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THE SITUATION ROOM
Bin Laden's Wives; Pakistan Lashes Out; Mississippi Residents Brace for Flooding
Aired May 9, 2011 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amtrak says it supports countermeasures that protect the rail system.
In a statement, it says -- quote -- "The creation of a do-not- ride list is no exception. It would, however, have to be developed in close coordination with the Transportation Security Administration and implemented in a way that respects civil rights and allows for rapid flow of persons and trains necessary for effective mass transit."
SYLVESTER: Both the Department of Homeland Security and Amtrak point out they have increased security in the last five years. Amtrak has doubled the size of the canine explosive detection team, began random checks of passenger bags, and increased the number of uniformed officers. DHS points out that it has provided $1.5 billion in grants for passenger rail and transit security -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Lisa Sylvester, thanks very much for that report.
And, to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now, breaking news: CNN has learned the identities of Osama bin Laden's wives, the women who were with him in his final moments -- this hour, exclusive details of who they are, where they are now and what new light they are shedding on al Qaeda and the world's most notorious terrorists.
Also, new fallout from the raid. Pakistan's prime minister is lashing out at the United States, and there's new concern about the strained and very complicated relationship between the two countries.
Plus, it's the iconic image of the bin Laden mission. So, why did one newspaper remove Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from the photo?
Breaking news, political headlines, Jeanne Moos all straight ahead. We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: But let's begin with breaking news right now. They may have known Osama bin Laden better than anyone else, the three wives who spent years in hiding with their notorious terrorist husband in Pakistan. And now CNN has exclusive new information about these women.
CNN's Brian Todd is working the story. He's dug up this new information for us. He's going to break it right now. Brian, what are you learning exactly about the wives?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, producer Pam Benson and I have confirmed the name of three wives who were with Osama bin Laden when U.S. Navy SEALs stormed that compound and killed him. They are three of the four wives bin Laden had at the time of his death.
TODD (voice-over): Part of the treasure trove of intelligence taken from this compound, three wives of Osama bin Laden. And CNN has now confirmed their identities with a U.S. official.
(on camera): One of them is Amal al-Sadah, who married bin Laden in 2000. Officials believe this passport photo found at the compound is her. She had a daughter with Osama bin Laden, Safiyah, who was born shortly after 9/11.
And Safiyah has told Pakistani officials she saw her father being shot. Amal al-Sadah is Yemeni and is bin Laden's youngest wife. Another wife who was in the compound, Khairiah Sabar, also known as "Umm Hamza," because she is the mother of bin Laden's son Hamza. They were married in 1985. She is a Saudi national who stayed with bin Laden in Afghanistan after 9/11.
And a wife named Siham Sabar was with bin Laden. She is also known as "Umm Khalid," because she is the mother of the son of bin Laden's son Khalid, who was also killed in the raid. She is also a Saudi national who was also with bin Laden in Afghanistan after 9/11.
I asked CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen more about the two Saudi wives.
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: They're pretty well- educated. One has a doctorate in Islamic legal law. Another one has a degree in Arabic studies of some kind. So -- and they have had a number of kids with bin Laden.
TODD (voice-over): The wives and several of those children are now in Pakistani custody, and U.S. officials are eager to speak to the wives.
TOM DONILON, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: And we have asked for access both to the people, including three wives, who they now have in custody from the compound.
TODD: Pakistani officials tell CNN they will allow U.S. officials access to the wives only if their country of origin has been asked for permission. It's not clear if that has happened yet. (on camera): What could these women offer U.S. or Pakistani intelligence about the operations at the compound?
BERGEN: Well, I think they can offer some atmospherics about what it was like to live there when they moved in, but in terms of like operational details about al Qaeda, very little, because, first off, they wouldn't be able to meet any men. So they're not -- if Ayman al-Zawahri was coming back and forth, the number two in al Qaeda, that's something they simply wouldn't have seen.
TODD: The wives have already apparently given some of those atmospheric details, however. When asked what the wives have told Pakistani authorities, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. said one of the wives never left the same floor as bin Laden because they were paranoid, he said, about physical movement. He said they didn't go near windows, didn't have any kind of fresh air.
Now, the one wife who was not there, her name is Najwa Ghanem. She was bin Laden's first wife. She left Afghanistan just before September 11 and, by most accounts, now lives in Syria -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Amazing stuff, Brian. But even if the wives can't tell officials which al Qaeda figures came and went at that compound, some of the other details they may -- they may know about could be very important in this entire investigation.
