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CNN NEWSROOM

Russia Advances Again; More Manhattan Security Measures; Phelps Sets Another Record; Arkansas Town Under 24-hour Curfew

Aired August 13, 2008 - 09:00   ET

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


TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: And good morning, everyone. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM.
I'm Tony Harris.

HEIDI COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

See events come into the NEWSROOM live on this very busy Wednesday morning, August 13th.

Here's what's on the rundown.

Breaking news, Russian troops making moves inside Georgia this hour. Is Moscow snubbing a cease-fire and the west?

HARRIS: Wrapping Manhattan in a security blanket before the World Trade Center site reopens. A plan to photograph every vehicle, scan every license plate.

COLLINS: He now more gold than any Olympian in history. Michael Phelps, the gold standard, in the NEWSROOM.

HARRIS: After days of war and hours of peace, there are growing fears that a cease-fire between Russia and Georgia has been shattered.

CNN's Matthew Chance is outside Gori and witnessing a column of Russian forces that left the city heading south.

We are deploying CNN's vast international resources to cover all the angles of this rapidly developing story. Matthew Chance, as I just mentioned, is watching the troop movements. Jill Dougherty is in Moscow. Josh Levs will give us the lay of the land with a series of really eye-popping maps. And our Frederik Pleitgen is in Tbilisi monitoring the response there.

Let's begin now with Matthew Chance. He joins us by phone.

And, Matthew, if you would, give us an update on the latest information with respect to the movement of Russian troops.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Tony, we're a good 10 miles outside of Gori, perhaps more than that. It's difficult for us to judge. But what I can tell you is that column of Russian military vehicles, armored personnel carriers, trucks carrying hundreds of Russian soldiers moving deep into Georgian territory, breaking out of the main conflict area of South Ossetia and moving along the road from Gori toward the Georgian capital Tbilisi.

They then turned off that road towards a small village to the north of the road where we understand they are digging into position. Georgian authorities originally told us after this news first was witnessed by us that they believe that this was going to be the case, they believed they were going to turn off into a village just off the road to Tbilisi.

And that's what they've done, indicating that this was done, this move, this incursion by the Russian forces, was carried out with the agreement of the Georgian authorities.

I've managed to speak to some of the Russian soldiers as they moved past in their military vehicles. I tried to ask them, where are you going to? They wouldn't -- they wouldn't tell me. They said there was no comment. One of the officers, though, said that we have come here with the approval of the Georgian people, as though an indication here that this may have been some kind of coordinated move by Russian forces deep into Georgian territory -- Tony.

HARRIS: OK. So, Matthew, one quick question. To what extent does this appear to be the effort of Russian troops to extend a so- called buffer zone outside of South Ossetia?

CHANCE: It could well be that. I mean the simple point is -- I think the simple truth is that we don't really know what Russia is intending. There's a lot of hysteria inside Georgia -- a swirling pit of rumors in this country as well about what exactly the Russian intentions are.

Are they going to move on the capital Tbilisi? Are they going to try and depose the government of Mikheil Saakashvili? Or are they merely engaged in an attempt to establish that buffer zone that they kind of indicated that they wanted, demilitarized zone outside the break-away territory of South Ossetia and outside the other break-away territory of Abkhazia in Georgia as well.

That could be what we're seeing. But at this stage, Tony, we just don't know. They turned off the road from Tbilisi. They're not heading towards the Georgian capital at this stage. But no one in Georgia is ruling that out in the longer term.

HARRIS: OK. Matthew Chance with us now. Matthew, if you get any additional information that you feel is worthy of reporting, please give us a heads up. We appreciate it.

Matthew Chance for us.

COLLINS: And just moments ago Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, spoke with CNN. Here are some of his comments.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRES. MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI, GEORGIA: We will protect our capital with the last drop of our blood. We will never surrender to the Russians. Russians want to put us on our knees and Russians want to, you know, to give us back -- kill the Georgian democracy, bring that into the fold of dictatorial Russian regime like it was in the past and in history.

Well, I think I can tell you, yes, we are a democracy. We don't have even a small percentage of the tanks and weapons Russia has. However, we have (INAUDIBLE) 200,000 people rallying in downtown capital despite the threats of, you know, bombs.

You know we are a democracy. On television, even now when the nation is consolidated, there are critics saying bad things about the government. Parliament is in session. Oppositions can speak out. You know we are not like Russia where all media, as you like, one depicting dust, not as innocent victims, but like as we perpetrated the attack on Russia is we (INAUDIBLE) somebody.

