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Militants Attack Luxury Hotel in Kabul; Iran Accused of Testing New Missiles

Aired June 29, 2011 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: To our viewers, you are in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now: Militants on the move in Afghanistan, attacking a luxury hotel in Kabul and attacking U.S. forces, separately, in the east. CNN was there as weapons fire rained down on an American outpost. We are going there.

Iran accused, now, of testing new missiles that could carry nuclear weapons details of troubling new allegations.

Plus, my interview with Chicago's new mayor, Rahm Emanuel. What advice does the former White House chief of staff have for President Obama? What does he make of the Republican presidential field? I will ask those questions and more.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. Breaking news, political headlines, and Jeanne Moos, all straight ahead. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin this hour with new details emerging about that suicide attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Afghan capital. We now know that 12 people were killed in the hours-long assault, including two police officers, nine Afghan civilians and a Spanish national, as well. All nine attackers died. And while the Taliban initially claimed responsibility, sources are now telling CNN that notorious Pakistani network is behind the carnage. Our Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr is working the story for us.

Barbara, what's the latest you are picking up?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, Kabul is still on edge. But U.S. officials tell us if there is any good news out of all of this. It is that Afghan security forces responded very quickly when the attack came.


STARR (voice over): The Taliban had claimed responsibility for the attack on the Hotel Intercontinental, but senior security officials tell CNN, intercept and intelligence convinces them this is the work of the Haqqani network, the powerful warlord Jalaludin Haqqani runs an insurgent network on both sides of the Afghanistan- Pakistan border, tied to both the Taliban and Al Qaeda. President Obama said Afghan forces are getting better at dealing with insurgents BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That are doesn't mean there not going to be events like this potentially taking place. That will probably go on for sometime.

STARR: It began with attackers storming a hotel side entrance. Several detonated suicide vests, others went to the roof. A predator drone flew over, providing video as the attack unfolded. A U.S. Blackhawk helicopter carrying a sniper team then shot at insurgents on the roof.

U.S. officials insist Afghan forces rant the entire operation. Fighting their way through the hotel, but given the sophistication of the attack, they called for the helicopter and consulted a Coalition advisory special operations team at the scene.

Even last fall, as I traveled in Eastern Afghanistan, a Haqqani stronghold, a senior U.S. general was already worried about the Haqqanis long standing efforts to destabilize the Karzai government.

MAJ. GEN. JOHN CAMPBELL, 101st AIRBORNE DIVISION: The focus really on the Haqqani network is one of the most important insurgent efforts here in Afghanistan. I believe it's the biggest threat to Kabul, because of the location, how close they are to Kabul. The objectives they want to get at.

STARR: This week a powerful senator was out of patience.

SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) CHAIRMAN, ARMED SERVICES CMTE.: The safe haven enjoyed by the Haqqani network in Pakistan continues to provide freedom for that group to launch attacks against the United States and coalition troops in Afghanistan. You both, I believe, have talked to Pakistani military leaders. Why do they refuse? Why does Pakistan refuse to take on the Haqqani network?

LT. GEN. JOHN ALLEN, COMMANDER, U.S. FORCES AFGHANISTAN-NOMINEE: As we emphasized, we have to bring pressure to bear on this insurgent safe haven.

LEVIN: Yes, well, do you want to comment, is this likely to change in the near term?

ALLEN: Sir, I don't think it is likely to change. It is both the capacity issue for the Pakistanis and I think potentially a willingness issue.


STARR: Now, whether it is the Haqqani, the Taliban or Al Qaeda, the real question of course is that all of these groups still have the ability to stage these spectacular attacks, even as President Obama is making those plans right to bring the first U.S. troops home, raising questions again, about whether the war in Afghanistan can really succeed in the long-term, Wolf.

BLITZER: The explanation that you are hearing for the fact that the Taliban publicly claimed responsibility for the attack on the Intercontinental Hotel and now your sources are saying the Haqqani network did it, not the Taliban. How do they explain the Taliban claiming credit for it?

STARR: There has been a long history with the Taliban calling up news agencies after attacks and very quickly claiming credit for it, and talking about it in terms of how the attacks unfolded, what they did. And after the fact, it proves that their claims aren't exactly on spot. They believe, officials believe this was another case of the Taliban just very quickly claiming they did it. The intelligence, they tell us, shows something else, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara, thank you.

