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The Situation Room

Sabbath Halts Withdrawal; Benedict XVI in Germany; Cudge Crater's Case; Northwest to Be Struck?; Tornados in Wisconsin; Merck Loses Vioxx Case; Navy Ships Targeted

Aired August 19, 2005 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It's 5:00 p.m. here in Washington, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where news and information from around the world arrive at one place simultaneously. Coming in right now, we're getting feeds, for example, from NTV in Germany, CNN-Plus in Spain, ITV coming in from Britain, CCTV, the official communist television network in China.
It's midnight in Aqaba, Jordan, where a group with ties to Al Qaeda claims they were behind a failed rocket attack on two U.S. military ships. Details coming up.

4:00 p.m. right now in Angleton, Texas, where the verdict is in, in a major drug liability case, the award huge. So are the implications for all of us.

And it's 4:00 p.m. in Stoughton, Wisconsin, where survivors say the sky just exploded. We'll take you live to the scene of a deadly and very destructive tornado.

I'm Wolf Blitzer, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

They came screaming out of nowhere this morning, rockets fired toward two U.S. warships in Jordan's Red Sea port of Aqaba. One passed right over a U.S. vessel and hit a building. Another landed in the Israeli city of Eilat, not very far away -- in fact, only a stone's throw. A group linked to Al Qaeda claiming responsibility.

Our Brian Todd is standing by to tell us more about the ships, but let's begin with our national security correspondent David Ensor. He's joining us from the Pentagon -- David?

DAVID ENSOR, CNN AMERICA BUREAU CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Navy officials say ships' captains know perfectly well that perfect security on port visits to the Middle East, you're not going to get it 100 percent every time. Still, there's a great deal of relief here that the missiles missed.


ENSOR (voice-over): The attackers fired at least three rockets, with one narrowly missing a U.S. Navy ship, hitting a Jordanian army warehouse and killing one Jordanian soldier.

Another rocket hit a taxi at the airport in nearby Eilat, Israel. No one was injured there. Jordanian officials say the Katyusha rocket mortars were fired from a warehouse in an isolated hilltop area overlooking Aqaba. A massive search for four people, Egyptians and Iraqis, is underway, Jordan's news agency says.

Two U.S. Navy ships on a port visit to Aqaba headed quickly out to sea. The USS Kearsarge, a massive, 40,000-ton ship that can carry about 2,000 Marines plus 1,000 sailors, the USS Ashland, can carry 400 Marines and 400 sailors.

Although modern ships are equipped with radar, and heat signature sensors, and high-powered Gatling guns, when in a harbor, Navy officials say, there is a limit to what U.S. personnel can do against shore-based attacks.

CMDR. JEFF BRESLAU, U.S. NAVY: Obviously, there's never a 100- percent guarantee. I think it's unrealistic to expect that. But in this case, everything that should have been done was, prior to the ships pulling in and while they were there.

ENSOR: The attack is the most serious on a U.S. ship on a port call since the USS Cole was attacked by Al Qaeda in Yemen Harbor five years ago. Since then, ships have been authorized to fire on approaching unknown boats that do not stop on demand, and security patrols have been beefed up. But experts say those measures do nothing to stop this kind of rocket attack from shore.

CAPT. ALEC FRASER, U.S. NAVY (RET.): You remember the Cole and the lessons learned from that were protecting a ship out to, say, several hundred yards, with the dull fins (ph), or pier security, and people with machine guns on the side of a ship. But something from a couple of miles away is a whole different thing.

ENSOR: Even if the Katyusha rocket had hit one of the ships, though, a roughly 60-pound World War II-era munition would likely not, officials say, have done too much damage.


ENSOR: And though the rockets have long range, several miles or more, according to officials, one thing is for sure, and this incident underlines it, they're not very accurate -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, David Ensor at the Pentagon, thank you very much.

Does this mean, though, that U.S. Navy vessels are in harm's way, even during routine port calls to friendly countries? CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now. He's got a closer look at some of the ships involved in today's incident -- Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, looking into some details of their current deployment and their history, we found these are two vessels that make it their business to be in harm's way.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TODD (voice-over): By the very nature of their mission, the USS Ashland and the USS Kearsarge would have been a visible presence at the port of Aqaba, part of an amphibious strike group that often deploys near ports, harbors and shores. Between them, the vessels can carry nearly 2,400 Marines, most of them on board the Kearsarge.

BRESLAU: They all deployed to this region in support of the global war on terrorism, Operation Iraqi Freedom. And while they're in the region, they also conduct engagement opportunities, exercises with our regional partners and allies.

TODD: The Ashland, narrowly missed in the rocket attacks in Aqaba, first set sail in 1992. The Navy calls it a landing ship, but its main task is to deploy Marines in smaller assault boats and helicopters toward targets on shore.