Exactly in the manner of, you know, worst cases of past venture propaganda. You know, in Georgia, the people are consolidated and, of course, they're willing to protect their freedom and their liberty. But you know what, we will not -- we will never surrender.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Once again, Georgia's president, Mikheil Saakashvili, there. You heard him earlier on CNN.

The Republic of Georgia is about the size of South Carolina. Josh Levs has pulled up a map of Georgia to help show how this drama is unfolding -- Josh.

JOSH LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Heidi, because there's a lot of focus lately and especially this morning on whether Russian army might be headed towards Tbilisi. But this already tremendous significance to the Russian troops even being along this road.

Let's close in on this map and I'll show you what's going on.

This is our map at CNN.com. This is the basics: South Ossetia right along here. This is Gori. This is Tbilisi. So what we were hearing is that troops were heading from Gori over towards Tbilisi. A lot of questions -- will they head into the capital?

I'm going to switch to a more complicated map now, just follow me here. Ignore everything except what I point to. This area is South Ossetia. Here's Gori. Here is Tbilisi.

Now here's why I'm showing you this. Big thick red line along here, also a black line with vertical marks on it, showing you two things -- a major road and a major train railway that goes through there. This area is what the "A.P." calls the only significant east- west ability to travel in Georgia that they have, whether it's by train or on this highway. The only major road east/west.

So this area has a lot to do with Georgia's economy. If people need to travel over to the port on the west, they have to go along this road. If Russia manages to control part of that road, even a significant part anywhere along that load, it could effectively, for some time, shut down a large segment of Georgia's economy.

And one complaint we've heard from Georgia is that Russia is allegedly trying to cut the country in half by taking control of that road and stopping the economy, stopping the ability to travel, having a massive impact on the country.

Let's close in here one more time. I want to show you one more thing, just the human impact along with this. These are the maps. Let's just go to this photo for a moment. This is one of the many photos we have up here at CNN.com. This is a woman in Gori witnessing the bombing of her apartment building.

Obviously, along with all the maps and the figures, where the troops are going, Heidi, at all times, we keep in mind the human toll of what we're seeing. And we will keep it updated for you. I'm at the international desk. We'll get you the latest all morning long -- Heidi?

COLLINS: All right, Josh, sure do appreciate that.

Josh Levs from the international desk.

Now to the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi and CNN's Frederik Pleitgen.

Frederik, what's the latest from where you are?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Heidi, I would describe the mood here in the Georgian capital as a very -- as quite calm but yet very, very tense. You look out here you can see that the traffic here in the city is still moving quite normally. There still are cars on the road. It still seems like a fairly normal day.

Yet, when you talk to people and especially if you talk to government officials here in Georgia, the mood among them is very, very tense and indeed quite worried.

I was on the phone with Georgia's national security chief about an hour ago and he was saying that he was very worried about the situation in that town of Gori. He was also reporting there were Russian tanks in that city, that they had cordoned off that city, and there was indeed looting going on in that city by what he called, quote, "irregular fighters."

He said he believed those are people coming in from Southern Ossetia and from Russian. There is, of course, no independent verification of what the Georgian government is telling us.

Now the president of Georgia, Mikheil Saakashvili, went on television, on CNN, only a few minutes ago. Let's listen on to what he had to say about the situation.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAAKASHVILI: Well, the implications are that the Russians are encroaching upon the capital. They are making a circle. And they are brushing it because they -- their plan was always to take over the whole Georgia. Their plan was to establish their own government in Tbilisi. And their plan was to kill our democracy. And that's -- they are in the process of cold-blooded murder and the world seems to just be watching it and not doing anything about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: They (INAUDIBLE) the Georgian president saying he believes that the Russian's intent to take all of this country over. The Russians, of course, are denying it. Nevertheless, the Georgians say they are making preparations for their armed forces to defend the capital city -- Heidi?

COLLINS: All right, CNN's Frederik Pleitgen watching this situation as it continues to heat up in the capital city of Tbilisi.

Frederik, we'll be in touch. Thank you.

HARRIS: And CNN's Jill Dougherty is in Moscow and joins us now.

Jill, you know the cease-fire calls for troops on both sides to withdraw to positions held on August 6th. So can you help us understand the movement of Russian forces on this day?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the cease-fire is supposed to go into effect. However, both sides -- each side accuses the other side of not adhering to that cease-fire.

