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The Situation Room

Former U.S. Marine Under Investigation For Espionage; New Cancer Drug Unveiled

Aired October 06, 2005 - 15:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Wolf Blitzer. And you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where news and information arrive at one place simultaneously. Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you the day's top stories. Jack Cafferty is back as well.
Happening now, it's 3:00 p.m. here in Washington, where a former U.S. Marine who worked at the White House is under investigation for allegedly stealing classified information and giving it to people overseas.

It's 11:00 p.m. in Iraq. President Bush calls it the central front in a war against humanity by Islamic radicals. He says it must remain America's central front in the war on terror.

And it's 3:00 in New Jersey, where a major drug maker unveils a vaccine against a cancer that kills thousands of women a year.


Multiple government sources are telling CNN a retired U.S. Marine who worked at the White House is under investigation for allegedly stealing classified information and allegedly giving it to people in the Philippines.

Kelli Arena of CNN's America Bureau is joining us now here in Washington with details. Kelli?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I'm going to try to boil this down for you.

Two men were arrested last month, the first Leandro Aragoncillo, for allegedly stealing classified documents from the FBI, the other, Michael Ray Aquino, for allegedly conspiring with him and helping pass the information to officials in the Philippines.

As we have reported, the accusations against Aragoncillo go even further. Government officials say that he allegedly stole documents from the White House as well when he was working there as a Marine security official.

Now Aquino was just indicted today. His lawyer has denied the charges against him. There's been no movement on Aragoncillo, though. He is being held without bail. And government officials say that he is cooperating with the investigation. His lawyer refuses to comment.

The attorney general was asked about it earlier today, and he had this to say.


ALBERTO GONZALES, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We take all investigations, of course, very, very seriously and particularly investigations that might involve jeopardizing very sensitive information relating to the actions of our government. And we're looking at it very seriously.


ARENA: Now, while the accusations are serious, the information that officials believe was stolen does not pose a major threat to national security, they say. Instead, they say it's more politically damaging, putting the United States smack in the middle of the battle between Philippine President Gloria Arroyo and those who would like to topple her government. Some of the stolen documents, according to our sources, were negative dossiers on Arroyo and other current Filipino leaders.

Bottom line, Wolf, as one official put it, this is not Robert Hanssen that we're talking about.

BLITZER: All right, Kelli Arena, thank you very much. Kelli Arena reporting for us here in Washington on this disturbing story. We will have more coming up in the next half-hour, when we convene our "Security Council" here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

President Bush, meanwhile, talking about terror in what the White House is -- was billing as a major speech. In it, the president trying to bolster waning public support for the war in Iraq. He said terrorists are using the country as a base for a war on humanity. And he compared the threat to the Cold War.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The murderous ideology of the Islamic radicals is the great challenge of our new century. Yet, in many ways, this fight resembles the struggle against communism in the last century.


BLITZER: Meanwhile, in Baghdad, two suicide car bombings, including this one near the Oil Ministry. Ten people were killed and at least eight are injured. And, across the country, Iraqis are getting a look at the proposed constitution. They'll have a chance to vote on it a week from Saturday.

The U.S. military is warning that insurgents will likely try to disrupt the process by increasing their attacks.

Here in this country, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that New Orleans is now essentially dry. But as rebuilding efforts get under way, there are new questions over what to do about the levees, which failed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. CNN's Lisa Sylvester is there. She's joining us from the scene. She has more. Hi, Lisa.

LISA SYLVESTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi there, Wolf. We are going to get to that story in just a moment. But, first, we want to tell you that we're waiting for a news conference the Louisiana state coroner is going to be holding in just a few minutes. And he's going to be facing some very tough questions, including, why is it taking so long to identify the bodies of the victims of Hurricane Katrina? The death toll now stands at 964 people. And we will be tracking that story and bring you more information on that as it becomes available.

In the meantime, as you mentioned, the levee story. This is really interesting, what has been going on here, because the Army Corps of Engineers had a groundbreaking yesterday in which they announced that they have started rebuilding a levee in St. Bernard Parish. But they're not building a new and improved levee system. They're basically just working off the old engineering plans. And the reason being, is they don't have the money to build a new and improved levee system.

And the Army Corps of Engineers says it can no longer put this off. They have to address this situation immediately, because they're dealing with increasing storm surges, high tides and so forth. And they don't want to see a repeat of what happened in Hurricane Katrina, where the levee was overtopped with water 10 feet high.

So, this is going to be a real interesting question, is how this develops and whether or not Congress actually comes up with the money to build a new and improved levee system. But, as of now, there are is no money and there are no plans to build an improved levee system.