The Kearsarge is also an amphibious assault ship, but is much larger and looks like a small aircraft carrier, with assault helicopters and harrier jets on board.

From its christening in 1992 by Colin Powell's wife, this vessel's always been in the limelight. 1995, on its maiden voyage, the Kearsarge is the main platform for the rescue of American pilot Scott O'Grady after he's shot down over Bosnia.

Two years later, another hot zone. Americans and other foreign nationals caught in Sierra Leone during a bloody, chaotic civil war. The Kearsarge is deployed to get thousands of them out.

Two years after that, the Kearsarge sweeps in near Kosovo and deploys the first peacekeeping Marines in that conflict. Early 2003, the Kearsarge gets another call. With only 72 hours notice, she begins carrying thousands of Marines to Kuwait for combat operations in Iraq.


TODD: Navy officials say it's been in and out of the gulf region since then. The Kearsarge is based in Norfolk, Virginia. It left Norfolk in March and is normally scheduled for a six-month deployment. Navy officials will not say if the Kearsarge will return to Norfolk next month as scheduled -- Wolf?

BLITZER: These ships don't simply only go to danger zones, do they, Brian?

TODD: Not at all. This ship, the Kearsarge, right after that deployment to Kosovo in 1999, was sent to the west coast of Turkey to lend support there after a devastating earthquake killed about 10,000 people or more -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Brian Todd here in Washington, thanks, Brian, very much.

Another important story today we're following. A major setback for a huge pharmaceutical company. Just a few hours ago, a Texas jury found Merck liable for the death of a man who took Vioxx, the company's once-popular painkiller, which was recalled last year. Our senior correspondent Allan Chernoff is in New York. He's got details -- Allan?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Merck was confident that the science and facts in this case were on its side, but a Texas jury clearly disagreed.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is right. This is right. Amen.

CHERNOFF (voice-over): A day of vindication for Carol Ernst, the widow who sued Merck while Vioxx was still on the market.

CAROL ERNST, PLAINTIFF: I just know that it was a road that I had to run and I had to finish. And I'm glad it's finished, and I'm glad it ended the way it did.

MARK LANIER, PLAINTIFF'S ATTORNEY: It sends the message regardless that drug companies must tell us the good, the bad, and the ugly about their drugs. They cannot hide behind an almighty dollar and profit sign in an effort to get their money in the bank and not tell us the truth about their drugs. That won't be allowed in this country. It's not right.

CHERNOFF: Merck attorneys argued 59-year-old Bob Ernst could not have been a victim of Vioxx. The coroner's report said he died of an arrhythmia, an irregular heart beat, not heart attack or stroke, which studies indicated Vioxx might trigger.

But during the trial, the coroner testified Ernst could have had a heart attack that led to the fatal arrhythmia. Merck says it will appeal.

JONATHAN SKIDMORE, MERCK ATTORNEY: There's no reliable, scientific evidence in this case that Vioxx had anything to do with Mr. Ernst's tragic death.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe strongly in our defense on this case, and this case isn't over yet.

CHERNOFF: The jury voted to award Carol Ernst $253 million, though her attorney acknowledged that amount would likely be reduced. It was costly for Merck to pull its blockbuster drug. Vioxx had sales of more than $2 billion a year, but now Merck could face a far greater penalty.


CHERNOFF: The company already is confronting about 4,000 Vioxx lawsuits. Legal experts say the floodgates may open now and there could be thousands more lawsuits, and the company's liability could run well into the billions of dollars -- Wolf?

BLITZER: An important story for lots of people. Thanks very much, Allan Chernoff, for that.

Let's stay in New York. Time now for "The Cafferty File," a chance for all of us to weigh in on the big stories we're covering. Jack Cafferty, standing by in New York -- Jack?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, thanks, Wolf. For those of you who missed this story a few minutes ago, let us bring it to you once again. In California, it could be Mork versus the walking barbell. Translation, Robin Williams against Arnold Schwarzenegger.

"The Chronicle" in San Francisco says the Democrats are looking far and wide for a candidate who could actually beat Arnold Schwarzenegger next year. And some Democrats have seriously suggested Robin Williams. Other celebrity names that have been mentioned include Warren Beatty, Rob Reiner, and businessman Steve Jobs, along with politicians like San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome, Senator Dianne Feinstein and one-time Clinton aide Leon Panetta.

It's Friday. We thought we'd have a little fun with this. We'd like you to tell us this hour, which celebrities do you think belong in politics and which don't? And my answer would be, to the first part of the question, none of them, and to the second part of the question, all of them. But then that's just my opinion. I started to say A.M. -- is the address.


CAFFERTY: That's correct.

BLITZER: We'll be anxiously awaiting the word.

