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Tenet Defends Pre-War Actions; Active-Duty Officer Compares Iraq to Vietnam; Saudis Claim Terror Plot Foiled; Fifteen Dead in Pakistan Suicide Bomber Blast
Aired April 28, 2007 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everybody, you are in the CNN NEWSROOM. The news is unfolding live on this Saturday, April 28th. Good morning. I'm Betty Nguyen.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm T.J. Holmes. Coming up this hour, extraordinary new video from a daring mission during the early days of the Iraq War.
NGUYEN: Also, remember when this 101-year-old woman was brutally mugged? The video is still hard to watch. Well, there is a major break in the case this morning.
HOLMES: Also, when you see this, normal people would run the other direction. But we know our Reynolds Wolf is not among the group of normal people in the world. We'll talk to him about chasing tornados.
NGUYEN: And not being normal.
HOLMES: Yes. That is straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.
NGUYEN: But right now, we want to tell you that "beam me up, Scotty," has actually occurred. Because the man who played Scotty on "Star Trek," his ashes at least, parts of them, are being headed into space right now. We're going to show you some video of that rocket being launched and let you just take a listen as it took off in New Mexico.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Vehicle is armed. Three, two, one, fire. Missile away.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: And there it goes into space. The late actor James Doohan, best known as Scotty on the original "Star Trek" TV show, is headed out of this world. Now we do want to let you know that he did die a couple of years ago at the age of 85. And they've been trying to launch his remains into space. And today it has finally happened.
HOLMES: And you know it's open to everybody. Apparently there is a company that actually does this, who knew? But you too can be beamed into space, starting at $495 is how the company advertises. But 200 others -- the remains of 200 other people also aboard this rocket that took Scotty up.
But yes, an interesting way to go and to spend your afterlife in the heavens, I guess, if you will.
NGUYEN: And that was an interesting look at the control center there. What a beautiful day it was to be headed into space. Two hundred other people, at least their remains, were onboard that rocket, including the late Mercury 7 astronaut, L. Gordon Cooper. So headed up there into the sky.
HOLMES: Interesting, something to show you this morning.
NGUYEN: Well, back here on Earth, we have some breaking news that we are keeping our eye on. At least 15 deaths are reported after a suicide bombing in northern Pakistan. It happened just a short time ago and during a speech by Pakistan's interior minister. Now officials tell CNN the minister was slightly injured in this blast. Reports say his son was also hurt. We are going to continue to follow this story and as soon as more information comes in we're going to bring you the latest details.
HOLMES: Seeking common ground on the war in Iraq. With Congress and the White House on a collision course, the key players have agreed to talk, as least. Congressional leaders will meet President Bush Wednesday to discuss the possibility of an Iraq War compromise. Congress has approved a war funding bill with a time table for withdrawing U.S. troops. And President Bush says he will veto that bill and he is demanding a new funding bill without a time table.
NGUYEN: Even as America argues over what to do next in Iraq, the debate rages on over the original decision to invade. Former CIA Director George Tenet, long blamed for pre-war intelligence failures, has lunched a counterattack against the Bush administration.
CNN's Brian Todd reports on Tenet's new book.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The former CIA director describes palpable tension between himself and Vice President Cheney before and after the Iraq invasion. In his new book, "At The Center of the Storm," George Tenet boasts of helping to kill a speech Cheney planned just before the war, linking al Qaeda and Iraq.
Tenet writes that during the finger-pointing over pre-war intelligence, the president publicly supported him. But at a meeting he had with then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, quote: "Colin let me know that other officials, particularly the vice president, had quite another view."
The quote, excerpted in The New York Times and confirmed to CNN by two sources familiar with the book. Assistants for Cheney and Powell say they won't comment before reading the book.
Then there is this comment from the vice president on NBC's "Meet the Press" in September.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM "MEET THE PRESS")
DICK CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When George Tenet said in the Oval Office and the president of the United States asked him directly, he said, George, how good is the case against Saddam on weapons of mass destruction? The director of the CIA said, it's a slam dunk, Mr. President. It's a slam dunk.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Tenet fires back, in the book and on CBS's "60 Minutes."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FROM "60 MINUTES")
GEORGE TENET, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: The hardest part of all this has just been listening to this for almost three years. Listening to the vice president go on "Meet the Press" on the fifth year of 9/11 and say, well, George Tenet said slam dunk, as if he needed me to say slam dunk to go to war with Iraq. As if he needed me to say that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Tenet's former deputy, John McLaughlin, now CNN's national security adviser, was at that 2002 meeting where Tenet said slam dunk. McLaughlin says the phrase has been taken out of context.
JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What he meant was that it's a slam dunk that we can put more information into the mix to make it clearer why analysts believe there are weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
TODD (on camera): White House officials tell CNN the decision to go to war was based on many other reasons apart from the slam dunk comment.
Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.
HOLMES: And another inflammatory quote from Tenet's book, quote: "There was never a serious debate that I know of within the administration about the imminence of the Iraq threat," end quote. Meanwhile Dan Bartlett, the counselor to the president, disputes that. He says the president did wrestle with those questions and made the decision very carefully.
NGUYEN: Well, George Tenet will join Larry King Monday to talk about the administration and its push toward war with Iraq. You can watch "LARRY KING LIVE" at 9:00 Eastern every night right here on CNN.
HOLMES: Also new criticism of the way America has been fighting the Iraq War. And this time it comes from an active duty officer who has been there.
CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has the details. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's a damning indictment of the U.S. generals running the Iraq War from an officer currently serving who has done two tours of duty there. In the latest issue of Armed Forces Journal, a privately owned magazine, Army Lieutenant Colonel Paul Yingling writes: "America's generals have repeated the mistakes of Vietnam in Iraq." He calls it a "crisis in American generalship."
Yingling says, like the Vietnam years, America's generals throughout the 1990s failed to anticipate the need to train their forces for the type of unconventional war that has emerged in Iraq.
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CMDR. MULTINATIONAL FORCES IN IRAQ: And I don't think anyone would say that there were not mistakes, or that there were not a variety of areas in which we could and should have done better.
STARR: Lieutenant Colonel Yingling, now a deputy commander at the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment at Fort Hood, Texas, says there have never been enough troops and the generals did not provide Congress and the public with an accurate assessment of the conflict in Iraq.
Again, something many say occurred in the Vietnam War. It's rare for an active-duty officer to go public. Retired officers have, however, been speaking out for months. Some say General David Petraeus, the new top commander in Iraq, just won't be able to make a difference.
COL. DOUG MACGREGOR (RET.) U.S. ARMY: The notion that he is going to have any profound impact on this thing, tactically or otherwise, is open to very serious debate.
STARR (on camera): Lieutenant Colonel Yingling doesn't name any generals. In fact, he says it's not a problem with individual generals, but rather, a crisis in the military institution.
Barbara Starr, CNN, the Pentagon.
NGUYEN: Well, newly surfaced video of a dramatic 2003 rescue, Private First Class Jessica Lynch was wounded and captured when her convoy came under attack during the early days of the Iraq War. Well, she was held in an Iraqi hospital for 10 days until U.S. military forces arrived to free her. This new video, take a look at it, turned up on the Internet of the rescue, it's liveleak.com, which is the Web site that was showing it.
Earlier this week, Lynch appeared at a hearing on Capitol Hill. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESSICA LYNCH, FORMER POW: On April 1st, while various units created diversions around Nasiriyah, a group came to the hospital to rescue me. I could hear them speaking in English, but I was still very afraid. Then a soldier came into the room. He tore the American flag from his uniform and he handed it to me in my hand and he told me, we're American soldiers and we're here to take you home. And I looked at him and I said, yes, I'm an American soldier, too.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NGUYEN: Former prisoner of war Jessica Lynch describing her rescue in Iraq four years ago.
HOLMES: Well, Iraq's prime minister apparently will not be making a state visit to Saudi Arabia as he had hoped. The red carpet has been rolled back up. A senior Saudi intelligence source says King Abdullah has refused to receive Nouri al-Maliki. The source says the Saudi king believes the Iraqi leader is not doing enough to protect Sunni Muslims from attacks by Shias. Saudi Arabia is largely Sunni.
