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President Bush Prepares For Primetime Immigration Address; Up To 200 Dead In Nigeria Pipeline Blast; Relationship Between Government And U.S. Phone Companies; Peter Hoekstra Interview; Militias Growing Problem In Iraq; Iranians Find Ways Around Strict Restrictions on World News; Is McCain Undergoing Political Makeover for 2008?; California Bill Could Require School Instruction About Historic Gays

Aired May 12, 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, it's 5:00 p.m. here in Washington, where President Bush is preparing for an Oval Office address on immigration. Is he planning to send U.S. troops to boost security along the Mexican border?

The president's pick for CIA director seeks support on Capitol Hill, but will General Michael Hayden find it? He previously headed the NSA, which reportedly collected phone records from millions of Americans. I'll speak with the House Intelligence Committee chairman, Peter Hoekstra.

And it's 2:00 p.m. in California, where schoolchildren could one day be reading about gay contributions to the history of the United States.

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

It's a hot-button issue for millions of Americans. Now the White House is calling it crunch time. And President Bush will devote prime time to discuss immigration reform.

Monday evening, the president will tell Americans how he plans on proceeding. Might one of the items he talks about involve U.S. troops on the border with Mexico?

We have two reports. Our Suzanne Malveaux is standing by over at the White House. Let's go to the Pentagon first. Jamie McIntyre has the details -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Pentagon says it could sustain a force of up to 10,000 guard troops on the border with Mexico if it had to. But it says it's way too early to put a number on how many troops would go there because it's still preparing options at the direction of the president.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): The Pentagon has been asked to draw up options for the military to help beef up security along the U.S.- Mexico border. And Pentagon sources tell CNN one idea under consideration is to have the federal government pick up the tab for several thousand additional National Guard troops to be activated in the border states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

Under that option, the guard troops would remain under the control of state governors as they were during Hurricane Katrina and would be limited to a supporting role, providing logistics, intelligence and surveillance help to civilian authorities. That's already being done on a small scale by several hundred guard troops. But the numbers could jump to several thousand.

FRANK GAFFNEY, CENTER FOR SECURITY POLICY: This is a job that we can train our forces to perform. We can utilize the panoply of sensors and detection devices and monitoring equipment and military hardware to ensure that we do not continue to be subjected to what amounts to an onslaught every single day.

MCINTYRE: Still, don't expect to see U.S. troops on the front lines patrolling the border, officials say. But with helicopters, unmanned spy planes, and sophisticated computers and communications, the guard could be one the Pentagon calls a force multiplier for the overburdened U.S. Border Patrol and local law enforcement.

Active duty U.S. troops are barred from domestic law enforcement by a Civil War era law known as Posse Comitatus. But National Guard troops under state control can perform some law enforcement functions.


MCINTYRE: The idea of having the U.S. military patrol the border has always been controversial, and some critics say if the problem is the Border Patrol is overburdened, then maybe they should just hire more border agents instead of calling on the already stressed U.S. military -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jamie. Thanks for that report.

What might the president discuss in his Monday address? Joining us now is our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux.

Suzanne, what are you picking up?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, certainly senior administration officials giving us kind of a sense, a broad sense of what the president is going to say. First and foremost, immigration reform is the top domestic priority for this president. That is why he's taking his message directly to the American people here to say, look, this is something members of Congress, he is saying -- they have got to put a piece of legislation that he can sign.

The president has been under a lot of pressure from conservatives in his own party to get tougher on border security. So expect really for that to be the focus of the president's speech.

We are told, of course, one of those ideas that he is considering, as Jamie has talked about, is enhancing the role of the National Guard along the border. Another thing that the president will also be addressing is the need for interior enforcement.

What does that mean? The fact that Americans are obliged not to hire illegal immigrants. That that is something he'll be talking about.

Third, he'll also argue that essentially you cannot enforce border -- the border control here unless you have a comprehensive guest worker program that allows immigrants either to do and work jobs on a temporary basis and return to their home country, their host country, or allow them to actually earn an eventual pass to citizenship. That is something the president will also be talking about -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux is at the White House.

You'll be busy over the next several days. You always are busy.

And Suzanne is part of the best political team on television. CNN, America's campaign headquarters.

CNN's Lou Dobbs, the rest of our team, they're all going to join us Monday evening for our special SITUATION ROOM coverage of the president's primetime address on immigration reform. Our coverage will begin at 7:00 p.m. Eastern here in THE SITUATION ROOM, of course only on CNN.