CAFFERTY: We may do this again a third time in about 10 minutes.

BLITZER: We're going to do it every few minutes. Thanks, Jack.

CAFFERTY: There you go.

BLITZER: OK, coming up, a very serious story. A twister on tape. New video that we're getting of a storm that ripped through Wisconsin.

Plus, an explosion in San Francisco. A witness captures the scene and the panic on a cellphone. Plus, an unsolved mystery revisited. The famous case of Judge Crater, you might remember. There are intriguing new clues. Mary Snow standing by with that.

And Benedict XVI reaching out to young people in Germany. We'll take you inside his first trip since becoming pope.


BLITZER: In Wisconsin, many residents are trying to put their lives back together after a series of twisters tore homes apart. On the ground, disturbing scenes -- check these out -- on home video, as a funnel cloud follows its destructive path. Look at this. And from the air, hollowed-out homes, dozens are destroyed. For the latest, Christa Dubill of our CNN affiliate, WKOW, is joining us live.

Christa, it must have been awful.

CHRISTA DUBILL, REPORTER, CNN AFFILIATE WKOW-TV: It was awful. Reports now are 18 different tornadoes possibly coming through this area. We're just north of a small town called Stoughton, Wisconsin, 13,000 people.

You can see behind me homes leveled. The smell of lumber is in the air. The homes are still new enough to smell new. Three-hundred yards one way, there's nothing. Three-hundred yards the next way, there's nothing. A distinct path.

Governor Doyle has declared a state of emergency in the state, in this area. About 3:00 today Central time, people started getting back into the area. They had to have wrist bands issued by the local police department. They are going to be allowed in that area until 8:00 tonight, about the time the sun goes down, which is when they'll secure the area and try to clear it out.

Behind me, what you're seeing is not the worst. There's another development just over where they're not allowing any media in right now that is leveled. There is nothing left.

We heard a story about a man living here. Thirty miles away, someone returned his son's birth certificate that had been in a safe in his house here.

BLITZER: Christa Dubill of our affiliate, WKOW. Christa, thank you very much for that report. Good luck to all the folks in Wisconsin.

A bomb squad is trying to determine what caused an explosion that rocked downtown San Francisco earlier today. Now we have some cellphone pictures that captured the chaos. Let's go to our Zain Verjee. She's joining us at the CNN Center -- Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Wolf, one witness said it felt like a truck hit the building. And this is what another person on the scene saw.

Amid the panic and all the confusion, an underground electrical vault basically blew. The pavement cracked. Windows shattered. Flames erupted on the awning of the Ralph Lauren store.

You're looking at some of those pictures here. One woman was burned. Authorities evacuated and closed off several blocks around the store. Residents, some of them extremely shaken, fled, some even believing they were in the midst of an earthquake -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Pretty disturbing there, too. Thanks very much, Zain, for that. They both share the same title, but are two very, very different men. Coming up, it's been almost five months since Pope Benedict XVI assumed the papacy. But the comparisons between him and his predecessor are still coming. We'll go there. We'll have a report.

And could one very cold case finally be cracked? A 75-year-old mystery of a missing judge in New York. Now some clues to his disappearance from a very surprising source.

And it's the great "mate" debate. Why is a very popular word in Australia igniting a war of words? You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Pope Benedict XVI is in Germany on his first foreign trip since being elected pope. He's attending World Youth Day, started by Pope John Paul II. Although it's been nearly five months since he's assumed the papacy, there are still comparisons between Benedict and his predecessor.

Here is CNN's Alessio Vinci.


ALESSIO VINCI, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vatican officials say Benedict's pontificate will be one of concepts and words, so those waiting for dramatic gestures may be disappointed. Will the hundreds of thousands in Cologne be captured by the new pope's low-key style or will they miss the charisma of John Paul II?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A pope is a pope. And as long as he does just a good job, no hostility.

VINCI: Young pilgrims from Poland, the native land of Benedict's predecessor, eager to know more about him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will listen to him very carefully, what he will say to us. We are waiting for it and to check.

VINCI: The success of Pope Benedict's first international trip will be measured, in part, by his ability to connect with the hundreds of thousands who have come to Cologne.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like Pope Benedict said at the funeral. He's watching us from his window in heaven. So we have a stronger sense that John Paul the Great is with us, greater now than it was before. So we have two popes with us, John Paul II in heaven and John Paul -- or Benedict with us now at World Youth Day.

VINCI: Nearly five months after his death, the late John Paul II clearly remains in the hearts and minds of many Catholics here. After all, he was the founder of World Youth Day.

But look at this crowd. Look at the throngs of young Catholics from all around the world who came here to attend this event in Cologne. And it seems the new pope, too, has no trouble drawing a crowd.