While the Haqqani militants were staging that attack in Kabul, some of their Taliban allies were attacking an American combat outpost in Eastern Afghanistan, twice within 24 hours. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh was there and filed this exclusive report.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Every where you look here in Kunar, on Afghanistan's eastern border, the choices are not good. Outpost Portal King (ph) is caught between hills full of Taliban. If the Americans leave, militants from Pakistan will flow through the valley. If they stay, then every few days this happens.


WALSH: A mortars has hit the base. The last attack was long enough ago there is panic. They are worried the Taliban have been preparing a big one.


WALSH (On camera): After days of nothing the insurgents have finally amassed a round of (UNINTELLIGIBLE) being attacked from all sides.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on, hustle up. Grab it and get ready.

WALSH: They use mortars first, aiming for Taliban dug into the hills. But the incoming fire is very accurate here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whew! Go, go, go, go.

WALSH: They arrange cover from heavy machine guns.


WALSH: But the bullets are too close.


WALSH: Locals scatter just before huge American fire power has the last word.



WALSH: Four massive air strikes across the hills and then the Taliban falls silent.

America knew why it came here, but isn't sure it's staying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can we get like a police call, for like brass? No?


WALSH: 10 minutes later jets swoop in to strafe the hills.


A show of force for the Taliban are now either gone or dead. At least five killed by the soldiers' count. The next morning it starts again. Mortars and rocket propelled grenades pound the base.

(On camera): For the second time in just 15 hours, under attack, much heavier this time. And it appears they have taken casualties.

(Voice over): More air strikes, this valley is vital, strategically, But doesn't want to be conquered. The medics fly in to collect one soldier, his injuries are not life-threatening. There is no real victory to be had here, though. Just a question of how long they will stay growing louder. Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Kunar, Afghanistan.


BLITZER: As Nick just showed to all of us, sometimes we lose sight of what is going on for the still, 100,000 U.S. military personnel on the ground in Afghanistan. Even if the 33,000 are supposed to leave by the end of next summer. When they leave there will still be almost 70,000 U.S. troops in the years that follow. They see the devastation they have to go through, the life and death struggles on the combat field, still ongoing very much right now And they could intensify as this withdrawal begins.

Other news we are following: New and disturbing allegations about Iran's nuclear program, including missile tested increased enriched-uranium production. Our Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence is joining us now.

Chris, what do we know about these accusations, the latest ones, against Iran?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they make it seem as if Iran is this close to getting a nuclear bomb. Why isn't this the number one priority for the U.S. national defense team? Well, it's because-as you are about to hear-when it comes to Iran, things are not always as they seem.


LAWRENCE (voice over): The British foreign secretary is openly accusing Iran of conducting secret ballistic missile tests and rocket launches

WILLIAM HAGUE, FOREIGN SECRETARY, BRITAIN: Including testing missiles capable of delivering a nuclear pay load.

LAWRENCE: Iran is already producing 20 percent enriched uranium that could be used in a warhead and has announced plans to triple its capacity.

HAGUE: These are enrichment levels far greater than is needed for peaceful nuclear energy.

LAWRENCE: There is even a YouTube video allegedly leaked from Iran in which journalists are taken inside what looks like a missile silo.

(On camera): Is Iran really that close?

LAICIE OLSON, CENTER FOR ARMS CONTROL & NON-PROLIFERATION: Iran is very far from being able to attach a nuclear warhead to that missile. Estimates range anywhere from five to 10 years.

LAWRENCE (voice over): Laicie Olsson is senior policy analyst at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. When it comes to Iran's capability to weaponize warheads, or launch long-range missiles, she doesn't put much faith in videos like this one.

OLSON: The more show they seem to put behind it, the less realistic, possibility there is that the missile works.

LAWRENCE: A U.S. official tells CNN, they believe Iran has not decided whether to move ahead with weaponization or building a nuclear warhead. Nuclear analysts say it's a line Iran's not ready to cross.

HANS KRISTENSEN, FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: It looks like they are building technologies that enable them to be in a position just below a decision to go nuclear. So that if they wanted to, they could do it pretty fast.

LAWRENCE (voice over): So that would preserve the threat, but without the repercussions of actually crossing the threshold.

KRISTENSEN: Correct. Once they go nuclear, the ramifications are different. It's very difficult to predict how other countries around Iran are going to react to such a development.