BLITZER: All right, Lisa, thanks very much. We will monitor that news conference and get back to you, Lisa Sylvester in New Orleans for us.

Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's joining us from New York. Hi, Jack. Welcome back.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. You weren't here yesterday either, were you, Wolf?

BLITZER: We are taking some time off, well- deserved.

CAFFERTY: Yes. No, no, absolutely. But my problem is this. They still call it THE SITUATION ROOM. I don't -- it can't be THE SITUATION ROOM if the Wolf man is not in it. They should just call it another cable TV news program when you're not here.


BLITZER: That's a long name, though, another cable, you know...

CAFFERTY: Afternoon TV. I know. BLITZER: Yes.


CAFFERTY: But it's only THE SITUATION ROOM when you're here.


CAFFERTY: Who was here yesterday?

BLITZER: John King.

CAFFERTY: I meant to watch, but I was busy doing my laundry.


BLITZER: All right.

CAFFERTY: President -- President Bush said today the U.S. war on terror must center on Iraq, because that's where the terrorists are centering their efforts, and his opinions poll lag, and critics say the war in Iraq has become a breeding ground for terror.

The president continued to draw the link between Iraq and the war on terror that was launched after September 11. Meanwhile, there have been three suicide bombings in Iraq in the last two days. Military leaders say the spike in violence is to be expected in the period leading up to the country's October 15 vote on a constitution.

So, here's the question. Do you agree with the president that Iraq is the center of the war on terror? You can e-mail us at CaffertyFile - one word -- And if your -- if your entry is judged pithy, we will consider it for reading in about a half-an-hour. And, if not, you're out of luck.

BLITZER: And there will be a lot of people out of luck, but there will be a few lucky people whose e-mail will be read.

CAFFERTY: And you know who does the judging?

BLITZER: What's that?




BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, we will get back to you very soon.


BLITZER: Still to come, in Harriet Miers' defense. Many conservatives are angered with the president's pick for the high court. We will meet one who says she's the right woman for the job. Plus, a cervical cancer vaccine, a new study shows it to be 100 percent effective. But should every woman run out and get it? We will take a closer look at what it means.

And, a little bit later, inside Guantanamo Bay. What really goes on at the island prison? I will ask a former U.S. Army chaplain, James Yee. He was there. He'll join us live.



BLITZER: Welcome back. Supreme Court Justice nominee Harriet Miers is courting Congress once again today. She's scheduled to meet with Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona next hour. And while conservative critics of Miers are growing more vocal about the unease with the nominee, the White House is trying to assure them and others.

Ed Gillespie is acting as an adviser to Harriet Miers. He's also a former chairman of the Republican Party. He's joining us now from the White House. Ed, thanks very much for joining us.


BLITZER: The "Washington Post" quotes you as saying in a private meeting yesterday, when you were supposedly being hammered by your fellow conservatives over the Harriet Miers nomination, as saying that the opposition of your critics, conservative critics, you were suggesting -- quote -- "has a whiff of sexism and a whiff of elitism."

First of all, did you say that?

GILLESPIE: Well, no, not in reference to the conservative concerns. Conservatives have questions about Harriet Miers. They don't know her. She's been a behind-the-scenes player for some time, since she was pretty visible down in Texas as head of the Texas Bar Association and Dallas Bar, the first women -- woman to head both of those things.

But I understand the concerns that conservatives have. There's some history of conservative presidents nominating people to the Supreme Court who, as it turned out, after they were confirmed, we learned they didn't share the philosophy of judicial restraint. That's one area of questioning that she will face.

BLITZER: Well, what did you -- what did you mean by the sexism and the elitism?

GILLESPIE: Well, there's also -- there are also comments that have been out there in the media and columns and analyses that say that Harriet Miers is not intellectually qualified to serve on the Supreme Court.

Well, unless you know Harriet Miers and spend time with her, how would you even know that? Those of us who do, who have spent time, know she is intellectually qualified. And I think that that is probably based on the notion that she went to SMU Law School and was an editor of a law journal there and practiced law in Dallas, as opposed to having gone to Harvard Law School or practiced law in Boston or New York.

BLITZER: But that criticism -- that criticism, Ed, has come from a lot of conservatives. George Will wrote a column on it, William Kristol, the editor of "The Weekly Standard."



BLITZER: Both of them, among many other conservatives, saying she doesn't have the heft or the experience, the background, to justify becoming a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

GILLESPIE: And she does. If you look at her record and her experience, this is a woman who has spent her lifetime as a practitioner in the legal profession, someone who has actually litigated, who has written oral arguments, delivered oral arguments, argued a jury case to verdict -- or jury cases to verdict and was the head of one of the biggest and most prestigious law firms in Texas.

That's still a different...



