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The Situation Room

Backlash in Jordan; Inmate in Georgia's Bartow County Escapes From Sheriff's Custody

Aired November 10, 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 at the same time.
Happening now, it's midnight in Amman, Jordan. Thousands there are expressing their outrage at the man they believe is responsible for the deadly suicide bombings, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. We have new information on the investigation.

It's 2:00 p.m. in Southern California, where new technology is being developed that could protect passenger planes from a possible terrorist attack. We'll show you how it works.

And it's 5:00 p.m. here in Washington, over at the White House, beset by slumping polls, a protracted war and an ongoing investigation. Are the president's problems dragging down his party? I'll ask the GOP chairman, Ken Mehlman. He'll join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

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

A tremendous backlash in Jordan just over 24 hours after suicide bombers killed 56 people at three hotels. Jordanian-born terrorist leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is widely believed to be behind it. His group has claimed responsibility on a Web site. And today Jordanians are venting their outrage at him.

Standing by live for us, CNN's Guy Raz. He's in the capital of Amman. CNN Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre is also standing by.

Let's begin, though, with Guy Raz in Amman. Guy?

GUY RAZ, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, after a day of relative silence in the city, a night of noise. Now, the initial shock has made way for defiance. And throughout the evening here in Amman, we've seen makeshift processions, makeshift memorials cropping up all over this city, primarily in front of the sites of those triple bombings that took place more than 24 hours ago.

Now, just behind me is the Radisson hotel, the scene of the worst attack, where dozens of people were maimed and injured after a suicide bomber detonated a vest inside a wedding hall. People here have been chanting slogans in support of the Jordanian king throughout the evening. They've been chanting slogans against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the man most people here in the Jordanian capital believe was responsible for those triple suicide bombings.

Throughout the evening as well, processions of cars driving through the streets, flags, Jordanian flags, waving from those cars. It's very clear that Jordanians are now preparing to mobilize against attacks of this sort to make sure they don't happen again in the future. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Guy Raz reporting for us in Amman.

CNN's Jamie McIntyre is picking up some new information on the bombings over at the Pentagon. Jamie McIntyre is joining us now live. Jamie?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Pentagon officials say that there was some intelligence that Abu Musab al- Zarqawi wanted to strike outside Iraq, specifically at U.S. targets in Jordan. But they say that intelligence was not specific enough to provide any kind of warning.


MCINTYRE (voice over): A source close to the investigation in Jordan tells CNN it's believed two of the hotel bombers were Iraqis and used explosive belts packed with ball bearings similar to suicide bombs employed in Iraq. They were said to be calm and even talked to patrons before detonating the devices.

Al Qaeda in Iraq, the terrorist group headed by Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, has claimed responsibility. And an Internet statement says the American hotels were targeted because they were "filthy entertainment centers for traders and safe havens for infidels."

The Pentagon has no reason to dispute the claim of responsibility.

LAWRENCE DI RITA, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is Jordanian, we know that. His communication or the attempted communication between Ayman al-Zawahiri and Zarqawi suggested an interest in using Iraq to conduct these kinds of attacks. It is consistent with the kinds of attacks that al Qaeda has conducted in Iraq and elsewhere.

MCINTYRE: In fact, just a day after three hotel bombs in Amman killed at lease 56 people, a suicide bomber in Baghdad killed nearly three dozen people in a crowded restaurant frequented by Iraqi security forces.

Back before the summer, the U.S. military was claiming Zarqawi's network was shrinking with the roll-up of more than 20 trusted lieutenants. But after six months of rounding up hundreds of al Qaeda sympathizers, including another offensive in the area of western Iraq, where Zarqawi is believed to be operating, the terrorist group appears no weaker.

COL. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR, U.S. ARMY (RET.): The Jordanians, with good reason, have been worried for a very long time that if we did not establish order in Iraq and bring the insurgency, which is really a rebellion against American military occupation under control, that this would eventually spill into their country.


MCINTYRE: Six months ago, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld was comparing Zarqawi to Adolph Hitler in his bunker in the final days, saying he was losing his effectiveness. Well, Wolf, you're not hearing those kinds of statements here today.

BLITZER: All right, Jamie. Thank you very much. Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

Tragically, suicide bombings are not new to neighboring Iraq. And there was yet another one today at a Baghdad restaurant that killed at least 34 people.

