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THE SITUATION ROOM

Billions in U.S. Dollars Going to Insurgents?; Can U.S. Win in Afghanistan?; Crisis in Somalia; Wendi Deng Murdoch's Colorful Life; How Hot Is It?; Breaking News On Massacre In Oslo; Amy Winehouse Found Dead In London Today; Heat Wave Breaks In Chicago With A Deluge Of Rain

Aired July 23, 2011 - 18:00   ET

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


DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Here's a look at some of the interesting news item that you might have missed this weekend.

Remember Shannon Stone? He's a firefighter who fell to his death a couple of weeks ago while catching a baseball for his son. His death created a stir over stadium safety. The Texas Rangers announced they are going raise the height of all the railings in front of the seating areas to try to prevent another such tragedy. The Rangers also will post new warnings around the park.

The most anticipated dress the year is now on display in London. It is the gown that Catherine wore when she married Britain's Prince William. People.com reports that the ivory and white satin dress is the centerpiece at Buckingham Palace's annual summer opening. The gown stands on a special platform topped off with a tiara, the queen loaned Catherine for that wedding.

Wolf Blitzer joins us in such a few minutes, in THE SITUATION ROOM. But first some breaking news this afternoon. And new developments in other stories that we have been following. So, we want to get you caught up right now.

A survivor describing how he avoided the gunman who shot up a youth camp in Norway. 85 people died at the camp following a bombing in the capital of Oslo, which claimed at least another seven lives.

Right now, police have one suspect in custody for both attacks.

Our Michael Holmes standing by live for us, near the camp on Utoya Island.

Michael, what's happening now?

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I can tell you, we've just heard on local media here that the lawyer for the suspect in this case, his name is Anders Behring Breivik, the lawyer is telling the local television here that the shooting suspect believed that his actions were atrocious, but necessary. That's new to us here, just in the last few minutes. We have been hearing that. His lawyer saying that he believed his actions were atrocious, but necessary. And how atrocious were they, Don? I mean 85 people, as you said, most of them kids killed over there on that island, not a couple of miles from where I stand right now.

Behind me is the hotel that's all day been a center for parents of those kids, and parents of kids who survived this as well, coming together. They have been having counseling here. There has been a lot of religious people here as well, giving support. We have seen the prime minister has come through here today, the king and queen of Norway. I've spoken to two other ministers from the cabinet, as well, all offering support, coming together to support these families.

There are still families back there, Don, who are the parents of kids who are missing. There are still missing kids, four of them at the moment and police divers looking for their bodies, really, in the waters there not far from where I stand now.

The survivors have been telling horrific tales as this gunman, or alleged gunman, walked around this island for an hour and a half shooting child after child after child after child. The shooting would stop. It would start again. Kids saying how they thought it was over and then it wasn't. Got some sound bites I want to play to give you a sense of what these kids went through, Don.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It was about 20 to 30 of us trying to swim over. I saw a few of them being shot in the water. It was a very powerful water. You could see the water breaking around and you could see when the water turned red.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's important we stay together and keep strong. We can't let a coward like that stop us. Because going on to an island with only youth, and killing them, and they have no way to escape, that's a cowardly act.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HOLMES: We were talking to a couple of other kids earlier today. They actually came out from here to talk to the media. They wanted to talk about it. They were in some ways defiant. They said this guy will not defeat what they believe in, which is the free expression of political opinion. This was a political camp, if you like. This is where kids learn about politics and the political system.

You know, they told us about this gunman walking around. Some said he had a smile on his face. Others said he was expressionless. As kids are running way, jumping into the water, trying to swim away from the island, he is yelling at them to come back because he wanted to kill them, Don.

LEMON: Michael, you mentioned the suspect saying it was horrific but he had to do it. Are police getting this from him now? Is he still being questioned?

HOLMES: Yeah. It's been on going, being questioned all day. It is midnight here. He's obviously still in custody and being questioned. The police describe the questioning as difficult, but said that he was talking. And they were getting information from him.

There's still been some speculation here, police say that some of the accounts by witnesses lead them to believe there's a chance that others were involved in this. But nothing is certain about that. At the moment this is their one guy.

The bombing, it's interesting to mention too, Don, that started all of this in Oslo, seven people killed there, 90 wounded. Police are telling us, too, now that they think that death toll will go up. They are still going through the building. They are finding body parts. They think there's more victims inside those shattered buildings in Oslo, Don.

LEMON: Michael Holmes, thank you.

