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Woman Ignored As She Died on Emergency Room Floor; Man Charged with Murder in Daughter's Death; Gaining Ground on the Gap Fire; Iraq Armed Vehicle Crisis; Made in the U.S. Sold to Iran; Hurricane Bertha Downgraded;

Aired July 8, 2008 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a death in the family as cultures collide in an American suburb. An Old World father now accused of murdering his modern daughter.

Also, new developments in the case of a woman left to die on a hospital floor. Her family is seeing the shocking video for the first time -- and speaking out.

And a new hot spot forces thousands more Californians to flee their homes as flames close in.

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

It's the video that sparked shock and outrage -- a woman collapsing in a Brooklyn, New York hospital waiting room, lying on the floor for nearly an hour only to die there. Now her family plans to file a $25 million lawsuit.

Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow in New York.

How is the family going to carry this out?

What are they doing now?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, the family plans to sue the New York City -- the hospital where Esmin Green died and the agency that oversees New York City hospitals. But they say they also want to send out a message. And they're pressing for criminal charges.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): One week after this videotape became public showing Esmin Green's last moments of life, her daughter finally brought herself to look at it.

TECIA HARRISON, ESMIN GREEN'S DAUGHTER: I did not saw that video until yesterday morning. And I wish I didn't see it. Oh, God, please, please -- the image of my mom lying on that floor and dying, oh, God.

SNOW: The video shows Esmin Green falling to the floor as she waited for a bed at a psychiatric unit at a New York City hospital and hospital personnel repeatedly ignoring her. Green's 31-year-old daughter Tecia Harrison lives in Jamaica and came to the U.S. for the funeral. Harrison and her aunt Brenda James and Attorney Sanford Rubenstein announced they plan to file a $25 million lawsuit against the city, Kings County Hospital and the New York Health and Hospitals Corporation. And they say they want to seek criminal charges brought against hospital workers who neglected Esmin Green as she lay dying.

BRENDA JAMES, ESMIN GREEN'S SISTER: My sister, she was killed twice. First, by those who neglected to offer her the needed health care. Secondly, she was killed by those who tried to cover up this criminal action.

SNOW: Medical records listed Green as being awake, even going to the bathroom at the same time she was seen on the video struggling. Several people are seen ignoring her, including two security guards and a man with a folder.

Seven workers have been fired or suspended pending termination, according to the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation. They include doctors, nurses and security guards. It's not known whether they are appealing the action against them.

HARRISON: Firing them is not enough. Firing them is not enough for me. It's not enough for my brothers. They don't know this wonderful woman that they took away from us. They don't know. We know. We want them to pay for it.

SNOW: CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin says while a civil case seems like a slam dunk, criminal prosecution will be more difficult. But...

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, "NEW YORKER" MAGAZINE COLUMNIST: If people at the hospital put false information in medical records, prosecutors could use that as evidence of just how willful, reckless and irresponsible their behavior was, perhaps amounting to manslaughter.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: Now we asked for reaction from the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation. It released a statement saying it remains devastated by this tragic death, but says: "We failed Esmin Green and believe her family deserves fair and just compensation."

It says it referred this case to criminal enforcement and is cooperating with ongoing investigations.

Now the city's Department of Investigations is looking into Green's death and says it will turn over its findings to the Brooklyn district attorney's office -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Mary, obviously very difficult to look at that video, painful for her family, as well.

Do we know how she died? Do they know that information?

Have they told the family?

SNOW: You know, that is still a question mark. The medical examiner's office is still investigating. But Esmin Green's sister did say today that she was told -- she had a conversation from a detective and a doctor, both having varying accounts of how Esmin Green died. She said she was ultimately that her heart failed, but she said she knew that there was something that had gone amiss because of the circumstances that both of these accounts -- that have been given to her.

MALVEAUX: OK, Mary, thank you so much for following this story.

SNOW: Sure.

MALVEAUX: Some consider it a way to restore family honor, but in this country it is called murder. Now cultures are colliding in suburban Atlanta, where a Pakistani immigrant is accused of killing his daughter because she wanted out of an arranged marriage.

CNN's Brian Todd joins us live -- Brian, what do we know about this very controversial case?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, this father has just a short time ago been charged with murder in a courthouse in Atlanta. He has not entered a plea yet.

Based on what police are telling us, the father may have, indeed, believed his daughter was trying to dishonor his family.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): According to police, this man kept hearing his daughter scream, "Father!" while he was killing her with his own hands. Chaudhry Rashid is charged with first degree murder in the death over the weekend of his 25-year-old daughter, Sandeela Kanwal. Police say he strangled her to death in their home in Jonesboro, Georgia.