CNN's Aneesh Raman is joining us now live from the Iraqi capital. Aneesh?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, good afternoon. It was the deadliest of three suicide attacks that rocked Iraq today. It happened around 9:30 a.m. local, when a suicide bomber wearing an explosives vest walked into a crowded restaurant on Abu Nawah Street (ph), one of the main commercial thoroughfares that runs through central Baghdad. He then blew himself up. At least 34 people were killed, at least 25 others were wounded.

The U.S. military today, Wolf, saying that this attack were all the hallmarks of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's group, who while one facet of the insurgency here that includes Sunni insurgents and Saddam loyalists, is clearly the most recognizable. They are the ones that carry out the biggest attack, the suicide bombers, the suicide car bombs. And Zarqawi himself has explicitly declared war on Iraq's Shia civilian population. Today, they again, along with Iraq's security forces, were attacked. Wolf

BLITZER: Aneesh Raman reporting for us. Thank you very much.

There's been a development that's just coming into CNN right now. Yet another prisoner escapee in Georgia. Let's go straight to Georgia. CNN's Zain Verjee standing by at the CNN Center in Atlanta with details. Zain?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, this is the second one today. A search is under way for a man by the name of Gary Allen Darnell. Police say that he escaped from the Bartow County Sheriff's Department while in custody. That area is about 45 minutes northwest of Atlanta.

Apparently, he was being taken to Cartersville Medical Center from the Bartow County Jail. And while he was getting out of the car, being escorted by an officer, he just took off, he just bolted on foot. He was apparently in jail on a burglary conviction. His description is this. We're learning he is a white male, and he's got identifying marks of tattoos on both upper areas of his arms.

We'll bring you more information when we get it, Wolf. But as of now, that's all we know, that a man, a second one today, has escaped from the Bartow County Sheriff's Department while in custody. The first man that escaped earlier in the day was captured. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Zain. Thank you very much. We'll get more information and bring it to our viewers as we get it.

Jack Cafferty standing by in New York once again with his question this hour. And correct me if I'm wrong, Jack, but it seems like there is a little epidemic that's going on with these escapees.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. They need to get a locksmith down there and work on some of those locks or something. I mean, was it that, three or four in the last week or so?

BLITZER: Yes. And going on and on and on, apparently. Maybe we're just giving it more publicity now than we used to.

CAFFERTY: Well, maybe, yes. I'm not going to go there. I was going to -- I'm not going to do that.

We're going to go -- the "Cafferty File" is now going to devote itself to the question for the 5:00 hour...


CAFFERTY: ... before the "Cafferty File" gets himself in a world of trouble.

Florida students could soon be required -- required -- to take Spanish classes. A Florida television station reports on a bill that would make classes in Spanish mandatory for all students in kindergarten through second grade. Kindergarten.

Think for a minute about what kids in kindergarten do. They're going to make them learn Spanish.

Supporters say the earlier you teach someone a foreign language, the better it is. The state's attorney general says it's a good idea to offer Spanish, but not necessarily to require it. If the bill passes, it's due to go into effect in 2007.

So the question is, should Spanish classes be mandatory for elementary school students, kindergarten students through the second grade? I mean, kids in kindergarten are busy, you know, exploring the stuff that comes out of their nose. How are you going to teach a kindergarten kid Spanish?

BLITZER: I had trouble with tying the shoe laces. That was a big issue for me.

CAFFERTY: Yes. I mean, they put their finger in their ear and then leave it there. I mean, I -- that's -- you know, I don't know if you can teach...

BLITZER: They're much smarter, though, now. They have to go -- they have preparatory classes to get into certain kindergartens, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, I guess -- yes, especially up here in New York City. They all have to go -- they go to these preschools.

BLITZER: Hold on, Jack, because we're getting the president, some videotape that's coming in to CNN right now.

Only moments ago, the president at the Jordanian Embassy here in Washington, signing a book of condolences because of those three hotel terrorist attacks yesterday. The president signing this book. I anticipate that he'll be making a statement after he signs some words.

He drove over to the Jordanian Embassy in the northwestern part of Washington. The ambassador, I'm sure, Karim Kawar, is there to receive the president, as are other Jordanian diplomats.

The president making a statement last night and earlier today condemning these terrorist attacks in Jordan, a very close ally. Let's listen in.

There's the first lady. She's going to sign the condolence book as well.

The other couple is the ambassador and his wife, Ambassador and Mrs. Karim Kawar of Jordan. The first lady clearly moved by what has happened. More than 50 people killed, more than 100 people injured at three U.S.-based hotels in Amman, Jordan, a little bit more than 24 hours ago.