(BEGIN MUSIC VIDEO)

LEMON: That is Amy Winehouse singing her hit "Rehab." Its lyrics carry a sorrowful significance right now. London police found the Grammy award winner dead today in her apartment. They don't know how she died at this point. Winehouse became as well known for her addiction problems, as her talent. CNN's Monita Rajpal joins us now live from London with the very latest.

OK, so Monita, we just saw the body, recently, of Amy Winehouse being taken and put into a private ambulance. Do police-are they saying anything more about the circumstances surrounding her death at her apartment?

MONITA RAJPAL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Police came out in the last hour to give a statement to reporters, Don. And they were saying, right now, all they are saying is it's unexplained. That is how she died. They also said while there's been a lot of speculation and rumors out there that she may have died of a drug overdose they were saying that is unconfirmed as a post mortem has yet to be done.

And that has not been done just yet. We don't know when that will take place. Police have been very limited in what they have been revealing to the police (sic). But as you have been saying, based on Amy Winehouse's past, we know her past has been well documented and her troubles with drug and alcohol addiction has been well documented. Not only in her songs, but also in what we've been seeing in the newspapers and tabloids.

Even on stage when she was performing, one of the last performances she had was about a month ago during her European tour in Belgrade, where she was booed off the stage and many fans basically saying she didn't seem with it.

Now many tributes are coming in from her friends and fans. One of her producers, probably one of the more notable producers for her critically acclaimed album "Back To Black", Mark Ronson spoke to CNN back in 2010 about Amy Winehouse. This gives you and idea of how well regarded she was within the music industry. LEMON: Monita, you're talking about Mark Ronson, right?

RAJPAL: Yes.

LEMON: Who was her producer and also has a sister here who is a DJ, as well. Do we have that Mark Ronson? Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK RONSON, MUSIC PRODUCER: I definitely didn't make Amy a star. I think I helped her find a great sound that was really-it really fit well with, A, what she wanted to do and B, her songs. I think Amy is more responsible for me being where I am than maybe the other way around.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LEMON: Very interesting that he would say that Monita.

RAJPAL: Yes, that was one, again, Mark Ronson. And just in some of the latest reports, he has been quoted as saying, "This is one of the saddest days of my life." He called her a soul mate and a sister. Just one of the ideas, one of the tributes that are being made out to Amy Winehouse, because even though, as we were saying, her troubles have been well documented she was a great talent.

Another reporter here in the U.K., in the newspaper, was saying, you know, she embodied what was basically the best and worse of the music business, Don.

LEMON: Thank you, Monita Rajpal joining us from London with the latest on the death of Amy Winehouse. We will continue to follow.

Chicago made the record books not for the heat, but its wettest day after. Nearly seven inches of rain drenched the city in the early morning hours. Roads and highways flooded, stranding motorists. Nearly 90,000 customers also lost power. Bus and metro services were disrupted. And there were hour long-delays at Chicago International Airport.

Jacqui Jeras, record breaking temperatures, and flooding as well. What in the world is going on?

JACQUI JERAS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: We have a lot going on out there today.

You know, that's what it took to break the heat, basically, Don, was those thunderstorms come through, a cold front dropping down and changes in those temperatures. They cancelled 100 flights out of Chicago O'Hare.

Let's talk about this heat. Records are breaking and starting to trickle in from NOAA now. Atlantic City, New Jersey, 105 degrees today. That is the temperature, not to mention the heat index. Georgetown, Delaware, 104, Baltimore. Maryland, 102, Philadelphia at 101, and Central Park had a high temperature of 100 degrees. It still feels like 100 right now in Central Park.

Take a look at that live picture. You can see the haze in the atmosphere, the air quality not good today either, as a result of that.

We do have some changes on the way with this heat. We'll start to see some improvements for some of you, not everybody. We've seen it here in the Upper Midwest, 88, that actually feels pretty good in Minneapolis compared to where you have been. It feels like 89 in Chicago, 105 in Kansas City, 108 in Houston, Texas.

We have this big dome or big area of high pressure that's been sitting over the nation's mid-section and the East just baking. That's why we have been seeing this heat, just building. This stretches up miles into the atmosphere and that's why we call at it dome. It is almost like, you know, those covers you put over your dinner plate. Right, that protect you from the bugs. It looks like that, in a way.

Well, that cooler air finally starting to drift southward. That's why we're seeing showers and thunderstorms along the cold front, but make it feel better in Boston and say, New York City as we head into tomorrow.