Now to a developing story we're following in Nigeria. Up to 200 poverty-stricken people seemingly trying to steal some oil from a pipeline wound up paying for it instead with their lives. Right now, charred and burned bodies are scattered across the beach near Lagos after the pipeline exploded.

CNN's Jeff Koinange is joining us from Nigeria -- Jeff.

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN AFRICA CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a scene of utter devastation. It seemed like someone literally dropped a bomb on this place. Black smoke billowing into the skies. Charred bodies littering the landscape.

In the words of the police chief, "What a horrible way for people to die." And this is his account of events. Apparently vandals tapped into the gas pipeline, wanting to siphon off fuel to sell into the open market, and probably someone lit a cigarette or maybe a motorcycle backed up, a spark flew, and literally instantly incinerated everyone in sight.

The Nigerian government quick to say this was not an act of terrorism, saying this was strictly an act of opportunism, vandals wishing to make a little money, but with devastating consequences. The last time an incident like this happened several years ago, upwards of a thousand people were instantly incinerated. The police chief here telling us, "Don't be surprised if that death toll continues to rise" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeff Koinange in Nigeria. What a story.

Thanks very much.

And Nigeria, by the way, is a leading supplier of oil to the United States. So might this blast set off another surge in oil prices right here at home?

Ali Velshi is joining us from New York with more on this.

Ali, actually you're in Washington today.

ALI VELSHI, CNN ANCHOR: I'm in Washington.

It's actually the fourth biggest supplier of crude oil to the United States, Nigeria is. Now, we have seen Nigeria and the tensions there raise the price of oil a few times in the last few months. In fact, a lot of this week's gain in the price of oil has been attributed to Nigeria, but not to this particular instance, because it probably had more to do with theft than with anything else.

The Niger Delta is where all of the oil in that country comes from. It's a very impoverished area. There are a lot of tensions in Nigeria, and a lot of the poor people in this area don't feel like they get a piece of the action. So kidnapping and vandalism and theft of oil is a big deal around there, and that's why a lot of this happens on an ongoing basis.

There are some organized political efforts to destabilize the government. And that has people worried about oil, because for the amount of crude oil that we get from Nigeria, there is a big effect to that.

So right now oil prices are down today. But if tension and unrest continues in Nigeria, you will see that continue to put pressure on the price of oil -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Meanwhile, though, we have been reporting since the last hour an oil refinery fire in Oklahoma. We've got some live pictures. Firefighters working that problem.

What are you -- what are you picking up?

VELSHI: Well, what it is, the fire is under control. Apparently no injuries. It's in Wynnewood, Oklahoma, about an hour and 10 minutes outside of Oklahoma City.

The issue here, Wolf, is that we use all of the refineries that take crude oil and make it into gasoline and diesel in this country all the time. So when they are off line for anything, it means that there will be a supply problem at the other end.

That's what we saw all last summer before the hurricanes hit and damaged a lot of refineries. So it's a big problem.

This is a 50,000 per day -- 50,000-barrel-per-day refinery. When those things are off line, that's less gas out to American consumers. So you will see an effect on gas prices.

BLITZER: Ali, we'll continue to watch the story with you. Thank you, Ali.

Now let's go up to New York and Jack Cafferty once again. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: A surprising bit of news here, Wolf. It turns out most Americans are OK with the National Security Agency collecting millions of phone records. A new ABC News-"Washington Post" news poll shows 63 percent say the government's program is an acceptable way to investigate terrorism, 35 percent say it's unacceptable.

I would be a member of the latter group.

All of this is probably good news to General Michael Hayden's ears. President Bush's pick for CIA director is on Capitol Hill today making the rounds. Fifth day of face-to-face meetings with lawmakers ahead of his confirmation hearings.

Hayden ran the NSA when the spy agency began, amassing this database of private phone records. The White House says the Bush administration is 100 percent behind Hayden. We'll see what the Senate Intelligence Committee has to say when they begin his confirmation hearings on Thursday.

Here is the question: What effect will the NSA collecting phone records have on General Hayden's nomination to head the CIA?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack, for that.

Up ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, controversy raging over new allegations of domestic spying by the National Security Agency. We'll talk about it with the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra. He's standing by to join us live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also, how Iranians manage to get around the country's strict censors. Our Aneesh Raman is reporting from inside Iran. He's one of the few Western TV reporters on the scene in Iran.

