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Senior U.S. Official: Terror Plot Discovered Against U.S. Interests in Germany; U.S. Coasts Ablaze; Life After Work; Iraqi Hospitality; Young Girl Still Missing in Portugal; Art Imitating Life
Aired May 11, 2007 - 13:59 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. I'm Don Lemon, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Kyra Phillips.
Bombs, small arms, real threat or old news? A top U.S. official tells of a terror plot against U.S. interests in Germany.
LEMON: But the State Department says that's really not new. They cite a warning sent out three weeks ago.
We'll piece it all together for you right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: And about an hour ago, we first told you about this story breaking. This is what we know so far.
A CNN official had confirmed to us that U.S. and German officials were fearing that terrorists were in the advanced planning stages of an attack on U.S. military personnel and/or tourists in Germany. They came forward in telling us about intelligence that they got, possibly that U.S. air marshals had been diverted to provide expanded protection of flights between Germany and the U.S.
The source was saying that that danger level was high. They were extremely concerned.
As you know, in particular -- a particular concern to the officials was the Patch Barracks. Patch Barracks is the headquarters for the U.S.-European command right there in Germany. The 9/11 hijackers actually planned their operation out of Hamburg, Germany, and that's why this country has been under the watch of authorities.
We finally are able to get to our Fred Pleitgen, there live in Germany.
Fred, I know you've been working your sources, working this information or us.
Good to see you. What were you able to find out?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN BERLIN BUREAU CHIEF: Yes, Kyra, it's good to see you.
Basically, I've talked to a spokesperson for the U.S. embassy here in Berlin, and also to a spokesperson of the German Interior Ministry. And what they say is that they are not aware of any new specific terrorist plot. But they're also saying that about two weeks ago they did raise the threat level for U.S. installations here in Germany, and this was really something that happened only in Germany.
This was not some general terrorist warning. This was something that happened only in Germany. And what they're saying is that they were asking American tourists to be more vigilant here in Germany.
They massively increased security for the U.S. embassy, and also for U.S. military installations. And we do know of one U.S. military installation specifically where the security has been massively increased. So, while they're not saying that they know anything about some new plot, they are saying that the threat level has been raised considerably.
And Kyra, you know that in just a few weeks' time the G8 summit will be held here in Germany, in northern Germany. And in the run-up to that G8 summit, we are seeing German officials also heavily cracking down on anybody whom they might believe might be trying to disrupt that summit.
And we saw anti-terror raids here in Germany only two days ago, where 900 German police officers swarmed out all across the country and arrested 40 people and raided several houses. And they were saying back then that this was also related to a terrorist plot.
Now, they were saying it was a left-wing terrorist plot. We're not sure that that has anything to do with what we're hearing right now, Kyra. But this is certainly a country very much on alert, and a country that really does fear very much for the security of any American that's in this country -- Kyra.
PHILLIPS: Fred Pleitgen, our Berlin bureau chief.
Fred, keep us posted as you talk to your sources. Thanks.
LEMON: And our homeland security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, has been digging up some details for us. She joins us now with the very latest.
What have you found out, Jeanne?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, U.S. officials tell CNN that the threat information is not new, but one senior federal official characterized it as very real. Other sources are calling it credible.
According to officials, the threat information did originate in Germany and has been evolving for several months. Some intelligence officials tell us that it is not specific, but one senior official tells us it involved planning for multiple attacks, with bombs and automatic weapons on U.S. interests and/or military bases in Germany. It was taken seriously enough that the State Department put out a message announcing increased security at U.S. diplomatic and consulate facilities in Germany, and there was comment about that at the State Department briefing a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: There was recently, within the past couple of weeks -- you can check me on the date -- a warden message that went out from our embassy asking people in country to exercise extra vigilance and caution, although at that point they didn't have a specific credible threat, but they were quite concerned. I can't speak to this, whether or not there is new information that has come in. Whenever we do have information that we believe is credible enough to act on, we have a legal requirement, as well as moral requirement, to pass along our best advice to our public so that they can take steps to protect themselves.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: The force protection level at U.S. military facilities in Germany has not been increased. And that's an indication that no threat is imminent. And the Department of Homeland Security emphasizes that there is no indication of a nexus to the homeland, and there is no credible intelligence to suggest an imminent attack here.
