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THE SITUATION ROOM

Growing Anger in Search for Missing; Concerns Over Trial for Ex-IMF Chief; Notorious Fugitive Captured; 'Strategy Session'; Interview With Benjamin Netanyahu

Aired May 26, 2011 - 17:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: Brooke, thanks very much.

Happening now, growing outrage in Joplin, Missouri, where almost a week since the killer tornado and many families are desperately searching for loved ones still. They can't get enough information about where they are, even if they are alive right now. We're on the scene for you.

Also, the former IMF chief charged with attempted sexual assault against a hotel maid now under house arrest at a swank multimillion dollar townhouse in New York.

Why his lawyers are claiming he may not get a fair trial.

And all eyes now on the phrase "one nation" in the GOP race to the White House. Just ahead, new signs those words could be Sarah Palin is running for president.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

But first, a heartbreaking development in Joplin, Missouri. All week we've been bring you wrenching stories of those missing in the tornado's wake, while at the same time holding out hope they might still be found alive. One of them, 16-year-old Lantz Hare, who was in his car when the twister hit, has become a symbol of the desperation felt by so many families.

I spoke to his mother, Michelle, on Tuesday right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHELLE HARE, MOTHER OF LANTZ HARE: Oh, my gosh, he was -- he's amazing. He's a straight A student, always has been. Everything comes so naturally. He has amazing friends. He rides BMX. He's involved in the Bridge Ministries here in Joplin, very active, once again, respectful (INAUDIBLE), cares about his family so much.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Sadly, we've just learned that Lantz Hare has now been found dead. Our own Brian Todd is in Joplin -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we spoke to Michelle Hare a short time ago. She seems to be doing remarkably well given the news that she just got. She's caught up in the controversy over the names of the missing and the people who are -- they're trying to locate who have gone missing from this tornado.

As an effort to streamline that process, officials today put out this list of 232 people who have definitely been reported missing by their loved ones. But in some cases, this list has led to more questions than answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: (voice-over): For those searching for missing loved ones, accounts of heartbreak and frustration. It started with people like Michelle Hare, who couldn't find her 16-year-old son, Lantz, for days after the tornado.

HARE: Proper information is not being given to the public.

TODD: Complaints like that led officials to try to streamline the process. The Missouri Department of Public Safety is now in charge of locating those unaccounted for.

ANDREA SPILLARS, MISSOURI DISPUTE OF PUBLIC SAFETY: And we will provide today a list of 232 individuals that we have actual reports, that individuals have come in and said that they were missing and unaccounted for.

TODD: But no sooner did we get that list than we noticed a problem in the case of Lantz Hare.

(on camera): This is the car Lantz was driving. His mother tells us it was on the other side of these train tracks. It was picked up and thrown all the way over here, where it landed. He has been reported by his mother as missing and was on this list of 232 people.

However, there's a problem. It appears that his name is on the list twice. He goes by the name Calye Lantz (ph) Hare. Here is listed as Calye Hare, 16 years old, 1601 Jefferson. On the next page, Cayle Lantz, (ph) 1601 Jefferson, the same age. We didn't get an immediate response from officials as to why his name appears on the list twice. But since we got this list, we were told by his mother she's had a positive identification of Lantz and that he is deceased.

(voice-over): Other families are complaining that they're not being allowed to go to a secretly located temporary morgue that's been set up, where the federal government has a team of forensic specialists helping to identify bodies.

(on camera): Why not let people into the morgue to look at bodies and possibly identify them under your supervision?

What's wrong with that?

SPILLARS: OK. The Disaster Federal Mortuary Team has several mechanisms to positively identify individuals. That is the most important thing. In a catastrophic event, we want to make sure that we don't make mistakes, that we positively identify these individuals. So fingerprints, DNA, medical records, whatever we need to do to positively identify so that those family members can get some solace.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

TODD: A federal official told me a short time ago that another key reason why they're not letting people go into that morgue is that often in these situations, an accurate visual I.D. is not possible. He says that sometimes family members do make an incorrect identification and that leads to more problems -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And our deepest condolences to Michelle Hare and the entire family. What a horrible, horrible, terrible loss.

Brian, we'll check back with you.

Thank you.

Amidst all that is missing or destroyed in Joplin, it's hard to imagine anything still in place. But as Jeanne Meserve reports, there have been some rather surprising finds.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With a pickax and their bare hands, the Ferguson family extricates a file cabinet from the rubble of what was their insurance company office.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, wow! Whoa.

