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New Details About Destruction of CIA Videotapes; Are We Closer to Finding Bin Laden?

Aired December 10, 2007 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, the White House puts up a wall of silence as investigations begin into the destruction of those CIA videotapes showing terror interrogations. But there are cracks in that wall. Sources talking to CNN about this and they're revealing some new details, which we will share with you.

Also, the search for the world's most wanted terrorist -- are we any closer to finding Osama bin Laden?

I'll ask Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf in an exclusive interview.

And one of the country's top orchestras playing a diplomatic dance, announcing a convert concert in North Korea. You're going to find out why they want to play for Kim Jong Il.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


The calls for answers are growing louder and louder. But now the White House is clamming up, refusing to say anything about the CIA's destruction of those videotapes showing some harsh terror interrogations. But despite all the no comments, some insiders are talking privately, revealing new details of what happened.

Let's go to our White House correspondent Ed Henry.

He's joining us live with more on this story.

So what are they saying first of all about the new silence that's emerging?

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, White House officials say that they have to keep quiet because of all of these investigations swirling around. But that's a convenient scenario for the White House that we've seen play out before.


HENRY (voice-over): Now that there are open investigations of the CIA's destruction of videotapes, President Bush isn't commenting -- not even through his press secretary.

DANA PERINO, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I can't talk about that in terms of -- I can't talk about that particular. I can't -- I can't characterize the president's thinking on it.

HENRY: The House counsel has ordered staffers to preserve all records relevant to the preliminary joint investigation launched Saturday by the CIA and the Justice Department. And Perino says she's been told not to answer specific questions.

PERINO: To avoid any appearance of trying to prejudice that inquiry, it's appropriate and better for us not to comment.

HENRY: Administration officials did comment anonymously on Friday night to provide information that may help them, claiming former White House aide Harriet Miers told the CIA not to destroy the tapes. That begs the question of why Myers did not inform the president. But she is not commenting and neither is Perino.

PERINO: No, no. It's going to unfortunately be one of those briefings. I'm not able to comment on anything regarding that.

HENRY: The White House employed a similar strategy with former aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby -- eventually convicted of lying and obstruction in another CIA case.

SCOTT MCCLELLAN, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And I can't get into discussing ongoing legal proceedings and that's a question relating to the ongoing legal proceeding.

HENRY: The White House brushed aside questions about the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, saying they did not want to interfere with the investigation. Yet on Monday, when Libby announced he had ended his appeal, the White House still would not shed any light on what the president thinks about Libby disclosing Plame's identity.

PERINO: I did not have a chance to talk to -- a chance to speak to the president after this announcement was made this morning, and so I don't have his immediate reaction.


HENRY: Now, you'll remember that back in 2004, the president also vowed he'd fire anyone who was involved in the leak of Plame's identity. That never happened. And that's why one of the questions hanging over the current investigation is whether anyone will really be held accountable in the end -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ed Henry at the White House.

An important story he's following.


Another important story we're following here in Washington -- a major decision coming out of the U.S. Supreme Court today that could mean potentially thousands of inmates convicted on crack cocaine could get some -- potentially some shorter sentences.

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

She's watching this story for us.

Exactly what did the Supreme Court decide today -- Kelli?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, today the Supreme Court ruled to give judges more discretion when it comes to sentencing people for possessing crack cocaine. The Justices heard a case about a defendant who was sentenced to a shorter term than federal guidelines had recommended. Then a lower court judge in that case said he didn't think it was fair that people convicted of having crack served less time than people with powder cocaine. And the Justices ruled today that it was OK for him to do that.

Wolf, as you know, back in November, new guidelines were adopted which cut down that difference in sentences. So not only do judges have new guidelines to work with, but now they also have more discretion when there are other factors in a case that they think need consideration.

BLITZER: And I take it, Kelli, there may be more on this front developing tomorrow.

What's that all about?

ARENA: That's right. Tomorrow, the Sentencing Commission is going to decide whether or not those new guidelines should be applied retroactively. And so what that means is that there are nearly 20,000 people who are already in prison that could get an early release -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll watch tomorrow with you, Kelli.

Thanks very much.

Let's head out to Colorado right now, where a source tells CNN just one gunman carried out yesterday's deadly shooting rampages at a missionary training center and the New Life mega church. The gunman killed four people, including two teenage sisters.

