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Iran Defies International Community; Another Dubai Deal; Attacks in Iraq

Aired April 28, 2006 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: 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, Iran defies the international community. It's 12:30 in Tehran, after midnight, where Iran says it will not give in to demands to stop enriching uranium. How is President Bush responding now that a critical deadline has come and gone?

Also, might Americans suffering the pain of high gas prices find a cure not too far from Florida? It's 5:00 p.m. in Cuba, where there is an off-search for an oil gold mine.

And he's an actor and a director. Now George Clooney takes on another role: activist. Clooney spotlighting atrocities happening right now in Darfur. He's been there; now George Clooney joins us to talk about a grim situation.

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

The United Nations demanded a halt, but instead Iran keeps going, enriching uranium. Today was the deadline for Iran to suspend all of its nuclear activities, but the U.N.'s watchdog agency says Iran has not complied by any means. The Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, says Iran would not heed international strictures.

Our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, has the latest. She's joining us here in Washington -- Suzanne.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, of course, despite Iran's defiance, President Bush making it very clear that he does not want to disarm Iran with military action, but rather, peacefully and diplomatically, that this is an international effort, that the international community has spoken about this. The president also making it very clear that he makes a distinction between Iran and Iraq.

The situation now, as it is, in a couple of weeks or so, it goes to the U.N. Security Council. So far, the permanent members of that group, of course, are divided. They all have veto power.

The United States, Britain, and France, of course, are looking for limited sanctions opposed on Iran, where you look at China, as well as Russia, they have very lucrative oil deals with that country, with Iran. They have resisted sanctions in the past and spoke about that as well today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What about the whole issue of Azerbaijan? The president met with the leader of Azerbaijan today at the White House. This is a country that borders Iran. It's a somewhat controversial visit that he had at the White House.

MALVEAUX: It really is quite amazing when you think about it, Wolf, because it illustrates really the delicate balance and the diplomatic dance that these countries do, the United States, when it comes to Iran. We saw today the president sitting side by side with the leader of Azerbaijan, and essentially the United States looks to this country because it is only one of two predominantly Muslim countries that sent its own troops to support the U.S. effort in Iraq, but also, too, it supplies oil to the United States.

It's going to be opening up a new pipeline to Western markets. Very important ally for the United States. But again, international observers have said this is one of the most corrupt governments in the world. That it has human rights abuses. That is not something the president emphasized today -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Suzanne Malveaux.

Suzanne, part of the best political team on television.

President Bush also talked about rising oil costs today, saying they are a wakeup call for America to "get off oil." He called on oil companies to reinvest some of their huge recent profits into finding and producing more energy.

Meanwhile, another oil giant announced its profits today.

Ali Velshi joining us here in Washington with "The Bottom Line" -- Ali.


BLITZER: Ali, thanks for that.

Meanwhile, is there an untapped source of oil the United States might be able to take advantage of? Coming up, we're going to tell you about a controversial search for oil between Florida and Cuba. That's coming up.

First, though, our CNN "Security Watch."

There's a new deal under way involving a Dubai-owned company, and that involves operations of plants here in the United States.

Our senior national correspondent, John Roberts, in THE SITUATION ROOM with details -- John.


After the Dubai Ports World controversy -- you all remember that -- people were watching this one very closely, the acquisition of British-owned Doncasters, a defense subcontractor by a government- owned Dubai corporation. And unlike the ports deal, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, CFIUS, gave this transaction the full treatment.


ROBERTS (voice over): This is what had officials and lawmakers so concerned about the takeover: not the tank, but its power plant, the precision 4,500 Horse Power turbine, the blades for which are made only here at the Doncasters facility outside Savannah, Georgia. After what he called a thorough investigation, President Bush today gave his OK for Doncasters to be taken over by Dubai International Capital.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I signed off on it this morning because I'm convinced at the recommendation of the CFIUS committee, as well as our military, that it's a sale that should go through.

ROBERTS: Despite its significant role in the defense industry, the Pentagon says Doncasters holds no classified contracts. But the White House did insist on additional security assurances from the Dubai company, including a commitment to guarantee the supply of parts. As well, the DOD is now looking for a second source for its tank turbine blades.

Still, CNN security consultant Richard Falkenrath find no big deal in the sale.

RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY CONSULTANT: I don't think this is a big security problem. I see almost no way that you can actually injure national security because of the change of ownership of this particular company.

ROBERTS: In fact, Congressman Peter King and Senator Charles Schumer, who were fierce opponents of the Dubai ports takeover, have no concerns.

But at least one lawmaker does. Georgia Congressman John Barrow, who toured the Savannah Doncasters plant earlier this month, is against giving a foreign government control of domestic defense contracts.

REP. JOHN BARROW (D), GEORGIA: I think it's a bad deal, though, for those of us that are concerned that we are selling off our national defense establishment bit by bit over -- over time, and those of us that are concerned about this have no way of knowing whether we're selling off something today that we want to -- we want to get back tomorrow.


ROBERTS: The investigation of this transfer started on January the 28th. That was before the Dubai ports story broke. So, it wasn't like this was a reaction to the uproar caused by that. But it doesn't let CFIUS off the hook. Congress still wants to reform the entire process to ensure that it doesn't get blindsided by another mess like that ports deal -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And is it generating any opposition out there, grassroots, talk radio, conservative bloggers, if you will, unlike the Dubai ports deal?

ROBERTS: The only person that I found who was not even really against the deal but still had problems with it because of disclosure, information, the idea of selling off defense assets, was Congressman Barrow. Other than that, there's just not a lot of noise being made about this. It looks like people are saying, because this went through the investigative process, we are OK with it.

BLITZER: Maybe the administration should learn from this, how to handle that CFIUS process in terms of sensitive issues.

ROBERTS: Well, I think it's pretty clear that the Dubai Ports World deal should have been subject to that 45-day investigation to begin with.

BLITZER: Right. They learn from mistakes. Thanks, John, very much.

ROBERTS: Let's hope.

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

Let's get up to New York. Jack Cafferty standing by again -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Just to follow up for a second on John's report, I did that question a couple of weeks ago at the beginning of the 15-day review period for the president here on "The Cafferty File". I got a ton of mail from people who thought it was ridiculous, just like they did with the ports deal. One of those plants they are taking over is the sole manufacturer of turbo fans for the M1A Abrams battle tank, the only plant in the world which manes these fans, which is a vital component part for this particular piece of battlefield equipment.

I didn't get any mail that day from anybody who thought it was a great idea that we're selling defense plants to the Middle East -- just as a passing thought.

That big boycott planned for Monday by immigration activists is billed now as perhaps the largest protest since the civil rights era. Now, organizers say they plan to flood America's streets with millions of protesters demanding amnesty for illegal aliens.

The goal is for major cities to grind to a halt and for the U.S. economy to suffer as Latinos walk off their jobs and skip school. One union official said he expects two to three million people in Los Angeles, and that they will close down New York, Tucson, Phoenix and Fresno.

How will you know if Fresno's closed? I'm just kidding.

Businesses are getting ready. They're doing everything from juggling schedules, to hiring temporary workers, to planning to shut down altogether.

Meanwhile, there are concerns that the boycott and marches will create a backlash of anti-immigrant sentiment. If I were a betting man, I'd be willing to wager that those concerns are very well founded.

Here's the question: What effect will the May 1st boycott have on you?

E-mail us at or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, jack, for that.

Up ahead -- you can, by the way, get a sneak preview of Jack's questions. You will also be able to get an early read of the day's political news, what's ahead in THE SITUATION ROOM. Once again, you can sign up for our daily e-mail alert. You can do that by going to They will explain to you there how to do that.

Up ahead, the actor George Clooney putting the spotlight on the slaughter unfolding right now in Sudan. He's just back from a fact- finding trip. He'll join us in THE SITUATION ROOM.

I spoke with him. We'll talk about what he saw.

Also, a "Star-Spangled" controversy over the national anthem, why a new Spanish version of the song has some people very angry. Hear for yourself what the outrage is all about.

Plus, Cuba's crude. China is tapping into what could be a huge oil reserve right off our coast. Crude oil, that's what we're talking about. Now one conservative senator says we should, too.

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


BLITZER: It's an awful accounting, the number of U.S. troops killed in Iraq this month. New information on the number of terror attacks in Iraq last year and new conclusions on the goal of terrorist in Iraq.