MESERVE: Inside, unscathed, all their clients' records. But something even more remarkable came out of this wreckage -- another insurance agent who had been in the office working on a children's book.

BONNIE HINUM, SURVIVOR: I was just typing away and photocopying when the sirens went off. It just got stronger and stronger and stronger. It seemed like it went on forever. And finally, the wall that I was leaning against began to collapse.

MESERVE: Bonnie Hinum survived, protected by a desk chair. When rescuers freed her and she surveyed the landscape, she had trouble recognizing the neighborhood where she had worked for 20 years.

HINUM: I knew where I was, but it didn't look like anything I had ever seen before.

MESERVE: In her pocket now, something she put in her pocket just as the tornado hit. HINUM: All was not lost, indeed. I saved everything to my flash drive -- my whole book. It was almost finished. The deadline was Monday. So I can upload it and just shoot it right off to my publisher as soon as I get time.

MESERVE: Bonnie's daughter tells her she must have been saved for a reason. Bonnie may have found it. She and her husband have reopened their insurance business in a temporary office so they can help their neighbors rebuild their lives. There is so much to rebuild.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Joplin, Missouri.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: And we'll take you back to Joplin in a few minutes.

But there's other stories we're following.

We're -- in Joplin, by the way, we're going to speak with a frustrated widower. Her military husband was killed inside the Home Depot during an act of heroism. He's fighting for closure. We're going to go back there shortly. Stand by for that.

In New York, Meanwhile, there are other dramatic new developments in the case of the former IMF chief charged with attempted sexual assault against a hotel maid. Lawyers for Dominique Strauss-Kahn have just delivered a letter to the judge slamming the New York Police Department for, quote, "feeding the media frenzy" and arguing his right to a fair trial is being compromised. All of this just one day after Strauss-Kahn's house arrest was moved to a ritzy luxury townhouse.

CNN's Deborah Feyerick is in New York.

She's working all the details for us.

So what do you have -- Deb?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there was a very public war of letters today. The defense started with the first shot. Prosecutors fired back.

But it started with defense lawyers basically taking aim at the NYPD, blaming a high-ranking official and unnamed police sources for either leaking or publicly releasing information which lawyers believe could prejudice a jury against their client. Now they say police were feeding the media frenzy and they cite descriptions that appeared in the press of alleged sexual assaults of a housekeeper inside the Sofitel Hotel. That includes statements she is said to have made. It also includes scientific forensic tests that allegedly place Strauss- Kahn's DNA on the housekeeper's clothing. That's allegedly.

Now, they've asked the judge for early access to all these reports and tests. Defense lawyers say they, too, could have fed the media frenzy by releasing information that both undermines the credibility of the housekeeper, but also the prosecution's case.

Now a senior prosecutor replied, saying: "The district attorney shares the concern about leaks and if defense lawyers, in fact, do have important information, well, they should bring it forward sooner than later."

What you're looking at right there, well, Dominique Strauss-Kahn spent his day in a 6,800 square foot townhouse in trendy Tribeca. It rents usually for $60,000 a month. The sun-filled home boasts a huge living room with skylight, a rooftop deck with a grill, a gym, a spa, a state-of-the-art home theater and a wet bar in the master bedroom.

Plus, there are lots of great restaurants in the area, most of which deliver.

Now Strauss-Kahn was rejected by one luxury building. He was kicked out of another. So this is really one of the few places that would take him. But if you add in the cost of security, Strauss-Kahn is now paying a quarter of a million dollars a month to live. And that's not including food or the cost of his lawyers. You see him there. He was surrounded by the kind of police and security normally reserved for a presidential candidate. Ironic, since he was France's leading contender before all this happened -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Deb Feyerick, thank you.

Deb Feyerick is in New York.

An American journalist comes under attack in Libya. Just ahead, the harrowing 44 days he spent jailed and being interrogated by Gadhafi forces.

Plus, one of the world's most notorious fugitives captured after more than 15 years in hiding. The former CNN journalist, Christiane Amanpour, covered him for years for us.

She's standing by to join us live for an interview.

And is there a way to control tornadoes or keep them from even happening?

Some meteorologists say it's possible. We'll have the theories and the consequences and a lot more, coming up right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: U.S. action in Libya is on Jack Cafferty's mind.

Jack is here with The Cafferty File -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, THE CAFFERTY FILE: Several members of the house of Representatives are accusing President Obama of violating the War Powers Act by continuing to allow U.S. participation in Allied attacks on Libya. Congressman Dan Burton, Republican from Indiana, accused the president of playing king. Democratic Congressman Brad Sherman of California said the whole ordeal is shredding the U.S. Constitution.

