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THE SITUATION ROOM
Bush to Address Nation Tomorrow; Iranian Ambassador to Iraq Speaks Out on Petraeus Report
Aired September 12, 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: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, he suggests the Petraeus/Crocker Iraq report is theater and "lacks truth." That would be Iran's ambassador to Iraq. He's now speaking exclusively to our own Michael Ware. He even offers the U.S. some advice. That's coming up.
Echoing baseless conspiracy theories, Fidel Castro now says the U.S. is not telling you what really happened on 9/11. Wait until you hear what Castro thinks is the truth.
And it's every driver's nightmare -- an officer paid to serve and protect threatens and harasses a driver, and it's all caught on tape.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Bush will make his case to the nation tomorrow night about what to do in Iraq. The Senate's top Democrat says the president's plan is, "unacceptable."
So how long can U.S. troops sustain the mission in Iraq?
Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr.
She's here in THE SITUATION ROOM. You had a good interview today with General Petraeus and I want you to share with our viewers some of the highlights -- Barbara.
BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Wolf, General Petraeus likes to say he's a realist, not an optimist, about Iraq, and that's the general we sat down with and talked to today.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
STARR (voice-over): After a national press conference and two days of Congressional testimony, a visibly tired General David Petraeus sat down with CNN to discuss not just the war, but how the troops are doing and how much more combat they can take.
GENERAL DAVID PETRAEUS, COMMANDER, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: Well, it's a tough call, Barbara. And, candidly -- and I know I'm not carrying a rucksack these days -- but I mean I have actually been deployed -- I think it's coming up on about four out of the last six years. So my family is familiar with, certainly, at least the separation piece of this. We're particularly concerned, frankly, about the younger members of the force.
STARR: As he routinely travels and meets troops in Iraq, he gets their views firsthand.
PETRAEUS: No one has been happy about the 15-month tour. And they make no bones about it. I don't make any bones about it.
STARR: In fact, he says the stress of the long tour is part of the reason he has recommended sending some of the surge troops home. But he doesn't waiver from the view the U.S. can't let Iraq become a terrorist safe haven.
PETRAEUS: Certainly, that's one of those areas in which we would have enormous concern were our objectives not achieved in that country. Also concerns about potential Iranian influence, a humanitarian disaster of enormous proportions.
STARR: He says there have been recent communications from senior Al Qaeda leaders to Al Qaeda members in Iraq. And Iran remains a threat.
PETRAEUS: We have no question whatsoever about Iranian weapons being used to kill our soldiers. In fact, we have the remnants of a .240 millimeter rocket that hit one of our camps yesterday and caused a number of -- caused the wounding of a number of our soldiers.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
STARR: Wolf, so General Petraeus says while he does see some progress, his bottom line -- Iraq remains very fragile and he says it could all still crack apart.
BLITZER: Now, you've known this general for some time. I've known him, as well.
How is he reacting to the personal attacks about his, specifically, the questions of his integrity, his credibility, that full-page ad that MoveOn.org put out the other day, "General Betray Us?"
What's he saying?
STARR: Well, you know, I think what his view is, that he's articulated in all of his public appearances this week and to us is, he is giving his best military advice. He believes all the information that he's giving Congress is very accurate, it's as precise as the military can get and he stands by it.
He's well aware of the attacks, but he's trying to stay away from that political environment in Washington, tough as it is for an Army general these days.
BLITZER: Yes, all right. Thanks very much.
Barbara Starr reporting here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Also regarding Iraq, the nation the United States is now directly accusing of having the blood of U.S. troops on its hands is suggesting that the Iraq progress report is simply theater. Iran's ambassador to Iraq spoke exclusively with CNN's Michael Ware.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HASSAN KAZEMI QOMI, IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): The report given by the United States administration to the Congress, the part of which you refer to here, lacks truth. The report, in truth, resembles a theatrical scenario more than anything. But the problem of terrorism cannot be solved through continuing the occupation or bringing back to power former killers and murderers, a trend which we are regretfully seeing in the U.S. policy.
And our recommendation to the United States administration, if it wants to solve the problems and serve Iraq, is to end these policies. Instead of arming forces that act outside the law and the government, the U.S. should arm and help the government, the army and police.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's go to Baghdad. Michael Ware is standing by.
Some potentially inflammatory words, Michael, from the Iranian ambassador.
But give us a little flavor of what's going on there. You suggested the other day that this war in Iraq seems to be emerging as almost a proxy war involving Iran and the United States.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, and it has been for some time. But now it's reaching fever pitch, Wolf.