Let's bring in our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr. She's got the details -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a new report from the Bush administration says not only is Iraq a safe haven for terrorists, but those terrorists now have connections around the world. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice over): April is now the deadliest month of 2006 for U.S. troops in Iraq. Sixty-eight have died, more than twice as many as last month.

In Baghdad earlier this week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld lending their support to the new Iraqi leaders. But a State Department terrorism report makes clear, Iraq is a key battleground for homegrown insurgents and those trying to incite sectarian violence, as well as global terrorist networks.

HENRY CRUMPTON, U.S. COORDINATOR FOR COUNTERTERRORISM: For some terrorists, Iraq is also a cause. Networks that support the flow of foreign terrorists to Iraq have been uncovered in several parts of the world.

STARR: The challenge for the new government and the U.S.? Still, staggering levels of violence.

According to the report, in 2005 alone there were some 2,800 terror incidents resulting in death, injury or kidnapping. As a result of those incidents, more than 20,000 people were killed, hurt or kidnapped.

Behind the statistics, a brutal reality. Attacks against Iraqi civilians doubled in 2005, according to the Sate Department.


STARR: And Wolf, both Secretary Rumsfeld and Secretary Rice, of course, now just back from Iraq, visiting those new Iraqi leaders, the new national unity government. And clearly that is the hope of the Bush administration, that those new government officials and the Iraqi security forces in 2006 will be able to get a handle on the violence, bring things under control, and lead possibly to additional troop reductions by the U.S. in Iraq -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you for that, Barbara, at the Pentagon.

Coming up, a "Star-Spangled" controversy, why an international version of the national anthem has some people outraged. Hear for yourself what the uproar is all about.

Plus, my interview with George Clooney. The actor is now back from Africa, where he saw the effects of what the international community is calling genocide.

We're going to show you what he's doing about it. George Clooney, here in THE SITUATION ROOM, that's coming up.


BLITZER: Welcome back.

Might the effort ease the pain? We're talking about the pain of millions of Americans right now feeling that pain -- pain at the gas pump. And the effort involves the search for oil. This time, near Cuba.

Our Susan Candiotti has the story from Key West in Florida -- Susan.

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, about halfway between Key West and Cuba's north coast, Canada, Brazil, Spain and China are working with Cuba, looking for black gold, offshore oil. And a Republican senator from Idaho says the U.S. ought to get in on the action.

CANDIOTTI (voice over): Is a cure to spiraling American gas prices off Cuba's coast? Idaho Senator Larry Craig suggests it's time to make a deal. On the Senate floor, Craig, who also backs ongoing medicine and food sales to the communist island, said now's the time to make an exception to the decades-old trade embargo with Cuba before China and others beat the U.S. to the punch.

SEN. LARRY CRAIG (R), IDAHO: Right next door, stand on a high place in the lower Florida Keys and some day you may see an oil rig, and it won't be ours. It could be Red China's.

CANDIOTTI: Cuba has already ink deals with China, Canada and Mexico to look for oil off Cuba's north coast. Theoretically, oil platforms could be located as close as 50 miles from the Florida Keys. Florida's senior U.S. senator wants to sink the idea, calling it crazy to propose putting the state's delicate ecology at risk.

SEN. BEN NELSON (D), FLORIDA: That is a significant danger to the environment and the tourism and the $8 billion investment that we are putting in to the restoration of the Everglades.

CANDIOTTI: Senator Nelson co-sponsored a bill that would block oil drilling 150 miles off Florida's peninsula, beyond President's Bush's planned 100-mile limit set to go into effect next year.

Senator Craig says with the latest American technology at work, as it is off the Gulf Coast, need outweighs risk off Cuba's coast.

CRAIG: If you let a country that doesn't have our talent or expertise like China go in and drill next to those corral reefs and next to that flow of water, that major fishery down there, it could be well be at risk.

CANDIOTTI: A 2004 U.S. Geological Survey estimates a potential gold mine off Cuba, more than 4.5 billion barrels of oil. Some say almost as much as estimates in Alaska. But some argue there's an insurmountable hurdle, breaking the trade embargo with Cuba, something no U.S. president has publicly entertained.

Some suggest now is the time.