(END VIDEOTAPE) LAWRENCE: Now, for its part just today, Iran denied the British accusations. A spokesman said that none of the missiles they tested has the capability to carry a nuclear warhead. And ironically, the Americans actually agree. That U.S. official told us, he called the test saber rattling, which Iran has done before, Wolf.

BLITZER: Chris, thank you. Chris Lawrence at the Pentagon. A frustrated President Obama challenges lawmakers on raising the debt limit.


OBAMA: They're need to do their job. Now is the time to go ahead and make the tough choices. That's why they are called leaders.


BLITZER: Lots of talk about leadership at the news conference over at the White House today. Some are asking, is the president, himself, leading enough?

Also, my interview this hour with Chicago's new mayor, Rahm Emmanuel we will talk about his new relationship with his old boss, President Obama.

Plus, which well-known rock star is telling this Republican presidential hopeful to stop using his music? Stay with us. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: President Obama held his first news conference today since March. And he faced some serious questions about everything from same-sex marriage, to the U.S. military mission in Libya, to the debt ceiling. The question on that subject, the U.S. debt ceiling came from CNN's new Chief White House Correspondent Jessica Yellin.


OBAMA: Jessica Yellin, congratulations. Your first question here?


OBAMA: No pressure. You are going to do great.


YELLIN: Yes. Thank you.

Your administration has laid out four different dates by which you said that the debt ceiling must be raised, or the U.S. would face potential dire consequences. Three of those dates have come and gone and we haven't faced financial calamity. Some of your critics have argued that these are then scare tactics to force a deal. So why should the American people believe that the August 2nd deadline is the final deadline by which a deal must be raised? And would you also spell out for us what you believe will happen if the debt ceiling is not raised by that date?

OBAMA: Jessica, let's be clear. We haven't given out four different dates. We have given out dates that are markers for us getting into trouble. It is the equivalent of, you are driving down the street, and the yellow light starts flashing. The yellow light is flashing. Now, it hasn't been a red light yet. So what Tim Geithner has said is, technically speaking, we are in a position now where we are having to do a whole bunch of things to make sure that our bills are paid.

By August 2nd, we run out of tools to make sure that all our bills are paid. So, that is a hard deadline. I want everybody to understand that this is a jobs issue. This is not an abstraction. If the United States government, for the first time, cannot pay its bills, if it defaults, then the consequences for the U.S. economy will be significant, and unpredictable.

YELLIN: Is August 2nd a yellow light or a red light?

OBAMA: I think people should think of -- look. I'm the president of the United States and I want people to know I am not engaging in scare tactics. And I try to be responsible and somewhat restrained so that folks don't get spooked. August 2nd is a very important date. And there is no reason why we can't get this done now. If by the end of this week we have not seen substantial progress, I think members of Congress need to understand we are going to start having to cancel things. And stay here until we get it done.

They are in one week, they are out one week, and then they are saying Obama's got to step in. You need to be here. I have been here. I have been doing Afghanistan and bin Laden and the Greek crisis and -- you stay here. Let's get it done. All right. I think you know my feelings about that.



BLITZER: Jessica Yellin is joining us now live, along with our Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

Jessica, I think it's fair to say that throughout that one-hour plus news conference, the president showed lots of frustration.

YELLIN: He sure did. And at one point during that answer he even suggested that the Republican leadership is, in his words, not being on the level in all of this. There is a lot of sniping going back and forth. Speaker Boehner came back and said the president has been AWOL in his leadership.

What I can tell you, Wolf, is that I think a lot of this is public posturing. I know that at least when it comes to Republican aides on Capitol Hill, contact with the White House is ongoing, on some of these debt negotiations. So it is not broken down. It is not completely stalled.

What they are doing is figuring out their negotiating posture on both sides. If there is going to be a deal, they are going to have to make some serious sacrifices and compromises. That they are going to, on each side, have to sell to members of their own party which will be a hard sell, and then to their own base. So they are going to have to show this has been hard and tough, and this is worth, you know, doing. Because it is a difficult negotiation.

The big unknown is that we are in uncharted territory because of the freshmen in the House and the Tea Party, the growing force of the Tea Party. We don't know if a deal can happen. But it does seem that because the leadership on both sides thinks it's so crucial that it's likely and this is just a lot of public posturing and a build up to an ultimate deal by sometime in August.