And deep sadness in Jordan, throughout the region. Abu Musab al- Zarqawi, the terrorist, the Jordanian terrorist claiming responsibility.

Let's listen to the president.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Ambassador, thank you for receiving us. We have come to your embassy to express our heartfelt sympathies for the people of Jordan and for the families who are grieving today because of the murder of innocent people.

I spoke to his majesty this morning and conveyed the very same thoughts. And during my conversation, as he described the fact that these bombers went into a wedding and killed people there that were there to celebrate life, killed innocent -- the bombers killed innocent women and children, it struck me, Mr. Ambassador, that once again that we face an enemy that has no heart, an enemy that is defiling a great religion of Islam.

Today -- yesterday in Jordan, Muslims died at the hands of these killers simply because they were in the wrong hotel, simply because they wanted to be with their families and enjoy life.

This enemy must be defeated. They have no heart. They have no conscience.

I want to thank you and the good people of Jordan for standing strong against these merciless killers. And we ask for God's blessings on the people of Jordan.

BLITZER: The president of the United States and the ambassador from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan only a few moments ago at the Jordanian Embassy, together with their wives. The president and the first lady signing a book of condolences for that terrorist attack in Amman, Jordan, yesterday.

Up ahead, there are serious questions some are raising on Capitol Hill. Did a powerful lobbyist already under investigation try to get millions of dollars from an African president to arrange a meeting in the Oval Office with the president?

And they're shoulder-fired missiles, powerful enough to bring down an airplane. Coming up, we'll tell you about a new technology designed to try to thwart a possible attack.

And if a pirate tries to overtake a cruise ship, how might the ship fight back? We'll tell you about one amazing weapon.



BLITZER: He's the subject of the multiple investigations. Now there's word of a new potential problem for Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now live with details. Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, all sorts of questions have been raised about Jack Abramoff's dealings with U.S. political leaders. Now we have a document showing an apparent overture he made to an African president.


TODD (voice over): Jack Abramoff, a powerful lobbyist for Indian tribes, already under investigation by the Senate and a federal grand jury for allegedly bilking his clients out of millions of dollars. Senate staffers tell CNN questions are now being raised about whether Abramoff tried to get millions from an African president to arrange a meeting with President Bush.

A letter obtained by CNN from the Senate Indian Affairs Committee shows Abramoff making overtures to the president of Gabon, Omar Bongo.

On July 28, 2003, Abramoff writes to Mr. Bongo, "I have been cautiously working to obtain a visit for the president to Washington, to see President Bush, the Congress and policy and opinion makers in the United States."

SEN. BYRON DORGAN (D-ND), INDIAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: We have Mr. Abramoff asking for some millions of dollars from a president of a foreign country to say he'd like to set up a meeting with the president as part of this arrangement

TODD: Senator Byron Dorgan is vice chairman of one of the committees investigating Abramoff. Dorgan was commenting on a "New York Times" report that Abramoff asked for $9 million from the president of Gabon in exchange for trying to arrange a meeting.

Senator Dorgan says there's no evidence Abramoff ever got paid by the president of Gabon, or that any arrangement was ever finalized. Contacted by CNN, a spokeswoman at Gabon's Embassy in Washington would not comment.

A meeting between President Bush and Mr. Bongo did take place at the White House less than a year after Abramoff's alleged solicitation.

OMAR BONGO, PRESIDENT OF GABON (through translator): I'm pleased with the support that the U.S. government has given and will give to the Gabonese government. Thank you.

TODD: But a White House official tells CNN the meeting was not arranged by Jack Abramoff and went through normal scheduling arrangements for a visiting head of state. But Abramoff also had ties to a key White House ally, Representative Tom DeLay. And the House Ethics Committee is expected to investigate whether some of Abramoff's other dealings with DeLay violated House rules

DORGAN: These things all raise a lot of questions, because this has to do with access, and who is a friend of whom and what connections exist


TODD: Contacted by CNN, a representative for Abramoff's attorneys would not comment on his overtures to the president of Gabon. Abramoff's former law firm also would not comment, even though Abramoff wrote that letter to the president of Gabon on the firm's stationery.

Now, it is important to note here it is not clear whether Abramoff's approach to the president of Gabon was in any way illegal. Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Brian. Thank you very much. Brian Todd reporting.

Coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM, you might ask the question with an analogy. If the president of the United States sneezes, will members of his own political party catch a cold? Some are saying President Bush's problems are contagious for other Republicans.

Coming up, I'll ask the chairman of the Republican National Committee, Ken Mehlman, about that. He's standing by here in THE SITUATION ROOM. And speaking of political problems, the California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, was served some of his own this week. He's just spoken with reporters in Sacramento after the ballot initiatives that he championed were roundly rejected by voters. We'll tell you what he had to say.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Two days after suffering a stunning setback in a special election which he had called for, the California governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, met with legislative leaders and pledged to work more closely with them. He also met with the news media -- you saw part of that here live in THE SITUATION ROOM -- and discussed the failure of his ballot initiatives.


GOV. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER (R), CALIFORNIA: If I would do another "Terminator" movie, I would have terminator travel back in time to tell Arnold not to have the special election.


BLITZER: This week a Republican congressman was -- from Arizona was reportedly asked if he would like -- if he would like President Bush to campaign for him. His blunt response -- and I'm quoting here -- "In a word, no."

With the indictment of Lewis Scooter Libby, debates over the use of prewar intelligence, and Democratic wins in both New Jersey and Virginia, could President Bush's problems be contagious?

Joining us now is Ken Mehlman, the chairman of the Republican National Committee.


BLITZER: Ken, thanks very much for joining us.

MEHLMAN: Thanks.

BLITZER: Well, the question is how are you doing. And I'll play an excerpt of an interview I did with the Democratic Party chairman, Howard dean. And I'll let you respond

Listen to this.



HOWARD DEAN, CHAIRMAN, DNC: It's pretty hard to mess it up more than the Republicans have. You know, they're battling this headwind of corruption and incompetence in Iraq, and all these budget problems and jobs, high oil prices. So they've got -- they've got their work cut out for us.


BLITZER: All right. I had asked them if the Democrats are likely to screw things up for themselves between now and next year. But you do have a lot of problems going on. And clearly, there have been some major setbacks for the Republican Party.

MEHLMAN: Well, we face a number of very important challenges today, Wolf. A war on terror is a big challenge, and it's something that's hard to deal with.

A global economy means that even though the economic numbers are good, too many folks don't feel it the way they should. And what this president is committed to and what this party is committed to is reforming and transforming government to deal with those challenges. And it's not easy to take on entrenched interests. It's not easy to change how government works, but we're committed to continuing to do it.

BLITZER: Look at this headline that was in today's -- right over there -- in today's "Washington Times." "Bush 'sank' GOP in Virginia" written (ph) by (ph) David Albo, who says, "We know that George Bush is just killing us. His popularity just brought the ticket down. There's no other way to explain it."

This from a Republican

MEHLMAN: That left wing "Washington Times." I'm kidding.

BLITZER: A left wing "Washington Times" with a headline like that.

MEHLMAN: Look, the fact is, one thing we know about the Virginia election, and that is in Virginia elections, the curse of 1973 continues. 1973 was the last time that the White House party won the governor's race. Every election after that -- in the 2001 election, the president hat 90 percent approval and we lost.

President Reagan had 60 percent approval. They lost.

In fact, if you look at the results in Virginia, the fact is the Republican Party is in a better position.

BLITZER: Well, look at the results right there. You can take a look, Kaine, 52 percent, Kilgore, 46 percent.

MEHLMAN: That was unfortunate that you have two out of the three elected officials are Republicans. We had six Republicans retire in the state legislature. We've only lost a net one seat.

But as I said, Wolf, I remember in 1977 we won the governor's race. We all thought that that meant great things for 1998, and we lost seats in 1998.

Virginia elections tell us a lot more about Virginia than they do the rest of the country.

BLITZER: J.D. Hayworth, a good, solid conservative Republican. He's the one I quoted before, telling Don Imus, "In a word, no."

"At this time, would you welcome President Bush to Arizona to campaign for you?"

He would be nervous about George W. Bush campaigning for him. How widespread is this, this fear among congressmen who are up for reelection next year that the president could be a burden for them?

MEHLMAN: I don't think it's that widespread. The president and the vice president are doing a number of events. They've done a number of events. They're going to campaign for people and raise resources wherever they can be helpful.

One thing about this president and vice president, they're very committed to making sure we maintain and protect the Republican majority. And they're very generous with their time.

It's unprecedented the amount of activities they've done to help these majorities. And they're going to go wherever they can be helpful. And where they're not, that's fine.