LARRY KIRBY, U.S. CUBA TRADE ASSN.: The United States needs oil and gas. It sits there. It is going to be explored. And the U.S. is going to do it with Cuba or China and India are going to do it with Cuba. It's very simple.


CANDIOTTI: Senator Nelson now says he would like President Bush to punish any U.S. companies who might attempt to cut a deal with Cuba to look for oil. But there's this reality check, Wolf: there's been a maritime agreement between the U.S. and Cuba that's been around since 1977. Basically, it divides the water boundary between the U.S. and Cuba, and whatever Cuba wants to do within its own territory, Cuba can do -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Susan Candiotti. Excellent reporting. What a dilemma. Thanks very much.

Coming up, members of Congress arrested. It was part of a protest here in Washington over genocide in Darfur. We're going to show you why the crisis is drawing growing attention.

Plus, my interview with George Clooney. The actor witnessed the crisis firsthand in recent days. He's just back from Africa. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM to talk about what he saw.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: There's a couple of developing stories coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now from the Pentagon.

Let's bring in our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, late on a Friday, and some late-breaking developments, both involving criminal charges against members of the military.

The first one, Lieutenant Colonel Steven Jordan). He was in charge of the Joint Interrogation Debriefing Center at the Abu Ghraib prison during the time of prisoner abuse. He's been charged now with seven different counts involving disobeying an order, dereliction of duty, cruelty, false statements, fraud, and interfering with an investigation. As a lieutenant colonel, he becomes the highest military officer now charged with wrongdoing in the Abu Ghraib scandal.

And also this afternoon, from the Naval Academy in Annapolis, word that the quarterback Lamar Owens, midshipman first class, has been charged with raping a female classmate in her dorm room back in January. He faces rape charges, as well as some other charges. And a second midshipman who has not been named also faces separate counts of sexual assault out at the Naval Academy.

So, two late-breaking stories involving criminal charges against members of the military this afternoon -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A busy day over there. Thanks, Jamie, for that. Jamie McIntyre at the Pentagon.

Today an African country is on the receiving end of a tough message from President Bush. The crisis in Sudan is creating so much concern it's led elected members of the United States Congress to break the law to try to get the world's attention. And they're not the only ones raising awareness. In a moment, my interview with George Clooney, who visited Africa in recent days and has returned with a shocking story.

But first, let's bring in our Zain Verjee. She's watching this story -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, this is a region where the U.S. says that genocide, the first one of the 21st century, is actually happening. Sudan, in eastern Africa, in a western region called Darfur -- it's approximately the size of Texas.

Tens of thousands have been killed in a brutal war, a war essentially for more power and more money. More than two million are now refugees, and they are running out of food and time.


VERJEE (voice over): At the Sudanese embassy in Washington, lawmakers breaking the law.

REP. TOM LANTOS (D), CALIFORNIA: We will not watch the slaughter in Darfur.

VERJEE: One by one, arrested, handcuffed, and hauled off in front of cameras and a cheering audience. Representatives Sheila Jackson-Lee of Texas, James Moran of Virginia, James McGovern and John Oliver of Massachusetts, and Tom Lantos of California, a Holocaust survivor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And stop raping women in Sudan!

VERJEE: They're demanding the Sudanese government stop the bloodshed in Darfur and allow food aid to get to refugees. And they're demanding the international community intervene to provide security to civilians.

At the White House, President Bush repeated his administration's criticism of Sudan.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The message to the Sudanese government is we're very serious about getting this problem solved. We don't like it when we see women raped and brutalized.

VERJEE: The president also called on NATO to play a peacekeeping role in Darfur and he issued an executive order that freezes the assets of four men alleged to be involved in atrocities.

Like Tibet, Darfur has become a cause celebre for celebrities -- Don Cheadle, Angelina Jolie and George Clooney among them.

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: So now what you need is some plastic and some water?

Anyone killed or hurt?



VERJEE: Clooney has just spent several days on the border with Darfur, spending time with just a few of the tens of thousands of refugees there.

Jolie took out this newspaper ad to inform Americans about what's going on in Darfur. And Cheadle, star of "Hotel Rwanda," has written many op-eds, saying in "USA Today": "There is one major difference between Rwanda and Sudan. In Sudan, it's not too late to act."


