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CNN Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer

Interview With Mowaffak Al-Rubaie; Interview With Mark Kimmitt

Aired June 11, 2006 - 11:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: This is "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Removing Zarqawi is a major blow to al Qaida. It's not going to end the war. It's certainly not going to end the violence. But it's going to help a lot.


BLITZER: The most wanted man in Iraq dead. We'll ask Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al Rubaie, what's next. And what does it mean for U.S. troops in the region? The deputy director of the U.S. military Central Command, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, weighs in.


SEN. ARLEN SPECTER (R), PENNSYLVANIA: What I am saying is that you have a domestic surveillance program, wiretapping, which is in flat violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.


BLITZER: Is the U.S. government spying on American citizens in the name of national security? We'll get perspective on domestic surveillance, the war in Iraq and more from two key U.S. senators: judiciary committee Chairman Arlen Specter and armed services committee member Jack Reed.


ANDERS FOGH RASMUSSEN, PRIME MINISTER, DENMARK: We are in Iraq to promote freedom, democracy, respect for human rights.


BLITZER: A key ally in the war on terror visits Washington. Denmark's prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, is our guest.

Plus, a special conversation with the retiring archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. "Late Edition's" line- up begins right now. It's 11 a.m. here in Washington, 8 a.m. in Los Angeles, 4 p.m. in London and 7 p.m. in Baghdad. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us for "Late Edition." We'll get to my exclusive interview with Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al Rubaie, in just a moment. First, though, let's go to CNN's Fredricka Whitfield for a quick check of some other important stories happening right now. Fred?


BLITZER: The death this past week of Abu Musab al Zarqawi and the Iraqi parliament's approval of a new interior and defense minister are potentially very significant developments. Just a short while ago I spoke with Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al Rubaie, in Baghdad. This is an exclusive interview you will see only on CNN.


BLITZER: Dr. Al-Rubaie, thanks very much for joining us. Welcome back to "Late Edition." Even as we speak right now, al Qaeda in Iraq is making a new threat, posting a threat on the Internet, saying they're going to launch major attacks, in their words, in the aftermath of the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. What do you make of this latest threat?

MOWAFFAK AL-RUBAIE, IRAQ'S NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: This is, I believe, it's a propaganda ploy. They're trying to make up for the huge loss and the disorientation they're suffering from, because there is a huge vacuum of power now within al Qaida. And I can tell you, we have many to infiltrate this terrorist organization, and we got quite a few of not only Abu Musab al-Zarqawi but others now in the organization we managed to get to, and I think they are trying to gather pace, if you like, and it's an empty threat.

But we are fully alerted. We have a very, very well and detailed plan to secure Baghdad and to secure Diyala and to secure other parts of Iraq, and we're going to stand and protect our people.

BLITZER: Are you saying that you've captured some of al- Zarqawi's colleagues alive and that you're holding them prisoner right now?

AL-RUBAIE: What I'm saying is that we've managed to inflict a heavy casualty. Without detailing anything, to not to jeopardize our security plan and our security operation, I can tell you that we have managed to inflict heavy casualty on this organization when we got to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and after that even operation performed after that, and before this.

BLITZER: Is there a successor to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi who's now taking over for him?

AL-RUBAIE: I think with his iconic, if you like, personality and character and with the method of ruthlessness, severe ruthlessness he used to use, his place and his position will be difficult to fill. And I think what we believe is that there's going to be -- a number of his lieutenants are going to start jockeying for power to fill his shoes, and we believe that this organization's going to split into many, many divisions.

BLITZER: How worried are you, though, that in this jockeying for power from his subordinates, that they could launch major suicide bombings, beheadings, terror attacks against Iraqis, against U.S. forces, to show that they're still around?

AL-RUBAIE: Admittedly, Wolf, those operations or those attacks that he has planned, and they are already in the pipeline and they're in the final stages of carrying them out, it will be carried out, and it will happen. But the medium-term effect of the departure and the death of Zarqawi is going to be huge on this organization, and not only on this organization, but on other groups, insurgent groups if you like.

Because those people were reluctant and afraid, from Zarqawi, to join the political process. Now, the road is easy to go and to come back to the political process and to join the Iraqi people, and I believe this is going to encourage a lot of people from the insurgents, the nationalists, the former regime elements, Baathists, (inaudible) and religious extremists, they're going to start joining the political process and joining the new Iraq.

BLITZER: What can you tell us, Dr. Al-Rubaie, about the circumstances of his death? Because we're now learning that he did survive, albeit briefly, after those two 500-pound bombs hit that building. How long did he survive, and what was the final cause of his death?

AL-RUBAIE: We have been monitoring and surveilling Zarqawi for the last few weeks now, and we plot a pattern of his movement. And we located him, when we identified the place. There was an air raid on that place, but the first force which sort of got to that place and got to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was the Iraqi police, the national Iraqi police.

When they arrived to the scene, it was literally flattened, but they got to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and he was gasping, but he was still alive. They put him on the stretcher, they tried to start medical aid for him, tried to resuscitate him, but he was trying to utter some words, but it was muffled and wasn't clear. Because we believe that he was confused. So -- and he died shortly after that.

BLITZER: Within a matter of minutes, would that be fair?

AL-RUBAIE: Yeah, within -- well, several minutes, he was still alive on the stretcher. He was trying to get out of the stretcher, probably because he was severely injured.

BLITZER: What about the other people who were killed in that bombing? There has been some confusion as to how many others. There was a woman, we're told, and maybe even a child. What can you tell us? AL-RUBAIE: Well, there were two women. There was one of the -- one of his companions, if you like, and were working with him, that were killed. One child, unfortunately, also was killed, and two other men and Abdul Rahman al-Musli (ph). Abdul Rahman al-Musli (ph) is his spiritual leader. He's the one who issues the fatwahs for him. He's the one who is the most -- one of the most horrible extremist Islamist terrorists in Iraq.

He's Egyptian in origin. He has been trained in Afghanistan before, over the last several years. And he joined Abu Musab al- Zarqawi a couple of years ago. And he has been along with him for two years now.

And he's been issuing fatwas and he's been issuing a statement against the Shia, against those who are -- against the Kurds and against even those Sunnis who work with the government or who took part in the political process and in the last election.

BLITZER: The woman who was killed -- was that his wife?

AL-RUBAIE: We don't know, to be quite honest with you. We couldn't identify the identity of these two women and neither the child as well.

BLITZER: Let me read to you from "The Los Angeles Times" on Saturday. "The United States conducted at least 56 raids against targets connected with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's Al Qaida in Iraq organization. In the 48 hours after his death, at least 25 people have been captured and one killed."

This is what you were referring to earlier when you said you've got a bonanza of new information about al Qaeda in Iraq. Is that right?

AL-RUBAIE: Well, we found a lot of material in that place. We found diaries. We found telephone numbers. We found computers. And we found -- there was a database in that computer. And there was a lot of information Zarqawi used to carry with him.

So it was very, very useful, not only to capture Zarqawi and get him out of the way of the Iraqi people, because he's the number one enemy of the Iraqi people, it was the value of the information we got with him.

BLITZER: Here is another quote I wanted to read to you...

AL-RUBAIE: And that's what I was referring to when I said we have done a lot of raids immediately after we got Zarqawi.

