Return to Transcripts main page
The Situation Room
North Korea Missile Sits Ready for Test Launch; Al Qaeda-linked Group Says it Abducted U.S. Soldiers; President Bush's Warning for Iran
Aired June 19, 2006 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou.
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 tonight's top stories.
Happening now, has the countdown already begun? It's 8:00 a.m. in North Korea, where a missile capable of reaching U.S. soil sits fueled and ready for a test launch. And as Iran presses ahead with its nuclear program, the U.S. issues both countries tough warnings.
It's 7:00 p.m. in New York, where Al Qaeda reportedly dropped a plot to gas the subway system. But is New York city still in danger? Is a sleeper cell on the loose?
And Angelina Jolie is out of Africa. She speaks with our Anderson Cooper about the plight of women and children there in her first TV interview since giving birth to her own child.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We'll get to those stories in a moment. But first, a developing story we're following in Iraq, where massive search is now underway for two American soldiers missing since the clash on Friday. An Al Qaeda-linked group says it abducted the soldiers and is taunting the U.S. military right now for failing to find them. CNN's Arwa Damon is in Baghdad -- Arwa?
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the search for two U.S. soldiers missing in Iraq since their checkpoint came under attack has intensified.
Day three of the U.S. military's search for two of its own.
MAJ. GEN. BILL CALDWELL, MULTI-NATIONAL FORCE-IRAQ: Over 8,000 U.S. military and Iraqi army and police are working together, conducting an intensive surface (ph) operation to determine the status of these soldiers. We are using every means at our disposal.
DAMON: Planes, boats, helicopters, unmanned aerial vehicles, and divers all taking part, sparing no effort to ensure the most thorough search possible. House-to-house inspections taking place in an area known to the military as the Triangle of Death. The search effort itself bringing more combat.
CALDWELL: While searching for our soldiers, we have engaged in a number of significant actions against the anti-Iraqi forces. The specifics of these operations currently available for release are as follows. Three anti-Iraqi forces killed in action, 34 detainees taken into custody.
DAMON: And at least seven U.S. servicemen wounded since Friday.
CALDWELL: We will never stop looking for our servicemembers until their status is definitively determined.
DAMON: A Web site posting claims a group linked to Al Qaeda abducted the two soldiers but provides no evidence to back the claim. Previous hostages held in Iraq describe how they were often moved from the custody of one group to another before ultimately being freed.
For now, the U.S. military lists the status of Private First Class Thomas Tucker and Private First Class Kristian Menchaca as whereabouts unknown -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Arwa Damon in Baghdad, thank you very much for that.
Meanwhile, three American servicemembers who are members of the same airborne division as those two missing soldiers, the 101st, are all charged with murder. An Army sergeant and two soldiers accused of killing three Iraqi prisoners on May 9 in Iraq in Iraq's Salahuddin province.
They're based in northern Iraq, charged with premeditated murder, attempted murder, and conspiracy. Officials also allege the three servicemembers threatened to kill a fellow soldiers who witnessed the shootings if he talked. The three accused are in custody awaiting a hearing right now. If convicted, they all could face the death penalty.
Meantime, the insurgency rages on. Nine people died, dozens more were wounded today when bombs ripped through a Baghdad market and two Iraqi checkpoints. The vice president Dick Cheney was asked about the Iraq situation.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: About a year ago, you said that the insurgency in Iraq was in its final throws. Do you still believe this?
RICHARD CHENEY, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I do. What I was referring to was the series of events that took place in 1995. I think the key turning point, when we get back ten years from now, say, and look back on this period of time with respect to the campaign in Iraq, will be that series of events when the Iraqis increasingly took over responsibility for their own affairs.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: The vice president says that looking back now, it's clear the U.S. underestimated the level of violence in Iraq.
Now, a story you'll see only here on CNN. U.S. forces in Iraq on a very, very dangerous mission. Our Nic Robertson is embedded with U.S. troops near the insurgent strong hold of Ramadi -- Nic?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, for the last few days, the U.S. and Iraqi military have been stepping up activities here in Ramadi to defeat the insurgents. It's an ongoing operation, they say. It's part of a long-term plan. But last night, we joined an overnight operation that brought us to this new operating security post on the east of Ramadi.
