Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Accused of Spying for Cuba; President Obama's Vow at Holocaust Concentration Camp; Tone Shift on Mideast Peace
Aired June 5, 2009 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, President Obama confronts the horror of the Holocaust and the long and bloody struggle between Israel and the Palestinians.
This hour, new urgency in his push for Middle East peace and his emotional visit to a Nazi concentration camp.
Plus, why a doomed Air France jet may have been speeding toward destruction. New information from the airplane's maker about a crucial device that could have gone haywire.
And a soldier's surprise reunion with his daughter. The tearjerker moment he didn't want to miss. And you won't want to miss it either.
I'm Wolf Blitzer in CNN's command center for breaking news, politics and extraordinary reports from around the world.
You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: But let's begin with breaking news right now, a dramatic story that is unfolding in Washington right now. A former State Department official and his wife under arrest, accused of spying for the Cuban government for almost 30 years.
Let's go straight to our Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty. She's looking at the indictment, what we're seeing on paper right now, and it's very dramatic, including a secret meeting these two may have had with Fidel Castro.
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. It sounds almost like a movie when you go through this, but essentially, they were working for -- the husband was working for the State Department, and back 30 years ago, going back to 1978, he was recruited, and he actually had top-secret security clearance.
They communicated, he and his wife. And his name is Walter Kendall Myers, 72 years old, called Agent 202. They communicated with their handlers in Cuba in amazing ways.
They were using short wave radio, they were also, as its described in this press release from the FBI, the Justice Department, they were using shopping carts, changing shopping carts to give information. And then also in this indictment, they say they spent an evening with Fidel Castro. It must have been secret, because obviously a State Department official couldn't go down to Cuba and just meet with the president back in 1995.
So it's a very serious indictment. In fact, they are saying the assistant attorney general is saying it's incredibly serious.
BLITZER: And you know, Jill, as we take a look at some of the allegations contained in this indictment -- and these are allegations -- supposedly the indictment says that in the last year of his employment as a senior State Department official, Kendall Myers viewed more than 200 intelligence reports related to Cuba, and the implication being that he shared that stuff with the Cuban government.
DOUGHERTY: Right, precisely, Wolf. And you know, all of this unraveled very recently. According to this, only in April of this year, there was a counterintelligence operation by the FBI in which they led him to believe, Kendall to believe, that FBI agents were actually Cuban intelligence agents and that they actually enticed him and his wife to spill the beans about everything that they had been doing.
BLITZER: All right. We're going to stay on top of this story, a dramatic story, indeed.
Two U.S. officials, former officials, retired officials in their early 70s, accused of spying for Cuba. A dramatic development indeed.
Moving on to another important story we're following right now. And it's one thing, of course, to see the pictures, it's certainly another to stand on the same ground where innocent people were slaughtered.
Today President Obama walked in the footsteps of some of the six million Jews exterminated during the Nazi Holocaust. Visiting one of the first and largest of the concentration camps in Germany, he promised to stay vigilant against evil still spreading today.
Our White House Correspondent Dan Lothian is traveling with the president -- Dan.
DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At the Buchenwald concentration camp, President Obama places a white rose on a memorial to all the victims, pauses, then walks through a painful moment in history.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These sites have not lost their horror with the passage of time. We saw the ovens of the crematorium, the guard towers, the barbed-wire fences.
LOTHIAN: More than 50,000 died at Buchenwald during World War II. Each step on this somber tour is guided by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Holocaust survivors, including Mr. Obama's friend and author, Elie Wiesel. This is where he was held as a boy and where his father died. ELIE WIESEL, HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR: The day he died was one of the darkest in my life. I was there when he suffered. I was there when he asked for help, for water. I was there to receive his last words.
LOTHIAN: Mr. Obama is also linked to this labor camp by his family tree. Eighty-four-year-old great uncle Charles Payne helped to liberate one of Buchenwald's satellite camps while serving with the 89th Infantry.
OBAMA: The shock for this very young man -- he couldn't have been more than 19 or 20, 21 at the time -- was such that he ended up when he returned having a very difficult time readjusting to civilian life.
LOTHIAN: That gripping account has been part of the president's political narrative as a candidate, at a recent Holocaust remembrance ceremony, and now here in Germany.
OBAMA: It's understandable that someone who witnessed what had taken place here would be in a state of shock.