Let's do show you a couple of those thunderstorms. Here's our radar map to see where they have been blowing on through across the Upper Midwest, throughout the Great Lakes and Cleveland, just about to get hit there as well. A few of these thunderstorms can be severe, Don. Mainly wind makers and maybe a little bit of hail in these, as well.

LEMON: All right. Thank you, Jacqui Jeras.

We have some developing news for you. It is a working Saturday in Washington, where lawmakers and President Obama are trying to reach a deal on raising the debt ceiling. There are signs, just this hour, of some possible movement. Our Congressional Correspondent Kate Bolduan standing by on Capitol Hill.

Kate, tell us what's happening. You told us about a photo op earlier. Have you seen it? What's going on?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm actually standing in the Rotunda of the Capitol, right now, Don, waiting for this meeting to wrap up. We were able to going at the very beginning of this meeting, between the Democratic and Republican congressional leaders here. All together, around a table, in a conference room in House Speaker John Boehner's office.

To be honest we were met with kind of stony faces and silence. Clearly they were not ready to give anything away to the cameras as we walk in. We were told they were getting together to try to push this process forward. And that we've been told by aides they are resolved to try to come to some agreement. But how to get there, Don, of course, remains a very big question.

You and I talked just a short time ago about House Speaker John Boehner has been kind of floating to his members on a conference call earlier today that he's trying to push a package of $3 to $4 trillion in cuts, in a two step process. It's unclear right now if Democrats are ready to sign on to that, Don.

LEMON: We heard Speaker Boehner was hoping to get something done in the next 24 hours, or so. What's behind this Sunday deadline. Is that indeed so?

BOLDUAN: A little bit of what we're hearing -- a couple of things on that. One is kind of process here on Capitol Hill. What the speaker has told his members and we heard in a background briefing yesterday is that they wanted to get something done for members to review, basically by, at some point tomorrow, so they can begin the legislative process, if you will, get the ball rolling on Monday in order to beat this deadline.

LEMON: OK, All right.

BOLDUAN: We should note is that we've also heard, Don, they would also love to get an agreement reached and out there before the Asian markets open, which-

LEMON: All right. Kate, listen, we have to run. Details at the top of the hour. Appreciate you joining us. See you back here at the top of the hour. THE SITUATION ROOM with Wolf Blitzer right after this quick break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR, THE SITUATION ROOM: Texas Governor Rick Perry in the spotlight this week as he considers whether or not to jump into the Republican presidential race. Let's bring in our Chief National Correspondent John King. He is the anchor of "JOHN KING USA".

John, we have a brand new CNN/ORC poll among Republicans. These are just Republicans. Their choice for the nominee Mitt Romney still ahead, 16 percent. Rick Perry not officially in 14 percent; Giuliani, he is not in, I don't think he'll run, but he is at 13 percent. Sarah Palin we don't know, 13; Michelle Bachmann doing well at 12 percent

Still pretty-it is still wide open.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR, JOHN KING USA: That's the main point of this poll. It's wide open. It tells you a lot in that the Republican race is wide open. It tells you very little in that it is a national poll, and you say, huh, who is going to win?

Governor Romney clearly the front-runner nationally. He is leading in New Hampshire right now. Congresswoman Bachmann, who is down there fifth, she is leading in Iowa right now. So the top tier, right now, you'd have to say-of the declared candidates-is Romney and Bachmann. And then we'll see where it goes from there.

But look at that between Perry, Giuliani and Palin, Wolf, that's more than 40 percent. Perry is likely to run. Palin we don't think so. Rudy Giuliani we don't think so. But 40 percent of Republicans nationally favor candidates who are not in the race right now. So what does that tell you? It doesn't tell you they hate this field, but it tells you they are not settled with this field and they are still looking around for a conservative alternative to Romney. That's why you have so many people, not just at the grassroots level, fundraiser, organizers, saying Governor Perry, let's go.

BLITZER: Let's say he gets in, and I believe he will, based on what I'm hearing from well-placed Republicans all over the country, including in Texas. Let's say he gets in. Does he hurt Michelle Bachmann more or Mitt Romney more?

KING: He could hurt them both, depending-remember, nationally he's right there with all of them, so he hurts them both. He's taking away oxygen. The question is, does he go heavy in Iowa, most believe he will. Because he is a guy who tried to link up with the Tea Party in Texas. He was in office before the Tea Party came along, but tried to be a friend of the Tea Party. He's a social conservative. Does he go to Iowa and say I'm going to make my mark. I am going to try to win in Iowa. That's would be a threat to Congresswoman Bachmann. She very much needs Iowa.

BLITZER: I suspect he would play heavily in Iowa.