BLITZER: Gloria, the president spoke a lot about leadership during the course of the news conference. Some of his critics saying he is not doing enough to take the lead.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: What you did see was the politics of this. And let me say, I think, when Eric Cantor, who is the leader in the House, the Republican leader in the House, walked out of talks a week ago, the White House was muted about it. I think the difference you saw today was that the White House clearly made a decision to go out there because the talks internally had sort of collapsed. And this was staking out a political position for the president and for the Democratic Party.

So, John Boehner said the president's been AWOL, but Nancy Pelosi said, good for the president. Before they get back into the serious discussions with the top leaders, and as Jess says, it is going on at the staff level, they have to kind of set out their political postures because as you know, Wolf, this is very quickly becoming a presidential campaign issue. The president, who has been attacked on this for a very long time, went out there and said OK, let me tell you my position. But is either side leading on this right now? Absolutely not.

BLITZER: And the clock is ticking as we know. Gloria, by the way, has a terrific column at I want our viewers to go and read it. They will learn something.

BORGER: Thank you.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Gloria, Jessica. We will continue this conversation tomorrow.

My interview with Chicago's new mayor, the former White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, that is coming up. I will ask him what advice he would give the president right now. His answer is just ahead. Stay with us. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: He is a former member of Congress, who has also held top positions in two Democratic White Houses, and now Rahm Emanuel is the mayor of Chicago. But he retains close ties with President Obama as he battles for his own reelection.

We talked about that and much more when we sat down earlier today, here in Chicago, over at City Hall.


BLITZER: Mr. Mayor, thanks very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM, even though we are in City Hall, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, CHICAGO: This is my situation room.

BLITZER: How do you like this situation room, you have here in City Hall, in Chicago?

EMANUEL: I love this job. I had dinner the other night with the mayor, the former mayor. I said, Rich, you didn't tell me the truth. He kind of looked at me and he goes, what do you mean? I said this job is better than you told me.

BLITZER: This is the best job you have ever had?

EMANUEL: I love this job.

BLITZER: More than White House chief of staff?

EMANUEL: Look, I mean, here's the way I look at it. I have been unbelievably fortunate, first of all, because I have a wonderful wife and three great kids. But in my career, I worked for two great presidents, and have been elected by the people on the north side of City of Chicago four times, with their trust, in ever larger margins, and then I finally got elected mayor. I find this job to be just fabulous in the sense of the impact you can have on people's lives, in an affirmative way, and making the decisions that are necessary to shape your future.

BLITZER: And Richard Daley, you are following in some pretty big footsteps there.

EMANUEL: Very big--not only big footsteps, big shoes, who have done great things, as I said, at my inaugural, for the city.

BLITZER: But there is a lot left to be done. Let's talk about the economy and jobs. Issue No. 1, I know you are working hard to create jobs and in the few days you have been mayor you have created a few thousand jobs already.

EMANUEL: 3,600 jobs.

BLITZER: You know exactly how many jobs you created? EMANUEL: And even on the way in, back from the recent announcement with the Walgreen's CEO, about 600 jobs, I was driving with my number one economic adviser, the Cord (ph) AC economic team and we were going through the list of other companies that we are targeting and talking to.

BLITZER: The president of the United States, he is up for reelection, and has to create some jobs between now and November 2012. 9.1 percent unemployment right now. When you were chief of staff somebody would have said to you, it is still going to be above 9 percent, you would have said, no way. I suspect. What does he need to do, as president, to create jobs to see that number go down?

EMANUEL: Let me-I'm not going to-Wolf, I appreciate that. First of all, the jobs that are being created are being created by the private sector. The announcements I've had are by the private sector.

BLITZER: How do you stimulate the private sector to go create the jobs?

EMANUEL: The decision is-he is doing this. The president is doing this. I have said this on my own responsibilities. This is mayor, remember, the president is a totally different job and a much tougher job, more complex. But I laid out to the public in the campaign that if we not run away from the future, but shape the future, take responsibility for the decisions that have to be made, then people will have the confidence then to invest in our city.

The reason that General Electric put 1,000 jobs here, they already had a presence but they are increasing it by-from 1,100 to 2100, so 1,000 jobs. United Air Lines had a corporate headquarters, they are putting their operation center here, 1,300 jobs. We are doing the things, from our schools, to our city finances, to the safety of our streets, and we are willing to tackle those tough issues. They have the confidence to increase their investments, because this is a city on the move, ready to shape its future and not run away from it.

BLITZER: How does the president translate what you are doing in Chicago, nationally?