BLITZER: Let me just pinpoint one thing. Is this Iraqi military, security and police forces, or U.S., or is it a joint operation?

AL-RUBAIE: The air raid was a U.S. air raid. It was used -- an F-16 on it. But the police on the ground of the forces on the ground was the national Iraqi police. And after the national Iraqi police arrived to the scene and got the injured, got the dead sorted out, in an hour or so, I think, the coalition forces had arrived to the scene, also, to help in the logistics of the operation afterward.


BLITZER: And just ahead, Mowaffak al-Rubaie talks about whether this week's key developments in Iraq present an opportunity for a U.S. military draw-down. That's coming up.

Also, the leader of Al Qaida in Iraq has been eliminated. But what about the terror trail of Osama bin Laden? We'll talk with two top U.S. senators.

And later, a conversation with a steadfast ally of the U.S. in Iraq and the war on terror, Denmark's prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen. "Late Edition" continues right after this.


BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." Just a little while ago, I talked exclusively with the Iraqi national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie in Baghdad. Here's part two of my interview.


BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about something that is not good news, the investigation of some 24 Iraqi civilians allegedly killed by U.S. Marines at Haditha.

What's the latest information that you're getting on that incident?

AL-RUBAIE: Well, the prime minister, Maliki, has ordered an investigation team to go to Haditha, and to also to get some information from the coalition forces, to start, launch an investigation. And we're still waiting for the outcome of this investigation.

It's quite unfortunate that, if this has happened and killing the civilians, unfortunate. But I will wait for the outcome of the investigation now.

BLITZER: I understand there is a separate, Iraqi investigation under way as opposed to the U.S. military investigation.

Some commentators here in the United States have suggested you don't trust the U.S. military to come up with a good conclusion, a fair conclusion. That's why you want to do your own, independent investigation. What do you think?

AL-RUBAIE: No, Wolf, I don't think we don't trust the American military investigation. As a matter of fact, the Iraqi investigative team is seeking help, logistical, scientific help. And they're interrogating some Iraqi civilians and Iraqi witnesses from the military and civilian.

And we certainly need the help and cooperation of the American military who were there and who were witnessing that incident, that unfortunate incident.

So I don't think -- it's a cooperation. It's basically we're working together to reach to what exactly happened in that place.

BLITZER: This is what the new prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, said on May 24th.

He said: "Our forces will be able to take over the security file in all Iraqi provinces in a year and a half."

That sounds like a very ambitious schedule that he has in mind, because if Iraqi forces can take over security in all the provinces, that means U.S. and other coalition forces can leave within a year and a half.

Is that realistic?

AL-RUBAIE: Let me tell you something, Wolf. We have what we call a condition-based agreement with the coalition forces, with the coalition in Iraq.

Basically, the more our Iraqi security forces, our police, our army, the more they grow in number, in training and are ready and able to perform and to protect our people, then the less we need of the multinational forces.

I believe, by the end of the year, of this year, I believe that the number of the multinational forces will be probably less than 100,000 in this country.

And by the end of next year, most of the multinational forces will have gone home. And by the middle of 2008, we will not see a lot of visibility, neither in the cities or in the towns, of the multinational forces.

So the overwhelming majority of the multinational forces will leave, probably before the before the middle of 2008.

BLITZER: That's a very ambitious schedule. And it falls in line with what Prime Minister al-Maliki said.

As you know, President Bush is convening his national security team at Camp David on Monday. On Tuesday, he'll have a video conference with the leadership of Iraq, with Prime Minister al-Maliki.

Is this what you expect to be discussed, an eventual troop withdrawal, U.S. and coalition forces, during these two days of meetings?

AL-RUBAIE: Wolf, there are so many things we need to discuss with the American administration and with the U.S. government. There is the long-term and the strategic relationship between Iraq and the United States.

There is the president's ordered departure of the troops, and this is conditions-based, as I said. And also, we need to work out what are there logistical support, what other support, financial support, military support, the guarantees after the departure of the multinational forces.

There are a whole list of things we need -- we will need to discuss with the American administration.

So I believe it's going to be a very important meeting, and we certainly need more.

I mean, we'll need to work out what sort of financial help we need for next year, Iraq needs, what sort of training we need, what the level of troops is going to be for the next year in Iraq and the number of multinational forces, and so on and so forth.

BLITZER: One final question, Dr. Al-Rubaie, because we're almost out of time. The militias: will the new government crack down on these Shiite, these Kurdish, the Sunni, various ethnic sectarian militias so that there will be one military force, under the rule of the Iraqi government, one police force?

Is there going to be some movement on the militia front?

AL-RUBAIE: There is a whole plan. Number one, there is a law called CPL order 91. And this is the Coalition Provisional Authority order 91, which states the way or reintegration and disbandment of these militias. And the nine out of 10 of these militias have signed this law.

So nine of out 10 of these militias are going to be disbanded and reintegrated into the Iraqi society, into the Iraqi security forces, the police, the army, the intelligence, into civilian life, into other ministries, or into retirement. So there is a plan for that.

As far as those militias which were formed after CPL order 91, like, for example, Dishmedi (ph) or other Sunni militias, or other militias, there is also a plan of the last transitional government, the last government, which is a five-point plan, basically to reintegrate into normal civilian life, and leave the Iraqi police and the Iraqi army is the only -- Iraqi security forces, as the only forces which carry weapons and are authorized to use force against the criminals.

And that's it. We have agreed on that. There's a lot of political engagement with the militia leaders. There is a lot of political engagements with the religious and political leaders as well.

So there is a whole lot of activity. We're quite aggressive in this way. And I'm sure all the militia leaders and the political leaders are cooperating with us to disband, to dissolve and reintegrate in the normal life of this country. BLITZER: We have to leave it there. Dr. Mowaffak Al-Rubaie, as usual, thanks very much for joining us. Good luck to you. Good luck to all the Iraqi people. It's a dangerous mission. Be careful over there.

AL-RUBAIE: Thank you very much, indeed, Wolf, for having me.


BLITZER: And just ahead; does the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi signal a turning point in Iraq?

We'll talk about that and more with Republican Senator Arlen Specter, Democratic Senator Jack Reed. They're both standing by live.

But up next, a quick check of what's in the news right now, including the first named storm of the Atlantic hurricane season. Stay with us. We'll be right back.



BUSH: The ideology of terror has lost one of its most visible and aggressive leaders. Zarqawi's death is a severe blow to al Qaida.


BLITZER: President Bush commenting this past week on the death of Iraq's most wanted man. Welcome back to "Late Edition." I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. Joining us here in Washington to talk about that and much more are Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania. He's the chair of the Senate judiciary committee. And joining us from Des Moines, Iowa, Democratic Senator Jack Reed of Rhode Island. He serves on the Senate armed services committee.

Senators, welcome to "Late Edition." And senator reed, let me start with you and get your quick reaction to what we've just heard from the Iraqi national security adviser, Mowaffak al Rubaie, that by the end of this year he suggests there will be fewer than 100,000 coalition troops in Iraq.

Right now close to 150,000, 135,000 of whom are U.S. troops. By the end of next year, almost all of them would be gone, virtually a complete withdrawal by the middle, he says, of 2008. Is that realistic?