KING: Absolutely. So, then the (AUDIO GAP) in New Hampshire or does he go on to South Carolina? Because Iowa tends to pick the conservative candidate, New Hampshire picks an alternative candidate. South Carolina, they like to think of the South Carolina is we pick nominees. Because normally you have a different winner. Every now and then you get someone who wins both Iowa and New Hampshire. Normally, you have different winners, South Carolina then says, here is your front-runner. So, it will be fascinating to watch.

We do know this about Governor Perry. He can raise a lot of money. He has a campaign team in waiting. A lot of the people who quit the Newt Gingrich campaign earlier are waiting for him. He would be a very formidable candidate and he would immediately change the race. He would also, Wolf, in addition to affecting Bachmann and Romney, and everybody else in the race, he would turn the question to Governor Palin, it is about time to decide once and for all, in or out.

BLITZER: We have a CNN Republican Presidential Debate September 12th in Tampa. Let's see if he's going to be participating, if he's in by then or if he's still on the fence. I suspect he'll be in by then. We'll see.

And look at this other poll. This poll number this new CNN/ORC poll. Obama's approval numbers, it has not gone down, in June it was at 48 percent, down to 45 percent. But I want to give it some context. At this point in Ronald Reagan's presidency, his (AUDIO GAP) was at 44 percent; Bill Clinton's presidency, 46 percent, George W. Bush's presidency, 58 percent. All three of them as you know went on to get themselves re-elected. How much should we read into this slight decline in Obama's approval number over the past month or so?

KING: Well, one thing, we should not say, obviously, is that he can't be re-elected. Because obviously, those other presidents proved you can have a slump in your approval rating and be re-elected.

The most significant factor is the president's decline in our latest poll, is the liberals are not happy with him. They see him possibly cutting a deal with Republicans over this debt and deficit that touches Medicare and Social Security. And they are not happy. So a key question for the president, even if they get mad about this deal, can he get his base back? He's got time before the election.

One thing is significantly different, Ronald Reagan, there was 8 percent unemployment, the economy was growing, Wolf, at more than 5 percent per quarter then. The economy had started to come out of recession. President Obama can't say that yet. Bill Clinton, remember, he had Ross Perot, he never got above 50 percent. So when Bill Clinton was at 46 percent that was always viewed as a pretty good number. He won the presidency with 43 percent and he would go on to win re-election running against Bob Dole. But you had the growth factor there.

George W. Bush, that poll number, anything you look at George W. Bush in the first year or two, after 9/11, you have to discount. Because remember, the country was at a very different place in that first two years. Now the Iraq war was just getting going there, that would be where George W. Bush's numbers came down, but even he went on to win re-election. By the time he got to re-election it was a much closer dynamic. But that poll, when you take that snapshot, he was still riding very high after 9/11.

BLITZER: A long way to go in all of this.

KING: Very long way to go.

BLITZER: All right. John, thanks very much.

She's the force behind the embattled media giant Rupert Murdoch. Just ahead, a closer look at the young wife, literally leaping to her husband's defense amidst a worsening tabloid scandal.

Plus from the streets to the stage, you'll meet the "Korea's Got Talent" star who is wowing the world.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: You might remember Susan Boyle, the woman whose voice captured the world's attention during her performance on the television show "Britain's Got Talent". Now "Korea's Got Talent" has discovered a new voice with an amazing story behind it. Here is CNN Paula Hancocks in Seoul.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Trying to calm those last-minute nerves, Sung-Bong Choi seems just like thousands of other hopefuls on "Korea's Got Talent", but he's not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Speaking Korean, Translation on Screen): As I look into your application, I see you left the family section blank. SUNG-BONG CHOI, CONTESTANT (Speaking Korean, Translation on Screen): I was left in the orphanage when I was three, and when I was five I ran away after being beaten by the people there.

HANCOCKS: For the next 10 years Choi lived on the streets selling gum and energy drinks. He slept in stairwells or public toilets.

CHOI (Speaking Korean, Translation on Screen): I don't sing that well, but when I sing I feel like I become a different person.

HANCOCKS: And then came this.

(CHOI SINGING)

HANCOCKS: This powerful baritone voice from a 22-year-old is as impressive as his determination to pull himself from the streets to the stage. His rendition of the Italian song, "In My Fantasy" reduced the judges and audience to tears. Choi says he still feels uncomfortable being a part of the competition.

CHOI (Speaking Korean, Translation on Screen): It's hard to believe someone like me was able to come out on a show like this. So, I wasn't really too obsessed with whether I would make through or not.