GILLESPIE: That's a different argument. And that is one I think does smack of some elitism. Then there are questions about, is she one who shares the president's judicial philosophy, which is a question many conservatives have.


GILLESPIE: ... understand that.

BLITZER: So, the elitism is a reference you were making, she went to SMU, as opposed to Harvard or Yale.




BLITZER: And the sexism is because, what, she's a woman?

GILLESPIE: No, because there were also articles written that -- I saw an analysis that said, well, it's -- it's -- the president shouldn't elevate his former staff secretary to the Supreme Court, as though the staff secretary of the president of the United States is someone who goes and gets coffee. The staff secretary of the president of the United States is someone who is responsible for the flow of information to the president as he makes decisions on the critical issues facing our country today. It is a critically important position. Brett Kavanaugh is in the position today.

And I -- I -- I got the impression from reading these there was a sense that -- that, because there was a woman in the staff secretary's job, it is -- that -- that, somehow, that meant she was responsible for getting coffee. And it was demeaning.

BLITZER: So, that was...


GILLESPIE: I thought -- I felt that was -- there was some -- that smacked of sexism to me. That's a different argument than -- than -- than the discussion I had with the conservative -- our conservative allies yesterday.

BLITZER: One of your conservative allies, at least supposed conservative allies, Senator Trent Lott of Mississippi, is quoted in the "Baltimore Sun" as saying: "My job is not to rubber-stamp any nominee sent up here. I guess they," referring to the White House, "thought we'd all just say whoopee. But that's not the way things work around here anymore."

You're hearing that from other conservative Republican senators, who say, you could have done a lot better.

GILLESPIE: No one here at the White House believes that any member of the United States Senate is a rubber stamp. We respect the advice and consent process and their role in that process and understand there will be questions that are asked of the nominee, as well they should be, as we saw with Chief Justice Roberts.

There were -- there were questions, Wolf, you may remember -- I remember it well -- about John Roberts over the summer, as to whether or not he was a conservative, he was someone who shared a judicial philosophy of restraint, and understood the proper role of the judicial branch in our system of government.

He answered those questions. And over time, people realized that -- that he not only was qualified, but he clearly shared the president's approach to the federal bench. I think we will see that happen in the case with Harriet Miers as well.

BLITZER: Connie Mackey, vice president of the Family Research Council, quoting -- quoted today in the "Washington Times," another conservative group, opposed to abortion, said this: "Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid recommending her and recommending the strategy that the president name someone who has never been a judge before, that was a direct slap in the face to conservatives."

What's your reaction? GILLESPIE: Well, the fact is, when the president, through many of the White House staff, consulted with more than 80 senators in the consultation process, we heard time and again from not only Democratic senators, but Republican senators, don't be afraid to look beyond the federal bench for qualified nominees. Don't just go to the appellate courts for a potential nominee.

It would be good to have someone who has real-life experience in the law as a practitioner, maybe even someone who holds elective office or has hold -- has held elective office. It would be good to find someone who didn't live and work all her life on the Eastern Seaboard, between Boston and Washington, D.C., to get someone from the South or the West. And if there's a qualified woman, that would be a perspective that would be healthy to have on the court, and, obviously, if there's someone who shares your judicial philosophy.

We heard that time and time again from senators on both sides of the aisle. And Harriet Miers fits all of those criteria.

BLITZER: Ed Gillespie at the White House. Thanks very much, Ed, for joining us.

GILLESPIE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Who is going to replace Fred Thompson as the former senator to advise you on this nomination process?

GILLESPIE: Former Senator Dan Coats, who is back from serving as ambassador to Germany, well-respected on both sides of the aisle, will be helping in the Sherpa role. I will be helping in the Sherpa role as well. And he will do great, in that he's someone who is not only well- respected, but well-liked by Democrats and Republicans alike up there.

BLITZER: Ed Gillespie, thanks very much for joining us.

Still to come here in THE SITUATION ROOM, there are new developments in the CIA leak investigation. We will have those right after a break.

And a cancer vaccine that's been shown to be 100 percent effective. Is it too good to be true? And should you run out right now and get it? We will take a closer look.

A little bit later, football shine -- lightning strike, one key player killed and several others injured at a high school game. Should they have been on the field to begin with? We will take a closer look.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: We're getting this story in from the Associated Press. And let me read it to you specifically, because it's very precise. It involves the deputy White House chief of staff, Karl Rove.

According to the AP, Washington prosecutors, federal prosecutors, that is, have accepted an offer from Karl Rove to give what's being described as 11th-hour testimony in the case of the CIA officer's leaked identity. But they've warned Karl Rove they cannot guarantee he won't be indicted, this according to people directly familiar with the investigation.