TODD: Absolutely they could, Wolf. Those women can give information on how and when they arrived in that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan, which routes they took to get there. They can also talk about bin Laden's demeanor over the years. Did he become more isolated? Did he become depressed?
We just saw over the weekend that video of him hunched over in a blanket watching himself on TV. Any information they can give about his demeanor will be both valuable to intelligence officials and of course fascinating to the rest of us.
BLITZER: Yes. It will be fascinating to all of us, of course, as well. Brian, thank you very much.
The mission to take out bin Laden is adding new tension to the relationship between the United States and Pakistan, but the ties between the two countries aren't just strained. They are also very deep and complex.
Our foreign affairs correspondent, Jill Dougherty, is working this part of the story for us.
Jill, where do things stand as best as we can tell right now between the U.S. and Pakistan?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, right now, there's a blame game going on. And here's the dilemma for the Obama administration. How do you talk tough to Pakistan without torpedoing the relationship and destabilizing a very weak Pakistani government?
DOUGHERTY (voice-over): Pakistan's prime minister lashes out at the mission that killed Osama bin Laden.
YOUSUF RAZA GILANI, PAKISTANI PRIME MINISTER: Pakistan is not the birthplace of al Qaeda. We did not invite Osama bin Laden to Pakistan or even to Afghanistan.
DOUGHERTY: Another operation like that, he warns, and Pakistan will retaliate with full force. But the White House says, no regrets.
JAY CARNEY, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: But we also do not apologize for the actions that we took.
DOUGHERTY: But neither country is willing to pull the plug on the relationship.
MARK TONER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: We are clear-eyed in our assessment that this counterterrorism cooperation has been worthwhile. And again it's in our national security interest that it continue.
DOUGHERTY: For Pakistan, it means money, $1.5 billion from the U.S. a year. For Washington, it's an insurance policy on a nuclear- armed Muslim country too important to fail.
Pakistan has quietly allowed the U.S. to run drone strikes to go after insurgents hiding out in Northwest Pakistan and crossing the border to attack U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan. Pakistan also is NATO's main supply route for fuel, food, munitions, and construction materials for its troops in Afghanistan. And it's locked in a volatile relationship with a major U.S. ally, India, itself a nuclear-armed country.
MALOU INNOCENT, CATO INSTITUTE: Pakistanis want to have their cake and eat it, too. They assist various jihadist elements within the region, while at the same time receiving billions of dollars in U.S. aid.
DOUGHERTY: And as if tensions weren't high enough, someone in Pakistan leaked the name of the CIA station chief in Islamabad to a Pakistani newspaper. And that follows a diplomatic rift over another CIA operative who, as we remember, Wolf, killed two Pakistanis and had to leave the country.
But a U.S. official tells CNN that there are no plans to bring this station chief out back to the United States -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Well, doesn't that endanger this CIA station chief, if people know his name or her name, and they allow him to stay there? DOUGHERTY: It could. And that is one of the problems. The name was actually misspelled. There was a bit of confusion at the beginning. But it could potentially. But it just shows that I guess the United States is saying, we're not going to be pushed out. This guy is doing his job and he's going to stay.
It's another indication of the tensions right now between these two countries.
BLITZER: All right, Jill, thanks very much -- Jill Dougherty is over at the State Department.
Meanwhile, President Obama is shedding some new light on his role as commander in chief in the mission to take out Osama bin Laden. Listen to what he told CBS' "60 Minutes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, "60 MINUTES")
STEVE KROFT, CBS CORRESPONDENT: How actively were you involved in that process?
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: About as active as any project that I have been involved with since I have been president. Obviously, we have extraordinary guys. Our special forces are the best of the best.
And so I was not involved in, you know, designing the initial plan. But each iteration of that plan, they'd bring back to me, make a full presentation. We would ask questions. We had multiple meetings in the Situation Room in which we would map out, and we would actually have a model of the compound and discuss how this operation might proceed and what various options there were, because there was more than one way in which we might go -- go about this.
And in some ways, sending in choppers and actually putting our guys on the ground entailed some greater risks than some other options.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger.
Gloria, how does all of this affect the various Republican presidential candidates, at least those who are thinking of stepping out to run against President Obama?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right.
Well, I was talking to a bunch of people today who work for assorted would-be Republican campaigns. And it's very clear that this president has now checked off the competency box. You cannot make the argument against him that he's not a competent president. This showed that he was truly in command of this raid.
