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The Situation Room

U.S. Military Rocked by Allegations that U.S. Marines Massacred Civilians; Interview With Iraq's New Ambassador; Preparing for Hurricane Season; What Does a New Treasury Secretary Mean for Americans?; Universities Targeted by Hackers; White House, Congressional Republicans at Odds

Aired May 30, 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 1:00 a.m. in Baghdad. As violence rocks Iraq, the U.S. military is rocked by allegations that Marines massacred civilians. We'll hear about the investigation, and we'll also hear from the mother of one Marine who is still badly shaken by what he saw.

It's 4:00 p.m. in New Orleans. On the eve of a new hurricane season, is the city prepared? We'll take you on a tour with the Homeland Security secretary, and I'll speak with the new commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard.

And it's 5:00 p.m. here in Washington, where the rift widens between the White House and Capitol Hill Republicans. Was the raid on a congressman's office the last straw?

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

It was a bloodbath. Insurgents killed at least 47 people, wounded more than a hundred others in Iraq today. Most of the casualties were from three bombings in Baghdad and in the city of Hillah, to the south. The violence came as President Bush welcomed Iraq's new ambassador over at the White House, saying Iraqis have endured difficult times.

But much of the attention here in Washington today is on another bloodbath, the killing of some two dozen Iraqi civilians last November in Haditha, an alleged massacre by U.S. Marines.

CNN's Brian Todd is standing by with the fallout on that incident.

Let's go to the Pentagon, our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, first, with the latest -- Jamie.

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, in anticipation of the idea that charges will be filed against Marines in the weeks or perhaps even months ahead, some of those Marines are talking to defense attorneys. And we're talking to those attorneys. They're painting a slightly different picture of what may have happened in Haditha that day, including accounts of a firefight that was nearby, even if it wasn't at the scene where the killings took place.

Meanwhile, members of Congress have been told to brace for the worst. One of the ones who has been most vocal is Congressman John Murtha, who, Wolf, told you in THE SITUATION ROOM just a short time ago that he believes the stress the U.S. troops were under was a factor in what happened.


REP. JOHN MURTHA (D), PENNSYLVANIA: It's the same thing. Over- stress, these troops going out every day, IEDs go off. Some of them have seen 30 IEDs go off all at once. They're killed or one of their friends is killed.

So the pressure is tremendous. It's one of those things where we have become the enemy.


MCINTYRE: Sources tell CNN that charges are likely, including murder charges, against a small number of Marines, and dereliction of duty charges against others. The Pentagon is cautioning against any rush to judgment until the investigation is completed and released. And the White House is pledging that once that happens, everything will be public.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I have been told and was assured earlier today when I called about it that when this comes out, all of the details will be made available to the public. So we'll have a picture of what happened.


MCINTYRE: Meanwhile, reaction from Iraq today. The prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, saying, "We will ask for the answers, not only about Haditha, but about any operation in which killing happened by mistake. We will hold those responsible who did it."

This is an indication of how the Haditha incident is now putting a focus on other incidents across Iraq. People are asking fresh questions about any incident in which civilians were killed and the circumstances under which that happened -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A quick question, Jamie. I take it there are two investigations under way. One into the alleged massacre, a second into allegations of a cover-up.

MCINTYRE: That's correct. And we're told in that second investigation the initial conclusion is there was a cover-up. The question is how far up the chain of command is goes, whether it was limited to the Marines who were involved in the incident or whether others knew about it as well.

BLITZER: All right, Jamie. Thank you very much.

A half a year after the Haditha killings, a Marine family is struggling with the fallout. We must caution you, portions of our report may be disturbing to some viewers.

Let's bring in our Brian Todd. He's covering this part of the story -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for one 21-year-old Marine and his family, memories of Haditha are still fresh and devastating.


TODD (voice over): Marine Lance Corporal Ryan Briones has already given one emotional account of what happened after the alleged massacre in Haditha last November, when he says he was assigned to take pictures and clean up bodies.

Briones told the "Los Angeles Times," "They ranged from little babies to adult males and females. I'll never be able to get that out of my head. I can still smell the blood."

His mother, Susie Briones, relays a more graphic description her son gave her to CNN.

SUSIE BRIONES, CORPORAL'S MOTHER: When he had to carry, since he was part of the cleanup crew, carry that little girl's body, and her head was blown off or something that her brain splattered on his boots. And that is what affects Ryan the most, is that he had to pick up this child's body to put her in a body bag, and that happened. You know, that her head -- things fell out of her head.