LOTHIAN: Chancellor Merkel apologized for her country's past and vowed to fight against intolerance, extremism and hatred.
ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translator): It is therefore incumbent upon us Germans to show an unshakable resolve to do everything we can so that something like this never happens again.
LOTHIAN: The president said this camp is a powerful reminder that the world should never turn its back.
OBAMA: And this place teaches us that we must be ever-vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time.
LOTHIAN: While the president's great uncle was not able to join him at Buchenwald, he will be at the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landing at Normandy, where the liberation of Europe began -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Dan Lothian reporting for us.
And later here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we're going to hear at length, in their own words, from both the president and Elie Wiesel on what happened today at Buchenwald. That's coming up.
President Obama is also sending a special envoy for the Middle East peace talks to the region next week, and he appears to be somewhat changing his tone on some of the critical points of contention between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
BLITZER: And joining us now, our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger, and our chief national correspondent, John King, the host of CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," which airs Sunday mornings. There seemed to be a little bit of a tone change, shall we say, on the part of the president of the United States on some sensitive issues. Yesterday, he was saying that these settlements, the legitimacy of these settlements, was an issue.
Today we heard this...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Keep in mind that all I have done there is reaffirm commitments that the Israelis themselves had already made in the roadmap.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Are we reading too much into that sort of change in tone?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: No. I think that the president is clearly under some pressure from the Jewish community in this country, also from BB Netanyahu in Israel. And I think he also went out of his way today, Wolf, in that same press conference to say that we have not seen a firm commitment yet from the Palestinian Authority on some of those border areas and things that they need to do. So, it's very clear that, while he wasn't backing off, he was just changing his tone a little bit to make sure that he criticizes both sides.
BLITZER: How did you see it, John?
JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He promised a different foreign policy, Wolf, and he has been different to the dismay of the Israelis and to the dismay, to a degree, of the American Jewish community. Now, many American Jews, his supporters, want him to pressure Israel to make peace, but what they don't like is first sitting next to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, in the Oval Office. Then in the speech in Cairo, in the major Arab capital, twice criticizing Israel in a way that has been played over and over and over again in the Arab and Muslim press, both on TV and newspapers, creating the impression and the conversation in the Arab and the Muslim world that this is a president of the United States who will at least be even between the Palestinians and the Israelis, after eight years where they thought George W. Bush -- in Jerusalem, the Israelis thought for eight years George W. Bush was with them without a doubt.
BLITZER: And he was also criticized for supposedly having this moral equivalency between the Holocaust, on the one hand. And on the other hand, as he said, the suffering of the Palestinians. And today, in this interview with Tom Brokaw on "The Today Show," he clearly wanted to walk away from that.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Well, look, there's no equivalency here, but I do think that given the extraordinary moral traditions of Judaism, the potential power of empathy that arises out of having gone through such historic hardships, that that will ultimately give the people of Israel the strength and purpose to seek a justice and lasting peace. And that, I believe, will involve creating two states side by side with peace and security.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: What do you think? Did you see a tone change there?
BORGER: I did see a little bit of a tone change. I do not believe that there was a moral equivalency in his speech, but he did receive a lot of criticism for that.
He spoke today definitively about the so-called moral traditions of Israel. And what you see here is the pragmatic Barack Obama.
The idealist has said I'm going to solve this. I jumped into this after five months. The last administration took a couple years. But now the pragmatism has to come into play because he has to bring both sides to the table.
KING: Wolf, you've covered this for decades. You understand the sensitivity when you say anything that can be stretched one way, misinterpreted another way, how sensitive each of the communities gets. And again, the Israelis were, wait a minute, the Holocaust and any suffering by the Palestinians, while it may be legitimate questions, are not anywhere near on the same page.
And you heard complaints, and you heard again -- and I know this word was related to the White House and to friends of the White House -- wait a minute. You can yell at the Israelis if you want about border crossings, about hassling the Palestinians from time to time, but what about all the corruption in the Palestinian Authority? Where has all that American aid gone over in the years? That's not our fault -- that's not Israel's fault.
So, again, there was a complaint. Did the president mean an equivalency? The White House says no. Was it interpreted that he meant an equivalency or near equality in those two situations? That was the complaint from friends of this White House.
BORGER: And today the president specifically also talked about the corruption within the Palestinian Authority. That was another point he made.