So let's take the Russian's position. They would say the Georgians are not observing this therefore we have to do what we have to do. Now what those military vehicles are doing that earlier were reported on their way to Tbilisi, we can definitely tell you that the Russian general staff very quickly denying that, through Interfax News Agency, saying they are not on their way to Tbilisi.

They are not saying exactly what they are up to, where they are going. And that, I think, Tony, you'd have to say is normal because military operations, they are not going to say where we are headed when you are in the midst of some type of movement. But they definitely deny that they are going to the capital.

HARRIS: Jill, Georgia's president -- I don't know if you had an opportunity to listen to the terrific interview on AMERICAN MORNING with John Roberts, but he sounds increasingly tired, A, B, desperate, certainly disappointed in the response from the west to the crisis.

Knowing this region as you do, both Russia and Georgia, did Georgia's president -- I've been hearing this increasingly over the last few days -- overplay his hand by moving forces into South Ossetia?

DOUGHERTY: Well, you know, I was just looking at comments by the former president of Georgia, Edward Shevardnadze. He used to be the foreign minister of the Soviet Union. And he said that he feels that he made a major mistake -- serious mistake was the word -- by starting military action in South Ossetia and not counting on the fact that the Russians might not come in and come in very heavily.

The Russians, definitely true to their military form, are coming in very, very strongly. And Shevardnadze and many others would say that Saakashvili either didn't think this through or perhaps counted on the fact that maybe the Russians wouldn't come in or perhaps counting on the fact that he would get a lot of some type of support from the west.

He couldn't bank on any military support from the west. Tony, there was no way that NATO or the United States would militarily move in there. They might provide some equipment or something -- some military material. But there's no way they were going to go in.

HARRIS: That's a -- that's an interesting point. All right, Jill Dougherty for us in Moscow.

Jill, as always, appreciate the perspective.

COLLINS: Inside the war zone, bloggers share their view with the world. We're checking back in with Josh Levs. He's surfing the net and bringing those insights to you shortly.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Well, what can you say? Michael Phelps is the man. Five for five in his gold medal quest in Beijing. The haul gives him the most gold in Olympic history.

CNN's Larry Smith is there for it all, joining us from Beijing this morning.

Hey, Larry.

LARRY SMITH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Heidi. How are you? Good evening from Beijing.

Yes, not only five gold medals but five world records as well for Michael Phelps. And he gets a bit of a reprieve on Thursday here in Beijing, only one race instead of two or three, as his quest for gold will continue over the weekend.

Two golds on this day, first, in the 200 meter butterfly in which his goggles filled with water almost three quarters of the way through. He was almost blind when he finally hit the wall. Still sets the world record. And then later in the 4x200 freestyle relay he got the team off to a 2 1/2 second start. They went on to obliterate the field by more than five seconds as they shattered the world record in that as well.

So now five golds here. Three to go to get that record eighth gold medals in one Olympics -- Heidi?

COLLINS: Yes, Larry, you know, there's an awful lot of world records being set in that relay. Boy, I mean they obliterated the world record something like by four seconds. And I know about the suits they're wearing, special fabric and so forth. What about the pool? What's in the water?

SMITH: Well, the water is a big part of it. One, it's deeper than what we saw in Athens four years ago. And it's also wider, 10 lanes instead of eight. So the waves tend to kind of dissipate and it allows for a smoother surface, better times. Also they can pressurize the cube to optimum conditions. So you add that with the state-of- the-art suits that everyone is wearing, it's no wonder there are so many records being set.

COLLINS: Yes, wow, it is awesome to watch. We sure do appreciate it and we're a little jealous of you being there.

CNN's Larry Smith live from Beijing this morning, thank you.

HARRIS: You know it sounds impossible, keep track of every single car and truck coming into Manhattan. That's the idea behind a high-tech plan to guard against the new terror attacks.

CNN's Mary Snow joining us now from New York with details.

Mary, it sounds down right impractical but I guess folks are moving forward.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Tony, New York City officials say it is a plan that hasn't been done anywhere else. The aim is to prevent another terrorist attack in lower Manhattan, specifically a car bomb attack.

The city's police commissioner says adding to an already tight security in lower Manhattan is to a plan to have license plate readers of vehicles driving into the island of Manhattan.

Now there are 20 crossings, bridge and tunnels. The police department plans to put license plate readers at each of them, fed -- all that information will be stored for 30 days in a giant database.