TODD: Briones and his mother also give disturbing accounts of how he had to help recover the body of his best friend, Lance Corporal Miguel Terazes (ph), whose death from a roadside bomb investigators believe might have triggered the alleged killing of unarmed civilians.

BRIONES: Pick up his -- go pick up his arm.

TODD: Susie Briones says she gets calls from her son at 4:00 in the morning saying he can't sleep. She's sure he has Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Asked if Ryan's gotten adequate care from the military...

BRIONES: They have not. All they did was give him sleeping pills and antidepressants. And his first psychiatrist or psychologist to see him will be June the 6th. He was back April 2nd. He asked for help over there right after and they didn't offer that.

TODD: Veterans advocate Rick Weidman says problems like this are still very common. RICK WEIDMAN, VIETNAM VETERANS OF AMERICA: They're probably not getting the help that they need immediately because the military medical system does not have the organizational capacity. In other words, enough psychologists, psychiatrists and clinical social workers to provide it. That's number one.

Number two is, if they go on sick call, they believe, despite "reassurances," that that's the end of their military career.


TODD: Contacted by CNN, an official at U.S. Marine Corps Central Command responded in e-mail, "While it would be inappropriate and a violation of privacy rights protected by law to discuss a service member's medical concerns, I can tell you that medical professionals and Marine leadership regularly educate Marines on how to obtain assistance, and there is no stigma attached for doing so. The investigation is ongoing and investigators will conduct the necessary interviews in order to ensure a thorough investigation" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you very much.

As concern over the alleged Marine massacre takes hold, Iraq's new ambassador here in Washington has his own story to tell about violence in Haditha hitting very close to home for him. Coming up here this hour in THE SITUATION ROOM, I'll speak with the new Iraqi ambassador in Washington, Samir al-Sumaidaie.

Zain Verjee is standing by from the CNN Center in Atlanta with a closer look at some other important stories making news -- Zain.

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, six more guilty verdicts for the Washington area sniper John Allen Muhammad. A Maryland jury convicted him of six deadly shootings in that state in 2002. He faces six life terms when he's sentenced on Thursday. He's already been convicted and sentenced to death by a Virginia jury for a sniper shooting in that state.

Air Force General Michael Hayden is now officially in charge of the CIA. He was sworn in as agency director today by National Intelligence Director John Negroponte. President Bush will officiate at his ceremonial swearing in tomorrow. Hayden replaces former CIA director Porter Goss, who was forced out earlier this month after a tumultuous tenure.

There's another shake-up in the Bush administration. Treasury Secretary John Snow stepping down after months of speculation about his departure. President Bush is nominating Henry Paulson to replace Snow. Paulson is the CEO of Goldman Sachs. Our Ali Velshi is going to have a lot more on Paulson's nomination and the job he's up for a little bit later this hour.

A memorial was held in Houston today for another former Treasury secretary. Former President Bill Clinton was among those paying tribute to Lloyd Bentsen, who died last week. Bentsen was also a vice presidential candidate, as well as a senator and a congressman who represented Texas for 28 years -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I knew Lloyd Bentsen. He was a very good man, Zain. Our condolences to his family.

Let's go up to New York. Jack Cafferty is standing by with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the search is over, for now. The FBI calling a halt to a 13-day effort to find Jimmy Hoffa's remains at a suburban Detroit horse farm. They dug the place up, tore the guy's barn down. No luck.

Do you care? Does anybody care? Why are we still looking for Jimmy Hoffa?

The former head of the Teamsters Union disappearing near Detroit 31 years ago. Nobody knows what happened to him, except it was some good. He got dead.

For a long time, it was thought Hoffa's body was buried underneath Giants Stadium in New Jersey. Maybe it is.

Meanwhile, a Michigan congressman says it's time to set a limit on spending money to look for Jimmy Hoffa. Representative Joe Knollenberg said the FBI should establish a budget and a timeline. The FBI hasn't said how much this latest effort cost, but it did say the expenditure of funds has always been necessary in each and every case the FBI works, and this one is no exception.

Here's the question: How many taxpayer dollars should we spend looking for Jimmy Hoffa's body?

E-mail us at or go to

As nasty as he was, Wolf, I bet his family doesn't even care if they find him.