Police tell CNN the daughter wanted out of her arranged marriage and her father told police he could not allow her to pursue a divorce.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Apparently she and the father had argued over the marriage and the fact that it had been arranged. And at some point during the altercation, he did end up killing his daughter.

TODD: Rashid and his daughter both Pakistani. Police say the arranged marriage took place a short time ago in Pakistan. The daughter's husband lives in Chicago.

Based on what police say, this could be what's known as an honor killing -- the murder of a woman, often by a family member, to punish her for shaming the family. Experts says this could be punishment for things like having affairs, pursuing divorce or even being raped. The U.N. estimates the number of women murdered around the world in so-called honor killings may be as high as 5,000 each year, with most of the killings taking place in Western and Southern Asia and Northern Africa.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Overwhelmingly, women are the target in these cases. And I think the reason for that, unfortunately -- and it's unjustified -- is that women are oftentimes the carriers of the culture, are oftentimes the folks that people look to that carry on the culture from generation to generation. And it's a way for men in these cases to reaffirm and assert their masculinity.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: So how to stop it?

The U.N.'s had a program in place for about 20 years to go into regions where honor killings are common and talk to traditional leaders in these communities to define what's right and wrong. These are often religious leaders. U.N. officials appeal to them and get them to pass along to locals that this is unacceptable -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Brian, in general, has that program worked?

TODD: A U.N. official we talked to a short time ago says she believes that it has. She estimates that since the late '80s, honor killings have been reduced about 10 percent to 15 percent, she says. But she does admit this is a very highly underreported problem. Many of the cases are, of course, are undocumented.

MALVEAUX: OK.

Thanks, Brian.

A new hot spot in California -- the town of Concow, where some 2,000 residents were given just minutes to evacuate when a nearby wildfire unexpectedly flared up, putting more than 300 homes in immediate danger. That blaze, called the Camp Fire, has burned 28,000 acres so far. It is one of 323 fires burning across California, which has charred more than 630,000 acres and destroyed some 40 homes.

CNN's Kara Finnstrom is on the scene of another major blaze, the Gap Fire near Santa Barbara.

She joins us live -- Kara, what is happening where you are?

KARA FINNSTROM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, Suzanne, we're coming to you from the command center. This is where firefighters are coordinating all those air and ground attacks. Right now, the fire is burning up in rugged terrain, away from neighborhoods. That's good news, but it also makes for one tough firefight.

Earlier today, we caught up with crews as they headed out to where this fire is raging.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOB LIPPINCOTT, FIREFIGHTER: These are 50-year-old chaparral brush 10, 15, 20 feet thick. It hasn't burned for 50 years.

FINNSTROM: Explosive fuels, steep, rugged canyons -- it's one of the most dangerous terrains for firefighting. And right now, it's ground zero in the Goleta Wildfire.

LIPPINCOTT: You can't crawl through it, you can't crawl under it, so you've got to saw it. And between that and the ground being so steep and broken, where it drops off, firefighters just can't move very fast.

FINNSTROM (voice-over): Firefighter Bob Lippincott is keeping firefighters safe high in these canyons, watching over the flames and talking with crews stationed all over these ridges.

(on camera): What you're looking at behind me here are 80-foot flames. Firefighters say when these wildfires move up through canyons, they accelerate quickly, leading to these walls of flames.

(voice-over): So crews are bulldozing brush off ridges to make escape routes for firefighters and create safety zones for them to work in. The last few days of cool weather have allowed firefighters to gain ground. But that could change.

(on camera): How concerned are you with this hot, dry weather that's moving in?

LIPPINCOTT: It's definitely a concern. With the fire activity is -- has made some runs, but it hasn't made any major runs for the last couple days. And now we're getting into that period, as you're feeling up here, it's 90 degrees. The relative humidity and the wind and the atmospheric is -- the atmosphere is becoming more unstable, which is conducive to large fire growth.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FINNSTROM: Now most of the mandatory evacuations have been lifted because firefighters feel they've been able to secure all the areas around those neighborhoods. But they say they really want to get a handle on this while it's up in the canyons. They don't want any possibility it could creep back toward homes -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Sure, Kara.

Thanks again.

Stay safe.

Some of the stories we're working on this hour, the vice president's office accused of deleting testimony on climate change by a top health official, CDC Director Julie Gerberding. She is joining us live to talk about that and the salmonella outbreak.

