Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Three Blasts Rip Through Tourist Area at Egyptian Resort; Bush Hits New Job Approval Low

Aired April 24, 2006 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time.
Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you today's top stories.

Happening now, it's 11:00 p.m. in Egypt, where explosions ripped through a Red Sea resort popular with foreign tourists. There are dozens of dead and wounded. Who's behind the blasts?

It's 2:00 p.m. in Las Vegas, where President Bush has been visiting. But his numbers aren't lucky as he hits a record low in our latest poll. Is anyone giving odds that he can turn things around?

And it's 5:00 p.m. here in Washington. Was a fired CIA officer a serial leaker? As the spy agency tries to crack down, should the government go after journalists?

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

We begin with a tragic developing story out of Egypt. Just a couple hours ago, three explosions shattered a tourist area in the Red Sea resort of Dahab. They left smoke billowing up from a market area and bodies in the streets. There are dozens and dozens of casualties.

CNN's Ben Wedemen is joining us on the phone from Cairo with the latest.

What are the latest numbers, Ben?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the numbers are a little confusing at this point, Wolf. According to the interior ministry here in Cairo, 10 dead, four foreigners and six Egyptians, more than 70 wounded. But Egyptian television, Egyptian state-run television, is saying at least 22 dead and many more wounded. Obviously, my experience here, Wolf, is that when this sort of thing happens it takes quite a while for accurate information to really gel.

Now, I'm told by a senior Egyptian official that the situation, the medical situation is under control. Some of the wounded are being sent by ambulance to Sharm El Sheikh, which is about an hour and half drive south of Dahab.

Now, these three blasts which have been described by Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak as terrorist acts occurred at 7:15 on a holiday evening. Egypt is currently undergoing a five-day weekend. Many Egyptians, as well as foreigners, went to the Sinai, went to the beach, and, therefore, it was probably very crowded at the time these three blasts occurred. Now, according to the interior ministry, two of them happened in cafeterias, one in a supermarket -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Ben, we're going to check back with you. Thank you.

President Bush spoke out about the bombings just a few moments ago. Let's go to our White House correspondent, Elaine Quijano. She's traveling with the president in Las Vegas -- Elaine.

Elaine, unfortunately, your audio is not working. We're going to try to hook that up and make sure we can hear you.

But we do have a clip of what the president said. Let's listen to what the president said about this bombing in Egypt.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There was bombings today in Egypt. I strongly condemn the killings that took place. The innocent life lost in Egypt is a heinous against innocent civilians.

The United States sends our condolences to the families of those who were killed. We keep those who were injured in our thoughts and prayers. And I assure the enemy this, we will stay on the offense. We will not waiver, we will not tire, we will bring you to justice for the sake of peace and humanity.


BLITZER: The blast in Egypt came just a day after Osama bin Laden issued an audiotape hinting at future attacks.

Joining us now, a key member of the CNN Security Council, our world affairs analyst, the former defense secretary, William Cohen. He's the chairman and CEO of The Cohen Group here in Washington.

My initial assumption was al Qaeda given the fact that the number two al Qaeda operative, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is, himself, an Egyptian. And he's made it no secret he hates President Mubarak and the Egyptian government, its peace treaty with Israel, its strong relationship with the United States.

WILLIAM COHEN, FMR. DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think that's a natural assumption, and it seems to be more than simply a coincidence.

What was interesting about the tape that was released is that it was an audiotape, not a videotape. It may be that bin Laden himself is not well or that he is making sure that his well-being is being preserved by not leaving any sort of traces that might lead back to his location. But whatever it is, the message is quite clear.

He's trying to rally the Muslim world against anyone who is associated with the United States or with Israel. And that's his goal and motivation, and killing innocent people is going to be the vehicle in which he does it.

BLITZER: Now, you know President Mubarak, you met with him on many occasions. I assume they're going to try to crack down as hard as they possibly can.

These terror attacks in Sharm El Sheikh and Taba, now in Dahab at these resort communities which bring in a lot of foreign currency, it goes to the heart of Egypt's economic prosperity, if you will. Tourism is so important for that country.

COHEN: Well, they'll have to crack down, but take a look around the world. We can see that there is no safe place, no one is immune.

You can go riding on the buses or trains in Madrid, the beaches of Bali, anywhere in the world, the buses in Great Britain. Very hard to do when you have millions of people who are moving constantly and a few people can get in with bombs strapped to their person and set them off.

So, there will be a crackdown, but, even so, I think we still have a menace out there, and this is the thing keep too keep in mind. This is not about bin Laden the man or the movement. It's about a menace, and it's a menace that is growing that poses a threat to people who want to live in freedom anywhere in the world.