BLITZER: You know, Jack, I heard a number, $700,000 or $800,000, you and I, taxpayers, are going to spend to rebuild the barn they tore down looking for Jimmy Hoffa. Check that out. I want to get back to you and see if that's what it costs to rebuild that farmer's barn looking for his body -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, the time the government rebuilds it, it will be $2 million, $3 million.

BLITZER: We'll have more on this story. Jack is going to do some research with his crack staff to come up with some numbers.

Up ahead, hurricane season now just two days away. The man in charge of Homeland Security, the secretary, Michael Chertoff, gets a firsthand look at how New Orleans is preparing. And our Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve will have her exclusive report with Michael Chertoff. That's coming up.

Also, the Republican divide. We're going to show you what is behind the hard feelings between Congress and the White House.

Plus, my special interview with Iraq's new ambassador here in Washington. He'll join us in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: As dozens of people fell victim to insurgent attacks back home, Iraq's new ambassador here in Washington today presented his credentials to President Bush over at the White House. Ambassador Samir al-Sumaidaie said terrorists will never stop Iraqis from establishing a democratic and free country. President Bush said he's very impressed by the courage and determination of Iraqis during what he called these difficult times.

Iraq's ambassador has a personal connection to the horrors under -- that have taken place in Haditha back in Iraq. And his own family is living with a nightmare.


BLITZER: And joining us now, Iraq's new ambassador here in Washington, Samir al-Sumaidaie.

Mr. Ambassador, welcome to Washington. Good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: What do you know about what happened at Haditha?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: Well, I heard the report very soon after the event in November from some relatives. And as it happened, my own security detail comes from that neighborhood. And his home is hardly a hundred yards from the home which was hit.

And he was in touch through the Internet with his folks and neighbors. And the situation which he reported to me was that it was a cold-blooded killing.

BLITZER: By who?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: By the Marines, I believe. Now, at that time, I dismissed the initial reports as incredible. I found it unbelievable, frankly.

BLITZER: You were at the United Nations then?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: I was at the United Nations, and I found it unbelievable that the Marines would go in and kill members of a family who had nothing to do with combat. But I was under pressure by my friends and relatives to raise this issue.

Without any evidence in my hand, I didn't really want to make any claims that I could not substantiate. That was, remember, before any video came out. It was just word of mouth, people telling me what happened. And I know the power of the rumor and the power of allegations without foundation. But in this case, it was more than that.

BLITZER: Well, you didn't raise it?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: I did not raise it. I noted it. But I did not raise it. I raised it unofficially by -- through private conversations.

BLITZER: But even months before the incident in November, you lost a cousin at Haditha in a separate battle involving United States Marines.

AL-SUMAIDAIE: Well, that was not a battle at all. Marines were doing house-to-house searches, and they went into the house of my cousin. He opened the door for them.

His mother, his siblings were there. He led them into the bedroom of his father. And there he was shot.

BLITZER: Who shot him?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: A member of the Marines.

BLITZER: Why did they shoot him?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: Well, they said that they shot him in self- defense. I find that hard to believe because, A, he is not at all a violent -- I mean, I know the boy. He was a second year engineering course in the university. Nothing to do with violence. All his life has been studies and intellectual work.

Totally unbelievable. And, in fact, they had no weapon in the house. They had one weapon which belonged to the school where his father was a headmaster. And it had no ammunition in it. And he led them into the room to show it to them.

BLITZER: So what you're suggesting, your cousin was killed in cold blood, is that what you're saying, by United States Marines?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: I believe he was killed intentionally. I believe that he was killed unnecessarily. And unfortunately, the investigations that took place after that sort of took a different course and concluded that there was no unlawful killing.

I would like further investigation. I have, in fact, asked for the report of the last investigation, which was a criminal investigation, by the way.

General Casey is aware of all the details, because he's kept on top of it. And it was he who rejected the conclusions of the first investigation. I have since asked formally for the report, but it's been nearly two months and I have not received it.

BLITZER: Did you raise these concerns you had with the president today when you were at the White House presenting your credentials? AL-SUMAIDAIE: No, I did not, because I did not want to bring a personal note into a much wider brief that I have here.

BLITZER: But what I hear you saying -- and I don't want to put words in your mouth -- is there may be, in Haditha, at least, a pattern to what happened to your nephew, what happened apparently in November when these other Marines went in.

Are there any other examples of cold-blooded murder that you are familiar with in Haditha?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: I am familiar with at least one other killing of three youths which happened very soon after the killing of my cousin. They were in a car. They were unarmed, I believe. And they were shot.