Now police commissioner Ray Kelly was asked why it's necessary to do that.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAYMOND KELLY, NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT: We get information that something is going to happen or someone has entered the city to conduct an attack, we want to be able to go back and see if that's -- if that's the case. So we think 30 days is a reasonable period of time to maintain this information, to enable us to check and see if any information has surfaced concerning a vehicle coming into the city.

So I don't think, you know, anyone had -- should have cause for concern.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Now another big part of this plan is setting up a radiation detection system. As the police commissioner describes it, there will be rings of detection systems many miles outside of the city. He says if radiation material is detected, several agencies will be informed about it.

Now all of this is slated to be phased in, but the city is planning on opening up coordination center in lower Manhattan next month. That's part of an operation to have thousands of cameras watching the area that's similar to a system in London -- Tony?

HARRIS: Well, Mary, maybe when we talk the next time we can talk about, perhaps, the cost of these enhanced security measures. It must be expensive.

Mary Snow -- you have a thought on that?

SNOW: Well, the police commissioner was asked about that. He said he couldn't put an exact price tag on it. This is funds from the federal government and the city but one project alone is about $110 million that he estimates.

HARRIS: I just want the contract.

All right, Mary Snow for us in New York. Thanks, Mary.

SNOW: Sure.

COLLINS: Turning to alcohol to drown the memories of war. A new study reveals which troops are most at risk.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Three women and their driver ambushed and killed in Afghanistan. Authorities say one woman was an American, the others are Canadian and an Irish national. They worked for a New York-based aid organization called International Rescue Committee.

The women were in a convoy headed to Kabul when gunmen opened fire. The Taliban now claiming responsibility for the attack.

COLLINS: Disturbing news from the front lines. The U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq are trudging home with serious drinking problems. That conclusion from a new study in the "Journal of American Medical Association."

Researchers found members of the National Guard are 26 percent more likely to binge drink and 9 percent more likely to start heavy weekly drinking when they come home.

Chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here now.

Sanjay, it seemed like pretty big numbers. Why are so many servicemen and women turning to alcohol?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, alcohol, substance abuse and war have been inextricably linked for a long time. But I think what the study shows us is who's most at risk and why they're most at risk as well. Now people who have seen combat exposure, most specifically, have seen violence, whether it be death, whether it be physical abuse, maiming, they are the most at risk. But also, as you mentioned, National Guard troops as well as young people -- if you break this down further -- appear to be particularly vulnerable.

National Guard troops, to some extent, make sense. I mean they have -- they're not career military. They don't have the same training or exposure as career military and they have other jobs that are often very different from what you're seeing on your screen right now.

Young people was defined as people born after 1980. And take a look at the numbers here when you look at how much of an impact this was. Seven times more likely to binge drink when they returned home. That's a huge number.

COLLINS: Yes.

GUPTA: Five times more likely to have alcohol related problems.

You know, I think, Heidi, from a medical standpoint this is significant for a couple of reasons. One is that PTSD is still very stigmatized...

COLLINS: Sure.

GUPTA: .... as we know. But we also know that people who -- about a half of the people who have PTSD start off with some sort of alcohol or substance abuse. So medical personnel, if they're health care professional, if they see somebody coming back with a new diagnosis of substance abuse, they should look one step further and say what is this significant of.

COLLINS: Yes.

GUPTA: Could this also be PTSD? I think that's going to be the key here for the medical community.

COLLINS: Well, yes, and you have to wonder -- if so many of these troops are potentially self-medicating, if you will, with alcohol.

GUPTA: Right.

COLLINS: Does it say anything about the care that they're getting? Maybe not only in-country, but then also when they come home, the after-care?

GUPTA: It's a great point. And you know we've done a lot of reporting on that very issue -- how do people with PTSD get cared for afterward?

There's a couple of points, I think, to be made. One is that -- again, the stigma is very much present. We saw that in our own reporting. Confidentiality, to some extent, may help break down that obstacle if someone could be guaranteed confidentiality.

COLLINS: Yes.

GUPTA: Also just the process of treating substance abuse is complicated. It is expensive and it is long term. It's going to take a real commitment on behalf of the medical community and the military community to make sure the can break down that -- obstacle. So access and confidentiality, I think, are going to be two -- two key words for this.

COLLINS: The same type of commitment that these men and women make to defending the country.