CNN's Jim Acosta is joining us now live with more on this investigation.

So they've identified the gunman I take it -- Jim?


Officials here at the New Life Church have identified the gunman as 24-year-old Matthew Murray. And while leaders at the church say they didn't know Murray, they do say that he had sent some threatening messages to a group of missionaries that was first targeted in yesterday's rampage.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ACOSTA (voice-over): Lives were shattered in the rampage at the New Life Church on Sunday. Church leaders say the gunman started shooting just as some 7,000 parishioners were filing out of a late morning service. Two teenage sisters, Stephanie and Rachel Works, were killed. The girls' father was also shot and wounded. It all ended when an armed female security guard took down the shooter.

BRADY BOYD, PASTOR, NEW LIFE CHURCH: She was a member. She's highly trained. She's a volunteer member ever our church who simply -- her role at the church was to provide security. And she did her job yesterday. She's a real hero.

ACOSTA: Church leaders say Matthew Murray had also gunned down two employees at this missionary center 80 miles away early Sunday morning. According to the church, Murray had grievances against the Youth With A Mission Center in Arvada and had sent threatening messages to the facility over the last two years. While that youth missionary center had a satellite office at New Life, the church's lead pastor, Brady Boyd, said Murray was not connected to his congregation.

BOYD: We don't know this -- the shooter. He has no connection to our church. He simply showed up on our property yesterday with a gun and with the intention of hurting people -- and he did.

ACOSTA: New Life is just getting over a rocky year, after its previous lead pastor was forced out. Parishioners, who took cover during the rampage, say they're looking forward to reclaiming their church once again.

JOCELYN GARCIA, PARISHIONER: I want to get back in there. I want to get back at home with the body of Christ, with the believers that go to that church. And I just want to be back there with everybody, you know?

ACOSTA: Meanwhile, authorities have searched Murray's home, but it's unclear what investigators found.


ACOSTA: Meanwhile, back here at the New Life Church, officials say they still don't know why the gunman chose to carry out his second rampage here. We are expecting to hear from police here in Colorado Springs within the hour. They're expected to hold a news conference -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jim Acosta, thanks very much.

We'll check back with you when we get more information.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty right now.

He's got The Cafferty File -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, things are tense in Hillary Land these days. The headline on an interesting piece on Bloomberg I that I read this morning by Albert Hunt focuses on the situation in which Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton currently finds herself. It describes a focus group of Democrats in Philadelphia. After talking with participants, a Democratic pollster found concerns among the focus group about Clinton. These concerns included that she is devious, calculating and a divisive figure in American politics. The focus group also said that as president, Clinton would be demanding, difficult -- maybe even a little scary. These are Democrats.

Meanwhile, Clinton's once commanding lead over Barack Obama in Iowa and New Hampshire is evaporating. An average of polls taken in Iowa in mid to late November shows that Obama appears to be leading Clinton in Iowa, 28 to 25 percent. In New Hampshire, an average poll shows Clinton leading Obama by 10 points, but that's roughly half the lead she had earlier this fall.

In the past 30 years, no candidate has lost both Iowa and New Hampshire and gone on to win the nomination.

The Bloomberg piece also suggests there are some political strains within Hillary's camp over, among other things, her greatest perceived asset -- that would be her husband, President Bill Clinton. Top campaign officials apparently furious when the former president said a couple of weeks ago -- was quoted as saying he had opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. And one close associate says that President Clinton is bouncing off the walls at Hillary's campaign's ineptitude over the last few weeks. There's even talk, apparently, according to this piece, of making some changes within the campaign. But that's risky this close to the Iowa caucuses.

The question we have then is this -- with three-and-one-half weeks until the first votes are cast in Iowa, what should Hillary Clinton's campaign do to stop the bleeding?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to

You know, this once was j they didn't think twice about this last summer. They figured Hillary would cruise through these primaries and these caucuses merely an inconvenient impediment on her way to the nomination. They're not sure at all that's going to happen anymore.

BLITZER: It was supposedly inevitable...


BLITZER: but it may still happen, but it's not necessarily inevitable.

CAFFERTY: It doesn't look like it at this point.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much.

The leader of Pakistan answering some tough questions about whether his country is sympathetic to Al Qaeda.


PRES. PERVEZ MUSHARRAF, PAKISTAN: I think I take a very serious exception to this criticism which is going on in the Western media and Western press.