Plus, details of a California bill that would require, require adding gays and lesbians to school history books. It's causing lots of controversy out in California. We're going to go there live for a live report.

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


BLITZER: The White House says it's 100 percent behind the nomination of Air Force General Michael Hayden to head the CIA. That latest endorsement follows new revelations of domestic surveillance that Hayden oversaw while working over at the National Security Agency. The NSA reportedly collected customer phone records from three major telecom companies, but was it all legal?

National Security Correspondent David Ensor has been looking into this story. He's joining us live -- David.

DAVID ENSOR, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the answer to that depends on who you talk to. One thing is for sure, though. The relationship between U.S. intelligence and the phone companies has a long history.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a brief report on the impact of war upon a nationwide service.

ENSOR (voice-over): For as long as there have been telephones, and even well before that, the major communications companies have cooperated closely with the U.S. government. Former employees say during World War II the government under President Franklin Roosevelt received copies of every single telegram sent in or out of the United States. Not by law, but by request.

A former administration official says the same thing is apparently going on now between AT&T, BellSouth, and Verizon, and the U.S. government, and that it is legal, according the Supreme Court.

RICHARD FALKENRATH, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: They said call records that are stripped of personal information about the customer are not covered by the Fourth Amendment and, therefore, may be held and used by a federal agency that gets them voluntarily.

ENSOR: Such as the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland, which is analyzing telephone call records in search of terrorists. It is legal, too, says Falkenrath, for the companies to give the phone call data, just the telephone numbers, under the Telecommunications Act of 1934 and subsequent laws.

FALKENRATH: They generally prohibit the release of customer call records, except when those records have been stripped of personal identifying information.

ENSOR: But clearly, not everyone agrees. The then CEO of Qwest Communications, Joseph Nacchio, refused the government's request for his customers' phone data. In a statement, his attorney says, "When he learned that there was a disinclination on the part of the authorities to use any legal process, Mr. Nacchio concluded that these requests violated the privacy requirements of the Telecommunications Act. Accordingly, Mr. Nacchio issued instructions to refuse to comply with these requests."


ENSOR: In a statement late today, Verizon said it does not and will not provide any government agency with unfettered access to customer records or provide information to the government under circumstances that would allow a fishing expedition -- Wolf.

BLITZER: David, thank you very much.

Let's get some more now on these latest allegations of domestic spying. For that, I'm joined by the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra, of Michigan.

Mr. Chairman, welcome to THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: I take it you have been fully briefed on this program as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

HOEKSTRA: I have been fully briefed over the last 18 months as long as I have been in this role. That's absolutely right.

BLITZER: And the ranking Democrat, Jane Harman, you say has been fully briefed as well?

HOEKSTRA: That is correct.

BLITZER: Do you have any problem at all with what is going on?

HOEKSTRA: No. I think we need to recognize we are in the first war in the information age. We need to be creative. We need to use our domination of information to our advantage. We're doing it. We're doing it legally.

BLITZER: When people came over to brief you and others, the so- called "Gang of Eight," as they're called, the leaders of the intelligence committees, the leaders of the Senate and House, clearly behind closed doors, did anyone raise objections, Republicans or Democrats?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think, you know, this has been going on, one version or another, for four and a half years.

BLITZER: Since 9/11?

HOEKSTRA: Yes, since 9/11. If there were concerns, there were lots of opportunities and really the responsibility of the leadership to say, we disagree with this program, we are going to stop it or you're going to change it. It's our responsibility if we see something that's illegal to stop it. And obviously the program has been going on for four and a half years in one fashion or another.

It sends a clear signal that people walked out of those meetings believe the program was legal, essential, and it was making a difference. BLITZER: So the ranking Democrats, whether Jane Harman or Jay Rockefeller on the Senate side, or Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid, based on everything you know over these years, did not complain?

HOEKSTRA: If they -- that's my understanding. If they had a problem with the program, it was their responsibility. And as far as I can tell, they never expressed a concern. And they never -- none of them ever called me and said, "Hey, Pete, we've got a concern. We've got to stop this."

BLITZER: Here is what Representative John Boehner, the House majority leader, said yesterday. I want to play this clip.



REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), MAJORITY LEADER: I am concerned about what I read with regard to the NSA database of phone calls. I don't know enough about the details, except that I'm going to find out, because I'm not sure why it would be necessary for us to keep and have that kind of information.


BLITZER: What do you say to Congressman Boehner?