Now, in that case, there could be possibly -- possible excuse or explanation that the Marines were afraid. They were approaching them too fast, or whatever. But the details as they were related to me were such that there was no possibility of misunderstanding.

But in all these situations, you know, you have the word of the community, people around, civilians around, and you have the word of the individuals in the Marines. And, you know, when it comes to comparing these two sources, I mean, if my uncle, whom I have known all my life since childhood, and I know he would not make up stories, and I know he would not lie, and I know what is at stake is the life of his grandson, then, you know, I know which word to take.

BLITZER: Do you have confidence the U.S. military will do a thorough investigation?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: Ultimately, possibly yes. But in situations like this, the ramifications are so profound that they -- they would initially take the attitude that they hope this would go away. If it can be swept under the rug, it would. But when -- when it goes up higher in the hierarchy, then there are people who recognize the potential damage of cover-up, and there is a better possibility of it being opened up.

BLITZER: So you're concerned there could be a cover-up?

AL-SUMAIDAIE: There is always a concern against cover-up. But let me say this, Wolf, events like this, Abu Ghraib, killing, intentional killing like this, do -- I believe, as I said in my statement at the time in July of last year, they are a betrayal to the American people. They're a betrayal to what the Marines are doing and what the American Army is doing.

On the whole, the United States and the military are doing an honorable job on an honorable project, which is of immense potential benefit for the United States and for us. Such crimes detract from that.

The focus in all the international media has been on these things, not on the good things. And I do believe that for every bad apple, bad Marine, there are thousands and thousands of good -- good ones doing good job, doing the best they can under difficult circumstances. However, it is absolutely imperative that we remove the bad apples and we expose them and we don't try to cover them up.

BLITZER: On that note, Mr. Ambassador, we'll leave it. Thanks very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

AL-SUMAIDAIE: Thank you. Thank you, Wolf.


BLITZER: Marine Corps officials say they will not comment on the Haditha investigation until it's completed and the report is made public. As for the ambassador's own allegations, first leveled last July, the commander of the multinational force said this. And let me quote. "We take the allegations seriously and will thoroughly investigate this incident to determine what happened."

And that was the commander of the multinational force west -- the western part of Iraq.

Coming up, a network reporter gravely wounded in Iraq. Now we're learning more about how she survived and why some people are simply calling it amazing.

Plus, he wound up in charge of the government response to Katrina. Now he's the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. Admiral Thad Allen standing by to join us live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.

This Thursday marks the official start of hurricane season. A chilling thought for residents, especially of New Orleans. And government officials still stinging from the botched response to Katrina.

No one is taking any chances this time, including the Homeland Security secretary, Michael Chertoff. Our Homeland Security Correspondent Jeanne Meserve is joining us now live from New Orleans with more -- Jeanne.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Secretary Chertoff is here to satisfy himself that everything that can be done has been done to protect this city if another big hurricane hits.



MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Chertoff, C-H-E- R-T-O-F-F. MESERVE (voice over): Secretary Chertoff played evacuee, getting a firsthand taste of what will happen if there is another evacuation of New Orleans. He travels on a city bus just as an evacuee would, and talks about his greatest concern.

CHERTOFF: I think the biggest outstanding challenge for us is shelter for people being evacuated.

MESERVE: Some Louisiana communities experienced an influx of Katrina refugees and the problems they brought and are reluctant to open doors next time around.

CHERTOFF: We can't have a situation where people throw people out of a lifeboat because they say, "Well, not in my lifeboat."

MESERVE: Working with the governor, Chertoff hopes to find enough shelter in Louisiana, but acknowledges evacuees may have to go elsewhere.

CHERTOFF: We ought to get together on a pamphlet...

MESERVE: New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is among those meeting and briefing Chertoff. Nagin brings to the secretary a concern of his own. The regional transit authority will run out of money the very month hurricane season starts.

MAYOR RAY NAGIN (D), NEW ORLEANS: That will mean the drivers will be laid off and we won't have enough people to implement our evacuation plan.

MESERVE: Chertoff says the federal government will come up with the money to keep drivers on the job if it has to. Chertoff gives a good grade to the city's evacuation plan, but he says all of the efforts of local, state and federal governments could be undercut if citizens refuse to leave when they are told to.