ROBERTSON: It's dark and about to get very, very dangerous. Captain Kiah says he is taking us on a special mission into the volatile town of Ramadi.
CAPT. KIAH SENTI, U.S. ARMY: This area right here (inaudible)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Really.
SENTI: So I'll be honest with you, at any second we could blow up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any second?
ROBERTSON: He's been hit six times and lost two soldiers to IEDs, roadside bombs.
SENTI: Before you step out, just always look down and look around. (inaudible).
ROBERTSON: On this mission, there were so many roadside bombs, commanders called in a gun ship to help clear the road described as a minefield. The captain sent his mission to search for security outposts deeper than ever into insurgent territory. Just two miles from the base they've already discovered 10 IEDs, rendered harmless in controlled detonations.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To my left, this is all going to be a combat outpost. This will be a logistical area, in and out. (inaudible).
ROBERTSON: More controlled detonations?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: More controlled detonations.
ROBERTSON: By putting in these combat outposts just one night after other new combat outposts went in, what the Army hopes to do is keep the insurgents off their guard and use that to their advantage.
With improving light, the push to press home that advantage, troops searched areas previously hard to access, discovering bomb- making equipment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Playstations, cell phones, explosives, rice bags (ph), a combination thereof. It would equal about 15 IEDs, just enough to fill in the hole that we found already tonight.
ROBERTSON: Later, they would find more. But with daylight, the emphasis switches to building the new bases.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's getting ready to launch an RPG. That's what he's thinking right now.
ROBERTSON: And securing them in the very hostile environment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As the outposts are being built, this is what the soldiers are going to be doing, looking, watching, waiting, ready in case a suicide bomber comes down the road to try and target the new observation points.
ROBERTSON: Although U.S. troops were most of the muscle behind the operation, it is the Iraqi army who will ultimately run these outposts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The real success is going to be the Iraqi army and the constant presence of the Iraqi army right here in this area.
ROBERTSON: But high hopes are tempered with reality. The Iraqi army is already based in some less volatile parts of Ramadi, and even there, they are yet to bring stability and an end to the roadside bombs. And that means for the foreseeable future at least, many more dangerous missions for Captain Senti and his men in Ramadi.
Wolf, no one has an exact figure for the number of insurgents in Ramadi, but it's estimated to be between several hundred and perhaps as many as a thousand. And no one her, no military commander that I have spoken to, underestimates the tough battle that they have ahead -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Nic Robertson for us in Ramadi. Thank you, Nic, very much.
President Bush once referred to them as an Axis of Evil. Now, he still has his hands full with Iran and North Korea. The president himself gave Iran a tongue lashing about its nuclear program today, but there's more immediate concern right now about North Korea, which has a long-range missile ready for a test launch, a missile capable of reaching the United states.
The Bush administration launched a preemptive strike in the form of a verbal blast from the secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: It would be a very serious matter and indeed a provocative act should North Korea decide to launch that missile. We will obviously consult on next steps, but I can assure everyone that it will be taken with utmost seriousness.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So what if North Korea goes ahead with a launch? In any case, is there anything the United States can do about it? Let's turn to our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, if North Korea tests its long-range ballistic missile, it will provide the Pentagon with a chance to see just how well its ballistic missile defense shield really works.
Any North Korean launch of its Taepo-dong-2 ballistic missile will in large part be a test of the $11 billion the Pentagon has spent trying to develop weapons to shoot such a missile down before it reaches the U.S.
Early warning satellites will detect the exhaust from a launch within seconds. Then, upgraded radars in Alaska's Aleutian islands and at Beale Air Force Base in Sacremento, California, will begin tracking the missile's path.
U.S. Navy ships in the Pacific with upgraded radars will also track the Taepo-dong missile, which has a reported range of about 3,000 miles and could hit the U.S. All of this will help the U.S. quickly determine if Pyongyang is using the missile to launch a satellite or a warhead.
If it's a warhead and it appears headed for the U.S., then the military could use nine interceptor missiles it has in Alaska and two in California to try to shoot the missile down.
The Pentagon doesn't think it's going to have to shoot anything down. There is no indication that North Korea is trying to attack the United States. The best guess is any missile would simply fall into the Sea of Japan or the Pacific Ocean -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon. Thanks very much.