HOEKSTRA: I think, John, you're doing exactly the right thing. With some of the reports that were out there, a lot of them were not accurate and are not accurate. I would be concerned, too. And it's his responsibility as the majority leader to get the information, find out more of what we are doing so that he can have a better understanding. And I think, again, when he sees what is going on in the program, he will do just like the leadership before, Republicans Democrats, and say this is exactly what we need to be doing.

BLITZER: What is not accurate?

HOEKSTRA: Some of the news reports.

BLITZER: Like what/ Give us some examples...


BLITZER: ... because we've been reporting it, "USA Today" broke the story yesterday. Tell us what's not accurate that you know as a result of your having been thoroughly briefed.

HOEKSTRA: I'll tell you one of the things that I know is not accurate. There's a report out that says we collect all of these billions or millions of records.

BLITZER: Phone calls.

HOEKSTRA: Phone calls. And we got this program in place where we are tracking the content. And if someone says the word "al Qaeda" or "suicide bomber," that communication is triggered and it goes to an analyst somewhere. We don't look at content in this program. You know, it's all done legally.

For domestic-to-domestic surveillance, you need to go through and follow the law, which means you need to require a warrant.

BLITZER: You have been critical of General Hayden. You don't think he's the right man to lead the CIA at this time, even though the White House says they're standing by him 100 percent. Why don't you like General Hayden to lead the CIA?

HOEKSTRA: The -- we need a diversity of opinion. General Hayden comes at this -- he's got a distinguished career in the military, 37 years. But this is a civilian agency. We need a civilian perspective in here.

There -- right now, every single major intelligence unit is headed by a military person. You can't now take the CIA, the lone voice of civilian representation in the intelligence community, and give that over to another military person.

BLITZER: John Negroponte is a diplomat. He's not a military man. He's in charge of national intelligence.

HOEKSTRA: And what he's going do is he's going to be getting fed information from every single intelligence agency that is going to be headed by a military person. You need a diversity of opinion coming into the community.

BLITZER: One final question. You're in charge of oversight of the intelligence community. As far as you know, Porter Goss' decision to step down, your former colleague when he was in the House of Representatives, what, if anything, does that have to do with the current investigations of the number three official over at the CIA, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo, whose house -- we had live pictures of that earlier today -- whose house was being searched and his office was being searched earlier today?

HOEKSTRA: I think I know Porter pretty well. His integrity is unquestioned. I can't believe that he would have anything to do with what is going on potentially with Dusty Foggo. He would be the person that would lead the effort to get corruption out of the CIA.

BLITZER: And do you know this Dusty Foggo? Have you ever met him?

HOEKSTRA: I've met Dusty Foggo, yes.

BLITZER: What do you think of him?

HOEKSTRA: The -- I don't -- I've not had a lot of experience with him. I did have dinner with Dusty on one occasion. But the kind of details that coming out today, I -- you know, like I said, I have only met him a couple of times.

BLITZER: The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Peter Hoekstra.

Thanks for coming in.

HOEKSTRA: Hey, thanks. Good being here.

BLITZER: And coming up, President Bush huddles with former secretaries of defense and state, including our own world affairs analyst, the former defense secretary, William Cohen. He's going to join us. We'll talk about what was inside that agenda over at the West Wing.

And in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, a new documentary about former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani. See what some of his friends and foes are saying about the former mayor.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: Let's check "The Bottom Line" with Ali Velshi once again. He's here in Washington -- Ali.


BLITZER: Coming up, they may look like members of Iraq's army, but they're causing chaos and conducting kidnappings. We're going to tell you who they really are and why the U.S. thinks they're truly dangerous.

And parents typically want their children to learn all they can about American history, but many are outraged over a push to teach more children about gay and lesbian contributions to America.

Stay with us.


BLITZER: They're sometimes overshadowed by insurgents, but the militia groups are also responsible for violence in the country. President Bush took note of that with current and former secretaries of state and defense.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now with more on this story -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's likely no coincidence this problem has made its way up the chain of command to President Bush. Top coalition commanders have talked a lot about the militias recently. They're getting more worried about their level of violence and brazen tactics.


TODD: Near the central Iraqi city of Baqubah, captured fighters wearing Iraqi army uniforms, held by U.S. and Iraqi soldiers. They're not who they appear to be. U.S. military officials say some of these men confessed to be members of the notorious Mehdi militia linked to the radical Shiite cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr. They've gotten hold of Iraqi army uniforms, gone around in pickup trucks, kidnapping villagers.

