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The Situation Room

Iraqi Elections Draw Near; President Bush Delivers a Major Address on Progress in Iraq; The Pentagon has discovered problems in a classified database on domestic intelligence threats; Iranian President Stirs Condemnation Over His Remarks About the Holocaust;

Aired December 14, 2005 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, the Iraqi election countdown. It's 3:00 a.m. Thursday in Baghdad where the polls soon will open. Whatever happens next, is President Bush responsible? Another round in the war of words.
Also this hour, fuming about drinking. Is a cigarette maker promoting booze in a dangerous way? Top law enforcement officials are making a case.

And are rock stars selling out. It's 7:00 p.m. on New York's Madison Avenue where the times they are changing. And ads are playing to some famous old tunes.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Right now President Bush and the people of Iraq are at a political crossroads. In just four hours Iraqis head to the polls for historic parliamentary elections. And here in Washington President Bush is accepting responsibility for the Iraq war in very direct and personal terms.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: As president I'm responsible for the decision to go into Iraq. And I'm also responsible for fixing what went wrong by reforming our intelligence capabilities. And we're doing just that.


BLITZER: It isn't the first time President Bush has declared the buck stops with him for better and worse in Iraq. But it comes at a crucial time on the eve of Iraqi elections. A powerful new test of his divisive decision to go to war.

Mr. Bush says he's still convinced he made the right call when he ordered the invasion of Iraq despite what proved to be flawed intelligence. And he says staying the course now also is the right decision.


BUSH: Some in Washington are calling for a rapid and complete withdrawal of our forces in Iraq. They say that our presence there is the cause for instability in Iraq. And that the answer is to set a deadline to withdraw. I disagree.


BLITZER: Mr. Bush says cutting and running, as he calls it, would invite new terrorist attacks on America.

But a key house Democrat pushing for a quick troop pull-out says the president can't be believed.


REP. JOHN MURTHA (D) PENNSYLVANIA: I don't know what they have said that has been true yet. So I don't know why I would believe that there's going to be more terrorists if we redeploy.


BLITZER: Over in the U.S. Senate all but four Democrats sent a letter to the president today saying he still needs to spell out his exit strategy even after this last of four speeches designed to better explain his policy to the American people.

Parts of Iraq are virtually in lockdown in these final hours before parliamentary elections.

Our chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour is in Baghdad--Christiane.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the polls open in a few hours from now. And election security is very heavy, indeed. The roads are basically shut down to ward off against suicide car bombers and the borders have been closed for the last several days.

Both Iraqi and U.S. forces out, and the Iraqis will take the lead in the security around the polling stations. This incredibly important election not just because it will be the first full government that will be elected, but also because it may, the Americans hope, pave the way for reduction of their forces here in the future.

I asked the American ambassador, Zalmay Khalilzad, about that.


ZALMAY KHALILZAD, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ: Well, of course, if we are asked to leave, if the government is selected by the people and assembly that's elected by the people ask us to for a timetable or ask us to leave, we will do so. We don't stay where we're not wanted.

And we are in negotiations and discussions with the present government on conditions for transfer of responsibility to the Iraqis. But it will take time. I don't think we can leave Iraq altogether militarily in the course of six months as some people have asked for or even a year. It will take time.


AMANPOUR: Indeed, Ambassador Khalilzad said that there's no way American forces will be fully withdrawn in the next six months or a year even as some suggested. But he does say that after the election he does envision some forces being reduced.

The fact of the matter is that anybody you talk to here, commanders on the ground believe that it will take a long time to fully train and equip and get the Iraqi security forces up and running and able to stand on their own--Wolf.

BLITZER: Christiane Amanpour in Baghdad. Christiane will be covering these elections for us. Thank you very much.

In his remarks today President Bush remembered a U.S. Marine killed in Iraq who didn't vote for the president but who backed the mission in Iraq. Later this hour I'll speak with the parents of Lieutenant Ryan McLaughlin (ph). That's coming up.

Iran's president is stepping up his anti-Israeli rhetoric and his latest comments are getting attention around the world.

Our Zain Verjee is live at the CNN Center in Atlanta. She's joining us with the story--Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has a history of bashing Israel. In October he called for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map. In the past he has also questioned whether the Holocaust actually happened.

But today for the first time he publicly denied it ever happened.


PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN: If you are telling the truth that during World War II you killed 6 million Jews, if you are telling the truth that you burned 6 million Jews in the gas chambers, then apparently you are telling the truth and you insist on this claim.

VERJEE (voice over): Those remarks are bringing international condemnation on Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Speaking in southwest Iran, he called the Holocaust a myth and said if it was true, then the Jews should be given land to establish their own country in Europe, Canada, or Alaska.

And he added, quote, "why should the innocent nation of Palestine pay for this crime?" Reaction was almost instant and indignant.

JOSE MANUEL BARROSO, EUROPEAN COMMISSION PRESIDENT: Those statements are completely unacceptable, and it's really shocking that the head of state that has a seat in the United Nations can say such a thing.

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: He's showing his government for what it really is. And that is it's a rogue element. VERJEE: And Germany's foreign minister said Ahmadinejad's remarks will impact European-led talks on the future of Iran's nuclear program.

FRANK WALTER STEINMEIER, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER: I cannot hide the fact that this weighs on bilateral relations and on the chances for a negotiation process, the so called nuclear docier.


VERJEE: The White House has condemned these comments saying that they underscore why it's so important to keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons. Iran experts we spoke to today say Mr. Ahmadinejad's comments show how unworldly and inexperienced he is as a politician.

And it's also important to remember, Wolf, that the Iranian president's view on the Holocaust doesn't necessarily reflect or represent the views of the Iranian people.

BLITZER: Zain Verjee reporting for us.

Zain, thank you very much. Zain with the latest on that.

Let's move on now to an exclusive list you don't want to be on. It's compiled by the Pentagon and focuses in on threats to the United States, but some people are showing up on the list that shouldn't.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. She has details--Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, of course, since the Vietnam War the military has been banned from collecting intelligence on its war critics here at home.

Today, now, tough new questions about whether something has gone wrong at the Pentagon.


STARR (voice over): The Pentagon has discovered problems in a classified database on domestic intelligence threats. Officials confirm the entire database is under review that they have learned it inadvertently but improperly included information on people or groups in the U.S. that are not a threat to the U.S. Military.

For more than two years, the military has maintained a little noticed database that at times can include information about anti-war groups or others opposed to U.S. Military policy.

Is it illegal domestic spying?

The Pentagon says absolutely not. In a statement a spokesman says, the Department of Defense uses counter intelligence and law enforcement information properly collected by law enforcement agencies. The use of this information is subject to strict limitations. The information must show a threat to either national security, protection of U.S. Military personnel, or protection of military bases. Apparently, some of the reports in the database prove to show no threat. They should have been deleted but they were not, military officials say.

Reports of suspicious activity can come, for example, from people who believe anti-war protests are threatening or from local law enforcement. But it is only valid for the Pentagon to keep the information if it can be proven to be a threat to the military.


STARR: And, Wolf, the Pentagon is now informing the House and Senate Intelligence Committees about the problem and the steps it is taking to review this database and make sure the military is not improperly collecting information about U.S. citizens--Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara thank you very much. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon.

Once again let's go back to the CNN Center in Atlanta.

Zain Verjee standing by with a closer lock at some other stories making news--Zain.

VERJEE: Wolf, an Amtrak train traveling from northern California to Chicago hit a semitrailer truck at a crossing in a remote area of eastern Utah. The driver was killed and several of the trains 119 passengers injured. The accident derailed the front wheels on the train's engine. Crews are working to try to get it back on track.

Witnesses say it looked like a tsunami. A breach at a hydro- electric plant reservoir sent a wall of water crashing through a state park in south eastern Missouri before dawn. Officials say more than a billion gallons flooded the area utterly destroying the home of the park superintendent and his family. Two children are hospitalized and in critical condition.

The Dupont company is agreeing to pay more than $16 million about the toxic chemical used to make teflon. They Environmental Protection Agency alleges Dupont hid information about potential health and environment risks from the chemical known as PFOA. The settlement is the largest of its kind in EPA history, but it still must be approved by a special agency board.

Some terse exchanges at a house hearing today on the government response to Hurricane Katrina. Democratic Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco defended state efforts to evacuate New Orleans ahead of the storm saying officials did the best with what they had. But some Republicans on the panel criticized Blanco and other state officials saying more people might have survived if mandatory evacuations had been ordered sooner -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Zain, thank you very much. Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's in New York with the "Cafferty File." Hi, Jack,

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf. It's called the Hurricane Katrina Tour: America's Worst Catastrophe. A New Orleans company offering a tour that will highlight the devastated areas of the Big Easy like a breached levee and the Superdome. Gray Lines New Orleans says the tour came from frustration over the government's total response to the disaster. It's a three-hour tour, it costs 35 bucks. And $3 from each ticket goes to Katrina relief groups. The president of the groups says the tours will be, quote, "operated with the utmost sensitivity," unquote, to residents. But critics say it only sensationalizes people's suffering.

So here is the question, is the hurricane disaster tour appropriate? is the e-mail address.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack. We'll get back to you very soon. Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File."

Coming up, Internet gambling. It's putting many young people into debt. Now some say it drove an honor student to bank robbery.

Also, American hero, he fought for his country and gave his life. We'll talk to the parents of a marine honored today by the president of the United States.

And rock stars sell: from Bob Dylan to Paul McCartney. Are they trading in idealism for lucrative ad deals? The baby boomers grow up. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Welcome back. On the ongoing debate over how best to fight terror. Today the House of Representatives voted to renew 16 provisions of the patriot law. The provisions passed by a vote of 251-174. Democrats in the Senate, though, are threatening a filibuster. Up in the air whether that filibuster will succeed. The provisions had been set to expire by end of the year.

One secret anti-terror tool, a part of the act is considered essential by the FBI, but some critics say it tramples on all of our civil liberties. Let's bring in our justice correspondent Kelli Arena. She's following this part of the story -- Kelli.

KELLI ARNEA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they are called national security letters, and they're used in terror investigations. As you said there is a lot of debate over whether they give the FBI too much power.


ARENA (voice-over): If you log on to a computer at this Connecticut library a warning pops up telling you your privacy cannot be guaranteed. That computer records may have to be turned over to the government.

ALICE KNAPP, CONNECTICUT LIBRARY ASSOCIATION: I have grave concerns both on a practical level what this does in terms of making people fearful about using the library, but also the danger sign that is for our whole democracy.

ARENA: Librarian Alice Knapp is very concerned about national security letters or NSLs. The FBI used them during terrorism investigations to get records and information quickly without going to a judge. Instead, they are approved by FBI supervisors.

RACHEL BRAND, ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL: At stake is our ability to quickly track down information that can enable us to prevent terrorist attacks before they occur.

ARENA: Everything about them is secret. How many have been issued. And who has received them. The case we know the most about involves a Connecticut company, Library Connection. It provides Internet services for some state libraries. When it received an NSL, it refused to comply and went to court. But the company isn't talking.

CAROLINE FREDRICKSON, ACLU WASHINGTON DIRECTOR: The secrecy is a big problem. What happens when, say, a business gets national security letter, is that the business also receives a gag order.

ARENA: Critics also argue NSLs give the FBI too much power. Agents an get financial information from a bank, for example, toll records from a phone company or Internet information about who you e- mailed or which Web sites you visited. But assistant attorney general Rachel Brand says a lot of information is off limits.

BRAND: They cannot get the contents of an e-mail. They cannot listen in on anyone's telephone conversations. They cannot get, for example, library circulation records, the books that someone checks out.


ARENA: The bill to renew the Patriot Act calls for an audit of the FBI's use of NSLs and for some public recording, but it does not require any judicial review before NSLs are issued. Several members of Congress including Democrat Jane Harmon of California vow to introduce legislation to do just that, Wolf.

BLITZER: This provision did not necessarily originate in the Patriot Act.

ARENA: That's right, Wolf. National Security Letters have been around since the '80s, but the Patriot Act did expand the power somewhat by realigning the definition of when they can be used.

BLITZER: Kelli Arena, our Justice Correspondent. Thanks very much.

Still to come here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He was a graduate student on a full scholarship, but 9/11 changed everything. We'll talk to the parents of a United States marine singled out today by President Bush. You want to hear this. Plus, using liquor to sell cigarettes. R.J. Reynolds comes under fire for using mixing vices. The story behind a controversial ad campaign. All that coming up.


BLITZER: Zain Verjee, she's standing by at the CNN Center right now with a closer look at some other stories making news around the world.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, business in Lebanon was brought to a virtual halt today as a general strike was called in mourning for a slain anti-Syrian campaigner. Tens of thousands of people joined in the funeral march, waving flags and chanting anti-Syrian slogans.

Jebran Tueni, a prominent lawmaker and newspaper editor, was killed in a car bombing on Monday. He's the fourth anti-Syrian figure to be killed in Lebanon this year. Top lebanese politicians have blamed Syria for Tueni's killing and Syria denies it.

Reuters is reporting that this woman was buried in the rubble of her husband for more than two months. For 63 days, after the massive earthquake that hit Pakistan in October. According to the report, Nuksha Bibi (ph) was trapped in a kitchen and pulled from the rubble late last week. She still can't talk or even move her limbs.

She was in a space so small and curled up in a fetal position for that period of time. In rare cases humans are said to be able to survive up to 60 days without food or water.

A war of words between Canada and Washington is growing increasingly testy. Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin said today that he would not let Washington dictate what he can and can't talk about in the run-up to the elections in January.

This after the U.S. ambassador to Canada cautioned that anti-U.S. rhetoric could damage relations between Ottawa and Washington. Martin has been critical of U.S. policies on trade and climate change.

BLITZER: Zain, thank you very much. Just ahead, the president pays tribute to a marine killed in Iraq. What do the young man's parents think about their sons life and death and the fact the president talked about it today. I'll ask them.

Plus, internet gambling. Where can it lead? A star student placed his bets and now he's accused of a serious crime. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: More now on our top story. The president making the case for his Iraq war policy. Earlier today we showed you some of that speech earlier here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Among other things in the speech, he shared the story of one United States marine from Southwestern Virginia.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: : One of these men was a marine lieutenant named Ryan McGlothlin from Lebanon, Virginia. Ryan was a bright young man who had everything going for him. And he always wanted to serve our nation.

He was a valedictorian of his high school class. He graduated from William and Mary with near perfect grade averages. And he was on a full scholarship at Stanford where he was working toward a doctorate in chemistry.

Two years after the attack on September 11, the young man had the world at his feet came home from Stanford for a visit. He told his dad, I just don't feel like I'm doing something that matters. I want to serve my country. I want to protect our land from terrorists so I joined the marines.

When his father asked him if there's some other way to serve, Ryan replied that he felt a special obligation to step up because he had been given so much.

Ryan didn't support me in the last election. But he supported our mission in Iraq. And he supported his fellow marines.

Ryan was killed last month fighting terrorists in Iraq's Syrian border. In his pocket was a poem that Ryan read at his high school graduation. It represented the spirit of this fine marine. The poem was called "Don't Quit."


BLITZER: Donald McGlothlin is Ryan's father, Ruth McGlothlin is Ryan's mother. They are joining us now from Bristol, Virginia. Our deepest condolences to both of you on the tragic loss of your son. Don, let me start with you.

Did you know the president was going to single him out today?

DONALD MCGLOTHLIN, RYAN'S FATHER: Yes, sir. We found out on Monday that his speech writers were considering using Ryan's story, and they first contacted Ruth, Ryan's mother, and then she and I discussed it. But we were fully apprised of not only the fact the president wished to use the story of what they expected the president to say in his speech.

BLITZER: Was that okay with you, Don?

D. MCGLOTHLIN: Well, we first had misgivings. We did not want our son's story to be used lightly or in a way that would be unseemly. But we discussed, in light of some recent correspondence that Ruth had received from our son, we actually received it after his death, we felt that it was important and that Ryan would want the American public to know what he told us in the letter.

It was pretty much what the president was saying here today, that we can't quit. And that we're doing -- that the marines over there and the Iraqi security forces are doing an excellent job. And that they are being well received by the Iraqi population.

As a matter of fact, our son said that they were very thankful when The Marines came to these cities. They were clearing out of the terrorists. They were not just terrorizing our troops, but also the Iraqi population.

BLITZER: Ruth, tell us a little bit about your son, Ryan.

RUTH MCGLOTHLIN, RYAN'S MOTHER: Ryan was wonderful young man. I think when I think of Ryan I see his smile. He had a smile that would light up the room. He had an incredible work ethic. He applied that to everything he ever did, which is why he did so well in high school. He did well in college.

He was Phi Beta Kappa at William and Mary. He then went on get his Phd at Stanford, but since his senior year at William and Mary he had been working to try to overcome a medical disqualification he had received in an ROTC program because he wanted to serve in the armed forces, And, in particular, he wanted to be a Marine.

So beginning with his senior year at William and Mary he spent the next three years getting that waiver taken care of so that he could be in the Marine Corps. And that's where he found what he loved.

BLITZER: Don, did you try to talk him out of this decision to leave Stanford and join the Marine Corps?

DONALD MCGLOTHLIN, RYAN'S FATHER: Well, you had to know Ryan, there wasn't -- once he made up his mind it was pretty well made up. And he had years of thought that he had given to being a military service member.

I did express my concerns about the fact he might be doing something that could get him killed or wounded in a way that would change his life. And he was fully aware of that.

So I asked him if there was some other way, some other way that he might be able to serve the country because that was what he wanted to do. And Ryan said, you know, that basically that he had been born into privilege, and that he felt that it was as much his burden being a privileged citizen to carry the burden of protecting our land and his fellow countrymen, as it was for anyone else who might be in the Marine Corps or in the military.

So he felt a special duty to go and help protect this country.

BLITZER: Even though, Ruth, he didn't -- the president said he didn't vote for the president in the last election. He did believe in this operation in Iraq, I take it. Tell us some of the things he said to you.

R. MCGLOTHLIN: Actually, I don't feel Ryan felt that when we first went to war that was the right place or the right time. And that's why we wanted to make sure that the White House understood that. He felt if we were going to go to war we should have been in Afghanistan, and I think he felt war should have been the last resort or last possible resort. And I'm not sure he felt that it was.

What he did feel that once we went there, and we tore down the government they did know, and disrupted their country, we had an obligation to fix what we had destroyed. And he very strongly believed in that.

D. MCGLOTHLIN: Wolf, in the letter that he wrote to his mother and asked her to give a copy to me, once he got there on the ground and was actually engaged in the clearing of these cities up in the Euphrates Valley near the Syrian border he also found another reason to be there. It wasn't just to protect his fellow countrymen.

And that was the fact he said that you had to see, in the letter he says, you just have to see these poor terrorized Iraqi citizens and how grateful they were when the Marines finally came to their cities to get rid of the terrorists.

And he said that the Iraqi citizens deserve to be free of the terrorists. And he talked about the hideous actions that they had taken against the Iraqi population.

So in his letter he said that his convictions were reaffirmed, and he believed more than ever that we needed to be there. And he also said that it would be -- that anyone who had seen what his Marines had seen and he had seen would never think of leaving the job left partly done. That we needed to be there until the Iraqi Army was able to take care of the security for their own population.

Not to do that was to ensure the persistence of terrorism and the fear that population and then later us would have.

BLITZER: Donald McGlothlin and Ruth McGlothlin, our deepest condolences. What a remarkable son you had. What a heroic patriot and good luck to both of you down the road.

D. MCGLOTHLIN: Could I say one last thing?

BLITZER: Of course.

D. MCGLOTHLIN: Could I say one last thing please? We would be remiss in not saying that Ryan would not want the attention that he is getting by the press. He was devoted to the Marines and there were four other Marines that died the day that Ryan died and 11 in his platoon that were wounded. Some of them very seriously. One lost a leg and lost a thumb.

Every man that was over there was there with the conviction that they were doing the right thing for our country. And those Marines and all their families need to be remembered, as well.

BLITZER: Well said, thanks to both of you. Appreciate you spending a few moments talking about your wonderful son here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, stopping a PR stunt. Attorneys general of three states persuade a major tobacco company to end the controversial campaign. It is called drink on us. Some say it's a dangerous promotion.

And what happens when rock stars that have long been anti- establishment join the establishment themselves? We're going to tell you.


BLITZER: Successful advertising campaigns often push the envelope. But some say R.J. Reynolds went too far when it tried to use cocktails to promote its cigarettes.

Our Ali Velshi is in New York with "The Bottom Line"--Ali.

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The story had most of the making of a frat party menu. R.J. Reynolds decided it wanted to try a new approach to advertising, and it got them into some hot water.


VELSHI (voice over): Some people have the impression that drinking and smoking go hand in hand. R.J. Reynolds, the maker of Camel cigarettes, took that impression a little further in a promotional campaign this year.

Reps from the company went to bars across America asking people to sign up for free stuff from the company. The free stuff turned out to be a package mailed to them on their birthday.

It read, Camel, it's your birthday, drinks are on us. Inside six paper coasters each one with a cocktail recipe. Some called for as many as five shots of boos like Jack Daniels, Southern Comfort, Kahlua, and Baileys. Names that R.J. Reynolds did not have permission to use.

But the fun didn't stop there. The recipe coasters came with encouraging tag lines, including if you turn green, you're doing it wrong, mix three shots together over ice then make sure you're sitting, and kiss your worries...

byline: Jacki Schechner, Abbit Tatton, Brian Todd

VELSHI: didn't have permission to use. But the fun didn't stop there. The recipe coasters came with encouraging tag lines including if you turn green you're doing it wrong, mix three shots together over ice then make sure you're sitting, and kiss your worries good-bye.

The New York's attorney general Eliot Spitzer and his counterparts from California and Maryland called the promotion shameful saying "now R.J. Reynolds not satisfied selling his own deadly products is encouraging individuals to celebrate their birthdays by abusing alcohol." The liquor companies say they only found out their drinks were being used in the campaign when the attorneys general asked them about it.

PETER CRESSY, DISTILLED SPIRITS COUNCIL: This promotion was just plain wrong and including our company brands without authorization was outrageous and frankly was a complete violation of our code which totally opposes any promotion of excessive drinking.

VELSHI: On Wednesday, R.J. Reynolds canceled the campaign and issued this statement, "While we disagree with the attorneys general interpretation of the promotion, we nonetheless decided to end the promotion early. It was scheduled to end in April 2006, but we simply decided it was not worth fighting over."


VELSHI: If you wonder why a cigarette company wants to try and advertise booze? A 1998 study showed that drinking influences smoking more than smoking influences drinking -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Ali, thank you very much. Ali Velshi with that.

There's also a new development in a story we've been following over the past few weeks. Some of the online community was outraged when Jaguar and Land Rover pulled advertisements from gay and lesbian publications. Ford Motor Company has decided to reinstate its advertising in gay publications. That decision was influenced, in part, by online activists. Jacki Schechner is joining us now with more -- Jacki.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here is what is what happened. That online community, some of it, was outraged, gay and lesbian community leaders were out raged. They pushed back on Ford. And Ford has met with the gay and lesbian community leaders decided to put corporate ads in those gay and lesbian publications.

I spoke to them tonight. They said this was essentially a make good for the miscommunication that happened when those two brands decided to pull its ads. You can read the actual letter from Ford online -- And as for the liberal blogs that were pushing this forward, they consider this a victory. They are now saying go to Ford and say thank you, Wolf.

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

Up next, rock stars jumping on the corporate bandwagon. Are they selling out? Or just playing it smart?

Plus, that Moan Lisa smile, now science sheds light what may be behind the famous grin.


BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the hot shots coming in from our friends, pictures likely to be in the hometown newspapers tomorrow. Pakistan: desperate children trying to get food from a soldier. The military is delivering aid by a helicopter to people left homeless by the earthquake. Baghdad: Shiite demonstrators take to the streets to protest al Jazeera television. They were angry over critical remarks about their leader.

Gaza City: blood stained hands after an Israeli missile strike. Four Palestinians were killed, five wounded.

London: Sir Paul McCartney with the kids. He's out promoting his new children's book, "High in the Clouds."

That's today's hot shots, pictures often worth a thousand words.

He is a star student, the last person you would expect to be in the kind of trouble he's facing right now. And what makes this story even more bizarre what may have been behind it. Let's bring in our Brian Todd. He's go the details -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is a story with a young man with a bright future he might have thrown away and of a larger problem among kids his age.


TODD (voice-over): A police official in Allentown, Pennsylvania tells CNN he never had a young person with so much promise get in this kind of trouble. 19-year-old Greg Hogan, sophomore class president at Lehigh University, cellist in the school's orchestra, son of a Baptist minister, and now accused bank robber. Another sophomore who knows him spoke of the reaction on campus.

MATT JACOB, LEHIGH SOPHOMORE: It's just a very unfortunate situation for Lehigh in general. It kind of brings the morale down on campus notedly

TODD: Police say Hogan recently walked into this Wachovia Bank in Allentown and handed the teller a note demanding money. Police say they haven't found a weapon, but they say Hogan got away with nearly $3,000 in cash.

Hogan's attorney tells CNN his gambling addiction led him to make hat the lawyer calls a terrible mistake. The attorney says Hogan was heavily in debt from playing Internet poker. A predicament that experts say is on the rise among college age Americans.

Keith Whyte of the National Council on Problem Gambling says 18 to 24-year-olds represent the highest percentage of people in the U.S. with gambling addiction. Whyte says poker has replaced sports betting as the most popular form of gambling among young people. And in that age bracket greater access to the Internet combined with the popularity of poker tournaments on TV and their general emotional makeup is a perfect storm.

KEITH WHYTE, NATL. COUNCIL ON PROBLEM GAMBLING: This is of course a time where there's a lot of risk taking going on, it's not just gambling. But we know that gambling, substance use, unsafe sex, they all go together in that cluster of risk taking activity.


TODD: Greg Hogan now faces three felony charges in connection with that robbery. His attorney tells me Hogan is being counseled by a forensic psychologist. And that he wants to set up programs to help others in his situation. And when I asked if that will be part after possible plea bargain, the attorney would only say Hogan will likely do this before any plea agreement is reached -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, what a story.

Stories of Internet addiction are more common than you might think. Let's go now to our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton. She has more insight in how online gambling became a $12 billion a year business worldwide.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Hogan was playing online poker. And he's not alone. Look at this game that's going on right now at this Web site. 61,000 people are around the world are currently playing at this site.

Now, Internet gambling and the operations of the Internet casinos is illegal in the United States, but not overseas. This particular site is run out of Gibraltar. This one, even though it's called, this one is based and licensed in Canada and Costa Rica.

Now because these sites are operated overseas it makes it very difficult to prosecute them. The Department of Justice has successfully prosecuted a handful of companies, but the prosecution of individuals, like those playing right now, is virtually unheard of, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Very interesting. Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.

Let's find out what is coming up right at the top of the hour. That means Paula Zahn. Paula, what are you working on?


We got a lot of different stories that we are going to be covering tonight, but among them a story that could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars every year. It is a startling look at the cost of prescription drugs that reveals shocking differences among pharmacies in the prices they charge for generic drugs, in some cases a $100 spread for the same drug.

Also tonight, an investigation into chilling allegations of stealing body parts for profit. We are going to meet a family who's just been devastated by having one of their loved ones suffer through the indignity of this, Wolf.

BLITZER: Paula, thank you very much.

PAULA ZAHN NOW, that's coming up at the top of the hour. A big get for XM: Bob Dylan has signed on to host a show on the satellite radio system. You'll also find Dylan's music at Starbucks, on TV ads. He's among several major rock stars who've jumped on the corporate bandwagon. CNN's Mary Snow is joining us now live from New York. She has more on this story.


MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, they gained their fame in an era of peace, love and understanding. Now their music is selling a different kind of message.


SNOW (voice-over): His music in the '60s made him the poster child of the counterculture, but the times they are a-changing for Bob Dylan, who was one of the latest rockers to cash in on corporate ads. His music is featured in an ad for Kaiser Permanente health care plans.

The Rolling Stones pitch for AmeriQuest, which is featured on their website.

And on Fidelity Investment's website, an ad with Paul McCartney.

BRUNO DEL GRANADO, ENTERTAINMENT MEDIA FACTORY: Twenty years ago, this would have been sacrilegious. Nowadays it is easier to name the artists that have not jumped on the band wagon of sponsorship than it is to name the ones that have.

SNOW: Rolling Stone magazine's Nathan Brackett says companies are cashing in on the cool factor.

NATHAN BRACKETT, SENIOR EDITOR, ROLLING STONE: There's probably no one else out there who is quite as cool in our culture, and so they are kind of renting out that cool.

SNOW: Starbucks touts on its website its mix with music, selling CDs by artists like Bob Dylan and Elton John, who says these kinds of deals aren't so much about money.

ELTON JOHN, SINGER: Any way, that artists like myself who are older, like McCartney, like the Stones and like Bob Dylan, who don't get played on the radio so much, we have to look at alternative ways of marketing our product.

SNOW: John Densmore of the Doors doesn't see it that way, and is fighting to keep songs like "Light My Fire" from being used in commercials.

When the Beatles song "Revolution" was used in a Nike ad in 1987, a lawsuit was filed and the ad was pulled. But Music industry observers say times haven't only changed for rockers like Bob Dylan, they've changed for fans, too.

BRACKETT: You can be sure that if Paul McCartney's fans kind of revolted every time he did an ad, he wouldn't be doing Fidelity ads. Obviously the kind of backlash isn't really there.

SNOW (on camera): Some say rock stars are selling out, others say they are just being smart -- Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Mary, thank you very much. Mary Snow with a good story for us.

Still ahead, you'll want to stick around because the mystery behind the Mona Lisa famous smile has been solved -- or has it?

Then Jack Cafferty has your e-mail on whether you think a Katrina disaster tour is appropriate. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's head to the CNN Center in Atlanta. Zain Verjee standing by with Mona Lisa.

ZAIN VERJEE, ATLANTA: Wolf, imagine if you could read between the lines of a woman's smile. Well, scientists have, analyzing one of the art world's most famous faces, Mona Lisa.

(voice-over): That face, those eyes, and that smile. Mona Lisa is a masterpiece and also a mystery. What makes a legendary beam so compelling? Researchers at the University of Amsterdam believe they know. They applied emotion recognition computer software to Leonardo da Vinci's work. It measures a person's mood by examining key features, such as the curve of the lips and the crinkles around the eyes.

Here's what they found, according to the British weekly, "New Scientist." Mona Lisa was 83 percent happy, 9 percent disgusted, 6 percent fearful, and 2 percent angry.

(on camera): So now we know Mona Lisa was a woman of mixed emotions, but we still don't know why she is smiling. Her sense of mystery, Wolf, lives on and I don't know if yourself or Monsieur Jacques has been to the Louvre in Paris to see the Mona Lisa. It's actually quite small.

Jack, have you been there?

BLITZER: Jack has got that Mona Lisa smile. Jack, let me see that Mona Lisa smile from you.

VERJEE: Let's see your pearly whites, Jacky.

BLITZER: Eighty percent happy and only 2 percent grumpy. I'm seeing that smile right now, Jack. It's coming through for our viewers in the United States and around the world.

VERJEE: Eighty percent grumpy.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Blitzer, you and I have never met, and it's probably just as well.

BLITZER: There it is. There's that Mona Lisa smile from Jack.

CAFFERTY: I got a lot to do here. Enough of this chitchat.

Turning the ruination of people's lives into a tourist attraction is one of the more ghoulish things I have heard of lately, but that's what the Gray Lines (ph) tour company is doing in New Orleans. Something called the "Hurricane Katrina Tour -- America's Worst Catastrophe." For 35 bucks you can get up close and personal with tragedy. Don't worry, most of the damage from Katrina is still there -- we're a long way from getting it cleaned up.

The question is this, is a Hurricane Katrina "disaster tour" appropriate?

Celia in Lawrence, Kansas: "Oh, yes. Send a congressional delegation for six restful nights in a trailer next to the accumulated trash and moldy-walled ruins of somebody's home in the Ninth Ward. During the seven glorious days, the participants could enjoy the scent of decomposing garbage as they make cell phone calls requesting insurance payments."

Liz in Stamford, Connecticut: "It is not appropriate to tour the Katrina disaster in New Orleans. If people really want to see a disaster area, they should drive by the White House."

Peter in Beloit, Wisconsin: "Only in America can an individual take a situation of death, destruction and people at their most desperate moments and turn it into a public attraction for profit. The very concept sickens me."

Carl in Chicago: "Yes, it is appropriate. We need to ensure as many people as possible bear personal witness to this situation to make certain our elected at every level are held accountable. The entire U.S. Congress and Senate should be the first customers."

And finally, Gavin the Cayman Islands: "It's Christmas time. I have an idea. Get all of the selfish big business tycoons, crooked, money-grubbing politicians and legal escape artists like Ken Lay and put them on the tour. Hopefully the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future will show up and scare them enough to overwhelmed with guilt. Okay, maybe not. But hey, it's Christmas. 'Tis the season for miracles."

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Jack. We'll see you here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow.

To our viewers, thanks very much for joining us. Don't forget: we're in THE SITUATION ROOM weekdays 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, as well as 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Until tomorrow, thanks very much for joining us.

Let's head over to Paula Zahn in New York; she's standing by -- Paula?