BLITZER: And we're going to talk about this later. He also used the word "terror" and "terrorists" today, as opposed to just extremists. But we're going to have a lot more on that part of the story coming up later.
Guys, thanks very much. See you Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION."
KING: We have David Axelrod right at the end of the trip. We'll talk to David Axelrod. And we're also going to bring the debate back home about the economy and go out to three mayors in cities that lost a GM plant this week.
BLITZER: "STATE OF THE UNION," 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning Eastern Time.
Guys, thanks very much.
KING: Thank you.
BLITZER: And we're going to have more on this story coming up.
We have just learned that we're about to get the first official reaction from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to President Obama's speech. The deputy foreign minister is here in Washington. We're going to be speaking with him live.
That's coming up a little bit later, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll get the Israeli reaction to some of these controversial comments.
Meanwhile, there's a new focus on the air speed of a doomed Air France jet. A new revelation from the plane's maker about a system that may have failed disastrously.
And in the race to recover debris from that plane crash, there's a connection to the Titanic.
Also, new insight into the man accused of killing an abortion provider. He's said to have been obsessed with the slain doctor. We have an exclusive interview with the suspect's former roommate.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: It's the nerve center for every single plane, the cockpit. And right now fears over some systems in one type of plane are causing a disturbing warning. It involves the same type of plane involved in that tragic crash of the Air France flight into the Atlantic.
Let's bring in Brian Todd. He's been investigating what's been going on -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, new questions about the air speed of Flight 447. And what the pilots knew about it as they flew into that storm have prompted Airbus to take some very important action.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): An extraordinary directive from the manufacturer of the downed plane to the pilots who fly that model. Airbus tells CNN it sent a Telex to pilots of the A-330 reminding them what to do when air speed indicators give conflicting readouts. Airbus sent the message after the crash and on the recommendation of French investigators.
The manufacturer says in its final moments, Air France Flight 447 sent signals showing "... inconsistency in measured air speeds." Experts tell us that could mean the pilot's and co-pilot's sensors were showing different speeds. They say that's likely a symptom, not a cause of this crash.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If they're malfunctioning, it can give a false read into the cockpit that can be misinterpreted and a disaster can follow.
TODD: Meaning the plane's computer systems could make a sudden adjustment to a false air speed, triggering a nosedive or some other drastic maneuver. The plane flew into a storm before it went down, and French investigators say it may have been flying at the wrong speed for those weather conditions.
Recovering any data that will giver better clues is becoming more difficult. Recovery officials now say much of the debris in the water they thought was from Flight 447 was not.
VICE ADMIRAL EDSON LAWRENCE, BRAZILIAN NAVY (through translator): There's a lot of trash in the ocean. Sometimes trash that is spotted can be confused for something else, but in reality, it is only trash.
TODD: Recovery officials do say a seat and some wiring seen in the water could be from the plane, but the voice and data recorders are still missing and one veteran investigator says the clock is ticking.
TODD: That's a reminder that the batteries on those locator devices attached to those recorders last just 30 days. And each day that goes by, ocean currents are taking debris further away from the crash site.
Wolf, they are up against it on time here.
BLITZER: Given the nature of this mystery, there's a lot of other rumors that are circulating out there right now, including a lot of stuff that we're being cautioned to be very, very careful reporting.
TODD: That's right. It's hard information, but you're being cautioned because they know so little at this point, be careful what you make of it. A Spanish carrier, for instance, reported seeing a flash of light in the area where the plane went down at about the same time. Now, Peter Goelz, the former NTSB investigator who you've had on several times on this show, says he traditionally has had bad luck with the eyewitness accounts. He says, look, that Spanish plane might have been flying in a storm similar to this one, or maybe the same one. He could have seen a flash of lightning, it could have been something else.
So just be a little very careful with that information.
BLITZER: Good advice, indeed.
All right. Thanks very much, Brian.
Let's bring in Richard Quest. He's joining us from London. He covers aviation issues for CNN International.
Richard, how extraordinary -- or maybe it isn't extraordinary -- is it for a manufacturer, a plane manufacturer, to issue this advisory within only a few days after this mysterious disappearance of this plane?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that is exactly the extraordinary nature. In the fullness of time in any accident investigation, recommendations, airworthiness directives are always brought out. But it normally is many weeks if not months before that happens.