Now to the nuclear threat from Iran. President Bush's warning that there will be consequences if Iran fails to drop its nuclear program and accept a deal with the West. Our White House correspondent Ed Henry standing by with more -- Ed?
ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Wolf.
That's right. A blunt threat from President Bush on the eve of his trip tomorrow morning to Vienna for the European Union summit where Iran's thirst for nuclear weapons will be at the very top of the agenda. Today, the president was delivering the commencement address at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in New York. The president said the U.S. will not engage in international talks with Iran until it stops its uranium enrichment program.
Iran continues to insist that program is only meant for peaceful purposes, but the president basically called Iran out today charging that, in fact, this program is a mask for an effort to acquire nuclear weapons. The president also threatened tough sanctions and said if Iran continues to refuse the U.S. offer to enter into historic negotiations, multilateral talks, they will face serious sanctions. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Iran's leaders have a clear choice. We hope they will accept our offer and voluntarily suspend these activities so we can work out an agreement that will bring Iran real benefits.
If Iran's leaders reject our offer, it will result in action before the Security Council, further isolation from the world and progressively stronger political and economic sanctions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HENRY: Now, European Union officials have Iran an unofficial deadline of the end of June to answer the U.S. offer to enter into these negotiations. That's why the president has a lot riding on this summit. He's faced tough allegations that, in fact, he did not give diplomacy enough of a chance proceeding the Iraq war. This summit gives the president a chance to show that with Iran, he has key European allies like French and Germany on board with him, Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Henry, thanks very much. Ed Henry reporting from the White House.
Jack Cafferty reporting from New York. Jack is standing by with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: That Axis of Evil, remember? North Korea has nuclear weapons and are getting ready to maybe test a long range missile. Iran's enriching uranium, and they're on the way to building nuclear weapons, and we're in Iraq.
Senate Democrats are out with two different resolutions concerning U.S. troops in Iraq; both of them are non-binding. One calls for a phased redeployment of our troops starting by the end of this year. Senator Carl Levin, one of the sponsors, says it does not establish a timetable, but it's an effort, rather, to move away from what he calls an open-ended commitment and an end to Iraqi dependence on U.S. security.
The second resolution is sponsored by Senators John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, and Russ Feingold. It sets a deadline of July 2007 for troop withdrawal. President Bush opposes any artificial timetable for withdrawal, but recent polls show 53 percent of Americans say the U.S. should set a timetable for getting out of there.
Here's the question. Should there be a phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq, or a full withdrawal by July 2007? Email us at caffertyfile@CNN.com, or go to CNN.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty back from his week off. Good to have him back.
Coming up, New York subway terror plot. Find out how close Al Qaeda may have been to unleashing a deadly new weapon. And we'll hear why local politicians are outraged at Washington. Also, Howard Dean right here in THE SITUATION ROOM on the war in Iraq and the upcoming elections. I'll ask him the tough questions.
Plus, a CNN exclusive. Angelina Jolie just back from Africa raising awareness for a cause. She sat down with our Anderson Cooper. Anderson is standing by to join us live. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Welcome back. A chilling new report says Al Qaeda came very close to carrying out a plot to spread poison gas in the New York City subway system. The city says that's one more reason why it needs more Homeland Security funds from the federal government. Our Mary Snow is joining us now live from New York from one of those subway stations with more on this story -- Mary?
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a new book claims that this plot was within weeks of being launched before it was abandoned in 2003. The mayor of this city, Mike Bloomberg, says he was aware of the plot. He's been very critical in recent weeks of the federal government for cutting anti-terror funds to New York City by 40 percent, and he says this plot is a reminder of a threat posed to the city.
A new book detailing an Al Qaeda plot to disperse cyanide on New York City's subways in 2003 has New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg taking his concerns about Homeland Security funding cuts straight to the president. Bloomberg greeted him at JFK Airport as the president arrived for a commencement speech. Bloomberg doesn't blame the president for the cut in funding, but is disappointed in the process.
MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, MAYOR OF NEW YORK: This goes to show why we deserve to get a larger amount of the Homeland Security budget.