SEN. JACK REED (D), RHODE ISLAND: Well, I hope it is realistic, Wolf. It's encouraging if they're planning to do that. I advocate along with others that we have to make it clear to the Iraqis that we are involved in a rapid redeployment. We have to get our forces out because they're ultimately the forces, the Iraqis, that is, that will win the day. And that our forces are under tremendous wear and tear.

So I think that's encouraging news. I think we should make it clear that our policy is to complement their efforts with our efforts to withdraw as rapidly as possible. The first criteria, of course, is protecting our troops and making sure that there's a stable situation that follows.

BLITZER: Senator Specter, what do you think about that timetable put out by the Iraqi national security adviser?

SPECTER: I think we ought to do everything we can, Wolf, to hold them to it. We really ought to be out of Iraq at the earliest time. Of course, that depends on when the Iraqi national forces can protect themselves. But that's an authoritative statement. Now let's see him do it.

BLITZER: Are you confident, though, that the new Iraqi government, the permanent government, can get the military and police in place so that U.S. forces can leave?

SPECTER: Well, when you ask if they can, the answer is yes. When you say will they do it, that remains to be seen. But they have the capacity to do it. They are engaging in a lot of squabbling now. If they would come to terms on some of the basic outstanding issues, and now with the death of Zarqawi there's a good chance to unify the Iraqi government and to enable us to withdraw our troops. And those targets are very, very desirable.

BLITZER: You're a graduate, Senator Reed, of West Point. You've spent a lot of time watching the U.S. military. You were in Iraq with me last year when we both went with General Abizaid. Do you believe that this killing of Abu Musab al Zarqawi, when all is said and done, is really going to change much on the ground?

REED: Well, I think first, his death is good news. He was a ruthless terrorist who inflicted great pain and violence on so many people. Symbolically, I think it's important after so many months of tracking him down that our military forces were able to take him down. But the reality in Iraq is that the jihaddists are just a small portion of the instability.

There is ethnic tension, sectarian differences. There is the instability of a government that's just coming online. So I think we have to be very careful not to overemphasize the long-term effect of Zarqawi's death. But it was, I think, an important and significant blow last week that was struck against terror in Iraq.

BLITZER: Senator Specter, what do you think?

SPECTER: I think it depends largely, Wolf, on our follow-up. I think this is a real opening. The security forces and our intelligence are to be commended what they did here, and now let's see if we can follow up. It is a real blow. It's going to take them some time to regroup. And while they're in that stage, if we follow up I think we can -- if we make the most of it, I think we can expand this significantly.

BLITZER: Because as you mow, in the past couple hours, even as we're speaking, al Qaida in Iraq posted a new threat on the Internet saying they're going to launch major operations inside Iraq, presumably against U.S. forces.

SPECTER: Well, I think you would expect them to say that. They have been stung and stung badly. And part of how hard they have been stung is reflected in their response. But we don't really have them on the run, but we've taken a significant step in that direction. So we ought to strike while the iron is hot and make the most of it.

BLITZER: Senator Reed, I know you've taken a close look at allegations of military misconduct at Haditha, Hamandiya, other assorted places inside Iraq. This is a painful subject for the United States military and for the American public. What's the latest information you're getting at what may have happened at Haditha, the allegation being that U.S. Marines killed 24 innocent Iraqi civilians?

REED: Well, there's strong evidence suggesting that an incident of that nature did take place. Of course, the military, the Marine Corps, and Central Command are looking closely, and they're also being careful to protect the rights of those who might potentially be accused. But there's more and more evidence accumulating that something very unusual and something very unmilitary took place.

And so I think it's appropriate that they're taking these very strong steps. This is also, I think, an example of the pressure that our troops are under. This is a very difficult type of conflict to fight. One moment you're talking to Iraqi civilians trying to establish rapport. The next there's an explosion and you think they might be implicated.

It's not an excuse for conduct of this nature. In fact, if these allegations are true, this is incidents that dishonor the uniform and bring great pressure to bear on our mission in Iraq. But it's serious, and I think unfortunately there's probably some credibility to the allegations.

BLITZER: I'm going to be speaking live, senators, at the top of the next hour with an attorney who represents the staff sergeant who led that squad into Haditha. He's got a very different perspective, obviously, on what happened. That's coming up. Are you worried, though, Senator Specter, that these Marines have virtually, at least in public opinion, have already been convicted?

SPECTER: Well, I don't think they have been convicted. I think we need to hear their side of the story. And while there has to be a military investigation, I'm glad to say that Senator Warner, the chairman of the armed services committee, has said there will be hearings.

We have seen in the past in Abu Ghraib and other places that the military investigations have not been sufficient. And this activates Congressional oversight. And I believe that those hearings ought to be held sooner rather than later.

BLITZER: Even before the investigation is completed?

SPECTER: Yes. Absolutely. When you run an investigation -- and I've had a fair amount of experience with that in the judiciary committee and when I was district attorney of Philadelphia -- do it soon. Do it early. Do it before people have a chance to shift their testimony. When you talk to people immediately after the incident, you're much more likely to get the facts.

BLITZER: Well, let me ask Senator Reed. He's a member of the armed services committee. Should your chairman, Senator Warner, call for hearings even before the investigation by the U.S. military into the Haditha incident is completed?

REED: Well, I think timely hearings are important. I think the precise timing in terms of whether there's an initial report or charges is something that I'll let Senator Warner decide upon. But I think there's another aspect to the hearings that we will undertake, and that's not so much the initial incident but whether or not these incidents were covered up, whether there was some type of criminal activity in the chain of command.

That is a much more -- as serious, I should point out, as the allegations against the individual Marines. Because one of the corrosive aspects of this type of situation is the fact that others above might have looked the other way. I think that is something that we could do and should do very quickly in terms of the armed services committee.

BLITZER: All right. Let me let Senator Specter weigh in. Go ahead, Senator.

SPECTER: Well, Wolf, when you talk about cover-up, that amplifies the need for promptness. You have the basic incident. Then if you have any indication of cover-up, that's really the time when you ought to bring in somebody from the outside. That's precisely what Congressional oversight should undertake.

Now, it is true that if there's evidence of cover-up, the military ought to investigate that as well. But the sooner we get into that, the better off we are in finding what the facts are and assuring the public that it's objective.

BLITZER: We're going to take a quick break, but we have a lot more to talk about, including the three suicides in recent days at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. Also, domestic surveillance in the United States. Has a legal line been crossed? That coming up. But first, this.


BLITZER: General Michael Hagee. What's his story? the commandant of the United States Marine Corps spoke out this week about the investigation into allegation that's Marines killed unarmed civilians in the Iraqi towns of Haditha and Hamandiya. Hagee promised full cooperation with the investigations and said any Marine found to have engaged in misconduct will be held accountable. As the former commander of the First Marine Expeditionary Force, General Hagee was a key strategist in the leadup to the Iraq war.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." We're talking with the Republican chairman of the Senate judiciary committee, Arlen Specter, and Democratic Senator Jack Reed, a key member of the Senate armed services committee. Listen, Senators, to what the president said on Friday about the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo bay, where terror suspects have been held almost since 9/11. This the day before we learned that three of those terror suspects committed suicide. Listen to the president.