In this case, we have this instruction from Airbus, or recommendation from Airbus to operators, and what that tells me is that the information coming via that automatic data link is, by and large, accepted as being accurate. The French investigators, Airbus, they know this thing was going wrong, they know the plane had a discrepancy in its monitoring systems, and that's why they're able to do it so early. But there's no doubt to how this sort of information, so soon, within a week, is very unusual.
BLITZER: What exactly can they get from that kind of data that's come in? I know we can get a wealth of information from the so-called black boxes, the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder. But in layman's terms, what are they getting so far?
QUEST: What this is going to give them is -- what this information from the automatic data, it's as if they have a snapshot of all the things that were going wrong. The lights that were flashing red, they know which computers were failing. They don't know why, but they know, and all the codes are on that data.
The codes are there. The flags that were going up on the pilot's displays are being recounted. They know which parts of the aircraft were failing, or at least a lot of that data. But as Brian keeps telling us -- and he's right to keep reminding us -- we don't know why.
If you like, this was the accident, Wolf. This is -- but we know what happened afterwards. What we're desperate to know and what they continually need to know is what happened up to that point. So far, it's by no means clear that we have got that information.
I can tell you and I can tell your viewers that tomorrow morning, European time, 10:00 a.m. in Paris, there's to be a two-hour briefing. A two-hour briefing by the French investigation authorities. We'll obviously have coverage of that.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Richard, for that.
It's certainly a race against time to find those so-called black boxes of Flight 447. In hopes of finding a sign of the plane, the French are deploying a mini-submarine to the search area.
Let's bring in Abbi Tatton. She's taking a closer look at this.
What does it look like?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, this is one thing the rescue teams are now pinning their hopes on.
This is a 26-foot mini-submarine. It's called the Norteel (ph). It's probably best known for the dives it made in the '90s to the wreck of the Titanic, where it uncovered hundreds of artifacts. And now this, along with a French rescue ship, is on its way to the area of interest in the hopes that microphones are going to pick up signals from these black boxes.
BLITZER: What exactly can this little sub do?
TATTON: Well, this area that we're talking about, the depths are quite incredible, 10,000 to 12,000 feet, at a minimum. And this submarine can go a lot deeper than that, up to about 19,000, 20,000 feet. And it's also manned.
It's got a three-man crew on board, really squeezed into a tiny little capsule. They're looking out of portholes to try and see anything they can, debris, or the black boxes out there. And it's also got this remote-controlled robot that they can deploy with cameras, mechanical arms, to try and pick anything up. But all of that, of course, subject to the rescue teams first establishing where it is they have to search.
BLITZER: Abbi, thanks very much. What a chore. What a challenge under way right now.
Scandal, embarrassment and financial crisis. Could all of that drive Britain's prime minister out of office? Gordon Brown reveals his plans.
And a notorious dictator like you have never seen him. We have some chilling new pictures of Adolf Hitler.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, a famous Holocaust survivor recounts for President Obama and the world his and his father's horrific experience at a Nazi concentration camp. Elie Wiesel in his own words.
A soldier serving in Iraq surprises his young daughter. An in- person appearance before her last day of school. We're going to show you the touching reunion.
Plus, the mystery surrounding actor David Carradine's death. Investigators trying to piece together what really happened.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
President Obama landed in France just a short while ago. He's there to mark the 65th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of World War II. In Germany earlier today, Mr. Obama spoke about the long-running conflict in the Middle East and about his address to the Muslim world the day before.
Let's listen to the president, in his own words.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: Yesterday was just one speech and it doesn't replace all the hard work that's going to have to be done -- that was done before the speech and is going to have to be done in the years to come in order to solve what has been a 60-year problem. And I'm under no illusions that whatever statements I have put forward somehow are going to supplant the need to do that work.
I think that what is different now is, number one, you're seeing a U.S. administration and American President engage this issue almost on the day that I took office. We've only been in office five months, and yet we've seen extraordinary activity already on this issue. And that's sent a signal to all the parties in the Middle East that we are serious.
I have assigned George Mitchell, my special envoy, who has met repeatedly with all the players in the region and who is going to be going back next week in the wake of my appearance in Cairo to follow up with each of the individual parties on a whole host of negotiation points and potential confidence-building measures that can be taken.