This weekend, Pope Benedict faces his biggest challenge yet, a vigil Saturday night, his first opportunity to interact directly with the crowd at an open field outside Cologne, where Sunday he will say mass for up to one million of the faithful. Alessio Vinci, CNN, with the pope in Cologne.


BLITZER: Pope Benedict also recalled the evils of the Holocaust today during a visit to a synagogue in Germany. In Cologne, during the conference, the pope became just the second pontiff known to have entered a place of Jewish worship. The first was his predecessor, John Paul II. On just his first trip abroad, the new pope denounced the crimes of the Nazis and stressed the common roots of Jews and Christians. He'll meet with Muslims tomorrow.

A less serious story we're following. It's as Australian as kangaroos, so you can imagine the outrage when one Australian lawmaker today tried to ban the word "mate." Zain Verjee is standing by at the CNN Center with details.

Is this a hoax, Zain?

VERJEE: No, mate. It's not. It would actually be like banning "pal" or "buddy" or "dude" here. Now, in Australia, that ban applied to security guards at the Australian parliament in Canberra. It was called absurd, ludicrous, and the ban met with such resistance that it was overturned.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's just pathetic, frankly.

VERJEE (voice-over): Aussie outrage as word spread that security guards at Parliament House had been ordered not to address lawmakers or visitors as "mate," but rather as sir or ma'am. That move, apparently sparked by one legislator who felt mate too informal. Other lawmakers disagreed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I actually walked out of the parliament -- walked out of the chamber yesterday. And one of the attendants came up to me, and said, "Mate, do you mind if I call you mate?" And I said, "No, that's absolutely fine, mate."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing I do ask people is never to call me sir.

VERJEE: For many here, the term "mate" embodies the ideal of Aussie equality. Even the prime minister uses it.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER OF AUSTRALIA: It's impractical and absurd to try and ban something. We all use the word mate, depending on the context.

(END VIDEOTAPE) VERJEE: Wolf, as you can imagine, the ban was topic number one on Aussie talk radio. And the opposition was just so overwhelming that officials had little choice but to lift it.

BLITZER: Zain, do you use the word "mate"?


VERJEE: I do, actually. I use it quite frequently. But I use the word "darling" even more often.

BLITZER: Oh, OK. Zain Verjee, have a great weekend, Zain.

VERJEE: And you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you.

It's a true Manhattan murder mystery that could finally be cracked after decades. Coming up, a judge disappeared 75 years ago without a trace. Now, new clues to what happened to him.

And we're hours away from a deadline between Northwest Airlines and its mechanics. With both sides still not budging, will they be able to avoid a strike?

It might seem like a cartoon, if it weren't so real. A crow injures a duck and a woman tries to nurse it back to health. But police tell her the duck has to go. What's going on?


BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the hot shots coming in from the Associated Press right now. Pictures likely to be in your hometown newspaper tomorrow. Check these out.

In Eagle, Colorado, a Marine color guard lifting the flag from the casket of a fellow Marine killed in combat in Iraq.

In Texas, the plaintiff, Carol Ernst, reacting to a $253 million verdict in her favor against the drug maker Vioxx.

In Germany, Pope Benedict XVI fights the heat as he meets with young priests.

And Dolly Parton -- look at this -- relaxing in her Nashville office. She goes on tour next month to promote her new album. Well, hello, Dolly. I don't know why I said that.

There's a potentially critical new clue in an old mystery that's haunted New York for decades. CNN's Mary Snow is joining us now live from New York with details. This mysterious case, Judge Crater, which so many of our viewers, Mary, are going to remember.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, newspapers dubbed him the most missingest man of America. Police actually closed the books on this case in 1979, but now they may have to dust them off.


SNOW: The year, 1930. The country was entering the Great Depression. And in New York City politics, Tammany Hall was ripe with corruption. That same year, Judge Joseph Crater was rising in prominence. Then-Governor Franklin Roosevelt appointed Judge Crater a seat on the State Supreme Court.

Outside the courthouse, his affection for dancing earned him the nickname "Good Time Joe." On the night of August 6, he vanished. Dick Tofer tried to unravel the mystery in his book, "Vanishing Point."

DICK TOFER, AUTHOR, "VANISHING POINT": I think the Judge Crater story is probably the most significant missing persons case certainly in New York and in many ways, in the country and remains one of the great unresolved mysteries in American history.

SNOW: To this day, no one knows exactly what happened and there's been no shortage of obsession to find out. On the night he disappeared, Crater was last seen in Time Square. Tales say he told his assistant he was going to Westchester for a swim.

Crater was allegedly seen having dinner that night and buying a ticket for a Broadway show. He was reportedly spotted at one point with a showgirl mistress. The next day he was supposed to meet his wife at their main home. He never showed up.