VERJEE: And many Americans will be taking action this weekend. A rally against the Darfur genocide is scheduled for Sunday here in Washington.

And, Wolf, George Clooney will be among those there to be on hand.

BLITZER: A very important rally.

The fact that, Zane.

Thanks for your reporting.

And I spoke with George Clooney about his trip to Africa.

We are joined by Samantha Power, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her book "Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide."

Samantha Power, George Clooney, thanks very much for joining us.

CLOONEY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Welcome back.

Why did you go?

CLOONEY: Well, it first started, I was reading Nick Kristof's articles in the "New York Times." And he had just come back.

BLITZER: He's the Pulitzer Prize winning columnist.

CLOONEY: I'm sitting next to another Pulitzer Prize winner. And I had read Samantha's articles and her book and felt like it was probably a good time to cash in whatever celebrity credit card you get from having a good year on bringing some attention. BLITZER: So what do you want? What do you hope to achieve? What's the single most important thing you want to achieve from your journey out to Africa?

CLOONEY: The single most important thing I want to achieve is to try and help make sure that it gets on the air, that people see it, that people are talking about genocide, which they're not, in general, and not just in this country, in the whole world.

But if I show up places, sometimes cameras follow. And that's a good thing because then we can have these conversations and help, perhaps, the administration and the U.N. and all the people who actually want to do something about this, but they don't have the political capital.

BLITZER: You mentioned what Nick -- Nicholas Kristof wrote. He wrote this, and it seems to sum up the world's attitude, especially Americans' attitude toward what's happening in Darfur: "Mr. Bush is paralyzed for the same reasons as his predecessors when faced with genocide -- there is no great public outcry. There are no neat solutions. We already have our hands full and it all seems rather distant and hopeless."

I think that sort of conveys what's going on right now in this country, as far as the horror of what's happening in Sudan.

CLOONEY: But it's interesting how quickly things aren't hopeless when people, a group of people, American citizens, European citizens, suddenly stand up and say OK, wait a minute. Let's take a look at this. This is the first time that I know of that someone's talked about genocide while it's going on. Well, there's an opportunity there for the people to stand up and say OK, now let's make this simpler by saying we're going to make it -- we're going to make this important enough that it'll make it -- could make it easier for the administration to do something.

BLITZER: Give us the numbers, Samantha -- you're an expert -- on what's happening in Sudan and Darfur. Give us the numbers of the horror.

What's involved right now?

SAMANTHA POWER, AUTHOR, "A PROBLEM FROM HELL": Well, it's been called a slow motion genocide, but that, I think, underplays what's actually happening. About 400,000 people have died so far. Two or three million people have been displaced -- two million we know about because they're holed up in camps. Well, they're called camps. They're basically in these wide fields dependent on handouts when they come, when aide workers are actually able to brave the Janjaweed patrols that surround the camps. And those people remain incredibly vulnerable.

But the attacks are even continuing. Just three or four days ago, the Sudanese government again launched Antonov and helicopter gunship attacks at another village. There have been 80,000 people displaced just in the last two months alone. So that number of three million, which is just almost plucked from the sky because we can't access the people who are in need -- we know one thing, and that is that it's increasing.

We all know that the Sudanese government has become more and more obstructive, that they're expelling aide groups, not allowing even senior U.N. and U.S. officials into the camps. And, of course, we all know from the 20th century what happens when a government that is intent on committing genocide also knows that people aren't watching. It does it really with abandon and it counts on impunity.

BLITZER: And complicating this, George, in recent days, Osama bin Laden has now weighed in and said that the Muslims in Sudan have to stand up to the United Nations, the West, the United States, if they come in to try to intervention.

What do you make of that?

CLOONEY: Well, again, none of this is very simple.

On the other hand, I think that that should point to exactly what it is we're talking about, which is Bashir met with the Iranians two days ago and talked about getting nuclear technology from the Iranians. He is being defended by Osama bin Laden.

BLITZER: This is the leader of Sudan?

CLOONEY: The leader of Sudan. So clearly when they say to us we're not really bombing people and we're really a bunch of good guys over here, perhaps what you see who they're teaming up with, maybe that tells you something about what the Sudanese government is actually -- what the Khartoum government is actually doing.