As for who's responsible, well, we have conflicting information. Some say there is an al Qaeda link. But other sources say that is only a strong suspicious because of the history of al Qaeda activity in Germany.
But once again, not new information here, but worrisome information.
Back to you.
LEMON: Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve.
Thank you, Jeanne.
PHILLIPS: Now, earlier, we discussed the German threat report with Jim Walsh of the Security Studies program at MIT.
JIM WALSH, MIT SECURITY STUDIES PROGRAM: What is surprising to me about this -- and of course, we don't know a lot yet -- is that it would be focused on a military site. On the one hand, that makes sense for them to attack the U.S. military because of its affiliation with Iraq, and it's an American target. But, on the other hand, you'd think that this would be very difficult for outsiders to gain access to.
PHILLIPS: Well, and Islamic groups have threatened violence against Germany for its involvement in those wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, correct? So this could be...
WALSH: Absolutely. Well -- and, of course, other European partners have faced direct attack. There was the bombing of the Spanish trains. There have been attacks on Australians, in Indonesia. So -- and there have been threatened attacks. Several of the videotapes, several of the audiotapes issued by al Qaeda have mentioned Germany and other European allies as being on the target list.
PHILLIPS: And of particular concern, Patch Barracks, the headquarters for the U.S. European command there in Germany. This is obviously a military facility that has been under constant threat and has been of concern for attacks like this. Right, Jim?
WALSH: Yes. And historically, Kyra, going back even decades, when Europe suffered the wave of Red terrorism, with the Baader- Meinhof Gang and the Red Army, and you had groups in Germany and Italy, in Germany there were terrorist groups -- again, ideologically driven, not religiously driven -- but ideologically driven, who did attack U.S. bases in Germany. So, it's not the first time that groups, terrorist groups, or others have targeted U.S. military facilities in that country.
PHILLIPS: And Jim Walsh was on the phone there from Cambridge, Massachusetts.
LEMON: Now to the wildfires across America.
From the East Coast to the West Coast, the U.S. is burning at the edges from swampy northern Florida to the islands off southern California. The weather is dry, it's warm, it's windy, and that spells trouble for the firefighters trying to get these blazes under control. Bigger trouble for hundreds of families fleeing and fearing for their homes.
Let's get straight to Catalina Island now, 30 miles off the southern California coast. About 4,000 acres have gone up in smoke since this time yesterday.
CNN's Ted Rowlands is there.
TED ROWLANDS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Don, it's a situation that is getting better by the minute because of the amount of firefighters out here attacking this blaze. There's a little flare-up right now on the Hill behind me. I don't know if you can really see it or not. But the fire itself is being attacked by the air and on the ground because reinforcements have come here, partly via the U.S. military.
Last night, though, a much different story. A wall of flames descended on Avalon here on Catalina Island, and it sent everybody out of their homes for the most part. Mandatory evacuations, people grabbed what they could in an instant, came down to the beach, and then looked up and watched and hoped for the best.
It was a horrible sight for those people seeing the wall of flames descend on their homes. Luckily, the fire dampened down when the winds changed late last night, and these homes, for the most part, were saved. They did lose a few structures here, but the city itself is intact. A few outbuildings and a few -- and one home in an outer area was lost, but it could have been much, much worse. Because Mother Nature helped out.
Now, today firefighters are exploiting that opportunity, and they have been attacking this fire from the air. There's still a lot of work to be done. It's only 10 percent contained. However, there is optimism, if the conditions stay as they are now, meaning if the winds continue to be low and the humidity stays at this level, a relatively high level compared to the conditions yesterday -- Don.
LEMON: All right.
Ted Rowlands on Catalina.
Thank you, Ted.
PHILLIPS: We're watching the coast today for signs of relief, but other parts right now of the country have problems of their own.
Meteorologist Reynolds Wolf from the CNN weather center following it all for us.
LEMON: U.S. officials say there's a terror plot against U.S. citizens and interests in Germany. The German government is downplaying it, saying it's an old warning.