Crater's disappearance became fodder for suspicions. Was he hiding? His wife thought he was murdered. A $5,000 reward was offered. Then, theories of mob involvement. In the years that followed, thousands of Crater sightings were reported across the country, even as far as away as Cuba.

Psychics from around the world weighed in. The question now: Does Coney Island, once a bustling seaside boardwalk, hold the answer? The NYPD's cold case unit is looking into a possible clue. A woman who recently died, left behind a note claiming to identify Crater's killers.

According to published reports, the woman claims her husband, a city police officer and his brother, a cabby, killed the judge and buried his body at what's now an aquarium in Coney Island. The police confirm they're examining remains of buried bones, but wouldn't elaborate. Some historians are skeptical. Author Dick Tofer says whatever the real answer, Crater's disappearance has a lasting legacy.

TOFER: Not only did Judge Crater disappear, but he triggered a series of events in which New York's Tammany Hall, the Democratic machine that controlled New York politics, ended up disappearing.


SNOW: And Wolf, another legacy of this story, it still stirs intrigue. BLITZER: It certainly does. I'm fascinated by it. Thanks very much, Mary Snow, for that. Have a great weekend, Mary.

SNOW: Thanks. You, too.

BLITZER: Now, let's check in with our Ali Velshi. He's also in New York. He's got the bottom line. What is the bottom line today, Ali?

ALI VELSHI: The bottom line was I thought I was coming up like two minutes ago, because I heard you come back and say here's some of the hot shots and I perked up. I didn't know you were talking about photographs. I thought you were going to say...

BLITZER: You are a hotshot.

VELSHI: Thank you. I was just fishing for a compliment.

BLITZER: No. You are.

VELSHI: We are -- what are we, about five -- seven hours, a little less than from seven hours away from a strike deadline at Northwest? I just want to bring you up to speed with what's going on.

At 12:01 Eastern, the Mechanics Union, which represents 5,000 mechanics, custodians, cleaners at Northwest, is in a legal position to strike and right now, it's unclear. They're at the negotiating table, but they were about $76 million away as of this morning.

So, a lot of people think that might happen. Northwest had prepared for these people to be on strike. They've been preparing for a year and a half. They've got replacement workers for almost all of this them and Northwest has been pounding its chest, saying that they go -- they can fly their planes without these mechanics.

Well, all of a sudden a wrinkle in the works: The Flight Attendants Union, which has a contract, has been undergoing a vote for the last ten days. They're going to release the results of that vote at 11:00 p.m. Eastern, one hour before the strike deadline.

They may vote to strike in sympathy with the mechanics and if they do, Northwest cannot fly with 9,000 flight attendants off the job and 5,400 people from the Mechanics Union. So, a wrinkle: Northwest is now opened up on two different fronts. Unclear whether Northwest flights will be flying late tonight -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Ali, you are our hotshot. Have a great weekend yourself. Thanks very much. Ali Velshi in New York.

Here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we can bring you lots of information simultaneously. Here's what's incoming right now. We're following a couple stories. This -- these are live pictures you're seeing from Michigan. A trench -- there's a man, we believe, that's been trapped in there; rescue workers working feverishly to find him. WDIV, our affiliate bringing in these pictures. We're also getting these pictures from Los Angeles: A very tearful Courtney Love. A judge orders her to get some in-patient substance abuse treatment, after the troubled rock singer admitted to violating terms of her probation using drugs.

We'll watch both of those stories for you. We're also watching the Gaza pullout entering its final phase. We'll have the latest on the historic and emotional developments there.

Also: Taking the plunge toward a world record. Details of a rare devil stunt.

And: Wanted, Bond. James Bond. The search for a new double agent, 007 and what happened to the old one? Stay with us.


BLITZER: When then Secretary of State Colin Powell appeared at the United Nations to make the case for war in Iraq, he cited what later turned out to be faulty intelligence. Now a former top aide to Powell says his role in that presentation was quote, "the lowest point in my life." That's just one of the insider moments in the new "CNN PRESENTS," which premiers this Sunday night. It's entitled "Dead Wrong." David Ensor of our America Bureau has an excerpt.


DAVID ENSOR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): May 1st, 2003. The president declares that major combat in Iraq is over, but Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, the primary reason for going to war, have not yet been found. George Tenant asks David Kay, who had been the Chief U.N. nuclear inspector after the Gulf War, to take charge of the search.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I took on this job, I had a set of conditions to do it, because I was essentially taking on the moral hazard, as I referred to it, for the CIA. That is, it was a CIA conclusion that there were weapons.

ENSOR: Once Kay is in Iraq, it's almost immediately clear to him that the WMD stockpiles he and his thousand-strong team are searching for, are not there. The aluminum tubes are an early signal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When we got in, we found they really were part of a rocket program.