And I think if you study the testimony given over the past two days very closely, you'll see that there's certainly a rhetorical shift that's matching the military shift away from Al Qaeda, to a certain degree, and focusing on the main long game, which is Iran.
So that's why we sat down with the Iranian ambassador. We're one of the few people from the Western media that he ever talks to.
Let me give you some of the dark points. I mean this is the drama, the great game of Iran versus America in Iraq.
Following the testimony, he returns serve on behalf of Iran. He denies the allegations about arming militias and, indeed, counters that by saying that Iran is in possession of evidence of America arming and supporting anti-government militias fighting against the regime in Tehran. He's talking about Kurdish separatist groups and Beluj (ph) separatist groups. He then throws down the gauntlet, says if the Americans have evidence against us, let's hear it through official channels. Give it to the Swiss embassy in Tehran. At the same time, he says we're ready to give you our evidence of you meddling in our affairs. We'll give it to the Swiss.
It's a daring challenge.
He also challenges the cornerstone of U.S. policy -- engaging the Sunni tribes. He calls that bringing back the murderers of the old regime. He also says that this is weakening the Maliki government, which must remain. And he threatens any attempt to undermine the Maliki government -- as we've heard U.S. politicians calling for the prime minister's removal -- he says the cost of that will be high and it will affect U.S. security.
Basically, he says the occupation should be over, the president's policy to bring terrorists in has worked. You're breeding them. It's now a terrorist training camp. Leave this to the region. Let Iraq arm the Iraqis. If you don't, we will. Get out and let the region handle this. This is none of your business.
Wolf, it's quite challenging stuff.
BLITZER: And this ambassador -- the Iranian ambassador has met twice now with the U.S. ambassador, Ryan Crocker.
He's going to be here in THE SITUATION ROOM later this hour. We're going to talk about Iran a little bit.
But give us a sense of his mood.
Is this an ambassador -- a diplomat who seems to be confident, cocky that his side, in effect, is winning or did he seem to be on the defensive?
WARE: Look, to use a boxing analogy, Wolf, in terms of the Iranian ambassador and the regime in Tehran in general, you cannot lay a glove on them. These are very polished, very professional, very experienced individuals backed by very cohesive military regime. The ambassador is cool as they come. According to American intelligence, he's actually a senior officer in the Quds force -- the very unit that the Americans claim is arming these militias. He's had previous postings in Afghanistan where he actually helped the Americans. He's also had postings in Lebanon with close ties to Hezbollah.
This is a guy who's not phased. And as far as he and his government is concerned, they don't owe America anything. All of the cards are in their hand and they're not willing to offer America a scrap even from the table. They think there's no interest. They're winning and there's nothing America can do about it -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, good work, as usual.
Michael Ware reporting for us from Baghdad. He gets another exclusive today. And please join us tomorrow night for a special expanded two hour SITUATION ROOM as we preview President Bush's address to the nation. Our coverage starts 7:00 p.m. Eastern. The president's address 9:00 p.m. Eastern.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty once again.
He's in New York with The Cafferty File -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Is Michael Ware any good or what?
BLITZER: He's excellent.
CAFFERTY: Unbelievable. I mean it's unbelievable. I love the last line -- we're winning and there's nothing the United States can do about it.
BLITZER: You notice, Jack, the Iranian ambassador -- the Iranians in general, they never wear bow ties or any kind of ties. Michael Ware never wears a tie either, but for different reasons.
CAFFERTY: I understand. I also enjoyed his boxing analogy.
CAFFERTY: President Bush expected to announce a withdrawal of as many as 30,000 troops from Iraq by next summer. The Democrats are making it known they're not very happy about this plan. The Democrats, along with some Republicans, are saying that General Petraeus' plan would only leave troop levels in the same place where they were before the so-called surge began -- at about 130,000 troops.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi calls the Bush plan "a path to 10 more years of war in Iraq." And she added, "It's an insult to the intelligence of the American people to call that a new direction. It's a status quo plan that tells the Iraqi government they don't have to change."
Pelosi also complained that Republicans are blocking measures about withdrawing troops by using filibuster tactics.
Bologna, madam speaker. Appropriations bills for the war must pass the House of Representatives by a simple majority. It is completely within your power to stop the funding of the war in Iraq. You have simply chosen not to do so. In fact, I did a little homework. The speaker of the House of Representatives decides which pieces of legislation even come to the floor of the House for debate and/or a vote. It is up to Nancy Pelosi whether these appropriations bills ever even see the light of day.