(CHOI SINGING)

HANCOCKS: But he did make it through. Coming out top in the first round of the semi-finals.

He told the judges he was both scared and excited by the attention. He's thankful he made it onto the show.

CHOI (Speaking Korean, Translation on Screen): I'm thankful because now I have a reason to live.

HANCOCKS (On camera): Choi has become an Internet sensation. So far well over 10 million people have watched him on YouTube. The fact that Korea usually rigorously trains and grooms its pop stars before debuting them makes Choi's raw talent and success even more impressive.

(Voice over): He's favored to win the competition, and even if he doesn't, one of the judges pledged to help him with his voice training the first time he heard him sing.

(CHOI SINGING)

Paula Hancocks, CNN, Seoul.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Amazing story. Thanks, Paula, for bringing us that report.

Billions of dollars, your money, may be missing in Afghanistan and you won't believe where it might be going. We have details of a disturbing new report that's coming up. Plus exhausted and starving. We're tracking desperate efforts under way to flee the worse drought to hit Somalia in half a century.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: A disturbing new report now revealing billions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer money may be missing in Afghanistan. Our Pentagon Correspondent Chris Lawrence is here with the details.

Chris, how is this possible? What is going on here?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Because of a complete failure of oversight on the parts of the Departments of Treasury, State and Defense, and Wolf, just a complete corruption in Afghanistan.

Look, this federal audit shows that 10 years into this war, the U.S. still only has limited visibility over what happens to billions of dollars once we send the money to Afghanistan.

The inspector general says that makes the money vulnerable not only to fraud, but even worse being diverted to insurgents. The U.S. spent more than $70 billion on security and redevelopment in Afghanistan, but, again, this audit shows as much as $10 million may be smuggled out of Afghanistan every single day.

How does that happen? Whenever Afghan government officials leave the country, no one checks how much money they are carrying with them. Again the audit shows Afghan officials have no plans to scan their cash through those electronic currency counters.

The U.S. may able to keep a better eye on it, but they are denied access to the airport where the VIPs get screened and now Wolf, President Hamid Karzai has banned U.S. Treasury officials from working with the Afghan central bank.

BLITZER: Pretty shocking so here's the question, Chris and I wonder what Pentagon officials and other U.S. officials are saying with all these problems and billions of dollars simply missing at a time of such economic difficulty right here in the United States, so much political uncertainty in Afghanistan, why does the United States, why does the Obama administration keep sending so much money to Afghanistan?

LAWRENCE: Well, they would say that to pull the plug on some of these projects, to take the cash out, to put some of these Afghans out of work while you still have so many U.S. military personnel in the country would be disastrous.

On the other hand, even some Democrats are now starting to publicly question whether we're just throwing good money after bad. We spoke with Senator Claire McCaskill who's been keeping an eye on these contracting issues not only in Afghanistan, but Iraq going back years and years and even she is wondering where exactly this money is going.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SENATOR CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: We had pallets of cash walk away in Iraq and I was hopeful after doing a lot of oversight in Iraq that we learned a lot of lessons from that. This report says those lessons have not been learned.

Because clearly we have to able to track the currency as it flows to contractors, as it flows to sub contract contractors. The lack of cooperation in the Afghanistan banking system is not helping us with our oversight responsibility.

If they are not willing to allow us to look over their shoulder as this money flows into the Afghanistan economy then we ought to say to them maybe it's time we don't let that money flow.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE: You know, a monitoring agency that keeps track of these problems, forwarded 21 leads to Afghan government officials about possible problems. You want to know how many of those the Afghan attorney general followed up with, just four, Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a pretty shocking development. Chris Lawrence, thanks very much.

Let's dig deeper right now. Joining us the renowned journalist, Marvin Kalb, he's the co-author of a brand new book entitled "Haunting Legacy, Vietnam and the American Presidency from Ford to Obama," co- author of the book with Debra Kalb.

Good work, Marvin. Thanks so much for coming in. I guess, the fundamental question and a lot of folks are really worried and you've studied this, you've lived through the Vietnam War and you write about it in the book is Afghanistan now another Vietnam?

MARVIN KALB, JOURNALIST: It could be. It could be, but it doesn't have to be. But what is happening right now and to be one of the most fascinating things in researching this book was Obama's part in it.

We have to remember that when the Vietnam War ended, Obama was 13. He had nothing to do with the war. And when he ran for the presidency in 2008 he said I'm post-Vietnam, post-1960s kind of president.

And yet in every major step he's taken with respect to Afghanistan, Vietnam has been a kind of uninvited guest in the oval office. Every one of his major decisions, every one, has been fashioned, the atmosphere around them fashioned by the legacy of the Vietnam War.

BLITZER: Because so many of the architects of Obama's strategy --

KALB: Yes.

BLITZER: -- lived through the Vietnam War, like General Petraeus for example, or Bob Gates who was then the defense secretary. Leon Panetta, so many others, they remember as you do as do I what happened in the '60s and early '70s. KALB: We remembered what happened. One of the things that Obama does is he reads history. He's a smart man. He reads history. What he recognizes is he cannot be saddled with the loss of Afghanistan. Politically that becomes totally unacceptable to him and to the Democratic Party.

BLITZER: Because I'm not convinced that no matter what the U.S. does, when all the dust settles in Afghanistan, Hamid Karzai, whatever, that there's going to be a pro U.S. Democratic government there at peace with its neighbors indeed with the rest of the world. I'm very worried about that.

KALB: But Wolf, one of the most fascinating things to me about Chapters 9 and 10 in this book is you get to a point of understanding that American policy right now is summed up in two words. Good enough.

A policy in Afghanistan that allows an American president and the American political system to say well we weren't defeated as we were in Vietnam, we at least walked out with some part of our head held high.

That is what Obama wants and that is what the U.S. structure is trying now to create. A good enough Afghan, that's the way they put it, end to this war.

BLITZER: We used to hear that in Vietnam too.

KALB: Well, you heard it in Vietnam, but now it's really serious. In Vietnam, we didn't know what the end was going to be until we were kicked out.

But in Afghanistan there are a lot of people who worry right now about step by step what is going to happen and right mow the president has decided to kick the can down the road. You go from the beginning of a withdrawal this month as he promised in December of '09.

And rather than complete that transition he kicks it down the road to 2014 and he says at that point, we should get to that time when the combat role of the United State is over. But then there's always the line this could be reversible. This is fragile.

They are very worried -- not only politically, but as a great nation, which we are. As a great nation how do you leave a bad deal?

BLITZER: But it's also costing American taxpayers over the next three years about $100 billion a year and I'm not sure American taxpayers want to do that.

KALB: This is exactly one of the things that we explore in the book is the way in which Vietnam haunts us today. In early 1970s, the Congress of the United States decided that Vietnam was too costly and they simply decided to cut the money for the war in Vietnam.

Then the people who ended up losing the war, America lost the war, the only war, by the way, that we have ever lost in our history. So it's understandable and that's the point of the book, you have to explore what legacy does a lost war lead on a vibrant major power?

BLITZER: And as you and Debra Kalb point out in this book, it leaves a huge legacy over all of these decades. Marvin, thanks very much for coming in. Thanks for writing the book.

KALB: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: The book is entitled "Haunting Legacy, Vietnam and the American President from Ford to Obama." Thank you, Marvin.

KALB: Thank you.

BLITZER: Rupert Murdoch's wife is getting a lot of attention after she rushed to his defense after a shaving cream attack. We're taking a closer look at the power couple fighting scandal and their May December romance also.

A region gripped by famine and a catch 22 for the United States. Saving lives could mean working with terrorists.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Somalis have faced many enemies over the years, but the latest, this one that can't be defeated by soldiers or by armies. It's drought. One that's parched the land and left so many people scrambling for simply food and water. CNN David McKenzie reports from a refugee camp in Kenya.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These Somalis started waiting outside of the refugee camp since before dawn. Some have walked many miles and days to get here. Those too weak left at the roadside. Children many are managing the march.

(on camera): It's almost noon and still people are waiting to get into the reception area of this camp. These camps are overflowing, but still almost 5,000 people come here from Somalia each week.

(voice-over): Mohamed fled with his large family. He explains the choices he faced.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We could have died if we stayed if we died or lived it's in God's hands, but the drought destroyed everything I have. I've come here to live.

MCKENZIE: People once fled from the conflict, now they flee from hunger. The first meager rations must last them two weeks. Aid agencies trying to cope with the influx are underfunded and nearly overwhelmed.

(on camera): What is most needed here right now?

ROGER NAYLOR, FIELD OFFICER, UNHCR: Water, food, shelter and he medical care in equal amounts. Land, we need land for people to settle to receive those services. MCKENZIE (voice-over): These camps were designed for tens of thousands now that number is close to half a million. It's the largest refugee camp in the world.

It's the children who are suffering the most. Like Maria who is 2, but weighs as much as a newborn or Aden who is too sick to even eat so he's fed through a tube.