What's the truth? We'll update you in the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: Wildfires on both coasts. The battles inch by inch. We'll check in with one of the top responders for an update from Catalina Island.
The latest from the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: It's 2:15 Eastern Time right now. Here are three of the stories that we're working on from CNN NEWSROOM.
U.S. officials say they've uncovered a terror plot aimed at U.S. interests in Germany. It reportedly involved the use of bombs and small arms against U.S. facilities.
California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says firefighters are working hard to protect people and animals on Catalina Island. About 4,000 acres have burned and the fire is only 10 percent contained.
And bond is denied for six men accused of plotting a terror attack against Fort Dix in New Jersey. LEMON: Let's get back to those fires now. Catalina Island, off Los Angeles, more than 4,000 acres already scorched. High winds and dry, crunchy conditions are making a tough job much, much tougher for firefighters.
On the phone now, investigator Scott Ross from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Sir, you've got a big job on your hands here.
SCOTT ROSS, L.A. COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: Yes. We're real busy today.
LEMON: Give us the latest on this. The governor held a press conference a short time ago, said it was 10 percent contained, but 3,800 people had to be evacuated.
How are you working to get this fire contained? And is it still 10 percent?
ROSS: Yes. At this point, that's still our containment numbers.
We had favorable weather conditions this morning, with the -- more of the humidity and lower temperatures. The winds were a little calmer this morning, so they let us get a jump-start on our morning and our aerial assault.
Today we've done a pretty big air operation. We have 10 helicopters flying and five fixed-wing aircraft doing an aerial assault on our fire now.
LEMON: Where did you get some of this equipment from? Because we saw some of it coming in from the mainland there.
ROSS: Yes. We're deploying out of Camp Pendleton with all our ground troops. They're bringing us over on the hovercrafts, the engines, temp (ph) crew strike teams and things like that.
The aerial assault -- helicopters are by L.A. County and fire and other assisting agencies. We do have California Department of Forestry involved with us. It's -- you know, with multiple agencies working on such a large fire we have going on.
LEMON: I've got to ask you this. Just coming back from the tornadoes there, and the governor saying that they were stretched when it came to equipment, especially from the National Guard and what have you, are you guys stretched? Because you have -- you know, you've got fires in Griffith Park, in that area, wildfires burning over some areas of California, and then you have it there in Catalina.
What about resources? How are you dealing with that?
ROSS: Well, I just came off the lines and was talking with one of the hand crews that had just left Griffith Park and was deployed directly here. So we have crews here. We have over -- about 500 firefighters on the fire line at this time. But, you know, it's getting to be a long week. We've been -- they've been at Griffith Park, and now they're here. So, you know, it's getting to be a long week, like I said, for these guys.
LEMON: I imagine it is getting to be a long week. And the governor and also the mayor of Los Angeles commended the firefighters there, saying some of them are working double shifts and working right through the night, sir?
ROSS: Yes, absolutely. We got in here -- for example, myself, I got in here yesterday afternoon, and we've been working through the night just to get this thing, you know, in a very progressive manner.
LEMON: OK. Inspector Scott Ross from the Los Angeles County Fire Department.
Thank you and best of luck to you.
ROSS: OK. Thank you very much.
PHILLIPS: Straight ahead, suffering for art to make a personal statement. You'll find out why straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: One of the nation's biggest insurance companies is giving an entire state the cold shoulder.
Susan Lisovicz, live at the New York Stock Exchange to tell us about this controversial move.
LEMON: The telephone, the light bulb, television, all modern necessities that began with an inventor's dream. Yet, it's rare to find anyone who calls himself an inventor anymore. A retired Microsoft millionaire is aiming to change that by using his fortune to reinvent the invention process.
Ali Velshi has his story in today's "Life After Work".
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Discovery drives everything with Nathan Myhrvold. Discovery of dinosaur bones on the fossil hunts that he finances, discovery of new subjects for the photographs he takes. And his latest quest -- discovering inventions.
NATHAN MYHRVOLD, FOUNDER, INTELLECTUAL VENTURES: Our basic idea is that we invest in invention, and we do this a bunch of ways. We make our own inventions, and we also invest in others.