SNOW: Bloomberg says he was aware of the plot detailed in Ron Suskind's "The One Percent Doctrine." It claims the plan to poison the subways was called off by Osama bin Laden's deputy 45 days before its launch. Bloomberg didn't reveal details, but said at the time, the city didn't cite any specific threats to New York.
BLOOMBERG: We were completely posted by Washington and we took appropriate precautions. And I guess history shows, since nothing happened, that we did what was correct.
SNOW: Why the plot was called off remains a question mark, as well as a claim cited in the book that cell members were inside the U.S. Pat D'Amuro is the former assistant director of the New York FBI branch.
PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: The bureau was never able to identify some of the individuals that they said were in the country ready to conduct this attack.
SNOW: Congressman Peter King, who chairs the House Homeland Security Committee, traveled with the president to New York and said he relayed concerns.
REP. PETER KING (R-NY), CHAIRMAN OF HOMELAND SECURITY COMMITTEE: These are real threats. They are a real concern. And a number have been thwarted, but also, there are still some that are of ongoing concern to New York City. And it's New York that is by far the city most at risk in this country.
SNOW: Now, Congressman Peter King says he plans to hold a hearing this Wednesday on the threat to New York and its expected that New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg will testify -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Mary Snow in New York. Thank you very much.
And this note to our viewers. Tomorrow, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, I'll speak with the author of that book outlining the Al Qaeda subway plot, the journalist Ron Suskind. Stay tuned, also, to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.
Happening right now, Louisiana's governor is ordering National Guard troops and state police deploy to New Orleans after six killings this weekend. CNN's Sean Callebs is joining us now, live from New Orleans, with more on this story.
What's going on, Sean?
SEAN CALLEBS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, a very bloody weekend, as you said. Five teenagers were shot and killed in the wee hour of Saturday morning, sitting in an SUV. Another stabbing later on Saturday night. That prompted the governor to heed the city's request. They are rushing those troops and state troopers down here as early as tomorrow. It's just too much for this city, as one councilman voiced his anger earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OLIVER THOMAS, NEW ORLEANS CITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT: If we don't have wind knocking us down, we have people murdering, shooting us down. And that is unacceptable.
(END VIDEO CLIP) CALLEBS: Now, in the first three months of this year, there were 16 murders in this city. However, over the last couple and a half, close to 40 murders. However, the superintendent of police in the city is taking issue with the way this story is being portrayed. He says the National Guard is not being brought here to patrol the streets and keep a crime spree from breaking out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHIEF WARREN RILEY, NEW ORLEANS POLICE: It is not a situation that's out of control. The National Guard has absolutely nothing to do with the request that was made a week before this shooting. We're trying to prepare for the summer. It's a law enforcement strategy. We want to overwhelm these hot spots with law enforcement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CALLEBS: So the superintendent say the National Guard troops will basically patrol the areas that have been vacated, flooded out, leaving the city police to patrol areas where they believe drug traffic has begun to flourish in the months after Katrina -- Wolf?
BLITZER: Sean Callebs in New Orleans for us. Thank you, Sean, for that.
Still to come here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Howard Dean one-on-one. The chairman of the Democratic Party talks tough on the war in Iraq and the upcoming elections.
And drones over Los Angeles. L.A. goes high tech to fight crime. An eye in the sky that may be watching you. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Zain Verjee is off today. Betty Nguyen is joining us from the CNN global headquarters with a quick look at some other important stories making news.
BETTY NGUYEN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, Wolf.
In Houston, Texas, they are up to their waist in water, 10 1/2 inches in some areas. Now, heavy rain is making roads -- well, look at it -- look like rivers and prompting Governor Rick Perry to deploy some Texas Army National Guard troops for rescue operations. Officials say the rain could continue through tomorrow.
Right now in Arizona -- look at this -- they desperately need water that Houston has. At this very minute, parts of Arizona are ablaze. Over 1,100 acres are burning north of Sedona. Currently, crews are trying to beat back the blaze. They're hoping to keep it from getting to at least 400 homes and businesses nearby.
Helicopters are dropping water and smoke and flames while the just sweep up over trees. You can see in that video. Officials say high wind conditions are hampering their efforts. Local residents are under a mandatory evacuation, for good reason.