BLITZER: My exclusive one-on-one interview with President Pervez Musharraf. That's coming up next here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also, a state of emergency in the Central U.S. -- several states now locked -- they're locked in by deadly ice.

And later, an elite group of agents fighting terror -- all of them are blind, but it actually makes them more effective. And you are going to find out why.

Stick around.



BLITZER: Now to a CNN world exclusive -- who goes after Osama bin Laden when and if he's found?

President Bush and President Pervez Musharraf are at odds over this question right now, with Mr. Bush insisting he'll send U.S. forces into Pakistan to do the job.

Mr. Musharraf told me on CNN's "LATE EDITION" his troops will get the job done.


MUSHARRAF: Well, Osama bin Laden, when he says if there is actionable intelligence and he would assist -- that's the word he used -- he would like to assist Pakistan with...

BLITZER: No. He didn't say that.

MUSHARRAF: I think Pakistan (INAUDIBLE)...

BLITZER: He said he would authorize U.S. forces to go into Pakistan with...

MUSHARRAF: Authorize. OK.

BLITZER: ...with or without your permission...


BLITZER: capture or kill bin Laden.

MUSHARRAF: OK. You know, I -- frankly, I don't agree with that. I don't agree with that. We will -- whatever intelligence we get on the terrorists, we think of what kind of action is possible and whatever assistance we can get. No, but it is the Pakistan forces who act. And I will continue with this arrangement, that in Pakistan, it is Pakistan's forces which will act. If we need any kind of assistance, it is -- the prerogative must remain with Pakistan.

BLITZER: As you know, though, President Musharraf, there are some analysts here in Washington, and elsewhere in European communities, who suggest that there are elements within your intelligence service, within your military, who may be sympathetic to al Qaeda and the Taliban, and, as a result, could not necessarily could be completely trusted.

Do you want to respond to that criticism that is often made?

MUSHARRAF: I think I take a very serious exception to this criticism which is going on in the Western media and Western press and some individuals who don't understand Pakistan's army and Pakistani intelligence.

I take very serious exception to it. We are suffering here. And if these -- if these elements in the Pakistan Army are -- of the Pakistan Army. They know how much we have suffered. They know that we have suffered about 1,000 casualties in the hands -- at the hands of these very terrorists.

So I can't even imagine one person to be sympathetic towards a person who is killing their own brothers in arms.

And as far as the intelligence is concerned, it is our intelligence which has got hold of each and every terrorist either killed or eliminated or arrested. There hasn't been even one arrest in Afghanistan. So it is all being done by Pakistan intelligence, led by the ISI. So anyone who criticizes, I would like to ask them who -- tell me one name which has been caught in Afghanistan.

Mullah Omar is in Afghanistan. We keep talking of Osama bin Laden.

Has he been arrested?

Has he been killed?

Has he been eliminated?

Do the coalition forces know where is Osama or where is Mullah Omar?

So let people know what the realities here in Pakistan are. Pakistan intelligence is most capable. They have delivered all the way. And any criticism against them I don't accept and I totally reject them because I know that this is by people who don't know anything about Pakistan Army or Pakistan intelligence.

BLITZER: President Musharraf, let's talk a little bit about what's happening in Pakistan right now on the political front. You took off your military uniform. You're no longer the chief of the Pakistan military. And next Sunday, December 16th, the state of emergency is supposed to be removed -- supposed to be lifted.

Is that a firm date?

Will the state of emergency be lifted on December 16th?

MUSHARRAF: Yes, I've been -- if you see my record, I have -- I don't say things which I don't mean. I give commitments which I always follow and honor. I have been giving commitments on the issue of following the constitution of Pakistan, on the elections, on my removal of the uniform -- shedding this appointment of chief of army staff. And I wanted to deliver it to the date. But it was unfortunately -- unfortunately the chief justice of Pakistan who tried to intervene and then totally destabilized the whole constitutional aspect of the whole arrangement.

But then, now that I have said that the emergency will be finished on the 15th, I mean every word of it.

BLITZER: So the state of emergency are going to be lifted by December 16th and the elections, the parliamentary elections, will take place on January 8th, is that right?

MUSHARRAF: Yes, absolutely. There is a commitment and we are going ahead. The election commission is making full preparation, according to the date wise (ph) road map. And they are going very, very accurately according to that -- and so much so that we were worried about the frontier province and we thought in a few districts we will not be able to hold elections. But now that we have stabilized with the military action in Sowath (ph) and other districts, I'm very glad to say that we will have elections even in the frontier provinces very safely.

