a poll in Iraq polling Iraqis about several issues. The question we came up with was, what does it mean if most Iraqis say the U.S. troop increase, the surge, has worsened security there?

Karl writes from San Francisco, "I'd say they were seeing the reality at their level. We were given a lot of statistics today by the General and the Ambassador but numbers don't give anyone a feeling of security. The only way Iraq will ever step up is for us to leave and let them work it out on their own."

Tim writes, "Ask people in the U.S. the same questions. Do you feel very safe in your neighborhood? No, I don't and I live in Indiana, NOT INDIA. Am I happy, is my life going good? Day to day yes, overall no. You'd get the same answers to the same questions no matter what country you ask them in. Get real."

Ray in Tennessee, "Yes but there's no looking back now. Iraq may well have seen the end of a unified Iraq. It may well be partitioned into sectarian sectors or states leaving the Iraqis weak for outside exploitation. And this is not good for the future of the region."

Daniel writes, "Do Americans really care what happens in Iraq? Answer: of course not. Win, lose, civil war, who the hell cares? Who is it that is pretending that we Americans care at all? Yes, the troops are blessed heroes. They would be no matter where deployed. The answer is war for whom and for what? No, we don't care. We have our own problems."

Dan in Detroit, "It means the Republican administration has learned the lesson of Vietnam. Never pull out of a country we've invaded for spurious reasons and leave the local populace with any chance of recovering and regaining economic prosperity some day in the near future. Where Vietnam has succeeded and made everything we did there look ridiculous, Iraq will be a basket case for at least 100 years."

And finally Ella writes, "Jack, Bush doesn't listen to us. Why the hell do you think he would listen to the Iraqis? It's been ugly over there for some time now." Good Ella.

If you didn't see your e-mail, you can go to We post them online along with video clips of the Cafferty File.


BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much. See you back here tomorrow.

Let's see what's coming up right at the top of the hour. That means Rick Sanchez is standing by with a little preview. What's "OUT IN THE OPEN" tonight. RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to talk to Jack, kind of excited about that as a matter of fact. And then on Iraq, we're going to be letting you hear from veterans who've come back from the war, different sides, different stories, wives and moms with kids or husbands over there. Then the story of the wild descent that took place today in congress. And Tom Tancredo on the Hispanic debate. This is one that may even bring out, Wolf, a little heated discussion. Who knows? Maybe not.

Back to you.

BLITZER: I think it could be pretty interesting. Rick Sanchez, Tom Tancredo, you've interviewed him before, haven't you?

SANCHEZ: We have. And we've had our differences and we've always walked away respectfully.

BLITZER: I think there will be some differences tonight. I was surprised that even Bill Richardson who speaks Spanish, they had to use a translator. They made him speak in English even though it's a Spanish debate. Did you understand that?

SANCHEZ: He was fighting it all the way. I had a conversation with him and Christopher Dodd about the same thing. They say, look (speaking in Spanish) that's what he was saying, I want to speak Spanish. But they said, No, sorry, if the other guys can't speak Spanish, you can't speak it either.

BLITZER: Pretty good Spanish. Rick Sanchez, you could speak Spanish. See you in a few moments. Rick, thanks very much.

When we come back, Osama Bin Laden making a comeback on videotape but he shows no wear and tear from the life on the run or does he? What goes on with his beard? Jeanne Moos with a most unusual story coming up.


BLITZER: We're just getting this in to THE SITUATION ROOM. An Israeli military spokesman saying more than 25 Israeli soldiers were wounded just a little while ago by a rocket fired by Palestinian militants from their base in Gaza. We're watching this story, potentially serious ramifications as a result. Once again, 25 Israeli soldiers wounded according to the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces.

Osama Bin Laden, as you know, is back. But he's looking strangely younger or is he? CNN's Jeanne Moos finds this most unusual.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: If Jay Leno ever brings back his dancing Osamas, they're going to need a dye job. The old salt and pepper beard has given way to jet black in Bin Laden's new video.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is really him? GERALDO RIVERA: It looks Photoshop to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Even the eyebrows are died black.

MOOS: From the "New York Post" headline "Just Dye Already!" to snarky nicknames like Blackbeard Bin Laden, Osama's beard is being scrutinized and to the curliness factor, conspiracy type web sites are taking video of Bin Laden shot by news organizations and overlaying it with the latest video to see if it matches. Osama's beard is getting more analysis than anything, except maybe Britney's dance routine. Come to think of it, both Britney and Osama are making comebacks of sorts with new releases. "New York Times" columnist, Maureen Dowd, compared Osama's new look to a fake beard left over from Woody Allen's Bananas. Instead of going to the CIA for beard analysis, we showed the tape to some real experts at Astor Hair. Do you do beards a lot?


MOOS: Do you have a beard of your own?


MOOS: Is that a real beard?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Along here, that's definitely growth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, it's attached to his face.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's dyed. The only thing is just put some shoe polish on it and that's it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This looks like a joke beard.

MOOS: You think?


MOOS: You're the only one that thinks that. Theories on the internet range from his hair has fallen out from long rumored illness to Osama's black beard is the signal for an attack presumable. This, based on a previous al Qaeda message that warned, the black wind of death was coming to America.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is me, Osama Bin Laden.

MOOS: On You Tube, Bin Laden is mocked as a metro-sexual, instead of just for men.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've come with just for Jihadists. I'm going to wash that gray right out of my beard.

JAY LENO: This is what they use over there in the Mid East. This is just for nut jobs. MOOS: There's the serious theory that maybe Bin Laden is hiding somewhere in Southeast Asia where Muslim men don't wear beards so he shaved his beard to fit in locally and needs a fake one for his videos. But if only hair dressers know for sure, you're pretty sure a dye job, huh?


MOOS: He's wanted Dyed or Alive.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: That's it for me.

Let's go to Rick Sanchez in New York.