Persons who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of grand jury secrecy said the special prosecutor in this case, Patrick Fitzgerald, has not made any decisions on whether to file charges against Karl Rove or anyone else. The U.S. attorney's manual does require prosecutors not to bring witnesses before a grand jury if there's a possibility of future criminal charges unless they are notified in advance that their grand jury testimony can be used against them at a later date.

Rove has already appeared three times before the grand jury. This fourth time would be unusual. The prosecutor, according to the AP, did not give Rove similar warnings before his earlier grand jury appearances. At issue is the release of the name of Valerie Plame Wilson, the former -- the current CIA official who was a clandestine officer, releasing her name to the public, which may have been a criminal action.

We will continue to watch the story, get some more information for you on as well -- on it as well. But, once again, the headline, Karl Rove now expected to make a fourth appearance before that grand jury here in Washington.

We will move on to another important story we're following, a developing story today, a 100 percent effective cancer vaccine. That's the claim from researchers who say their new vaccine can prevent cervical cancer.

CNN's Mary Snow is standing by in New York. She has got details. Mary, this could be an amazing development.

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It could be, Wolf. And doctors at the American Cancer Society and the National Cancer Institute say they are encouraged by this vaccine. They say it's a big step or could be a big step in preventing a type of cancer that kills an estimated 4,000 women in the U.S. each year.


SNOW (voice-over): While Pap smears are used to detect cervical cancer, a new vaccine may be able to prevent it. The vaccine is called Gardasil. And it is made by Merck pharmaceuticals. The lead doctor behind the study says he's surprised at just how effective the vaccine was.

DR. KEVIN AULT, EMORY UNIVERSITY: We prevented 100 percent of precancerous changes in the women that received the vaccine. And this is a larger trial than what's been published before and has more encouraging results.

SNOW: Encouraging, say doctors, because the vaccine could protect women from two-thirds of forms of cervical cancer. Cervical cancer is often caused by a virus known as human papilloma virus, or HPV, which is transmitted sexually.

Two strains known as HPV-16 and HPV-18 account for about 70 percent of cervical cancers. If the vaccine is approved, doctors hope teenage girls will get it before they become sexually active.

DR. LISA FLOWERS, EMORY UNIVERSITY: ... we hope what providers do is actually approach the teenagers, saying, we have a vaccine that can prevent you from having cancer in the future. And we would like -- and, unfortunately, the virus itself is transmitted sexually. We need to truly know when you're starting to have sexual intercourse, so we can prevent this cancer.


SNOW: Now, Merck is seeking to get final approval from the FDA by the end of the year. And doctors also say, while they're optimistic, they also caution that this vaccine won't prevent all forms of cervical cancer.


BLITZER: All right, Mary, thank you very much. Mary Snow with a very important story in New York.

Just ahead, more on our developing story, the Associated Press reporting that deputy White House Chief of Staff Karl Rove will be testifying for a fourth time before that grand jury investigating the CIA leak investigation. We will have more on that story. That's coming up.

And he ministered to Muslims at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba. And he was accused of spying. Now he's telling his story in a new book. A live interview with Captain James Yee, only two minutes away.

And, later, is Iraq the center of the war on terror? Our Jack Cafferty taking your e-mail.

We'll be right back.


ANNOUNCER: "This Week in History", East met West on October 3, 1990, as East Germany formally rejoined the Federal Republic of Germany, ending 45 years of division between the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not guilty of the crime of murder.

ANNOUNCER: And, on October 3, 1995, O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

And that is "This Week in History".


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: The White House and the Republican-controlled Senate are at odds over the treatment of detainees. Last night, the Senate voted 90-9 to approve a military spending bill. It includes an amendment barring cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment for anyone held by the U.S. government, regardless of location.

Senator John McCain, a prisoner of war in Vietnam, sponsored the amendment. The White House is threatening to veto the bill. That amendment is a partial result of allegations of abuse at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, where hundred of detainees from the war on terror are being held.

James Yee was an Army Muslim chaplain at the U.S. Naval Base at Guantanamo, until he was accused of spying. That started a months-long ordeal that included 76 days of solitary confinement for Yee. All charges against him were eventually dropped. He was given an honorable discharge. He's now written a new book about his experience called "For God and Country: Faith and Patriotism Under Fire."

James Yee is joining us now from New York. Thanks, Captain, very much for joining us.

You are a Muslim -- you were a Muslim chaplain at least, in the U.S. Army. What did they do to you during those 76 days that you were in solitary confinement?