This past Friday was the 60th day since the president told Congress that this country was joining Allied forces in attacks against Moammar Gadhafi in Libya -- told Congress, as opposed to asking for their approval. The 60 day mark is significant, because under the War Powers Resolution, Congressional authorization is required in significant military activity by that date or the operation has to be stopped.

Well, neither has happened.

Instead, as the deadline approached, the president sent a letter to Congressional leaders asking for a resolution of support. The president didn't mention the War Powers Act or ask explicitly for authorization in his letter. He just asked for support.

He may get the resolution from the Senate. John Kerry and John McCain have introduced a bipartisan resolution that expresses Congress' support for U.S. military involvement in Libya. But Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said a vote on that won't happen before the long Memorial Day weekend recess. And over in the House, a much different story. Neither party has any plans to bring a resolution of support to the floor there.

The War Powers Act dates to 1973. It came out of the Vietnam War. It was passed as an effort to restore the role of Congress in deciding whether or not the U.S. military becomes involved in significant conflicts. President Nixon, at the time, vetoed the act and Congress overrode it and it's pretty much been ignored by presidents ever since. Nobody pays much attention to it, it seems.

Anyway, here is the question: Is President Obama breaking the law with the United States' role in Libya? Go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and post a comment on my blog.

BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, thank you. Thanks very much.

Now to one American's dramatic close call with death in Libya. The journalist James Foley has been released after being held by Gadhafi forces for more than a month.

Our own Lisa Sylvester is in New York now. She had a chance to speak with Mr. Foley.

I'm glad he's back home, Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we are all very glad.

You know, "Globalpost" correspondent James Foley, he has been in Afghanistan. He's been in Libya. He's been in a lot of different hot spots. And he believes it's important to be right on the front lines, to be able to report back exactly what's happening. But on April 5th, that almost cost him his life.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SYLVESTER (voice-over): But for the grace of God, he wouldn't be here to tell his story. He was on the front lines in Brega, Libya, with three other journalists when forces loyal to Gadhafi began shooting at them.

JAMES FOLEY, GLOBALPOST CORRESPONDENT: This was soldiers getting out of the trucks, walking towards you, and shooting directly at you. You know, bullets stream overhead.

SYLVESTER: Foley's friend, south African photographer Anton Hammerl was hit and lay dying.

FOLEY: He said help, help. And I said, Anton, are you OK? He said no. And more bullets came in. And I called out to him again. And there was no response.

It's unreal, you know. Why -- why him and not me? I was maybe 20 meter away from him.

And, you know, he had a family, three kids. Beloved photographer for many years in Johannesburg and he wanted to do a two-week story on the battle of Brega.

SYLVESTER: Foley, fellow American Clare Gillis, and Spanish photographer Manu Bravo were taken by Gadhafi troops and held in a cell, interrogated repeatedly as bombs fell around them in Tripoli.

FOLEY: Especially towards the end, we started to hear the bombs coming closer and more frequently.

SYLVESTER: He was allowed only one five-minute phone call back home, and he spoke to his mom.

FOLEY: First thing I said when I called her, I'm sorry, mom, yes. But also, I'm strong. I feel OK. I feel good. I'm praying as much as I can.

And she said, don't you feel us all praying for you? And I was -- I took that back to cell (ph) with me.

SYLVESTER: After 44 days, they were released and brought to this hotel, where other Western journalists were staying, their ordeal finally over.

Looking back, Foley now has a larger perspective on life.

FOLEY: I have to understand that the grace that is -- that has happened. And, you know, there is a reason for me to be here, you know? There's a reason all these people reached out, and what can I give? What can I do here and now?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SYLVESTER: And I asked Foley. You know, if he wants to return to Libya. He said he recognizes that he put his family through a lot of trauma. So, for now, he is going to be stateside. But he said it is really an amazing story covering what is happening in North Africa. And he hopes to go back. Just not right away -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, I hope when he goes back, it will be a free and democratic and peaceful Libya as opposed to what it is right now. So, glad that he's back home. So glad that you had a chance, Lisa, to speak with him. You did some excellent work telling his story over the past few weeks. And now, he's back home safe and sound. Thanks very much, Lisa Sylvester.

What was it like for you to finally speak with him having done so much work about his case and the case of his fellow journalists who were being held in captivity?

SYLVESTER: It was amazing to see him right, you know, face-to- face in person, because, you know, the last time that I was reporting, we saw the pictures. Well saw the still photos. But to actually see him in the flesh, to see that he was well and OK.