BUSH: We would like to end the Guantanamo. We'd like it to be empty. And we're now in the process of working with countries to repatriate people. But there are some that if put out on the streets would create grave harm to American citizens and other citizens of the world, and therefore, I believe they ought to be tried in courts here in the United States.


BLITZER: Senator Specter, about 460 detainees currently at Guantanamo Bay. Are you satisfied that the U.S. is doing enough to prevent these kinds of suicides? There have been more than 40 suicide attempts. Now three of these detainees actually did kill themselves. And people are asking, how is this possible? Given the history of so many attempts, why wasn't more done to make sure they couldn't wrap up these bed sheets and kill themselves?

SPECTER: Well, what has to be done, Wolf, is that those people have to be tried. When the president just said, as I heard him, brought to the United States and tried, they're not going to be brought to the United States. There are tribunals established, and they ought to be tried. Where we have evidence they ought to be tried, and if convicted they ought to be sentenced.

BLITZER: Because these individuals have not been charged formally with anything. They've been held without charge.

SPECTER: Well, that is the grave problem. There is the overtone that quite a number of them will be tried, that there is tangible evidence. As to a great many others, there is not evidence which could be brought into a court of law. When they are rounded up, there are efforts made to determine which ones are enemy combatants and which ones are dangerous, and then they're brought to Guantanamo, but it is the flimsiest sort of hearsay.

And efforts to really get to the bottom of it have been stymied. I went to Guantanamo last August, and I went down there with the expectation of having a hearing and of bringing people in and finding out exactly what went on. And when I got there, I was stonewalled. I couldn't have a hearing.

And what has happened, through a series of events, we have waited for the courts to act. The courts came down, Supreme Court with three decisions in June of 2004. And now we're waiting for the court to come down with another decision. But in the interim, they're just out there in limbo, and that creates a very difficult situation.

BLITZER: Senator Reed, should the U.S. shut down that detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and deal in some other way with these detainees?

REED: Well, they should as quickly as possible try to close the facility. But the reality, as the president suggested, is there are some very ruthless, very fanatical terrorists that are in our custody, and we just can't turn them loose. I think Senator Specter, though, has hit on the right sort of point here. There has to be a good procedure that balances the need to keep these people off the street with the need to find out who in fact is a terrorist.

That hasn't been done yet by the administration. And I think also, too, we recognize, or should recognize that as long as Guantanamo exists it's a source of international attention and concern, and that these types of incidents, these suicides, not only will provoke further condemnation around the world.

BLITZER: Senator Specter, you had a nasty little exchange of letters with the vice president of the United States this past week. Among other things, you wrote to him and said, "There is no doubt that the NSA, National Security Agency, program violates the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which sets forth the exclusive procedure for domestic wiretaps, which requires the approval of the FISA Court."

He wrote back to you the next day, the vice president, saying, "The administration will listen to the ideas of legislators about terror surveillance legislation and work with them in good faith." Have you and the vice president come to an agreement now on what you should do in terms of subpoenaing witnesses and holding a formal hearing on domestic surveillance?

SPECTER: The vice president called me, Wolf, on Thursday afternoon. But that wasn't a nasty exchange of letters. That may turn out to be a constructive exchange of letters. That's the first time I've heard from the administration. And it's the first time that the vice president or any ranking official has said that they're prepared to legislate.

Up until the present time, they've said they don't need any legislation at all. I'm searching for a way of bringing this matter to a head. And I was pressing on the telephone company records and was looking to have a hearing.

And after the vice president talked to a number of the Republican members of the committee, it was clear to me that I didn't have the votes to proceed in any constructive way.

And Senator Hatch said that he believed the administration would accept my legislation. And if they would do that, it would answer the problem. We'd have a judicial determination on constitutionality.

Now, we're working on it. We've taken a small step. And if we don't get some results, I'm prepared to go back to demand hearings and issue subpoenas if necessary.

BLITZER: Are you, as the Washington Post reported, ready to give what they call blanket amnesty to anyone who authorized these wiretaps?

SPECTER: Absolutely not. That was an erroneous report. If anybody has violated the law, they'll be held accountable, both as to criminal conduct and as to civil conduct.

And in no way did I promise amnesty or immunity or letting anybody off the hook. Take a look at my bill, Wolf. It just doesn't say that.

BLITZER: Senator Reed, did this administration break the law by authorizing these warrantless wiretaps?

REED: Well, look, first I want to commend Senator Specter for his leadership on this important issue. And I think the answer is we just don't know quite yet.

There's strong suspicion that they did because we really don't know the full dimension of this program, what precisely are we doing, how it might conflict with FISA. But my instincts are the same as Arlen Specter's, that this appears to be undercutting the law, not using the FISA court as it was intended to be. And I would hope that we would accomplish the facts first so that whatever legislation is proposed would be based upon the technology and based upon the practices that they are using.

BLITZER: Senator Specter, we only have a few seconds, but when will you hold these hearings?

SPECTER: Well, as soon as I find out whether they are necessary, as soon as we work through the process for now.

Listen, Wolf, let's make one thing plain. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act provides the exclusive remedy for domestic wiretapping. There's no doubt that law has been violated.

Whether the president has inherent Article Two power, constitutionally, which supersedes or trumps the statute, remains to be seen.

And it was a step forward when the vice president responded, really, within about 14 hours when he got my letter that he made the call. And we're talking.

But if the talks aren't productive, I'm prepared to go back to the hearings and I'm prepared to go back to the subpoenas if necessary. But I've got to get the votes, Wolf. And I don't control the situation all by myself.

BLITZER: Senator Specter, we've got to leave it right there. Thanks for coming in on this Sunday.

Senator reed, thanks for joining us from Iowa. The words Senator Reed and Iowa -- you know there's going to be buzz right away. Are you testing the waters, Senator?

REED: No, I'm with my wife and her family for a reunion.

BLITZER: Senator Jack Reed, joining us from Iowa. Thanks very much. Enjoy the reunion in Iowa.

Don't forget our Web question of the week: "Will Abu Musab al- Zarqawi's death weaken Al Qaida in Iraq? Go to to cast your vote. We'll have the results at the end of the next hour. Stay with us.


BLITZER: This is "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk.


BUSH: Coalition and Iraqi forces persevered through years of near misses and false leads. And they never gave up.


BLITZER: A military strike takes out Iraq's most wanted man. What does the death of Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi mean for the U.S. mission in Iraq and the war on terror? The deputy director of the U.S. military Central Command, Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, weighs in on that and this weekend's triple suicide at Guantanamo Bay.


RASMUSSEN: If allegation concerning Haditha show up to be true, it is definitely not what the coalition, what America, what Denmark, stand for.


BLITZER: Insights from a key U.S. ally. Denmark's Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks out about Iraq, Afghanistan and more.

Plus, the retiring archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, on immigration, same-sex marriage and the Catholic Church.

Welcome back. In his first television interview, I'll also speak live with an attorney representing the sergeant who led the squad of U.S. Marines in Haditha. We'll get his side of this controversial story. Was there a massacre of Iraqi civilians? That's coming up. But first, let's go to CNN's Fredricka Whitfield for a check of what's in the news right now. Fred?


BLITZER: Now to the Haditha investigations. Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich, who led a unit of U.S. Marines in an incident that left two dozen unarmed Iraqi civilians dead last November, now says he followed the military rules of engagement and did not attempt to cover up the shootings. That according to his attorney, Neal Puckett. Neal Puckett is joining us here in his first television interview.