GUPTA: Yes. Absolutely, yes. I mean this is -- we're seeing the ramifications here of war and it's going to be long lasting.

COLLINS: All right. CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Thanks, Sanjay.

GUPTA: Thanks, Heidi.

HARRIS: It really is the story of the morning. We continue to follow the breaking developments in Georgia and in Russia.

As you know, Russian troops on the move deeper inside Georgia on this day, just outside of the capital of Tbilisi, seemingly a bit of a holding pattern right now.

Our Matthew Chance is with that convoy. Our Frederik Pleitgen is in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Jill Dougherty, of course, is following developments in Moscow. And now to the White House, Kate Bolduan joins us now.

And, Kate, we understand the president has added an event to his schedule today.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he has. A regularly scheduled gaggle off camera, on the record which would be happening -- it would be starting right about now. That was just abruptly canceled and we find out from the -- White House spokesperson Dana Perino that President Bush will be speaking here at the White House sometime before noon.

We haven't gotten details exactly what's going to be included. But, of course, you can anticipate it will have to do with, as we expect, Georgia and the developing situation there. We did hear this morning on "AMERICAN MORNING" Georgia president, Mikheil Saakashvili, mentioned that he did speak with the president this morning, he says, as well as after that pushing for the U.S. to act, saying that things need to now move from words to deeds.

So we anticipate hearing from the president on what he has heard in his daily intelligence briefings that he gets here at the White House and also in -- and also a little bit more on the White House stance on where things stand between Georgia and Russia.

HARRIS: And what time is that event scheduled for again, Kate?

BOLDUAN: Right now all we're getting is a rough estimate of before noon.

HARRIS: Before noon.

BOLDUAN: We also know that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice will be speaking, as we hear, within the next hour. So we should be hearing from the administration.

HARRIS: All right. Terrific. Kate Bolduan at the White House for us.

Kate, thank you.

Let's call it what it is -- confusing. Russian troops making moves inside Georgia, but why and what about that cease-fire? Live reports straight ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: And welcome back, everyone, to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Tony Harris.

COLLINS: Hi, there, everybody, I'm Heidi Collins.

Russia and Georgia first they traded gunfire, now they are trading accusations. The president of the former Soviet Republic says Russia is ignoring the new cease-fire agreement by moving deeper into his country. He spoke earlier to CNN.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SAAKASHVILI: Well, the implications are that the Russians are encroaching upon the capital. They are making their circle. And they are brushing in because they are -- their plan was always to take over the whole Georgia. Their plan was to establish their own government in Tbilisi. And their plan was to kill our democracy. And they are in the process of cold-blooded murder and the world seems to just be watching on it and not doing anything about it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Russian officials have dismissed those accusations saying troops are not targeting Georgia's government or its capital. And those same officials say it's Georgia that's been violating the cease-fire agreement.

Also want to let you know, President Bush will be making a statement on all of this. There will be an event taking place at the Rose Garden. We don't have a specific time yet but just as soon as we get it we'll let you know.

HARRIS: All right. On the phone with us right now is a representative, a spokesman from the Russian government. His name is Dmitry Peskov.

Mr. Peskov, thank you for your time this morning. Can I start first with a simple question, can you explain for us why Russian troops were on the move this day in Georgia by all accounts heading in the direction of Tbilisi, if not, in fact, ending up in Tbilisi?

VOICE OF DMITRY PESKOV, RUSSIAN GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: Well, sure I can. Russian troops are not heading to Tbilisi. They were not heading to Tbilisi. On this day, in Georgian time, in the outskirts of Gori and military depot full of battle tanks, ready for battle, operational tanks, were traced out. And now necessary actions are being taken to demilitarize the zone, and to get rid of these tanks. So this was the reason that those tanks were shown. But I repeat, these are not Russian tanks, these are Georgian tanks.

And I will strongly disagree with Mr. Saakashvili that someone is killing democracy, someone is killing people. To the contrary, I would just suggest that remember the very beginning of this story when Georgian leadership made an order to stop shelling South Ossetia with heavy weapons killing thousands and thousands of innocent civilians.

HARRIS: Well, Mr. Peskov, I would like to at least at this moment try to stay away from the back and forth right now because I think all of that is a bit confusing for anyone watching the situation. But let me get a bit of clarity here. So you're describing the military operations today as an effort to clean out Georgian military positions? Is that clear?

PESKOV: Yes, exactly. Exactly, because we are speaking an area lying next to South Ossetia.