NGUYEN: Dozens of suspected terrorists are now in custody in Saudi Arabia after a major anti-terrorism operation. Saudi officials say the suspects linked to al Qaeda were plotting attacks both inside and outside the kingdom. We want to get more details now from CNN's senior international correspondent Nic Robertson.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Wrapped in plastic, buried deep below the Saudi desert, these al Qaeda guns were never meant to be captured. Saudi intelligence officials say al Qaeda planned to use them to bring down the Saudi royal family and kill American soldiers in Iraq.
In an unprecedented nine-month operation netting more that 170 al Qaeda suspects, and more than $5 million, Saudi intelligence officials say they thwarted plans to fly aircraft into oil facilities, attack security installations, kill senior officials and send money to al Qaeda in Iraq.
MAJ. GEN. MANSOUR AL-TURKI, SPOKESMAN, SAUDI INTERIOR MINISTRY: The activities that we have dealt with trying to recruit young Saudis to be involved in the terrorist activities outside the Kingdom.
ROBERTSON: But the raids reveal a far more worrying trend for the Saudis, the war in Iraq is spilling over into Saudi Arabia. Saudi al Qaeda fighters train in Iraq and come back to Saudi to fight.
AL-TURKI: They are taking advantage of the terrorism action outside the Kingdom in order to recruit, in order to train.
PAUL CRUIKSHANK, FELLOW, NYU LAW SCHOOL: Some of the new blood that has been recruited into the organization partly because of the Iraq War has really had to go across into Iraq to fight the fight. But, now it seems that they're reorganizing in Iraq and starting to launch plans and plots across the border.
ROBERTSON: In the past year, since this botched al Qaeda attack revealed their new tactics to target oil facilities and kill the economy rather than kill Westerners, al Qaeda has largely dropped off the radar. Intelligence gleaned in the botched attack led to many of the recent arrests, but in their success, the Saudis show how tough their coming battle is.
(on camera): The money alone shows just how dangerous al Qaeda may be. The $5 million recovered is 10 times what it costs al Qaeda to execute the 9/11 attacks.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Atlanta.
HOLMES: Well, at the State Department, a high-level resignation apparently tied to the so-called D.C. madam case. Randall Tobias resigned as director of U.S. foreign assistance and administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Big title there. But need to tell you this, that move after Tobias revealed to ABC News that he had been a client of Deborah Jeane Palfrey's escort service.
Palfrey is fighting her indictment on federal racketeering and money laundering charges. And she has turned over copies of some of her documents to ABC. The network says Tobias claims he used the escort service for massages, but that no sex was involved. The State Department says he resigned for personal reasons.
NGUYEN: In Britain now it is not what you expect as you get set to start your day. A moderate earthquake rattled parts of southeastern England this morning, cracking walls, toppling chimneys. In County Kent, thousands of people lost power. And the quake was centered under the English Channel, which is about 60 miles southeast of London. It had a magnitude at least 4.3. Again, not how you want to start your day.
HOLMES: Not like this either in Oklahoma. Firefighters trying to possibly make some progress against this blaze. We'll have an answer to that.
NGUYEN: Heckling moved out of the comedy clubs and into the halls of Congress. Find out who is turning this rude act into an art form.
HOLMES: And when is a kiss not just a kiss? Well, when it's Richard Gere and when it's in India. Richard Gere, he is certainly finding out that a kiss is not just a kiss. Those details coming up.
NGUYEN: All right. Check this out right now. Look at those flames. A weather-related fire still causing some big problems today in two states. But that is not what we are looking at right now. We are looking at a refinery fire in Oklahoma. And we are not sure exactly if this thing has burned out just yet because when we were speaking with one of the reporters on the ground a little bit earlier, he said that was the plan at this point because there is diesel fuel that is burning in one of those refineries. It is one of two refineries that are on fire. But the good news here is that there have been no injuries and no evacuations as of yet. So we'll stay on top of this refinery fire in Oklahoma and bring you the latest.
Now we want to take you to the other fire that I was talking about in southeast Georgia. There they are. Nerves still on edge as drought-related wildfires keep spreading. The flames have scorched 95 square miles of forest and swampland. Dozens of homes have been evacuated. But most of those residents have been given the all-clear to return. The fires have been burning for almost two weeks now.
HOLMES: Also cleanup under way this weekend in Virginia after some pretty severe weather there. The scene there in Gloucester County where a tornado snapped trees and power lines. Also damaged some homes. The National Weather Services says winds in the twister where 75 to 80 miles an hour. Again, so far no word on any injuries there. Certainly good news.