VELSHI: Myhrvold's Intellectual Ventures is bankrolling inventors he hopes are the Thomas Edisons of the 21st century. He amassed a fortune during his 14 years at Microsoft, retiring as chief technology officer in 2000. And now the self-described hard-core nerd wants to fill what he calls a void in the market.
MYHRVOLD: Almost no one has a business card that says inventor. Almost no business focuses people on saying, what I want you to do is to invent new things as your primary job. And so our idea is actually pretty simple. It's, hey, if we focus on that full time, we ought to be able to do better at it than if we do it as a sideline.
VELSHI: Myhrvold has recruited 44 inventors so far. He says they're patenting about 450 ideas a year. He gave us a first look at the invention lab he's building in a Seattle suburb outfitted primarily with things he bought from online auctions.
MYHRVOLD: It's a Ford racing engine.
VELSHI: And he's still enjoying the discovery process, even though they don't have a major hit yet.
MYHRVOLD: I love what we're doing right now. Because this is a long-term business, if it wasn't fun in the short run, none of that other stuff would actually matter.
VELSHI: Ali Velshi, CNN.
PHILLIPS: Suffering for art to make a personal statement. You'll find out why when you meet this Iraqi-American, straight ahead from the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: Hello, everyone. I'm Kyra Phillips, live at the CNN world headquarters in Atlanta.
LEMON: And I'm Don Lemon.
Concern in Germany over an alleged terror plot potentially aimed at Americans and American interests.
PHILLPS: U.S. officials say the threat is not exactly new but it's real. We're tracking the latest news in Washington, Berlin and London where another plot apparently helped uncover this threat.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLPS: Up first, pomp and circumstance cap and gown, a day dreams are made of. But today's graduation ceremony at Virginia Tech comes just weeks after a massacre that killed 32 students and teachers. CNN's Jim Acosta is in Blacksburg.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon. The pomp and circumstance here at Virginia Tech will be somber and subdued during this evening's ceremony for graduation. Pictures of the victims will be projected onto the jumbo screen here at the stadium behind me. And then each of the slain students will be honored with posthumous degrees. We have some video of the scene being set inside Lane Stadium where the graduation ceremony will take place. And you can see those seats empty as they stand now. But as one writer put it, even when the seats are filled this evening, there will still be that sense of emptiness in the air. And that sense of loss is palpable throughout campus when you talk to people. We certainly got that sense after talking to one graduating senior and one notable member of the faculty here.
UNIDENTIFIED GRADUATING SENIOR: It's hard to feel accomplished or self-congratulatory right now when you know that there should be a dozen or so other people walking across the stage with you that aren't even alive anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED FACULTY MEMBER: People say move forward. But we haven't moved backwards so what we will continue to --
ACOSTA: What does that mean? We haven't moved backwards?
UNIDENTIFIED FACULTY MEMBER: We haven't. We haven't moved backwards. Here we stand. We just have to find a way to continue to wrap the love around ourselves.
ACOSTA: And the university is reminding graduates they do have the option to excuse themselves from this weekend's commencement events, understanding that this celebration will not be for everybody.
Jim Acosta, CNN, Blacksburg, Virginia.
LEMON: We're following several developing stories here in the CNN NEWSROOM, one of which, T.J. Holmes, has for us.
T.J. HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We will start in Vegas here. Remember the story from Monday. We were reporting there was a bombing, a small device that blew up and killed someone at the Luxor Hotel Casino in Las Vegas. This was early Monday morning. A suspicious device left on top of a vehicle. Person came out to the car, picked up that device. It blew up. He was killed. Another bystander, the person he was with, escaped injury. There has been an arrest in this case now. Two people actually have been arrested. We know that at least one of them is a male, but two arrests have been made in this case. This homicide which police are calling a homicide with an unusual weapon.
Now, KLAS, our affiliate out there in Las Vegas, is reporting that the victim in this case, the person who was killed, was actually dating the ex-girlfriend of one of the suspects. So a strange little triangle there to maybe piece together, if that does, in fact, become the case, that authorities confirm to us, we're expecting to hear from them sometime today to get more details. That's word from KLAS.