HARRIS: So are you, in effect, trying to extend a so-called buffer zone outside of South Ossetia?

PESKOV: Well, in the leak -- in the circumstances, when we really did not have any confidence towards Georgian government, although the cease-fire was announced, we have to take measures of precaution and we cannot afford a dozen of bell tanks staying there next to South Ossetia being ready for starting another offensive.

HARRIS: So Mr. Peskov, how long do you anticipate this operation taking and the start of Russian forces moving back to positions held on August the 6th?

PESKOV: Well, as a matter of fact, as it was announced by Russian head of (INAUDIBLE), Mr. Medvedev, operation is over now, and what we see now is measures of precaution to ensure that the peacekeeping environment is there.

HARRIS: How long will it take?

PESKOV: Well, I cannot be precise in that. I cannot be precise in that. Certainly, the Russian militaries are doing their job and they're ensuring peace, actually, it's a peacekeeping operation.

HARRIS: OK. I only press you on this because, as you can imagine the people of Georgia, and particularly around the capital, are pretty anxious about all of this.

PESKOV: Well, people in Georgia, unfortunately, to great extent, are victims to informational war that has been launched by Georgian leadership. And then all this is carried by Russians coming to Tbilisi is nothing else but lies because from the very beginning, on different levels, Russian representatives insisted that they had not the slightest intention to forward in the direction of Tbilisi.

HARRIS: Well, to that point, did you have an understanding with Georgian forces or the Georgian government that this action was going to take place today?

PESKOV: Well, no. Well, certainly some --

HARRIS: Was there -- let me ask the question a little more clearly.

PESKOV: Yes.

HARRIS: Was there communication between Russia and Georgia indicating that this action, the action that you've described to us so far in this conversation, was actually going to take place today?

PESKOV: Well, certainly our diplomats are doing their job, so they are involved in different diplomatic activities and all possible directions including Georgian direction. But I mean, you have to understand, when you find a dozen of tanks next to a troubled region, it's a great danger. It's a great danger for population of that region.

HARRIS: OK, let's leave it there. Dmitry Peskov is a spokesman for the Russian government. Sir, thank you for your time.

COLLINS: So, meanwhile, Georgia's president says more than 100,000 civilians are left homeless by the fighting. And tomorrow, the first humanitarian aide is due to arrive. Let's get the very latest now on those efforts. CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr has the very latest.

Barbara, we also know that the president is going to be speaking from the Rose Garden at some point this morning. We've just heard from this representative from the Russian government who says, you know, these aren't our tanks, they're Georgia's tanks. I mean, boy, it seems like there's an awful lot to talk about here.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Heidi.

Very fast-moving events here in Washington this morning. Everyone waiting to see what President Bush has to say. At this hour, the U.S. intelligence community, the United States military, all scrambling to try and get the latest assessment about what is going on in Georgia. We've talked to a number of officials and they're trying to gather as much information as they can, as much intelligence as they can, and try and determine exactly what is going on.

When the president comes out later this morning, all eyes and ears will be on him to see what message he may be sending to the Russians and what information he may be willing to divulge. Because you will remember, it was the other day when the president came out at the White House, he was very specific in saying that the U.S. had information, had some intelligence that the Russians might be making a move towards the capital, towards bombing the airport, towards trying to basically over-throw the government of Georgia.

The president's statements on that day were widely read as a very direct message to the Russian government that the U.S. knew what they were up to and that they should not move forward with those plans. Whether the president is that adamant when he comes out later this morning remains to be seen.

Wrapping up, as you say, the plan now at this hour is for the first U.S. Air Force C-17 carrying humanitarian relief supplies to land in Tbilisi later today in the face of this latest round of violence. We will see if that actually happens -- Heidi.

COLLINS: Yes. We will be watching really closely. And let us know if you happen to see that, of course.

CNN's correspondent from the Pentagon today, Barbara Starr.

Barbara, thank you.

STARR: Sure.

HARRIS: You've seen and heard CNN's correspondents explaining today's new moves in the Republic of Georgia. Now, let's hear from some of the people whose lives have been turned upside-down by all of this. Josh Levs.

Josh, again, what are you hearing? What are folks saying on the blogs?

LEVS: Yes. I mean, that's the -- you know, the human side to all of this. We have to cover all the military side and what the leaders are saying. But at the heart of it you have this individual people inside this country who are in very difficult circumstances. Some experiencing a lot of loss.