The American people gave Congress -- the Democrats control of Congress last year because they're tired of the way things are going in Iraq.
Well, guess what?
It's been nine months, almost, since the Democrats have been in charge and they have done nothing to stop the war. Zippo.
So here's the question -- is it hypocritical for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to criticize President Bush while failing to do anything to stop the war herself?
E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile.
I thought I remember that from my eighth grade civics class. It's up to the speaker of the House, Wolf, to decide whether these appropriation bills even come to the floor or not.
BLITZER: And they rarely put anything up on the floor if they're not convinced 100 percent it's going to pass, at least the way they want it to pass.
CAFFERTY: You've got it.
BLITZER: Good recollection.
BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.
Fidel castor says the United States is simply not telling the truth about 9/11. The ailing leader says he knows what really happened. I'm going to be speaking with the third highest ranking Cuban official about Castro's claims.
In Iran, there's a TV show that is extremely popular, about as popular as they get. But some are wondering why, when it concerns an event that Iran's president insists never actually happened. That would be the Holocaust.
And many Americans are worried about the loved ones in Indonesia after a powerful earthquake. There's a disturbing toll of death and devastation. We'll have the latest right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Fidel Castro is joining those suggesting a United States cover-up about 9/11. In a new essay, the ailing leader, who has not been seen in more than a year, says the U.S. government -- and I'm quoting now -- "has fooled the world about the attacks."
Castro writes that the Pentagon was hit by a rocket, not by an airplane. He says there were no traces of any plane passengers. Castro also says the real truth about 9/11 might never be known.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: And joining us now, the president of the Cuban National Assembly, Ricardo Alarcon.
He's joining us from Havana.
President Alarcon, thanks very much for joining us once again here in THE SITUATION ROOM. I want to begin with a long article that was written by President Fidel Castro, that was read on Cuban TV, which seems to suggest that there was a conspiracy -- a U.S. government conspiracy on 9/11, the anniversary of which we went through yesterday -- a conspiracy in that there was no American Airlines Flight 77 that went into the Pentagon six years ago yesterday. He wrote this. He says, "Only a projectile could have created the geometrically round hole that the alleged plane created. We were deceived, as were the rest of the planet's inhabitants."
Do you really believe that there was a conspiracy by the U.S. government on 9/11? RICARDO ALARCON, PRESIDENT OF THE CUBAN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY: Well, President Castro was referring to various allegations by scientists, by even journalists, that suggest that contradictions between the data that has been published or known about the incidents. The fact is that a full investigation of that event, as far as I know, didn't take place.
Immediately after 9/11, the attention was diverted towards the international arena, unfortunately... BLITZER: Well, let me interrupt, President Alarcon...
BLITZER: Let me interrupt, because they did find the bodies, the DNA of the passengers from America Airlines Flight 77 at the Pentagon. They did find wreckage of that American Airlines flight. That was all widely reported. And by even suggesting that there was a projectile or some sort of bomb, it's raising questions about President Fidel Castro. And if you're standing by your president on this, it's raising questions, at least in the minds of a lot of people around the world, including some who are friendly with Cuba, what's going on over there? ALARCON: Well, again, he was referring to comments, allowances (ph) made by others that have -- are facts (ph) that have now been discussed even in your country. The best answer to that would be a full investigation and a presentation of every detail on every individual that may have been responsibility by acts of evolution (ph) of what happened. BLITZER: This is going to raise questions about whether or not President Fidel Castro is really in touch with reality.
But let me move on and talk about his health right now. As you know, there have been a lot of rumors over these past few weeks, especially in Miami and South Florida, that he's already dead.
When was the last time you personally saw President Castro? ALARCON: Well, the last time I was in touch with him personally was more than a week ago because I traveled to Montreal and I just returned from that city. But I (INAUDIBLE) I was in touch with him yesterday when he was working on that long article that was published today. BLITZER: So you can say for sure that he is alive.
Is he making progress in his recovery?
Because as you know, we haven't seen him in a long time.
How is his health right now? ALARCON: Well, my information is that he's doing pretty well. I am not a physician, but I understand that he is going through his recovery process in the way that was, that is normal. BLITZER: Well, why not take a -- let us see him?
Why not let the world get some pictures of him?