Mr. Puckett, thanks very much for coming in. What's his side of the story? Because we've heard serious allegations that they just snapped, the Marines, and randomly, indiscriminately started killing innocent men, women and children.

NEAL PUCKETT, ATTORNEY: Well, while we don't have time to go into 12 hours of what happened that day, suffice it to say that everything that happened that day, happened in response to the IED explosion. The Marines operated according to their training.

They had certain checklists they had to follow when those sorts of things happen. They provided security immediately. And then while they were on scene, took fire from the south. Went to clear the houses where that fire was coming from. And the result, unfortunately, was innocent civilians were killed. But to represent it as a massacre is just totally wrong.

BLITZER: Some of the eyewitnesses, especially one young girl who lost virtually her whole family, say these guys just simply, randomly came in, grabbed people and shot them.

PUCKETT: Well, nobody was grabbed, Wolf. But people were shot in a very quick fashion, in an effort for the Marines to protect themselves. They declared it a hostile environment, which is a totally separate set of rules of engagement. If I could expand just a moment, you know, we watch television shows where cops are trained to shoot or not shoot based on individual scenarios that are presented to them. When a hostile environment is declared in Iraq, there's no such thing as no shoot.

Marines throw grenades into rooms to clear them, and go in and shoot anything that's moving after that. Unfortunately, there were no insurgents in those rooms that they went in. But they stayed in hot pursuit of them.

BLITZER: Where is your client now, and under what circumstances is he contained?

PUCKETT: He continues to be a platoon sergeant in a different platoon. He goes home every night. He does his job during the say. He's...

BLITZER: He's at Camp Pendleton?

PUCKETT: He's at Camp Pendleton, under no restrictions or any sort of conditions on his liberty.

BLITZER: So he's not being held in isolation or anything like that?

PUCKETT: Absolutely not.

BLITZER: Has he been charged with anything yet? PUCKETT: No, no. He has not.

BLITZER: And so what is the game plan, as far as you can tell? What's your responsibility right now?

PUCKETT: Well, my responsibility right now is to try to find out as much information as I can, since I've been retained to represent him. And that's what I've begun, my own investigation. My fear, however, Wolf, is that the Marine Corps is going to feel pressured, based on locking up the three-five Marines on the Hamandiya situation.

They're going to feel compelled to act in a similar manner with the three-one Marines, just because the investigation has been completed. And I think that would be a total abuse of discretion, because all of the Marines know who they are. And if they were going to flee to avoid prosecution, they would have done so already.

BLITZER: Does he feel at all let down? Because some of the other Marines -- not in this incident but in the Hamandiya incident and some other incidents -- they say they feel letdown by their Marine commanders, by the president, the secretary of defense. That in effect, they've been convicted even before they've been charged.

PUCKETT: That's a good question. Staff Sergeant Wuterich does not feel let down by his chain of command whatsoever. He's got the full support, morale support and otherwise, from his chain of command.

What's he concerned about is wrong information is being publicized worldwide in the media. It's just wrong to represent this as a massacre or something that was unlawful. Did innocent people get killed? Yes, they did. Should they be dead? No, they should not. However, in that situation, the Marines followed the rules of engagement that were given to them.

BLITZER: Are you confident that he will get a fair shake?

PUCKETT: I'm absolutely confident he'll get a fair shake. But it would be disappointing to me to be unable to fully prepare his defense, because he were locked up on some suspicion that he would flee to avoid prosecution or was some kind of danger. So as long as he remains free, to assist in preparation of his own defense, I'm convinced that all of these Marines on the ground that day who had to shoot are going to be exonerated.

BLITZER: We have to leave it right there. Thanks very much for coming in. Neal Puckett, the attorney representing Staff Sergeant Frank Wuterich. We'll continue to follow this story.

PUCKETT: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, will the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi alter the military strategy in Iraq? I'll speak live with the deputy director for plans and policy of the U.S. military's Central Command, Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt. He's standing by live.

The killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is unquestionably a major victory for the U.S. Much more on that coming up.


BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." The killing of Abu Musab al Zarqawi is unquestionably a major victory for U.S. and Iraqi forces. But what impact will his absence have on the overall U.S. military mission in Iraq? Joining us now to discuss that and much more, including the latest on what's happening in Afghanistan, is the deputy director for plans and policy of the U.S. military's Central Command, U.S. Army Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt.

BLITZER: General, welcome back to "Late Edition." Thanks very much for coming in.


BLITZER: Quickly, do you want to react to what we just heard from the attorney representing this U.S. Marine staff sergeant, involving the Haditha incident?

KIMMITT: Not really, Wolf. It is best that this is tried in a court of law, not on CNN. So let's let the investigations go forward. Let's see where the investigations take us. And let's let justice work this out.

BLITZER: Are you confident that can happen, given the publicity that has surrounded this incident and the public comments from the new Iraqi prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki.

He said the other day, referring to U.S. forces, "They crush them with their vehicles and kill them just on suspicion. This is completely unacceptable."

In this environment, can there be a fair treatment of these U.S. Marines?

KIMMITT: I remain confident that the military justice system will be fair and will be just.

BLITZER: Let's talk about the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. How big of a deal is this for the overall U.S. military mission in Iraq?

KIMMITT: Well, there was nobody inside of Iraq with more blood on their hands than Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. He was the most effective terrorist inside the country. And his death represents a significant blow to, not only his organization but Al Qaida in general.

BLITZER: Your colleague, Major General William Caldwell was briefing reporters Thursday, said this. It was very intriguing what he said. And I'm hoping you can follow up. Listen to what he said.


MAJ. GEN. WILLIAM CALDWELL: In those 17 raids last night, a tremendous amount of information and intelligence was collected and is presently being exploited and utilized for further use. It was -- I mean, it was a treasure trove, no question.


BLITZER: All right, do you want to explain what he meant by "a treasure trove?"

KIMMITT: Sure. When we conduct an operation, Wolf, it's not simply just to seize the objective or capture the prisoner. We're also going there to get more intelligence.

In many ways, it's like a treasure hunt. You get onto an objective; you seize the objective; you take the prisoners. But along with the prisoners, you're going to, hopefully, get a significant amount of intelligence which leads you to the next set of targets.

It's a virtuous cycle by conducting these types of operations, where more operations yields more intelligence, which takes you on further and further.

BLITZER: What have you learned about Al Qaida in Iraq, as a result of this treasure trove?

KIMMITT: Well, we have not completely worked through all of the intelligence that we've gathered. Some of that was very short-term intelligence, telephone numbers, so and so forth, that would lead us to the next set of targets.

But there will be some time where the analysts will go through all of that information, through the databanks, through the hard disks, or whatever might have been captured.

I don't know what was captured. But I suspect that it will lead to a much further understanding of this organization.

BLITZER: We've seen the rubble at that site, that house, that safehouse, that was bombed. Two U.S. 500-pound bombs flattened it. You can see it on the air right now.

He survived, though. A lot of people are asking, how is that possible that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi actually survived?

KIMMITT: Well, he survived for a very short period of time. It's not much different from an earthquake. You, oftentimes, will find survivors in earthquakes with a significant amount of over- pressure as well. It was for a short period of time that he survived before he died.