EMANUEL: It's not comparative. You can't compare. He is doing the right things. He got handed, I can say this as the former chief of staff. He got handed a situation in which the auto industry, the industrial backbone of America was on its back, if not broken. The credit markets, not the savings and loan, not one sector, the credit markets had totally frozen up. And the economy was spiraling over the cliff of a recession. And he has steadied that ship and he is doing the things that are necessary to invest in America's future, so people have employment.

But that said, you can't compare and try to draw a contrast between the City of Chicago and the United States.

BLITZER: You still talk to the president?


BLITZER: Does he ask you for your advice? Do you ask him for advice? What are those conversations like? Without breaking any confidentiality.

EMANUEL: Well, then let me just say this: We talk as two friends, as well as -- two friends from Chicago, as well as a former chief of staff.

BLITZER: Because he is going to need some help getting himself reelected.


BLITZER: Illinois, is that a done deal? Can he be sure? The state is in trouble economically, as you know.

EMANUEL: Look, the country is in-faces some economic challenges and he is focused on them everyday. I know that, first hand. And that is my job, is to focus on what I have to do here in the City of Chicago to stay economically competitive-

BLITZER: What advice do you give the president?

RAHM: I'm not going to do that.

BLITZER: You don't want to share that?

RAHM: Yes. With the president, not with you, and only if he asks for it.

BLITZER: All right. What worries you the most about the president's reelection?

RAHM: Wolf, I know you have a national audience. And I'm focused on what I have to do here.

The president is focused on fixing the country. And if he does -- and he knows this, and everybody knows this -- the best politics is the right policy and the right policy prescriptions. Getting the economy moving in the material way that people can feel it in their lives is the most important thing. And we always have to have the contacts.

As I said this, and you know this, because you covered President Clinton. You're judged by the country you inherited and the country you left behind. That's your tenure. He inherited the worst economic conditions since the Great Depression. He dealt with them, and he is moving on now to make sure that America is investing in its future in a very effective way.

BLITZER: You're an astute political guy. How important is that right track/wrong track number in the polls? Because right now a lot of Americans think the country is not going in the right direction.

RAHM: Yes. They -- that barometer is a test of what they think is happening and what they want to -- what they think is happening now. It's also a gauge of a little of the future. And he is working tirelessly in making sure every American has the opportunity to go to work and has a job and their children have a future that's stronger and better than their parents.

BLITZER: Let's have a little fun with the Republicans right now, the Republican presidential candidates.

RAHM: One gets to wonder whether, in fact, you've seen enough of Chicago.

BLITZER: We'll see some more. I'll mention a name of one of the Republican candidates. Give me a quick thought and a word, something, whatever you want to say. Mitt Romney.

RAHM: A guy from Massachusetts.

BLITZER: That's it?

RAHM: Well, I mean, he -- look, he's -- look, you're going to give me just people. OK? They're running. He's running for office.

BLITZER: Does he scare you?

RAHM: Does he scare me? No.

BLITZER: Michele Bachmann.

RAHM: If you're asking does he scare me politically or does he scare me in the sense of Halloween? Trick-of-treat?

BLITZER: Politically.

RAHM: Look, here's the thing. You're going to get to a situation in politics, Wolf, where there will be -- public will make their -- you know, politics is basically about a set of choices. Do you have a set of ideas for the country's future? And does your past and your past record indicate what direction you're going to take? And that's the way the public is going to evaluate this.

BLITZER: Michele Bachmann?

RAHM: I served with her.

BLITZER: Do you like her?

RAHM: It's not a matter of whether I do or don't.

BLITZER: Smart lady?

RAHM: I will not cast judgment publicly like that.

BLITZER: Sarah Palin.

RAHM: Look, let me say this. The public is going to make a judgment. There's two steps to this, Wolf. First, the Republican voters are going to decide who they want to lead their party and why. Then the public's going to have an ability to cast their opinion.

Do you have a set of ideas to meet the challenges of the country basis (ph)? And are you so wedded to a set of ideas but not open to ideas about meeting the challenges? I think the public sees the president. They know what he inherited on day one. They know that he dealt with it and that he's invested his time and energy to make sure America gets moving.


BLITZER: So he's created, what, 3,600 jobs in his first weeks in office since becoming mayor. He does keep a brutal pace. I've known him for many years. Up next, Rahm Emanuel, the new mayor of Chicago, reveals the workout routine that keeps him strong. You'll be interested.