A lot of folks will remember this story at the Luxor Hotel, the big pyramid on the strip. Can't miss it. In the parking garage, early Monday morning, a worker comes out, 24-year-old, finds this device on top of a vehicle. The device explodes. He dies. Someone who he was there with, a woman, barely escaped injury. Now two arrests in that case. KLAS reporting that, in fact, the victim did have a relationship with the ex-girlfriend of one of the people now under arrest. So arrests have been made in that case.
Details to come, Don.
LEMON: And that's a love triangle possibly, as you said. Hey, T.J., getting word now some fires in Minnesota. Do you know anything on that?
HOLMES: We've been covering fires east coast to west coast. Now up the middle, up the gut of the country a little bit. Yes, take you to Minnesota. You see at the top there, Gunflint Trail, Minnesota, specifically. There is a 57-mile-long road that has resorts, lake homes along it. These are some of the pictures here. This thing is massive. It has grown to some 86 square miles, now about half and half, some in Minnesota and some in Canada.
But the authorities have been dealing with just terribly dry conditions, not expecting any rain, any thunderstorms, anything like that in the area until possibly Sunday. But people have -- about 300 people have had to check into evacuation centers. Still many, many more are in hotels, with family and friends. Forty-five, at least 45 structures have been taken out with this fire. There are still some 20 commercial buildings and 200 homes still being threatened and we have about 500 firefighters on the ground trying to fight this and more coming in. The cost of this thing is about $2 million right now.
But it is massive, we're talking about 86 square miles and growing. Five percent contained right now and not expecting any rain until at least Sunday. So they might be dealing with these terribly dry conditions and just a nasty huge fire from a few more days to come here.
LEMON: Absolutely they could use less winds and more rain. We'll check in with Reynolds Wolf, our meteorologist, in just a bit to get the low-down on this. Thank you very much.
PHILLIPS: It's been a top story for us this afternoon. London and Germany talking about this threat of a terrorist attack on U.S. military personnel and possibly tourists in Germany. We want to go live to Paula Newton, on the phone from London, talking about the story in Germany. Paula, what have you been able to find out?
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually, Kyra, something that certainly I had one intelligence source tell me as early as January, we want to rewind to a plot that was discovered, an alleged plot, here in Britain to kidnap a British Muslim soldier and behead him. Now, those people here are awaiting trial. At the time, I knew that U.S., certainly the Defense Department was looking at security for personnel in the UK. They were satisfied that, in terms of the security of U.S. personnel here in the UK, everything was fine.
What one source did tell me, was that the growing concern of some type of a threat in Germany. At the time, we were unable to get a second source about it. And given the level of panic there for both soldiers and their families, it was not prudent for us to report it at the time. What we have to make clear here, Kyra, is that what we were hearing from our intelligence source was that this was chatter, not clear-cut intelligence that they can actually act upon, but chatter. And chatter, by definition, certainly gives them great cause for concern, but they don't know how reliable it is. They don't know if the threat is imminent. And they don't know how to tell people to be vigilant about it because chatter is, by its very definition, very unreliable and unspecific.
What I had been told at the time, was that the threat was to U.S. personnel in Germany, specifically trying to target U.S. soldiers when they were off base in places that they knew that they hung out. The plot at the time, at least the chatter, was telling them that it involved small arms and not explosive devices. This, again, was only one source and we at CNN were unable to confirm it to be able to report it at the time. It seems to be, though, given the new information that we've obtained today that that was the kind of chatter that they were worried about at the time. Of course, their worry heightened by the fact that they had just been told about this alleged plot here in Britain to kidnap and assassinate a British Muslim soldier.
PHILLIPS: Paula Newton, appreciate it.
We'll stay on top of this story through Paula Newton and our other reporters there, even out of Berlin, on this possible terrorist attack. We'll keep you updated.
LEMON: A friendly smile, a cup of tea. People who have lost so much still finds ways to give. CNN's Michael Holmes shares the unexpectedly civil side of a war zone, straight ahead right here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: During a month-long tour in Iraq, CNN's Michael Holmes and his photographers went beyond the everyday violence offering a personal, behind the headlines account of life in a war zone. His reports premiere tomorrow night on a CNN Special Investigations Unit Production, "Month of Mayhem." But it wasn't all mayhem. Take a look.
MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It can be a bizarre sight, troops cautiously running through the street, sometimes using smoke to hide from potential snipers. And all the time, followed by laughing kids.
(on camera): We sometimes call ourselves the pied piper because wherever we go, there's 20 kids behind us. And it can be an amazing site where the soldiers are quite likely are very aware and very alert and there's all this sort of military maneuvering going on. Meanwhile, behind you there's 20 kids running along, laughing, saying, what's your name, mister? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. I love you.
HOLMES: It's quite a bizarre reality when you're doing that. You know, you're looking for snipers and telling the kids to keep it down.
(voice over): The soldiers will tell you in some ways it's reassuring. Often, if the kids disappear, it can mean something bad is going to happen. Word gets out, streets empty and something blows up.
(on camera): It's a great Arab tradition that you show hospitality to guests. We just come in here with a dozen soldiers, people going house to house, asking questions. And they make you chai. Everybody gets a cup of tea if they want one. It's traditional Arab hospitality.
The incredible hospitality and generosity that these people sometimes display to us, you know, we're going in with the soldiers sometimes doing searches, and looking for weapons and stuff like that. And many times the people, they invite you in, sit down on the sofa, bringing you cups of tea because that's the Arab thing. If you have a guest in your house, you must give them something, you know. So they come out with glasses of Pepsi and glasses of tea and cookies for these guys who just basically invaded their property. But that's the Arab way. It's a hospitality thing. And, you know, it's an extraordinary thing. I wonder how most westerners would react if 12 soldiers came into their house, made themselves at home, you know, I dare say most westerners wouldn't be offering cups of tea.
PHILLIPS: So true. They're some of the most humble, spiritual and hospitable people.
HOLMES: It's part of the culture and part of the religion, in fact, that you must look after a guest when they come in. Yes.
PHILLIPS: You know, everybody complains, we don't cover the good stories in Iraq. But we do. It just takes three times as long to do it because of the security situation.
HOLMES: The security situation -- look, that was my eighth trip, and the security -- I'd love to be the bearer of good news, but you just came back from there. It's gotten worse every time I've been there. It used to be that we used to be able to walk around without flak jackets and go to the marketplaces and interview people, go to restaurants. That hasn't happened in three years. And now -- I'll give you an example that's in the documentary.
Part of what we're trying to do is show people a side of how we put things together, how we live. There's stuff in there about our bureau and people we work with. But the stuff that doesn't get into stories into a two-minute story, I wanted to go do a piece in a place called Alamiya, (ph) a very dangerous suburb. Only a few miles from the bureau, a ten-minute drive. Our security said there's been IEDs, kidnappings, small arms fire, you can't do it. I really wanted to do the story. So the way we did it was we went the other direction, one mile into the green zone, waited around for three hours to hitch a ride on the blackhawk, went Tarji (ph), 40 miles north, waited around for a few hours to get onto an armored convoy that was going back to Alamiya. So what should have been a ten-minute drive ended up to be seven and a half hours.
You don't say that in the stories you put out there. So we thought this is a good way. We all had handy cams and had 40 hours of stuff that normally doesn't air.
PHILLIPS: It's a reality check. We have the luxury of a security team, of the chance to do that. But for the average Iraqi, they can't afford a bodyguard or a security team so they go out into this every single day, with absolutely no protection.
HOLMES: That's right. And literally, speaking of Iraqis, when they say good-bye in the morning, they really mean it because they might not come home that night. And people forget the numbers of casualties in this war. I mean, you know, 1500 dead civilians in a month is a good month. It's been as high as 2500 and more. You know, to put it in perspective, I think for a lot of Americans, you know, if you had the best part of a 9/11 a month, you'd be a bit annoyed with how your life was going.
PHILLIPS: Incredible documentary. Can't wait for everybody to see it. Michael Holmes, thanks so much.
HOLMES: Good to see you.