BLITZER: There's already a lot of conspiracy theories out there, one of which he says he was actually shot. Were there any bullet wounds as far as you can tell, the autopsy?

KIMMITT: Well, again, I think that all those conspiracy theorists ought to listen to General Casey's comments. When he talked about that, he said, simply, "baloney."

BLITZER: What about that he was beaten by Iraqi security police once they came to the scene?

KIMMITT: No. Again, General Casey's been quite clear about that. There's no evidence that any of those type of actions happened.

BLITZER: The other complaint that some are saying is that the U.S. military and civilian leadership, deliberately built up Abu Musab al-Zarqawi over the past few years and exaggerated his importance.

What do you say to that?

KIMMITT: Well, again, if you take a look at his track record, the Amman bombings, the U.N. bombings, the significant amount and numerous car bombs and suicide bombs that we saw go on throughout Iraq, the beheading of Nick Berg, I don't think that we can necessarily overstate his importance or overstate his effect.

BLITZER: Who is going to be replacing him, based on the latest information you're getting?

KIMMITT: Well, again, that's speculation at this point. We will probably see some sort of leader emerge. But if we continue to conduct 18 operations a night against that organization, we're doing everything we can to make sure that that leader, before he emerges as the new boss, is in our hands.

BLITZER: The whole point about the current situation in Iraq, is that, as the Iraqi military and police forces improve their capabilities, the U.S. and coalition forces will be able to leave.

We heard earlier, here on "Late Edition," the Iraq national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, say that, by the end of this year, the U.S. and coalition troop level will be under 100,000.

Right now, it's close to 150,000, about 135,000 of whom are U.S. military personnel. Is that in the ballpark?

KIMMITT: Well, I think it's certainly one of those plausible scenarios. If we continue to make progress militarily, if this new unity government comes together and is able to bring in more and more of the disinfected Iraqis that have not felt part of this process, I can see a plausible scenario where the numbers could go down, perhaps as much as Mowaffak has said.

BLITZER: What about almost complete withdrawal by the end of next year and a complete withdrawal by the middle of 2008?

KIMMITT: Well, I think it's too far in the future, and numerous things could happen between now and then, for us to try to pin down either a time or a number.

Nonetheless, I think we're going to maintain our relationship with Iraq for some period of time, for a long period of time. Whether that's in the thousands or the tens of thousands, I think we'll see in the next couple of years.

BLITZER: Let's talk about another area that the U.S. military Central Command is responsible for, namely Afghanistan, and the fears that the Taliban may be making a resurgence of sorts.

The New York times writes today this. Let me read it to you. "A large springtime offensive by Taliban fighters has turned into the strongest show of force by the insurgents since American forces chased the Taliban from power in late 2001. And Afghan and foreign officials and local villagers blame the lack of United States-led coalition forces on the ground for the resurgence.

Coalition and Afghan forces now clash daily with large groups of Taliban fighters across five provinces of southern Afghanistan. How big of a comeback has the Taliban made?

KIMMITT: Well, I think the Taliban is trying to make a comeback. And what they're finding is that their thought that somehow the NATO troops that were coming in to replace the U.S. troops weren't going to stand and fight, I think they found that is not the case.

The British, with their force in Helmat province, the Canadians with their force in Kandahar province, are fighting hard and fighting effectively against the Taliban.

I think the Taliban are probably looking at their situation and saying, I think we miscalculated on this one.

BLITZER: The U.S. is handing over major military responsibility in Afghanistan to NATO, as you know. And there's concern that the NATO forces are not necessarily going to be as effective or as robust in their presence as a U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. What do you think?

KIMMITT: Well, first of all, the Canadians have demonstrated that they're willing to fight as hard and as well as the U.S. And the British, of course, always do.

But it's also important to understand that we are not handing over, as you would suggest, that in fact, the NATO contribution, in many ways, is additive to what the U.S. contribution is already doing.

We will continue to be the largest troop contributor, the largest financial contributor. We will continue to be a significant part of the chain of command, we being the U.S.

So this additive contribution by NATO is very, very helpful and is being seen by the people on the ground as very helpful to the overall situation, not simply the military situation.

BLITZER: With the killing of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi this week in Iraq, a lot of people are wondering, what about Osama bin Laden or his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri.

What about the hunt for those two terrorists?

KIMMITT: Well, I think that, if I was Zawahiri and bin Laden, I'd be worried. We have been relentless in our pursuit of these high- valued targets. Right now, the list is clear. Uday, Qusay, Saddam, and now Zarqawi. And I believe that we've got that same relentless approach for Zawahiri and bin Laden as well.

BLITZER: Do you feel you're getting closer, that you're getting closer to these two guys?

KIMMITT: Well, it's daily work. We're not going to take our eye off the mission. And I remain confident that, sometime in the future, we're going to have good news in that regard, as well.

BLITZER: Barbara Starr, our Pentagon correspondent, was just in Afghanistan. She heard, unofficially, from U.S. and other sources that Osama bin Laden is almost certainly in some of the remote parts of Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan.

Do you want to comment on that?

KIMMITT: Well, I think if we knew where bin Laden was, we would be going after him at that location. I think we've got a general view of what area of Central Asia he is in. But I'm not sure that our information is much more detailed at that point.

BLITZER: General Kimmitt, we're going to leave it right there. Thanks for spending a few moments here on "Late Edition."

BLITZER: Thanks to you and thanks to all the men and women of the United States military.

KIMMITT: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: And don't forget, coming up at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, right after "Late Edition," our special report: "Iraq, a Week at War." I'll be joined by CNN correspondents from around the world with an in-depth look at the U.S. -- at the week's developments in Iraq and the war on terror.

Coming up -- top of the hour. But up next, terror suspects arrested in Canada. Is there a link to potential plots in Europe? I'll speak live with Denmark's prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Then, should the Catholic Church provide sanctuary for illegal immigrants right here in the United States? The outgoing archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, weighs in. "Late Edition" continues right after this.



BUSH: Prime Minister Rasmussen has been a strong believer in supporting the Iraqi government's desire to live in democracy. I thank you for your courage. I thank you for your country's commitment.


BLITZER: President Bush, praising Denmark's prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, for his support of the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Welcome back to "Late Edition." I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

The prime minister is the first foreign leader to spend some time with the president at Camp David, his Maryland retreat, in some two years. The prime minister of Denmark is joining us here in Washington, live.

Mr. Prime Minister, welcome to "Late Edition." Thanks very much for joining us.

RASMUSSEN: You're welcome.

BLITZER: You spent some time with the president at Camp David over the past few days. Is there any serious difference of view when it comes to the war in Iraq between your government and the Bush administration?

RASMUSSEN: Concerning Iraq, we are very much in line, and we see eye-to-eye on most issues. I think we share the same goal, that the Iraqi people should become masters in their own house. They should take over responsibility for their own security, sooner rather than later.

BLITZER: How do you sense the situation in Iraq is moving right now, specifically in the aftermath of the killing of Abu Musab al- Zarqawi and the formation of this new Iraqi government? Are you upbeat? Are you pessimistic? What's your bottom-line assessment?