DR. EDWARD CHEGE: When they arrive they have some supplies, but as soon as they run out of food and basic necessities that's when they come to the hospital. When they come they get a small ration.

MCKENZIE: Otherwise, they end up here on the wind blasted outskirts of the camp. They must walk miles to get water and wait days to get food. But they say even this suffering is better than horror they left behind. David McKenzie, CNN, Kenya.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: On top of all of this, there's a catch 22 in the crisis for the United States. Helping famine victims means working potentially with an al Qaeda affiliate. Let's go to the Pentagon. Our correspondent Barbara Starr is working that part of the story. Explain what this catch 22, Barbara, is all about?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Wolf, there is a long standing group operating in southern Somalia called Al Shabab (ph). They are an al Qaeda affiliate and they have been gaining strength in controlling territory in that part of Somalia for some time.

This is the region where so many Somalis perhaps as many as four million are at risk. And the Al Shabab (ph) banned aid groups from two years ago coming into the region and offering help. You know, a few weeks ago they said, OK, the drought, the famine that they would let aide groups back in.

But now within the last hours the Al Shabab (ph) group has no. They reversed their position and they once again are banning international aid groups from coming in to Somalia and help these people.

The Obama administration says it will not cut a deal with Al Shabab. It will not support aid going in if it means paying bribes to Al Shabab, paying their so-called taxes.

The catch 22 here fundamentally is that U.S. entities cannot deal with declared terrorist groups that's what Al Shabab is and that's what making it even more complicated now to get aid to these desperate people. Wolf.

BLITZER: Are other Europeans, other African countries, international organizations, the U.N., what are they doing?

STARR: Well, there are a number of both European countries and Islamic relief organizations from Islamic nations that have been stepping in over the last month trying to help pick up this slack from the U.S. regulations that do not permit dealing with terrorist groups, of course.

But even getting into Somalia is very tough and operating there is very tough. We had one very senior U.S. official tell us that aid groups essentially would be stepping into a civil war in Somalia, that they cannot trust the group to keep any of their promises.

The United Nations, the world food program, the United Nations development program and groups like CARE International have been trying to get back into Somalia, but this latest move from the Al Shabab to ban them is going to make it very tough going, Wolf.

BLITZER: And I know, UNICEF is doing a lot trying to help those refugees who are streaming into neighboring Kenya. Barbara, thanks very much.

I want to alert our viewers in the United States and around the world. You can impact your world, go to cnn.com/impact and find out how you can help these starving people suffering in Africa right now.

In the midst of an international phone hacking scandal, the media mogul Rupert Murdoch may have a secret weapon, his wife. We'll take a closer look at her background and their relationship.

And something to laugh about during this oppressive heat wave.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The wife of embattled media mogul Rupert Murdoch is proving she's a force to be reckoned with. During this week's dramatic showdown with parliament, she literally leapt to her husband's defense when a protester hit him in the face with a shaving cream pie.

So just who is the woman behind the man at the center of this widening tabloid scandal? Our Brian Todd is here. He's got a closer look at this amazing woman. She's got quite a resume there.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: She does, Wolf. You know, Wendy Deng Murdoch took us all by surprise when she was quick to spring into action to defend her husband. But for those who know her story, her toughness and resilience come as no surprise.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): When she lunged at the man with a shaving cream pie, Wendi Deng Murdoch did more than fiercely protect her husband, she left some witnesses surprised. Millions of Chinese cheering, and those who know her story, nodding.

MELINDA LIU, BEIJING BUREAU CHIEF, NEWSWEEK: She is tough. She has taken the cards that life has dealt her, and she's played them to the hilt.

TODD: And Wendi Deng apparently started playing those cards as a teenager.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I grew up in China in a small town, very, very poor.

TODD: The daughter of a factory engineer. She was an average student who excelled in volleyball. According to several published reports, Wendi Deng befriended an American couple in China.

They taught her English and sponsored her for a student visa. She lived with them in the U.S. in the late 1980s then according to press reports had an affair with the husband. The couple divorced then Wendi Deng married the man.

LIU: She did stay married to the first husband long enough so that she get a green card. Some people see it as ruthless, others would see it as something that happens, and there -- I've got to say there are many, many Chinese women who would trade places with Wendi in a heartbeat, a nano heartbeat.

TODD: Melinda Liu says while married to the divorced American, Wendi Deng had an affair with another man. She divorced, married the other man, and that marriage later ended in divorce.