We have a lot of photos you can see at CNN.com. But as you were just saying, Tony, I went looking for blogs. And there's a great resource we have found. I'm going to go over here. Globalvoicesonline.org. What they are doing is translating blog postings from languages such as Georgian and Russian.

I'm going to start off with some translations from this. This is Samira Kuznetsova (ph). She blogged to us from Poti. And I was going through some of the quotes that she had. Let's put some up right here. You can take a look at them. Moving descriptions of what she's been through.

She said "Around midnight, I heard some roaring, ran up to the window and saw shaft of fire, explosions at the port and heard a deafening noise. I grabbed the phone, Vika answered, screaming -- Samira, the port is being bombed. There were people in the street, they were crying and everyone looked terribly alarmed. One could see the light of either missiles or I don't know what. We took shelter. There were screams all around. Women and children were crying."

Now a blogger Merienn in Tbilisi. She says "Just a week ago we were chatting about some sweet trifles -- where they do French manicure better, and where I put that swimming suit, now we are breaking our heads trying to figure out how to get to Batumi with kids and avoid being shot at, where a safer place to take shelter is. Who said what at the U.N. Security Council?"

And she ends with this, "There was shock on the first day, and then it started feeling as if we had been living like this for 100 years."

Now, sometimes a picture does say more than 1,000 words. I'm going to end with one more photo to show you right over here, and then, I'll bring it back to you.

Tony, let's just take a look at this. We have up at CNN.com right now. And the caption there says a displaced Georgia woman cries as she leaves Gori to walk the road to Tbilisi. We're going to keep following these human stories from the scene and bring you everything we got throughout the day.

HARRIS: You know, the back and forth between the politicians and the government is just a little maddening right now.

LEVS: Right.

HARRIS: But those pictures and the stories of people living through this, it really brings it home.

(CROSSTALK)

HARRIS: All right, Josh. Thanks, man.

LEVS: Thanks.

COLLINS: Back here in the United States. A 24-hour curfew. Anybody on the street stopped and questioned. What about the Constitution? One town's crime crack down raises questions.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: Quickly, of course, we are staying on top of the situation between Russia and Georgia. Boy, there's an awful lot going on. One side says one thing, another says another. We are, of course, trying to sift through all of that information. We have correspondents in the area.

We also want to let you know that President Bush will be making some type of statement regarding the situation as well. He will be coming to the Rose Garden and make that statement. Don't have an exact time yet. But we are watching it. And we, of course, will bring it to you live just as soon as it happens. Back to the United States now. Police in Arkansas City get the green light to expand 24-hour curfew patrols in an on going anti-crime sweep. But the ACLU says some of the police action is unconstitutional. The City Council of Helena-West Helena is allowing police to take curfew patrol citywide, instead of the ten blocked depress area they initially targeted. As part of their patrol, officers stopped and questioned anyone who passes by. A lawyer for the ACLU says stops like this could violate resident's rights.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLLY DICKSON, ACLU-ARKANSAS: They feel they have a right and they do intend to continue to saturate and question everyone who happens to be in an area. But that is the unconstitutional nature of it.

MAYOR JAMES VALLEY, HELENA-WEST HELENA, ARKANSAS: With that, we are not particularly concerned about the ACLU's approach because we're trying to do a lawful job of making people safe. And it's a difficult job to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Police say the patrols have led to 32 arrests but note that no one has been taken in simply for breaking the curfew.

HARRIS: Let's get out first check of weather. Rob Marciano in the severe weather center watching the tropics and heavy rain, Rob, in the Carolinas.

(WEATHER REPORT)

COLLINS: OK, Rob. Very good. Thank you.

ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, all right. See you.

COLLINS: Former Virginia governor and Senate candidate gets a plumb position at the Democratic National Convention. Mark Warner will deliver the keynote address on Tuesday night. It's a role that often leads to national prominence. Senator Hillary Clinton is also scheduled to speak that same night. The theme will be renewing America's promise. The Obama campaign says Warner has used his business expertise to help deliver jobs and hope to the people of Virginia.

HARRIS: And on the trail today, Republican John McCain campaigns in the battleground State of Michigan. McCain holds a new fund-raiser and then tours an aerospace and the feds company. He has two more fund-raisers this evening.

Democrat Barack Obama manages to squeeze in a fund-raiser during his Hawaii vacation. According to the "Associated Press," Obama took in $1.3 million at a sold out event.