Also, the Bush administration is trying to squeeze Iran. So why are U.S. exports there booming?

And lifesaving vehicles out of commission in Iraq -- we have exclusive details.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: A former official with the Environmental Protection Agency is blowing the whistle on the vice president's office, accusing Dick Cheney's staff of deleting Congressional testimony about the health effects of climate change.

CNN's Kate Bolduan is working that story for us -- and, Kate, what is the vice president's office saying about this very serious allegation?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, the vice president's office says that they don't comment on internal deliberations. But as you know, Suzanne, there have been plenty of allegations that the White House spokesman has downplayed the potential effect of global warming, this time, as you said it, the charge is against the vice president's office.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN (voice-over): With the former EPA official by her side, Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer accused the White House of censoring Congressional testimony on the dangers of global warming and pointed directly at Vice President Dick Cheney's office.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D-CA), ENVIRONMENT CHAIR: We now know that this censorship was not haphazard. It was part of a master plan.

BOLDUAN: Former EPA deputy administrator Jason Burnett said last year the vice president's office pushed him to delete portions of testimony detailing the potential health impacts of climate change prepared for Dr. Julie Gerberding, the director of Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

In a press conference, Burnett refused to name anyone in the vice president's office and provided few details. But in a letter to Senator Boxer, Burnett says he was asked to remove "any discussion of the human health consequences of climate change."

He said he wouldn't do it.

JASON BURNETT, FORMER ASSOCIATE DEPUTY EPA ADMINISTRATOR: I wanted to make sure that the testimony was -- was fundamentally accurate. And when I concluded that it was, I declined to make -- make any edits or suggest that CDC do so.

BOLDUAN: But sections of testimony were removed and the White House acknowledged changes were made because it questioned the science behind some assertions. White House Spokesperson Tony Fratto says more than one office raised concerns over accuracy. For her part, Dr. Gerberding has defended her testimony. DR. JULIE GERBERDING, DIRECTOR, CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL & PREVENTION: No one from the department, the White House or any place else in government has ever put one word in my mouth or taken one word out.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Now, Burnett has given about $100,000 to Democratic campaigns in recent years, this according to a group that tracks campaign donations. But when pressed today, Burnett says and denies that this is politically motivated -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK.

Thank you, Kate.

Joining us now, Dr. Julie Gerberding, head of the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention.

It has her testimony that the vice president's office is accused of deleting.

I want to give you an opportunity, obviously, to respond. We heard Kate's tease. They're serious charges.

Were you involved?

Did you have any role in having those six pages of the 14 pages of testimony -- your testimony -- deleted?

GERBERDING: No, I actually wasn't aware that there had been any edits to my testimony until I got to the hearing. But I can tell you that I did the very best I could to answer the senators' questions honestly and openly. And I take every chance I have to try to highlight the important potential complications of climate change on human health. So that was my goal at the hearing and I hope I was successful.

MALVEAUX: If it's true that the vice president's office was involved in making those deletions, do you agree with the decisions, with the case that they're making, that somehow they didn't agree with the science so that was legitimate?

GERBERDING: Well, we'd have to look and see exactly what their comments were. I know that the chief with the Office of Science and Technology has already commented that there were a couple of scientific technical points that were of concern. But I haven't traced back for the individual comments. And I really don't want to speculate on who did the editing and when they did it.

MALVEAUX: Sure. And, Doctor, turn to the nationwide salmonella outbreak. It has sickened some 900 people. Tomatoes were the initial suspect. Now that we're hearing other salsa ingredients like cilantro, peppers, you know, we're talking about three months now that they've been investigating -- you've been investigating, trying to find out the bottom of this. Why has it taken so long?

GERBERDING: You know, we're as frustrated as everyone. But this is an incredibly complicated investigation. Part of the problem is that we have to rely on people's ability to recall what they ate days or weeks before we are able to talk to them. And, you know, it's kind of easy to remember if you had a hamburger. So when we deal with a hamburger outbreak, we can often get to the bottom of those very quickly. And plus there's usually frozen hamburger in the freezer that we can test.

But when you're dealing with fresh produce and the exposure occurred days ago, you know, it's really hard to think of every food item that you ate. And sometimes these products are in foods that you don't actually recall. They're ingredients in other things.

So, for example, with the salsa, which has come up as a important potential exposure risk in some of the people that we've talked to, you know, we know that the foods of interest in the salsa right now look like they're tomato and cilantros and a couple of the peppers that are commonly associated. But there are a whole lot of other things that are in many salsas.