BLITZER: By the end of July, same-sex couples will be able to enter into -- get married in New York. They'll be able to have civil unions here in Illinois starting next month. They can marry, as I said, in New York state. But what about the White House? What about the position of the president of the United States? So far he's remaining neutral on the issue of gay marriage. What does his former chief of staff, the new Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, make of that?


BLITZER: Is it a big deal or a little deal, from your perspective, that the president, at least so far, refuses to endorse gay marriage?

EMANUEL: Wolf, whatever perspective I have, I'll share with him. I'm proud that here in the city and the state, let me give one example of why I love -- why I think this job is so important.

Illinois passed a civil union. Worked on it as a candidate as well as a mayor-elect, making phone calls to finally pass that. A member of my staff, in fact, in this room, I oversaw the first kind of official thing, one of the first official things of my job, within the first 30 days, actually, a union between -- between my senior adviser and his partner.

Later that day, the governor and I went to a ceremony in Millennium Park, where 30 couples and another member of my cabinet was getting married to her partner, getting -- going into a civil union.

BLITZER: Is the marriage issue, though, significant?

RAHM: I think it is -- it is a significant issue. I would hope that the state would move in that direction. I don't take -- I don't just drive past the fact that here in Illinois, we have civil union. We have a hate crimes legislation nationally that was passed and signed by President Obama. That he repealed "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Tremendous progress has been made across the country on a value statement. And I think that's very important. BLITZER: We're out of time, but a quick question about your lifestyle now. Are you exercising? Are you sleeping well? How are you doing as mayor of Chicago?

EMANUEL: It is so good to know there is a Jewish mother quality to your questions, first of all.

BLITZER: Want to make sure you're eating well, you're sleeping well. How are you doing? Because we're a little worried. You're not -- you're not slipping every day?

EMANUEL: No. Here's the exercise schedule. I work out seven days a week.

BLITZER: Seven days a week?

EMANUEL: I swim on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday a mile, and then I run two miles home. Tuesdays and Thursdays, I bike on the stationary for 25 minutes at the high level and then do 15 minutes elliptical and then I do a weight routine. On Saturday I bike 25 miles outside, and then I do a Sunday private yoga class. And I take a multivitamin every day.

BLITZER: Just one? No fish oil?


BLITZER: No fish oil?

EMANUEL: You've got to be kidding me, Wolf.

BLITZER: No Vitamin D?

EMANUEL: Wolf, you have too much time on your hands.

BLITZER: The ballet is gone?

EMANUEL: You want to join me on a yoga class?



BLITZER: I get dizzy. Mr. Mayor, thanks very much.

EMANUEL: Thanks, Wolf.


BLITZER: Tomorrow we'll have another interview here in Chicago. I'll be sitting down with the former president of the United States, Bill Clinton. He's here in Chicago for his Clinton Global Initiative Conference that's open today. He's focusing in on ways to create jobs in the United States. It's an interview I think you'll want to see tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll be live from Chicago. Also, more news coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM. A nuclear power plant threatened by floodwaters in America's heartland. Could nearby residents escape in time if disaster strikes?


BLITZER: Floodwaters are still threatening a nuclear plant near Omaha, Nebraska. Some are wondering if people who live nearby would be able to escape in the event of a radioactive leak. Here's CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Days of raw nerves around America's nuclear facilities. Wildfires creep dangerously close to the Los Alamos national lab and massive flooding submerges parts of this nuclear power plant in Nebraska, drawing fears of a power shut down and a possible nuclear catastrophe.

In the town the plant's named for, one local resident is anxious.

GARY BEATTY, FORT CALHOUN, NEBRASKA, RESIDENT: You worry if there's another event that would happen that might put things more in jeopardy.

TODD: David Lochbaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists is nervous, too, about evacuation plans in towns like Fort Calhoun.

DAVID LOCHBAUM, UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS: The population growth around the power plants has been fairly significant in some areas, but the emergency plans haven't caught up with that population growth. As a result, it might take longer to get people out of harm's way, should a nuclear disaster occur.

TODD: This issue caught the attention of state officials and members of Congress after a recent investigation by the Associated Press on nuclear safety. Lochbaum says populations around plants like the Indian Point nuclear facility near New York have grown exponentially in recent years, making them tough to evacuate quickly. The area near Fort Calhoun has grown, as well, but residents here give plant and local officials high marks for preparedness.