What's wrong with that? ALARCON: Well, I think that's a very private matter. If you want to be photographed or you want to appear in front of lights and so on or if you are forced to follow a certain discipline of rehabilitation, exercising and so on. For that situation, it is better to spend more time reading and writing as he is doing.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: And we're going to have a lot more of my interview with President Alarcon. That will air tonight, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Also coming up this hour, caught on tape -- a police officer unleashes a tirade on a driver, threatening to make up charges, even throw him in jail. It could happen to anyone. We're going to show you what the driver did about it.
And what's the world's number one toy maker doing to keep your children safe?
That's the tough question lawmakers are posing to the CEO of Mattel mid concerns about Chinese made toys.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: A powerful earthquake, strong aftershocks and fresh fear in Indonesia. The magnitude 8.4 quake off the coast of Sumatra Island is blamed for nine deaths. It's brought down billings, triggered a small tsunami along the Indian Ocean coast that hit one city on Sumatra.
It was negligible, however, compared to the David Gregory tsunami that struck the region back in December 2004, killing 280,000 people. That quake measured at least a magnitude 9.1.
Both quakes struck at a depth of 18.6 miles. They occurred about 650 miles apart. Today's massive earthquake off Indonesia shook buildings hundreds of miles away.
Let's go to our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton.
She's monitoring some I-Reports come in from areas in Southeast Asia affected by the quake -- Abbi, what are we seeing?
ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this video that was sent into CNN's I-Report was taken more than 400 miles away in Singapore. Twelve-year-old Clarissa Lee was in her apartment in Singapore in the early evening when she noticed -- take a look at that -- the water splashing out of the fish tank in her apartment in the 28th floor of the apartment building. She said the tremors went on for a full two minutes. You can see from the video that the chandeliers were shaking.
CNN spoke to Clarissa's father, who said that in Singapore, they do feel tremors like this several times a year. But he never experienced anything so severe. And the USGS is saying that that this 8.4 magnitude earthquake was the strongest worldwide so far this year.
As ever, Wolf, CNN.com/ireport is where people in the region of Southeast Asia have been sending in their I-Reports of this event today -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And they're just beginning to come in. We'll have more of them here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Abbi, thanks very much.
Up next, he says Baghdad never looked so good after two days on the Congressional hot seat. You're going to want to see my exclusive interview with the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Ryan Crocker. That's coming up.
And later, imagine being pulled over by a police officer with an attitude. Now imagine getting it all on tape. We have that unsettling encounter. You're going to want to see it.
All that coming up, and a lot more, in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, Tropical Storm Humberto churns toward Galveston, Texas. Humberto formed rapidly today in the Gulf of Mexico today. It's expected to become a storm -- a tropical storm or a minimal hurricane with 75 mile per hour winds when it makes landfall. That's expected around midnight.
The Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, steps down. Abe announced his resignation today in Tokyo. He said he decided to leave because he was having an adverse effect on Japan's effort in the fight against terror. Abe's party has been riddled with recent scandal. He's been in office for about a year.
And U.S. prosecutors say they have no plans at this time for federal hate crime charges against six people accused of the abduction and week-long torture of a 20-year-old woman. State prosecutors in West Virginia do plan to pursue charges carrying strong penalties, including kidnapping and sexual assault.
I'm Wolf Blitzer.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
He was criticized for painting a too rosy picture of the U.S. mission in Iraq at this week's Congressional hearings. Whether or not the nation's top diplomat in Baghdad was on a different page from General David Petraeus, the two did agree on one central point -- that Iran is contributing to the problems in Iraq.
And joining us now here in THE SITUATION ROOM, United States ambassador to Iraq, Ambassador Ryan Crocker.
You've been in the hot seat these last few days.
Welcome to THE SITUATION ROOM.
RYAN CROCKER, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Thanks very much for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: And I heard you say earlier you're looking forward to going back to Baghdad, which underscores that this has not necessarily been a pleasant experience here in Washington.
CROCKER: It's all part of American democracy, but Baghdad has never looked so good.
BLITZER: Let's talk about democracy. In your statement, you repeatedly said this. You said: "In my view, secure, stable, democratic Iraq at peace with its neighbors is attainable." And the word democratic, a real democracy in Iraq, what are we talking about, six months, six years, generations? How long is it going to take? Because the American people are nervous, as you understand, they're frustrated. How long is it going to take to achieve a secure, stable, democratic Iraq?