So we've got to get all of the recipes. We've got to look at everything from the powder in the recipes to the foods themselves. And that just takes a lot of time.

MALVEAUX: Do you have any sense of how much time, how much time we're talking about here?

GERBERDING: I wish I knew the answer to that. I do know, also, that the trace back of food from the restaurant has to go how is the food produced, how is the food stored and then all way back to the farm. And, in fact, for the three foods that we have on our list as the foods of interest right now, often they're grown on the same farm. So we may never be able to tease out what exactly is the ultimate cause.

MALVEAUX: I want you to take a listen to a concern. This is a former secretary of Health and Human Services, Tommy Thompson, who talked about the risk here when we take a look at the food supply.

Let's take a real quick listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TOMMY THOMPSON, FORMER HHS SECRETARY: I, for the life of me, cannot under why the terrorists have not, you know, attacked our food supply, you know because it is -- it is so easy to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: He says it's easy to do. That can't be comforting to many of us who are listening to that, and, you know, kind of a warning, I guess, to the terrorists here, that this is a real vulnerability in our country. Do you agree with that, that this is a vulnerable area?

GERBERDING: Well, I think it's important to recognize that we actually have a very safe food supply overall. And while this is a difficult challenge, it doesn't detract from the fact that had the United States does have one of the safest food supplies in the world, thanks to the FDA and the USDA and many other people at the state and local levels.

But we've also acknowledged that food is a convenient vehicle for deliberately contaminating people. And it certainly is in our sphere of interest as we look at preparedness issues.

So we are concerned and we take it very seriously.

MALVEAUX: Doctor, thank you so much for joining us here on THE SITUATION ROOM.

GERBERDING: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: Thanks again.

A near disaster in the skies over New York. Two passenger jets come close to colliding.

And Barack Obama's red state strategy -- how he is trying to turn them blue.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Our Carol Costello is monitoring the stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Carol, what are you watching?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Something that's a little scary, Suzanne.

The NTSB is looking into a near midair collision at New York's JFK Airport. A Cayman Airways Boeing jet nearly collided with a Chilean airliner on Saturday. The Cayman flight was aborting a landing attempt, while the Chilean plane was taking off at a nearby runway. FAA officials initially said the planes only came within a half mile of each other. But air traffic controllers now say the jets were much closer and they had to scramble to send them on separate paths.

Pakistan is denying suggestions by Afghanistan's government that Islamabad is behind yesterday's deadly suicide bombing near the Indian embassy in Kabul. Forty-one people died in the blast. One hundred and fifty others were hurt. While not expressly naming Pakistan, Afghan officials say they have evidence foreigners orchestrated the attack. Pakistan's prime minister says his country doesn't want to destabilize Afghanistan when both nations are fighting terrorism.

Mixed messages coming out of Iran -- hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says there's no possibility of a war between his nation and the United States or Israel. But his comments come hours after Iran threatened to retaliate against any military strike by targeting U.S. warships in the Gulf, as well as the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.

The housing market has taken another tumble. The National Association of Realtors says its Index of Existing Home Sales fell 4.7 percent in May. Now, economists had expected a drop of only 2.8 percent. Making the decline even more surprising, home sales actually went up in April. Analysts cite weak consumer confidence, rising unemployment and guess what -- surging energy and food prices -- for the drop.

Mark your calendar. NASA has tentatively set May 21st, 2010 as the day for the final shuttle mission. The shuttle fleet is scheduled to retire four months later, as ordered by President Bush. Five shuttle flights are set for this year, along with five more in 2009 and three in 2010. NASA will then focus on its Aires rocket and Orion capsule to take astronauts to the moon -- back to you, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right.

We don't want to miss those -- that shuttle launch. It's always exciting to see.

Thanks, Carol.

Business is booming, even as Washington calls for more sanctions against Iran. A surprising surge in U.S. exports.

One in five mine-resistant vehicles in Iraq is out of commission. We have exclusive details.

Plus, the unusual story behind buried treasure in Iraq -- the connection to Saddam Hussein's son.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, made in the U.S., shipped to Iran. The Bush administration is trying to put the squeeze on Tehran's economy. But that's not keeping U.S. exports out of Iranian hands.

They are meant to protect U.S. soldiers on the front lines in Iraq.

So why are an alarming number of armored fighting vehicles breaking down and potentially putting troops' lives at risk?

CNN's Barbara Starr has our exclusive story.