CHERTOFF: What I'm told they do in Florida is, when they have a mandatory evacuation, they say to people, look, if you choose not to leave, write your Social Security number on your arm so when we find your body we can identify you. And that may be a very blunt and unpleasant way to express the thought, but I think ultimately what they're trying to say to people is, look, we can't help you if you won't help yourself.


MESERVE: Chertoff says that more hurricane planning has been done this year for New Orleans than in the last 20, but he acknowledges that few battle plans survive their first contact with the enemy. The enemy in this case, the first big storm.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Jeanne.

Jeanne Meserve reporting for us. The U.S. Coast Guard wound up playing a tremendous role in the wake of Hurricane Katrina with Admiral Thad Allen named the principal federal official in charge of the response in the wake of FEMA's failure and the firing of Michael Brown, the then FEMA director. Now Thad Allen is the Coast Guard commandant. He's joining us here live in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Admiral, thanks very much for coming in.

The Coast Guard, by all accounts, performed brilliantly in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. FEMA did not.

What do you think going into this new hurricane season, based on what you know -- and you work in the same Department of Homeland Security -- is FEMA ready this time?

ADM. THAD ALLEN, COMMANDANT, U.S. COAST GUARD: I think we are, Wolf. The Coast Guard has pre-designated principal federal officials to work with the department. We actually have done joint training with FEMA officials over the last two to three weeks. I was even involved in that training.

We are leaning very far forward, and I think we're much better off this year than we were last year.

BLITZER: Here's what Susan Collins, the Republican chairwoman of the Homeland Security Committee in the Senate, said. "FEMA has become a symbol of a bumbling bureaucracy in which the American people have completely lost faith."

The word FEMA itself generates angst, especially going into this new hurricane season. You understand that?

ALLEN: I do. When I was a principal federal official down there last year, I saw a lot of FEMA employees giving it all for the country down there. There are a lot of highly motivated people in the organization. They have some things that need to be fixed. The secretary is about that. They are in the right department. We're working side by side with them. And I think we're going to be as ready as we can be.

BLITZER: Was it smart to bring the Coast Guard and FEMA into this new Department of Homeland Security? A lot of second guessing in the aftermath of Katrina last year that that was not necessarily the best way to handle a response to a disaster like this.

ALLEN: Well, I worked with FEMA before we moved to the new department. And of course, I've worked with them since then. And I think this is the perfect marriage of Coast Guard and FEMA in the same department. We prescript mission assignments now so we're ready to act further in advance than we ever have before. But the joint training between Coast Guard and FEMA people has been extraordinarily useful.

BLITZER: Max Mayfield, the director of the National Hurricane Center, he said this the other day. He said, "Katrina was a national wakeup call. But it seems too many residents are still asleep."

Is that your fear right now, going into this new hurricane season? Are people -- still are lethargic about another hurricane?

ALLEN: Well, I certainly hope not. But I think people in this country need to understand that preparedness is a multi-level responsibility. There are federal responsibilities, state responsibility, parish and county responsibilities.

But people need to be able to exist in their house and take care of themselves for at least 48 to 72 hours after an event, because it may take that long to get help to them. And I think there's an individual responsibility piece that has to be considered.

BLITZER: Dealing with a hurricane is only one responsibility of the Coast Guard. There are a lot of other responsibilities, including port security. There's a lot of fear right now that our ports are not secure. Only a small percentage of cargo is inspected. What is the Coast Guard doing?

ALLEN: Well, we take a broader view of port security in that we look at risk, threat, and vulnerability in our ports. And we have assessed all the major ports in this country since 9/11, both for threat and vulnerability.

And you can't protect everything at any time. What you have to do is allocate your sources to the highest threat and risk areas, based on that methodology. And we do that in every port.

BLITZER: Here is what Clark Kent Ervin, the CNN homeland security analyst, writes in his new book, "Open Target". He's a former Homeland Security Department inspector general.

"We remain far more vulnerable to a catastrophic attack today by means of a weapon of mass destruction sneaked into one of our nation's ports than we should be. The department has oversold and otherwise misrepresented the programs that are presently in place to guard against this awful possibility, and moneys intended to make our ports more secure have all too often been wasted."

Those are strong words from someone who used to be on the inside.

ALLEN: They are. And we need to be concerned about what's in containers and we need to be concerned about weapons of mass destruction. But our analysis of the threats and vulnerabilities in ports indicate to us there's a very strong risk that our concerns should be directed towards vessel-borne explosive device. And therefore, you have to not just concentrate on containers but it's the entire spectrum of threats in a port.