And it is a tremendous story, too, of just all of the love and the support that he and Clare Gillis, that they had from their family and friends, really putting the pressure on to bring them back home. So, it was thrill.

And he is an excellent journalist. I got to tell you, Wolf. He really does put his life on the line because he feels it's important to tell people what is going on, to tell people not to sugarcoat it in any way, but to show them the pictures. And that means oftentimes putting himself in danger, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yes, it looks like he is a great young guy. All right. Thanks very much, Lisa. Thanks for doing all the good work, too.

The Supreme Court passes judgment on a law that sparked fury and boycotts aimed at Arizona. These marchers won't be happy with the outcome, and it may give them reason to worry about another law they hate.

And three years ago, Sarah Palin was relatively unknown governor of Alaska. Today, she is a huge media celebrity and a conservative force of nature. Is she ready to add another line to her resume -- president of the United States?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Lisa is back. She's monitoring some of the other top stories in THE SITUATION ROOM right now, including a summit for the global powers in France.

What's the latest, Lisa?

SYLVESTER: Hi there, Wolf.

Well, President Obama is huddling with world leaders today and tomorrow at the G-8 meeting in France. At the summit, the president told Japan's prime minister that Americans are heartbroken by the devastation caused by the tsunami. He also found time to sit down with Russia's president and discuss economic and security issues. In a 5-3 decision, the Supreme Court has upheld an Arizona immigration law that set off a wave of protest. The law punishes businesses who hire illegal immigrants. The White House argues the law steps on federal oversight of immigration.

Now, this decision could be just a warm-up. A more controversial law allowing police officers a greater role in arresting illegal immigrants is still in the lower courts.

And the Census Bureau says the rate of population growth in the United States is slowing down. In the last decade, the country grew at a rate of 9.7 percent. Now, that's way down from the baby boom of the 1950s when the rate was about twice that. Officials also note that the global growth rate is about three percentage points higher than the U.S., but the U.S. is rate is still more than other developed nations -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Lisa, thank you.

Growing, growing outrage in Missouri as families struggle to get answers about missing loved ones. Just ahead, we're going back to Joplin for a live report.

And a notorious international fugitive captured after a decade on the run. The former CNN journalist Christiane Amanpour is here, and she is weighing in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, FORMER CNN JOURNALIST: The firemen are waging their war with very few weapons. There aren't enough trucks, fireman's uniform (ph) -- the U.N. has authorized --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: One of the most notorious fugitives of the past two decades has finally been captured in Serbia. Ratko Mladic is the former Bosnian Serb military commander accused of genocide and crimes against humanity during the Yugoslav wars of the 1990s.

CNN's Hala Gorani has more on the arrest.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

HALA GORANI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): After almost 16 years on the run, one of the world's most wanted alleged war criminals is finally captured. Serbian authorities arrested Ratko Mladic Thursday. They reportedly caught up with him in Lazarevo, a village near the northern down of Zrenjanin.

Mladic was a Bosnian Serb general during the Balkan wars of the 1990s and the highest ranking Yugoslav war crimes suspect still at large. He is wanted for genocide, extermination, and murder, and is accused of masterminding the 1995 massacre at Srebrenica. LORD DAVID OWEN, FORMER E.U. ENVOY TO FORMER YUGOSLAVIA: General Mladic has a very heavy responsibility for what was a tragedy in Bosnia-Herzegovina for many years, but particularly for the massacre of over 8,000 Muslim males, which is already being judged to be a genocide.

GORANI: The capture was praised internationally as a victory for the rule of law in Serbia.

ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, NATO SECRETARY GENERAL: The arrest of Ratko Mladic is a very important step towards full integration of the entire region in our Euro-Atlantic community.

GORANI: Mladic now faces extradition to the Netherlands and will eventually be tried by an international war crimes tribunal.

Hala Gorani, reporting.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: The Balkan wars certainly one of the darker chapters of Europe's modern history. No journalist who covered the conflict ever forgot the horrors of Sarajevo and Srebrenica. The longtime CNN correspondent Christiane Amanpour extensively covered the war. There she is. You see the pictures from her back in the '90s.

She now works, as all of you know, for ABC News, hosts "This Week" on Sunday morning.

And Christiane, I'm glad you're back on CNN, at least right now, here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And I wanted to try to recreate what you felt earlier today when you learned that Ratko Mladic had finally been caught.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, HOST, "THIS WEEK WITH CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR": Well, Wolf, it's good to be back on this day because it's a great day for international justice.

