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Gadhafi May Be Reaching Out; Shifting from Missiles to Planes; Radioactive Material Found in Tokyo's Tap Water; Elizabeth Taylor Dies at Age 79; Libyan Mission Done 'On The Fly'; A Look Back at Elizabeth Taylor's Life; Explosion on Jerusalem Bus
Aired March 23, 2011 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It is 9:00 a.m. on the East Coast, 6:00 a.m. in the West. I'm Carol Costello sitting in for Kyra Phillips.
We begin this hour of course in Libya. A new day, new sounds of violence in Tripoli. Explosions and anti-aircraft fire echo across the capital. We'll get the latest from there.
A desperate plea from Misrata. Witnesses there say government tanks and snipers are in the center of the city and hospitals are overflowing with wounded. One rebel leader says his fighters desperately need weapons.
In the meantime Moammar Gadhafi vowed he will not back down. He tells a crowd of supporters that he will defeat the coalition by any method.
And that coalition is growing. This morning we learned that Kuwait and Jordan are joining the list of countries allied against Gadhafi. Both will provide logistical help. And just minutes ago Turkey joined the group. It will provide warships and a submarine to help enforce the U.N. arms embargo against Libya.
Gadhafi's defiant tone underscores what concerns many Americans that this military action could be long and drawn out. Here's what President Obama said about that in an interview with CNN in Espanol.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Gadhafi may try to hunker down and wait it out even in the face of a no-fly zone, even though his forces have been degraded. But keep in mind that we don't just have military tools at our disposal in terms of accomplishing Gadhafi's leaving.
We put in place strong international sanctions. We've frozen his assets. We will continue to apply a whole range of pressure on him.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: And in fact there are reports that Gadhafi may be working the back channels to secure a safe exit from Libya. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed that topic with ABC.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DIANE SAWYER, ABC NEWS: Are you indicating that there is someone close to him on his behalf reaching out to say, how do we get out? How does he get out?
HILLARY CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is what we hear from so many sources, Diane. It is a constant --
HILLARY: Today, yesterday, the day before. Some of it I'll be very -- you know as my personal opinion, some of it is theater. A lot of it is just the way he behaves. It's somewhat unpredictable. But some of it we think is exploring, you know, what are my options, where could I go? What could I do? And we would encourage that.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: So let's begin our live coverage of this topic with Nic Robertson. He's in Tripoli.
Nic, what exactly are you hearing about Gadhafi's plans? I mean is he hunkering down as he says publicly or is he secretly working the back channels as some reports say?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's hunkering down, he's being defiant, he's trying to build support here and across the region. And that's -- that was the essence of what we saw, his appearance on state TV in the middle of the night.
If you talk to government officials here they say look, if there was a ceasefire right now with the rebels, with the opposition, there would be a possibility of heading off a wider conflict and that would be based on negotiations that would be built over trust with figures on both sides of -- both sides of the divide here. Government and opposition.
We don't know who those figures would be but the government seems to feel that they exist. They do talk about -- senior government officials do talk and have talked before about the possibility of a post-Gadhafi era. That is where he certainly won't be stepping down or going away under the -- you know, in the face of an international coalition military onslaught or under the, you know, face of a gun as his officials put it.
But there does seem to be an acceptance that somewhere in Libya's future Gadhafi would have faded into the background and perhaps one of his sons might have moved to the foreground. Obviously that's not something that's going to be palatable to the opposition either.
And the other thing that I hear here from one senior official who told me that he is considering leaving the country in the near future, and from my understanding of whom he is, that could lead him outside of the country into the potential of discussions about Gadhafi's future.
But that would be far from certain. It's not -- it's given to me to understand that that's the reason for him leaving the country. And it's only a temporary departure as I understand. But it's an -- but it's interesting to hear the secretary of state's comments in knowing that fact.
COSTELLO: Yes --
COSTELLO: Secretary of State said a lot of interesting things. In fact she also addressed rumors that one or two of Gadhafi's sons had been killed. Listen to the secretary of state.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAWYER: There is a report that two of Gadhafi's sons -- at least one but maybe two have been killed. Can you confirm this?
HILLARY: Well, I can't confirm it but we've heard it. And we've heard a lot.