NGUYEN: All right. We want to get you some more information on this breaking news that we've been following just for a little bit now here at CNN. In fact, we have some new pictures to show you about this suicide bombing in Pakistan. You can see right here blood- stained outfits there as people are being rushed away to different emergency crews who are on the ground.
But the suicide bombing indeed injured the interior minister. I think you can get a good look at him, he has got a gray jacket on there. And they are escorting him to get to nearby help. So far 15 people have died because of this suicide bombing. Twenty-four others are injured. Again, the nation's interior minister and his son are among those injured.
And what was happening at the time of the bombing was the interior minister was addressing a gathering of about 200 people when that bomb went off, in fact, it went off in his hometown. And it has been confirmed that it was a suicide bombing. Once more, 15 people dead at this hour, 24 injured. And the interior minister is among those injured. As soon as we get more information, we'll bring it straight to you -- T.J.
HOLMES: All right. Betty, President Bush is re-igniting the hot-button issue of immigration reform, using his weekly radio address today to push Congress to take another crack at this complex issue.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our current immigration system is in need of reform. We need a system where our laws are respected. We need a system that meets the legitimate needs of our economy, and we need a system that treats people with dignity and helps newcomers assimilate into our society. We must address all elements of this problem together or none of them will be solved at all.
(END AUDIO CLIP) HOLMES: Well, a tougher border patrol, a temporary worker program and a path to citizenship are some of the president's proposals that could impact an estimated 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.
CNN's Ines Ferre looks at one of them.
INES FERRE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As she sorts tomatoes at her sister's tiny shop in Manhattan, Carmen (ph) can't stop thinking about her family's immigration status.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Fifteen years here and I'm still not a resident. We want to sort out our papers, my husband, my son and I. My daughter and her husband are getting them sorted, too.
FERRE: She has a stake in the immigration reform debate. If current immigration law is changed, her life could change enormously.
(on camera): You haven't gone back to Mexico in 15 years?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (through translator): No, I haven't. And neither has my husband.
FERRE: And now you have high hopes?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes. I would love to go. I want my papers to go through because I want to see my parents.
FERRE (voice-over): Virginia Morales understands Carmen's situation. She was undocumented for eight years.
(on camera): Now that you have your residency, how has your life changed?
VIRGINIA MORALES, LEGAL RESIDENT (through translator): You feel like you have wings now. You want to fly everywhere.
FERRE (voice-over): But her happiness isn't complete. Victor, the father of her child, is still illegal. She is frustrated over the endless nature of the debate.
(on camera): Do you think that what is going on is politics or an intent based on good faith?
MORALES (through translator): Politics as usual. It has always been politics. I don't believe in politics.
FERRE: Do you believe in President Bush?
MORALES (through translator): If I did or not, what difference does it make? He's on his way out. What is he going to do in two more years?
FERRE: But Carmen and others among the millions of America's undocumented workers are hoping something will get done much sooner. Ines Ferre, CNN, New York.
NGUYEN: So when did Republicans start bickering and Democrats start saying nice things about one another? Coming up, we are going to get some analysis of this unexpected turn of events.
HOLMES: Also, find out how authorities track down a fugitive who rejected his own son's plea for a life-saving operation.
NGUYEN: Let's get you another update on the information out of Pakistan today where a suicide bomb went off injuring the interior minister. Here's some new video coming into CNN. And you will see if you look closely in that crowd the man with the gray jacket that the people are surrounding, that is the interior minister who was injured in this suicide bombing.
We understand that he and his son received slight injuries. But 15 people have indeed been killed. Some 24 total have been injured in this. And we are learning a little bit more about what exactly happened. This was a gathering of about 200 people where the interior minister was speaking when this blast went off in his hometown.
Now eyewitnesses say that the bomber was moving toward the interior minister when he detonated that bomb as soon as the guards got to him, so he didn't get as close as he had hoped to the interior minister.
But we also understand that folks on the ground say that the bomber is believed to be an Afghan national, that coming from the interior ministry spokesperson. So again, a suicide bombing occurred in Pakistan today, the northwestern frontier province of Pakistan. Killing 15 people, injuring 24, including the interior minister.