PHILLIPS: Alright, quick reminder, you can watch Michael's reports this weekend on CNN, "Month of Mayhem," Saturday and Sunday night, 8:00 eastern, right here on CNN.
LEMON: And speaking about Iraq, it is art designed to make a statement about war, poverty and the digital age. Also an interactive exhibit that allows the audience to shoot the artist with a paintball gun over the Internet. What is this all about? Let's ask the artist who was born in Iraq. His name is Wafaa Bilal, and he joins me now from Chicago by telephone.
This is, Wafaa, one of the most interesting exhibits I've seen so far. I want to know why you're doing it. I read something about Colorado and you were sort of disturbed that people who were shooting bombs it was almost like a video game.
WAFAA BILAL, ARTIST/ACTIVIST: Yes, absolutely. That's part of it. And the whole idea started was with not the shooting in Colorado but a soldier sitting in Colorado and there's an interview with him about shooting missiles into Iraq. I was very disturbed by the notion that he gets the information from the ground in Iraq and he says, push a button, send a missile to kill innocent people. He was asked whether he has regard for human life, and he said yes. But these are bad guys and I get a good intelligence from our forces on the ground.
LEMON: Yes. You have some video that was courtesy to us at Chicago Tribune where you describe what your exhibit is about. Let's take a listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILAL: It is day four. So far, it's been very challenging today because I got about five, six direct hits to my arm and stomach. I also feel my body is a little bit given up in terms of just trying to slow down.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That was day four of this. You're going to do this through June 15th. You said sometimes it hits you so hard, anyone can go on the website and explain this, and log on and shoot you with a paintball. You said that you've been hurt to the point of bleeding.
BILAL: Yes. It's been very tough. I'll give you one example. I try at night to protect myself by -- I construct some plexiglass. Yesterday two of these plexiglass shields were broken. One of these paintballs went through them. This is how hard these paintballs can hit. Three-hundred feet per second.
LEMON: Yes. Before we go, we want to know again, what are you hoping to accomplish from this, Wafaa?
BILAL: I -- I really wanted to raise awareness of what -- how Iraqis are confined to their own places and they cannot even -- they cannot even leave their home. For example, when my brother left his house, he was shot dead, shrapnel actually went to his heart. And I want to raise awareness of violence, remote violence, and also the Iraqi situation right now.
LEMON: Yes. OK, Wafaa Bilal, this exhibit is playing at the West Loop in Chicago, it's called the Flat Fall (ph) Galleries. You can log on to his Web site, flatfiles.com, and view this -- flatfilesgalleries, I should say, .com, or crudeoils.us. And you can see that live, and also, you can shoot at him if you want.
Thank you so much for joining us today.
BILAL: It is my pleasure.
PHILLIPS: Vanished on vacation, a little girl missing for more than a week in Portugal. Police under increasing pressure to find her. The latest straight ahead from the NEWSROOM.
PHILLIPS: Tomorrow, she'll be four years old, but no one knows where she is. Madeline McCann of Britain has been missing for more than a week in Portugal. Now, some people are criticizing what they call a poor police response.
CNN's Cal Perry brings us her story.
CAL PERRY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The story of 3-year- old Madeline, now missing for over a week, continues to grip a nation.
KATE MCCANN, MOTHER OF MISSING GIRL: We would like to say a few words to the person who is with Madeline, or has been with Madeline. Madeline is a beautiful, bright, funny, and caring little girl. She is so special. Please, please do not hurt her.
PERRY: Police say they think the 3-year-old from rural (ph), England was abducted from this holiday resort in southern Portugal last Thursday while her parents were out having dinner. The story of Madeline has grown throughout the week. Friday, international football star, David Beckham videotaped a statement.
DAVID BECKHAM, FOOTBALL STAR: If you have seen this little girl, please, could you go to your local authorities or police and give any information that you have, any genuine information that you have. Please, please help us. Thank you.
PERRY: And this e-mail chain started by Madeline's uncle arrived in thousands of e-mail boxes across the U.K. today.