HILLARY: Well, we hear it from many different sources. And I -- that's why I can't confirm it.
(END OF VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: And just to -- give a pause in our Libya coverage for just a second because we just got word in that the actress Elizabeth Taylor has died. She had been in the hospital recently for a lengthy period of time. She was released and her people told everybody she was doing OK. But apparently she was failing in the last several days because once again this breaking news to tell you about. Sad news.
The actress, Elizabeth Taylor, has died.
We'll get back to Nic Robertson later on. But the rumors about Gadhafi's sons possibly being killed are just rumors. Nobody can confirm anything.
Also this morning a shift in military strategy. A U.S. military official says the coalition has not fired any cruise missiles in the last 24 hours and the plan of attack now transitions to the next phase. Deploying manned aircraft.
Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon with more.
So, Barbara, explain this decision and also it will put more American lives at risk possibly, right?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, what you have to understand about all of this, Carol, is this was kind of the expected shift. They were going to start with unmanned cruise missiles, those Tomahawk missiles, to go after the air defense systems.
Now after a few days, Gadhafi's air defenses, his radars, his communication significantly degraded enough, officials tell us, that in the last 24 hours, no cruise missile strikes. More than 50 air strikes, strikes by manned aircraft, both U.S. and coalition.
Now does it put the pilot at risk? Certainly to some extent but they think they can do this because those systems on the ground, those Gadhafi weapons systems, air defenses, radars have been destroyed to a very significant extent. They believe now as this no-fly zone begins to take full effect they can use the manned aircraft more and more to drop precision bombs on the targets they want to hit and now some of those targets most certainly do include Gadhafi loyalist troops, weapons, those formations on the ground outside of key cities.
That's one of the key targets now that they are going after -- Carol.
COSTELLO: Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon. Many thanks.
Also this morning, we're keeping a close eye on another Arab state that's dealing with violent protests. Listen to this frightening scene from southern Syria.
Earlier today government security forces reportedly opened on demonstrators. Humanitarian groups there are reporting that as many as six people were killed and many more wounded.
And there are signs of deepening trouble in another Arab state that's been convulsing with anti-government protests. Today Yemen's parliament scrambled into session and backed the president's decision to impose emergency law. It comes after the president's offer to step down at the beginning of next year.
Protesters celebrated the news by chanting and singing in the capital but doubts soon took over. The opposition rejected the offer saying the embattled leader is trying to deceive them. They're demanding he resign immediately.
We'll return to our Libyan coverage in just a minute now. We want to take a look at what's new this morning and the crisis in Japan. The Japanese government expects total damage from the earthquake to reach up to $309 billion. That would make it the costliest disaster in Japan since the end of World War II.
Also, blackish gray smoke rose from one of the reactors at the crippled nuclear power plant. Utility officials said they didn't know what was causing smoke. Some workers had to be evacuated from the plant.
And government officials are telling Tokyo residents to stop giving tap water to babies. Tests show higher levels of radioactive iodine. Government officials are urging people not to hoard bottled water.
CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Tokyo.
So, people have got to be worried there, Paula.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Carol. The Tokyo governor has said please stay calm. The chief cabinet secretary has said don't hoard water. But at this point it does appear as though it's partly falling on deaf ears. We understand there has been somewhat of a run on bottled water. We know that there are some shops that we've called around here that have all run out of bottled water at this point.
Now of course the supermarkets will be replenished. They said that they have more water coming tomorrow. But at least one shop we spoke to said that from now on they're going to be rationing the water that they sell. There will only be one bottle per person. And they have to queue up by its size.
So inevitably even though there are these calls for calm, parents are going to be concerned if they are being told that infants cannot drink tap water. Now of course this is infants up to the age of 1.
We understand that the radioactive iodine, according to officials, is more than double the government limit that it should be. Now they have said that there's no immediate health risk if they just have some water in the short-term. Of course it does take longer term they say to have longer exposure to have any real damaging effects but of course it is alarming parents here -- Carol.
COSTELLO: I can't even imagine. So what's going on at the nuclear plant? There is this smoke coming. Nobody knows why. I mean are they actually making progress or not?