HOLMES: Two days after their debate in South Carolina, two Democratic presidential hopefuls still sticking around that state. John Edwards and Bill Richardson are attending the South Carolina State Democratic Convention. California Democrats are also holding a convention today, and that's where Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, Christopher Dodd and Dennis Kucinich are.
The South Carolina Democratic Primary will be held January 290th of next year. The California Primary takes place a week later.
And some Republicans out on the campaign trail as well. Both John McCain and Mitt Romney are stressing their home ties. McCain will be holding a rally in Tempe, in his home state of Arizona, and Romney, who was born in Michigan, will be making stops in Flint and Lansing.
NGUYEN: As the presidential primary campaign begins to heat up, so does the rhetoric. But our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, has noticed something very unusual. Republicans are doing more squabbling these days than Democrats.
WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Ronald Reagan's 11th commandment said, thou shall not speak ill of thy fellow Republicans. But look at who is obeying it.
SEN. JOE BIDEN (D-DE), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm looking at a bunch of winners right here, number one. And whoever wishes for Hillary is making a big mistake on the Republican side.
SCHNEIDER: Republican candidates, however, have been speaking a lot of ill, sometimes directly.
JIM GILMORE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And Governor Romney, his views have been very moderate to liberal in the Northeast and it's all on videotape. And now he is trying to shift to be a conservative.
SCHNEIDER: At a Republican dinner in Iowa this month, Gilmore took on his party's frontrunners collectively, saying "Rudy McRomney" is not a conservative. Romney's response, he said his rivals John McCain and Rudy Giuliani have changed their minds on issues, too. And talk about speaking ill of a fellow Republican.
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We all know the war in Iraq is not going well. We have made mistakes. And we paid grievously for them.
SCHNEIDER: Republicans are supposed to be disciplined and on message. Not this time. They say when Democrats lose an election, they form a circular firing squad. Last year Republicans lost. So it's their turn to fire on one another. The top tier Republican candidates are all suspect to conservatives. Conservatives fear they are losing their hard-won influence in the Republican Party.
MIKE HUCKABEE (R),PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Very concerned as to whether or not as a conservative movement we will be, in fact, driving the political force in the '08 election cycle.
SCHNEIDER (voice-over): President Bush is very unpopular. Conservatives want to make the point it's not because he's conservative. It's because his administration has wandered away from conservative principles.
Bill Schneider, CNN, Washington.
NGUYEN: the top general in Iraq is being quoted by both critics and supports of the war. So which side has the stronger argument? We'll tell you.
HOLMES: Also, our own Reynolds Wolf recently spent some time chasing twisters. We'll find out if he caught any. He'll show us, coming up.
HOLMES: This word just in to CNN, another car bombing in Iraq to tell you about. This one in Karbala. This is about 50 miles south of Baghdad. Security officials there on the scene telling Associated Press this car bomb exploded about 500 yards from one of the Shiite Muslim, Islam's rather, holiest shrines and says that yes in fact, there are casualties. No word on how many right now. This explosion apparently happened around 7:00, according to Associated Press, as people were gathering and were heading for prayers at this particular shrine in Karbala. A car bomb in the same area exploded two weeks ago killing 47 and wounding another 224, but again, keeping an eye on this situation. Casualties are the word according to the Associated Press after this bombing in Karbala. No word on how many. We are on top of this story. We'll bring you any updates as we get them.
NGUYEN: Get you a look at what else is happening right now in the news. Pakistan is reeling from a suicide bomb blast at a public gathering in the town of Dresada (ph). Fifteen people are dead and many others injured. Here's new video coming into CNN including the nation's interior minister, he was injured. He had just addressed that crowd. His son we are also being told was injured in that suicide bombing, as well, though minor injuries. Other news, smoke still billowing over Winniwood (ph), Oklahoma. A lightning strike sparked a massive fire in a refinery overnight. So far though, no reports of injuries or evacuations.
And want to give you a rare earthquake, a look at one there. It shook some Brits out of bed this morning. The quake toppled chimneys and cut power to thousands of people in southeast England. It was Britain's strongest quake in nearly five years.