TINA DOWLER, FORT CALHOUN, NEBRASKA, RESIDENT: They let us know every year an evacuation plan and I'm not worried about it.

TODD (on camera): If there was some radioactivity to come out of there and you had to get out, how would you do it? What would you do?

KENT CLAUSEN, FORT CALHOUN, NEBRASKA, RESIDENT: Right now you would -- you would -- people on the south side would go south. The people to the west would go west. There'd be a set of sirens go up that are located all through the area.

TODD: Here in Fort Calhoun, just a few miles from the plant, there's a nuclear emergency siren. Those are tested twice a year. There are more than 100 of those within a 10-mile radius of the plant. They do emergency evacuation drills twice a year. Every address in this area gets an emergency planning pamphlet with all the information you need to know about evacuations, including a map here of the best evacuation routes out of town, including this one, Route 75 running north and south out of Fort Calhoun.

But one thing the Union of Concerned Scientists is worried about: did local officials in this situation take into account roads on this map that might be flooded?

(voice-over) I caught up with Bill Pook, the top emergency manager for the region around the plant.

(on camera) What about the flooded roads?

BILL POOK, REGIONAL DIRECTOR, EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT AND HOMELAND SECURITY: Well, actually, we are monitoring the potential evacuation routes daily with the Department of Roads and the Department of Transportation and our own personal observations.


TODD: David Lochbaum of that nuclear watchdog group says some local officials around the country haven't drawn up new evacuation plans around nuclear sites in many years, and some of them are basing those plans on outdated census numbers. Bill Pook says in this area they redraw them much more often, and their last one was based on the 2010 census -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd on the scene for us in Nebraska. Thank you.

Meanwhile, a very dramatic day of testimony at the Casey Anthony trial in Orlando, Florida. Let's go right to CNN's Carol Costello. She's got the latest. This was an important day, wasn't it, Carol?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was an important day. And I know it sounds cliche, Wolf, but it was an emotional day in court, too. Even the defendant, Casey Anthony, showed some emotion. This was the first time she cried so hard in all of the days of the trial. And she didn't do it while her father was on the stand giving his gripping testimony. She cried when a grief counselor took the stand.

And I believe we have some video of Casey Anthony listening to the grief counselor describe how a young mother who knew her child had died could act so normal for 31 days, not showing any grief at all. But as I said, Wolf, the most emotional testimony did come from George Anthony. Listen.


GEORGE ANTHONY, CASEY'S FATHER: I need to have something inside of me get through this.

COSTELLO (voice-over): Testimony so emotional from George Anthony at times the judge asked if he could continue.

Mr. Anthony's tears did not appear to phase his daughter, Casey, though. She sat emotionless, even as her father described how he attempted suicide just weeks after the remains of his granddaughter, Caylee, were found in December of 2008.

G. ANTHONY: I needed, at that time, to go and be with Caylee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you expressed that in the note?

G. ANTHONY: Yes, I did. Because I believe I failed her.

COSTELLO: In his questioning of the witness, attorney Jose Baez tried but did not succeed in advancing the defense's contention that Mr. Anthony helped cover up his granddaughter's death and molested his daughter, Casey.

G. ANTHONY: Sir, I never would do anything like that to my daughter.

JOSE BAEZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: My question is, you would never admit to it, would you sir?

G. ANTHONY: Sir, I would never do anything to harm my daughter in that way.

COSTELLO: The tension between witness and defense attorney was palpable at times.

G. ANTHONY: Sir...

BAEZ: Argumentative.

G. ANTHONY: You are arguing with me, sir.

COSTELLO: Especially when Baez asked Anthony about conflicting statements about an odor emanating from Casey Anthony's car.

G. ANTHONY: You're trying to take this joy of my life away from me, sir. And you can't do it.

BAEZ: Would you like...

G. ANTHONY: I will answer this to you, sir. The decomposition that I smelled in the trunk of my daughter's car on July 15, 2008, at Johnson's Towing smelled like human decomposition.

I can close my eyes at the moment, sir, and I can smell that again. How dare you, sir, try to tell me that I did something differently than what I did?

COSTELLO: The bitter back and forth continued throughout much of the afternoon until finally an emotionally spent George Anthony was dismissed.


COSTELLO: And Wolf, the defense is expected to rest its case tomorrow. BLITZER: We'll stay on top of the story with you, Carol. Thank you.