U.S. and Iraqi forces were ticked off and intercepted the militia.

LT. COL. THOMAS FISHER, U.S. ARMY: When we got there, they found a force of about 40 individuals and seven vehicles, and proceed to engage those criminal forces.

A firefight that left five militia men dead, dozens of other apprehended. But some got away with kidnap victims. A senior U.S. military official on the ground tells CNN groups like this are, quote, "one of my biggest problems," a problem that's gotten the attention of his commander in chief.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Perhaps the main challenge is the -- is the militia that tend to take the law into their own hands.

TODD: In Baqubah, Baghdad, and elsewhere, local residents tell CNN these lethal militias are the real power in the streets, answering only to their leaders, like Al-Sadr, not to American forces or Iraqi government officials.

The problem: the failure to fill key cabinet positions, leaving a power vacuum in Iraq.

LT. GEN. ROBERT FRY, BRITISH ROYAL MARINES: We have had an extended political hiatus while this government has been standing up. And that has permitted radical politicians and some militias to claim to represent, to regulate, and to communicate -- to protect their own communities.


TODD: We're told that a new Iraqi cabinet could be named as early as Sunday. But even then, the job of containing the militias would only begin, and the scope of these sectarian killings is staggering. Iraqi's president says last month alone, the Baghdad morgue reported more than 1,000 victims of day to day violence -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks for that.

A key member of the CNN security council, our world affairs analyst, William Cohen, is also a former defense secretary. He was in the meeting over at the White House earlier today with the president. William Cohen is also the chairman and CEO of the Cohen group here in Washington. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM right now.

Take us inside the West Wing. What was it like with these former secretaries of state and defense and the president and his top advisors? WILLIAM COHEN, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Wolf, this is the second time in a very short period of time in the last two or three months that President Bush has called for a gathering of former secretaries of defense and state.

And basically, it was an opportunity for Secretary Rice and Secretary Rumsfeld and General Pace to give about a 45-minute briefing to all those there, bringing us up to date on what is taking place on the ground, what are the challenges, et cetera.

At the end of that 45-minute presentation, President Bush came in. He then engaged in a give and take for the next 45 minutes to an hour, soliciting views of us and giving us a perspective on his part, his administration, what his goals are.

BLITZER: Did you learn something that you didn't know walking into the West Wing?

COHEN: Well, perhaps more specifics than what we got from the newspaper in terms of what is taking place on the ground, the kind of reports coming from General Casey and our ambassador in Iraq itself.

I was able to convey my own impressions of traveling in the Gulf region, from Riyadh to Qatar to Abu Dhabi and Dubai, most recently, and...

BLITZER: You're just back.

COHEN: Just back. And to convey the level of anxiety that those countries have about what is taking place in Iraq. But also what is taking place in Iran. There is genuine concern and apprehension on their part about the growing tensions that exist and the threat that exists from Iraq -- Iran, rather.

BLITZER: So they're worried that the U.S. might take military action against Iran? Was that the concern you conveyed to the president?

COHEN: They're -- they're concerned on two levels. No. 1, they're concerned about the growing power of Iran. They're also concerned about any kind of military action being taken without some real serious diplomatic initiatives being undertaken.

And Secretary Rice, I think, conveyed very clearly that we are pursuing diplomatic initiatives and not looking at the military options.

BLITZER: There were former Democratic secretaries of state and secretaries of defense, former Republican. Was anyone -- were there any sharp exchanges? Anyone critical of the president to his face?

COHEN: No one was critical to the president. There were obvious disagreements amongst some of the members who were there. Albright had some very strong opinions, but she is a diplomat and a former secretary of state, and she conveyed her views in a very professional manner, as did others. And so this is a group that has worked together and known each other for a long period of time, have had similar experiences of being in positions of responsibility. And so it was a very easy going exchange but very forthright.

BLITZER: Based on what you heard, did you emerge more or less optimistic about the situation in Iraq?

COHEN: A little more encouraged in terms of what is taking place, in terms of the commitment of the new government, with a prime minister designate committed to forming a unity government, filling those positions, then cracking down on the militia, taking away the sectarian violence to the extent they can. Also delivering services that are much needed: electricity, water, all of the human needs that are required in order to win the hearts and minds.

I think there's some progress being made there, but the jury is still out. Still a tough road to go.

BLITZER: Well, we're glad you're back safe and sound from the region. Thanks for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

COHEN: A pleasure to be here, Wolf.