BLITZER: People increasingly are getting frustrated. Nearly five years after 9/11, not only is Osama bin Laden around some place, hiding out some place -- we don't know where -- but he's releasing these audiotapes. He did one in January, now he did another one, contemporaneous stuff that he's boasting about.

What is your bottom line? Why is so hard to capture or kill this guy?

COHEN: Well, he's apparently situated in a very remote area surrounded by tribal leaders as such who are protecting him. It's virtually impossible to "flush him out" as such, as long as he has this protection around him.

Eventually I'm sure he'll be captured or killed. But, in the meantime, again, not to keep our focus so much on bin Laden, but rather, what is taking place around the world, these groups or cells of people who are organizing in a fashion to bring about this kind of horrific condition of bombing innocent people.

So, bin Laden is important, but the most important thing is for us to collectively organize ourselves internationally to really crack down, share information, share intelligence, share police efforts to really get at these cells that are planning, and covertly in various places, to bring about damage.

BLITZER: William Cohen, thanks, as usual.

Also happening now, the fate of confessed al Qaeda conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, it's in the hands of a jury after final pleas from attorneys both for and against his execution. Our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, is outside the courthouse in Alexandria, Virginia.

She's got the latest -- Kelli.

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, jurors started deliberating about 2:30 this afternoon. It's a pretty complicated task they have ahead of them.

The verdict form has 33 questions. The answers to those questions should help them decide if the evidence tilts more toward death or life in prison.


ARENA (voice over): You would never know by watching Zacarias Moussaoui that a jury was about to start debating whether he lives or dies. He sat there, smiling and nodding as prosecutors described him as evil and told jurors, "It is time to put an end to his hatred and venom."

Prosecutor David Raskin reminded jurors how victims were vaporized when planes hit buildings on September 11th and repeated Moussaoui's chilling words that he wished the attack could go on and on. Prosecutors told jurors Moussaoui's lies to investigators when he was arrested before 9/11 allowed it all to happen and said, if jurors let him live, Moussaoui would try to kill Americans, even behind bars.

Defense attorney Gerald Zirkin urged the jury to show courage, not to be swept away by the flood of horrific images. He called Moussaoui a "... veritable caricature..." of an al Qaeda terrorist, "... the operative who couldn't shoot straight" and a "sacrificial lamb" for bigger al Qaeda operatives who have yet to face justice. He also argued a death sentence would make Moussaoui a martyr, an argument some 9/11 family members flatly rejected.

ROSEMARY DILLARD, 9/11 FAMILY MEMBER: No, it doesn't make him a martyr. It makes him one dead Muslim man.

ARENA: Zirkin also reprised the defense argument that Moussaoui is a paranoid schizophrenic. Prosecutors countered, calling it "a bunch of psycho hogwash."

PETE WHITE, FMR. FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It's not going to be the dominant factor in deciding the case. But, what you have to keep in mind is the defense only has to convince one juror. If the defense gets a hung jury here, that's a victory for them. That will be no death penalty.


ARENA: Now, remember, this jury has only two choices, death or life in prison. As the case did go to the jury, the judge actually thanked the lawyers for all of their efforts. And she said that she has never seen a defendant as difficult as Moussaoui. Possibly the understatement of the year -- Wolf. BLITZER: Thank you, Kelli. We'll watch as the jury deliberates.

The president, meanwhile, facing some serious problems. In a brand new CNN poll just out an hour or so ago, his approval rating has slipped to only 32 percent. That's an all-time low for Mr. Bush in any publicly released major poll.

Let's bring back our Elaine Quijano, our White House correspondent. She's traveling with the president in Las Vegas.

Elaine, the president's trying to get his message out. He's been doing it on a nearly daily basis over the past several months. It doesn't seem to be resonating.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, and this latest effort, the president just wrapped up a four-day West Coast tour aimed at promoting his domestic agenda. But, you're right, those poll numbers have been below 40 percent for some time now. So, the president certainly trying to turn those down -- turn those around as well.

Now, today, the topic in Irvine, California, where the president was earlier, was immigration and that very thorny issue of illegal immigration. The president saying once again that he wants to see comprehensive legislation out of the Congress, something that includes both border security, as well as his temporary guest worker program.

The president also said that he does not think massive deportation will work to solve the problem of illegal immigration. And immigration, again, is going to be the topic when he meets with a bipartisan group of senators tomorrow at the White House -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Elaine. We'll see you back here in Washington. Thanks.