BLITZER: Let me read to you another quote from Nicholas Kristof: "Part of the problem is that President Bush hasn't made it a top priority. But at least he is now showing signs of stirring. And, in fact, he's done more than most other world leaders and more than many Democrats. Our failure in Darfur is utterly bipartisan."

Do you agree with him on that?

CLOONEY: I think it is. I think that we are a country that is always slow to act. We always have been, on almost everything, but especially on situations like this. Rwanda is a perfect example. The Balkans are a good example. But we -- once we get our mind to it, we do it pretty well. We have failed, you know -- it's political savvy to say hey, we're all doing a little bit of something and it's good that we're moving in the right direction. We're not doing enough.

BLITZER: What do you want President Bush to do?

CLOONEY: Well, there's -- there's -- immediately we want to try and get security. That's the first thing, security for...

BLITZER: Send in U.S. troops?

CLOONEY: No... BLITZER: Do you want to send in the Marines?


BLITZER: What do you want to see happen, military -- militarily get involved?

CLOONEY: I think -- I think through NATO, if we can get a bridging force through NATO while we put together something in the U.N. I think that's our best bet. I don't think that that -- I don't think anyone wants that to be or thinks that's going to be American troops. It means that we who -- America, who usually is very good at coordinating these things, can be the leader in coordinating these things.

BLITZER: Because the African forces have been pretty much useless, right?

POWER: Well, look, I mean, I wouldn't want their job. There are 7,000 of them spread out, you know, in an area the size of France.

BLITZER: They really haven't gotten the job done, though.

POWER: They haven't gotten the job -- but there's not, I mean, if you had 7,000 of the best trained, you know, U.S. Rangers in Darfur, they would not be able to do the protection job. It's simply not doable.

BLITZER: How many troops do you think are needed?

POWER: Well, what's needed for perfect protection is -- is to blanket the country. But what would mark -- constitute a colossal improvement would be to triple the size of the force, make it 21,000 in places where the A.U. is present. Even though they don't have the mandate, they don't have the right guns, they don't have the mobility, they haven't been given these things from Western countries and they don't have them organically, they have made a difference. People feel safer. Women can -- in places where they can get African Union escorts, they can leave the camps and go and pick up firewood in order to heat the food that their families depend on in order to live.

In places where those A.U. troops are not present, they're doomed. The Janjaweed are patrolling around the camps. They can't actually get past the perimeter. So they basically have to make a Sophie's choice between feeding their families or getting raped.


BLITZER: And coming up, part two of my interview with George Clooney and Samantha Power.

We'll talk about the rare agreement that George Clooney has with President Bush, as he sounds off on Hillary Clinton as a possible presidential candidate himself.

That's coming up. Also still ahead, the "Star Spangled Banner" in Spanish -- it's making a lot of people very angry. Even President Bush doesn't approve. We're going to show you what the controversy is all about.

And coming up in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, massive rallies that threaten a nationwide boycott -- it's all supposed to go down on Monday. What could be the biggest skirmish yet in the battle over immigration reform. We'll go live to Los Angeles for a preview.

Stay with us.



BLITZER: Now more of my interview with George Clooney and Samantha Power.

They're just back from a fact finding trip on the slaughter in Sudan's Darfur region.


BLITZER: So when it comes to this issue, George, you and the president and the Bush administration are pretty much on the same page?

CLOONEY: I think so. I think that -- and I think that most of the world, especially most of the country, is on the same page, if they are reading the book. And unfortunately that book isn't getting read very often right now or loud enough. And so my job is to try and bring attention to that.

BLITZER: When it comes to Iraq, you and the president are not on the same page?

CLOONEY: No. But that's not what we're here to discuss.

BLITZER: Well, you...

CLOONEY: You know, I mean I agree. But, you know, I also would suggest that Senator Brownback and Senator Obama, who are the two leading the way in the Senate, don't agree on very many things either. But they certainly agree on this.

And I think that there's -- there's no two sides to this issue, Wolf. I mean there really are no two sides to it. There is simply one side. There's no two sides to the idea of rape.

BLITZER: How do you explain -- how do you explain that 60 years after the Holocaust, after Rwanda and Burundi and what happened in the Balkans, that this kind of thing can go on in this day and age?

CLOONEY: Because we've -- and it happens a lot with us. We've spent a lot of our political capital in other places, and probably Iraq would be one of them. We certainly have not the greatest relationship with the U.N. So there's a lot of other elements that are playing.

China has not been very forthcoming with sanctions against -- against the Sudanese government and they're getting a free reign because they're getting oil by themselves without competing with America right now.

It's a tough, tough situation to solve. But if we get -- if we're able to just protect some of these people and then start a diplomatic -- start some diplomatic measures, we have a chance.

BLITZER: I remember when I went with President Clinton in, I think it was '96, to Rwanda and Burundi and he saw what was happening. He says the biggest regret he had was he was in the Oval Office, he was getting the reports of the slaughter of the Rwandans and he didn't do anything about it. And he just let it pass. And it's hard to believe that that kind of thing is happening again.

You wanted to weigh into that?

POWER: Well, I would -- I'd love to, just on that question, because President Bush actually, when he first got into office, just before 9/11, he read a memo that was actually a summary of how the Clinton administration had allowed the genocide in Rwanda, because he was confused himself. Wait, we let a million people die? That's a little weird.

And he wrote in the margins of this memo, "Not on my watch." You know, I don't want this happening on my watch. It was sort of the 21st century version of never again.

And the reality is the Bush administration has done more than any other country on the Earth and the kind of domestic movement we have in this country that we've never seen before, basically with the American people learning and applying the lesson of Rwanda, where governments are only learning it in the abstract.

We only have that movement in this country. And the Bush administration has been well out in front of the rest of the international community. And yet history is not going to remember that the United States was in first place in terms of denouncing it and in terms of funding protection forces.

All they're actually going to remember is, yet again, a million people died under the watch of an American president.

BLITZER: It was '98 we went to Rwanda, as I recall.

Let me give you a couple of quotes that you made in recent weeks. And I just -- we're almost out of time. I want you to have a chance to respond.

The "Sunday Times of London" quoted you in December as saying: "The Democrats were scared on Iraq and the truth is they backed themselves into a corner. They didn't have the political resolve to tough it out and now they are paying the price."

What do you mean by that?

CLOONEY: Well, I think that, you know, there was a time when -- when the issue was you're either with us or with the enemy, as we were going into the war. I think that there were a great many Democrats that didn't truly believe that all of that, the ideas that we were tied to al Qaeda -- that -- not we were tied to al Qaeda, but that Hussein was tied to al Qaeda or that -- that they had anything to do with 9/11.

I think there were a lot of Democrats that didn't buy into that, but they didn't -- many of them didn't stand up. And I think that it cost them in the elections.

BLITZER: You said this about the junior senator from New York, Hillary Clinton. You characterized her as: "the most polarizing figure in American politics."

CLOONEY: Yes, but I didn't -- that wasn't -- believe it or not, that wasn't an insult. Someone was asking me, you know, can she win? And I said I think that she -- she absolutely can win. She is polarizing. People in one side of the country are, you know, adamant against her and people on the other side are, you know -- and you know this better than anyone, you've seen this for a while -- there are very strong feelings on either side for Hillary Clinton.

You know, I'm a Democrat. I like her. But she is certainly polarizing.

BLITZER: Thanks for your good work.

Thanks for making the trip.

Hopefully it'll result in something tangible.

I'm tempted to say to both of you good night and good luck but I'm sure a lot of people say that to you.

Samantha Power, thanks very much.

George Clooney, thanks to you.

CLOONEY: Thanks, Wolf.


BLITZER: And George Clooney and Samantha Power and a lot of other people are going to be at the Save Darfur Rally here in Washington this Sunday.

Up ahead, star spangled Spanish -- why is a new version of the national anthem causing so much controversy? We're going to have the details.

And in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, Bill Clinton back in the news today. See what the former president is up to right now.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: A controversial new version of the national anthem is catching attention from Main Street to talk radio to the White House. The reason? It's in Spanish.

CNN's John Zarrella is joining us now live from Miami. He's got the story -- John.

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know, the "Star Spangled Banner" can trace its origins, at least its melodic origins, back to a British pub song. But since Francis Scott Key wrote his version in 1814, there have been hundreds of other versions written. But this is a first. This is the first time one has been written in Spanish and it's causing quite a stir.