JAMES YEE, AUTHOR, "FOR GOD AND COUNTRY": Right, right. First, I'd like to tell you what they did to me in the transport to that solitary confinement. In the movement from Jacksonville, Florida, to the brig in South Carolina, they treated me just like an enemy combatant. They gave me -- they put on goggles where I couldn't see through. They were blackened out with paint, as well as putting earmuffs, heavy industrial earmuffs over my ears, so I couldn't hear.

I was subjected to sensory deprivation in the transport to Guantanamo. And then they put me in that solitary confinement in the brig in South Carolina and had me in an isolated cell, where I basically had no con -- almost -- practically -- almost no contact with -- with anyone, except the guards, who really couldn't even talk with me.

BLITZER: You are a graduate of West Point. Were you shocked that this was happening to you?

YEE: In the beginning, when I first was told that I was being charged with things like spying and espionage, aiding the enemy and threatened with the death penalty, at first I thought it was rather ridiculous and absurd and thought this thing would be cleared up in a matter of days. But when they transported me in that manner, then it started to become pretty frightening.

BLITZER: You write in your book -- you write this, "because religion was the most important issue for nearly all the prisoners at Camp Delta, they are almost all of them Muslims, I believe, it became the most important weapon used against them." "They," referring to the guards, "would do everything they could to disrupt the prisoners at prayer. Female guards were often used to provoke the detainees."

What specifically were the female guards doing?

YEE: Right. Initially when I got to Guantanamo, it was an acceptable guard practice to allow females, for example, to do pat- down searches. And the pat-down searches including patting within the genital areas and in through the buttocks. And this would rile the detainees tremendously. And they protested. And many times would end up in riots.

One of the things, though, I was able to get changed was to prevent or not allow the cross-gender searches, which they're pretty much actually prevented in our prisons right here in the U.S.

BLITZER: You came to believe that a lot of these detainees at Guantanamo really weren't terrorists. You write this -- you write in the book, "over time, the description of the detainees as hardened terrorists began to be contradicted by the impression that I was developing of most them."

You believe they weren't terrorists? They weren't picked up in battlefield in Afghanistan or elsewhere?

YEE: Well, I find it really hard to believe that all 660 or so of the detainees that were held down there were in some way behind September 11. I found it hard to believe that all of them could be in some way connected to 9/11. In my personal interactions with many of the detainees, I got to know them on a personal level. I profile a few of them and recount some of my personal interactions with them.

BLITZER: James Yee is the author of "For God and Country." Mr. Yee, we're going to continue this conversation down the road. Thanks very much for joining us.

YEE: Thanks for having me. It's my pleasure.

BLITZER: We're following a developing story here in Washington. The AP reporting the deputy White House chief of staff, Karl Rove, will be testifying yet again before that grand jury investigating the CIA leak problem. We'll have more on that. That's coming up.

Also ahead, new allegations against a former marine already accused of passing along classified FBI information. Now, claims have surfaced that he might have done the same thing over at the White House. The CNN "Security Council" takes on that dicey issue.

And later, a high school football game, an approaching storm and a deadly outcome. We'll go to Florida where the unthinkable happened. That's ahead at the 5:00 hour of THE SITUATION ROOM.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Welcome back. Let's get back to our lead story this hour: the investigation of a possible spy having worked in the White House. We want to talk a little bit more about that with our guest, CNN national security adviser, former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin; and Richard Falkenrath, a CNN security analyst as well, also, former member of the National Security Council here in Washington.

I'll start with you. What do you make of this story of this retired U.S. Marine accused of, I guess, potentially espionage while he worked for the vice president in the White House?

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, we don't know all the facts yet. And that's the first thing about a counterintelligence case -- it takes a long time to get all the facts laid out. It will depend a lot on what he did in the White House, whether he was a low level aide, whether he had access to the White House computer system, whether he worked for someone who was influential and had that kind of access and what his motivations were.

So far, based on what he know, it does not seem to be the kind of blockbuster spy case like Hanssen or Ames, but we don't know that yet.

BLITZER: It sounds -- it sounds like it was documents, U.S. Embassy documents in Manila, political reporting, if you will, classified -- albeit classified, but stuff that is really more embarrassing politically to the United States that could -- stuff that could undermine national security by releasing sources and methods, if you will.

RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: That's right, Wolf. And there is a huge amount of very embarrassing information on reporting from embassies abroad about the leaders of other countries, things that the U.S. government would never want revealed. It can be very embarrassing. It is about their personal habits, their health, their corruption, cronyism, their competence. And often our ambassadors or political officers will say things back to Washington that they would never want to be said in their post.

BLITZER: If it's strictly limited to those political reports, the analysts are writing stuff about the politics of the Philippines and the president, Gloria Arroyo and what's going on, that -- how serious of damage to the United States national security would that be? It is clearly illegal, but the question is how much damage?