And I have already met with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Our governments are in close contact and communication about how we can move forward on some of the items that might be inhibiting restarting talks. I have had Abbas in the White House to do the same.
And so you've probably seen more sustained activity on this issue in the first five months than you would have seen in most previous administrations. The reason we are doing that is because not only had talks ground to a halt, but there was a sense that all sides were getting so dug in and so cynical that you might reach a point where you could never get the parties back at the table. And I think given what we've done so far, we've at least created the space, the atmosphere, in which talks can restart.
Now, I just have to say one more time, the United States can't solve this problem. The United States can be a partner in solving the problem, but ultimately the parties involved are going to have to make a decision that the prosperity and security of their people is best served by negotiations and compromise, and we can't force them to make those difficult decisions. What we can do is to provide them a framework and a forum and the support for such an outcome to be achieved.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Want to go right to Fredricka Whitfield. There's a story developing out in San Francisco with some implications.
What are we seeing and what are we hearing?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's -- that's right, Wolf.
Take a look at the images we're seeing. There was an underground explosion. We're getting these images and information from our affiliate KGO. You're seeing manholes there that have simply been blown off the pavement there. There are cones also in the near distance there that have actually melted as a result of these flames.
This explosion, we understand, is linked to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company. Don't know if there was some work that was taking place there or if this is some sort of spontaneous explosion that's taken place there in the O'Farrell and Polk region of San Francisco.
This very heavy smoke and this fire has now resulted in power being out to about 4,000 customers. That's the easy part, but the consequence of that is now, we understand, a number of people are actually trapped in elevators because the power is out.
No pedestrian or vehicular traffic obviously allowed in certain areas here as a result of these dark plumes of smoke you're seeing and the flames, an underground explosion taking place there in the San Francisco area. When we get more information, we will be able to bring that to you, Wolf.
But this is, I guess, the immediate concern of emergency response teams there. A number of people are being kept from these areas, but it also means a huge inconvenience for a number of people who are trapped in some of those elevators -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, thanks very much, Fred. We will stay on top of this story for our viewers.
President Obama delivering another message today to Iran, but is he sending any mixed signals?
And the Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, answers to the Senate. We have uncovered some new information about her controversial "wise Latina" quote.
And photos of Adolf Hitler never published before, why they're so chilling and why we're seeing them now.
BLITZER: It's a new and very lengthy edition of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's paper trail, the Supreme Court nominee's answers to a Senate questionnaire packed with information.
Let's bring in our senior congressional correspondent, Dana Bash. She and her team have been digging through it.
A lot of material there, Dana. What are you seeing?
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of material, boxes and boxes of material.
But one thing that we thought was most interesting is how many times this -- a version of the so-called "wise Latina" comment has come up in many of her speeches throughout the years. We pulled several of them.
Just to give you an example, 1999, a speech to -- or on women in the judiciary, "I would" -- Can we go to that? "I would hope that a wise woman" -- there you go -- "hope that a wise woman, with the richness of her experience, would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion.
Does that sound familiar? There you go, 2002, to the Princeton Club: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion" -- 2004, to Seton Hall Law School: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would, more often than not, reach a better conclusion."
So, you get the point there, Wolf. She said this over and over in many of her speeches.
The White House, they say, well, this is just proof that this is part of her stump speech and something that she has said for years, something that Republicans, the last time she went through the Senate Judiciary Committee, didn't raise objections to at all.
But Republicans are saying, wait a minute. This whole idea that she's saying it over and over again contradicts the concept that she used a poor turn of phrase.
And, in fact, the Senate Republican leader today, Mitch McConnell, he said that he believes that it wasn't just a bad choice of words; it was a bad choice of words she used repeatedly. Therefore, he thinks it was a core belief.
BLITZER: So, she really did spend a lot of time talking about her Latina heritage...
BLITZER: ... and her experience as a woman?
BASH: Yes, a lot of time.
It is actually stunning, when you read how many speeches she has given talking about what she calls her Latina soul, her rich heritage, talking about how much that has dominated, you know, where she comes from and who she is, but also how much -- how important having women on the bench is and how important having Latinas on the bench is.
And -- and, you know, one of the interesting quotes that, also, we found was talking about her experience before the Judiciary Committee when she was approved for the circuit court. And she actually talks about why she thought Senate Republicans delayed her then.