BLITZER: And if J.D. Hayworth is right, they may have a lot of extra time that they'll be able to use on other issues as opposed to campaigning.

MEHLMAN: Or RNC events.

BLITZER: That's right. Maybe they'll be able to do that. All right. We'll stay and watch.

MEHLMAN: Thanks a lot.

BLITZER: Ken Mehlman, thanks for coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM.

MEHLMAN: Appreciate it. Thanks.

BLITZER: And this note for our viewers. The Democratic Party chairman, Howard Dean, will be my guest later in THE SITUATION ROOM, coming up 7:00 p.m. Eastern tonight. Also, listen to this. Karl Rove is planning to speak out publicly for the first time since the CIA leak indictments during the 7:00 p.m. hour here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll be caring his remarks live.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: In our CNN "Security Watch," a grand jury is charging two Southern California men born in China with conspiring to smuggle surface-to-air missiles into the United States, weapons that are designed to bring down airplanes.

Federal officials say there are no allegations of terrorism involved and that the weapons were to be sent on to another country. Still, there is serious concern about terrorists using surface-to-air missiles on planes and serious efforts to stop them with technology.

CNN Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve reports


JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In a propaganda tape, members of al Qaeda pose and train with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, missiles that hone in on an aircraft's heat source and do this.

The fear is that, some day, a commercial airliner could be brought down with one of these inexpensive weapons. Wednesday, Northrop Grumman showcased a new counter-missile technology, a system used by the military and modified to be mounted in a pod on the underside of a commercial aircraft.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When a missile is fired, the system's sensors automatically detect it and track it, directing an eye-safe laser beam into the missile's seeker.


MESERVE: The Department of Homeland Security is spending $230 million to develop this technology a competing one from BAE Systems. Most of its components are inside the aircraft.

BURT KEIRSTAD, BEA SYSTEMS: We have done everything we can to minimize the added drag to the aircraft. That's, of course, very important because we don't want to introduce any more fuel costs.

MESERVE (on camera): Planes are most vulnerable on takeoff, when their hot engines make an easy target, they're full of fuel and they're visible from accessible places, like this.

(voice-over): Raytheon, without DHS support, is working on a ground-based counter-missile technology. Warnings cameras around an airport would detect a missile. Lasers would destroy it.

MICHAEL BOOEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF DIRECTED ENERGY WEAPONS, RAYTHEON: We don't touch the aircraft. We don't have to put any equipment on the aircraft. Rather, it forms a dome of protection for takeoffs and landings.

MESERVE: DHS officials say the Raytheon system cannot be developed fast enough. By mid-2007, DHS aims to have at least one technology approved for deployment for $1 million or less per aircraft, a big price tag, but significantly lower than the $15 billion in economic losses predicted if a missile actually takes down an airliner.

Jeanne Meserve, CNN, Washington.


BLITZER: And stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.

Still to come, after the hotel bombings in Jordan, many are mourning -- among them, some who should have been celebrating.

It's the flu season and flu shot season as well. But there are already shortages across the United States. Will there be enough vaccine to go around this year?



BLITZER: Lou Dobbs is 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, that's right. Thank you.

At 6:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, a rare protest against al Qaeda after the deadly suicide bomb attacks against Western hotels in Jordan. We will be going live to Amman.

Also, where is Vice President Dick Cheney? The vice president has all but disappeared from public view. We will have a special report. And a troubling new threat to U.S. sovereignty and diminishing identity -- what it means to be an American citizen. We will have that special report as well. All of that, and a great deal more, coming up at the top of the hour. Please join us. Now back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much, Lou. Sounds good.

New developments on our top story, the suicide bombings in Amman, Jordan. We have just learned that there are now two Americans dead from the attack, four other Americans injured, two of them seriously. One Jordanian couple that should still be celebrating instead spent today burying relatives. Their wedding banquet was literally blown apart by one of those suicide bombers.

CNN's Zain Verjee is joining us now from the CNN Center with more on this truly horrible story. Zain?

VERJEE: Wolf, in the ballroom of the Radisson hotel, there's a crystal chandelier. It still hangs in one piece over the dance floor. There's a wedding guest book and a pen. They still sit there, along with bloodied slippers and destroyed, mangled furniture. They now are the only reminders of the wedding that wasn't of Ashraf al-Akhras and Nadia al-Alami.

Now, the bride and groom were just making their entrance into the room when the suicide bombers struck.