UNIDENTIFIED SINGERS: Oh say does that star spangled banner yet wave...

ZARRELLA (voice-over): Does it make a difference whether the national anthem is sung in English...


ZARRELLA: ... or in Spanish?


ZARRELLA: ... with different lyrics like "in fierce combat, the sign of victory" and "struggle ablazing at the site of liberty?"

It appears to be making a big difference. The notion of a Spanish version is raising so much controversy, even the president weighed in.

QUESTION: Mr. President, a cultural question for u. There is a version of the national anthem in Spanish now.

Do you believe it will hold the same value if sung in Spanish as in English?

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, I don't. I think the national...

QUESTION: Why not?

BUSH: Because I think the national anthem ought to be sung in English. And I think people who want to be a citizen of this country ought to learn English and they ought to learn to sing the national anthem in English. ZARRELLA: The song, called "Nuestro Himno," or our anthem, features Latin pop artists and a Haitian-American star, Wyclef Jean. Its release is timed to coincide with Congress's return to Washington next week and the renewal of the debate over immigration reform.

Adam Kidron, president of the company that handled the project, says it's definitely meant to send a message.

ADAM KIDRON, URBAN BOX OFFICE: We're trying to give the undocumented immigrants a real expression of patriotism.

ZARRELLA: It's not only sent a message, it's hit a nerve.

NEAL BOORTZ, TALK RADIO HOST: What do you think about this new Spanish language national anthem?

ZARRELLA: Neal Boortz, a conservative radio talk show host, is outraged.

BOORTZ: They've already published magazine articles in Mexico- saying Los Angeles is ours. Now our national anthem is theirs also?

ZARRELLA: In New York, the epitome of this nation's melting pot culture, there was, as you might expect, a mix of opinion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's great. OK. Where can I hear it?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm torn, because my parents are immigrants.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about America so I think it, you know, it should be in English.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We should keep it as is.

ZARRELLA: The producers say it's everybody's song. Critics say everybody should sing it in English.


ZARRELLA: Now on Monday, Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican from Tennessee, plans to introduce a sense of the Senate resolution which says that the national anthem must be sung in English. But, as you know, Wolf, that is more of a symbolic gesture. It is not enforceable. But it certainly gives us all a sense of the depth of controversy that this song has stirred -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It's a non-binding resolution, John.


BLITZER: The fact that good report.

Up next, immigrants to the United States planning a major boycott this Monday. Thousands, maybe millions, of Latino immigrants and others could stay home from work and school across the country.

So how will that so-called May Day boycott affect you?

Jack Cafferty weighing in with your e-mail.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Let's head up to New York and Jack -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: What effect is this May 1st boycott going to have on you is the question?

Michelle writes: "I say let them march May 1st. Let them show their economic might. And then, from Memorial Day through the 4th of July, let legal U.S. citizens boycott every business that hires illegal aliens. This 'Nuestro Himno' was the last straw for me. Americans should stand up and show all the illegal aliens who actually has the economic clout. Without a job, you'll see an amazing thing, when our borders are flooded in reverse, with them all trying to get back home."

Vince in North Muskegon, Michigan: "It'll solidify my resolve to replace any of my congressional representatives that vote for any bill that even hints at amnesty for illegal aliens. All politicians of both parties need to be on notice. Citizens v. Illegals do not."

Mary: "First they fly our flag upside down, then they rewrite our national anthem and now will demonstrate to shut down our economy. I say throw the bums out. Illegal is still illegal, no matter how long you've been here. We don't need people like this."

Karen in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: "Jack, I plan on spending some money on May 1st. I'll buy an American flag or two, maybe go see "Flight 93," do a little shopping and eat at the local mom and pop diner, owned by Americans, of course. I encourage other citizens to do the same."

James in Pekin, Indiana: "The boycott only strengthens my desire to have all the illegal aliens punished for breaking our laws and removed from the country. If they get away with this, there'll be more demonstrations and more than likely some will become violent."

And Cruz in California: "Have you ever seen a Chihuahua bait a Rottweiler? Sometimes they get away with it and sometimes they don't" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: See you in one hour, Jack, back here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We're here weekday afternoons 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, back 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Until then, thanks very much for joining us.

I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

"LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" starts right now and Lou is standing by -- Lou.