Look at this quote in 1998. She was addressing minority lawyers. She said: "I was dealt with -- dealt with on the basis of stereotypes. And it was painful. It was not based on my -- based on my record." She said: "I got a label because I was a Hispanic and a woman. Therefore, I had to be a liberal."
So, you could take from that maybe she was trying to say, "I'm not a liberal." You know, it's unclear what she was trying to say. But, you know, again, looking through her speeches, she really did, statistically, push the idea that there are not enough women, not enough Latina, not -- not enough people of color on the bench, and that it's important for her to have more.
BLITZER: She's going to have plenty of time to go through all this when the hearings start later in the summer.
BASH: Yes, she will.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
BASH: Thank you.
BLITZER: Pennsylvania's John Murtha, a congressional powerhouse whose tremendous influence is now coming under some hot spotlights -- a company with close ties to the veteran Democrat is investigated for fraud.
Let's go back to CNN's Brian Todd. He has been looking at this story, as well.
What are you seeing, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this company is one that John Murtha has helped steer a lot of money to in recent years, this firm's affairs part of a growing number of questions surrounding this very influential congressman and the industry that he brought to his district.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): In a town where steel mills are shuttered relics, another industry is now on display, tanks and armored ambulances, rocket launchers and robots, a trade show that's a war fighter's marketplace.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And the configuration it's going into now is for an overhead bin.
TODD: This event is a testimonial to the power of major defense contractors who have gathered in the southwestern corner of Pennsylvania and to the power of the man who brought them here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would not have been here if it were not for Congressman Murtha.
TODD: John Murtha, the 76-year-old Democrat who helped revive this region when the steel industry went bust by getting major defense firms to set up shop.
ROBERT LAYO, PRESIDENT, GREATER JOHNSTOWN/CAMBRIA COUNTY CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: We were down pretty low, leading the country in unemployment. And this has brought us -- brought us back and diversified us.
TODD: As chairman of the House panel that oversees Defense appreciations, Murtha's influence over where the Pentagon's billions get channeled is enormous.
The budget watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense says he steered nearly $130 million to his district last year alone. But clouds are gathering.
(on camera): This is the booth for Kuchera Industries, a company here from Johnstown with longstanding ties to Congressman John Murtha, a company that had its offices raided by the FBI in January, a company that has just been suspended from doing business with the U.S. Navy.
(voice-over): A Navy spokesman tells us, Kuchera is being suspended for alleged fraud, including what he called defective pricing.
A top company official wouldn't speak with us at the trade show. Kuchera's attorney issued a statement, saying it's appealing the suspension. The man who helped get more than $9 million in earmarks to Kuchera last year and who's received more than $89,000 in campaign contributions from its employees said this.
REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: What -- what do you think? I'm supposed to oversee these companies? That's the Defense Department's job. That's not my job.
MURTHA: You guys write these stories. You don't have a clue what this is all about. TODD: Murtha is not accused of criminal wrongdoing. And an aide says his office has been told by federal agents that he's got nothing to do with the investigation into Kuchera.
But a defunct lobbying group, PMA, whose clients and executives are major contributors to Murtha, is also under federal investigation for its role in the awards of defense contracts. Taxpayers for Common Sense says there are growing ethical questions for John Murtha.
RYAN ALEXANDER, PRESIDENT, TAXPAYERS FOR COMMON SENSE: He gets contracts to his district. He expects people who want to do business in his district to give him campaign contributions. If you look at what's swirling around him, he's got a lot of reason to be concerned.
TODD: We asked a Murtha aide to respond to that. He said -- quote -- "The so-called watchdog groups are quick with quotes, but have never provided any facts to back up" what he calls their baseless accusations. The aide stresses, the congressman has done nothing wrong and is not connected with those investigations into the Kuchera or that lobbying firm -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, is there any movement in Congress involving Murtha?
TODD: Well, one colleague of his on that Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, Democrat Pete Visclosky, has been subpoenaed for documents by the feds in relation to the investigation of that lobbying firm. Now, Visclosky denies any wrongdoing in the case.
Also, Congress has voted to force the House Ethics Committee to reveal whether it's doing any investigating of its own into that lobbying firm's activities.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us, thank you.
It's an exclusive interview -- a friend of the suspect in the killing of an abortion doctor talking to CNN. He says Scott Roeder was obsessed with George Tiller.