HANCOCKS: It's really difficult to tell. It really is. It does appear as though there is some positive news and then there are two pieces of negative news. Certainly this Wednesday there has been negative news. We've heard that there is more blackish grayish smoke now that has been -- throughout the daylight hours emanating from reactor three. This was announced about 4:30 p.m. this afternoon local time.
And of course this had started on Monday but we had heard from TEPCO officials that it was barely visible and of course it started once again.
Now what they've told us is they don't know where the fire is. They don't know what's on fire and they don't know why it's on fire. So at this point certainly what they're saying publicly is they simply do not know at this point what this smoke is. And of course it's dark now so it's difficult to tell if it is still ongoing. We'll have to wait until daylight hours to tell that -- Carol
COSTELLO: All right. Paula Hancocks reporting live from Tokyo. Many thanks.
I don't know. Maybe you missed it. But the actress Elizabeth Taylor had died. She was 79 years old. A little more information about details on her death. She's 79 years old. We're getting a little more information about the details of her death.
As I said she was 79 years old. She died peacefully today at Cedars- Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. You might remember about six weeks ago she was in the hospital with congestive heart failure. And that's a condition she's had -- she'd been struggling with for some years.
And then she recently suffered a number of complications. Her condition had stabilized. She was out of the hospital. She was able to go home. And then she was back in the hospital a short time later.
And she's -- she was surrounded by her family when she died. And she's survived by her children and her 10 grandchildren and her four great, great children.
I want to read you a statement from her son, Michael. He said, "My mother was an extraordinary woman who lived life to the fullest with great passion, humor and love. Though her loss is devastating to those of us who held her so close and so dear we will always be inspired by her enduring contribution to our world.
"Her remarkable body of work in film, her ongoing success as a business woman and her brave and relentless advocacy in the fight against HIV/AIDS, all make us incredibly proud of what she accomplished. We know quite simply that the world is a better place for mom having lived in it. Her legacy will never fade. Her spirit will always be with us. And her love will live forever in our hearts."
Again, Elizabeth Taylor dead at the age of 79.
If you're worried about dangerous levels of radiation reaching the United States from Japan, stay with us. Dr. Otis Brawley, from the American Cancer Society addresses your concerns.
And the United States has entered unchartered territory with the Libyan operation. Military strikes done on the fly. It just doesn't happen very often. We're talking with General Wesley Clark about it next.
COSTELLO: And a bit of breaking news to tell you about. Elizabeth Taylor has died. She was 79 years old. She'd been suffering from congestive heart failure.
She died at Cedar Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles surrounded by her four children. And her son Michael sent us a statement saying the world will miss his mother and all of her wonderful work, the wonderful work she did to fight HIV/AIDS. We'll have more information on Elizabeth Taylor's death shortly.
Right now -- right now, the United States is leading the charge on Libya. That's what we want to talk about. But President Obama says that won't be the case for long. He's saying the United States will step back from that leadership role in days. Apparently, the coalition decided to launch first and sort out details later. Listen to what Defense Secretary Robert Gates said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: There hasn't been any disagreement that I'm aware of in terms of the mission and what we're trying to accomplish. At least in terms of the Security Council resolution.
This is a complicated -- this command and control business is complicated. And we haven't done something like this, kind of on the fly before. And so, it's not surprising to me that it would take a few days to get it all sorted out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COSTELLO: And before we try to ferret out what exactly Secretary Gates meant by that statement, we wanted to show you these live pictures coming out of Jerusalem. We understand there has been an explosion at a bus station. That's pretty much all we know right now.
Kevin Flower is there. We're going to get to him shortly. Are we going to get to him now or later? Do we have him yet?
We're going to have him later. We're trying to get Kevin Flower, but again, more breaking news to tell you about. An explosion at this bus station in Jerusalem.
A military operation done on the fly. Let's talk about that some more. That is uncharted territory. Pretty frank talk from Secretary Gates.
NATO is insisting it's prepared for the Libyan operation, so let's talk about that a little more with General Wesley Clark. He's led NATO missions before, you're the perfect guest for this topic. Thank you for joining us, General.
WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME COMMANDER: Thank you.