Just think of this month. First, Osama bin Laden, on the lam for nearly 10 years, and now Ratko Mladic, for 16 years, after perpetrating the worst war crime in Europe since World War II. Wolf, we all grew up saying never again. We heard, "Never again." And yet, you remember, I remember covering that war for the entire '90s, crippled the activity of the United States and Europe.

It was the worst failure of international security after World War II. And now, finally, this man is going the face his day of reckoning after killing and perpetrating such atrocities for so many years.

So it's very emotional. It's very -- as I say, a good day for international justice. And the families of those victims will finally be able to know that they will get justice, and that he will face his moment in court -- Wolf. BLITZER: We all remember your reports from Bosnia during those years, Christiane. Is there a moment or two you remember specifically that moved you so much in that reporting history?

AMANPOUR: Yes, of course. Being in Sarajevo, for instance, which you'll remember, the world covered when it hosted the Winter Olympics. And all of the sudden, it turned into this slaughterhouse, this slaughterhouse where neither men nor women nor innocent children were spared.

And of course journalists were part of that coverage. We were in the city. We were amongst the civilians as well, and so many journalists got killed and wounded, including some of our colleagues at ABC, at CNN, and all the other brotherhood, if you like.

But the moments I think when we confronted Mladic, when we were able to interview him and talk to him, and we saw the steely gaze of a killer, Wolf. There is no other word to describe it.

He had that smile. He talked to dignitaries who had come, as you remember, from all over the world to try to get an end to this war. And he would just sit there and smile and deny that anything other than a terrible civil war was happening. And he always denied it.

I remember being in the room when President Carter came to try and broker a cease-fire, an end to the war, and Mladic just sat there and looked him in the eye and said, "It is not as you think, Mr. President. The press has been telling you lies."

And I remember being furious at that moment, furious at that moment, because we had covered, you know, in graphic detail what was going on. And he was able to do that to all his interlocutors for so long. Finally, the long arm of the law has caught up with him, and not a moment too soon.

BLITZER: It's amazing how the world has changed in 16 years. Serbia, think about this, Christiane, on the verge of becoming a member of the European Union.

AMANPOUR: Well, look, Wolf, precisely. And it was the outstanding evasion of justice by Ratko Mladic that was stopping them from joining as a full member the European Union. You remember they had to hand over Slobodan Milosevic. That happened in 2000.

Then they had to make sure that Ratko Mladic's cohort, Radovan Karadzic, he was finally arrested -- again, in Serbia -- several years ago. And then the last outstanding hurdle to them, fully joining the European Union and the community of civilized nations, if you like, was the outstanding arrest of Ratko Mladic.

Finally, they have done it, and finally this puts to bed this last obstacle towards them joining the European Union. And it's a very important day, and the Serbian president has said for a long time that he was committed to this. And finally, it's happened.

BLITZER: So what do you think happens next? I mean, the people who live there -- have you been back there at all any time in recent years?

AMANPOUR: Yes, I have. And, in fact, it was very emotional and very moving several years ago.

I went back with the now late but very great American diplomat Richard Holbrooke. You remember it was after Srebrenica, after what Mladic and Milosevic and Karadzic did in Srebrenica that the United States finally intervened.

It got its NATO coalition together. It bombarded the Bosnian- Serb military targets, and finally put Holbrooke in charge of leading the Dayton Peace Accords. And that came the a peace agreement in '95 which holds to this day.

I went back with Holbrooke, and I remember so clearly him being greeted by people in the streets of Sarajevo who just wanted to thank him for bringing peace and for ending that war. So it was very emotional. And I think right now what Holbrooke must be thinking.

BLITZER: Because I was thinking about that, Richard Holbrooke. He was a mutual friend of both of ours. And I was thinking if he were alive -- tragically, he died suddenly, only a few months ago -- if he were alive right now, it would have been a moment I would have liked to have shared with him as well. It would have been a special moment.

AMANPOUR: Absolutely. Absolutely. It is special. And all this work that went into crafting that piece and finally catching this man, who, don't forget, has been indicted on the most serious crimes under international law, genocide and crimes against humanity.

BLITZER: All right. We'll watch the trial.

Christiane Amanpour, thanks for coming back to CNN.

AMANPOUR: Thank you.

BLITZER: We'll have you back.

A popular television news personality suspended for using an ugly slur against a conservative talk show host. Has the political rhetoric become way overheated? We'll talk about it in our "Strategy Session."

And for Sarah Palin, it's all about "One Nation." Just ahead, new signs she could soon be running for president.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: "The lowest of low." That's how MSNBC's Ed Schultz apologized for his choice of words describing conservative commentator Laura Ingraham.

Here is the comment that got him into trouble and the apology that swiftly followed.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP) ED SCHULTZ, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: And what are the Republicans thinking about? They're not thinking about their next-door neighbor. They're just thinking about how much this is going to cost.

President Obama is going to be visiting Joplin, Missouri, on Sunday. But you know what they're talking about, like this right-wing slut -- what's her name, Laura Ingraham? Yes, she is a talk slut.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCHULTZ: I want to apologize to Laura Ingraham. I want to apologize to my family.

I have embarrassed my family. I have embarrassed this company. And I have been in this business since 1978 and I have made a lot of mistakes. This is the lowest of low for me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: MSNBC suspended him for one week without pay.

Let's talk about this and more in our "Strategy Session." Joining us, Donna Brazile, our CNN political contributor, the Democratic strategist. Also joined by Republican strategist Tony Blankley. He served as the press secretary to the former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. He's now with Edelman PR here in Washington.

It's clear the political discourse out there has returned, becoming so poisonous, only a few months after we thought it was going to die down after the whole Gabby Giffords shooting in Tucson.

DONNA BRAZILE, CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it was extremely demeaning, sexist, and it was absolutely right to apologize. Laura has accepted his apology.

I know them both. I've been on both radio shows. They are very passionate individuals. But, at the same time, Wolf, we can disagree with demonizing people who we have policy differences with.

BLITZER: Yes.

BRAZILE: I like Tony Blankley. He's a classy man. And I'll tell you one thing, if I disagree with him, I'll take it up with his wife.

(LAUGHTER)

TONY BLANKLEY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Look -- and this was pretty repulsive. I mean, it was defamatory, it was misogynistic.

And also, I mean, I've known Laura for 25 years. It was completely inapplicable. I mean, she is a very proper ladylike person. So it was just -- everything was wrong about what he said.

He should have apologized. It was gracious of her to accept his apology.

To some extent, all of us who talk in public, we define our place in the hierarchy about how we talk. We have all said stupid things. I have.

BRAZILE: I have.

BLANKLEY: We don't want to have our entire career judged by one stupid thing. You hear yourself saying, and afterwards you say, I don't even believe that. Things come out sometimes.

Nonetheless, we have to live with the consequences of our words, and we define ourselves. So, he has, to some extent -- I've done Ed's show, his TV show, and he has always been perfectly fair to me. He has defined himself downward by this language. And MSNBC has to decide what to do.

BRAZILE: I hope it doesn't really take away from a person who has devoted his life to not just being a talk show host, but he is a very passionate progressive who stands up for public workers. He has been out there on the front lines each and every day of his life. This is a guy with tremendous value.

BLITZER: You're hoping it's not a career-ender for him?

BRAZILE: Ed is someone who really believes in equality and justice for all. He's a fair man. It was a bad choice of words. It was wrong, and he was right to apologize.

BLANKLEY: I don't like to see anybody have their career ended because they say something damn foolish. But the sincerity or the fineness of our apology doesn't excuse our conduct. And so he's sort of in that zone. And I've gone without a job, and I don't want to see anybody go without a job.

BRAZILE: Same here. But he is not alone. Trust me.

BLITZER: Let's talk about some other political stuff that's out there, including all this talk now, all of a sudden -- Sarah Palin -- you're a Republican, Tony. What do you think? Is she going to run for the Republican presidential nomination?

BLANKLEY: You know, I don't know. And she has run a very individual career.

I mean, nothing in her career could have been predicted. When she quit the governorship, I was like one of the few people out there saying I didn't think she was hurting herself. I thought it made sense to move down to the lower 48, and that she wouldn't pay too much of a price. She has not paid too much of a price for that.

Is she going to run? She has a lot to lose if she doesn't win the nomination, because she has developed a tremendous persona.

BLITZER: Could she win the nomination? BLANKLEY: She could. I think she would be very hard to win the general. But depending on a four-or-five-way split, could she get 20, 25 percent consistently? Possibly.

BLITZER: Because there has been a lot of suggestion she could win in Iowa, right?

BRAZILE: Of course.

BLITZER: She probably would not have a chance in New Hampshire because Romney is basically the native son.

BRAZILE: But she could win in South Carolina.

BLITZER: But she could then go on and win South Carolina. Then Michigan, right?

BRAZILE: Yes. And then look, Wolf, you have these rules on the Republican side where it's winner take all because they want to spread the contests out. This is a woman that has tremendous name recognition, and she is also very popular with social conservatives.

So, go, Sarah, go.