Other news we're following, the singer Tom Petty versus Michele Bachmann. Their very public battle over one of Petty's most popular songs. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Singer Tom Petty isn't happy the Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann is using one of his songs at her rallies. Our entertainment correspondent, Kareen Wynter, is joining us now with details. What's this all about, Kareen?

KAREEN WYNTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, you know, this is really an issue that we've seen come up time and time again during elections, right? Musicians calling on political candidates for using their songs on the campaign trail.

Well, the latest backlash is between Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann and singer Tom Petty. OK, so here's what happened. At the end of her big campaign announcement in Iowa on Monday, the Bachmann campaign played Petty's "American Girl." Listen to this.




WYNTER: All right. Well, Mr. Petty, he's reportedly peeved with Bachmann's campaign usage of his hit song and has reportedly gone as far as issuing a cease and desist letter. He's demanding that they stop playing it.

But it looks like Bachmann won't back down. She did it again, yes, last night at a rally in Myrtle Beach. Bachmann's campaign cranked out Petty's song again after she wrapped up her speech. Let's listen.




WYNTER: Wolf, what's going on here? The song ended abruptly after about 30 seconds but not before the audience was able to hear Petty sing, "Well, she was an American girl."

Neither Petty nor Bachmann's campaign is commenting, but this wouldn't be the first time that the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer has told a politician, "Hey, don't do me like that." During the 2000 presidential campaign, Petty zeroed in on then-candidate George W. Bush. He demanded at that time that he stop using his song, "I Won't Back Down" in his bid for the White House, Wolf. So lesson here is: you can't always mix music with politics. Right?

BLITZER: I love the music, though. Good music, both of those songs. Thanks very much, Kareen, for that.

A police officer in Seattle -- get this -- drives through the city with an apparently loaded assault rifle on top of her car. The story, according to Jeanne Moos, that's coming up next.


BLITZER: Here's a look at this hour's "Hot Shots." Check them out.

In South Korea, protesters shout slogans and pretend to shoot at posters of Kim Jong-Il at an anti-North Korea rally.

In India, Hindus begin their annual pilgrimage to a holy cave. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus go on the trek every year.

In Hungary, look at this. Demonstrators stand on the edge of the Danube River to lobby for less air pollution.

And in Australia, the Melbourne Zoo welcomes its newest member to the primate exhibit, a three-week-old monkey.

"Hot Shots," coming in from around the world.

A major embarrassment for the Seattle Police Department: an apparently loaded assault rifle sitting unattended on top of a police cruiser. CNN's Jeanne Moos tells us how it happened.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever drive off with something sitting on your roof? Well, imagine you're a cop and you're driving around with this thing on your trunk. Even the Seattle police say...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a careless act.

MOOS: A semi automatic assault rifle...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're very embarrassed.

MOOS: ... probably loaded, say the police...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People should expect more.

MOOS: ... sitting unattended on the trunk of a patrol car parked in downtown Seattle. Passerby Nick Gonzalez (ph) snapped a picture, alerted officers on bikes, then sent the photo to Seattle's alternative newspaper, "The Stranger." It sure was a strange sight.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oops. That wasn't very smart. MOOS (on camera): Now, it's one thing to leave, say, a cup of coffee on the roof and take off...

(voice-over) ... but the gun apparently didn't fall off. A source confirms to CNN that one officer was unloading his car in the precinct garage. He set the rifle down on the trunk of a second car, then forgot it. A lieutenant came out, got in the car and drove off with the gun on the trunk. She parked a few blocks away to stop at a Starbucks, and that's when passersby spotted the rifle.

The whole thing feels like a scene out of "There's Something About Mary." Ben Stiller wrests Cameron Diaz's dog in a body cast on the roof, then forgets it and drives off.

Now, when police do this with a gun, it would most likely be considered minor misconduct and result in a reprimand or a suspension of a day or two.

(on camera) Of course, there are worse things you could leave on top of your car.

(voice-over) On the MTV series "Jackass," they put a baby doll on the roof...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Stop your car! Stop! Hey! Hey! Stop!

MOOS: ... to see how folks would react.





MOOS: The real mystery is how did that assault rifle not fall off on the drive to Starbucks? Though truth be told...

(on camera) All right Take one.

(voice-over) ... we had to do a couple of takes, because our coffee cup stuck.

(on camera) Take off.

(voice-over) ... Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. For our international viewers, "WORLD REPORT" is next. In North America, "JOHN KING USA " starts right now.