COLLINS: On the road to the Democratic convention, we'll check in with Tom Foreman aboard the CNN Election Express a little bit later on this morning. He's somewhere in Indiana right now. The Election Express left Washington on Monday. You see there. Isn't that a cute graphic? Headed for the convention that begins August 25th. We will be sharing reports from the road as it stops along the way to Denver.

HARRIS: What's the fuel budget on that trip?

COLLINS: I'm not talking about that.

HARRIS: Yes.

He warned his dad about bears before the camping trip. Then his prediction came true.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to get hurt by a bear. And they just -- he was laughing about it and just said, we're not going to get hurt by it. And what happened?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You were right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARRIS: Wow. Boy versus bear, I guess you know who won.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COLLINS: As we continue to follow the breaking news this morning regarding the situation of Russia and Georgia, I want to bring on the line with us now the President on Council of Foreign Relations Richard Haass to sort of discuss a little bit more about what's happening here.

Richard, if you can hear me, we are hearing so much back and forth from both sides. Any way to really sift through all of this and figure out exactly what's going on?

RICHARD HAASS, PRESIDENT, COUNCIL OF FOREIGN RELATIONS: The short answer is no. (INAUDIBLE), the famous Russian general and military historian coined the phrase the fog of war.

COLLINS: Sure.

HAASS: What you have here is the fog of war and fog of cease- fire. And history as a guide would suggest that even after the formal cease-fires are agreed to on paper, there's always the sorting out on the ground. There's questions of who actually has the word. You still have troops moving.

In this case also, the Russians may want to strengthen their hand, vis-a-vis, the implementation of the cease-fire. They may have goals beyond the cease-fire. So, this is all along (INAUDIBLE) way of saying it's awfully hard to sort out exactly what's going on.

COLLINS: Well, there are a lot of people who are looking at this, obviously, from the outside. And some are saying, you know, this really has great parallels to the old Soviet Union, and issues of control. Your thoughts on that.

HAASS: That seems to me to be something of an exaggeration. I do not see a massive Russian threat to the entirety of Europe, which is what you had under the Soviet Union and with the Warsaw pact.

What we have here is obviously a Russian desire to break away these two districts or provinces of Georgia to weaken the Georgian government and in particular its president, probably...

COLLINS: Why? Why do they want to do that, then?

HAASS: Well, they are, in particular, uncomfortable with the growing proximity between Georgia and the West, talk about going into NATO. This is coming out now. We'll bringing NATO, yet again, up against Russia's borders. And meant much of this may also be aimed at Ukraine, which is a much bigger prize in Europe than Georgia. To send signals to Ukraine that they ought to think twice before they get too intimate in their relations between United States.

COLLINS: Well, you bring up a good point. What should other neighboring countries be thinking about this? It sounds like issues of control to me.

HAASS: Control seems to be a bit strong, but the Russians want to and did will exert influence in Europe. It's a function of their comparative strength. That's a function of geography. You can't change the map and you can't change the basic power equation.

The Russians are feeling considerable power, given what's happened with energy prices and energy resources. And obviously, they feel considerable resentment over the course of history over the last three decades where quite honestly they've been asked to eat an awful lot of crow. So what you're seeing is a bit of payback.

You may also be seeing Mr. Putin strengthening his hand domestically. It's obviously a bit of a power demonstration by him showing that even though he's vacated one office, he's still is the effective center of power in Russia.

COLLINS: All right. Well, we obviously are watching this situation very closely. Sure do appreciate your insights. Richard Haass, the president, the Council on Foreign Relations.

Thank you, Richard.

HARRIS: Michael Phelps wins another gold, and then there was the women's gymnastics final. We will take you live to Beijing

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HARRIS: Pro-Tibet protesters arrested in Beijing this morning, most of them Americans. Nine people were taken into custody, but only eight of them were actually protesters. One was a British journalist filming the protests. Police say they mistook him for an activist.

Also, an American tourist stabbed on the Games' first day is speaking. That was her in the red there. Barbara Bachman is in stable condition now. And for the first time since Saturday's attack, she is able to speak with relatives. Her husband, Todd, was killed in that attack. The Chinese attacker then committed suicide after the stabbing. The Bachmans are the in-laws of the U.S. men's indoor volleyball coach.

COLLINS: Good morning, everybody. I'm Heidi Collins.

HARRIS: And I'm Tony Harris. Stay informed all day in the CNN NEWSROOM. Here's what's on the run down.

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