And how did a once-famous actor die? Police describe unusual circumstances in David Carradine's death.
BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our senior political correspondent, Candy Crowley -- Crowley -- and the former Bush speechwriter David Frum.
David, you were here yesterday. And you thought that the speech that the president gave in Cairo was worse than your worst fears could have imagined. How did he do today?
DAVID FRUM, FORMER SPEECHWRITER FOR FORMER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, look, the background of Buchenwald calls for everything that is most successful in Barack Obama, his ability to connect with people, his deep moral feeling, his emotional connection. So, he did a very impressive job, of course.
But we're still grappling with the problem of he is -- he's on a bad policy track, and not just bad from a conservative point of view, bad from his own point of view. He is committed to delivering things now that he cannot deliver. And I...
BLITZER: Like what?
FRUM: Well, right -- he has, for example, legitimated the idea in his speech in Cairo that test of America's feeling toward the Islamic world is whether or not the United States can deliver a Palestinian state.
Now, today, he is backpedaling and saying, well, we can't actually deliver it.
But, if it was so -- it is so central, that's how he's going to be judged. And he is now in kind of a bind of his own making, as he on these issues of is he going to relax terrorist financing regulations, and what is going to happen with -- Iran.
He has put him -- he has put himself in a position where he is overcommitted.
BLITZER: On the issue of Iran, I'm going to play a little clip of what he said today, because he is reaching out to Iran. He's trying to establish a dialogue.
Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OBAMA: I have said publicly that I'm committed to engaging in serious dialogue and negotiations with Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And -- and, yesterday, he those negotiations are without preconditions.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.
And he said this -- let's face it -- during the election, but they have sort of: Well, maybe we could have smaller talk. I mean, it began to change over time.
Nonetheless, we -- I think we have to remember there's an Iranian election coming up. Ahmadinejad...
BLITZER: Next week. CROWLEY: Next -- is it next week?
CROWLEY: And I -- you know, it looks as though Ahmadinejad is in a little bit of trouble. David and I were talking, you know, it depends on whether the elections are honest enough.
But, in general, this, I think, is the president's effort to speak to the people of Iran, and say, listen, maybe...
CROWLEY: ... it's time to get a guy we can -- I can deal with. I think that's what this is aimed at.
BLITZER: Because his opponent, Ahmadinejad's, in that debate -- and we reported on it yesterday extensively -- in that debate, he -- he blasted Ahmadinejad for speaking so stupidly of the Holocaust, making Iranians look ridiculous in the eyes of the world, and having this policy which -- which is alienating so many people.
FRUM: But this is very important politically for the president.
People should take a look at the speech the president gave exactly a year ago, June 4 of 2008, his speech to the American Israel Public Affairs conference, where he put down a couple of markers. And one of them was, he pledged not to eliminate an Iranian nuclear weapon. He no longer said it is intolerable. He said, he would remove the threat from an Iranian nuclear weapon.
If he gets -- if he can somehow ease into power a friendlier Iranian face, he can then claim success, and say, Ahmadinejad is gone, the threat is gone, and now I can make compromises and actually move in the direction he's moving, toward accepting a nuclear weapon.
BLITZER: Because he has, if anything -- and you have covered Barack Obama for a long time, going way, way back, long before he was even thinking of running for president, although we don't know for sure how long he's been thinking about that.
But, if anything, he and his team, they -- they are very, very precise.
CROWLEY: They are.
And he's a -- I mean, look, words are his business in general, just simply because that's a president and the bully pulpit. There have been very few slip-ups when it comes to President Obama, or even candidate Obama, in the use of words. So, he does things for reasons.
So, I think that's why you have to look at everything in the context of what's coming up. And I -- and I agree with David on the earlier question, which is that -- that the president goes big. FRUM: Yes.
CROWLEY: I think he always goes big. He went big on the economy. He's going big on health care. He's going big on the Middle East, knowing full well that, four years from now, we're going to be saying, well, what happened to Middle East peace? What happened to health care?
So, he -- they -- they understand that they're going big. But that's his signature.
BLITZER: And he -- he -- he was suggesting that, you know, things are moving, potentially -- potentially -- in the right direction.
FRUM: But, you know, the president does use language very precisely, just as you say.