BLITZER: You want her to run?

BRAZILE: I need something to talk about every day. This woman gave me a tweet every morning. I want her to run. Michele Bachmann -- the more the better.

BLANKLEY: I don't have a lot of confidence in my hunch, but my hunch is she will not run. But if she does, she will be competitive. On the other hand, the Republican primary voters really want to win the general election.

BLITZER: If she runs, is it, for all practical purposes, a race between her and Romney?

BLANKLEY: No, I don't think so.

BLITZER: Your former boss Newt --

(CROSSTALK)

BLANKLEY: I think Newt is going to be in it. He's going to be in it, I think, well into the next spring. He's got a mountain to climb. He has climbed mountains like that before.

We have to -- I think there are other candidates who could rise. So we don't know. We don't have the whole field yet. So I think she is very competitive, but it's hardly just her or Romney.

BLITZER: If there's one wildcard out there -- if she does run -- and that's -- and if she gets the Republican nomination, would there be a third-party candidate, a Michael Bloomberg, who would then throw his hat in the ring? And who knows what that would do? BLANKLEY: Well, that's a Democratic fantasy, to have a three-way party. I don't think we're going to have --

BRAZILE: Let me have fantasies at my age.

BLITZER: Before you get too excited, Donna, I want to remind you -- and I'm old enough to remember this, Tony is old enough to remember this -- you were probably a baby girl -- they were high-fiving in the White House when a movie star, Ronald Reagan, got the nomination.

BLANKLEY: I worked on that campaign.

BRAZILE: No, no.

BLANKLEY: And the Jimmy Carter folks were saying, how can we possibly -- an incumbent president losing to a movie star?

BRAZILE: Look, this is not about her. She is a serious candidate. I think she has tremendous staying power.

Look, she turned a four-car funeral into an exciting convention, and then she is a vice presidential candidate that we're still talking about. Everybody is talking about my old vice presidential candidate, Al Gore.

BLITZER: All right, guys. Thanks for coming in.

Frustrations are mounting in Missouri right now. A military man killed inside this Home Depot as he tried to save someone else. Why his widow is now fighting to see him again.

But first, will U.S. troops end up protecting the peace between Israel and a new Palestinian state? The prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, gives me his answer.

That's next, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, brought Congress to its feet more than two dozen times in a speech on Tuesday as he described his vision of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. During his visit to Washington, he also found some time for an interview with me over at Blair House across the street for the White House.

I asked him about his demand for an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River in the West Bank, as opposed to a United Nations presence or a United States presence.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NETANYAHU: Well, you know, one of the things that I said is that our experience, having withdrawn from Lebanon, is that we left, there was a beefed-up international force, a UNIFIL force that was supposed to prevent Hezbollah from rearming. Now they have four times -- four times the weapons they had before we withdrew. So that didn't work out.

BLITZER: So the answer is you wouldn't accept U.S. troops -- NATO troops?

NETANYAHU: No. I said we need a long-term Israeli military presence along the Jordan River for a simple reason. We don't ask for American troops to defend us. I said this in Congress.

BLITZER: There is a precedent, though, with American troops. They are still in Sinai as a result of the Israeli withdrawal from Sinai way back, and they're still there to this very day.

NETANYAHU: What are they doing there?

BLITZER: So you want them to leave?

NETANYAHU: No. What are they doing there?

BLITZER: Do you want them to stay?

NETANYAHU: Yes, I want them to stay. But what are they doing there?

BLITZER: They are reassuring you, I assume, that the Egyptians won't launch troops and move towards Israel.

NETANYAHU: I will tell you what they are doing there. What they are doing there -- there's a multinational force in the Sinai that's a monitoring force. They are not enforcing --

BLITZER: Would you accept that in the West Bank?

NETANYAHU: Not enforcing --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: Would you accept a multinational U.S. force?

NETANYAHU: I think that what is critical is what actually blocks the infiltration of Iranian weapons into a potential Palestinian state, and that will have to be the task of the Israeli military in the foreseeable future. And that's what I said. And I think that's right.

And look, we left Gaza. And you know there was a European force called UBAN (ph). And the minute Hamas took over, that force just evaporated, it disappeared.

So, you know, when you talk about a country so tiny -- I said to Vice President Biden today, it's bigger than Delaware, it's even bigger than Rhode Island, but that's about it. It's a tiny country. It's half the width of the Washington Beltway. I think we have to make sure that Israel has strategic depth, and that means Israeli troops -- and I repeat that -- Israeli military presence along the Jordan River.