In the mid 1990s, she earned an MBA from Yale then landed an internship with Rupert Murdoch's Star TV. After winning Murdoch's attention, Wendi Deng, 38 years younger, married the tycoon.

They have two young daughters together. She's had various positions in his Asian-based companies and produced a recent movie, "Snow Flower and the Secret Fan."

But through it all, observers say, Wendi Deng Murdoch's main ambition has been to protect the interests of her daughters.

(on camera): What was the situation between her and the children?

SARAH SMITH, ITN REPORTER: There was apparently some tension when the question of the Murdoch will was addressed. The company was supposed to be broken off into four quarters and divided between his four adult children.

She made absolutely sure that the two children she's had with Rupert Murdoch have been included in that settlement that was a bad within the family, one that she fought for tenaciously and one that she won.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: And with that, Wendi Deng Murdoch secured her daughters a sizable chunk of News Corporation's stock. We asked to interview Mrs. Murdoch for this story, but her representative declined.

We also asked for response to the various accounts of her personal life and conflicts with the Murdoch children. Her representative would not comment. Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, with all the talk of Rupert Murdoch no longer able to lead this huge media company, is there any serious talk that his wife, Wendi Deng Murdoch could take over? TODD: Most experts say that's probably not likely because they say she has little or no interest in running the company. She does have roles in it. She has some interests in the company, but still seen as James Murdoch's company to run when Rupert Murdoch leaves the scene.

Also, if she tries to assert some kind of a role when Rupert Murdoch does leave, remember she's had conflicts with the older Murdoch children so she might have a fight on her hands if she tries to do that.

BLITZER: Indeed, all right, thanks very much. Brian, good work.

The space shuttle program now history in the United States. Stand by to see the end of an era in pictures.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Here's a look at our hot shots from the final shuttle landing. Space shuttle "Atlantis" touched down at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Thursday morning just before 6:00 a.m., officially ending NASA's 30-year shuttle program.

During 135 missions, the shuttle program carried 180 satellites into orbit and led to the creation of more than 100 technologies.

The shuttle was moved back to its hangar after its 13-day mission to the International Space Station. Hot shots, a look at the end of an era in U.S. space exploration.

Nearly half of the U.S. population is suffering through a stifling heat wave. And if the word stifling isn't descriptive enough for you, there are plenty of other words to drive home the point. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You know it's really, really hot when the weather forecast reads like a romance novel.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What a scorcher!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sweltering!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Flirting with 100.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You love the hot weather?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But you are hot.

MOOS: But sometimes the word hot just doesn't generate enough heat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pressure cooker.

MOOS: Especially if you're a weatherman looking for new ways to say the same old thing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We really got some blowtorching heat coming for tomorrow and tomorrow we're back on the burner, not the back burner, the burner. The wheels come off the wagon.

MOOS: And while we're gasping for air like fish out of water, reporters are taking the temperature on the grass --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 155 degrees.

MOOS: In the New York subway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The temperature reads 100 degrees.

MOOS: On a swing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 131 degrees.

MOOS: We're talking heat so oppressive sometimes it's hard to spit out the word.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The heat indices -- heat -- the heat and humidity combined --

MOOS: The current heat wave has been christened with a four-letter word meaning an area of high pressure that's compressing hot, moist air beneath it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to turn now to that heat dome.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And when we say heat dome --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This whole hot dome --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This big dome --

MOOS: All this talk of domes conjures up visions of heat-radiating UFOs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A giant heat dome surrounded by a ring of fire. I fell into a burning ring of fire --

MOOS: Put some water on it. The heat wave is alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shows the heat gobbling up most of the country like a virus.

MOOS (on camera): But if you want to see the newscasters most appropriately dressed for the heat wave --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome to naked news and brief --

MOOS (voice-over): And in brief even they are covering.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What officials call a heat dome.

MOOS: But at least the heat dome left Al Roker feeling hot.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When will it end? Al has some answers.

MOOS: It's not every day Al gets labeled too hot to handle. The heat wave brings out a wave of weather chefs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We put this egg in this pan out under the sun for about an hour. This is the result. It's fried right to the pan.

MOOS: But the Julia Child of weather reporting is ABC's Matt Gutman cooking steaks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to see if we can cook it on the dashboard this car. Dashboard reads 151 degrees. We came back about two hours later. It's probably about medium well.

MOOS: Well done, Matt. Now let's see you eat it. Jeannie Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Join us weekdays in THE SITUATION ROOM from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Every Saturday at 6:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. And at this time every weekend on CNN International. The news continues next on CNN.