BLITZER: Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his program that begins right at the top of the hour. He's going to tell us what he's working on.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Wolf, thank you. Coming up at 6 p.m. Eastern here, we'll have complete coverage of President Bush's plans to address the nation Monday night in an effort to save his so-called comprehensive immigration reform.

Will President Bush send troops to our southern border? We'll be live at the White House, Capitol Hill, and the Pentagon tonight. And among my guests tonight, Congressman Virgil Goode, who introduced the amendment to send troops to our border; Congressman Sylvester Reyes, who strongly opposes that idea.

And I'll also be talking with three of the country's top political analysts. We'll have a special report as well for you on a major new crime wave sparked by illegal immigration. American children are the victims.

Please join us, 6 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: And Lou, we'll be seeing you here in Washington Monday for our special coverage. You'll be doing your program from 6 to 7. You'll stay with us in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll get to the president's speech at 8 p.m. Eastern, then a special edition of "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" coming up after the president's speech at 8:30. Did I get it all right?

DOBBS: I think you did very well, Wolf. It's going to be a day of intense and important coverage. We're looking forward to it. BLITZER: Lou Dobbs will be here in Washington for all of our coverage. Lou, thanks very much.

And still to come, author and aggressor. Saddam Hussein's newest book could soon be on the bookshelves. You think you want to buy it?

And in Iran, you're told what books you can't read and what Internet cites you can't surf. But many Iranians are thirsty for information, and they've found a way around that. Our Aneesh Raman is inside Iran, and he has the story.


BLITZER: Let's check back with Zain for a quick look at some other stories making news.

Hi, Zain.

VERJEE: Hi, Wolf.

We're following a development from Durham, North Carolina. Another round of DNA results in the Duke lacrosse rape case have come back. Now defense lawyers have been summoned to get the results. We don't know exactly when the results are going to be publicly released. And we also don't know what exactly they're going to show. We know, though, that the district attorney is not going to comment on them at this time.

Just a little bit of background. As you remember, Wolf, two Duke lacrosse play -- players, Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann, have already been charged in this case where a female stripper, a 27-year- old black student, had alleged that she was raped by white men at a house party on March the 13th.

Since then, an investigation has been underway. There are developments, but we'll bring you more details when we get them.

Overseas now, a book -- book by ousted Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, is going to be in book stores in Japan a week from today. It's called "Devil's Dance". Saddam Hussein reportedly completed it the day before the U.S. invaded Iraq back in 2003.

Its Japanese publisher says Hussein's daughter carried it out of Iraq when she fled to Jordan. The book's plot appears to symbolize a supposed Jewish-Christian conspiracy against Arabs and Muslims.

And a discovery by U.N. inspectors is triggering new concerns that Iran may be hiding nuclear activities. Diplomats say inspectors have found possible traces of near weapons grade uranium on equipment from a former Iranian research site. Now this comes as the European Union works on a potential offer to defuse the nuclear dispute. It would provide incentives to Iran if it stops enriching uranium, and it would impose penalties if it does not -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Zain, thanks for that.

Now let's continue our look at some other stories around the world.

In Iran, you read and watch what the government allows to be seen and heard. And if you want to watch international news like CNN, good luck. Some people have come up with some ways to avoid being in the dark.

CNN's Aneesh Raman is one of the few western journalists inside Iran and has this report from Tehran -- Aneesh.


ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, amid the nuclear dispute between Iran and the west, we wondered how Iranians get their news about the outside world.

(voice-over) In Iran, you can get tens of thousands of people to show up on a day off for a book fair. This one is the biggest, the annual international fair. They come here to read about the world, at least the world their government allows them to see.

Some books are banned. And Ali Moin of Cambridge University Press tells us which ones.

ALI MOIN, CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS: Titles which are against Iran or against the Islamic rules. There are some guys here coming and seeing and reading some of the chapters of the titles. Or then they're going to let us which titles we can sell and which titles we can not.

RAMAN (on camera): So if the only restrictions are on books about Iran, what about books about the west? We have come here to the biggest political section in this whole book fair, we're told. We found some interesting books. First on Israel. A book called "Israel: The First 100 Years, Israel in the International Arena".

In terms of the U.S., there are a couple of books that are on Iraq. We found this one, "The Iraq War and Democratic Politics".

(voice-over) But what about daily news? Where do Iranians get that? There are newspapers, each with stated political views. And on TV, the only news is state run. Outside channels like CNN get blocked at times, we're told, by the government.