BLITZER: All right. So I just want to be precise. No NATO troops, no U.S. troops. You will maintain --

NETANYAHU: Israeli military.

BLITZER: -- Israeli military presence along the Jordan River?

NETANYAHU: Yes. That's right.

And by the way, the president, if you listen to what he said, he said that the security arrangements have to be mutually agreed with Israel. And Israel has to agree on any kind of phasing of these arrangements based on the actual security conditions on the ground.

BLITZER: White House officials have told me the president raised all these issues now because he is so concerned. He wants to protect Israel at the United Nations General Assembly in September, where there could be a resolution which would effectively declare a new state of Palestine.

Do you buy that?

NETANYAHU: Well, I think that the president said that you are not going to get a state by fiat or by U.N. resolution. And I think the real technical way of doing this is through the Security Council. And I believe that that's not going to happen. I don't think that that's going to happen. But in the general assembly, they can pass --

BLITZER: Well, you know your own history.

NETANYAHU: I was --

BLITZER: In 1947 there was a General Assembly resolution --

NETANYAHU: Yes.

BLITZER: -- creating two states.

NETANYAHU: Yes. It is a different situation now. The Security Council --

BLITZER: Israel and a state of Palestine.

NETANYAHU: Yes. Well, you know what happened. We agreed to it and the Palestinians and the --

(CROSSTALK)

BLITZER: So they say, the Palestinians, there's a history of the General Assembly declaring a state.

NETANYAHU: In practical point of fact, you need to pass it through the -- not through the General Assembly, but through the Security Council, and then have it approved by the General Assembly. I think that sequence is important because the United States has a veto in the Security Council.

And let me tell you, in the General Assembly, if you just go there directly, yes, they could pass something like that. They could pass anything.

They could pass a resolution saying that the sun revolves around the Earth and both are flat discs. They actually pass these flat- Earth resolutions any time.

But I think the crucial thing is that the president said that any attempt to impose this kind of dictum to Israel in the U.N., which means the Security Council, will fail. And I hope also that the United States coalesces a minority, but an important minority of responsible nations who will oppose this kind of dictum.

BLITZER: One final question. Egypt -- the new regime in Egypt -- will they, do you believe, maintain the peace treaty with Israel?

NETANYAHU: I believe that that is an anchor of peace and stability in the Middle East. And I think that we expect, obviously, any future Egyptian government to honor the peace treaty.

It's not only important for us, it's also important for Egypt and it's important for peace. And I think that's the expectation of the United States and any responsible power in the international community.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Prime Minister of Israel Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking with me at Blair House earlier in the week.

We are taking you back live to Joplin, Missouri, in a few minutes. Just ahead, controlling tornadoes and hurricanes. Is it possible why some U.S. government meteorologists think it is?

Plus, a woman's desperate search for her missing grandmother comes to an end thanks to a few phone calls by a CNN crew.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's get right back to Jack with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: The question this hour: Is President Obama breaking the law when it comes to the U.S. military activity in Libya?

Spero writes, "Of course he is breaking the law in Libya. There is a question about whether the War Powers Act is constitutional, but the president should not be ignoring it just because asking Congress to approve war is inconvenient to his image."

Thomas, "No, he's not. The action was supported by large numbers of people all over the globe. The War Powers Act is simply paperwork that's hindering the appropriate use of force."

T. writes, "At first pass here in Minnesota, I would have to agree Obama's sidestepping the War Powers Act. More importantly, the Constitution. The reaction to his overall foreign policy agenda by our allies during his European visit is a reality barometer." "At least he's consistent. He didn't have a solid plan for Libya that generated support that he needs before he left, and he won't have one when he returns."

Van in Texas writes, "The law has been interpreted by every president as declaring war, not military action. He is not breaking the law as long as he doesn't declare war on Libya."

I think only Congress can declare war.

Jason writes, "President Obama, like recent presidents of both parties, is fixated on becoming a world hero any way he can. And presidents, for some reason, figure that military force is the path to that goal."

Murphy says, "If George Bush didn't break the law by invading Iraq, then most certainly President Obama's decisions in Libya are legal."

James writes, "I'm no constitutional scholar, but from what I do know about the act, it has never been fully accepted as constitutional itself. While it's concerning that Congress hasn't yet weighed in officially on this, they certainly have the power to send the president a strong message against an intervention in Libya if they convene and draft a resolution or action to that effect."

And John in Louisiana says, "Obama and every other politician in Washington are breaking my heart."

If you want to read more on this, you can go to my blog, CNN.com/caffertyfile.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack.

And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.