Also, I think those who would charge that he's weak on terror, he's now checked that box, strong on terror. So I think that's something that's off the table.
However, Republicans also say that elections are not won on foreign policy, that this president did not get a huge bump in the polls out of this raid, and they say what that shows is that there are a lot of people in this country who will not give Barack Obama credit for anything, and they remain there, and they will vote Republican.
And Republicans believe that they are a sizable group of people, and they are hanging onto that. And they say, in the end, it's going to be about the economy.
BLITZER: Why is the Republican field, at least so far, pretty reluctant to jump into this contest?
BORGER: Well, it's very hard. You have to raise an awful lot of money. And there's a sense among Republicans that, if they can hold off -- they are going to be up against Barack Obama. And some people say he can raise $800 million to a billion dollars. There isn't going to be any Republican who can raise near that.
And the one thing we should be looking at, Wolf, as we sort of head into summer is, there's a June 30 deadline for campaigns to report to the Federal Election Commission the amount of money that they have raised. And we will be able to see whether candidates who have exploratory committees, like Tim Pawlenty, for example, Mitt Romney, how much money they are able to raise, because that's one way we're going to be able to tell who is going to be a serious candidate out there and who isn't.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, we will see how that field expands in the coming weeks.
Gloria, thank you.
BLITZER: A world-famous photo doctored -- why a newspaper actually removed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton from that iconic picture taken in the White House Situation Room.
Plus, farms' sacrifice to save a small Mississippi town from flooding. We're now discovering deep currents of race under this growing controversy.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty is thinking about the 2012 election as well. He's here with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The morning after his TV show "Celebrity Apprentice" was interrupted by the breaking news that Osama bin Laden had been killed, Donald Trump released a statement congratulating President Obama and calling for an end to party politics -- quote -- "for the next several days."
He has been uncharacteristically silent ever since, especially for a guy who spent weeks adding fuel to the birther controversy, badgering the president on a bunch of other issues and tiptoeing around talk of his own possible presidential run in 2012.
Chances are Trump has been quiet, in part, because he could still be smarting from the White House Correspondents Dinner two Saturdays ago. President Obama and the evening's emcee, "Saturday Night Live's" Seth Meyers, separately skewered Trump at that gala event with a series of jokes about everything from his lack of political experience to his hair.
It was a world-class beat-down, and it was very funny. And by the look on Trump's face -- he was there -- he didn't take those jokes well at all. But luckily for him, the news on bin Laden limited his embarrassment fairly quickly.
Last week, Trump announced that he's pulling out of an appearance to drive the pace car at the Indianapolis 500 race coming up on Memorial Day weekend, May 29. Trump said it wouldn't be appropriate for the spotlight to be on him during the race's 100th anniversary if he had a possible presidential run on his mind. This could be the first time in recorded history that Donald Trump has declined the spotlight.
Then there's this: According to a CNN/Opinion Research poll, 57 percent of Americans say Trump is tough enough to handle a crisis in this country; 51 percent say he can get the economy back on its feet; 37 percent, though, say that Trump can manage the government. And only one-third say that he's honest and trustworthy. These poll numbers are as dismal as his chances of being the next president.
Here's the question: Is a presidential run already over for Donald Trump?
Here's the answer: Yes. Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile. Post a comment on my blog -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jack, get ready. You might be getting a personal phone call from Donald Trump. He likes to respond to those kinds of comments.
CAFFERTY: I never answer my phone.
BLITZER: But I'm really anxious to hear what our viewers think.
BLITZER: OK. Jack will be back in a moment.
I want to alert our viewers. We're reporting tonight live from Munich, Germany.
And CNN's Fred Pleitgen is with us. He's our Berlin-based correspondent. He just got out of Libya. Tomorrow, I know we're going to have a major report on that. But here in Germany -- and I have been here a day now, Fred -- I have been surprised to see how angry a lot of Germans are at the chancellor, Angela Merkel, because of comments she made basically applauding the U.S. decision to go ahead and kill bin Laden. Give us -- give us the background.
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there has been. There's been some criticism of Angela Merkel after her comments that she made where she said that was essentially pleased that bin Laden had been eliminated.
And, now, Angela Merkel is the head of the Christian Democratic Union, which is a party that prides itself on Christian values. And there's a lot of people who said that rejoicing in someone's death, even if it is someone like bin Laden, is not something that is in line with Christian values. There's other people who went so far to say that they felt that this killing was illegal under international law.
So, yes, she has been subject to a lot of criticism. There have been some people who say it's a little bit overblown. It was comments that she made. And, essentially, if you ask German politicians across all the aisles, basically, they will say that, yes, they are relieved that bin Laden is gone. They just felt that the wording was not right. But it was. It was a major debate here in Germany for many, many days, where people went back and forth. There were calls for an parliamentary inquiry on all of this.
And it's still something that, while not dominating the headlines right now, but it's still way up.
BLITZER: Yes, because -- and she's getting ready to come to the United States soon, too. And so when she said I'm happy or glad, whatever the translation was, that bin Laden is dead, that's caused a little angst here.
You know, we spent the day, you and me, with these German journalists. CNN gave an award to the German journalist of the year, very impressive event. I had a lunch with a lot of them. And several of them weren't 100 percent convinced -- these are topnotch German journalists -- that bin Laden was in fact dead, because they didn't see the photo, they didn't see the DNA evidence. They don't -- they believe it's probably true, but they weren't willing to say to me they totally believe the president of the United States when he says bin Laden is dead.
Is that the reaction you're getting here, the skepticism?
PLEITGEN: Well, maybe a little bit among some people. But I do think that most people are pretty sure that he is dead.
There's always that little sort of rest of uncertainty that there is because you don't have any photo, you don't have any photographic evidence out there in public right now. But even al Qaeda at this point in time has come out and they have said that he's dead. So I think most people do believe that that's the case. But, certainly, I mean, you're going to have that uncertainty, not just here, in many other countries around the world, about whether or not it's actually true, whether or not there might be some sort of conspiracy.
But I think that the public debate here in this country is moving forward from there. Obviously, most people believe that he's dead. And now what people are thinking about is basically the same thing a lot of people in America are thinking about. What is this going to mean for the war on terror moving forward? And, of course, Germany has the third largest troop contingent in Afghanistan. And this is something that are clearly going to start debating here in this country.
BLITZER: You just got out of Libya. I know you have got a major report that we will have in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow. Give us a little preview.
PLEITGEN: Well, the interesting thing that we managed to do is we managed to meet with rebel commanders inside Tripoli.
Now, everybody says that Tripoli is a Gadhafi stronghold. We met these guys just by sort of walking on the street. They basically got in touch with us. And the main message they had is that Tripoli is not in Gadhafi's hands. Most people there are against Gadhafi.
Very difficult to verify. We had to meet them in a secret location, but they say that it's basically Gadhafi spreading fear among people with armed gangs that he sends on to the streets that randomly shoot people at times. It's going to be very, very interesting. It was very interesting to meet these guys. But they said essentially that the NATO bombing campaign is not being criticized by many people inside Tripoli, that all of this is a Gadhafi show that is being put on.
BLITZER: That was a risky bit of reporting you did. I'm glad you are out. I'm glad we're both in Munich right now -- you're not in Libya right now -- to do this report. We will look forward to it tomorrow. Fred, thanks very much.
America's cities are bracing for a flood deluge right now. New Orleans, Memphis, among others, they are in harm's way, as the Mississippi River keeps rising and rising.
Plus, it's become one of the most iconic photographs in the world. But in one newspaper, a key member of the team has been Photoshopped right out of the picture. You are going to find out why.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: It's some of the worst flooding along the Mississippi River in generations. And for some major American cities, it may get a whole lot worse in the coming days. Just six years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans -- yes, New Orleans -- is once again facing the threat of devastating floods. Today, the Army Corps of Engineers used giant cranes to open a spillway and divert some of the rising water. Another spillway could be opened next week.
And the Louisiana governor, Bobby Jindal, has a blunt warning to New Orleans residents: He says, get prepared now. Hundreds of miles upstream in Memphis, Tennessee, the worst may be only a few hours away. The Mississippi River is expected to crest tomorrow at 14 feet above flood stage, close to the record set in 1937, when flooding killed some 500 people in Memphis, Tennessee, alone.
CNN's David Mattingly is joining us now live from Memphis.
David, what's happening where you are right now?
DAVID MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this has been a slow- motion disaster for Memphis. This water has been coming up by the foot, by the inch. Officials have been able to stay out in front of it, identify where the problem areas are, and make sure people got out of harm's way.
But look at all this water. This is a tremendous amount of water. How could you not have a tremendous amount of damage coming with it? The Mississippi River here in Memphis is typically only a half-mile-wide. Look at it now. It looks more like an inland sea here.
This river is now three-miles-wide. And there's a tremendous amount of water now heading south. This water may be peaking here, but this just means more problems for people downriver. Already here in Memphis, we have been seeing neighborhoods in the outlying areas along tributaries of the Mississippi, some of the people living miles away from this river, being affected by flooding.
That's because those tributaries can no longer drain into the Mississippi. It's just too high. So those people are dealing with flooding in their areas. We have seen neighborhoods, houses, trailer parks where water has been getting inside people's homes.
We see here in Memphis about 300 people living in shelters, and they're probably going to be there for a while, Wolf, because this water, now that it's up, is going to drain away painfully slowly. We're looking at it being here and being a problem to deal with for weeks.
And then the people who have been affected by it, with their property underwater for that long, will probably have very, very little to go back to -- Wolf.
BLITZER: In terms of preparation for this disaster, this flood, David, do they have everything they need basically? Are they well- prepared? Because we have known for some time that it was on the way.
MATTINGLY: They have been well-prepared in the sense that they have a levee system that was built and inspired after that great flood in 1938.
They decided they were going to build levees and flood walls capable of handling a record flood like that and then something greater. We didn't quite reach that record. So, this levee system that they have, they have a great deal of confidence in it. They are going to be watching it very closely over the weeks while this water stays high.
But they believe that levee system is going to work and going to protect most of Memphis and keep it high and dry -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's hope it does. David, thanks very much. We will check back with you.
And as David just mentioned, it could take weeks, weeks for the water to recede and even longer for the controversy over a decision to save one town from floodwaters by sacrificing thousands of acres of farmland.
And this controversy has an undercurrent of race right now as strong as any undercurrent in the river.
CNN's Ted Rowlands takes us in-depth.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Cairo, Illinois, sits between the Mississippi and the Ohio rivers. Many believe the entire city would be underwater if not for the controversial decision to blow open this levee. The explosion opened a two-mile hole, flooding more than 130,000 acres of farmland in neighboring Missouri.
(on camera) When you look at that, what do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm very sad. I look at that, and I don't have a home.
ROWLANDS (on camera): Marilyn Nally's (ph) farm has been in her family for three generations. It would still be dry if the federal government hadn't blown up the levee.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like we have to suffer for somebody else.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Glenn's (ph) doors were pushed out.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
ROWLANDS: Farmers Ray and Roy Presson have 2,000 acres under water.
RAY PRESSON, FARMER: We've always lived with the idea that, you know, some day they may have to blow it. The waters kept rising. And we knew they would blow it. We don't like it. But, you know, we have to accept it. ROWLANDS: The plan since 1928 has been that if Cairo, a city of about 15,000 at the time, was in danger of flooding, the levee would be opened to save the city.
(on camera) But back then things were much different. Cairo was a vibrant river community. This is what it looks like now. Most of the businesses downtown here are gone. Most of the people have left, as well. In fact, less than 3,000 people remain. Many believe this, in fact, is not a town that was worth saving.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you rather have Missouri farmland flooded or Cairo under water?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cairo. I've been there. Cairo. Have you been to Cairo? You know what I'm saying then.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So "you've been to Cairo lately? Yes. You know what I mean." What do you mean? I mean, I want to know what you mean about it.
ROWLANDS: Cairo is predominantly African-American. People on both sides say there is a racial component to the debate over whether the city or the farms should have been saved.
WILLIAM WHITAKER, CAIRO RESIDENT: There's nothing but blacks here, you know. This town here is built -- was built on race, you know, long time ago back in the years -- years ago, you know. Ain't nothing changed.
ROWLANDS: Cairo's history of racial tension dates back to the 1909 public lynching of Will James, who was suspected of raping a white woman. In the 1960s the city closed the public pool rather than allow blacks to swim.
On the Missouri side, many people feel the federal government may have been overly sensitive to the race issue and pulled the trigger too soon to blow up the levee.
KAREN NALLY SEABAUGH, FAMILY FARM FLOODED: I do believe that the government was worried about some of that. I don't think that should have played any role in it.
ROWLANDS: People in Cairo seem to be out of the woods. Take a look at the water levels of the Mississippi. This is water from the Mississippi in a spillway. It has been dropping considerably over the last few days. We should note that every person that we have talked to in the city of Cairo has been very empathetic. They absolutely feel bad for their neighbors in Missouri, but they also absolutely agree with the decision by the U.S. government to open up that levee and spare their city.
Ted Rowlands, CNN, Cairo, Illinois.
BLITZER: All right. Let's get the big picture right now on this unfolding disaster. Our meteorologist, Chad Myers, is in our CNN severe weather center.
Chad, how much worse is this flooding going to get?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: For Memphis and north, it's coming down. For Memphis and south, it is still coming up.
Let me take you to this town that Ted was just in. This is Cairo, right there. And this is what it looked like before the flood. Green grass, brown dirt, things growing.
April 29th I'm going to drag this across. The water beginning to get outside the banks. There's Cairo right there. Still dry. All of a sudden they blew the levee, Wolf, right there. I'm going to pull it across and all of the water, all of the water that could spill, would have spilled into this town was spilled all the way through 130,000 acres of land. And that is the story there of Cairo and all of that controversy.
Let's start -- I'm just going to back you up two months. There was a lot of snow in the Midwest. It was everywhere. Blew a couple feet deep. All of this snow started to melt. All of this snow started to melt, and then it started to rain. I have to draw this out for you. But you get the idea.
This is Arkansas. Right there. If you look at the white right there, that's 20 inches of rain or more in a month; in some spots, your purple, 16 It inches. Look at the size of this column (ph). It goes all of the way to Ohio, all the way back into Texas. It rained 12, 16 and there 20 inches of rain in one month. That water had to go somewhere. It got into the gulf. It will eventually get into the Gulf, but right now, it is in the Mississippi River.
It will take many days, as you said, where the water bubble is right here and the crest Memphis tonight, tomorrow, will begin to go down and then it goes up as the water comes down. This water has to get into the Gulf of Mexico somehow.
By May 23, that's when it finally goes to New Orleans. What they did in New Orleans, and we have the pictures and I think we still have some of these pictures as they opened the gates to the Bonnet Carre spillway today they take - they're talking all of this muddy water, pesticides, fertilizer, oil, sewage, all of this water now going into Lake Pontchartrain. Like they didn't have problems enough last year with tar balls in Lake Pontchartrain. Now they have this muck water that should have just flowed down into the Gulf of Mexico; now they have it in Lake Pontchartrain.
Here is a picture of what this looked like in 2008. It's a bloom of muddy water that comes straight into Lake Pontchartrain rather than going down along the river and then down into the Mississippi here and then down into the Gulf of Mexico.
They couldn't risk not opening the spillway. Wolf, if they didn't open the spillway, those levees that you see by Jackson Square would have been one half of a foot higher than the water level. They had to dump this stuff into Lake Pontchartrain, but now the fish are swimming away. There will be an algae bloom, probably, because of all that pesticide and all those fertilizers, and now we've just made a beautiful lake a mess again but nothing the Army Corps could do about it. They knew they had to do that to save New Orleans again -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. All of us remember Katrina not that long ago in New Orleans. All right, Chad. Thanks very much. Let's hope for the best this time around.
Other news we're following including our growing power struggle in Iran. It pits the president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, against the country's supreme religious leader, and now someone is being accused of sorcery.
Plus, the newspaper picture that had many people doing a double take. Why was Hillary Clinton removed from this famous White House photo?
BLITZER: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. What else is going on, Lisa?
LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, there, Wolf.
Well, Cuba is easing travel restrictions for its own citizens. Currently, Cubans have to jump through bureaucratic hoops to travel abroad. They must get an exit visa and a letter of invitation from the country they want to visit.
But for the first time in decades, the Cuban government is looking at ways to ease the restrictions that prevent many from ever leaving the island nation. It's one of the more than 300 reforms backed by the six communist party congress.
A warm welcome and handshakes greeted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Turkey today. Maybe quite a difference from home, where he's embroiled in a political feud with Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Top officials have mounted a campaign of criticism against Mr. Ahmadinejad, and some Ahmadinejad aides have been arrested, including the presidential palace's prayer leader on charges of sorcery.
Her real-life kidnapping and rescue shocked the country. Now Jaycee Dugard is penning a memoir about being held captive for nearly two decades. Her book, called "A Stolen Life," will be in stores in July. Dugard was abducted outside her Lake Tahoe, California, home in 1991 when she was just 11 years old. The couple accused of kidnapping her pleaded guilty last month.
And apparently, even royalty needs apps. On Britain's Queen Elizabeth's wish list, an iPad 2. Both of her grandsons, princes William and Harry, own iPads and reportedly gave their grandmother a crash course in using it. The 85-year-old monarch already has her own Facebook page and two -- not just one, Wolf, but two iPods. So she's certainly keeping up with the times, Wolf.
BLITZER: Good for her. Good for the queen. All right. Thanks very much, Lisa, for that.
All of us remember it. It's the iconic photograph that captured an unforgettable moment in history. President Obama and his national security team watching the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Pakistan from the White House Situation Room. Guess what? In this photo that's been doctored, someone's missing. We'll tell you why and what's going on.
BLITZER: For a week now it's been seen around the world, that picture of President Obama and his national security team watching the raid on Osama bin Laden from the White House Situation Room. But when one newspaper ran it, guess what? Something was missing. The secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. CNN's Mary Snow is joining us now with details.
What happened here, Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this altered photo has gone viral. The publisher of a Yiddish newspaper says the PhotoShopping was done because of religious reasons, he says. But he's apologizing for it, saying the photo should never have been in his newspaper.
SNOW (voice-over): It's become an iconic photograph. The president and his national security team in the White House Situation Room during the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound.
But look closely at this photo published in the Yiddish newspaper named Der Tzitung. Gone are the only two women in the room: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason, the director for counterterrorism. And it's thrust this newspaper, based in an ultraorthodox Brooklyn neighborhood, into the spotlight.
ALBERT FRIEDMAN, PUBLISHER OF WEEKLY NEWSPAPER: Our Web site crashed yesterday afternoon.
SNOW: Albert Friedman is the publisher of the weekly newspaper which he says the newspaper has roughly 20,000 readers. He cites religious rules for banning photos of women in the paper, but he issued a statement apologizing, as White House photographs are not supposed to be manipulated.
FRIEDMAN: Usually, we don't -- we aren't allowed to publish pictures of women...
FRIEDMAN: Due to Jewish laws of modesty. However, women are very much respected as you see in our statement, so the person in charge of pictures, he did not read the fine print. He did not know that a White House picture is not supposed to be edited without permission.
SNOW (voice-over): Friedman says the photos should not have been published in their paper at all. Rules are so strict in this ultraorthodox neighborhood that we found signs along a main street reminding women that wearing skirts less than four inches below their knee is forbidden.
Religious rules aside, one rabbi who's not orthodox calls it unethical to distort history.
RABBI JASON MILLER, COLUMNIST, "THE JEWISH WEEK": It was very upsetting for me and certainly for a lot of women that I know to see that they took a woman like Hillary Clinton, who ascended to this high position based on merit and her experience and her political clout, and they essentially took her right out of history.
FRIEDMAN: We're nothing against woman, nothing against a woman getting high elective office. Just we have to abide by our laws of modesty. Freedom of the press is in the Constitution but so is freedom of religion.
SNOW: Now publisher Albert Friedman who you just say there says he has called the White House and the State Department to apologize. He says he plans on printing a statement in this week's paper saying the photo shouldn't have used and responding to allegations that religious Jews don't respect women in public office -- Wolf.
BLITZER: So if Hillary Clinton would have been elected president of the United States, they wouldn't have run a picture of the president in that newspaper, is that what I'm hearing?
SNOW: That's what you're hearing. They would not have run a picture of her had she been elected president. Hard to believe, but they said they would not publish a photograph of a woman.
BLITZER: All right. Mary Snow in New York for us. Thanks, Mary, very much.
A congressman shows of his physique for a men's magazine. Jeanne Moos coming up next.
BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour is almost too easy: "Is a presidential run already over for Donald Trump?"
H.J. in St. Paul, Minnesota: "When President Obama made a public spectacle of Trump, he was finished. The guy's a joke. Once someone called him out, he was going to be done. I mean, he took credit for insulting the president into showing a nonnecessary piece of identification. What a chump." Tom in Texas writes, "It was over before he started, and everybody knew it but him. However, I'm still hoping he'll be the Republican candidate because there will be no one easier to beat."
Paul in a Florida writes, "Trump didn't get where he is by throwing in the towel when things get a little rough. I like his in- your-face, no-nonsense style. It's too soon to count him out."
Carol in Massachusetts: "Did you see the White House Correspondents' Dinner? Trump left despondent, but the look on his wife's face said it all. It was over that night. And that was before Obama got Osama."
Donald in Kentucky writes, "I seriously doubt that Obama is worried about running against Donald Trump. If Trump could somehow win the nomination, Obama's 2012 victory would be the biggest landslide in history. On the other hand, Trump could just do enough damage to any other perspective Republican candidate that the end result would be the same. Personally, I think Trump is an Obama supporter in disguise and will disrupt the GOP efforts in 2012, thus becoming President Obama's Trump card."
Steve in New York: "Obviously, the press has already destroyed him. Left wingers have spoken. Even though Trump is right in every thing he says, the press doesn't like the way he says it. There you go. That's how we elect presidents in this country."
And Josh in New York writes, "Trump for president? Forget about it. I was hoping he'd last longer just because I like a good laugh. The idea of his candidacy was preposterous from the start. He makes Sarah Palin look like the thinking voter's candidate. Donald Trump's endearing contribution to society is the fact that he is the living embodiment of the notion that money doesn't buy class."
Want to read more on the subject -- got a lot of e-mail -- go to the blog, CNN.com/CaffertyFile.
BLITZER: I knew you'd get a lot of e-mail. As soon as you mentioned his name or Sarah Palin's name you're going to get a lot of e-mail, Jack. Thanks very much. See you back here tomorrow.
Pakistan blasts allegations it must have known where Osama bin Laden was hiding or it was shockingly incompetent but can the U.S. trust its ally in the war on terror? Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana weighs in on "JOHN KING USA." That's coming up at the top of the hour.
Plus, if you're telling people to get fit and work out, it helps to look like this. Meet the U.S. congressman who's backing up his message.
BLITZER: The magazine calls him America's fittest congressman. He's also the youngest. CNN's Jeanne Moos reports he's hoping this picture will inspire you to get up and work out.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a six pack that everyone can drink in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The rims (ph) are fabulous.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wow. I'll vote for him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So he looks awesome. What's wrong with that?
MOOS: Nothing wrong with it. It's just that these exposed abs on the June cover of "Men's Health" don't belong to some male model. He's a congressman.
UNDIENTIFIED FEMALE: Really?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're kidding me? This guy here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow.
MOOS: The Illinois congressman, Aaron Schock, at 29, he's the youngest member of Congress. Here' what he looks like fully clothed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is it appropriate to have a half naked congressman on a magazine? I don't know.
MOOS: But he's half naked for a cause. It's a campaign to inspire Americans to get fit. Though Schock's a Republican, he admires Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign. Schock himself wakes up at 5:30 so he can spend an hour or two in the gym. He was asked on "The Today Show" if pictures of his exposed abs could come back to haunt his political career.
REP. AARON SCHOCK (R), ILLINOIS: There is some risk with it, but I think it's risk worth taking.
MOOS: Hey, a way more naked centerfold of new Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown back when he was 22 doesn't seem to have damaged his career, and bare-chested Barack Obama isn't doing so badly, though at the time he was annoyed by the photo and told reporters, "Stop looking at it. It's embarrassing. "
DAVID LETTERMAN, HOST, CBS'S "THE LATE SHOW WITH DAVID LETTERMAN": How did you become known for your abs?
SCHOCK: Don't ask me.
MOOS: TV types have been asking him for two years.
STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL'S "COLBERT REPORT": I think your constituents deserve to know. Do you or do you not have six-pack abs?
MOOS: It goes back to when TMZ dug up a photo of Schock poolside in Peoria.
A professional trainer says Schock's abs could be tighter.
MARIO GODIVA, FITNESS TRAINER: I would say, like, an eight.
MOOS (on camera): Now he's a congressman.
GODIVA: This is the guy I heard about.
MOOS: You like a well-defined six pack.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who doesn't? I just hope it's real. I hope it's not PhotoShopped.
MOOS (voice-over): Definitely not, says "Men's Health" contributing editor Steve Perrine. Check out the scar.
STEVE PERRINE, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, "MEN'S HEALTH": That would be his appendicitis scar, and there was a little debate, should we take that out? And then we thought no, we want to make sure that this is untouched and original.
MOOS: But not everyone liked what they saw in this congressman who is, by the way, still single.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. It's a little bulgy for me.
MOOS: A little bulgy?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A little bulgy.
MOOS (voice-over): His abs may be hard, but there's something they lack.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like these abs right here that he's got.
MOOS (on camera): Hairy ones.
(voice-over) Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching.
"JOHN KING USA" starts right now.