BLITZER: What you're saying is you're doing a good job, but there's still a way to go to make the ports completely secure?

ALLEN: Absolutely. I think each year we need to take more steps towards it. We can't do everything in one year. We're working on international protocols. We just concluded an arrangement through the International Maritime Organization that will deal with long-range tracking of vessels. It's a layered security. You have to keep building it up every year with the resources you have and direct it to the highest threats.

BLITZER: You realize, of course, if they do build a wall, let's say, or a fence along the border with Mexico or tighten up security, illegal immigrants will find another way to come into the states. And they might come in via the seas, whether the Atlantic coast, the Pacific coast, the Great Lakes from Canada. That's your responsibility to stop them.

ALLEN: Great point, Wolf. We are aware that we are the maritime bookends. We are already doing contingency planning in the event that we see the migration patterns change, and we are on top of that.

BLITZER: What are you doing? Can you tell? Do you have enough manpower to get ships to stop that kind of immigration, if it should occur?

ALLEN: We track illegal migrant trends. And if we see a sustained flow over a certain period of days, we deploy forces to those areas. We do it in the Straits of Florida, down off Brownsville, Texas, or San Diego. If we thought that was needed, we would just ship forces down there to meet the threat.

BLITZER: Sounds like the Coast Guard has got a full agenda, and you're the man to lead it. The commandant of the Coast Guard, Thad Allen. Thanks for coming in.

ALLEN: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope this is going to be a quiet hurricane season, given what happened last year.

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

Coming up, a changing of the guard that will involve your money. Now that the treasury secretary is out and a new one soon likely in, what should that -- why should that matter to you? Ali Velshi standing by to explain.

Plus, it's taken 31 years and cost taxpayers perhaps more money than you can imagine. But the FBI has still not found Jimmy Hoffa's body. So when should the FBI say enough is enough? Jack Cafferty has your e-mail


BLITZER: As we reported earlier, the country is getting a new treasury secretary. What does it mean for you? Ali Velshi is in New York with the "Bottom Line" -- Ali.


Listen, it doesn't mean a whole lot on a short term basis. But the treasury secretary is a -- is the frontman for the White House's financial policy. And this could signal a shift if the White House wants to make a shift away from its strong defense of the U.S. dollar.

Now this White House and this outgoing treasury secretary, John Snow, have been pretty vocal about expressing the strength of the U.S. dollar overseas. The issue here, of course, is that the dollar has started to weaken, whether or not the White House wants it to. And a weaker dollar does make American goods more attractive and better priced overseas.

This is something the White House hasn't made a statement about. And a lot of people on Wall Street have been parsed through that Henry Paulson comments today and comments that President Bush made, thinking that that might be a direction they want to go in. The economy is otherwise looking good, but jobs still seem to disappear. And China is nipping at the heels of the United States. So the ability to sell American-made goods and services for less money might be something that Paulson might have on his agenda.

We'll keep an eye out for that, but no quick fix. In the long term, though, it could be good for America's economy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you. Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show that begins right at the top of the hour, and Lou is standing by to tell us what he's working on.

Hi, Lou.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Hi, there, Wolf. Thank you.

Coming up at 6 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, tonight we'll be reporting on the spiraling violence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Major new questions tonight about the president's conduct of the war on terror. And we'll be live at the White House and the Pentagon for those reports.

Also, a huge increase in the number of illegal aliens now crossing our southern border after the Senate passed its pro-amnesty legislation. The chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, Congressman Pete King, joins us here.

And should people who cross our border illegally be treated the same as someone who's given a traffic citation, as White House press secretary Tony Snow says? We'll find out. I'll be talking with three of the country's top radio talk show hosts.

All of that and a great deal more coming up at the top of the hour right here on CNN. We hope you'll be with us -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Lou. We will.

Sacred Heart University is among the latest victims of hackers. The FBI cyber crime unit is now investigating the potential theft of personal information affecting, get this, up to 135,000 students and alumni. For a look at this troubling trend, let's go back to our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, Ohio University, University of Texas now Sacred Heart. These are just some of the schools that have reported significant breaches in their computer security just this year, putting the information of tens of thousands of people in each case at risk of possible identity theft if it falls into the wrong hands.

Now, unlike last week's case at Veterans Affairs, which involved a stolen laptop, that data breach involving stolen equipment, all these cases involve hacking, cyber criminals looking for ways into a school's network.

This is a list of data breaches compiled at the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. Director Beth Givens there, she says that universities have multiple access points. It makes them more vulnerable to hackers. That's at Anyone who suspects that they've been a victim of identity theft, the FTC maintains a web site of information -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you, Abbi, for that.

Still to come, it's not the playbook Karl Rove wants Republican to play by: Congressional Republicans openly defying their Republican president. Our Jeff Greenfield standing by to explain why so many of them are going after -- going their own way after supporting President Bush in the first term.

And soon to be cold case, or simply a case gone cold? How much is too much in the search for Jimmy Hoffa? Jack Cafferty with your e- mail. All that coming up.


BLITZER: There are new developments in the FBI raid on a congressman's office. Democratic Congressman William Jefferson of Louisiana wants his papers back from the FBI. But today, the Justice Department said it won't give him the originals, just copies of them. That way both sides can determine which papers they think should be privileged.

Meanwhile, a top House Republican says he's still concerned about the raid. Today House Judiciary Committee Chairman James Sensenbrenner said he'll summon the attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, and the FBI director, Robert Mueller, before his panel to explain why they chose to raid Jefferson's Capitol Hill office.

Meanwhile, this tangled web involving constitutional concerns and an alleged bizarre stash of cash in a freezer might be leaving a cloth (ph) of discontent among Republicans.

Our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield, is standing by with more on the story -- Jeff.

JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Wolf, when a Republican committee chair asks if the FBI raid on a congressman's office, quote, "trampled the Constitution" you can safely conclude there's some anger at work here.

But the bigger story is that the unhappiness of a Republican Congress at a Republican White House has been building from almost the beginning of President Bush's second term.


GREENFIELD (voice-over): All through his first term, President Bush enjoyed remarkable support from Capitol Hill Republicans. That's how he got most of his domestic programs like the tax cut through an almost evenly divided House and Senate.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not over my dead body will they raise your taxes.

GREENFIELD: But his second term has been a dramatically different story. First, there was Social Security reform, the keystone of his 2005 domestic program, an idea that withered and died with barely a whimper.

Then came the Supreme Court nomination of Harriet Miers, which inflamed conservatives. The ports deal with the Dubai company, reflecting what even some of his supporters said was a tin ear for the political consequences. The response to Hurricane Katrina. And growing anger among fiscal conservatives over spending, especially for pork barrel projects like that Alaska "bridge to nowhere."

Grass roots anger with business as usual spending was dramatically demonstrated two weeks ago in Pennsylvania when primary voters threw out 15 incumbents, including both top leaders of the Republican-controlled state senate. Nothing like that had happened in some 40 years.

House Speaker Dennis Hastert is said to be furious with the White House over its summary dismissal of CIA director and former Republican Congressman Porter Goss.

And nothing has more dramatically illustrated the divide between President Bush and congressional Republicans than the immigration issue. Top Republican Party officials have been arguing that polls show Americans want a comprehensive solution to the issue, combing border security, guest workers, and paths to citizenship.

But that is clearly not where congressional Republicans are. Nearly two-thirds of GOP senators voted against the comprehensive Senate bill. House Republicans seem even more committed to a bill that deals only with enforcement.

And in what might be the most conservative congressional district in America, Utah Republican incumbent Chris Cannon runs a real risk of being unseated in a Republican primary by a staunch restrictionist candidate.


GREENFIELD: Now maybe this is the traditional second term overconfidence that tends to afflict White Houses. Maybe it's just a run of bad luck. But of all the troubles afflicting this White House, the gap between the two ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is the one that most is looking like a self-inflicted wound -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jeff Greenfield, thank you.

And to our viewers -- you know this -- Jeff is part of the best political team on television. CNN, America's campaign headquarters.

Up ahead, patient's condition. She's showing -- she's showing some signs of progress. But officials say she still has a very long way to go. We'll have the latest on the condition of Kimberly Dozier of CBS News, who was so badly wounded in Iraq.

And get this: in our 7 p.m. Eastern hour, the Democratic Congressman John Murtha, he says his sources are telling him that there was a cover up of what happened in Haditha, where U.S. Marines are alleged to have massacred Iraqi civilians. John Murtha will tell us what he knows. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Let's check back with Zain. She's got another quick look at some other important stories making news -- Zain.

VERJEE: Wolf, today, we're learning that the driver of a military truck that rammed into pedestrians in Afghanistan says his brakes went out as he was driving downhill. Officials say he told them he tried to slow down by hitting empty parked cars, but he just couldn't stop before hitting the pedestrians. U.S. military officials say one person died in the crash that prompted widespread riots.

She's said to be moving her toes and opening her eyes. An official said badly hurt CBS News correspondent Kimberly Dozier is doing as well as can be expected. Dozier's now recovering at a U.S. military hospital in Germany after being critically injured by a roadside bomb in Iraq yesterday. Two other CBS journalists, a U.S. soldier, and an Iraqi translator were killed.

The U.S. Supreme Court sends a message to would-be whistle blowers. Not everything you expose can be protected. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that government workers who blow the whistle on alleged illegal conduct do not deserve First Amendment protection as an automatic shield from their bosses. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said the First Amendment does not protect every statement public employees make while doing their job.

And tonight, President Bush will watch the movie "United 93" with relatives of some of those depicted in the film. "United 93" shows how al Qaeda hijacked a United Airlines plane and how passengers on that flight fought the hijackers, causing the plane to go down in a Pennsylvania field. President Bush has long called the passengers and the crew members heroes -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very powerful film, Zain. Thank you very much for that. It's considered one of the most extensive video archives of the events surrounding 9/11, more than 500 hours with some clips viewed online more than a million times. But now the ultimate fate of that collection very much unclear.

Let's bring back our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner -- Jacki.

SCHECHNER: Wolf, it's video like this, amateur video taken on September 11 and the week following that was collected by a New York production company called Camera Planet. They've put this video online at Google Video, and about a million hits in the three months that it's been up, people taking a look at this.

We're talking about 500 hours of raw footage. They put about three percent of that online. That adds up to about 1,700 different clips from 76 different amateur contributors. The video was originally a larger collection of video used in a documentary, the documentary called "Seven Days in September" released in 2002.

Now Camera Planet is looking for a permanent home for this. They're looking for a donor, a buyer, a partner, someone who will keep it in tact and make it available to the public. And what's interesting about this, Wolf, is while there are hundreds of collections of video out there, this is one of the largest and most extensive that's available online.

BLITZER: Jacki, thank you very much.

Up next, how many taxpayer dollars should be spent on the search for Jimmy Hoffa? Jack Cafferty with your e-mail, that's next.


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

CAFFERTY: Thanks, Wolf.

FBI says it's all over. Thirteen days they spent tearing up some guy's farm outside Detroit looking for Jimmy Hoffa. No luck.

A Michigan congressman says we ought to set spending limits on the money we spend looking for this guy. He's been dead 31 years. The FBI said that this particular search expected to cost less than $250,000, and the government will rebuild the man's barn.

The question is how many taxpayer dollars should be spent looking for Jimmy Hoffa's remains?

Patricia in Grass Valley, California: "How about spending the money on finding Osama or helping the Katrina victims? I can't imagine that anyone cares about Hoffa's bones!"

Anna in Greensboro, North Carolina: "With the 2006 hurricane season only two days away, the money being spent on finding Hoffa could have been spent on the preparation of the New Orleans levees. Or maybe on the cost of building a wall between the United States and Mexico."

Adam writes, "You sound disgusted by the expenditure of money to locate Hoffa. How many dollars would you like spent to find your body, Mr. Cafferty?"

Hadn't thought about it.

John: "How much money can we pay you, Jack, to come up with a topic worth discussing? Trust me, there's some news out there somewhere!"

Rick in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania: "Who cares? We spend $180 billion on tax cuts for the wealthy, $400 billion on a wild goose chase in Iraq. What's another few million to rebuild a farm? Besides, I've got good information that Hoffa's buried under my house, and I've tipped off the FBI. I hope I'm next."

Bob in Bradenton, Florida, writes this: "Jack, I can tell you where to find Hoffa and save the government thousands. He is in a Detroit area hospital. You will find him in the maternity ward 'organizing labor'" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Did you ever get a final number, how much it's costing to rebuild that barn that they knocked down?

CAFFERTY: No. Did you hear the last e-mail, about him being in the maternity ward organizing labor?

BLITZER: Organizing. Yes, I heard that. I heard that. But I was trying to get a number. We'll talk about it later.

Jack Cafferty will be back in an hour when we come back here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're on from 7 to 8 p.m. Eastern, as well as 4 to 6 p.m. Eastern. An hour from now we'll be back.

Lou Dobbs is standing by to pick up our coverage. He's joining us from New York -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, Wolf.