COSTELLO: So, General Clark, you were the NATO supreme commander so, when Secretary Gates says, "We've put this coalition together on the fly" and "we've never done this before," it kind of makes us pause. If I'm putting my life on the line, I kind of want my command structure in place.
CLARK: Well, the first part of the command structure is the NATO command structure. That's the central part. The US has an existing command structure. We did the cruise missile strikes and the stealth bombers and using US national intelligence assets. So, that's a playbook.
And then, we wrapped around that the French and British with their own systems. Now, each of these countries has its own national command center. Then, they were operating through a US command structure on the "Mount Whitney," and then NATO is behind that, and NATO could fold all of this together.
Then, there's a desire to bring in some non-NATO member states, like Qatar and, hopefully the Emirates. And so, the question is, then, what's the best way to bring them in?
These discussions are normally held in private and they're held before an operation begins. And what Secretary Gates is saying was that the press of events on the ground necessitated getting the operation underway before all the discussions were finished.
The questions that will have to be dealt with are, essentially, political questions. They're how far does the targeting go? For example, how close, what kind of risks are pilots going to take to strike those Gadhafi forces around Misrata?
COSTELLO: Well, General, there's something interesting about that --
CLARK: Those are political questions.
COSTELLO: -- because from what I understand, NATO is going to take control of one part of the operation, and then France might take control of the political part of the operation. So, it will be making decisions on what you've just said, and then NATO will be making other decisions. That's really never been done before, has it?
CLARK: Well, there's always a political level above the military level. The question is, who participates in it? So, if the NATO forces only do the command and control for the no-fly zone, perhaps the French forces will consider whether they have to put spotters on the ground, give aid to the rebels, take targeting information from the rebels on the ground, and exactly how far they want to go to push Gadhafi into the corner from which he will have to escape.
COSTELLO: General Wesley Clark, thanks for joining us today. We appreciate it.
CLARK: Thank you.
COSTELLO: We've been telling that you that actress Elizabeth Taylor has died. She was 79 years old. She's -- she's done so much work in the world of HIV/AIDS to fight that disease. Let's take a look at her life.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elizabeth Taylor was called one of the most beautiful women in the world. Her violet eyes lit up the screen in memorable roles from "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" to "Cleopatra," which made her the first actress to receive a million dollars for one part.
ELIZABETH TAYLOR, ACTRESS: So much is said with the electricity of eyes. The intensity of a whisper. Less is more.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Her highly publicized real-life sagas were punctuated by eight marriages to seven different men, Richard Burton twice.
Taylor's first union took place before she turned 18, to hotelier Nicky Hilton. She married actor Michael Wilding, producer Mike Todd, and singer Eddie Fisher. Taylor was blamed for breaking up Fisher's marriage to America's sweetheart, Debbie Reynolds. But her often tempestuous marriages to Richard Burton, the first lasting ten years, became even more sensational fodder for the press.
TAYLOR: I think he's one of the finest actors of --
RICHARD BURTON, ACTOR: One of the finest?
ANDERSON (voice-over): Taylor's other marriages including Virginia senator John Warner and, finally, construction worker Larry Fortensky, whom she divorced in 1996.
Her personal dramas often drew attention away from an accomplished film career. The British-born Taylor rode into moviegoers' hearts as a child actress in 1944 with "National Velvet."
TAYLOR AS VELVET BROWN, "NATIONAL VELVET": Oh, you're a pretty one, Pie.
ANDERSON (voice-over): The actress downplayed her abilities.
TAYLOR: I, along with the critics, have never taken myself very seriously.
TAYLOR: My craft, yes. But as an actress, no.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Still, Taylor received five Academy Award nominations, twice winning Best Actress honors for her role of a call girl in "BUtterfield 8" in 1960, and as an ornery alcoholic wife in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" in 1966.
TAYLOR AS MARTHA, "WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF?": Tut tut tut yourself, you old floozy.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Through the years, Taylor battled health a litany of health woes, from her struggle with substance abuse, to a chronic bad back, to respiratory problems, the replacement of both of her hips, and removal of a brain tumor.
Taylor was recognized for her tireless effort to educate the public about AIDS. A battle prompted, in part, by the death of close friend Rock Hudson in 1985.