HOLMES: A major al Qaeda figure is in the custody of the U.S. military. His name is Abd Al-Hadi-al-Iraqi. The name likely doesn't mean anything to you, but the Pentagon says he is a big deal, a big player in the al Qaeda terrorist network and he is now locked up at Guantanamo Bay. A U.S. intelligence official says al Hadi was picked up by the CIA late last year. No one is saying just how he was captured or how valuable he's been as a source of information.
NGUYEN: Progress in Iraq to tell you about. There have been vastly different views since Baghdad fell. The latest conflicting claims from some of the highest levels, the United Nations and the U.S. top commanders in Iraq. So where does the reality lie in the midst of all of that? For a closer look we turn now to CNN Joshua's Levs. I mean you have the UN and then you have the U.S. commanders. Who do you believe?
JOSHUA LEVS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right and it all happened in the same week. And what's really interesting here is a lot of people didn't even hear about the UN part of all this. General David Petraeus, the top U.S. general in Iraq was in Congress, at Congress this week. He was pretty much the star of Washington and he was giving this rundown of how the Iraq war is going. But at the same time, that drowned out a UN report that came out this week that had an even grimmer message.
LEVS (voice-over): He promised the most realistic picture he could give.
GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, CMDR., MULTINATIONAL FORCES, IRAQ: I'm a soldier and I'm going to give a forthright assessment.
LEVS: And he won praise from both sides.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When General David Petraeus came to Washington and made a very blunt assessment about the fact he hasn't received all the reinforcements.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must focus on what General Petraeus has told us that the war cannot be won militarily.
LEVS: Petraeus said U.S. casualties are rising and the Iraqi government he thinks is struggling. He said improvements, including sectarian killings have dropped by 2/3, but he said huge al Qaeda attacks overshadow the progress. Amid this a different update emerged from the United Nations. Its findings, Iraq faces immense security challenges, growing violence and a rapidly worsening humanitarian crisis. And for the first time ever, the UN mission did not report how many Iraqi civilians are dying in the war because the government did not provide the figures.
IVANA VUCO, UN ASSISTANCE MISSION IN IRAQ: (INAUDIBLE) Discussions with them trying to stress our point of view, which is the transparency is the key to establishing civility.
LEVS: The government of Prime Minister Nouri al Malaki issued a statement calling the report unbalanced and inaccurate. Iraq has complained in the past that UN figures are exaggerated. Last year the UN reported about 35,000 civilians killed. The Iraqi interior ministry told CNN it was about 12,000. But the UN said it got its figures from the Iraqi health ministry. Now UN officials won't guess whether things are improving.
SAID ARIKAT, SPOKESMAN, UNAMI: Figures are not to be speculated. Upon this are human lives that have been wasted.
LEVS: The same UN group also pointed out that some of those civilians are killed not only in bombings and in sectarian violence, but Betty, also sometimes caught in the crossfire between U.S. troops and insurgents they're fighting.
NGUYEN: For weeks now, we have seeing the president saying it's been day 85, day 100 since I gave the Democrats the order to send me a bill that I'm not going to veto. But if we look back at history when it was a Republican-led Congress, didn't we have a length of time, as well?
LEVS: Actually it took even longer. This is a good point. She's right. The White House is arguing that the Democratic-led Congress is taking way too long right now to get a bill to the president. It hit the 80-day mark this past week. But it turns out the Republican- led Congress last year actually took 118 days to get one to the president. The White House is saying last year it was a Republican- led Congress. They were confident that ultimately they would get one that the president would sign. Now they are not so sure. But yes, definitely, when you hear the White House talk about the urgency, a good reality check moment, it's good to keep in mind last year took even longer.
NGUYEN: And the president keeps saying, if I don't get it soon, they are going to run out of money on the ground there in Iraq as the U.S. troops try to fight this war. Thank you Josh. We appreciate it.
LEVS: You got it, thanks.
HOLMES: Well, his son was counting on him for a kidney transplant. Now a fugitive from the law is back behind bars. We'll have reaction just ahead.
HOLMES: You remember this appalling attack on the surveillance video here? The suspect now under arrest. This surveillance tape, but it's a 101-year-old woman being brutally mugged. You see the guy, just going through her pockets there, hits her in the face several times. She actually had a fractured cheekbone. All this and he got $33. The same person also blamed for a similar attack the same day on an 85-year-old woman. Well Jack Rhodes is the man, according to police. He's now been arrested. He's charged with robbery, assault and other things.