Hundreds of police and volunteers have scoured the countryside, searching from land, sea and air. But while the Portuguese police and British volunteers fanned out to find young Madeline, the British press descended on Portugal, fanning out in search of anyone with an opinion on the police effort itself. The tone and comments have grown more frantic and judgmental as the week has passed.
JOHN MCCANN, UNCLE OF MISSING GIRL: Well, to be honest, it seems as though is very little going on. Today is the first time I've noticed anything happening.
I hope they find her, but you know, it just seems -- I'm sure they're trying, but the police presence doesn't seem to be massive, which I thought that you know, maybe it would be, you know.
PERRY: The missing girl's father spoke in defense of the effort.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have now seen at such times, how hard the police are working on the search for Madeline and their strong desire to find her. We have also seen the resources being put into the investigation.
PERRY: With public pressure escalating, the police push back.
OLEGARIO SOUSA, PORTUGUESE CHIEF INSPECTOR: Some details of the investigation can't be brought to public because of the law. I have said it here, and I ask for all the British people, special cooperation for this effect. Things are not equal in legal system in U.K. and in Portugal.
PERRY: The criticism has even diplomats playing mediator. Portugal's ambassador to Britain made the following statement, saying, "Trust the authorities, they are doing their best."
The international media going so far as to stake out the Portuguese police along the border with Spain, cameras recording police sitting in their cars during a rain shower while vehicles go unchecked. When the rain stops, police start checking cars again.
Two nations spar while a tragedy plays out in the public forum. At the center of it all -- a little girl, now missing for over a week.
PHILLIPS: Cal Perry, this is like the Natalee Holloway of Britain.
PERRY: It's exactly that. And the press coverage has been unprecedented. We're talking about major news networks here in the U.K. literally moving their entire operation to southern Portugal, anchoring their shows. And just to give you an idea here, we had the prime minister here of course resign yesterday after ten years of service. And Madeline is still on all the front pages.
PHILLIPS: What is it? Why?
PERRY: I think it's a story everyone can relate to. It's certainly every parent's worst nightmare and it's a real mystery. We saw tit-for-tat sort of remarks between the Portuguese press and the British press. The Portuguese press this week, blaming the parents, saying, how could they go to dinner, leaving their daughter alone in a hotel room just a 150 yards away? But it's a story, I think that everybody can relate to. They look at Madeline and they see their own kids.
PHILLIPS: So, do you think the press coverage has been different from other stories?
PERRY: I think it's been far wider, especially here in the U.K. where the press is used to being very investigative, it's used to attacking a story. And in Portugal, the law about a police investigation is they cannot release any information while the investigation is ongoing. British press is just not used to that. They're used to getting down and dirty, getting the information, and getting it out there to the public. And they really haven't been given that chance.
PHILLIPS: Cal Perry, look forward to the update. Thanks so much.
LEMON: All right, an event happening live now at the White House. We want to get you there. Today, did you know, was Military Spouse's Day? Well, the president certainly knows that, and the spouses of those who serve our country certainly know that. We're following this event for you. Just one of the stories we're following right here today in the CNN NEWSROOM. Before we go to break, let's listen in for just a little bit.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ...each of you is part of a legacy of service that hearkens back to our country's earliest days. When Martha Washington, the husband of the first George W., organized sick wards for wounded soldiers and made visits to battlefields to boost the morale of the troops, she volunteered for a cause bigger than herself. Through many conflicts, America's war fighters have counted on their spouses for love and support. Our communities have depended on your energy and your leadership. Our nation has benefited from our -- the sacrifices of our military families. Today, I've asked you to come so I can thank you on behalf of all the military families for your noble and needed service to the United States of America.
Not only am I saying it, but we've got some pretty distinguished group of folks who want to say the same thing. I will speak on their behalf, you'll be happy to hear. Secretary Bob Gates, Secretary of the Defense, Senator John Warner, Senator Craig Thomas, and Senator Mike Enzi, Congressman Chet Edwards, who happens to be President George W. Bush's Congressman from central Texas and Congressman Bob Filner have joined us to pay tribute to our military spouses. And I'm honored you all are here.
I also appreciate our military leadership who've joined us today. I can't think, by the way, of many times here in the East Room of the White House, that the joint chiefs have come to pay tribute.
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