ENSOR: The bioweapons lab described by "Curveball," don't exist. In private e-mails, Kay begins to warn Tenant that the evidence is falling apart.

COL. LAWRENCE WILKERSON, FMR. POWELL CHIEF OF STAFF: George actually did call the secretary and said I'm really sorry to have to tell you. We don't believe there were any mobile labs for making biological weapons. This was the third or fourth telephone call and I think it's fair to say the secretary and Mr. Tenant at that point, ceased being close. I mean, you can be sincere and you can be honest and you can believe what you're telling the secretary, but three or four times on substantive issues like that? It's difficult to maintain any warm feelings.


BLITZER: "CNN PRESENTS:" "Dead Wrong: Inside an Intelligence Meltdown." That will air this Sunday, 8 p.m. Eastern. It airs once again at 11 p.m. Eastern. You'll want to see it, only here on CNN.

Israel's evacuation of Gaza settlements is on hold for the Jewish Sabbath. It will resume Sunday with 17 of the 21 settlements in Gaza already cleared. Israeli forces used bulldozers to mash through a burning barricade today at the Gadid settlement. After that, residents agreed to leave if police would bring them out one at a time. 900 people have been arrested so far during these Gaza evacuations.

As this pivotal week in Gaza comes to a close, our Bruce Morton reflexes on the pull-out, similar moments in history and the men who made them happen.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Lots of Israeli politicians, though not all, think moving out of the Gaza is a good idea. But most of them couldn't have mobilized the support they need to do it. Labor party leaders like Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak couldn't have done it. Probably only Ariel Sharon, the hard-liner's hard-liner, a man who has never hesitated to use force when he thought it would work, could have mustered the support to do it.

He had opposition and the pictures of weeping Jews being carted off by sometimes weeping soldiers are hard to look at. But he convinced enough members of parliament and enough voters that this was the road to peace.

It was the same story during Israel's first move toward peace after the 1967 war. Manahem Begin, again a hard-liner's hard-line, a man who fought for independence, a sometime terrorist, was the leader with the political muscle to convince Israelis to give the Sinai back to Egypt, thus making peace with the strongest Arab military power.

We've seen similar punch in other parts of the world, too. It took Richard Nixon, a man of impeccable anti-communist credentials, to go to Beijing and open relations with China for the first time since Mao Zedong came to power. It was Nixon who declared detente, a thaw in the Cold War, with the Soviet Union.

Charles de Gaulle who had lead the Free French Resistance during the Nazi's during World War II was the president with enough political power, enough standing, to offer peace and independence, "a peace of the brave," he called it, to France's rebellious colony Algeria.

The man and the moment don't come together all that often. But when they do, what happens often changes history.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: Lou Dobbs getting ready for his program. That begins right at the top of the hour. Lou, what are you working on?

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you.

At 6:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, we'll be reporting on the bold radical Islamist terrorist attack against two U.S. Navy ships carrying thousands of sailors and marines.

Also tonight, a showdown over illegal aliens in one state that could well have national implications. How a demand that illegal aliens be embraced rather than deplored is sparking outrage all over the country.

Also tonight, more than half the states have passed laws to make English the official language. But Congress refuses to pass similar legislation. We'll have a vigorous debate tonight on that issue.

And the airport screening technology that some critics call an electronic strip search. The Transportation Security Administration says it's modifying the technology. Privacy groups aren't satisfied.

All of that, a great deal more coming up at the top of the hour here on CNN. Please join us. Now back to Wolf Blitzer -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lou. It sounds excellent.

And when we come back -- coming up, who has the muscle to take on California's governor? Your suggestions, they're coming in for possible rivals to Arnold Schwarzenegger. We'll bring you some of the best ideas. Jack Cafferty is standing by with that.

Plus, a little monkeying around also courtesy of our own Jack Cafferty.

And are you feeling shaken or stirred by the news about Pierce Brosnan? The James Bond saga. That comes to THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Here's a feature we're going to be doing every Friday, maybe every day if it works out -- Jack Cafferty looking at some stores from around the world, stories that may have left him a bit perplexed, concerned, something. Jack, tell our viewers what you're doing.

CAFFERTY: I don't know if I can do this every day. I'm very old. And I just don't know if I can work this hard.

BLITZER: I think you can do it, Jack.

CAFFERTY: You think so?

BLITZER: Yes, I think you can.

CAFFERTY: Just some stuff under the radar, is all this is, really. A New Zealander trying to break the world record for something called the highest sky jump. This is pretty interesting video. A.J. Hackett, it took him 20 seconds to fall 254 yards from the top of the Makkah Tower in China this week. He's looking for a spot in the "Guinness Book of World Records." Look at that. If it's confirmed.