RASMUSSEN: Well, actually, I'm a bit optimistic. Recently, I visited Baghdad, and I met the new prime minister, Maliki, President Talabani and all the members of the new Iraqi unity government. And I was encouraged by my meetings with the new political leadership. I'm impressed by their determination and their ability to prioritize. I think they will focus on putting first things first. And that is, firstly, improve security, and secondly, improve supply of basic needs like electricity. And I think that's of utmost importance, to ensure public support for the new government.

BLITZER: Denmark right now has, what, 530 troops in Iraq, another 360 troops in Afghanistan. We heard the national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie of Iraq, say on this program that by the end of this year, he thinks there will be fewer than 100,000 foreign troops in Iraq, U.S. and coalition forces. About 150,000 right now if you add them all up. And almost all of them will be gone by the end of next year into 2008. Is that realistic?

RASMUSSEN: Well, I hope to see real improvements in the security situation. I don't think we should present artificial timetables or deadlines, but I strongly believe in what I would call a condition- based timetable, according to which the Iraqi security forces will gradually build up a strong capacity to take responsibility for their own territorial defense. And in accordance with that, foreign troops can be withdrawn.

BLITZER: We've seen a very significant split in Europe as far as the U.S. mission in Iraq is concerned. Now, this new government in Italy says they're going to pull out their troops. Britain, of course, under Tony Blair, closely aligned with the United States, as is Denmark. But Germany and France and several other key NATO allies unwilling to deploy troops, to get involved in Iraq in any significant way.

Why is Denmark, why is your government so supportive of this mission, even in the face of domestic public opinion in Denmark which is pretty critical of your decision?

RASMUSSEN: Of course, it is a very controversial decision to take part in an international military operation. However, I strongly believe that liberty is a universal right, that the Iraqi people deserve political freedom, democracy, respect for human rights. And it's our intention to stay in Iraq and finish our job. We will stay in Iraq as long as it is on request of the Iraqi government, as long as it is on the basis of a U.N. mandate, and as long as we think we can make a positive difference.

BLITZER: A lot of our viewers remember the uproar that followed the publication in Danish newspapers of the cartoon involving the Prophet Mohammed, and the reaction around the world to that. It's died down, fortunately, since then.

Let me read to you from a human rights report put out by the Council of Europe on May 16th. "The climate in Denmark has worsened. There's a pervasive atmosphere of intolerance and xenophobia against refugees, asylum seekers, as well as minority groups in general and Muslims in particular. The media, together with politicians, play a major role in creating this atmosphere."

Is that an accurate assessment of what's going on in your country?

RASMUSSEN: No. Definitely. I refuse that conclusion and that report. On the contrary, Denmark is well-known for being an open society, a tolerant, a liberal society. We are strongly in favor of a positive dialogue between religions, a positive dialogue between cultures. And gradually, we are restoring normal relations with the Muslim world, economically as well as politically.

BLITZER: Looking back at the whole uproar involving the cartoon episode, looking back with hindsight, what would you, as the prime minister of Denmark, done differently, if anything?

RASMUSSEN: Well, I don't think we could do anything differently. Freedom of speech, freedom of press are crucial values in a free society. So is mutual respect of personal religious belief. And these are the cornerstones in our society.

We stood up for our principles, and I appreciate very much the strong support we got from great allies like the United States, like the European Union. It was of utmost importance for us, a small country like Denmark, to feel that solidarity from our partners and allies.

BLITZER: Here's a quote that was issued on May 11th from a Libyan al Qaeda member, man by the name of Mohammed Hassan. "Muslims, avenge your prophet. We deeply desire that the small state of Denmark, Norway and France are struck hard and destroyed. Destroy their buildings, make their ground shake, and transform them into a sea of blood."

This was reported on Al Jazeera, among other places. How worried are you that terror attacks could take place in Denmark?

RASMUSSEN: Well, of course, we're very much concerned about international terrorism. And a statement like this just underlines the necessity that all free societies in the world stand together, show solidarity in the fight against terrorism, in the fight for liberty, democracy and human rights.

And I think we will make progress. It's -- I think it should be seen in a long-term perspective. We may experience severe setbacks during that process, but I feel confident that in the long term, freedom will defeat terrorism.

BLITZER: The Toronto Star, last Monday, in the aftermath of the arrests of some 17 terror suspects in Canada, wrote this: "The arrests are part of a continuing multinational probe into suspected terrorist in at least seven countries...Authorities are combing through evidence seized during the raids to look for possible connections between the 17 suspects and at least 18 other Islamic militants who have been arrested in locations including the United States, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Britain, Denmark and Sweden.

What can you tell our viewers about Denmark's connection, if any, to the Canadian plot?

RASMUSSEN: Well, I'm not able to provide you with detailed information about that.

But it's just yet another example that it is of utmost importance that the free societies in the world help each other share intelligence, join efforts in the fight against terrorism, use all measures possible, within the framework of the principles that we stand for, in this fight against terrorism.

BLITZER: One final question before I let you go, Mr. Prime Minister. The three suicides of detainees at the U.S. Naval base in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba -- I know that the Europeans, and I assume Denmark, you've been very concerned about the reports coming out from Guantanamo Bay.

What's your reaction to the suicides there?

What should the U.S. do with these almost 500 detainees at Guantanamo Bay.

RASMUSSEN: Well, I have no comment on the suicides because I don't know anything about the background and why they did hang themselves.

But in general, I would say that we should comply with the principles we are fighting for. We are fighting for the rule of law.

And seen from that perspective, it is a weakness in this fight that we are faced with allegations that the indeterminate detention of prisoners without legal proceedings is in contradiction with the very principle of rule of law.

So, seen from that perspective, I think it would be to the benefit of our course and our fight for freedom and against terrorism if the facilities at Guantanamo were closed down.

BLITZER: Prime Minister, thanks very much for coming into our program. Thanks very much for joining us.

RASMUSSEN: You're welcome.

BLITZER: And still ahead, my conversation with Washington's retiring archbishop, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. He shares some thoughts about same-sex civil unions in the United States, as well as illegal immigration. Some of his thoughts may surprise you.

Up next, though, a quick check of what's in the news right now, including Alberto, the first named tropical storm of this hurricane season. Stay with "Late Edition."


BLITZER: Welcome back to "Late Edition." I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

In addition to Iraq, President Bush and the U.S. Senate focused extensively on immigration and same-sex marriage this week.

High-ranking officials of the Catholic church have also been speaking out about those volatile issues, among them, Washington's retiring archbishop, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. I spoke with him this week.


BLITZER: And joining us now is Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop of Washington, D.C.

Your eminence, always good to speak to you, especially now as you're wrapping up your tenure. More on that coming up. Let's talk about immigration first.

Your colleague, Cardinal Roger Mahoney in Los Angeles has been very outspoken on this issue, as you have been. Let me read to you what he said the other day.

He said, "I've received a lot of criticism for stating that I would instruct the priests of my archdiocese to disobey a proposed law that would subject them, as well as other church and humanitarian workers, to criminal penalties... But I stand by my statement."

He's referring to the House version of the legislation that would make it a felony -- that illegal immigrants in this country would be deemed felons. The Catholic church presumably would have to report them if they came in to seek sanctuary.

How do you feel about this?

CARDINAL THEODORE MCCARRICK, WASHINGTON, D.C. ARCHBISHOP: Well, I've made it clear, too. I think we're basically on the same page.