Let's go back to New York right now. Jack Cafferty standing by with another question for this hour -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The new White House chief of staff, Josh Bolten, has his work cut out for him. Bush's latest approval rating down again 32 percent, the lowest ever. A "Los Angeles Times" editorial today called for the president to fire the vice president, Dick Cheney. "TIME" magazine reports recent personnel changes, only the first part of what the White House is calling a two-act makeover.

Sources say there's an informal five-point recovery plan aimed at trying to get the president's poll numbers up and help Republicans try to hold on to control of Congress in the midterm elections in November. This five-point plan includes deploying guns and badges, which means getting more funding for tougher enforcement at the Mexican border; making Wall Street happy by focusing on tax measures already in the works; bragging more; talking about successes in Medicare, the economy and any good news coming out of Iraq; reclaiming security credibility. Advisers hope that by pressuring Iran, Mr. Bush can prove his image on national security. And lastly, courting the press. Bolten thinks the White House can work better with journalists to make its case.

Here's the question: What would you include in a White House recovery plan?

You can e-mail us at or go to

BLITZER: Good question, Jack. Thanks.

Up ahead, a CIA officer fired for allegedly leaking to the news media. Should she face charges? And what about the journalist who received classified information? Well talk about it with CNN contributor Bill Bennett and with Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and "The Washington Post".

Also, Iran's president defends his country's nuclear program, dismissing the threat of sanctions and taking another swipe at Israel. Details of his latest tough talk from Tehran. We'll go there.

Plus, new details of a possible deployment for Britain's Prince Harry. Will the new royal officer see action in Iraq?

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

The CIA is using lie detectors to try to plug leaks as controversy grows over the firing of a CIA officer who officials depict as something of a serial leaker.

Let's turn to our national security correspondent, David Ensor. He's joining us live with more -- David.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is another one of those stories about the intelligence community where you do have to assume that there is much more that you don't know than you do. But we did learn some today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How bad is the problem of leaking to the media from the intelligence...

ENSOR (voice over): The nation's top intelligence officer wasn't talking about the case, but another U.S. official told CNN the fired CIA officer is accused of "a pattern of behavior," including multiple contacts with more than one journalist. "It's not just about one story," the official said.

CIA officer Mary O. McCarthy, sources say, admitted to multiple unauthorized contacts with journalists after failing a polygraph test. The polygraph has been used on dozens of officials, including CIA Director Porter Goss himself, officials say, and his inspector general. Officials say the investigation into leaks to Dana Priest of "The Washington Post" and others is not over yet.

JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We don't know that there are others who leaked who could be fired, but that's certainly within the realm of possibility.

ENSOR: Priest won a Pulitzer Prize for her report that the CIA was running secret prisons for a few dozen top al Qaeda prisoners like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, including some in European countries.

Aides to intelligence community members, both parties, say McCarthy never raised any such concern with them. Former intelligence officials say, rather than talk to reporters, she should have.

MCLAUGHLIN: You can go to the congressional oversight committees and get a fair hearing and expect action to be taken, if it's merited. I've seen this happen.

ENSOR: But critics charge congressional intelligence oversight is "broken," and they argue internal whistleblower mechanisms, such as the CIA inspector general, are not safe.

STEVE SIMON, RAND CORP.: There are ways in which one can dissent inside, but that's like the chickens appealing to the fox. It really doesn't work.


ENSOR: McCarthy has not commented since this story broke, though "Newsweek" now quotes a friend of hers, Rand Beers, as saying she categorically denies being the source of the leak on CIA secret detention operations in Eastern Europe. U.S. officials won't comment on that, but they do stress this is about multiple, unauthorized contacts with more than one journalist -- Wolf.

BLITZER: David, are they saying anything at the CIA about her contributing to the Kerry campaign in 2004 or to the Democratic Party? How unusual, if it is unusual, is it for a career CIA employees to make political contributions?

ENSOR: Well, you don't -- you don't leave your private opinions a that door when you join the CIA. There are plenty of Democrats, as well as Republicans, over in that agency, Wolf. So, she was within her rights to make contributions.

BLITZER: David, thank you very much.

Let's turn to our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner. She's standing by with more on the former CIA officer, Mary McCarthy.

What are you seeing online, Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, the Internet is rarely going to give you a full picture of what somebody is all about, but you can certainly get more details. And that's what we've done with Mary McCarthy.

We know that she used to work at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She was a fellow there, and there's a bio that's still available online if you go back through old pages.

And from that bio, we know that she was a teacher at the University of Minnesota, she also ran a library at Yale. If you go back and take a look at her private sector experience, she did risk analysis for multinational companies and banks, for this company, BERI.