Hackett says that sky jumping is a combination of bungee jumping and sky diving. He's attached to three different cables, which means he has a smoother ride down than bungee jumping. He has teamed with managers of the tower. They're going to sell sky jumps to the public now for about $60 bucks a pop. Not To this cowboy they won't.

People who do this shouldn't be allowed to have sharp objects or operate machinery. Tough stuff.

Although, my daughter did that in Acapulco, that bungee jumping. And she brought a video home, and my heart stopped watching her do it.

BLITZER: I can understand that.

CAFFERTY: Oh, yeah.

Fish and wildlife morons in Washington state, morons these are. But they're hard at work, two officers saved civilization from a woman nursing this baby duck who was injured back to health. They barged into Diane Urdman's (ph) office last week to take the baby mallard she nicknamed "Gooey." The reason that people cannot possess wildlife without a permit, and by Gods, that's the law out there in Washington, and we've got to enforce it.

Urdman (ph) says that when she wouldn't give them the duck, one of the officers showed her his handcuffs. The other one struck her in the chest and grabbed the duck out of her hands. Urdman (ph), who had gotten "Gooey" from a friend after it had been injured by a crow has filed a complaint with the police.

These are morons. Don't the game wardens in the state of Washington have anything else to do, going around badgering somebody like that who is trying to help out a little duck?

New Delhi's government offices overrun by monkeys. 1,500 monkeys occupying a complex there. They swing from the utility lines, they barge into offices, including the prime minister's, they even steal food. The deal is this, monkeys are sacred to Hindus and because of that, they cannot be killed. And officials don't know quite what to do about them.

One solution, bringing in something called langers, these are apes that scare away the monkeys has had only limited success. It should be noted before we close that New Delhi is not the only place in the world where there are monkeys in government offices -- Wolf. BLITZER: Where is the other place?

CAFFERTY: Well, inside that beltway where you are might be one spot to look.

BLITZER: I love this segment, Jack. I want you to work really hard and try to come up with something like this everyday at this level.

CAFFERTY: You got any extra money?

BLITZER: I got no extra money, but I think we can maybe...

CAFFERTY: You get what you pay for.

BLITZER: ...find some. Let's work on it. All right, Jack. Jack, we're going to have you back with your e-mail in the next segment. Thanks very much. An excellent segment from Jack Cafferty.

On this Friday, let's see what people are buzzing about online right now. Let's check in once again with our Internet reporters Jacki Schechner and Abbi Tatton -- Ladies.

JACKI SCHECHNER, INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we just wanted to take a quick look at what was topping CNN.COM at this hour. The number one story right now, David Ensor was talking about a little earlier, the interview with Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, the former aide to Colin Powell, saying that Powell's weapons of mass destruction speech, the lowest point in his life.

That part of many interviews. A CNN special airing Sunday night at 8 p. m. Eastern Standard Time. A lot of people reading about that one. The number two story on CNN.COM -- this is interesting -- a drug ring that was broken up. It was a ten-month sting operation, 160 people arrested. Four U.S. cities, two countries and the drug in question: Methamphetamine.

The number three story we wanted to show you also was that explosion in San Francisco. A lot of people reading up on that. A woman injured in the financial district. They're trying to figure out what the cause of that was. But it was the number four story all day today, that we thought was the most fun that we could share with you.

ABBI TATTON, INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This is the overturning of the ban on the word "mate" in Australian Parliament. I couldn't get Zain Verjee have all the fun with this story. We looked at some of the blogs down under and they've been buzzing about his. This is Hami (ph)in Perth, who calls this un-Australian, saying there's actually something very comforting about approaching parliament and hearing someone calling you mate.

Some people calling this a storm in a thimble, though, that's getting the pollies(ph) up in arms -- that would be the politicians. Also people weighing in in this country here. This is Digital Retrograde (ph). This is from the Twin Cities. An Aussie without "mate," it's like a Koala without the bear, Saying that the closest term in this country, Wolf, is probably the southern "y'all." See, I can't make that noise. I just can't say that word.

BLITZER: OK, mate. Thanks very much for that.

James Bond shaken and stirred: Coming up, 007 getting a new mission to pack his bags permanently. What's happening? Brian Todd, standing by to tell us.


BLITZER: James Bond. If it's two things you always know about the super secret agent: He always foils his foes and he always takes his martinis shaken, not stirred. Now, there's stirring news though, that's foiling the plans for the man who plays 007. Our Brian Todd has more.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Villains and vixens have all had their classic lines for 007.

SEAN CONNERY, ACTOR: Do you expect me to talk?

GERT FROBE, ACTOR: No, Mr. Bond. I expect to you die.

EUNICE GAYSON, ACTOR: I admire your luck. Mr. --

CONNERY: Bond, James Bond.