ASHRAF AL-AKHRAS, BOMBING VICTIM (through translator): I was getting married. It was my wedding.

VERJEE (voice-over): Thirty-two-year-old Ashraf al-Akhras saw the happiest day of his life turned into the worst. He and his bride, Nadia, had been planning this day since March. They were nearing the finale of their wedding, the traditional Arab ceremony called (SPEAKING ARABIC). But they never even got a chance to greet the 300 friends and relatives who had come to the Radisson hotel for the celebration. Surrounded by cheering, singing well-wishers, the bride and groom were just inside the door when the bomb went off.

A. AL-AKHRAS (through translator): The moment the explosion happened, it was immediately after our entrance to the wedding hall. As people were getting into the hall, the explosion happened.

VERJEE: There was chaos and confusion, as part of the ceiling collapsed. That gave way to horror, as the deadly result became evident. The fathers and both the bride and the groom were killed, along with 27 other relatives, including many cousins, again to Akhras. He says 14 close friends also died.

This, he says, is not Islam. Suicide bombings are new to Jordan. And the timing and the ferocity of the attack caught everyone off guard.

OSAMA RASHAD AL-SALEH, BOMBING VICTIM (through translator): The minute the groom was entering the hall, I heard a very loud explosion. It was the first time I had heard this kind of explosion and the first time Jordan had such a terrorist attack.

VERJEE: The attack sent waves of grief all the way to the West Bank, where relatives of the groom are in traditional mourning, the men in one room, the women in another. Many of the wedding party have roots here, having fled to Jordan during the 1967 war. Decades later, tragedy has once again came to call. ZAID AL-AKHRAS, UNCLE OF GROOM (through translator): This is a crime, a cowardly act, hurting innocent people who have nothing to do with anything.


VERJEE: The groom spent the day after his wedding burying loved ones killed in the attack. Several more relatives and friends are still in the hospital. Still, the groom says it could have been worse, as there were many guests still making their way into the ballroom where the bomb went off.

And, Wolf, just on this poignant note, there was a group today of silent protesters, Jordanians, gathered outside of the Radisson Hotel. They were carrying a banner that said: "They have shattered one wedding. Jordan is full of weddings". Wolf.

BLITZER: What a heartbreaking story. Thank you very much, Zain, for bringing it to us.

Let's get some more now on the bombings in Jordan. For that, we will bring in our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton. Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, one young Jordanian blogger whose blog we have been following in the last 24 hours is Zabri Hakimm (ph). Last night, he was documenting the devastation at the Radisson hotel. Today, he's back again, showing us the security situation.

He's been emailing us with his pictures and his stories. He has traveled to each of those hotel sites again today. But what he emphasizes to us today is these demonstrations in the streets -- his fellow residents of Amman taking to the streets in protest at these suicide attacks.

Last night, those residents were looking on -- looking at the devastation. Today, they have taken to the streets and are marching. Wolf.

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

Up next here in THE SITUATION ROOM, why is religious broadcaster Pat Robertson warning a Pennsylvania town that it now faces the wrath of God? I will tell you what's going on.

Also ahead, this flu season was supposed to be different. But, once again, there are now flu shot shortages. Will all Americans who want or need the vaccine be able to get it in time?

And a language law under consideration right now in Florida -- should Spanish classes be mandatory for elementary students? Jack Cafferty is standing by to tell us what you think.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: From guarding against an airplane attack to chasing off pirate attacks, if bandits try to board a cruise ship, as we saw this weekend, how should the ship fight back?

CNN's Chris Lawrence is joining us now live to tell us about a very interesting weapon. Chris, what have you picked up?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, think about standing right next to a smoke detector going off, but much, much louder.

This weapon shoots a high-pitched tone so tightly, the operator and anyone else nearby won't hear it. And only the target is actually affected.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Terrorists are known to constantly change their tactics. So, this San Diego inventor is always thinking one step ahead. WOODY NORRIS, FOUNDER AND CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN TECHNOLOGY CORPORATION: Who wants to catch the USS Cole after the hole is blown in the side? I want to get it in advance, so the hole doesn't happen.

LAWRENCE: Terrorists bombed the destroyer five years ago. Pirates attacked a luxury cruise liner this past week -- no casualties on the Seabourn Spirit, 17 sailors killed on board the Cole.

NORRIS: And I believe the event would not have happened if there had been a device like an LRAD back in the year 2000.