BLITZER: And can you guarantee, president Musharraf, that these elections will be free and fair?

MUSHARRAF: Yes, I do guarantee that they will be free and fair. Absolutely.


BLITZER: President Pervez Musharraf, speaking with me over the weekend. He was in Rawalpindi. I was here in Washington.

Sentencing day for a former NFL star -- Michael Vick learns his punishment for bankrolling a dogfighting ring and helping kill dogs that didn't perform well.

Plus, Al Gore picks up his Nobel Peace Prize, sheds some light on his recent meeting with President Bush.

What did the two former rivals talk about?

That and a lot more coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Let's go to Carol.

What's going on?


Former White House aide Lewis "Scooter" Libby is dropping his appeal in the CIA leak case. The former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney was convicted of perjury and obstruction to justice for lying about his conversations with reporters about outed CIA operative Valerie Plame Wilson. President Bush commuted Libby's 30-month sentence in July.

A federal judge has sentenced disgraced NFL star Michael Vick to 23 months in prison for bankrolling a dogfighting ring and helping kill dogs that didn't perform well. The suspended Atlanta Falcons quarterback could have gotten up to five years behind bars. Vick apologized to the court and to his family, saying he made bad decisions and used poor judgment. He'll remain on probation for three years after serving his sentence.

And mourners gathered in Butte, Montana today for the funeral of hometown hero, Evel Knievel. The motorcycle daredevil died November 30th at the age of 69 after years of failing health. Knievel sped his bikes over local mine dumps as a boy. He later became an international icon, but returned often to his hometown. A long time friend says: "There's a right way, a wrong way, and there's Evel's way."

And that certainly was true. He was quite a guy. Very exciting to watch.

Back to you -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Carol.

Thanks very much.

A vicious winter storm has caused at least 13 deaths and is grounding flights and triggering power outages from the Southern Plains to the Northeast. In the Oklahoma suburb of Jones, freezing weather prevented firefighters from putting out an early morning blaze that destroyed most of the local high school. Ice coated trees crashed onto homes and power lines, cut off electricity to hundreds of thousands of people.

In Chicago, check it out -- icy conditions grounded more than 400 flights this past weekend. And another half inch of ice could fall by tomorrow night.

Freezing rain and icy roads also closed schools in Albany and across Upstate New York. Ice storms, warnings and storm watches extend from Texas to New Hampshire.

Across the region, people are braving these storms to try to bring us some compelling I-Reports.

Let's go to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton.

She spoke to some of them just a little while ago.

What are they telling you -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're getting in picture after picture of downed trees, stories of people stuck inside, roads blocked. And these are the people that say they're the lucky ones -- we've still got electricity.

We're going, first of all, to a suburb of Oklahoma City. This is from Caroline Ausbach (ph) in Midwest City. She's saying that in her area, her road, there's only one tree that's still standing right now. They've been listening to limbs falling all night and they see more freezing rain throughout the day.

Going northeast now to Carthage, Missouri, this is from Dwayne Beaver (ph), who lives just a couple of blocks from this downed tree. He can't get out. And he says there's one inch of ice on everything and they've just got another alert for an ice storm watch until tomorrow morning.

All of these sent into CNN at -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Abbi, thank you.

So did the U.S. get insider information on Iran's nuclear program?

We're going to take a closer look at the role Iranian defectors may -- repeat -- have played in a new U.S. intelligence community estimate.

Plus, a concert steeped in controversy -- the New York Philharmonic planning to perform in North Korea. We're going to show you why and what's going on.

Stay with us.



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

Happening now, new security measures are being rolled out at Dulles International Airport right near the nation's capital. Arriving foreign passengers must now have all 10 fingerprints scanned instead of just two. The Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff, saying this improves safety for everyone.

Republican presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee says he won't retract a statement he made back in 1992 about AIDS patients. He said then that steps should be taken to "isolate the carriers of this plague." Huckabee says he probably would not say the same thing now, since more is known about HIV transmission.

And on this International Human Rights Day, the first lady, Laura Bush, is urging Myanmar's military leaders to step aside if they cannot accept democracy.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


The intelligence was certainly stunning, but so, too, is the way the U.S. concluded that Iran actually stopped work on a nuclear weapons program four years ago, possibly -- possibly obtaining some significant inside information from within Iran.