And, Wolf, a very weighty acquisition. One company helps people lose weight, while the other company's product may make you gain it back. Now they're coming together. Food company Nestle is buying weight loss company Jenny Craig. It is a $600 million designed to help Nestle expand its higher margin nutrition and help business. So if they can only make chocolate less fattening, that would be good. Don't you think, Wolf?
BLITZER: That would be excellent if they could do that. Betty, thank you very much.
Just ahead, the Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean here in THE SITUATION ROOM takes on the vice president Dick Cheney and Karl Rove.
Also, is it a flying crime fighter or a spy in the sky? We're going to show you one major American city's plans to put drones in the air.
Plus, Angelina Jolie in her first interview since the birth of her daughter. She talks about her work on behalf of refugees exclusively with CNN's Anderson Cooper, and he's standing by to join us live. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington.
Tonight, a new offensive in the battle over when to bring U.S. troops home from Iraq. Some top Democrats now are rallying behind a time frame for beginning a withdrawal. But some influential colleagues still aren't on board. Let's bring in our congressional correspondent, Dana Bash -- Dana?
DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, senior Democratic aides tell CNN tonight that Senator John Kerry tried get his leadership to sign on to his idea for a hard troop withdrawal in 2007, but he was rebuffed. Many Democrats consider that not only bad politics, but bad policy as well. And most Senate Democrats seem to be coalescing around a more cautious plan.
Senate Democrats are trying to take advantage of what they call a major Republican election year weakness, public frustration over Iraq.
SEN. JACK REED (R), RHODE ISLAND: The change of policy that we call for is significant. The administration's policy to date, that we'll be there for as long as Iraq needs us, will result in Iraq's depending upon us longer.
BASH: These Democrats hope to put Republicans on the spot with a non-binding resolution, a symbolic alternative to the administration's open-ended troop commitment in Iraq. Its backers chose the words carefully. Begin to phase redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq in 2006, the measure says, and require the administration to submit a plan by the end of 2006 for continued phased redeployment beyond 2006. What's noticeably missing? A date certain for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq.
REED: This amendment is not cut and run. This is not about a date certain, this is about getting the president to do the job correctly, something he's failed to do for the last three years and three months.
BASH: This proposal is a product of intense deliberations, led by the Democratic leader and has the blessing of Senators like Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden who agree with Republicans, a specific deadline for withdrawing is irresponsible. But Democrats John Kerry and Russ Feingold disagree. They're countering with a measure that sets a hard deadline of July 1, 2007, for U.S. troops to be out of Iraq, an approach at this point that has only a handful of backers. Republicans are already portraying Democratic disagreements as a sign of weakness and disarray but leading Democrats argue a fresh debate will be welcomed by a public tired of the status quo.
JOHN PODESTA, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: I think Democrats have a role to play in pressing for accountability, with respect to Iraq, and I think that's a very critical function that they're exercising this week.
BASH: One key goal for Democrats, pushing for a phased-in troop withdrawal, starting this year, is to pick up Republican support and make it bipartisan, but Republican leaders are actually thinking about trying to get their own Republican senators on board with an alternative measure. They're considering several ideas. One is bringing up what House Republicans passed last week, that is outright rejecting any formal timetable for bringing troops home from Iraq. Wolf?
BLITZER: Dana Bash, in Congress for us, thanks Dana very much. The Democrats continuing divisions over Iraq may complicate the party's main mission this election year, to try to win the battle to control Congress. Joining us now the former Governor of Vermont, the Chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Howard Dean. Governor Dean, thank you for joining us.
HOWARD DEAN, CHAIRMAN OF THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Thanks for having me on, Wolf.
BLITZER: Where do you stand when it comes to a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq? How quickly would you like to see them out? And be specific.
DEAN: Well, I think the Democrats have been pretty clear about what they want. They want a transition, and now there's going to be a vote on asking the president for a timetable. We need to be out of Iraq. We know we can't leave immediately, but we need to be out, and we need to hear from the president something other than, "I started this, but we're going to leave this to the next president."
BLITZER: Do you think they should be out by the end of the year, like Congressman John Murtha, Senator Kerry, Senator Feingold? They say get them all out by the end of this year.