TODD: We don't believe we've ever heard the line on screen "You're fired, Mr. Bond,"

(on camera): but the man who plays him has been relieved of his tuxedo. Pierce Brosnan's representatives confirmed to CNN he got a call more than a year ago from the producers, saying they had stopped negotiations.

(voice-over): Brosnan had started in four Bond films, beginning with "Golden Eye" in 1995. Following his role as TV's Remington Steele, Brosnan was considered a natural for the part, but never synonymous.

That honor belongs to Sean Connery, who burst onto the scene as the original Bond in the 1962 film "Doctor No." It gave us our first glimpse of the polished, ruthless British spy, who could seemlessly charm, kill, and step up to the bar.

RAYMOND YOUNG, ACTOR: Congratulations.

CONNERY: Thank you.

YOUNG: Mr. Ramirez and his friends will be out of business.

TODD: Connery would make seven Bond films in all, but shares the distinction for durability with Roger Moore who also started as 007 no fewer than seven times, beginning with the 1973 classic "Live and Let Die." Timothy Doulton stepped in for two forgettable films in the late '80s. Then it was Brosnan's turn.

ANNE THOMPSON, "ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY": The formula is the same as it's always been and part of what's going on with casting a new Bond is perhaps bringing him up to date.

TODD: Who's next?

DAVE KARGER, MAY 5: Daniel Craig, a British actor who is being talked about as possibly the new James Bond.

TODD: Craig recently said he might be on the Bond short list.

DANIEL CRAIG, ACTOR: You can't ignore it. I mean, if there was an offer on the table, then I'd have to seriously consider it. But you know, I mean, I mean, every kid, every boy, you know, has that sort of idea, who has played in the playground.

TODD: But Daniel Craig may not have it in the bag. Other names bandied about for Bond: British stars Colin Fifth, Clive Owen and Jude Law.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: All right. Let's go right to Jack Cafferty. He's standing by in New York. Before we get to your e-mail, Jack, your favorite James Bond.

CAFFERTY: They ought to bring Sean Connery back and have him do it again. I mean, it would cost them probably 80 percent of the gross for the picture, but he was the best.

BLITZER: I agree.


BLITZER: I liked Roger Moore, too, but I loved Sean Connery.

CAFFERTY: Yes, I know. They should bring him back. He's not too old to do that.

BLITZER: You know, I saw "Goldfinger" some 40 times. You know why?


BLITZER: I was an usher at the North Park Theater in Buffalo, New York. It was my senior year in high school. I think I know every line in "Goldfinger," by heart.

CAFFERTY: Well, they have put some classic lines into those films over the years and some of them are marginal for a family TV show such as this one. But great stuff. Remember Pussy Galore?

BLITZER: I -- all right. Go ahead. Go ahead. Move on. CAFFERTY: Yes. California Democrats are looking far and wide for a candidate who can beat Arnold Schwarzenegger next year in the gubernatorial race. There's talk that maybe Robin Williams -- this is "San Francisco Chronicle" doing this today -- maybe Robin Williams could run against him as a Democrat; maybe Warren Beatty, maybe Rob Reiner. The question this hour: Which celebrities do you think belong in politics and which don't?

Tom in Alma, West Virginia, wrote a letter that I'm sorry I picked, because it's entirely too long, but I'm going to read it anyway now that we have it. "Jack, I can think of several conservative celebrities who have been elected, Reagan, Eastwood... Liberal celebrities seem to a lightning rod for public scorn. Even an endorsement from them is akin to getting kissed in public by a crime boss. So I guess none should run. They are, for the most part, either un-electable or unqualified. There are, however, several elected officials that would make good actors." Letter is too long, Tom. Don't do that again.

Jason in Arizona: "I would agree that no celebrity should be a politician, but if I to, I would choose the two old guys on the balcony on the Muppet Show to be president and vice president since the president and vice presidents are puppets of their respective parties and everyone pulls their strings."

Donald in Omaha: "Hey, what about Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston could be the first lady of California? There would be lots of smoke and of course, fire."

Jay in Port Townsend, Washington: "Come on, Jack. Who can tell the difference? Both create their own fantasy reality, loudly espouse it without regard to veracity, and get paid obscenely for doing it."

And Katie in Maryland writes: If Tom Hanks ran for president, America would vote for him immediately. To ease the transition from Bush, we could insist that Hanks remain in "Forrest Gump" mode for his entire term.

And one person wrote and said you ought to run, Wolf -- that you'd make a good politician.

BLITZER: Not happening. Not happening. Have a great weekend. At the end of our second week here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much, Jack Cafferty.

CAFFERTY: Time flies when you're having fun.

BLITZER: "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starting right now. Lou is standing by in New York.