If a little kid comes up to you and says, I'm lost, can you give me some money to get home? We're not going to say, show me your papers first. Or if an older lady comes to you and says, look, I need medicine badly. I'm not going to say, show me your papers. We don't work that way. You can't work that way. I don't think any religious body in the country works that way.

And so I've said to everybody, I think everyone who works for the Catholic church is going to know that, if somebody comes to them in need, you don't ask them any questions. You don't say you're Catholic. You don't say anything. You say, are you in need? If you're in need, then we help you.

I that's what it's all about. And that's what we continue to do, whatever the law might be.

BLITZER: So even if this House version were to become the law of the land, would you instruct priests to disobey the law?

MCCARRICK: I don't think I'd have to instruct them. I think they would know. They would know that the Lord God tells you to take care of your neighbor. And you have to do that.

I think all my priests, and I would hope, anyone who worked for Catholic charities throughout the archdiocese would always know, you don't turn away somebody who's in need. You don't turn away somebody who's in trouble. You do the best you can for them.

This is why I have been something very critical about that version because, even though people say it doesn't really mean that. But if it -- it should mean what it says. And what it says is very difficult for us to accept.

I don't think we're going to meet that. I cannot see the United States passing the House version. I'm sure that, when we get a new, comprehensive immigration reform bill out of the Congress, it will be something that, please God, we'll be able to support.

BLITZER: Another very sensitive issue that's being dealt with in the Senate right now involves a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Senator Ted Kennedy said this yesterday. He said, "A vote for this amendment is a vote for bigotry, pure and simple."

You disagree with him, don't you?

MCCARRICK: On this one, I do. Ted and I have -- do have differences from time to time. And this is a real big one. It seems to me that we really have to continue to define marriage as we've defined marriage for thousands of years, as a union between a man and a woman.

Now, I think the legislation, as it is proposed, would not throw out the possibility of a civil union. And I think we can live with that. If this is what the -- if this is what the Constitution will provide for.

But to say that you can take this concept of marriage, this word of marriage, and use it in ways that it has never been used before, as far as I know, in the history of the world, I think that makes no sense.

BLITZER: So, just to explain, you think that you could support civil unions between gays and lesbians. But you wouldn't like them to get formally married. Is that right?

MCCARRICK: Well, yes. I think, basically, the ideal would be that everybody was able to enter a union with a man and a woman and bring children into the world and have the wonderful relationship of man and wife that is so mutually supportive and is really so much part of our society and what keeps our society together. That's the ideal.

If you can't meet that ideal, if there are people who, for one reason or another, they just cannot do that, or feel they cannot do that, then, in order to protect their right to take care of each other, in order to take care of their right to have visitation in a hospital or something like that, I think that you could allow -- not the ideal -- but you could allow for that, for a civil union.

But if you begin to fool around with the whole nature of marriage, then you're doing something which affects the whole culture and denigrates what is so important for us.

Marriage is the basic foundation of our family structure. And if we lose that, then I think we become a society that's in real trouble.

BLITZER: You're about to retire. What are you going to do? Because a lot of us think you're hitting your prime right now...


... those of us who have seen you in action, over these years here, in the nation's capital. It's almost a pity that you're retiring. Are you being forced to retire?

Is that the rules of the catholic church, right now? The Vatican says you reach a certain age, you have to retire?

MCCARRICK: Well, the rules are a certain age. When you hit 75, you have to send in your resignation. And that's what I did.

Holy Father gave me a whole year later because I sent it in July of last year. So, now, the Holy Father felt that it was good to have a younger man who is going to be -- who is going to be wonderful. He's the best possible archbishop for Washington, I think, is Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh who is going to succeed. And I think he's a great teacher; he's a man of the center; he's articulate. He's courageous.

People are going to love him. And he's going to love the people. I'm really happy that we have a good man coming. I keep saying, this is going to be the golden age of the archdiocese. We're in the Bronze Age now and we're going to make good progress.

BLITZER: I think you're being modest, though. You're been a beloved figure here in Washington, D.C. Cardinal McCarrick, we appreciate your coming into "The Situation Room." Good luck to you. Thanks so much.

MCCARRICK: Thanks, Wolf. Great to be with you.

BLITZER: And don't forget, for our North America viewers, coming up at the top of the hour, right at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, right after this program, my special report, "Iraq: a Week at War."

And just ahead, in case you missed it, "Late Edition's Sunday morning talk show roundup." But first, this.


BLITZER (voice over): Kimberly Dozier: what's her story? The CBS News correspondent returned to the United States this week after being critically injured in a car bomb attack in Baghdad on May 29. The blast killed Dozier's cameraman and sound technician, as well as a U.S. soldier and an Iraqi translator.

Dozier and her crew, who were embedded with the 4th Infantry Division, were reporting on what life is like for U.S. troops in Baghdad when the attack occurred.

While Dozier faces a long recovery, doctors say her progress looks promising. Dozier has been CBS's Iraq correspondent since 2003. She's also covered Afghanistan and the hunt for Osama bin Laden.



BLITZER: Welcome back. Now, "In Case You Missed It," let's check some of the highlights from the other Sunday morning talk shows here in the United States.

On all of them, the U.S. military presence in Iraq and the state of al Qaeda after the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi were the main topics.


GEN. GEORGE CASEY, COMMANDER, MULTINATIONAL FORCE, IRAQ: This network is a network, and it still has the capability to generate terrorist attacks across Iraq. And we and the Iraqi security forces and the Iraqi government will work very hard in the coming days to protect the Iraqi people from these attacks. But you can't protect 100 percent from terrorist attacks.

L. PAUL BREMER, FORMER U.S. ADMINISTRATOR IN IRAQ: It is very important to have a strategy that says, here is how we intend, in a period of time, to defeat the insurgency. There should be no deadlines on the time we bring troops home. I think that's a mistake. That only encourages the terrorists to continue their fighting.

REP. JANE HARMAN (D), CALIFORNIA: Continuing the same course, stay, you know, is not getting us anywhere. And a redeployment strategy, led by the generals -- I'm not talking about armchair congresspeople, telling us what the schedule is. I'm talking about the generals setting the schedule that's established now. A new head of the Defense Department so everybody knows we're changing strategy.

GEN. BARRY MCCAFFREY, U.S. ARMY (RET.): If it's a government that works, we can probably sustain a U.S. troop presence, 50,000, 60,000, 70,000 troops there for 10 years, and hope that Iraq turns into a responsible governmental entity that doesn't attack its neighbors, doesn't build WMD. I still think that's a likely outcome if the political system can come together on the ground.


BLITZER: Highlights from the other Sunday morning talk shows here on "Late Edition," the last word in Sunday talk. Just ahead -- the results of our Web question of the week. Will Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death weaken al Qaeda in Iraq? And coming up right at the top of the hour, in about seven minutes from now, join me and our CNN correspondents from around the world for a CNN special report, "Iraq: A Week at War."

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Our "Late Edition" Web question asked -- will Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death weaken al Qaeda in Iraq? Here is how you voted: 19 percent of you said yes, 81 percent of you said no. Remember, this is not a scientific poll.

That's your "Late Edition" for this Sunday, June 11th.

Please stand by. Coming up right at the top of the hour, my special report, "Iraq: A Week at War." You'll want to stick around for that.