That allows him often to do things that less precise people would regard as tricky, if not deceptive. In that same speech that he delivered a year ago, he promised that Jerusalem would remain undivided and also the capital of Israel.
Many people heard that to mean "the undivided capital of Israel." No, no, no. He didn't make one promise. He made two: "undivided" and "capital."
In his speech in Cairo, he opened the possibility of international control of the holy sites, meaning, yes, Jerusalem would remain the capital, and, yes, the holy sites would remain undivided, but they would not necessarily remain in the same city that was the capital of Israel.
BLITZER: I don't -- I don't -- I mean, I read carefully that section on Jerusalem yesterday. I didn't hear him say anything about international control of the holy sites.
FRUM: You have to listen very carefully. Here is what he said. He talked about some future day, when all the world's religions will be able to worship together without fear.
Well, it is already true that all the world's religions can worship together in Jerusalem. There's no exclusion of any religion. So, if you have to invoke this as a future possibility that is different from the present, what are you saying?
And, a year ago, after his AIPAC speech...
BLITZER: All right.
FRUM: ... his briefers made a point of saying...
BLITZER: Very quickly, Candy.
FRUM: ... we didn't mean that Israel would control the Old City.
BLITZER: I'm not ready to necessarily jump to that conclusion, but what do you...
BLITZER: You know, he is precise in his words.
CROWLEY: He is.
I mean, it's -- we were talking a little -- in -- in domestic policy, it's, you know, save or create three million jobs. Well, at one -- some point, you are going to have to say, well, how do we know if we have saved them.
And I think we apply sort of -- he has applied that same kind of language to specifics in the Middle East.
BLITZER: Guys, we have got to leave it there.
FRUM: Thank you.
BLITZER: Thanks very much.
Regarding the suspect accused of killing an abortion provider, a friend now tells CNN the suspect was obsessed with the doctor. We're going to have a report.
And a once-famous actor is dead. The details from police are coming in, and they are shocking -- the latest on David Carradine's death.
And daddy's home. A father keeps his promise to his daughter, despite the challenge of war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The Justice Department is launching an investigation into Dr. George Tiller's killing. As the suspect sits in jail, a man who knows him spoke exclusively to CNN.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Minneapolis with this CNN exclusive -- Ed.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, as investigators look for insights into the mind of Scott Roeder, we spoke with a former roommate of the man accused of killing Dr. George Tiller. He describes Roeder as a man obsessed.
(voice-over): His real name is Eddie Ebecher, but he's known as "Wolfgang Anacon" in the underground of anti-government militias. That's how Anacon says he was introduced to Scott Roeder in the mid- 1990s, when both men were involved with the Montana Freemen movement.
WOLFGANG ANACON, FRIEND OF SCOTT ROEDER: He was a highly religious individual and had very high moral convictions in order for him to carry out this act.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Did -- did this religious aspect of his life, did this con -- consume every second of his -- of his life?
ANACON: Yes, it did. He was constantly praying, constantly reading the Bible, constantly talking about the word. It was the -- the foremost thing in his life was Yahweh.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Anacon says he was Roeder's roommate for almost two years in a suburb of Kansas City. He says he often went with Roeder to anti-abortion rallies, including one rally at Dr. George Tiller's clinic in Wichita, Los Angeles.
Anacon says they consider themselves part of the Army of God, a group that has celebrated the murder of Dr. Tiller.
(on camera): You said he became obsessed with Dr. Tiller, right?
ANACON: Yes, he did. It was almost his calling to do something about this particular doctor.
I feel that Scott had a burden for all the children that were being murdered and that he wanted to release the children from that kind of torture in the -- in the future.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Anacon says, just days before Tiller's murder, he got a call from Roeder.
ANACON: He was going through the events of his life, and that he was going to miss certain people, and certain things were not going to be available to him anymore. So, I -- I should have picked up on that, that something imminent was going to happen. But I didn't.
BLITZER: That was CNN's Ed Lavandera reporting for -- for us.
The suspect's friend you just saw in the piece says he never reported to the police his conversations with Roeder.
And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: President Obama steps up his Middle East peace effort, calling on both sides to make difficult compromises. How far is Israel willing to go? I will speak with the deputy foreign minister of Israel, Daniel Ayalon. He's standing by live.
The president visits a Nazi concentration camp with survivor and Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who delivers a very emotional message and makes a powerful appeal to the president.