TAYLOR: This is something that is a catastrophe that belongs to all of us. It isn't a thing that belongs to a minority group any longer.
ANDERSON (voice-over): Taylor helped found AMFAR, the American Foundation for AIDS Research, establish the Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation.
Later she publicly befriended Michael Jackson, appearing with the singer several times and supporting him to an often critical press. She called him wonderful, but that was before his trial and ultimate acquittal on child molestation charges.
Through all her hurt, physical and emotional, Liz Taylor will stand as one of Hollywood's most giving and glamorous superstars. Brooke Anderson, CNN, Los Angeles.
COSTELLO: Sad news. So many people loved Elizabeth Taylor. Elizabeth Taylor, dead at the age of 79.
We have managed to get more information on what's happening in Jerusalem. It's pretty disturbing news. That bomb going off in the bus station, well, it actually went off inside of a bus. Just -- oh. There hasn't been that kind of attack within Israel and Jerusalem for a very long time. Let's get right to Kevin Flower. Kevin, what more can you tell us?
KEVIN FLOWER, CNN JERUSALEM BUREAU CHIEF (via telephone): Well, I'm standing near the scene of the explosion, and it was -- just t be clear, this happened near Jerusalem Central Bus Station, but it was not inside the bus station itself. It appears that the explosion took place either on or right next to a public bus near the bus station.
And I'm at the site now and, as you can imagine, there are hundreds of emergency responders, police, ambulance services, Israeli military is on site, as well.
This happened on a very, very sort of congested main artery within Jerusalem. It's the road that links to the highway going to Tel Aviv. A lot of traffic here at this time.
Now, looking at the scene, like I said, it's not clear whether this explosion happened on the bus or not. It seems to have been, from what I can tell, a somewhat -- somewhat limited in scope. This is not a bus that's destroyed in its entirety. It's the front window of the bus seems to have been blown out. Again, not clear whether it happened inside or outside.
There are some preliminary reports of one person being killed, but I cannot confirm that for certain. What I did see myself on scene is one person being led away on a stretcher.
Certainly, the questions that are going to be asked here is, who is responsible for this? Why has this taken place? And all of this happened -- this happened amidst that period of increased tension between Israel and Palestinian militant groups operating in the Gaza strip.
In the last few days alone, some 70 rockets and mortars have fallen in southern Israel. Israel has responded with retaliatory strikes and 10 Palestinians have been killed since Saturday. So, the tensions between Palestinians and Israelis are very high right now.
It is not clear whether this explosion on or near this bus has anything to do with those increased tensions. But that is certainly the question that is going to be asked going forward as investigators --
COSTELLO: Kevin -- Kevin, the other thought that comes to mind is all of this unrest in the Arab world. Israel has been really concerned about that. I'm sure that there's been heightened security within cities within Israel. Has there been?
FLOWER: By and large, Israel, as you mentioned, Israel has not seen sort of the momentous sort of changes that have been going on in the region. And so, no, I wouldn't say that there has been increased domestic security in Israel as a result of everything that's going on. There's been much more attention being paid to Israel's borders, especially the southern border with Egypt.
I think most people would think that this probably has less to do with the changes that are sort of rocking the region than Israel's own particular conflict with the Palestinians. I think that's the lens most people are going to initially be viewing this incident through.
COSTELLO: How close are you to the bus station? I'm just curious. We're hearing the emergency vehicles go by.
FLOWER: It's literally a couple of hundred yards away from the bus station. It's basically on a major highway that runs right across the street from me from the bus station.
COSTELLO: I was just wondering, Kevin, because we see all of these people standing around outside, and I wanted you to describe more of the scene near the bus station for us.
FLOWER: I'm not in front of the bus station. I'm literally about 50 yards away from the bus itself. And what the Israeli security personnel have done is set a cordoned, and so you have literally thousands of people, because this is such a busy intersection, sort of watching what's going on here. Because as I said, it's been a number of years since a bus has been targeted like this, or an explosion has taken place on or near a bus.
So, this is incredibly disconcerting news for Israelis and especially for Jerusalem residents who are going to think back to the Second Intifada, which started at the beginning of the decade, when explosions like this became common place. So, a lot of fearful -- a lot of fears being expressed here at the moment.
COSTELLO: Kevin Flower, I'm going to let you go so you can gather more information for us. Thank you very much. Kevin Flower, reporting live from Jerusalem, where there has been a bomb, a bomb has exploded near or on a bus, but inside a bus station.
We understand there's at least one person dead. Those are early reports. And, of course, there must be a number of casualties, but we're not sure how many. When Kevin gathers more information, we'll take you back live to Jerusalem.
We'll also have more on Elizabeth Taylor. She died earlier today at the age of 79. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
COSTELLO: We want to talk a little bit more about Elizabeth Taylor who died earlier today at the age of 79. She died at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles, her four children surrounding her bedside. She's survived by -- I think she has 10 grandchildren and four great- grandchildren. Of course, you know, many generations miss her for different things.
The '50s and '60s, she was the most famous actress on the planet, sort of like Angelina Jolie is right now. In the '80s, she was known for her perfume and her diamonds and her spunk and her fight against HIV/AIDS.
We want to talk now to Ian Drew, he is the editor of "US Weekly." He is on the phone right now from New York.
Ian, you knew Elizabeth Taylor personally. We saw when she was released from the hospital, she really tried to put on a brave front but she was sicker probably than any of us knew.
IAN DREW, SENIOR EDITOR, US WEEKLY: Yes. I mean, she's always battled health problems, I mean, unfortunately. But yet, she lived life to the fullest. I mean, there was nobody with such vigor who really used her life as a vessel to help others. And also to really know what it means to love. This woman who was in love with life and just loved everyone around her and it's an incredible loss for what she represented.
COSTELLO: I think that many of us feel that we went through each marriage with her and as her later husbands weren't the greatest of guys, so we would like to leave that she died happy with her family and her family and her life.
DREW: Yes, she did. I mean, she was -- I have to say, you know, from when I last spoken to her which was quite a few months ago, very content with how life had turned out. But, you know, she'd had her ups and downs and a lot of it was very exhausting.
So these health problems -- I mean, remember, she was always in and out of the hospital. She had hip problems, back problems. She battled with addictions. I mean, it wasn't an easy life but she was definitely satisfied with many of the experiences that she had.
And she had a lot of sadness, too. You know, Mike Todd dying in a plane crash, a husband that she never really got over losing. It was very tough.
COSTELLO: And just her contributions through the years, because as I said, she lived a very long life and she went through many incarnations. So, first of all, the legacy that she leaves Hollywood as an actor.
DREW: Yes, well obviously, I mean, she sort of ushered in not only being a great actress, which she sincerely was, and very iconic roles, but she ushered in this new level of being a superstar actress, of being a movie star. She redefined what it meant.
The paparazzi, the way that things are now, you know, people forget that the first moment when the paparazzi really ignited was her and Richard Burton and their love affair and documenting that. So she made fame more famous in a way. It's almost -- to paraphrase Andy Warhol, she sort of epitomized the levels that a movie star could go and she reigned for many, many years.
And her range was remarkable, from being a young child actress to playing Cleopatra, to playing someone like the lead in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf," where no one had seen a role like that before and been able to sort of shed the glamour and show herself totally in the raw as you will.
COSTELLO: And behind the scenes she was one of the early fighters of HIV/AIDS at a time when it wasn't exactly politically popular to do that.
DREW: Yes. And that is something that I had actually e-mailed with her about and spoken to her about and thanked her about. You know, she's the first one to say AIDS on TV. She was the first one to really lead the charge, affected by her dear friend Rock Hudson and other friends of hers in Hollywood, she was not afraid to say the word AIDS and she was not afraid to fight it when everyone else was.
COSTELLO: Well I'm sure many, many people will miss her.
And thank you for your insight, Ian. We appreciate it.
DREW: Always. Always.
COSTELLO: We're getting more information now out of Jerusalem on that bombing near or inside a bus. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be back with the latest information we have for you.
COSTELLO: OK. We have a little bit more information about that breaking news out of Jerusalem. A bomb going off in or -- actually near or on a bus inside of a bus station. We understand 20 to 30 people are injured. Early reports say there is one person dead but CNN cannot confirm that. As I said before this has not happened -- this kind of thing has not happened for quite some time in Israel.
I want to bring in Wolf Blitzer now. He's on the phone from Washington.
Wolf, this scary stuff, because this could really throw this region in turmoil
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, "THE SITUATION ROOM" (via telephone): Well, it certainly could. It's -- it looks like this is near the -- is this near the central bus station? Do you know, Carol, this is near the central bus station in West Jerusalem? COSTELLO: Yes, it is Wolf.
BLITZER: Because that's only about a block or two away from the CNN bureau in Jerusalem. So it's very close to where all of the major news organizations have their offices. It's been targeted before. There have been targets by terrorists --
COSTELLO: But not for some time, right, Wolf?
BLITZER: No, it has been several years. The Israelis, as you know, built a security wall outside of Jerusalem, basically surrounding the West Bank and security has been very intense there over these past several years and that's been an impressive job in keeping it relatively quiet within Israel.
There hasn't been a real major terrorist attack within Israel in a few years as far as I can recall. It's been pretty quiet. And a lot will depend on who claims responsibility for this terrorist attack, if it's Hamas, if it's somebody else, because there has been a relative -- and I use the word deliberately -- relative quiet between Israelis and Palestinians, obviously not just on the West Bank where the Palestinian authorities cooperated and worked with the Israelis under President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but there's sure to have been a (INAUDIBLE) of quiet, even in (INAUDIBLE), even though in recent weeks there have been incidents, there have been shelling and some Israeli retaliatory strikes and there's been some violence in Gaza.
But, on the scale of things, certainly nothing has as significant as a few years ago when the Israelis moved into Gaza and there was, in effect, a war (INAUDIBLE) nothing on the scale of what happened when the Israelis moved into Lebanon (INAUDIBLE) Hezbollah a few years ago.
COSTELLO: Right. But Wolf, recently hasn't there been tensions? Haven't tensions been escalating between the Palestinians and the Israeli government?
BLITZER: The tensions have been escalating between Hamas in Gaza and the Israeli government, but not necessarily between Palestinian authority of Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli government. There's been no peace process, there's been no peace negotiations because the Palestinians (INAUDIBLE) all settlement activity . They're not going to start the peace process, resume the peace process and the Israelis have made it clear they're not going to free all of its settlement activities.
So there hasn't really been any peace negotiations or anything but that's not necessarily the same as all conflict and war and stuff like that. So we haven't seen that. We've seen it on a relatively minor scale in Gaza, but certainly not in the West Bank where the economy has been doing relatively well and things have gotten better. But there's no real significant -- there's no peace process.
COSTELLO: Well, let me ask you this question, because Israel has been concerned about what's happening in the Arab world at large right now. And it's also been concerned about Hamas. So what does this kind of attack do to the Israeli psyche?
BLITZER: It'll scare a lot of Israelis and it'll deter people, tourists from coming to Israel. It'll hurt the Israelis. There's no doubt about that. I suspect that if the Israelis find out who's responsibility and knowing how the Israelis have behaved over the years, they'll retaliate, probably multiple fold over against whoever is responsible.
So this could really escalate into a real tense situation. As if it weren't bad enough or the unrest in the Middle East and north Africa weren't intense enough, if it moves into Israel and the Palestinian territory, then it takes on another dimension.
COSTELLO: And it's just another --
BLITZER: That's another thing.
COSTELLO: And another problem for the United States to deal with as well.
Wolf, I'm going to let you go. Maybe you'll join us again later. But I know you'll be in place for "THE SITUATION ROOM" at 5:00 p.m. Eastern and you'll have much more on this.
And also, we're going to take you back live to Jerusalem to get more from Kevin Flower who is pretty near that bus station, because as you heard Wolf say, that's the central bus station which is not far from the CNN bureau. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
COSTELLO: Ok, as promised breaking news. There was an explosion at a Jerusalem bus station, a bomb going off in or near a bus. I promised that Kevin Flower will be back on the phone with us to give us more information. We have him from Jerusalem. Kevin, give us the latest.
FLOWER, CNN (via telephone): Well, what I can tell you is that the police are telling us that this bus -- the explosion happened outside of the bus and not inside the bus.
This is outside bus number 74. This is a public bus. And the explosion happened very close to the central bus station. It happened in a very central part of Jerusalem on a main highway that leads out of Jerusalem into Tel Aviv.
This happened during basically what was rush hour, thousands of commuters leaving and entering the city at this time. We -- police are saying that 20 to 30 people were wounded in this explosion. We have mixed report -- mixed information at the moment. At least one person could have died, but we don't have that nailed down just yet.
But what is clear is that this is a very serious explosion and the police are -- the police and military and security officials have set up a cordon around the area. They said they are looking at the possibility of secondary devices having been planted. They are currently looking for that.
When I arrived on the scene I did see a number or at least one person being brought away on a stretcher but I believe most of the people have been evacuated from the scene fairly early on.
This took place just a few blocks away from our bureau. We actually heard -- we heard sort of a thud-like noise. But weren't sure what it was. And then we ran down here and saw what had transpired. So this is a very, very serious event needless to say. There hasn't been an explosion like this on or near a bus in Jerusalem for -- for over four years.
And this is certainly going to be very dismaying news to Israelis and specifically Jerusalem residents. Certainly reminds us of the days of the [INAUDIBLE] when explosions like this were common place.
Now, all of this takes place against a backdrop of increased violence in and around the Gaza Strip and the last -- since this past weekend some 70 rockets had fallen from -- have been fired -- rockets and mortars have been fired from Gaza into southern Israel and has prompted retaliatory strikes by the Israeli military.
So we have seen just in the past since Saturday ten Palestinians have been killed in that violence. Many Israelis wounded and scores of Palestinians wounded. So this attack here in Jerusalem today a lot of people are going to be asking questions. Is this related to the violence that they've been seeing for the past number of days in the Gaza area?
We have no immediate claims of responsibility for this explosion. We don't know who might have been behind it or what might have caused it. But those are the questions that are going to be asked by most Israelis today.
COSTELLO: Kevin, just to -- and -- and maybe you won't know this information because it's very early in the investigation and things are still happening but -- but the -- about the bomb itself, and I ask you this because usually when we hear about these types of explosion it's a suicide bomber. In this case was it a bomb that was left by someone?
FLOWER: That is not clear. And we don't -- at this point, I don't have any information on whether this is a bomb that was planted some place outside a car or planted on this -- on the side of this bus or whether it was someone who detonated on their body. I'm not -- I don't have that information yet. I assume that that's information will be coming out in the -- in the hours -- you know, in the hours ahead.
But again, the M.O. on this is not entirely clear. Usually the details and -- and sort of the way things have transpired in events like this, it's a bit sketchy at first and it takes a while for the information to get out and that's sort of the period we're in right now.
There's a lot of chaos. Chaos here at the scene certainly as thousands of people gathered just to see what's going on and what they can do.
COSTELLO: I understand. Kevin Flower, I'm going to let you go so you can gather more information for us. Fine reporting and be safe out there. Thank you.
We're going to take a quick break. When we come back we're going to talk to Larry King about the passing of Elizabeth Taylor. We'll be right back.
COSTELLO: Before we get to Elizabeth Taylor, another update on this Jerusalem bombing we've been telling you about.
We now know that bomb was planted near the bus. We don't know if it was just someone leaving behind the bomb or a suicide bomber. Authorities haven't ferreted that out or haven't released that information as of yet.
We understand there have been 20 to 30 injuries, and there may be one person who was killed, but we cannot -- we cannot nail that down as of yet. So that's about all we know. We'll take you back live to Jerusalem when we get more.
Now on the subject of Elizabeth Taylor, the great American actress, 79 years old. She had been suffering from congestive heart failure. She had been in the hospital about six months ago and she hasn't been doing well since. She died earlier today. She was surrounded by her family, her four children at her bedside at Cedars Sinai Hospital. She leaves behind 10 grandchildren, four great grandchildren.
We just talked to a friend of hers who said that she was happy with her life at the end. That she had found happiness with her family. As you know, she went through many marriages, some of them not so great. But as she aged and -- and became sick, she was at peace with all of those things.
We're going to have much more on Elizabeth Taylor after a break.
We'll be back.