But at Internet cafes such as this one, young, educated Iranians, like 18-year-old Kasra (ph), are reading whatever they want.

"There are a number of sites which are political or inappropriate that are blocked," he says, but we have proxies we can use. Then they try to block those, but we can get still get through."

Sites like those on Iranian resistance. Type it into Google and you hit a wall. And while the Internet is about information here, it's also about doing what you can't do on the streets.

"Young people use the Internet," says 21-year-old Oshin (ph), "because of limits on society. So you can talk more easily online, especially if you want to talk to the opposite sex. Most people go online for fun."

And when it comes to fun in this conservative country, there are ways around every boundary, even if it's just by finding cover in a crowd.

(on camera) And with the Internet, we're told, there is virtually nothing that the young Iranians we spoke to can't find out -- Wolf.


BLITZER: Aneesh Raman in Tehran, thank you very much.

Young Iranians may be using the Internet to read the news. But what happens when they try to write it? Iran's government has a troublesome record when it comes to regulating speech online.

Our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner is joining us with more -- Jacki.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Reporters Without Borders is an international free speech watch group. And they've put Iran on their list of 15 enemies of the Internet. Basically, these are countries they say crack down hardest on Internet use.

They told me in 2005, they saw some 20 bloggers arrested in Iran. They say there's currently four journalists and two bloggers in jail right now. One of those bloggers actually contributed to their handbook for cyber dissidence. His name is Arash Sigarchi, and he's accused of insulting the supreme guide, Ayatollah Al-Khamenei. He is in jail right now again in Iran.

But again, slight contrast. I spoke today to a guy named Hoter (ph). His name is Hosein Duraqshani (ph). He's one of the top Iranian bloggers who now lives in Toronto but keeps a close eye on what's going on in the blogging world in Iran. And he tells me he thinks the new regime is actually embracing the world of blogging, Wolf, and they are trying to control the message, but not stop people from talking -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Jacki, for that.

Up ahead, is Senator John McCain moving toward the political right ahead of the 2008 presidential election? We're going to show you what he's doing. And some of that is raising some eyebrows. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Senator John McCain is set to give a series of commencement addresses that are being closely watched by his political allies and his opponents. Our senior political analyst, Bill Schneider, is joining us now with more on McCain, what he's up to, his motives -- Bill.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, forget baseball. Here in Washington, a new sport is coming into season. It's called McCain watching.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Who's the real McCain? Is it John McCain, the maverick moderate from 2000, who condemned...

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: The agents of intolerance, whether they be Louis Farrakhan or Al Sharpton or Pat Robertson on the right.

SCHNEIDER: Or is it McCain, the partisan conservative?

MCCAIN: I'm a pro life, pro family, fiscal conservative.

SCHNEIDER: Lately, the partisan conservative seems to be more in evidence.

TIM RUSSERT, HOST, NBC'S "MEET THE PRESS": Do you believe Jerry Falwell is still an agent of intolerance?

MCCAIN: No, I don't.

SCHNEIDER: In fact, Senator McCain is giving the commencement address at Falwell's Liberty University this weekend.

Conservatives have no clear favorite in the 2008 race. And since the vice president is not running, there's an opening for a Bush loyalist. And what better way to prove your loyalty than to defend the president when he's down?

MCCAIN: He's our president and the only one who needs our support today.

SCHNEIDER: What happened to McCain, the maverick moderate? McCain says he's still around.

MCCAIN: I don't think that my position on immigration is exactly pleasing to the far right base.

SCHNEIDER: But President Bush's support for a guest worker program is not pleasing to the far right either. Still, McCain went a step further than Bush by proposing a path to citizenship.

President Bush now says...

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If they want to become a citizen, they can get in line, but not the head of the line.

SCHNEIDER: So McCain can say he's influencing Bush.

MCCAIN: I'm very grateful for the president's statements on this issue. He understands it.


SCHNEIDER: One thing that could win McCain support from conservatives, if he looks like the only Republican who could beat Hillary Clinton. Because the only sport that can compete with McCain watching in Washington right now is Hillary watching -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Bill Schneider, thank you for that.

And we're also following a developing controversy over textbooks in California. The legislature there is considering a bill that would require school history books to include the contributions of gays and lesbians to the state.

CNN's Chris Lawrence is joining us now live from Los Angeles with the story -- Chris.