You can also take a look at a book that she wrote on Ghana which is out of print at this point, but available. You can still look it up on

And you can also take a look at the -- her report before the 9/11 Commission, where she testified in October of 2003. And like you and David were talking about, Wolf, you can look up her FEC record, where she contributed to John Kerry in March of 2004.

BLITZER: Jacki, thanks.

Should a leaker be treated as a lawbreaker? What about reporters who receive information from a whistleblower? Should they, the reporters, go to jail?

Joining us now, our CNN contributor, Bill Bennett, and Howard Kurtz, the host of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" and a reporter for "The Washington Post".

Porter Goss, the CIA director, said last February 2nd -- let me read this to both of you -- "It is my aim and it is my hope that we will witness a grand jury investigation with reporters present being asked to reveal who is leaking this information."

And let me start with you, Howie.

It seems like there is a major effort in this administration not only to go after those who allegedly broke the law, those employees of the government who may be providing classified information, but those who are receiving it, including journalists.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES" And some people, Wolf, are calling it a war on the press by the administration. Now, if somebody who works for the CIA or any other sensitive government agency violates their oath and leaks classified information, then that person is fair game not just for firing, but for potential prosecution.

As a card-carrying journalist, I would draw the line against forcing journalists to reveal their sources, which would totally chill the process of reporting, and potentially, as we saw in the case of Judith Miller, put them in jail, as well.

BLITZER: What do you think? BILL BENNETT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, are reporters subject to the rule of law? I know this is very unpopular in this town to suggest they should be subject to the rule of law, but I think they are.

It is against the law to publish classified national security information. And that's clearly been done in this case. What a lot of people don't understand, including me, is why when people do that, or in a time of war, all of a sudden it is claimed that they can't be touched. The leaker can be prosecuted, but the person who wrote it down, told every citizen about it, and told every enemy of every citizen of this country gets a Pulitzer Prize.

BLITZER: But there are a lot of official leaks of classified information. The national security adviser and any administration -- I've been around Washington for 30 years -- the secretary of state, the secretary of defense, they might have a one-on-one meeting with a reporter or a group of reporters. They provide classified information out there. It has been going on for a long time.

BENNETT: Sure. And that's why one needs to be careful and one needs to be selective.

But I take it in the situation here with the James Risen case, the national surveillance program, Risen boasts that this was the number one top-secret thing going on in the NSA. And he's very proud that he broke it.

Well, he broke it and the whole world knows about it. Many people think damage was done. Porter Goss thinks damage was done.

The same thing, I think, on these CIA sites. You don't prosecute every violation of law, but when it's serious, when you're in war, when these things amount to giving the enemy information that the enemy can use against us, it just baffles the mind that reporters should get an exemption that other people don't get.

BLITZER: Howie, what do you think?

KURTZ: Well, first of all, news organizations, including "The New York Times" and "Washington Post," consider very carefully and sometimes withhold details and sometimes delay stories at the request of the administration when there's sensitive national security involved. But what really troubles me about your approach, Bill, is that under your approach, you know, not just Daniel Ellsberg, but the journalists who published the Pentagon Papers would have gone to jail. Not just Deep Throat, but Bob Woodward would have gone to jail for publishing Watergate's secrets.

And then in the -- I didn't hear you complaining about leaks during the Ken Starr investigation of President Clinton when journalists got grand jury information they should not have got.

BENNETT: Bob Woodward can go after Ken Starr, can go after George Bush. Woodward and Bernstein go after Nixon. These are not matters of national security at a time of war. This is a different circumstance.

KURTZ: President Nixon tried to put a cloak of national security over the Watergate corruption.

BENNETT: Tried to put, but it was fake. And we know that was fake. And when it's fake, you know, you go after them. And the press should go after them.

Look, I'm part of the media myself now. But I understand the difference between -- you know, between normal leaking, secrets going after administrations, and being at war and giving out classified information, which the agency is not giving to you but is saying this can damage us.

BLITZER: If a friend of yours in the administration had information, classified information, "Bill, I want you to check this out," and it involves super-secret stuff on Iraq or the war on terror, would you then go to the FBI and report him?

BENNETT: I don't know. It would all depend.

BLITZER: But you could go to jail if you receive that information.

BENNETT: That's entirely right. And maybe I would deserve to go to jail.

See, the concept of someone going willingly to jail is also beyond the pale. There were people like Martin Luther King who said, "On principle, I will go to jail."

But again, why should reporters not be subject to the law? You think I'm being overly harsh here on reporters. Do you understand American people saying, gosh, you know, they can take these secrets, they can publish them in the in the paper, and they not only don't pay a penalty, they get a Pulitzer Prize, they get honored for this?