NGUYEN: The road has run out for the man known as the worst dad in America. We told you about a story, big-time fellow let out of jail to donate a kidney to his dying son only to skip out of the country. Yes today, he and his girlfriend are back though and CNN's Susan Candiotti has the latest.
SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long before he was captured sporting a T-shirt from a Mexico resort, fickle father Byron Perkins and his girlfriend earned this colorful description from U.S. marshals.
RICK McCUBBIN, U.S. MARSHAL'S SERVICE: It's like Kentucky's version of a modern day Bonnie and Clyde. It's a couple. They're in love. They're on the run. They're committing crime.
CANDIOTTI: Last January marshals say Perkins and Lee Ann Howard plotted their get away in coded jailhouse calls.
BYRON PERKINS: Tell her to get my 38' and some socks and stuff?
HOWARD: I definitely don't need to forget my medicine.
CANDIOTTI: They even got lovey dovey.
HOWARD: I love you, Byron. Yeah. Just don't feel like you do anymore.
PERKINS: I do.
CANDIOTTI: In this Kentucky courtroom, Perkins cheerfully convinced a Federal judge to temporarily set him free for final donor testing for his teenage son Destin who desperately needed a kidney.
DAWN IZGARJAN, DEPUTY U.S. MARSHAL: I remember that day. He's crying. His defense attorney was almost in tears. I was sitting there thinking, what a great thing to do.
CANDIOTTI: Perkins fooled them all. When he and his girlfriend bolted, Perkins left his mother holding the bag, making her responsible for a $10,000 bond. He wrote her this inexplicable note. I'm not running out on Destin, so please don't think I am. I'll come through for him. What do you think he meant?
BARBARA BAAR, PERKINS MOTHER: I don't know but if he's going to come through, he needs to do it now.
CANDIOTTI: But Perkins did run out on Destin. No other relatives were a good match.
DESTIN PERKINS, KIDNEY RECIPIENT: I just couldn't believe he had did it.
ANGIE HOWARD, DESTIN's MOTHER: I don't understand why he couldn't have done the transplant, you know to help Destin. I don't understand.
CANDIOTTI: Then an amazing break. What did he say they were doing down there?
One day after CNN ran Destin's story, a couple flying home from this small Oceanside Mexico resort recognized Perkins and Howard and called police. For over a year, the fugitive Kentuckians kept under the radar and one step ahead of the law. Last summer, Destin was on the mend after getting a new kidney from a stranger. His heart has not mended.
PERKINS: I still don't think I could forgive him. I really want him back behind bars.
CANDIOTTI: You think he should be punished?
CANDIOTTI: Put behind bars? Destin may get his wish. After someone fingered him in Mexico, Perkins is not only charged with jumping a court order, he still faces a minimum 25-year sentence on gun and drug violations, not to mention facing the son he ran out on. Susan Candiotti, CNN, Miami.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You killed too many Iraqis already.
HOLMES: Hecklers are going pro. Yes, they are getting masters degrees in this stuff now. We'll explain why we are seeing so many more public interruptions coming up.
NGUYEN: We do have new information in the Pakistan bombing this morning. In fact it was a suicide bombing, so far 20 people have been killed in this bombing, 44 injured. You are looking at video coming into CNN. The highlighted portion if you look very closely, the guy in the gray vest, that is Pakistan's interior minister and he was injured in this bombing. Minor injuries, but he and his son were among the 44 injured. Suicide bomber was really approaching the interior minister as he was giving a speech there in Pakistan. Didn't get as close as the suicide bomber wanted to because guards stopped him and that's when he detonated it. As far as the interior ministry spokesperson goes, the bomber is believed to be an Afghan national. So we'll keep you posted on this, the latest numbers, 20 dead and 44 injured in a suicide bomb blast in Pakistan today.
HOLMES: Also need to tell but another bombing, this one in Iraq. We told about this a little while ago and now we have an update. According to Associated Press, at least 30 people have died at a car bombing in Karbala. This happened near one of Shiite Islam's holiest shrines there in Karbala, about 7:00 in the evening according to the AP when people were beginning to gather for prayers. Apparently, some new video we are getting in here, but at least 30 dead according to the Associated Press. Dozens more reportedly wounded when a car bomb went off near this shrine about 500 yards from this holy Shiite shrine. We are staying on top of both of those stories and will certainly have updates for you throughout the day.