And controversy on the menu -- the G-8 leaders gather to talk about skyrocketing food prices worldwide and enjoy an 18-course dinner, complete with caviar sea urchin and champagne.

Wolf Blitzer is off today.

I'm Suzanne Malveaux and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Now a CNN exclusive. They have saved countless American lives in Iraq. Now this stunning news -- one out of every five mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles in the war zone is out of service.

CNN's Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, joining us -- Barbara, what can you tell us about this?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, it is one of the most important programs to protect soldiers in the field. And it is a program in trouble.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): The MRAP, the Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicle, has kept thousands of U.S. troops safe. Its V- shaped hull is the best protection against IEDs.

But in the last several weeks, as many as one in five of the vehicles in Iraq has been out of commission. There haven't been enough spare parts to keep the fleet in working order, several military officials tell CNN.

Commanders insist it's not a crisis -- at least not yet.

The problem?

At U.S. fatalities rose from roadside bombs last year, the Pentagon began rushing more than 5,000 MRAP vehicles to Iraq. The supply chain for spare parts couldn't keep up.

LT. COL. DAKOTA WOOD, U.S. MARINE CORPS (RET.): And they suggest a handful per month to several hundred in a very quick order of time. One of the limiting factors when these were rushed into production was the availability of heavy duty transmissions and engines and axles and tires.

STARR: Soldiers are now using armored Humvees or waiting for M- RAPs to be fixed.

The Pentagon predicted much of this last year.

JOHN YOUNG, DIRECTOR, DEFENSE RESEARCH ENGINEERING: This is an extremely aggressive program and the Defense Department is accepting risk here.

STARR: There are other problems. These three army Special Forces soldiers drowned in Afghanistan last month when their MRAP vehicle rolled into a river. Investigators found the heavy weight and high center of gravity made the vehicle vulnerable to catastrophic rollovers. The Pentagon still plans to spend $22 billion to eventually put 12,000 MRAPs on the front lines.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

STARR: Now, Suzanne, officials tell us in the last couple of weeks things have gotten a bit better as they have gotten more of those critical spare parts to the field. But there are still problems with the MRAP. They are now finding that they are still vulnerable to some roadside bombs, so they're adding more armored protection to them. This is a program that is so sensitive, very little is openly discussed about it by the U.S. military -- Suzanne?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Barbara, I wonder if they were talking about any kind of timetable, when they are really going to be able to address the problem or no?

STARR: Well, it's going to be several weeks to months before they really get that full supply parts chain into place. Think of it this way, Suzanne. As one official said to us, if you had a Caterpillar tractor or you bought a Honda or something very commonly used in the world, and it ran into trouble, you'd have a spare parts chain, a supply store nearby. But the MRAP was really built from scratch, so they didn't have that find of sort of kind of sort of military muscle power bend it on the factory floor. They're still playing catch-up. It's still something they're looking at very closely -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: OK. Barbara Starr thanks so much for that exclusive report. Thank you, Barbara.

There has been little love lost between the Bush administration and Iran's hardline government. But even so, U.S. exports to Iran are booming.

Let's go to CNN's State Department correspondent Zain Verjee -- Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, the State Department just announced new restrictions against Iranian individuals and companies accusing them of trying to help Iran develop nuclear weapons, but some American businesses are dealing with Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: The Bush administration is trying to squeeze Iran's economy. At the same time U.S. businesses are boosting trade with Iran. According to U.S. government data, over the past seven years, exports to Iran exploded, from $8.3 million in 2001 to $146 million in 2007.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The dollar figures are insignificant when you compare it to the hundreds of billions of dollars that the United States trades with the rest of the world.

VERJEE: The biggest exports? Cigarettes, about $158 million over the 7-year period, but also products like vegetable seeds, vitamins, even bras and cosmetics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iranians still love America and America-made products.

VERJEE: Those exports coming mainly from companies in Georgia, North Carolina, Michigan, Florida, and California. A U.S. law passed in 2000 does allow the sale of agricultural goods and medicine to Iran, which partly explains the boost in exports. But, there remain strict limits on what U.S. companies can sell to Iran. Sanctions forbid the export of weapons, airplanes, and any investment in the oil and gas industry and banned business with certain Iranian banks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Overall, sanctions against Iran are very, very stringent, with an eye towards putting pressure against the Iranian regime for their support for terrorism and proliferation.

VERJEE: But experts say Iran will continue to try to get around those sanctions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no doubt that the Revolutionary Guards of Iran are doing everything possible to acquire American technology that will be used against America because of our presence in the Persian Gulf region, in Iraq and in Afghanistan.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VERJEE: There were reports that Iran had received weapons from the U.S., but the treasury department says that was a typo, and those weapons actually went to Iraq -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Zain.

We are just learning of a new development involving Hurricane Bertha.

CNN's severe weather correspondent, meteorologist Chad Myers, is in our hurricane headquarters in Atlanta.

Chad, what are you looking at?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Suzanne, at this time yesterday it was 120-mile-per-hour storm, on up toward a Category Three. Now, it has lost some intensity. It has lost its power because it has lost its source of very warm water. The storm now almost moving almost due north and it will, in fact, even miss Bermuda. When's the last time you heard of a Category Three making people happy?

In fact, I called the Ron John Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach, the largest surf shop I think in the world, and they are all ready for Thursday and for Friday when the waves from this storm, as she makes it to America and all the way up to the beach, even the big surf competitions all the way up to Wrightsville Beach in North Carolina, so that's all it's going to be is a wave maker and we like those. Even though it was a big one, that's one name you don't have to worry about later.

MALVEAUX: OK. Thank you, Chad.

MYERS: You're welcome.

MALVEAUX: Barack Obama's red state strategy, he's trying to put traditionally Republican states like Georgia and Arizona into Democratic hands come November. Can he do it? I'll talk with Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.

And Italy's billionaire prime minister says he's one of President Bush's best buddies, in Europe, but will the relationship sour after he reads what a White House briefing book has to say about him?

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: Barack Obama's making a big push in some unexpected places, states that voted solidly Republican just four years ago.

CNN's Tom Foreman takes us inside the campaign's strategy -- Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, Obama said he was going to do this, and indeed he is. He is striking deeply into traditionally Republican territory, hoping to snap up some red-state votes.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's good to be in Georgia.

FOREMAN: Georgia? That's right. President Bush won the state by 16 points four years ago, but Barack Obama was campaigning there last night and this morning, too. And he's up with ads in the state, spending $200,000 on TV time over the past month.

OBAMA: If I have the honor of taking the oath of office as president, it will be with a deep and abiding faith in the country I love.

FOREMAN: But does Obama seriously have a chance in the Deep South?

WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Georgia is a very red state. But if African-Americans register to vote and turn out in huge numbers, as Obama expects them to do, and, number two, if Bob Barr, a former congressman from Georgia, gets a significant vote and cuts into McCain's support, then, boom, Georgia is a competitive state.

FOREMAN: Even if Obama does not win Georgia's 15 electoral votes, he'll make McCain work hard for a victory in the state.

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: Barack Obama doesn't even have to win Georgia. He just has to force John McCain to spend time and money in that state, which would take him away from campaigning in some of the battleground states he needs to win in order to win in November.

FOREMAN: And it's not just Georgia.

OBAMA: Montanans, I'm proud to be with you on the Fourth of July.

FOREMAN: And he was in North Dakota the day before. President Bush took both states in landslides four years ago. But Obama is optimistic.

OBAMA: I'm a firm believer that 90 percent of success is showing up. And Democrats haven't been showing up in these places.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: In the end, it all comes down to money. The candidate with the most money is better positioned to fight across a broad front in many, many states, and right now, the candidate with the most money is Barack Obama -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Tom.

Obama has a big booster and one of those 2004 red states, Arizona. Democratic Governor Janet Napolitano joins us live. Thank you very much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

GOV. JANET NAPOLITANO (D), ARIZONA: Well, thank you.

MALVEAUX: I want to start off by showing you a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll. It asks about the fence along 700 miles of the U.S. border with Mexico. Those who favor it, 52 percent. Those who oppose, 47 percent. Now, listen to what Barack Obama said at the CNN debate in Texas during the primary.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: Senator Clinton indicated there may be areas where it makes sense to have some fencing. But for the most part, having border patrols, surveillance, deploying effective technology, that's going to be the better approach.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: You're from the state of Arizona. Obviously, a lot of conservatives pushing for the border fence there, for something that is comprehensive, but also they are really emphasizing protection. What does Barack Obama need to say to the voters of your state to convince them that his policy is on the right track?

NAPOLITANO: Well, actually, the voters of my state understand that building a fence is not a solution. Indeed, what I'm fond of saying is you show me a 12-foot fence and I'll show you a 13-foot ladder. Fencing in some areas does make some sense and we've done quite a bit in my state. In part the National Guard did it when I asked them to go down to the border. But you also need technology, you need more manpower, you need to deal with visa reform so we have more people crossing legally through the ports and you need to streamline that process. And you need to deal firmly with the 12 million already in our country through heavy fines, sanctions, learning to pay -- or speak English, paying taxes and then getting in the back of the line. MALVEAUX: Do you think that his message will resonate with your voters and also on a nationwide level here where we're seeing more people than not wanting to go for that fence?

NAPOLITANO: Well, you know, it's kind of an isolated question, because you don't ask it in the sense of what makes sense, are they comprehensive immigration strategy. And as someone who has worked the border area for a number of years, a fence in and of itself is just a slogan. It's not an answer.

A real answer means you have to deal with the underlying labor issues, you've got to deal with visa reform and the workers already here and you have to add border security at a number of levels, not just fence, ground power and unmanned aerial vehicles all those things go to protect the border.

MALVEAUX: Let's change the subject if I can. Obama recently criticized Supreme Court's decision in striking down the death penalty in cases of child rape. You're a lawyer, you're an attorney. Do you think that was the right course?

NAPOLITANO: I understand what he was saying, and yes, I think he was correct in those particular circumstances. But, again, the issue about criminal justice in our country and the issue about the Supreme Court is going to be more than one case. It's going to be who fills the federal bench, what kinds of judges he will appoint. And I think that -- there -- you know, senator Obama is going to give us a federal bench that will really be respectful of Americans and their rights.

MALVEAUX: I want you to take a listen real quickly to Senator Obama when he talks about himself as being progressive.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: This whole notion that I am, you know, shifting to the center or that I'm flip flopping or this, that, or the other. You know, the people who say this apparently haven't been listening to me. And I have to say, some of it are my friends on the left and the -- and some of the media. I -- I am somebody who is no doubt progressive.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MALVEAUX: What do you suppose he means by that, progressive? Is there a sense looking at some of the positions that he has taken regarding the Supreme Court's recent decisions that perhaps he's going to look at justices that are a little bit more conservative than people are expecting?

NAPOLITANO: I think it's going to mean that he's going to reject the old labels, conservative, liberal, what does it really mean in the context of the United States Supreme Court, in the context of a federal judge? Indeed our history teaches us that just appointing by label oftentimes surprises more than anything else. He's going to look for people who are intelligent, thoughtful, have life experiences that they can bring to bear to the court, will be very fair-minded and judge the dispute before them.

MALVEAUX: What do you think he meant by progressives?

NAPOLITANO: I think he means moving our country forward. It's just like your earlier piece about, well, there are red states and blue states. His whole campaign is, no, there are not. There are states. They are all occupied by Americans and I'm going to talk to all of them.

MALVEAUX: All right, governor, thank you very much for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

NAPOLITANO: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: The White House race winds through Israel. Barack Obama tries to win over Israelis in hopes their support will help him with American voters.

And some battered vintage cars are priceless treasure for Iraq and a relic of Saddam Hussein's regime now gone.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: They are relics of Saddam Hussein's regime, and symbols of the luxuries he and his sons enjoyed before the U.S. invasion. And though these cars may now be dusty and dilapidated, Iraqi officials say their place belongs in a museum.

Let's go to CNN's Frederik Pleitgen in Baghdad.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, Uday Hussein, the son of Saddam Hussein was known as a brutal man and lover of the luxury life and very big and very fast cars.

Now, five years after Saddam and his family was ousted from power, five vintage cars have turned up here in Baghdad, found by the Iraqi police.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: They look pretty beaten up. But Iraq's police say these wheels are something like a national treasure, two Rolls Royce's and three custom built kit cars from Saddam Hussein's son, Uday.

It really is a shame the shape that these cars in. You have stuff hanging from the ceiling; you have dirt inside, dust. You can tell that no one has taken care of them these last couple of years.

No wonder. Police say the cars were stolen from Uday Hussein's palace during the looting that took place after the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Acting on a tip, police found the cars collecting dust and sand on this farm in southern Baghdad. These are photos from the police raid. None of the cars are fit to drive, but Colonel Raad Bajellan says the thieves were going to smuggle them out of Iraq and sell them for a lot of money. "Now we want to move the cars to a museum for rare and vintage vehicles," the colonel tells me.

Saddam's son, Uday, lived a lavish life before he and his brother, Qusay, were killed in a gun battle American forces five years ago. Uday Hussein's love of luxury cars was well-known. They said when he saw a vehicle he liked, he simply took it away from the own. Louai Al- Ameeri says he almost lost his '85 Corvette that way.

LOUAI AL-AMEERI, CORVETTE OWNER: When they came to me, I was very sad, because I think they will take the car from me, but I thank God they didn't take it from me.

PLEITGEN: Now Uday Hussein, like his father, Saddam is gone, and the luxury vehicles that once symbolized their power stand, collecting dust in a Baghdad police compound.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PLEITGEN: Now the cars themselves being in such bad shape of course they're not worth very much anymore, but the fact that they belonged to Uday Hussein give them a very big importance to many Iraqis -- Suzanne?

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Frederik.

The White House race is taking center stage in Israel and both John McCain and Barack Obama are taking notice.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in Jerusalem.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: California, to the New York islands from the Redwood forest to the Gulf Stream waters this land was made for you and me

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually, this is the land of Israel, and these are American residents registering to vote. The road to the White House passes through Israel. John McCain was here in March, Barack Obama is coming in late July. Both have their supporters. What do you think about Obama?

JOANNE YARON, DEMOCRATS ABROAD: What do I like about Obama? He's sharp. He's smart. He learns fast.

JOHN FISHER, REPUBLICANS ABROAD: McCain is definitely pro-Israel like Bush is. I think we can see better decisions made by him.

WEDEMAN: In a country where things American are popular, the presidential campaign is followed closely. Polls here indicate McCain is more popular, but Obama is catching up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because Barack Obama is not from the elite. He's a black man, he comes from, not from the rich life of the population in the states, and I like men like that.

WEDEMAN: By the way, he means lawyer, not liar. Obama's family background and his stated willingness to meet with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have raised some doubts.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What his connections are with the Islamic world, yes, this is a worry.

WEDEMAN: With a decent level of popularity here, Obama could pass an important taste test.

JONATHAN RYNHOLD, BESA CTR. FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: If Obama can go to the Jewish public in America and say look, many Israelis support me, maybe not the majority but very close to the same amount as support McCain, he could say I'm decent, I'm kosher, I'm OK. You can vote for me.

WEDEMAN: Both presumptive candidates say they support the creation of a Palestinian state but both have spared no effort to declare their unwavering support for Israel. Whoever wins, Israel will probably come out on top.

Ben Wedeman. CNN, Jerusalem.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MALVEAUX: In the midst of a troubled conflict a bipartisan call to change the politics of war. Two former Secretaries of State have a plan. Will Congress end up with more power?

Plus the diplomatic gaff that left the White House red-faced.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

MALVEAUX: If a former top adviser to President Bush gets his way, we might see a critical difference in how the United States goes to war.

Let's go to CNN's Brianna Keilar for the details.

Brianna, what can you tell us?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, this is a bipartisan plan and it's all about finding common ground between Congress and the president.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: He's the man who served as Bush 41 secretary of state during the first gulf war and chief legal adviser to Bush 43 during the 2000 Florida recount.

JAMES BAKER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Governor Bush was the winner of the vote.

KEILAR: Today in Washington James Baker unveiled his latest project, new war powers legislation that would give Congress a bigger role in deciding web the nation goes to war.

BAKER: The central law governing this critical decision, that is, the war powers resolution of 1973, is ineffective and it should be repealed and it should be replaced, however with a better law. Most legal experts consider it to be unconstitutional.

KEILAR: Even so, presidents have abided by provisions in the law for decades. For instance, regularly reporting to Congress on conflicts. Baker and Warren Christopher, secretary of state in Bill Clinton's cabinet announced a bipartisan plan to spell out how Congress and the president commit U.S. troops to war.

WARREN CHRISTOPHER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: The fundamental purpose of our statute is to ensure that the president consults with the Congress before taking the nation to war.

KEILAR: Part of their proposal, the president must confer with Congress specifically with the chairman and ranking member of relevant committees, usually the top Republican and Democrat on the panel. It's already common practice, but not law. Congress would also vote yes or no on the commitment of U.S. troops within 30 days of the start of a conflict, if it had not declared war or authorized it to begin with. Currently lawmakers can force a withdrawal of troops simply by not holding a vote.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KEILAR: Now experts say this would have no effect on the current war in Iraq, but stay tuned to see if it could become a campaign issue because this commission headed by baker and Christopher has been in touch with Barack Obama and John McCain, asking the next that the next president press for completion of a new War Powers Act within the first 100 days of entering the White House -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: OK -- Brianna Keilar.

Thank you so much, Brianna.

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