LAWRENCE: LRAD stands for long-range acoustic device. Think of a laser, with sound substituting for light. Woody Norris and his American Technology team created it. And when pirates attacked the Seabourn Spirit with machine guns and grenades, the crew used LRAD to defend their ship.

(on camera): Here is how it works. The LRAD shoots an intensely focused beam of sound. Outside the cone, you can here it, but just in a distance.

But, as I move into the beam, man -- even at its lowest setting, that was loud. But just a few feet on the other side, and you can barely even hear it. It's that precise.

(voice-over): And that was on its lowest setting. It gets 10,000 times louder. Cruise ships have it. So does the military.

(on camera): But say the troops needed to actually communicate with insurgents holed up in a mosque, or police wanted to disperse a crowd. This little box hooks directly into the LRAD and shoots that same concentrated burst of sound in 26 languages. So, if I wanted to say, "Lay your weapon on the ground" in Arabic: UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING ARABIC)

LAWRENCE (voice-over): Norris is already imagining the next attack and how to stop it.

NORRIS: That is what inventing is, really.

LAWRENCE: For a man dedicated to exploring sound, the one he doesn't want to hear is this one.



LAWRENCE: I mean, you go ahead, and when you think about an attack on a ship at sea, you know, Tasers won't reach. Tear gas, more than likely, blows away. But this is a viable, nonlethal alternative. Wolf.

BLITZER: Chris Lawrence reporting. Good work. Thank you very much.

Let's talk a little bit more about these pirate attacks. For that, I'm joined by Tom Foreman. What do you got, Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A lot more than you think in terms of pirate attacks. Interestingly enough, most attacks come between 1:00 and 6:00 in the morning, most over the stern of the ship. Let's move in and look at where this attack occurred, off the coast of Somalia. This is where this one occurred. They have had a huge number of attacks in this area this year. Look at this. As we move out and take a wider look at the area that we are talking about, this is the zone. And that's how many pirate attacks they have had around Somalia alone this year -- a big jump there. If you move off toward Indonesia, which is actually the worst area of the world for pirate attacks, look at all the attacks over here. All of those represent individual incidents. Some -- the International Maritime Bureau and the Pirate Reporting Center -- or Piracy Reporting Center -- are both saying they have had double the amount over the past eight years. And it's not just way over there.

If you move back to the Western Hemisphere, where we are, you come over here. You see some more on Africa. And here, look in the Caribbean, up there near Jamaica, down here near Ecuador, and on the coast of South America, pirate attacks truly are going on all around the world now. Fortunately, many times, people get away from them. Sometimes, they're small-scale. But, very often, what happens is, they come along a boat at nighttime. People are asleep. The boat is not moving. They slip up and they try to board. And, sometimes, they try these big boardings, like we're talking about in Chris' report there. If it's on the open sea in international waters and they try to get aboard, those often become the most dangerous, because they try to take the whole ship hostage.

BLITZER: Who knew?

FOREMAN: Who knew?

BLITZER: Who knew?

FOREMAN: A lot of pirates out there.

BLITZER: Unbelievable. All right. Thanks very much, Tom.

China, meanwhile, reports two new bird flu outbreaks among poultry today. And the World Health Organization says it is sending experts to southern China to investigate the recent death of a young girl. Vietnam and Thailand also reported new outbreaks among flocks. And Kuwait today confirmed the first known cases in the Persian Gulf in an imported peacock and a wild flamingo.

Another flu season is under way here in the United States. And, once again, there are flu shot shortages. Seventy-one million doses have been distributed. But at various places around the country, doctors, health departments and private firms are having some problems getting vaccine. And some are canceling their flu shot clinics.

But federal health officials say 10 million new doses should be delivered this month. And, with the flu season off to a slow start, they say there should be enough time for most people to get flu vaccine protection. Let's hope.

Saving for retirement poses special hurdles for small-business owners.

CNN's J.J. Ramberg is live now for us from New York with more on the problem and a new solution. J.J., what have you got?

J.J. RAMBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Wolf. You know, this isn't just a problem for the owners of small businesses, but also for employees, who, then, don't have the option of signing up for company- sponsored retirement plans.


RAMBERG (voice-over): For many small-business owners fighting for survival every day, saving for retirement often seems like a luxury they can't afford. KRISTIE L. DARIEN, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR THE SELF-EMPLOYED: It's a -- definitely a big issue. Businesses, micro-business in particular, tend to finance their entire business on credit cards -- credit cards and personal savings and loans from friends and family.