DEAN: Well, I haven't heard anybody say that, Wolf. What I have heard is that people want a plan to transition out of Iraq. And what's going to be voted on tomorrow in the Senate is a plan to re- deploy some of the troops in Iraq, some to Afghanistan, others to the region, bring some of the National Guard home, keep some in Iraq in order to train folks. But I haven't heard anybody say they want everybody out by the end of the year.
BLITZER: Well, Congressman Murtha has been pretty specific, Senator Kerry, they say that that should be the target, by the end of the year, to get them out. Re-deploy them. Those are the words -- that's the phrase that Congressman Murtha uses.
DEAN: Well, what I have heard from these folks -- and I haven't heard it described the way you just described it -- what I've heard is that they want the National Guard and Reserve to be home, some 20,000 troops to be moved to other countries in the surrounding region so they can come back into Iraq as needed, and then leaving a force still that's much smaller in Iraq training the police.
Look, the bottom line here is not what the specifics of the plan are. The bottom line is the president doesn't have a plan and the Democrats believe that we should be heading in another direction, which is what the American people believe.
BLITZER: Here's what Karl Rove said last week in Manchester, New Hampshire. He said, "Like too many Democrats, it strikes me they are ready to give the green light to go to war. But when it gets tough, they fall back on that old party's platform of cutting and running. They may be with you for the first few bullets, but they won't be there for the last tough battles." Karl Rove in New Hampshire last week.
BLITZER: I thought Jack Murtha, who's a 37-year-old decorated Marine, had the best retort. Karl Rove is sitting in his air conditioned office on his big fat you-know-what, and he's never served. George Bush has never served abroad. Dick Cheney's never served abroad. Don Rumsfeld's never served abroad.
Republicans are great at sending other peoples' kids to war, but not so good at following up. You know, it's not good enough to just be tough. You've got to be tough and smart. Here we are. North Korea is in the process of firing a missile, a test missile. George Bush has been in office for 5 1/2 years, has done nothing about that.
We've got 200,000 brave troops pinned down in Iraq. You can't trust the president to defend America, not because they don't want to defend America, because they're not smart enough to defend America.
BLITZER: But they point out that things appear to be moving in the right direction in Iraq right now. In fact, earlier today, the Vice President Dick Cheney had this exchange with a reporter at the National Press Club. Listen to this.
QUESTION: About a year ago, you said that the insurgency in Iraq was in its final throes. Do you still believe this?
CHENEY: I do.
BLITZER: He then went on to say that last year, the tide began to turn against the insurgents. And now, the U.S. is winning, and it's just a matter of getting the job done.
DEAN: First of all, Vice President Cheney has no credibility in this matter. Second of all, we have two of our brave soldiers that have been kidnapped by the insurgents, who are still in captivity right now.
You know, this -- we have been hearing this, a lot of this stuff, from this administration. I thought John Kerry had it right when he made a speech on the Senate floor, saying, we stayed in Vietnam a long time because politicians couldn't figure out what to do. And that cost us thousands of American troops.
We don't need to do that again. We know these guys got us in under false pretenses. The truth is, Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with 9/11.
And the irony of this is, one of the things that Jack Murtha has proposed is to put 20,000 additional troops into Afghanistan, where they are needed, because Afghanistan is now going south on us. Now, that's a war we believe we should have been in and we are still in.
The fact of the matter is that you can't trust the Republicans to defend the country, again, not because they don't want to, but they are not smart enough to listen to the military and listen to people who have served, like Jack Murtha.
BLITZER: Frank Rich, the columnist for "The New York Times," a strong critic of the Bush administration, wrote a very stinging column yesterday in "The New York Times," in which he was very critical of the Democrats, because he fears that they are once again being outmaneuvered politically by Republicans, as they were, he says, on the eve of the 2004 elections.
And then he goes on to say this: "Those who are most enraged about the administration's reckless misadventure -- misadventures are incredulous that it repeatedly gets away with the same stunts. But, as long as the Democrats keep repeating their own mistakes, they will lose to the party whose mistakes are, if nothing else, packaged as one heck of a show. It's better to have the courage of bad convictions than no courage or convictions at all."