CNN's Brian Todd has been working on this story.

He's joining us now with more. Brian, what are you finding out?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, we've gone over that National Intelligence Estimate with experts who say some of that information simply could not have come from satellite imagery or intercepted messages. It had had to come from human intelligence.


TODD: Critical information on Iran's nuclear weapons program from the inside. Experts say the recent National Intelligence Estimate on Iran had information that was too precise to come from anywhere but Iranians themselves.

JOHN PIKE, GLOBALSECURITY.ORG: The parts where they talk about there having been a weaponization program that was suspended in 2003 and that as of a few months ago had not been resumed. That's the sort of information that only a defector, either in place or somebody who has left the country, is going to be able to tell you.

TODD: The "Los Angeles Times" reports that intelligence sources say the CIA did get some of that information from a handful of Iranian defectors. Contacted by CNN, the CIA would not comment on the story, which says the program to recruit defectors was launched in 2005.

A former CIA officer who was with the agency at that time says since the prewar intelligence failures over Iraq's weapons programs, U.S. spy agencies were under intense pressure from the very top.

PRES. GEORGE W. BUSH, UNITED STATES: I instructed the Intel community to beef up its intelligence on Iran so we could have a better sense of what they're thinking and what they're doing.

TODD: But the "L.A. Times" reports their sources say fewer than six Iranian officials have defected, none able to give comprehensive information about Iran's nuclear program. And there's an added risk.

BRUCE RIEDEL, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Any time you're dealing with a program like this, you have to expect that the enemy is practicing denial and deception. That means deliberately putting out information to confuse you or to take you off the right track. The Iranians are past masters at that.


TODD: But Bruce Riedel says unlike the Iraqi defector who passed bad information on Saddam Hussein's weapons program, these reported Iranian defectors would be multiple sources, and U.S. officials likely debriefed them in person. Wolf.

BLITZER: That Iraqi defector would have been Curveball as he was well known.

TODD: Right.

BLITZER: You did some reporting on that. Brian, what are the Iranians saying about all this?

TODD: Well, I spoke to an official at the U.N. who said he didn't have any information on officials who had defected from his country. He repeated his government's contention that its nuclear program is only for civilian energy so he said he will not comment on assumptions.

BLITZER: Thanks very much. Brian Todd reporting for us.

The New York Philharmonic has performed around the world, but one upcoming overseas concert is attracting a lot of attention right now. That's because that concert will be in North Korea.

Let's go to Mary Snow. She's joining us from New York with more on this. How could this be? What's going on, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, the New York Philharmonic isn't giving out many details ahead of a formal announcement it plans to make tomorrow. We do know though that the concert is expected to take place February 26th and North Korea reportedly extended the invitation.


SNOW: It's an overture that puts America's oldest symphony orchestra in the middle of a diplomatic dance. Representative for the New York Philharmonic say the orchestra will perform in North Korea it in February. The State Department gives its blessing saying the U.S. continues to encourage cultural exchanges. This blessing marks a different tone.

JON WOLFSTHAL, CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: If you were trying to point to the differences, you would note that a year ago we were banning the export of iPods to North Korea and now we're sending them arguably our best philharmonic orchestra. SNOW: The move comes five years after President Bush declared North Korea an axis of evil.

BUSH: North Korea has a regime are arming with missiles and weapons of mass destruction while starving its citizens. States like these and their terrorist allies constitute an axis of evil.

SNOW: But in the last week, the president sent a personal letter to North Korea's leader Kim Jong-il and sent the State Department's number two to Pyongyang. These gestures come as North Korea faces a deadline by the end of the year to disable a key nuclear facility.

Can music make a difference? The "Wall Street Journal's" art columnist, Terry Teachout, is highly skeptical. He's criticizing the Philharmonic's trip to North Korea saying it amounts to serenading a tyrant.

TERRY TEACHOUT, WALL STREET JOURNAL ARTS COLUMNIST: I simply don't see any likelihood that this is going to be anything other than an opportunity to prop up a murderous regime, and I don't think the Philharmonic should be involved in such an activity.

SNOW: But those who study North Korea say the United States doesn't have many options left.

WOLFSTHAL: If we give Kim Jong-il a little respect, we might have to grin and bear it or even hold our nose, but it may bear fruit.