NGUYEN: It definitely has been a busy and a very violent morning as you saw there. Fredericka Whitfield is coming up with much more in the NEWSROOM this afternoon.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good to see both of you. Those pictures out of Karbala is just a reminder of what everyday life has become for a lot of people in Iraq. Imagine being a 20-something year old kid. You're trying to pursue your college aspirations. But guess what? You can't even get to your classes on time. You can't meet up with friends. None of the stuff that we find very normal here in the states to pursue our college education because you've got bombs going off constantly.
So there is a very innovative video blog that now helps document the lives of some 20-something-year-olds there in Iraq of what day-to- day life really is like. We're going to show you that in the noon hour. And then in the 2:00 p.m. hour, we're going to actually have one of the creators of this website to explain how they get it done.
And then there is this in southern California. The specter of Phil Spector. NGUYEN: There's a little different...
WHITFIELD: Yeah and that's interesting that you mention that because there really may be some strategy, some real legal strategy behind the different hair every day, as we've been seeing in trial court. This is a murder trial. It's a very serious case. This case is one that will have the microscope on it because of the evidence, the lack thereof and of course, the appearances of that genius of a music producer. Our legal eagles are going to tackle that issue in the 2:00 p.m. hour.
NGUYEN: Thank you, Fred. There is much more to come on the NEWSROOM. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.
NGUYEN: We did want to give that you story on those professional hecklers. It's a very good one, but because of breaking news, you'll have to turn in later in the NEWSROOM for that.
HOLMES: I think we had some people heckling us outside, upset that we didn't air the story. But we will get in on today.
Well, chasing tornados, you do it on purpose. Those who do are nuts, for one thing. But many of them, they just wouldn't do anything else.
NGUYEN: CNN Reynolds Wolf is just one of those guys. He set out with a team of tornado chasers. Want you to take a look at what he found. In fact, he's here to talk to us about what he lived to see.
REYNOLDS WOLF, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It was a lot of fun. It was quite an experience. And I'll tell you, the most interesting thing about going out and going tornado chasing is that it's never a guarantee that you are going to see one of those big storms.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's nice. There we go. That's what we're looking for.
WOLF (voice-over): We followed tornado chasers Scott Gaines (ph) and Andrew Odacre (ph) nearly 400 miles from Oklahoma City to outside Wichita, Kansas to meet the storm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love it.
WOLF: What we are going to do is just get behind it and look to the northeast and hopefully get a good shot of the funnel. Let's keep our fingers crossed. We got a confirmed tornado on the ground, even though the condensation funnel hasn't made contact. You can still see condensation on other side of the debris on the bottom and that is what is considered a tornado. In tornados, it's the debris that's the big killer.
Now we are going into a chaser traffic jam. You have everybody who's been trying to chase this storm all day. You've got two tornados right now. We see two tornados right now just the debris, one forming to the left. You'll see another one forming to the right just beyond the tree that you see on the horizon. We've seen five tornados today. That's our fifth one. You hit the jackpot, man.
WOLF: It really never is a guarantee. There are people that go out with all kinds of equipment. They've got onboard Doppler radar. They've got radio phones, every kind of high tech equipment you can imagine. Still they come up empty. We were very, very lucky that day, but we also played it safe. We didn't get too close. And these storms, you have to remember, can be deadly. We're going to have more about these storms and tell you how, exactly what goes into the chase itself. We're going to have that for you coming up tomorrow.
NGUYEN: We are so glad did you play it safe because as you mentioned, it can be deadly.
WOLF: No question about it.
NGUYEN: While everyone else is running in the other direction, you are heading straight to the storm.
WOLF: Absolutely. Thankfully no injuries with this particular storm. No fatalities and not much in terms of damage. Don't make it a habit.
Of course, CNN NEWSROOM now continues with Fredricka Whitfield.
NGUYEN: Hi Fred.
WHITFIELD: Hello to you. That heckler piece you guys talked about, we've got you covered.
WHITFIELD: So folks you can count on that in the rest of the NEWSROOM. All right, you all have a great day.
NGUYEN: Thank you.
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