MCLAUGHLIN: At some point when the investigation reaches some maturity, there will be a damage assessment done here. And the question will be, who was he working for? Was he working just for this intermediary who was passing some of those reports that Richard talked about?

BLITZER: Allegedly to the opposition in the Philippines.

MCLAUGHLIN: You have to ask the question, was he working for someone else as well? And we don't know that yet, at least based on what's been said publicly.

BLITZER: And was he getting paid? That would be an important distinction as well. MCLAUGHLIN: Well, there's another aspect of this. Counterintelligence is different today than it used to be. This shows again that in the intelligence business, you can't just play offense, you always have to play defense.

In the old days, it was mainly the Russians and the Chinese, the big guys who were trying to recruit us. But now that the U.S. is the only superpower, a lot of countries want to know what we know and what we're doing and all of the ins and outs of our policy. So there's in a way, a broader counterintelligence threat that we deal with today.

BLITZER: There have been major spies arrested at the CIA, the FBI, the Pentagon, the -- elsewhere in Washington. I don't remember in the White House, do you, Richard?

FALKENRATH: No. And John and I were talking about this. We don't recall another spy case inside the White House. This may be the first, and as such, it is very embarrassing, very damaging. There's a huge amount of really sensitive intelligence and political information in any White House. Any White House staffer has access to that.

The key question, though, on this damage assessment that John is what was his job at OVP? If he was a national security aide with access to the classified information system managed by the National Security Council as the vice president's aides are, with those responsibilities, it could be very damaging. If on the other hand, he was more of a secretary in a political office without access to the sensitive information, the NSC LAN, then it probably not going to be as bad. But it is close to the crown jewels if you do get on the NSC information system.

BLITZER: OVP, the Office of the Vice President, for those of our viewers not familiar with the acronyms. How tight is security at the White House compared, shall we say, to the CIA or the Pentagon or the FBI?

MCLAUGHLIN: It's very tight, Wolf. And there are certain categories of information that are in what we call special compartments. That is, not everyone has access to them. And they're not freely traded on the Internet system. They're handled by hard copy paper.

BLITZER: But on this issue of polygraphs, you were a White House National Security Council staffer. Were you polygraphed routinely?

FALKENRATH: No. The White House staff are not routinely polygraphed. It's not a condition. Someone who has a security clearance issued by the CIA who is detailed to the White House will be polygraphed, but only those individuals.

BLITZER: Is that a flaw that needs to be fixed?

FALKENRATH: Well, we were talking about this. I think it's probably not a flaw. John has a lot of experience with this, and I think he agrees. MCLAUGHLIN: I'm a fan of the polygraph. It's a tool, and many people say it's a flawed tool. It's just one tool in the arsenal. I think there would be a case for broader use of it. I don't know that you'd want to polygraph every single person going into the complex. But in most security institutions, you want to find those who have access to the most sensitive information and do everything you can to assure that they're properly vetted. So there might be a case for broader use of it.

BLITZER: John McLaughlin, Richard Falkenrath, thanks for joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

MCLAUGHLIN: Thanks, Wolf.

When we come back, the actual criminal complaint is now online. Actually, we're going to go there right now. Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton is joining us. She's got that. Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Aragoncillo had been arrested last month on charges that he had allegedly used FBI databases to download and pass along classified information. And that criminal complaint is available at the Department of Justice Web site. You can read the 17-page document for yourself.

Inside it, amongst the charges you can read extracts from e-mails allegedly sent from Aragoncillo's Hotmail account and Yahoo account to another defendant, referencing highly sensitive material. Again, this available at


BLITZER: All right, Abbi, thank you very much.

Just ahead, we're getting new details this hour about the deputy White House chief of staff, Karl Rove, who reportedly will be testifying for a fourth time before that grand jury investigating the leak of a CIA agent's name.

Also, flooding south of the border. Much of southern Mexico under water right now. Can the stricken region cope?

And later in our 5:00 p.m. Eastern hour, skin cancer is pretty common and very treatable. So how is this giraffe making medical history? Brian Todd is covering this story. He'll join us live.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back. We're getting some more information on this latest development in the CIA leak investigation. We have now confirmed, thanks to our John King, that Karl Rove has agreed to testify for a fourth time before that grand jury investigating the leak of Valerie Plame Wilson's name.

One senior source tells John that Karl Rove, who was the deputy White House chief of staff, anticipates testifying again before the grand jury investigating the leak. The source would not describe the terms of his appearance. It would only say it was arranged in recent days. Sources who have knowledge of the investigation have said the special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald has signaled he's winding up his investigation, but he has not indicated -- not indicated whether any indictments will be forthcoming.

Karl Rove apparently will go forward and testify yet again at this 11th hour before this grand jury. We'll watch this story, get some more information for you as it becomes available.

We'll move on to some other important news we're following. For that, we turn to CNN's Zain Verjee. She's joining us from the CNN Center in Atlanta. Hi, Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNNHN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf. We're following a developing story out of Canada. The Reuters news agency is reporting that a small aircraft carrying cargo for FedEx, including six vials of research viruses, has crashed in downtown Winnipeg, killing its pilot. Now, the pilot was apparently the only person on board. No one on the ground was injured or hurt in any way. The crash has incinerated all cargo on this plane, including vials of herpes, two influenza viruses. The viruses are not hazardous, and one spokeswoman for FedEx says according to Reuters, quoting that person, that there is "no danger to the public."

Back here in the United States, police believe that a body discovered at a Pennsylvania landfill is that of the mother of a 4- year-old girl found wandering the streets of New York. They've been searching for the Bolivian-born woman since September 24, when the child was found off a dock in Queens. The body was recovered today. The Vintondale, Pennsylvania, landfill is where New York's garbage is taken. It's near Pittsburgh. The body must still be positively identified, though.

Afghanistan and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are apparently coming to terms over a NATO presence in southern Afghanistan. The Afghan president, Hamid Karzai, met with NATO's Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, who says the alliance is confident they can iron out differences over NATO's role in the region. NATO plans to deploy 6,000 more soldiers in the south, where the Taliban and al Qaeda are active.

Ongoing foul weather is stalling, but not stopping, relief efforts in southern Mexico, where devastating floods wreaked havoc. Mexican President Vicente Fox traveled to the region and he promised to send help as quickly as possible. Torrential rain and flooding from Hurricane Stan are being blamed for at least six deaths, as well as washed out bridges and possible roads and homes demolished by landslides.

Wolf, back to you in THE SITUATION ROOM. And you and Jack cannot leave me again and neglect me in THE SITUATION ROOM for so long. It's unacceptable.

BLITZER: We promise, Zain, we won't do that again. Right, Jack? CAFFERTY: Tell her to stop whining.

BLITZER: Stop whining, Zain.

VERJEE: It's my forte, Jack.

BLITZER: All right, Jack, let's hear what our e-mailers think.

CAFFERTY: President Bush said today the U.S. war on terror must center on Iraq because that's where the terrorists are centering their efforts.

The question this hour is do you agree with the president that Iraq is the center of the war on terror? Here's some of what you've written.

Will in Pensacola writes: "I'm a Bronze Star veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, and I do agree that Iraq is a breeding ground for terrorism. However, it exists only due to the actions of the president. He has made this mess and now we are paying the price."

Steve in Palmetto, Florida, writes: "Iran, North Korea, South and Southeast Asia present far greater threats than the Arab world. Collectively, these regions have far more committed leaders and far better potential to field real armies of trained fighters, as opposed to Iraq's usual mob of murderers-for-rent, who are generally unable to decide which enemy lot they hate the most, the U.S., the Iraqi Kurds, or the Iraqi Shiites."

Reggie writes: "I think Iraq is the center of the war on terrorism and I think President Bush is doing the right thing making sure it is over there and not here or somewhere closer. I believe he is doing the right thing for our present and future security."

Avery writes: "I don't agree with anything the president says at all. Furthermore, I think his thoughts should be relegated to short e- mails read by award-winning journalists on popular news programs if they're lucky enough to be chosen."

And this one finally: "Both Jack and Wolf should have watched THE SITUATION ROOM yesterday. John King showed how that program should be done." Signed, John King. Actually, it's from somebody named Jerri in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

BLITZER: He did an excellent job, John King.

CAFFERTY: I missed it. I was doing my laundry.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Jack. We'll get back to you very soon.

Let's get some more information now on that story we've been reporting on for the last several moments. Karl Rove apparently going forward and testifying yet again before that grand jury investigating the CIA leak operation.

Bob Franken is looking into the story for us. What are you picking up, Bob?

BOB FRANKEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, information coming from Karl Rove's attorney, Robert Luskin, who says that his client will be going back before the grand jury that is investigating the CIA leaks. Rove, of course the deputy White House chief of staff and a longtime top political adviser to President Bush will be testifying for what will be the fourth time.

Now, according to Luskin, this is voluntary. This was a request from the special prosecutor investigating here, then Patrick Fitzgerald, but according to Luskin, there has been no threat of any sort of indictment. There has been no target letter. A target letter would be official notification that an indictment is expected. He would not say when this testimony is going to continue. But the lawyer, Bob Luskin, says this does not mean that Karl Rove is facing any legal problems.