RAMBERG: Because they're paying for more immediate crises, ranging from broken equipment to supplier bills, nearly a third of small-business owners have no retirement savings. And even those who do aren't saving a lot. Twenty-five percent have less than $15,000 socked away.

DARIEN: If they had other options, other options that they can go to, where they can get loans for their business, other financing, they might tend to save more money, rather than put it all in to their business.

RAMBERG: The federal government has introduced incentives for small-businesses to create retirement plans, including tax breaks that let owners put more money into their accounts than their employees can, which is generally not allowed in these programs.

And administrative costs can be kept to a minimum. But, when funds are low and the choice looks like it's between saving for your company and saving for your future, many owners still choose the former.


RAMBERG: The other issue, Wolf, is that lots of small-business owners say that there are incentives out there, but the plan options out there are still not the ones that fit their needs. Wolf.

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

When we come back, he's passionate and outspoken. Now the religious broadcaster Pat Robertson has some choice words for one Pennsylvania town. That is coming up.

Also, should speaking Spanish be mandatory in elementary school? Jack is back with your thoughts, also coming up next.


BLITZER: Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson is raising eyebrows again with a warning to the citizens of Dover, Pennsylvania. Tuesday, they voted out school board members who backed the teaching of intelligent design. That's theory that evolution can't account for the planet's complexity and it must have been created by a higher power.

On his "700 Club" show earlier today, Robertson remarked -- and I'm quoting now -- "I would like to say to the good citizens of Dover, if there is a disaster in your area, don't turn to God. You just rejected him from your city."

Robertson later issued a clarification, saying -- and let me quote -- "I was simply stating that our spiritual actions have consequences. And it's high time we started recognizing that."

Let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York. He's been going through your email.


BLITZER: You're laughing, Jack.

CAFFERTY: You know, they're going to just throw a net over him one day and take him away. What was the last Looney Tune he came up with? Somebody ought to go -- was it down to Venezuela and assassinate Chavez?


CAFFERTY: Yes. I mean...

BLITZER: That was his last comment.

CAFFERTY: Yes. He's -- he's got to get on the Geritol or something.

Some Florida students could soon be required to take Spanish classes. A Florida TV station reports on a bill that would require mandatory Spanish lessons for kids, kindergarten through second grade. So, the question is, do you think it should be mandatory to teach these kids Spanish?

And a lot of you chastised me soundly for not being aware that kindergarten is actually a good age to teach a kid foreign languages and that -- and not only is it possible, but that it's easy. It's just one of a long list of things that I'm -- wasn't aware of.

Anyway, Victor in Las Vegas writes: "Do you think it is a good idea to speak a second language? Yes, I do. Should it be required in elementary school? No. More concentration should be put into math and science."

Connie in Parker, Florida: "Absolutely. Elementary schoolchildren in the U.S. should begin to learn a foreign language, be it Spanish, Arabic or French. We are so behind in our thinking that English should be the only language."

Rocky in San Antonio, Texas: "Have you ever heard some of these kids talk? The schools can't even get them to speak, read, and write acceptable English. You better leave forcing a second language alone."

Les writes: "How old were you when you learned English, 12? My granddaughter is learning Spanish in a private kindergarten and is proud of her accomplishments in the language."

And Sharon in Atlanta writes this: "Should Spanish classes be mandatory for elementary school students? No. I prefer my kids sass me in English."


BLITZER: But it is easier, a lot easier, to learn a language when you're young.

CAFFERTY: Apparently.

BLITZER: When you get to our age, Jack, it's way too late.

CAFFERTY: Well, that's probably -- yes. That is absolutely true, although I -- you know, I -- I read hundreds and hundreds, sometimes thousands, of e-mails a week here. And there are a whole lot of folks that are smart enough to operate a computer and send e- mails that don't have the -- the rudimentary skills that go along with the King's English.


CAFFERTY: So, I don't -- we are not doing a real great job on the native tongue, either.

BLITZER: Jack, I will see you in an hour.

CAFFERTY: All right.

BLITZER: We will be back here in THE SITUATION ROOM, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, one hour from now. We are on weekdays 4:00 to 6:00 as well. Among my guests later tonight, the Democratic Party chairman, Howard Dean. Also, tonight, we will hear from Karl Rove, his first public speech since the indictment of the former vice president chief of staff. All that coming up an hour from now.

In the meantime, LOU DOBBS TONIGHT starts right now. Lou is in New York.

DOBBS: Wolf, thank you.