CROCKER: An end-state that is -- a country that is stable, secure and democratic, is probably years in the making. Now that does not by any means imply that we're going to have to have significant numbers of troops on the ground to sustain security while they work through these things. But this is a long-term project.
BLITZER: Because the U.S., as you know, after World War II stayed in Germany, still in Germany, still in Japan. Are we talking generations that there will have to be a U.S. military presence in Iraq?
CROCKER: Certainly not in anything like the current numbers or in the current -- with the current mission role. But it is noteworthy that Iraq's leaders at the end of August in a declaration that they produced on areas where they had agreement, also agreed that all five of them representing Iraq's three principle communities wanted to have a long-term strategic partnership with the U.S.
BLITZER: So are we talking eight to 10 years where there will be a robust military presence, at least 50,000 or maybe even 100,000 U.S. troops? Is that realistic, something Americans should assume is the case?
CROCKER: I don't think so. General Petraeus, in his testimony, noted that he could make plans through to next summer, July 2008. And that it's just too hard at this point with all the uncertainty to look much beyond that. I think we're just going to have to take this as it comes.
BLITZER: All right. Let me talk a little bit about your testimony. And The New York Times, their reporters in Baghdad, Alissa Rubin and Damien Cave, they went through it and a couple lines jumped out at me and different points. "His testimony did not address the continuing wave of internal displacements, only glancingly mentioned Baghdad's starved infrastructure, and said almost nothing about the government's inability or unwillingness to deliver services to other parts of the country as well."
What they were critical of wasn't so much what you said but what you deliberately left out. And I wonder if you want to respond to that criticism.
CROCKER: Well, indeed, there's no way given the constraints of time that I could produce an assessment that covered the entire water front. What I focused on were the elements that led me to the general view that the trajectory in Iraq is up, even though the slope of the line is not very great.
Certainly displacements are a problem, a very big problem...
BLITZER: When you say displacements, there have been, what, 4 million people or so that have been uprooted from their homes, 2 million refugees, another 2 million internally displaced, that whole neighborhoods have been, as they say, ethnically cleansed.
CROCKER: Well, that's right. The displacements are about equally divided between those who fled the country entirely and those who are displaced within Iraq. And it is a fact that even with the surge that there are some displacements still ongoing...
BLITZER: Is that one of the reasons why there has been a reduction in violence, because in effect, in Sunni neighborhoods there are no Shia and in Shia neighborhoods there are no Sunnis?
CROCKER: Well, certainly, when, in a place like Sadr City, which is for example almost exclusively Shia, you see relatively little violence but that doesn't explain the general reduction in violence. That is attributable to the surge.
BLITZER: Here's another criticism that these two New York Times reporters had. "His description" -- referring to your testimony, "his description of the growth of provincial power neglected to mention its darker side. Some provinces," referring to al-Anbar, "are becoming rival power centers and could as easily contribute to the country's disintegration as to its stability."
CROCKER: I see it differently, as I described in my testimony. Certainly, what has happened from a bottoms-up perspective in Anbar is important, but precisely to prevent that kind of outcome, there has got to be a top-down phenomenon too, and we're seeing that.
Just before I left Iraq to come back here for this testimony, I was in Anbar with leaders of the federal government who traveled to Ramadi to announce a grant of $120 million to the province to fund both development and reconstruction from war damage, so the linkages between the province and the center, which are vitally important I think for overall stability, are being built in the case of Anbar.
BLITZER: Is Iran trying to achieve a Hezbollah-like force in Iraq that would be a permanent threat to U.S. forces there?
CROCKER: Well, many Iraqis worry that that is precisely what Iran is trying to do with elements of the Jaish al-Mahdi, the Mahdi Army of Muqtada al-Sadr. And indeed, from some of the arrests that our forces have made of leaders in cells of the Jaish al-Mahdi, there is evidence that that is indeed what they're trying to do.
BLITZER: You have met with the Iranian ambassador in Baghdad twice. Was anything accomplished?
CROCKER: I made it clear to the Iranian ambassador that we're aware of what they're doing in seeking to subvert security in Iraq and to foster attacks not only on coalition forces but also on Iraqis and to say that it needed to stop.
BLITZER: Did it lead to any positive change as a result of those meetings?
CROCKER: So far we really have seen no change on the ground.
BLITZER: So the Iranians are still doing what they were doing?
CROCKER: That is certainly how it looks to us, yes.
BLITZER: A final question. Ramadan, a period for Muslims around the world, a fast. Usually that increases the level of violence in Iraq. That period just beginning right now. You've spent your whole professional career studying that part of the world. What's likely to happen over the next month?
CROCKER: Well, clearly Iraqis are aware of the pattern in Ramadan, as are we. And a number of precautions have been taken to try to be ready for any effort to increase the level of violence or insecurity. We'll have to see what happens.
BLITZER: But you're stepping up your security precautions?
CROCKER: Yes we are.
BLITZER: Ambassador, good luck over there. Thanks for coming in.
CROCKER: Thanks very much, Wolf.
BLITZER: And please join us tomorrow night for a special expanded edition of THE SITUATION ROOM as we preview President Bush's address to the nation. THE SITUATION ROOM will start our coverage at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. The president's speech, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, tomorrow night.
It's a huge hit on Iranian TV and Iran's government has spent a lot of money on it. But the main storyline is about something Iran's president says never happened, the Holocaust. We'll tell you what's going on.
And efforts to stop what should have never happened, a child dying because of dangerous toys. You're going to want to hear what the head of the world's largest toy-maker is now saying. Lawmakers grilled him earlier today. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Depending on whom you ask, the blame for recent massive toy recalls could fall on anyone. The CEOs of Mattel and Toys 'R' Us, among others, were summoned to Capitol Hill today to help senators sort out how millions of unsafe toys could fall into American children's hands. CNN's Brian Todd is following this story following the hearings that occurred today.
Brian, what happened?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, as usual in these situations they came up with more finger-pointing.
TODD (voice-over): Millions of Chinese-made toys contaminated with dangerous lead paint on American shelves. At least one child dies after swallowing lead jewelry. Three high-profile recalls this summer alone, all involving Mattel, the world's number one toy-maker.
Its CEO, called before Congress, apologizes but also blames Chinese subcontractors.
ROBERT ECKERT, CEO, MATTEL: Our systems were circumvented and our standards were violated.
TODD: But senators relay charges of a cynical corporate giant cutting corners.
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Critics would say, Mattel knew what they were doing. They were looking with the cheapest places in the world to make their toys. So they found a country with the lowest wage, with virtually no environmental standards, and basically no safety inspection, so why should we be surprised at the outcome? ECKERT: To me the issue here hasn't been where these products are made or what the rules are, have we done everything we can to ensure their safety?
TODD: Robert Eckert says Mattel is doing that. Now testing the paint before and after toys are produced, placing auditors on factory floors. For some recalled toys that are choking hazards, Chinese officials blame in part the manufacturer's design flaws, which Mattel denies.
Critics also charge the Consumer Products Safety Commission, which oversees toy safety, doesn't find deficient toys until they're already on American shelves. Consumer groups say that agency doesn't have the authority or the resources.
SALLY GREENBERG, CONSUMERS UNION: They've got one person testing toys. Their lab is -- looks like an old college friend's dorm room.
TODD: The result of massive budget and staff cuts. Who gets the blame for that?
JOE ENOCH, CONSUMERAFFAIRS.COM: It's all because the Bush administration has decreased their funding. And there's no doubt that right now the agency is at the lowest point it has ever been in its history.
TODD: A White House official told me it's far more complex than that, that the CPSC could never have enough money or personnel to inspect everything. He says the administration has increased that agency's funding every year and has created another import safety group to monitor these products as well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting an important story today. Thanks, Brian.
Let's turn now to another story. This one out of Iran. It concern a TV show that's a huge hit over there. And some are questioning how it could become so popular. Carol Costello is watching this story for us.
It concerns war and the Holocaust, not necessarily, Carol, subjects we would anticipate would become a huge TV series hit in Iran.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: No, it's very odd, Wolf. We've heard the president of Iran say it before. The Holocaust is a myth. His comments have drawn condemnations from Israel, the United States and Europe. And it has damaged Iran's credibility. Oddly, a soapy TV drama could fix it all.
COSTELLO (voice-over): It's called "Zero Degree Turn" and it's as popular in Iran as "Desperate Housewives" is here. This splashy World War II drama is a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim and a French-Jewish woman.
Here she says: "You can't hide yourself from me even if you can hide yourself from the whole world." The drama takes place in Paris. Here our lovers are in disguise so he, an Iranian, can help the woman he adores avoid a Nazi concentration camp. Destination, Iran.
It's a unique story line for Iranian TV given the Iranian president has repeatedly called the Holocaust a myth.
That's President Ahmadinejad at the Worldwide Holocaust Conference shaking hands with American David Duke, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
And this is a scene from "Zero Degree Turn." Here our Iranian hero asks: "Where are they taking them?" "The fascists are taking the Jews to the concentration camps."
The Iranian government has spent lavishly on the show, too, shooting it on location and featuring established Iranian stars. Compared to the usual Iranian TV fare, well, you can see the difference.
It begs the question, why spend all that government money on a show about something Iran's president denies ever happened?
KARIM SADJADPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT: President Ahmadinejad may be the president of Iran, but he's certainly not a dictator and he is certainly not the most powerful individual within Iran.
COSTELLO: No, this man is, the supreme leader. He controls state-run television in Iran. And Sadjadpour thinks "Zero Degree Turn" is his way of sending a message to the world and to Iran's 25,000 Jewish citizens to ignore Ahmadinejad's words.
SADJADPOUR: This is one way for Ayatollah Khamenei to send a subtle signal to the rest of the world and to Iran's own Jewish community that despite the rantings of President Ahmadinejad, you should feel secure here.
COSTELLO: As for how Ahmadinejad feels about this signal? Iranian sources tell us it is not at odds with the president's message. Ahmadinejad does not dislike Jews but Israel, a country he believes uses the Holocaust as an excuse to kill innocent Palestinians.
COSTELLO: Now, experts say most in Iran do not share their president's views, pointing to the fact Iran has a large Jewish population and a Jew holds a seat in Iran's parliament -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Carol Costello reporting. Fascinating story. Thanks, Carol, very much.
Still ahead, a traffic cop rips into a driver uttering epitaphs and threatening to take him up on trumped up charges. How do we all know? It's all caught on videotape.
And Russia tests what it calls the "dad of all bombs." How does it match up to America's arsenal? We'll take a comparison. Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: It's every driver's nightmare. You're in your car, spotted by a police officer. But instead of saying what you've done, the officer frightens you with threatening and verbally abusive language. Let's turn to Mary Snow. She's watching this story from New York.
It happened to one driver, but he did something extraordinary. Tell our viewers what happened.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf, this driver decided to videotape a Missouri police officer seen yelling, appearing to have a tantrum. The officer has now been placed on unpaid suspension.
SNOW (voice-over): They're supposed to serve and protect, not threaten and harass.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: ... ever get smart mouth with a cop again, I'll show you what a cop does.
SNOW: That was Sergeant James Kenline (ph), a police officer in St. George, Missouri. His tirade was aimed at Brett Darrow after the officer stopped the 20-year-old driver in an empty parking lot early Friday.
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: You think you have a bad night? I'm going to ruin your (expletive deleted) night. You want to try me? Do you want to try me, young boy?
SNOW: The driver caught the graphic outburst on tape using a camera mounted on his dashboard. He claims he has had past run-ins with police. In this incident the officer approaches Darrow's parked car and asked him for ID. But then he claims Darrow has an attitude and says...
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: You want to go to jail for some (expletive deleted) reason I come up with?
SNOW: After a while the driver tried to diffuse the situation by saying he had a bad night. The officer responds...
UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: You don't never take it out on a cop. Because we will ruin your career and everything else...
SNOW: After about 10 minutes, Officer Kenline let Darrow go. No word from the officer on the incident, but the St. George police chief says his conduct was unacceptable. CHIEF SCOTT UHRIG, ST. GEORGE POLICE CHIEF: You saw the actions there of one of my officers and was not happy with the way he responded to that stop.
SNOW: The police chief says the department is investigating, but the target of the officer's tirade says he wants action now.
BRETT DARROW, RECORDED ENCOUNTER WITH POLICE: I would like to see the officer fired. I thought what -- his conduct was ridiculous.
SNOW: Now that the video is posted on the Internet. It has prompted dozens of complaints to the St. George Police Department -- Wolf.
BLITZER: What was the driver doing in the parking lot at, what, 2:00 in the morning?
SNOW: Yes, you know, we asked him that earlier today on CNN. And he said that he was there to -- he had to pick up a cell phone from a friend and that he was in a commuter parking lot, a 24-hour parking lot he didn't think it would be suspicious.
BLITZER: Mary Snow, thanks very much for that story.
Let's go back to Carol Costello. She is monitoring some other stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What do you have, Carol?
COSTELLO: A couple of things, Wolf. Aircraft manufacturer Bombardier calls for the grounding of all of its Q-400 turboprop planes. The gear on a Scandinavian airlines flight failed today, causing it to skid off a runway in Lithuania. No one was hurt. Now this is the second such incident in three days. Another Scandinavian Airline's plane lost its right gear Sunday and caught fire in Denmark, slightly injuring five people. At least 200 flights by Scandinavian Airlines and Alaska-based Horizon Airlines have been canceled.
A high level tour of nuclear facilities in North Korea. A team of officials from the United States, China and Russia is studying to see how to disable to the site so they cannot produce atomic bombs. The leader of the U.S. delegations says they've seen everything they're asked to. They'll hold talks with North Korean officials Friday in the capital Pyongyang.
In part of central Russia, about 500 miles east of Moscow there was an easy way for couples to get today off. The governor has declared it a day of conception. It means exactly what you think. The parents of any babies born exactly nine months from now on June 12th, Russia's National Day, will win cash, cars, refrigerators and other prizes. It's a creative way of dealing with the region's declining population.
We'll see if it works, Wolf, next year.
BLITZER: Nine months from now, we'll see what happens. Thanks very much.
Russia's military has reportedly launched a successful test of what it's calling the "dad of all bombs." Russia's Channel 1 television says the new weapon is four times more powerful than a U.S. device dubbed the "mother of all bombs." The U.S. bomb uses eight tons of high explosives, equivalent to 11 tons of TNT. Channel 1 says the Russian bomb uses 7.8 tons of a more efficient explosive delivering the power of 44 tons of TNT. Also, dad's blast radius is 990 feet, twice that of mother's.
Let's go back to Jack Cafferty. He has got the "Cafferty File." You're the dad of all commentators, Jack.
CAFFERTY: Very good. Thank you, Wolf. You're a member of the best political team on television.
BLITZER: Thank you.
CAFFERTY: The question is, is it hypocritical for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to criticize President Bush while failing to do anything to stop the war in Iraq?
Mike in Phoenix: "With American troops dying, it's despicable that Pelosi plays around with this. She has the power. She's just a coward. Apparently American soldiers aren't too important to the Democratic leadership. Too bad since the Republicans haven't cared for them in years."
Tom in Georgia: "I believe hypocritical is too polite a word. Sleeping with the enemy comes to mind or how about criminally negligent. And, yes, I remember my high school civics also. Too bad Congress seems to have slept through class."
Ron writes: "Not funding the war would be spun by the White House as not funding the troops. It could tear the country apart. It's not that simple. I don't support the war but I don't support a new American revolution either. Not yet."
Mike in New York: "I'm the most ardent liberal Democrat, and have been screaming to anyone who would listen to me for the last year that it's not as many as the Democrats say that we need 67 votes to override Bush's veto and since that won't happen that we can't end the war. We don't need a veto because we don't need a bill. Simply give the president nothing to sign. No bill and there's nothing to veto. And hence, no more money to continue to war which is why the Democratic Party was put in power. Yes, Pelosi is the biggest hypocrite of them all. P.S. Please for my sanity print this. I'm a constitutional lawyer and this ridiculously obvious piece of second- grade civics has somehow escaped the minds of most thinking Americans."
Rob writes: "Fact is Nancy Pelosi can stop the war by refusing to fund it just like you said, just refusing to bring a bill to the floor. Fact is, Harry Reid could stop any funding bills in the Senate by calling for cloture, requiring 60 votes to pass a funding bill. There you go. Two ways the Democrats can do now to stop the war. Any other claims they make are pure B.S. -- Bush support."
Nancy in Arizona: "Nancy Pelosi, all smiles, ready to charge full steam ahead when she took office. I wrote and asked her who muzzled her. No answer. She's all talk and no action, and has set women in office back 20 years. I have lost my faith in the Democrats now."
We invite you to join us next Wednesday, September the 19th, 8:00 Eastern time, when we will do a thinly-veiled special to promote my book. It's a "Cafferty File" talking about how ugly it's getting out there. You can go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. You can send us those I- Reports, those things you tape yourself. Keep it clean. And you can also e-mail us at email@example.com and we will put some of e-mails on the air during the special as well.
Wolf, back to you.
BLITZER: All right. Excellent, Jack. See you back here in an hour. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Remember, we're here in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern. We're back for another hour 7:00 p.m. Eastern, one hour from now. Until then, thanks for watching. "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now. Kitty Pilgrim sitting in for Lou -- Kitty.
KITTY PILGRIM, GUEST HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Thanks, Wolf.
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