BLITZER: We're going to have much more on this in the next hour, Bob stand by. Bob Franken working this story for us.

Still ahead, are conservatives up in arms over Harriet Miers? Is the president's Supreme Court nominee facing a backlash from the right? All this and much more when we go "Inside Politics".

Much more of our coverage coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: It's almost time for the markets to close and the closing bell. Let's check in with our Ali Velshi, who is following that and a lot more. Hi Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: How you doing, Wolf? Welcome back.

I want to talk about wood. The United States imports about $10 billion worth of soft wood, things like pine and spruce from Canada. Now, soft wood is used to build houses. It has been in heavy demand.

And here in the United States lumber companies buy land and grow trees. And that's how we get the wood.

In Canada, it's a little bit different. The government owns much of the forest land. And lumber companies there pay fees to use it. U.S. lumber companies say that that makes Canadian soft wood lumber cheaper than U.S.-grown wood and they say that's just not fair. The U.S. government has for years, Wolf, backed the U.S. companies by slapping duties on Canadian soft wood, sometimes as high as 27 percent and those duties get passed on to consumers or to home builders.

Now, last night for a fifth time, a joint body that investigates NAFTA complaints again ruled in Canada's favor and against the United States. Once again, the United States has said it's going to ignore that ruling.

Well, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin was in town and he told me that's no way to treat a friend.


PAUL MARTIN, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: So what we're really saying is look, we want to work with you in a wide range of areas, but if we have rules, then we got to live up to those rules. And the American people who have got to pay $1,000 more per home or the American people who can't get a mortgage because their home prices are up, obviously are suffering from high lumber costs which are artificial.

It's not because Canada wants it. It's because there's a small group of narrow interests in the United States who essentially want to keep that lumber out to keep the lumber prices up.

VELSHI: Canada has not been front and center on the American psyche in the last few years. Is energy the way to bring that back on the table so that Americans understand the importance of that relationship?

MARTIN: We are your number one supplier of energy. It may well be that people in the United States don't understand that. But I think we've got to go beyond that to the larger partnership. We have to have a partnership in the environment.

One of the things I'm going to be talking about is drilling in the Arctic refuge. Just understand that that's going to bring in a very little amount of oil. It's going to damage the environment on the one hand. Whereas on the other hand, we're your largest single supplier and we're going to continue. We're not going to let the Americans down. But, we want to see that partnership work in the widest possible way.

VELSHI: Refineries. You have said and others have said that this is an opportunity for Canada to build some refineries and Americans have the same concerns that Canadians have about having refineries near developments.

MARTIN: It's going to absolutely have to happen and it will happen I'm sure in the States. It's going to happen in Canada. There's also other alternatives, upgrading -- for instance, our oil sands. You know, this huge supply, this recoverable supply, requires upgrading. We're going to be building that. We will be investing massively in the kinds of infrastructure that are going to provide new energy sources. We want to do it in an environmentally sound way.

VELSHI: I've got a handful of oil samples in my office just to show people what it is. Tell us about that and the role that Canada can play in alleviating these oil pressures.

MARTIN: Well, we call them the oil sands. Originally, they were called the tar sands and I think that gives you an idea what this is like. And in many cases it's not so much drilling for oil as mining for oil.

Canada has pioneered this and as a result of which we have taken an oil supply that just simply would not have been available, even though people knew about them and we have now made it, you know, a very, very viable supply. And as a result of which, in terms of the United States instead of having to get your oil from riskier places, politically riskier places, as you know, your closest neighbor has it and we really want to work with you on it.

VELSHI: Any pressure in Canada about that, about the fact that America seems to be willing to pay for as much energy as Canada can produce? Do Canadians get a benefit out of that?

MARTIN: Oh well, we are going to -- we'll obviously satisfy our own needs. We will never jeopardize our own needs for energy. But, clearly in terms of the wider North American partnership we want to work with you. We are a very reliable supplier, but we want to do it in a way that's fair.


VELSHI: So Wolf, the prime minister reminding us that 10 percent of all oil used, consumed in the United States, comes from Canada and that those oil sand reserves are important. He says the idea is to have some sort of a policy that allows energy to be traded easily between the countries. He just wants to bring home the point that other things need to be considered within that arrangement.


BLITZER: Very briefly, Ali, what's the U.S. government's argument? Because NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement, supposedly removed all the trade barriers between the United States and Canada. If the U.S. is now imposing barriers on Canadian wood or lumber, what's the U.S. argument?

VELSHI: The NAFTA panel says it is not fair. The World Trade Organization has ruled in favor of the United States a few times. The bottom line is they say it's dumping. They say Canadians put wood on the market at lower prices than they should and this has been a decades old story.