BLITZER: Should there be separate standard for journalists?

KURTZ: Well, Bill seems to want to have a selective standard. Good leaks are OK when he thinks they're all right and bad leaks are not OK.

What I think is that if you have a journalist -- you know, it's a fair debate to say, should a newspaper or news organization publish national security information? A lot of people are angry about that. I understand that. But there are lots of other people, as you well know, who say that the American public pays the tax dollars here, ought to know about CIA secret prisons, ought to know about a domestic surveillance program.

There are members of Congress who were glad that information came out. So, some people think it's actually a public service.

BENNETT: Some people think, but who is empowered to make that decision? I would suggest that in elections we empower the administration and the government to make those decisions. If we don't like them, we vote...

KURTZ: So you trust the government but you don't trust journalism.

BENNETT: I trust the government vis-a-vis our enemies. And when we're at war I think it is serious enough.

We're also selective in the prosecution, Howard. You always decide based on facts and circumstances.

I just wish the press were more courageous when it wants to, you know, do truth to power with things like the radical -- radical Muslims with the cartoon controversy. I don't know where there the press' courage was on that. They know this administration isn't going to do anything to them. They know this administration is going to treat them with kid gloves.

Radical Islam, that would have been -- that would have been a standup thing to do.

BLITZER: That's another issue we debated a couple months ago.

BENNETT: Yes, sir. We did.

BLITZER: I've got to leave it right there.

Bill Bennett, Howard Kurtz, thanks to both of you for joining us.

Don't forget Howie hosts a program here on CNN. "RELIABLE SOURCES" airs every Sunday morning, 10:00 a.m. Eastern. You should tune in if you haven't.

Talk about leaks, you won't want to miss "LARRY KING LIVE" tomorrow night. Larry speaks with a man whose secrets brought down a president. It's an exclusive "LARRY KING LIVE" interview 30 years in the making with Deep Throat, his only television interview that airs tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Larry and Deep Throat.

Also, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, they'll respond to Deep Throat. They'll tell their side of the story. This is a can't-miss interview that you will see only on "LARRY KING LIVE" tomorrow night, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM, he says we haven't seen the worst Islamic terrorist attacks yet, they can do a lot more. I'll talk about the threat of Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda with the former head of the Israeli Intelligence Agency, the Mossad. You don't often speak with the director of the Mossad, former director. He'll be here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Plus, how al Qaeda turned raw recruits into terrorists. We'll show you some surprising new details that emerged at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Getting some pictures in from the bombing at Daha, the terrorist attack. Two hotels, a marketplace. These are pictures coming in to CNN right now. At least 10 people are reported dead. Seventy or 80 reported injured, but those numbers could fluctuate, could go up dramatically as more information comes in.

The widely held assumption, apparently no one has claimed formal responsibility yet. The widely held assumption is that al Qaeda was behind this attack. Egypt says, once again, at least 10 people are dead, dozens more hurt following those three explosions at that popular Red Sea tourist resort of Daha.

Is it the hand of al Qaeda behind these blasts? Let's get some analysis from a former spymaster with decades of experience combating terrorism.


BLITZER: And joining us now is Efraim Halevy, the former director of the Mossad, Israel's intelligence service. He is also the author of a new book entitled "Man in the Shadows, Inside the Middle East Crisis with the Man Who Led the Mossad." Not very often we get to chance to speak with a director, even a former director of the Mossad.

Mr. Halevy, thanks very much for joining us.

EFRAIM HALEVY, FORMER MOSSAD DIRECTOR: It's a pleasure being with you.

BLITZER: Let's talk a little bit about Egypt, the bombing that occurred today. We don't know who did it. No one has claimed responsibility yet, but there have been previous attacks in Sharm el Sheikh and Taba, is this the work of al Qaeda?

HALEVY: I believe it is the work of al Qaeda, whether directly or a link that they have inside that territory. It's the nature of the threat, which the world as a whole is facing. And the fact that even in Egypt which has a very effective security intelligence network, this kind of act can be carried out, a test to the nature and seriousness of the threat.

BLITZER: Is it your sense, as we look at all of this unfold, that Ayman al Zawahiri, the number two leader in al Qaeda, who himself is an Egyptian, that has a special axe to grind with Egypt?

HALEVY: He does have a special act to grind with Egypt, just as Mr. Zarqawi has a special axe to grind in Jordan, but they're linked together in a much greater conspiracy, which is a conspiracy which is worldwide.

BLITZER: Here's what you write in your book, "Man in the Shadows." You write, "Al Qaeda has its sights on the entire world with the goal effecting an Islamic international revolution that will encompass the entire planet. It is as simple and diabolical as that." I never heard an expert say they want to take over the whole world, but that is your assessment.

HALEVY: My assessment is that they want to destabilize the whole of the world. They wish, ultimately, that the world as a whole would be governed by the tenets of Islam. And as strange and as extreme as this sounds, this is their dream and this is their vision.

BLITZER: We heard another audiotape from Osama bin Laden this past weekend making direct threats against the United States, the West, but also going after what he calls the Zionists and the crusaders. Have there been al Qaeda attacks against Israelis, per se. Most of the attacks against Israel have come from Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, but have there been al Qaeda attacks against Israel?

HALEVY: Al Qaeda has not succeeded so far in carrying out an attack against Israel. There have been cases in which an al Qaeda attempt has been foiled, but Israel is on the list, it's not number one on the list, maybe not number two on the list but Israel is definitely on the list together with the other targets which they have.

BLITZER: Here's what you write in your book, "Although the troops have been on the ground for some time now in both theaters of operation, Iraq and Afghanistan, victory on these battlefronts appears further away than ever. In realistic terms the war may last a generation or more before it comes to an end."

Are you talking a generation, 20 years?

HALEVY: Well generations are can be gauged in different ways. Sometimes a generation was 10 years. Dean Acheson, when he was founding NATO that it would last a generation and when asked what he meant by that he said 10 years. I believe it will take several years. There will be a generation span before, ultimately, this threat can be taken care of.

BLITZER: From Israel's narrow perspective, was the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq good or bad?

HALEVY: I think from Israel's perspective, once the Twin Towers were attacked, once this attack emanated from Middle East it was a question of time before the United States came into the Middle East to deal with the threat against the United States. Any threat against the United States as the leader of the free world is an attack also against the allies of the United States and as such I think from Israel's point of view, the decisiveness of the American decision to go ahead has been a very important one and a very important plus in our estimation.

BLITZER: A plus for Israel, even though Saddam Hussein by almost all accounts now had nothing to do with the attack on 9/11?

HALEVY: Yes, but Saddam Hussein was a man who was ultimately a threat to the stability of the region as a whole. After the role he played in the Iraq/Iran War which was a role supported by the United States, he turned against the United States and this resulted in Desert Storm, the first entry of the United states into the region against Saddam Hussein, the first time around. And once this happened, it was obvious that from our point of view the die had been cast and it was a question of time before the United States had to come in again and deal with the threat against international stability.

BLITZER: Efraim Halevy is the former director of the Mossad, the author of the new book "Man in the Shadows." Mr. Halevy, thanks very much for joining us.

HALEVY: Thank you.


BLITZER: Now we're just getting the first pictures in from Daha on the Red Sea, the Egyptian tourist town where there were three bombings earlier today going after two hotels, one marketplace. We're going to show you these pictures that are just coming in. Let's also bring in our Zain Verjee. She is getting other information. Zain, what do we know at this point?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: We want to show you the pictures, these are the first pictures, you say, of what is coming in. We've been, as we look at this, you just see a scene of utter devastation. There is pools of blood that we'd seen initially that have been lying around all over the place, really, a grim reminder of what has happened this day.

Emergency services have walked through these shattered fragments, some of glass, some we see here of supermarkets, remains there. Many of the people have been taken to hospital in Sharm el Sheikh, as well, President Hosni Mubarak has called these explosions a wicked terror attack, President Bush speaking in Las Vegas condemning the attack.

Wolf, significant, also, that this is the third terror attack in two years in Egypt. It would be an enormously serious threat for Egypt's tourism industry that is seen as a significant source of revenue and these pictures, what they would serve to do is to keep those very important tourists away.

The Sinai Peninsula itself is a big draw for tourists. Formerly Israeli tourists would come fairly frequently and now many Russian tourists come to this area. It's popular for underwater sports and snorkeling, but, with these sorts of pictures coming out and the developments today, we're learning at least 10 dead, four foreigners, six Egyptians, more than 70 wounded. The numbers, though, aren't clear. Egypt state TV saying at least 22 dead, but, it will take a while and we'll bring you more details when we get them.

BLITZER: Some of the best water, some of the best coral reefs, some of the best scuba diving in the world, Zain. I've been to these towns along the Sinai Peninsula and it's really beautiful, beautiful stuff that's going on.

We'll continue to watch this story and bring you the latest on this terror attack in Egypt.

Coming up, though, your mission, should you choose to accept it, help turn around the bush administration's low approval ratings. What would you include in that plan? That's Jack Cafferty's question of the hour and he's going to be joining us with your email.

And laying blame. Former Enron CEO Ken Kay blaming almost everyone else for Enron's collapse. We're going to tell you who specifically he says is at fault. Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


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

LOU DOBBS, CNN HOST: Wolf, thank you very much. At the top of the hour we'll be reporting on President Bush's efforts to save his so-called immigration reform from defeat in Congress. Has President Bush lost his battle to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens? We'll be live at the White House and on Capitol Hill with those reports. And among my guests, one of the organizers of the planned May 1st protests and boycotts in support of illegal immigration.

Also tonight, soaring gasoline prices part of what is now an outright war on our middle class. I'll be talking with Congressman Curt Weldon who has some answers, announcing a plan to help middle class American families.

President Bush's poll numbers at a new low. Can he recover? I'll be talking with three top political analysts.

And a friend of yours, Wolf, Tom Friedman on your broadcast yesterday, he came after me. I'll have a few choice words for the "New York Times" columnist who thinks the earth is flat. We hope you'll be watching. Thanks, Wolf, back it you.

BLITZER: All right. We'll be looking forward to that, Lou, thank you very much. Let's go up to New York once again. Ali Velshi is standing by with the bottom line. What are you working on, Ali?

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we've been following Ken Lay's testimony. It's testimony that the country has waited for for nearly four years. Enron's former chairman and CEO finally took the witness stand today. He says he's innocent and he didn't waste any time pointing the finger right at Andy Fastow. He said the biggest mistake was hiring Andy Fastow and making him the chief financial officer of Enron. Now the federal fraud trial is in its 13th week in Houston. We'll keep following that for you.

Oil prices actually broke off a little bit today. Down nearly $2.73. To what did we end up with, $73.35 a barrel. This followed comments from OPEC that said it will keep pumping near maximum capacity. Speaking of oil, the Department of Energy says it has some ideas on how to boost the nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserves, among them, have the government directly buy oil for emergency stockpiles or allow the oil companies which borrow from those reserves to pay it back with interest in the form of more oil. Now, why all this fuss? You'll remember after the hurricanes last year Congress decided to have those stockpiles increased by anywhere from 250 million barrels to a billion barrels.

And when it comes to oil, Wolf, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez not making anything easier. The "Wall Street Journal" says that lawmakers in Venezuela are considering a big tax hike on foreign companies that drill for oil in Venezuela and that includes the big American firms like ExxonMobil and Conoco Phillips. Venezuela is the third biggest supplier of crude oil to the United States.

Anyway, oil was down today and that big drop didn't really do much to help stocks. The Dow was actually down 11 points to 11,336 and NASDAQ gave up nine points to 2,333. Wolf?

BLITZER: Ali, thanks very much.

Still to come, inside al Qaeda, before 9/11. It's a snapshot of the world's most feared terrorist group at the height of its power. CNN's Brian Todd has been working on this story. He's going to be sharing it with us.

Also, Britain's Prince Harry speaking about his possible deployment to a war zone. We're going to have details of what he said. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: As jurors deliberate the faith of confessed al Qaeda plotter Zacarias Moussaoui, we're now learning new details about al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden. CNN's Brian Todd has been investigating and he's joining us live from the newsroom. Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're getting into a window into al Qaeda's basic training before September 11th, how it turned new recruits to terrorists. It comes from transcripts of the Moussaoui trial and a man who also wanted to attack America that day.


TODD (voice-over): An inside look at al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. Documents from the interrogation of a would-be 9/11 hijacker, Mohammed al Qahtani.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: The snapshot that we have from the documents is really what al Qaeda was doing at sort of the height of its power.

TODD: Early morning, trainees, called students, wake up and pray. Then, physical training. According to the documents, all students participate in calisthenics, sports, running and marching. After breakfast, there would be weapons training but also instruction in geography, religion and other subjects.

After lunch and more prayer, siesta, students go back to camp to spend some free testimony. Then, more intense training, which might entail how to travel through rough terrain such as mountains, how to deal with hunger, how to deal with hurt or killed comrades.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were training for real situations.

TODD: An example, after lights out, quote "students were sometimes woken at 1:00, 2:00 or 3:00 a.m. to march long distances or perform other military training missions."

A frequent visitor to the camps, Osama bin Laden, but camp graduates also visited him. According to the documents, al Qahtani he spent time at a guest house in Kandahar where "transportation to UBL's house was always available via a special van."

BERGEN: Which raises the question, why didn't American intelligence get, you know, somebody in there as a lower level kind of al Qaeda recruit? And maybe actually get into the inner circle of bin Laden.


TODD: Mohammed al Qahtani certainly did get into that inner circle. At the end of his training in the spring of 2001, bin Laden took al Qahtani's hand and said a special mission in America awaited him. U.S. officials say he was meant to be the 20th hijacker on 9/11, but al Qahtani never made it. He was stopped at Orlando airport that summer and sent back to the Middle East, left waiting for him at the airport parking lot in Orlando, Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker on 9/11. Wolf?

BLITZER: Almost sounds like an al Qaeda boot camp. Brian, thanks for that good report. Thank you very much.

Up ahead, will he or won't he fight in the Iraq War? That would be Britain's Prince Harry. We're going to tell you what the British government is now saying about that possibility.

And millions of people do it. That would be suffering the Internet while at work. Could you be fired for doing that? We're going to tell you about the outcome of one lawsuit. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Let's go back to the CNN Center in Atlanta. Zain standing by with some other stories. Zain?

VERJEE: Hi, Wolf. Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says he thinks it's unlikely the United States Nation Security Council will impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear ambitions. The Iranian president said most countries on the council are rational enough not to make such a great mistake. Today President Ahmadinejad also compared Israel to a great prison that should be dissolved and that Jews should return to their homelands.

Underwater, that's the current condition for thousands of homes in vast patches of land in central and southeast Europe. This after flooding from the Danube River. In Romania, 5,600 people displaced from their homes and 180,000 acres just submerged.

And Prince Harry says he want no privileges should he have to fight in the Iraq War. Britain Defense Ministry says Harry would engage in the fullest range of deployments, if he were to go. They also add that Harry could be kept off the front lines should his royal presence put his unit in danger. Harry graduated from the military academy this month called Sandhurst. There is no decision yet if he'll go to Iraq. Wolf?

BLITZER: We wish Prince Harry only the best. Zain, thank you very much.

Could you be fired for surfing the Internet? A New York City judge has just ruled and it has both good and implications for all of us. Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton has more. Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf,,, These were just some of the Web sites that a New York City Department of Education employee was visiting while at work. But when his bosses brought him in front of a judge, that judge just gave him a reprimand, saying the Internet has become the modern equivalent of a telephone or daily newspaper. Now this employee isn't alone. A recent study by the University of Maryland found that 85 percent of people surveyed admitted to surfing the Web while they were at work. But just because everyone is doing it doesn't mean you're not being watched according to the American Management Association, over three quarters of employers monitor using software what their employees are looking at at work. So next time you're planning a vacation at work, you could be being watched. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you, Abbi.

Up next, what would you include in a White House recovery plan? Jack Cafferty with your emails. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack right now. Jack?

CAFFERTY: Chief of staff Josh Bolten at the White House has a five-point recovery plan trying to get President Bush's numbers in the polls back up. We asked what you might include in such a plan.

Mike in Blandinsville, Illinois, "I'd put FEMA in charge of the White House recovery plan. Let them experience Chertoff's expertise, up close and personal.

Joyce in Woodville, Alabama, "The president should fess up to the American people that he lied us into a needless, costly war and admit he is in over his head. Then he should pull a Nixon, resign as president taking Cheney and Rummy with him. He should get out before we throw him out."

Becky in Texas, "Can you recover from stupidity?"

Libby, "How about dump the spin and go for some good old fashioned honesty. Then again, maybe not a good idea. Could lead to impeachment."

George in Ft. Lauderdale. "An exit strategy for Iraq. Not necessarily a timetable, just an exit strategy."

Bernie in Lowell, Massachusetts. "I recommend quarantine. Lame duck is a strain of the bird flu."

And Bill in Palm Springs. "To improve the president's poll numbers, he should make Cynthia McKinney his new press secretary. Just think, if she didn't like the question, she could simply beat the reporter up." Wolf?

BLITZER: Jack, it's amazing some of the clever responses you manage to get from our viewers.

CAFFERTY: They're a very bright group, Wolf, in spite of the program they've picked out to watch here on TV.

BLITZER: I know you're kidding. I know you love THE SITUATION ROOM and we love having you in THE SITUATION ROOM.

CAFFERTY: Oh stop. You know what I was doing at 7:00 yesterday morning? Watching Zain Verjee on CNN ...

BLITZER: We love Zain, too.

CAFFERTY: But I've got no life. None.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack. We'll be back in an hour in THE SITUATION ROOM. Lots more coming up. Until then, thanks very much for joining us. In the meantime we'll go to New York. LOU DOBBS TONIGHT starts right now and Lou is standing by -- Lou.