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, California public schools can already include instruction about gays and lesbians voluntarily. This bill requires them to be included, like any other group.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): Millions of public school students would read about gay and lesbian people's contribution to history if a California bill becomes law. The state senate approved the bill, which allows identification of sexual orientation and bans textbooks that portray gays and lesbians in a negative light.

LORRIE FEINBERG, PARENT: I think it's fantastic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is terrible.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's long overdue.

LAWRENCE: From parents to politicians, reaction was mixed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you write people out of history, they don't feel significant.

LAWRENCE: Some parents say textbooks have been changed before, to include woman and minorities, and historical role models boost self-esteem.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Jewish immigrants found out that Einstein was Jewish. That person might feel, wow, you know? Jewish is OK. And I feel good about myself.

LAWRENCE: California spends $400 million a year on textbooks. And a lot of them would have to be changed to reflect the contributions of gays.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If in fact there is a discussion in English about Oscar Wilde, it will reference the fact that he was gay.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It makes me a little uncomfortable.

LAWRENCE: Rosemary Falk (ph) says sexual orientation should only come up if it had something to do with the historical event itself. Harvey Milk's murder in San Francisco fits that criteria. He was an openly gay politician gunned down by an antigay conservative.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Both Mayor Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk have been shot and killed.


LAWRENCE: Falk would not want sexuality mentioned when it comes to, say, an author or inventor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You wouldn't say, he was a straight person, you know. Unless it's totally relevant to their part in history, I don't know if that would be something I'd want part of the curriculum.


LAWRENCE: A lot of California Republicans say the legislature has no business dictating how history books are written. They're going to fight this bill when it comes before the state assembly in June, and ultimately, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has to approve it, too -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Chris. Another controversy in California. Thanks, Chris Lawrence, for that.

Chris Lawrence and Bill Schneider are part of the best political team on television, CNN, America's campaign headquarters.

Up next, your answers to our question of the hour. What effect will the NSA collection of phone records have on General Hayden's nomination to head the CIA. Jack Cafferty is standing by with your e- mail.


BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Indeed I do. Thanks, Wolf.

The question we're asking this hour is what effect will the NSA collecting phone data on private citizens have on General Hayden's nomination to head the CIA? Confirmation hearings are scheduled for next week. He used to run the NSA at the time they put this data collection program in place.

Dawn writes from Mesa, Arizona: "Appointing a military general to the head of the CIA is going to cloud the responsibilities of both. Collecting phone records has been done for years by the NSA. However, if they do confirm the general, perhaps it's time to change the initials of the CIA to the KGB."

Alan in Boxton, Maine, "As another Bush crony who has bought into the proposition of any form of illegal activity is acceptable if the president authorizes it, he will be shot down by both Democrats and any Republican who wants to be re-elected." John writes, "It should do nothing but improve his changes of being confirmed. Americans aren't realizing that we're in a war, in which the enemy is using never before seen tactics. We've got to do absolutely everything to protect ourselves."

DeeDee in Carbondale, Colorado: "I hope it has a profound effect. Why is it so easy for us to give away our constitutional rights when everyone else is fighting for theirs?"

Talk to John in New York, will you, DeeDee?

And Fred in Fort Lauderdale, Florida: "Are you kidding me, Jack? The revelations about domestic spying will have no effect whatsoever on his confirmation to be CIA director. This totally gutless Congress would confirm Jack the Ripper."

He may have something there.

BLITZER: Jack, see you back here in THE SITUATION ROOM in one hour. Today, the Space Shuttle Discovery is one giant leap closer to a July launch. This will be the first flight since NASA grounded the shuttle last summer after foam broke off from the fuel tank during launch.

We bring in Jacki Schechner. She's watching all this unfold -- Jacki.

SCHECHNER: Wolf, here's a picture of the shuttle being rolled out from the hangar. And it's heading towards the vehicle assembly building. What they're going to do there is attach it to the new rebuilt fuel tank and the rocket boosters. This is not the same fuel tank that had problems last summer. It's been totally rebuilt.

When this thing gets into space, they are going to dock at the International Space Station. They're going to drop off a German astronaut, and they've got two space walks planned.

These are really cool links. We put them all online for you. They're at for this and any other links from the online site.

BLITZER: Jacki, thanks very much. We'll see you in an hour, as well. Remember, we're here in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons from 4 to 6 p.m. Eastern. We're back at 7 p.m. Eastern just an hour ago from now. 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.

DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf.