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Blackwater Grilled by Congress; Isiah Thomas Verdict Announced

Aired October 2, 2007 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, Blackwater in hot water -- a U.S. security contractor gets a grilling from Congress after the deaths of Iraqi civilians.

A major verdict in a sexual harassment case against a basketball superstar and now a coach. But he didn't get the worst of it. Tonight, who has to pay in this case.

And 16 years later, it's round two between Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill. The Supreme Court justice had his turn. Now the former accuser is speaking out to CNN. You're going to want to see the interview with Anita Hill this hour.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


More now on Blackwater, that private American security firm. It's packing a lot of firepower, as you know, paid to protect American diplomats in Iraq. But now, with the shooting deaths of Iraqi civilians under investigation, the well-connected security firm, Blackwater, is forced into the spotlight of a Congressional hearing.

Let's go live to our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee.

She's watching this story for us -- It was a dramatic day today, Zain.

Tell our viewers what happened.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Blackwater and State Department officials were really grilled at this hearing. At issue was essentially this, Wolf -- are Blackwater contractors in Iraq doing their job protecting diplomats or are they, as some lawmakers say, trigger happy cowboys who kill innocent Iraqi civilians?

Now, Erik Prince, who is the CEO of Blackwater and a former Navy SEAL said, look, we're not mercenaries. Our job, he said, is to get diplomats out of danger as soon as possible.

Here's some of what he said.


ERIK PRINCE, BLACKWATER USA: Defensive fire sufficient for us to extricate ourselves from that dangerous situation. We're not there to achieve firepower dominance or drive the insurgents back. We're there to get our package away from danger.


VERJEE: Now, Blackwater's role, Wolf, really came to a major boil after a September 16th incident where at least 11 Iraqis were killed by Blackwater guards who say that they were shooting in response to hostile fire. And lawmakers couldn't really get into this or ask Erik Prince any questions because that incident is being investigated by both the State and Justice Departments.

Lawmakers, too, at this hearing, Wolf, said the State Department really dropped the ball here, that it failed by not controlling Blackwater and also said that the State Department really should have held Blackwater much more accountable.

A top State Department official on Iraq was at this hearing and this what he had to say in response it that accusation.


DAVID SATTERFIELD, SPECIAL ADVISER ON IRAQ: In those rare instances when security contractors must use force, management officials at the embassy conduct a thorough review in each and every instance to ensure the appropriate procedures were, in fact, followed. In addition, we are in constant and regular contact with our Iraqi counterparts about such instances. And the incident of September 16th was no exception.


VERJEE: Now, there are some investigations, obviously, going on of this and other incidents, too, Wolf, that the State Department's Diplomatic Security Office, in conjunction with the FBI, is going to be looking into this. There's a joint U.S./Iraqi commission looking into the role of contractors in Iraq. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has dispatched a high level panel to Iraq who is going to give some sort of preliminary assessment by Friday, looking at the overall security practices in Iraq -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Zain, thanks very much.

And when Erik Prince, the head of Blackwater, talks about getting the package to its destination safely and securely, the package he's referring to are the diplomats that Blackwater is protecting.

Here's some more information on the man taking the heat from Congress today, the founder and chairman of Blackwater, 38-year-old Erik Prince. Check it out. He used his family's auto parts fortune to start the security company back in 1997. Before that, Prince was an officer in the Navy SEALs serving in Haiti, the Middle East and Bosnia. He once was an intern in the White House office of the first president George Herbert Walker Bush and he gave his -- he and his family have been in -- have very close ties to the Republican Party and conservative Christian groups. The Blackwater founder, by the way, has donated around $200,000 to the Republican Party and to Republican candidates.

The British prime minister, Gordon Brown, is promising to pull 1,000 troops out of Iraq by Christmas. He showed up unannounced in Iraq today and he pledged to let 20 percent of the troops there go home. Mr. Brown also met in Baghdad with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, who said Iraqi forces will take over security in the southern province of Basra within two months. The prime minister then flew to an air base just outside Basra, Iraq's second largest city, where British troops now operate. They withdrew from the city itself last month.

Besides the United States, by the way, there are 21 countries with troops in Iraq. But only three of those troops have more than 1,000 forces in the country. Britain has about 5,500 troops deployed right now, but 1,000, as we just said, will be going home by Christmas. South Korea has under 3,000; Australia about 1,600. For some of the countries, it's more about a show of solidarity than a show of force. Latvia, for example, has only two soldiers in Iraq.

There's new information on the president's stance shortly before the start of the war -- an insider look at a high level conversation between President Bush and another world leader.

Brian Todd has been working this story.

What are you learning, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this account sets the stage for the invasion and really illustrates the president's frustration at the time with how the diplomatic process was going.


TODD (voice-over): Nearly four weeks before the U.S. invades Iraq, President Bush meets at his ranch with Spain's prime minister. Behind closed doors, Mr. Bush indicates his patients with the U.N. may have run out. "This is like Chinese water torture," he tells Jose Maria Aznar. "We have to put an end to it."

This, according to a transcript of the meeting published in the Spanish newspaper, "El Pais".

ERNESTO EKAIZER, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "EL PAIS": He's absolutely fed up with the situation and he doesn't mind the military ramifications of the war.

TODD: At the meeting, the Spanish prime minister says Saddam Hussein could go into exile and the perfect solution would be to win without firing a shot. Bush replies, "I don't want to go to war. I know about wars. I know the destruction and death they cause. I am the one who has to console the mothers and widows of the dead. For sure, for us, it would be the best solution," and besides, the president adds, "We'd save $50 billion."

EKAIZER: You in the United States know very well how the cost of the war increased in a very notable way.

TODD: "El Pais," a major Spanish newspaper seen as close to the ruling Socialist Party, says it verified the transcript with current and former sources in the Spanish government. CNN got independent verification of the transcript's accuracy from a senior Spanish official with knowledge of the meeting.

The White House won't confirm or deny its accuracy, but responded to questions about it by saying there was no rush to war.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: All diplomatic measures ran their course.

TODD: Just before the first strike, the president doesn't say invasion is certain, doesn't mention a timetable.

GEORGE BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...commenced at a time of our choosing.


TODD: But in that meeting with Aznar a month earlier, he predicted, "We'll be in Baghdad at the end of March."

But Mr. Bush does alternate between that and other possibilities at the meeting. He tells the Spanish prime minister that there was always the chance that Saddam could be assassinated and war could still be avoided -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Did you get the sense -- was there a sense, Brian, that Aznar was simply trying to buy some more time for a potential diplomatic solution?

TODD: At a couple of points he does. At one point, Mr. Bush says, "My patience are running out." He says it flat out. He says, "I'm not thinking of going beyond mid-March."

And, of course, we know now he didn't go much beyond mid-March.

Aznar replies to that, "I'm not asking for you for infinite patience, simply that you do everything possible to make this fit." He is appealing to him.

BLITZER: And the war started in March, as we know, just near the end of March.

Thanks very much.

Brian Todd with that story.

Let's go right back to Jack Cafferty.

He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack. CAFFERTY: And what a great idea it turned out to be.

Just when there is some slight indication that the federal government is going to try to enforce the laws against illegal aliens, well, you can count on an activist federal judge to get in the way.

Judge Charles Breyer of the U.S. District Court of North California -- where else -- is blocking efforts by the Department of Homeland Security to crack down on those who hire illegal aliens.

Here's how it works. If an employer would find out that an employee's information doesn't match Social Security records and the employee could not clarify the issue within 90 days, the employer would have to fire that person or risk being prosecuted. In other words, if the employee was working for the company illegally or misrepresented himself, he'd be fired. It seems simple enough.

The lawsuit challenging the government was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union, the AFL-CIO and several San Francisco labor groups.

Now the judge has delayed the start of this program for 10 more days while he comes up with a decision on the legality of it.

What's the problem here, Your Honor?

It is against the law to hire illegal aliens, period. Judge Breyer has also blocked the Social Security Administration from sending out 140,000 so-called no match letters to employers, hiring people whose names and Social Security numbers don't match.

I must be missing something here, because if it's against the law to hire illegal aliens, why is this even being looked at by a judge?

Here's the question -- should a federal judge prevent the government from cracking down on employers who hire illegal aliens?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty. Thank you very much.

Justice Clarence Thomas is bringing up the past and Anita Hill isn't -- isn't letting it slide.


PROF. ANITA HILL, BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY: In essence he won, he got what he came for.


BLITZER: Anita Hill speaking to CNN about Justice Thomas' new book and what she's calling slander.

The verdict is in against the New York Knicks, the basketball great Isiah Thomas.

Who will pay the almost $12 million fine?

And crack/cocaine carries much tougher penalties than powder.

Does the law unfairly penalize African-Americans?

The U.S. Supreme Court taking up the issue.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: A jury today found New York Knicks coach, the NBA legend, Isiah Thomas, sexually harassed a former employee. His employer has now been ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages.

Let's go live to our senior correspondent, Allan Chernoff.

He's watching this story for us.

There was little doubt left by the jury was there -- Allan?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No question about it, Wolf.

The jury did not find Isiah Thomas to be credible when he denied all the accusations, deciding that Thomas, Madison Square Garden, the owner of the Knicks, and James Dolan, chairman of the parent company, all engaged in sexual harassment.


CHERNOFF (voice-over): A huge victory in court for former New York Knicks executive, Anucha Brown Sanders, who claimed Knicks' coach, Isiah Thomas, had verbally abused her and even came on to her, trying to kiss her. She was fired after complaining to her employer of Thomas' behavior.

ANUCHA BROWN SANDERS, PLAINTIFF: What I did here I did for every working woman in America, and that includes everyone who gets up and goes to work in the morning, everyone that aspires to be in a corporate environment.

CHERNOFF: Jurors found Thomas liable of subjecting Brown Sanders to a hostile work environment and found Madison Square Garden, owner of the Knicks, and James Dolan, chairman of the parent company, liable of the same, as well as retaliating against the plaintiff. The jury awarded Brown Sanders damages of $8.6 million from MSG and $3 million from Dolan -- amounts that the judge has the authority to change.

Jurors were deadlocked and whether Thomas should have to pay damages.

The Knicks' coach, who denied Brown Sanders' accusations, is promising to appeal.

ISIAH THOMAS, HEAD COACH, NEW YORK KNICKS: I'm very innocent and I did not do the things that she accused me in this courtroom of doing. I'm extremely disappointed that the jury could not see the facts in this case.

CHERNOFF: MSG said: "We believe the jury's decision was incorrect and plan to vigorously appeal the verdict."

The trial portrayed the Knicks' organization as a basketball "Animal House." Star player Stephon Marbury testified in court to having sex with a Knicks' intern in his truck and cursing at Brown Sanders.


CHERNOFF: The case has been a very big distraction for the Knicks and may very well continue hanging over the team. In fact, training camp got started today without head coach Isiah Thomas -- Wolf, the New York sports fans have been feeling a lot of pain.

BLITZER: The Knicks have not been doing good on the basketball court in recent years, either.

All right, thanks very much.

Alan Chernoff watching that story for us.

One drug -- two very different forms and two very different sets of sentencing guidelines -- crack/cocaine versus powder cocaine. Crack use is much more prevalent among minorities and carries much harsher sentences. Now the U.S. Supreme Court is about to take up this very controversial issue.

Let's go to our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena.

She's watching this story for us -- Kelli, what exactly is the court going to be looking at?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the justices aren't being asked to dictate sentencing guidelines.

What they're looking at is whether judges who disagree with them can set lower sentences.


ARENA (voice-over): Karen Garrison remembers vividly the day her sons were sentenced for dealing crack/cocaine.

KAREN GARRISON, MOTHER OF CONVICTED MEN: You know, I passed out during some points of that. I can remember when they said 15-and-a- half and 19-and-a-half, I mean it seems like just -- I got a ringing in my ears because I couldn't believe that it was that much.

ARENA: Her twin sons are college graduates with no prior criminal records. They were fingered by a convicted drug dealer. No drugs were ever found on them. The men refused to plea, maintaining their innocence. But they ran into a legal brick wall.

Sentences for crack/cocaine are far stiffer than for powder cocaine. Five grams of crack gets you five years mandatory. You'd have to have 500 grams of powder to get the same time.

Why the difference?

Well, critics say it's black and white.

Crack dominates in African-American communities, powdered coke among whites. And that, they say, is discrimination.

Until now the argument hasn't flown very far.

KENDALL COFFEY, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: The constitutional challenges were consistently rejected by the courts because it was very clear that crack/cocaine has fundamentally different and much more destructive dimensions than so-called white powder cocaine.

ARENA: The case before the Supreme Court involves a crack dealer who got 15 years when the guidelines called for at least 19. The district judge in the case imposed the lower sentence because he felt the guidelines were way too tough. The defense agrees.

MICHAEL NACHMANOFF, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER: Judges have to be able to impose a sentence anywhere within the full range given by Congress. And that's what we were asking the court to recognize today.

ARENA: The government says he had no right to ignore the will of Congress.


ARENA: Now, the high court has already ruled that judges do have discretion. The distinction here is whether they can use that discretion simply because they disagree with federal law -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kelli Arena at the Supreme Court for us.

Thank you.

About 90 percent of the cocaine in the United States comes through Mexico. But that country has been cracking down on drug smuggling and the Bush administration says that's cutting supplies into the United States, with law enforcement in 37 American cities now reporting a cocaine shortage. The result -- higher prices. The Drug Enforcement Agency says that the price of a gram of pure cocaine is up 24 percent, to almost $120.

Up ahead, new details about the girl sexually assaulted and videotaped. Her mother is making a very emotional appeal.

Plus, history is made with a walk along a hostile border.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Carol Costello is monitoring some other stories incoming into that's right now -- Carol, what's going on?


As the search continues for the main suspect, new details are emerging about the girl whose videotaped rape has made national headlines. Her mother put out a statement today pleading for privacy, saying she's working with investigators and the now 7-year-old girl is safe. Her lawyer says the mother did not know about the assault until a friend alerted her to news media coverage of the story.


JERRY DONOHUE, ATTORNEY FOR VICTIM'S MOTHER: Speaking as a father myself, I wish the guy would dig a hole in the desert and put a gun in his mouth. Wild West justice is the

way I see it.


COSTELLO: Two men rescued from a life raft in the Florida Straits are now murder suspects. Federal prosecutors accuse them of killing the crew of a boat they had chartered, then trying to make their way to Cuba. The boat was found adrift, the crews' bodies never found. One of the suspects blames the killings on Cuban pirates.

Investigators are blaming pilot error, in part, for the crash landing of a Southwest Airlines plane at Chicago's Midway Airport back in December of 2005. It skidded off the runway during a snow storm and hit several cars on an adjacent street, killing a 6-year-old boy in one of the vehicles. The National Transportation Safety Board says the crew made a bad decision to land and probably should have diverted the flight.

At the same time, fatal commercial plane accidents in the United States are down 65 percent over the last decade. Back in 1996, a federal commission set a goal of an 80 percent reduction, following the crashes of TWA Flight 800 and the ValuJet crash in the Florida Everglades. There have been no fatal crashes of scheduled commercial flights this year in the United States.

Back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

Up next, Anita Hill breaking more than a decade of silence, refuting allegations by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILL: When you're accused of bad behavior, as opposed to wanting people to look at all of the evidence, look at all of the credible evidence, what you do is you attack your accuser.


BLITZER: We caught up with Anita Hill. And she has a lot more to say about Justice Thomas. The entire interview with Anita Hill. That's coming up.

Plus, you see them in cities all across the United States. We're going undercover to take you inside the hidden lives of day laborers.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: To our viewers, You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, an official inquiry into the death of Princess Diana opening up in Britain a decade after her death. A jury has to decide whether the car crash that killed her was an accident or was it an act of murder. More on the story coming up.

Also, Democratic presidential candidate Senator Hillary Clinton reporting she raised $27 million in the third quarter of this year -- $7 million more than her closest rival. That would be Senator Barack Obama.

And President Bush is poised to use his veto pen for only the fourth time since he took office. The White House reiterating that Mr. Bush will veto a bill that could expand a children's health insurance program by $35 billion.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


Her stunning testimony almost derailed Clarence Thomas' Supreme Court nomination. Now Anita Hill is responding to allegations he makes against her in his new book.

Our cameras caught up with her on the streets of New York.

We're going to hear what Anita Hill had to say in just a moment or so.

But first, let's bring back Carol Costello, who's been watching this story for us -- Carol, has either her story or his story changed over these past 16 years?

COSTELLO: Not in the least, Wolf.

You know, in listening to both, I got the feeling I did 16 years ago when I was riveted to my television set watching the hearings in every lurid detail.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Sixteen years have passed, but the anger remains -- a he said/she said with no definitive answer about what actually happened. On CBS' "60 Minutes," he still says...




COSTELLO: And she still says...

HILL: I know what the truth is. I know what happened to me.

COSTELLO: Flashback to 1991 and one of the most lurid Senate confirmation hearings in United States history. It had it all -- race, sex, and, according to Thomas, the worst kind of politics.


THOMAS: I think most well meaning people understand it for what it was. It was a weapon to destroy me, clear and simple.


COSTELLO: Thomas claims Anita Hill was a pawn, that her claim he had sexually harassed her at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was a ploy to derail his nomination because of his opposition to abortion.


THOMAS: That was the elephant in the room.


COSTELLO: But 16 years ago, as millions watched on television, the elephant in the room was perceived to be Anita Hill and her no holds barred descriptions of how Thomas had harassed her at the EEOC.


HILL: The conversations were very vivid. He spoke about acts that he had seen and pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes.


COSTELLO: She testified such talk and other conversations made her uncomfortable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) HILL: He got up from the table, at which we were working, went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked that can and asked, "Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?"


COSTELLO: Thomas writes he never listened to Hill's testimony. In his book, "My Grandfather's Son," he says it consisted of lies from a mediocre former employee who was angry at not being promoted over a light-complexion woman.


THOMAS: She was not the demure, religious, conservative person that they portrayed. That's not the person I knew.


COSTELLO: Thomas writes the drama so angered him, he agreed to testify in his own defense and planned to use a phrase that crystallized his feelings -- high tech lynching.


THOMAS: This a circus. It's a national disgrace. And from my standpoint as a black American, as far as I'm concerned, it is a high tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves.



COSTELLO: And that was very effective. With that, the hearings ended, Thomas was confirmed and, as you will hear Anita Hill say, she lost and he won.

BLITZER: All right, Carol, thanks very much. And as we said, a CNN crew caught up with Anita Hill in New York and asked her about the Thomas allegations.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Judge Thomas said that you were a political pawn, he described you as such, a front of other issues, about the abortion issue.

HILL: Well, the amazing thing is that there have been several books written about the hearings since then by independent journalists. They have all investigated those charges that were raised in 1991 and he raises now and they've all found them to be false. They haven't shown one connection between me and anyone who was politically motivated to keep him off the court.

What happened and, and I will repeat this, was that I was contacted by the Senate and the Senate contacted me and asked me a direct question about what happened to me in the workplace and I responded truthfully. And there was no intermediate group that put me up to anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have maintained a very private life over the last 16 years. Is it difficult for you to relive this now that Judge Thomas has written a book and made these public comments?

HILL: You know, in many ways I have made peace with what has happened, what happened in 1991. Even what happened in the years that I was working with Thomas. I think, at this point, one of the things that I will say that has helped me to do that is really the letters and calls and the prayers of a lot of different people and I've moved on, but, when comments like those made by Judge Thomas are made, again, completely unsubstantiated comments, then I have to speak out and that's why, you know, I wrote a piece today for publication in the "New York Times" and I'm doing very limited interviews, except for when you catch me on the street.

And, so, yes, I do live a private life. But I do speak about these issues and I've learned about them since.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You took a very personal attack, called you a mediocre employee, upset over passed over for a promotion, that you were not the conservative religious woman that you appeared to be. What do you make of this?

HILL: Well, what I make of it, knowing what I know about sexual harassment claims and what I know generally about workplace abuse claims, discrimination claims. This is a typical tactic that accused people take. When you're accused of bad behavior, as opposed to wanting people to look at all of the evidence, look at all the credible evidence, what you do is you attack your accuser.

And you mischaracterize them, you slander them, you smear them. And in effort to deflect the truth, and, in fact, I know what the truth is. I testified about it in 1991 and I maintained that testimony today is as truthful today as it was then. And will always be. I know what happened to me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's a justice on the highest court in the land, I mean, you have a feeling about that? He really did win.

HILL: In essence, he won. He got what he came for and I think, I'm not sure what his expectations were. But that's for him to resolve. It's not for me to resolve. The only portion of this that I have to respond to is his characterization of me and what I feel is the real injury that it can do to other people who want to stand up for their rights.

That if they see a Supreme Court justice behaving in this way, they can see that that's going to be the model for other people who are accused of wrongdoing. And that's what they're going to have to face and it's hard enough to stand up for your rights anyway. But when you have this kind of behavior being played out by a Supreme Court justice, I think it is, it has a chilling effect on claims. Now, on the other hand, it could have just the opposite. And I hope that's what happens. And I hope that people are even more adamant about speaking out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is that hope? Can you express that and what your hope is to come out of this very painful incident?

HILL: Well, my hope is that people will look at all of the evidence. And they'll look at all of the things that have been written since I spoke out in 1991. That they will evaluate those carefully. Including all of the witnesses that attempted to come forward during the time of the hearing that were kept from testimony, including the evidence of people who have come forward and talked to these authors since then and have talked about his behavior, either towards them or that they witness him behave in public places. Or, you know, that they saw this kind of behavior before.

I hope that people will look at everything and evaluate it in that way and say, you know, you just can't always believe people just because they are in power and just because they seem to have authority.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you think your experience, as painful as it was, changed the society and its approach to this particular issue?

HILL: You know, I can't be a judge about how much society was changed entirely. What I do know is that I hear from people regularly saying that this experience, my experience helped them to understand their own experience. And it helped them, and for those people who haven't had problems in the workplace, it also helped them to understand the experience of others.

So, I think that it was a time of turmoil and it was a difficult time and painful for people to watch, but I do think that it was a moment in which we, a moment in history in which we became educated about the way the workplace works and how it fails in terms of trying to achieve fairness and equality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much. Thank you.

HILL: Thank you.


BLITZER: Anita Hill speaking with CNN earlier today. This note. We've invited Justice Thomas to join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're hoping that he will do so and do so soon.

Pro-democracy crackdown. Evidence of the Myanmar government's brutality against Buddhist monks crusading for freedom. We have the dramatic new disturbing pictures that have been smuggled out of the country. That's coming up. This is a CNN exclusive.

Also, we're getting troubling pictures from one of our I- Reporters in Afghanistan where the pace of suicide bombings is picking up. Stick around, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Isolated, secretive Myanmar find itself suddenly in the spotlight as the military regime cracks down on pro-democracy demonstrators led by Buddhist monks. Now we get an inside look at the violence and the repression in this country also known as Burma. Here's CNN's Dan Rivers with a CNN exclusive.


DAN RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the ugly face of military repression the generals who control Myanmar have tried so hard to cover up.

The images just smuggled out by men and women who risk their lives are at least two days old. The pictures taken just before Myanmar's foreign minister claims security personnel had exercised what he called the utmost restraint.

The soldiers corralled those they caught in the middle of the road. Some prisoners already clearly injured. Watched over by an officer in the now silent street.

Earlier, the smuggled video showed a very different scene. The deafening chant of a confident crowd marching peacefully through the city. But the moment was short-lived. The demonstrators flee.

Soldiers bark orders as an injured protester is tended to by an anxious friend trying to stay out of sight. And in the street, the remains of the stampede.

Those who aren't fast enough are searched and loaded on to trucks by men who are not wearing uniforms, backing up protesters claims that plain-clothes intelligence officers were operating in their midst. Smuggled evidence seeping out of this isolated country that the pro- democracy movement is being ruthlessly crushed. Pictures that are likely to define Myanmar's government to the world. Dan Rivers, CNN, Bangkok.


BLITZER: The State Department isn't giving out any details but says the United States endorses a tentative plan to disable North Korea's nuclear programs by the end of the year. That comes as a handshake signals the start of the second summit ever between North and South Korea. CNN Sohn Jie-ae has the story.


SOHN JIE-AE: North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il personally greeted the visiting South Korean president Roh Moo-Hyun.

In the background hundreds of North Koreans wave Kimjongilia, the flower named for its leader. The two leaders walked together, but in marked contrast. Kim in his trademark military jump suit walking stiffly and occasionally clapping. And the slightly younger Roh, smiling broadly and dressed in a dark, Western-style suit. A dramatic mood set for a start of the three-day summit of the two Koreas. It all started earlier in the day as Roh stopped his motorcade just before the demarcation line between South and North Korea. He got out of the car and made the crossing by foot, becoming the first South Korean leader ever to do so.

"As president, I'm crossing this forbidden line this time says Roh. After I am back, I hope that more people will follow suit and then this forbidden line will eventually be erased."

The meeting between Kim and Roh was compared to that seven years ago between Kim and then South Korean President Kim Dae Jung. High hopes for long awaited peace on the Korean Peninsula were dashed soon afterwards when North Korea embarked on a path to develop nuclear weapons.

SOHN (on camera): In a televised address to South Koreans before he embarked on his trip to North Korea, Roh himself sent more realistic expectations, characterizing his trip as one that would remove stumbling blocks in opening a new era in inter-Korean relations, a move towards hastening the slow march towards unification.

Sohn Jie-Ae, CNN, Seoul.


BLITZER: In Kabul, Afghanistan, a suicide bomber struck a bus leaving at least people dead. It is the second deadly attack in Kabul within four days. Let's bring in our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton. She has got some I-Reports from the ground. Abbi, what do these pictures show?

ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, these pictures are eyewitness photos from just moments after that blast that happened this morning in Kabul as people were on their way to work. Samila Samimi (ph) sent these in to CNN's I-Report and his photos show just how strong this blast was. A suicide bomber in the entrance to the bus blew himself up, killing civilians and Afghan police.

You can see from this photo that the entire side of the vehicle was ripped off. Samimi said he rushed over to the scene, he saw the explosion, he said he was shaking as he took these pictures and hundreds of people started gathering that scene. As you said, there was another suicide bombing this weekend in Kabul, but for Samimi he said this was close to home. The first he's seen in his district and he sent these pictures in to CNN's I-Report because he said the situation in Afghanistan was bad for the people there and he wanted the world to see. Wolf?

BLITZER: Abbi, thank you very much for bringing us that report.

Up ahead, long waits, low pay and no guarantee of work. We're going to take you inside the hidden world of America's day laborers. Rick Sanchez standing by with a story you'll want to see. Stick around, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here a common site in cities across the United States, day laborers waiting on the streets hoping for work, any work, simply to help them get by. Let's go right to CNN's Rick Sanchez, he is joining us in New York. Part of our uncovering America series. You've been working very carefully on this, as well. Give our viewers a sense because you went undercover, I think it's fair it say, to see what was really going on.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: Yeah. Last night we did language. We got about 17,000 people responding to our CNN question. Tonight we're going to be doing jobs. Are Americans losing out jobs to the immigrant population that is coming into this country?

It's got a lot of interesting angles to it. Obviously there are people who say, yeah, we are. Then there is a story about immigrants themselves. So we have Dan Lothian, he is up in Boston cutting smelly fish for six hours, we've got Ted Rowlands, he is out in California and his piece will present what it's like to actually pick olives throughout the day. I mean, this is good stuff.

And yesterday, I went into the streets of parts of New Jersey and I'm going to show you what it is like for these guys who sit there for hours and hours, Wolf, hoping that somebody will give them a job, at least one or two days a week. The rest of the time, they go home without anything. Here's a look at the piece.


SANCHEZ (voice-over): It's amazing. These guys can spend all day standing on these street corners and they're lucky, lucky if they get two jobs a week. The rest of their time is filled waiting and hoping. But they have to be here, they say, to feed their families and pay the rent. By the way, the going rate is about $90 a day. If it's a smaller job, they try and get $9 to $10 an hour.

I ask him how much he charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Well, it depends, whoever goes for 10 knows for 10. Me, I don't go for 10.

SANCHEZ: He says the pay should be daily and he shoots for $100 a day. The last thing these guys need is more competition, yet, they welcome me and even try and give me a lesson on how to negotiate.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): How much do you charge per hour? Up front. How many hours are you giving me? It's 10 hours, $100. No, eight hours is $100, if you like it.

SANCHEZ: After four hours, I saw few job offers. This homeowner needed his furniture moved. I walked the 20 minutes to his apartment for a job that paid only 9 bucks an hour. Unfortunately, it was only about an hour's worth of work.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SANCHEZ: It's amazing, your heart goes out to them. These guys are working real hard no matter what you think of the situation with the immigration crisis in this country and it was kind of ironic, but here I was with them wearing those old jeans that we have, Wolf, that your wife and my wife wish we'd throw out and they didn't know I was a guy on TV and they didn't know I spoke English. So they were trying to help me and teaching me how to say things in English from their broken Spanish so I can negotiate with people who might be trying to offer a job. Like, "How much you pay? How much you pay?" How much how much money would you pay for a job like this. Fascinating story and fascinating group of individuals and it's part of what's going on in our country right now.

BLITZER: It's part of our country right now. But for you, also a personal story because I heard you talk about your parents and you're a child of immigrants. So, you look at the faces of some of these people and it hits home.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, my mom and dad were these people. They came to this country many years ago and they didn't speak any English. They had to wash dishes, they had to work in factories, they had to work two or three jobs and go hungry at night sometimes because they didn't have enough for themselves but they wanted to make sure they got me and my brothers some food so we could go on and educate ourselves and be able to do something.

So here you have got my parents who don't speak any English and now my sons who barely speak any Spanish and I'm in the middle. So it is part of the American experience. For guys like us, I'm a journalist, but I get it. When I tell these stories, you know, it makes me think about that.

Don't you wish you would have spoken in Spanish to your sons so they could speak a little Spanish?

SANCHEZ: Gosh, are you ever right. The problem is it is my wife who spend most of the time with them while I'm on the air with you, so I don't get to practice

BLITZER: It's all my fault. A lot more coming up. OUT IN THE OPEN, "Uncovering America." Latino labor helping or hurting, Rick Sanchez doing an excellent job for us. Thanks, we'll see you at 8:00 Eastern.

And still ahead, Jack Cafferty is asking this question. Should a federal judge prevent the government from cracking down on employers who hire illegal immigrants? Stick around, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Right back to Carol because there is another story coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Carol, what's going on?

COSTELLO: Yeah. It's developing news out of Georgetown, Colorado. About 30 miles from Denver up in the mountain there has been a chemical explosion at a hydroelectric generating plant, Excel (ph). Five workers are trapped 1,000 feet under ground. Other workers are trying to rappel 55 feet down to try to get to them somehow. They're in communication with those five men. So we don't know the extent of their injuries. And when I get more information on this, I'll keep you posted. But hopefully they'll be rescued soon, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope. Thanks very much, Carol, for that.

Let's check back with Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File." Jack?

CAFFERTY: Should a federal judge prevent the government from cracking down on employers who hire illegal aliens.

Al writes from Indiana, "The judge should be presiding over cases prosecuting any and all businesses that hire illegals. Shut these businesses down and the illegals will have to go back to where they came from. The sooner the better."

Nanette writes from Florida, "What's got into you, I nearly fell off my stool when I heard you criticize a liberal activist federal judge. Have you completely lost your ever-lovin' CNN brain? Of course the judge should have his robes ripped off. But you can't say that on CNN. You'll lose your base. Oh, I get it. You're published now, so it's OK to step on a few toes."

Frederick in California, "A judge should do his or her job. When a lawsuit is filed it's the judge's job to weigh the arguments. Sometimes a temporary injunction is needed. Just like the situation you're talking about now, with the liberal judge delaying the immigration law in the last decade conservative judges delayed environmental regulations proposed by the Clinton administration. The delay is part of the process."

Owen writes from South Dakota, "No, the judge is on the wrong payroll."

John writes, "Let's go ahead and put the power of decisions regarding illegal immigration into the hands of the states instead of the federal government. Then the wise and fair remaining states left will choose accordingly and all the illegal aliens can move to Northern California to suck the life out of their health costs and school classroom seats, let alone the job market. Se habla es stupido (ph)."

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

BLITZER: You think this is going to be a big issue in the campaign between the Democratic presidential nominee, whoever that might be, and the Republican on the whole issue of illegal immigration?

CAFFERTY: Well, yeah. It has been a big issue, the problem is nothing gets done about it. We don't secure the borders, we don't deport the illegals and now we've got a judge getting in the way of enforcing them the laws against hiring them it work here. So it will be the same old rhetoric. We'll hear from both sides about this and that and in the end my bet is nothing changes.

BLITZER: See you back here in an hour, Jack. Thanks very much, Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File." Remember, we're in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons. Back at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Until then, thanks for watching.

LOU DOBBS TONIGHT starts right now. Kitty Pilgrim sitting in for Lou. Kitty?