SNOW: Some say if the cultural exchange does not have any impact on diplomatic relations, there's nothing lost by having the Philharmonic play in North Korea. Wolf?

BLITZER: You mentioned Chris Hill, the assistant secretary going to Pyongyang. John Negroponte, he's the deputy secretary. He's the number two official at the State Department. Just wanted to correct that before a lot of people in the State Department start writing us e-mails and stuff like that, Mary, but good report. Thanks very much. A lot of us remember of course ping-pong diplomacy as practiced in the early 70s between the U.S. and China. Now some are calling this, what, violin diplomacy?

SNOW: They are. But you know some will say that this is one thing that people have in common and it may have some impact.

BLITZER: Mary Snow reporting for us. Thanks very much for that.

He may not have his sight, but it's what he does have that makes a blind Belgian cop so essential in the war on terror and how he's helping nab suspected terrorists is fascinating. You're going to want to see this story.

And the Nobel Peace prize laureate Al Gore opens up about his private meeting with President Bush. What he says must be done to save the planet. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: From former vice president to winning the Nobel Peace prize, Al Gore accepting the prestigious honor in Oslo, Norway, earlier today. That's where CNN's Miles O'Brien is standing by as well. Miles?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's day two of the three-day Gorination, if you will, in Oslo, Norway. Just a while ago, Al Gore and his co-winner of the Nobel Peace price, Rajendra Pachauri, appeared on that balcony at the Grand Hotel, kind of papal style, and waved their hands at a crowd of people that are gathered here, about 1,000 of them, all carrying torches, part of the Nobel tradition here. They were on their way to a formal dinner with the royal family here in Norway. This capping an extraordinary day. Several hours earlier both Pachauri and Gore arrived at Oslo City Hall where traditionally the Nobel Peace prizes are issued. The committee was there. The royal family was there as well, dignitaries, diplomats and, of course, family and friends of both men, there to honor their work fighting the problem of global climate change.

Now, a little later in the day, after that ceremony, CNN's Jonathan Mann spoke exclusively with Al Gore and Rajendra Pachauri, and he asked Al Gore about that meeting before he left for Norway with President Bush in the oval office, a traditional meeting for Nobel Prize winners. Of course, there's a lot of interesting history in that relationship. They had a private meeting in the oval office. Listen to what Al Gore had to say about that.


AL GORE, NOBEL PRIZE LAUREATE: It was a private meeting.

JONATHAN MANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Was it an intense private meeting?

GORE: No, no, no. We talked about the climate crisis the entire time. The atmosphere was very cordial, and it was a great conversation, and, of course, we have disagreements, and I wish that the U.S. executive branch would change its policy. It's unfortunate that my country, which I believe should be the leader of the world, is now blocking action in Bali.


O'BRIEN: Gore is referring to the Bali meeting where leadership from countries all over the world are gathering to try to come up with a new treaty to cap the amount of greenhouse gases which are expelled into the air. You will recall the Kyoto treaty, which is the forerunner to that, which the U.S. and other nations opted out of, China and India chief among them. There remains a standoff there. The U.S. is not willing to accept mandatory caps, so it will be interesting to see if the momentum that Al Gore talks about, the grassroots efforts that he talks about in the United States, pushing for changes in climate change policy in the U.S., if, in fact, that turns into any action. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Miles thanks very much. Miles on the scene for us in Oslo, Norway. A big day there.

He's a secret weapon in the fight against terrorism, a Belgian police officer who has an edge over others despite a disability. Our international security correspondent, Paula Newton, has the story.


PAUL NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: That's the sound of a new age cop walking his beat. Alain's career is snatched from the stories of super hero strength. He can't show his face. He works undercover as a Belgian cop hearing what most people can't. His job is to listen and interpret every note and noise from secret wiretap evidence. He nurtured his sharp hearing, he says, because he had to for his own survival. Alain is blind.

ALAIN, WIRETAP SPECIALIST (through translator): When I'm in the street, all the surrounding sounds in the environment are important for me. To know when I'm on the sidewalk and there's a trash collector or something else, I need to know what it is before getting to it.

NEWTON: And so surrounding sounds that are so important for wiretap evidence. It's background noise to most, but not Alain, who can figure out the floor where an elevator has stopped just by listening to the gears, make out most of what's being typed out on a computer just by hearing the tap of the keys. We put Alain to the test with recorded conversations first in a train station. Lots of people, he told us. They're not stopping. He guessed either an airport or a train station.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Half an hour, 45 minutes it would be okay to wait.

NEWTON: He got this next location right away. It's a cafe and he correctly picked up on people drinking wine nearby and a baby in the restaurant.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. And then we'll meet to go over that, yeah?

NEWTON: And then to this conversation in a moving car. He said it was not a standard vehicle. It had to be a truck or a car with a large cab. In fact, it was a London taxi. It may all sound like trivial information, but especially in wiretap evidence, it is anything but. Pieced together, it helps police track and tail a suspect's every move. Now more important than ever, wiretaps play a crucial role in counter terrorism. Belgian police say this pilot program could be a crime-fighting coup for police forces around the world.

GLENN AUDENAERT, COUNTERTERROR CHIEF, FEDERAL POLICE: Technology is as well an opportunity as a threat. We need to seek out the edge of technology to identify what kind of threats come to us from that edge or what kind of opportunities to us to develop counter strategies.

NEWTON: Alain says he's more surprised than anyone to be one of Belgians newly-minted cops. And hopes his acoustic talent will serve the public just as it has him. Paula Newton, CNN, Brussels.

BLITZER: Are there tensions right now in Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign? The democratic presidential hopeful is losing some traction to Barack Obama in some key polls. We're going to have your e-mails to Jack Cafferty about how the former first lady could turn things around.

And the Oprah/Obama tour rolling into the presidential race. But will the talk show diva boost or bust Barack Obama's White House chances?

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: A turn around on the ground in Iraq means a potential turn around in the way some republicans are campaigning this election season. Carol Costello's here in THE SITUATION ROOM watching this story for us.

I take it some are now campaigning for the war in Iraq rather than against it. What's going on?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a pretty surprising twist. The big reason the democrats took control of the house and senate in 2006 was because the violence in Iraq seemed never ending. Anti-war was in. Now, not so much. So if you're a pro-war candidate, do you attack your anti-war democratic opponent now in the race for the U.S. senate in Minnesota? The answer is yes.


COSTELLO: The Iraq war seems to be going better. American deaths are down. Violence has leveled off, and a recent "USA Today" Gallup poll shows the number of Americans who think the war is going very badly is down to 13 percent. That's a four-year low. So if you're a pro-war republican up for re-election, why not strike politically while the iron is hot?

SEN. NORM COLEMAN (R), MINNESOTA: I'm not ready to pull the plug.

COSTELLO: Minnesota republican incumbent Senator Norm Coleman is doing just that, testing the waters by using Iraq to attack one of his anti-war democratic opponents, the very popular comedian and author Al Franken.

AL FRANKEN, AUTHOR: This is a very complicated issue.

COSTELLO: The video posted on Coleman's website alleges Franken has flip-flopped on the Iraq war, in favor of pulling troops out.

FRANKEN: A withdrawal I believe --

COSTELLO: Then not.

FRANKEN: I'm not sure we should set a time table myself. I may actually oddly enough agree with Bush here.

COLEMAN: If his case is being made on the war, what these words simply show is that he's really not clear on the war. It's not even about consistency. It's kind of about basic honesty about where you're at and where will you go.

COSTELLO: Norm Coleman is just one of several incumbent senators struggling with the Iraq issue. Senators Olympia Snowe of Maine, John Sununu of New Hampshire and Gordon Smith of Oregon are also fighting for their political lives because of the war. They're up against very strong anti-war democrats and no doubt they will be watching to see if Coleman's strategy pays off.

LARRY JACOBS, UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA: The senator's team may have concluded that they're stuck with this issue no matter what, and they might as well go on the offensive and try to use it to their advantage. It's a fairly bold strategy. We'll see if it backfires on them.

COSTELLO: It could. The war and the president are still unpopular with most voters nationwide and in Minnesota.

ANDY BARR, FRANKEN CAMPAIGN SPOKESMAN: They're fed up with Norm Coleman time and time again voting to support the president's policy of endless war in Iraq.

COSTELLO: But at least right now Coleman is bold enough to say in the election 11 months from now, the war in Iraq will not be the issue that determines the race.


COSTELLO: And Senator Coleman could be right. The issue is already running second or third nationally with the economy and health caretaking the lead. But that will hold true as long as the surge appears to be working.

BLITZER: A lot of questions on that front as well. We'll see how risky this strategy might be, Carol. Thanks very much.

Let's go back to Jack. He's got the Cafferty File in New York. Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The other part of that equation is 65% of the people in this country are opposed to the war. It's not just democrats. It's two-thirds of the population, and that number has held very steady.

A quick clarification. Earlier, we said that no candidate in the last 30 years has lost both Iowa and New Hampshire and gone on to win the nomination. Actually in 1992, the democratic primaries Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, who was the favorite son, he was the Iowa senator, won the Iowa caucuses, as you might expect that he would. Paul Tsongas won in New Hampshire. Bill Clinton went onto win the nomination. We actually had people who were on that. I mean the words weren't out of my mouth and we were getting these emails saying you were wrong. You better clarify this thing. So now we did.

The question, with 3 1/2 weeks until the first votes are cast in Iowa, what should Hillary Clinton's campaign do to stop the bleeding?

Dan in South Carolina writes, "Hillary Clinton should stop the bleeding by withdrawing from the race. It would do the democrats a favor. She is a divisive figure. She took a few criticisms about her vote on Iran and her huge ties to lobbyists. Next thing you know, her campaign melts down. Trying to slime Obama for what he said in kindergarten. If she can't stand up to criticism from her own party, how can she send up to the GOP? Obama and Edwards have been smeared much worse and reacted with much more intelligence and they aren't tainted by any big lobbyist money."

Dale in North Carolina, "It Hillary wants to thwart the pundits about how Bill has caused problems had had her campaign, she has to address the issue up front and personal. She has to use her considerable charm and humor, dry as it is, followed by a very pointed statement contrary to what is being said. If she remains silent, it will spell doom for her campaign. She must respond."

Ed in Atlanta, "I think there's very little the Clinton campaign can do to turn the campaign around. If I were advising them, I would urge them to focus on the issues. Their ideas for America and organize, organize, organize in New Hampshire. Many Americans, I believe, share the same kind of feeling about Senator Clinton that I have. She doesn't seem sincere. There is something disingenuous about her."

Rita writes, "To answer your question, the only thing Hillary can do is ask you to shut your mouth. She's been harassed by Obama, by Edwards, and by you. The only one that can save this nation is Hillary."

C. writes, "Hillary needs to explain how her experience as first lady is relevant to globalization, national security, outsourcing, et cetera. Let's face it, no republican would vote for Hillary. At least with Obama, some republican might take a second look or maybe a third and vote for him. If the race is tight, that could make a huge difference."

And Bob in Florida suggests, "Get Barbra Streisand to join her on the campaign trail." Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you very much. See you a few moments. Our best political team on television coming up with Jack as well.

A brand new national CNN poll shows just how close this race has become. That story coming up.

Also, my interview with Congresswoman Jane Harmon; she's one of the few lawmakers who knew about those CIA interrogation videotapes before they were destroyed.

Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Lou Dobbs getting ready for his show that begins in one hour, 7 p.m. eastern. Let's talk to him for a couple minutes right now about what's coming up. I assume you're going to take a look at that Univision debate that the republican presidential candidates had last night down in Miami. And a hot topic was illegal immigration.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Imagine that.

Yeah, you know, Tom Tancredo boycotted that debate because he felt it was pandering to a specific ethnic audience, and I can, by the way, frankly, I give him credit for saying straight out what it was. The idea that we need to be addressing various constituents in this country according to either their language or their culture rather than bringing everyone together as one defines what is wrong with all the candidates in both the democratic and the republican parties this year, Wolf. It's absolutely absurd. It was an exercise in pandering, and actually an extreme egregious use of power by a group that fancies they're going to determine the outcome of this election.

BLITZER: I also recall Tancredo suggesting it was "un American" for presidential candidates to be going to a debate that was being translated into Spanish. I'm wondering if you agree with that.

DOBBS: I think what's the point of that? I mean the idea is if you're going to be voting in this country, you sure as heck ought to know English because by golly that's a requirement of being a citizen of this country and despite what some of these idiots are saying, Wolf, you really do have to be able to read English to be a citizen. It's a requirement. So either some people are voting who aren't citizens or something's mighty amiss. I wonder what the deal is, Wolf.

BLITZER: I suspect you're going to be talking a lot more about this at 7 p.m. eastern in one hour. Lou, thanks very much.