Did you read that Frank Rich column yesterday?
DEAN: I don't read columnists. They are willing to -- they also sit in air-conditioned offices.
The fact of the matter is that we are pushing a -- for a plan to get out of Iraq. The president has no plan. He says he's going to leave that to the next election. The president can't balance the budget. We will. The president has cost millions of Americans their health care. We are going to move towards a health care system that works for everybody.
The president has sent millions of jobs to other countries. We are going to create a new energy independence industry, and do more than talk about it. The Democrats are on the move with a positive agenda. And I think we are going to win.
BLITZER: How worried are you that Karl Rove, now that he won't be indicted, charged with any crimes in connection with the leaking of the name of Scooter Libby -- Scooter -- excuse me, the leaking of the name of Valerie Plame -- only Scooter Libby, the president's former chief of staff, has been indicted in connection with that -- how worried are you that Karl Rove will now be able to focus all of his attention on getting Republicans elected in November?
DEAN: Look, the president -- Karl Rove keep -- keeps repeating the same old tired stuff: Democrats are weak. Democrats are disorganized. Sometimes, he gets columnists to believe it.
The truth is, the Democrats are coming together. It has taken some time. We have been in the wilderness for 12 -- for -- for more than 12 years in the Congress. But we are coming together with a plan to make sure that this becomes a tradition -- a transition in Iraq.
We now have a debate about a plan, which three-quarters of the Democrats signed onto, about a timetable for transitioning out of Iraq, for making us stronger, not weaker, as this president has done. That's a pretty good plan in Iraq.
I think we have a plan for health care. We have a plan to fix the broken prescription drug program that the president crammed down our throats. We have a plan to balance the budget. Republicans haven't balanced the budget for 40 years in this country. Democrats can.
If you want more of the same, vote for Karl Rove's party. If you want real change, support the Democrats.
BLITZER: The -- some of your strategy, as the chairman of the Democratic Party, is under criticism from some Democrats, for example, the effort to reach out to all 50 states.
Rahm Emanuel, Democratic congressman from Illinois, was quoted in "The New Yorker" magazine May 29 as saying, "If you think that Mississippi and Ohio are the same thing, you're an idiot."
Those were strong words, because he doesn't feel, necessarily, you should be reaching out to all of the states. You should be focusing in where you have the best chances.
DEAN: We need to -- we need to be everywhere.
That was one of the mistakes this party has been making for a long time. We just picked up four -- or defended four seats where -- in the -- in the Mississippi House legislature. We have picked up mayorships in Alabama and in Oklahoma, in Alaska, in Utah.
You need -- this party needs to be rebuilt. We are not going to do it by playing in 20 states.
The only other thing I would say is, look, we can have our disagreements. I think those disagreements ought to be behind closed doors, and stay there. This is a party that needs to be pulled together. We have got less than five months before the election. We need to be on the same team in order to win.
BLITZER: We looked at some fund-raising at the DNC vs. the RNC, in terms -- and we will put some numbers up on the screen -- 80 -- almost $80 million, the Democratic National Committee raised, compared to $151 million that the Republicans raised during a similar period, cash on hand, $9.5 million, DNC; $44 million, RNC, during this period.
What's the problem?
DEAN: There is no problem. We are doing great.
We are far better off than we were this time four years ago. We have -- we have actually -- right now, we are on par to out-raise -- we so far have out-raised 2004, which was a presidential year. Now, that is not going to happen, because the last months in a presidential -- last two quarters are going to take off in a presidential year. And they won't now.
We have been making investments all along in strengthening this party everywhere. We are -- we have made the decision to be involved in 40 House races, 10 senatorial races, governor's races, state legislative races. We are going to be in seven states. We have got a lot of responsibility. We started investing very, very early. That's why our balance sheet doesn't look as good as the Republicans' did.
But the only way they are going to -- going to beat us is if we beat ourselves. And we are not going to do that. We are aggressive. We are going to tough. And we are going to be -- in terms of defense, we are going to be tough, just as tough as the Republicans, but we are going to be much smarter than the Republicans, in terms of protecting our troops with adequate armed -- armor, with adequate equipment.
You won't see Democrats simply doing photo-ops in Baghdad. You will see us really supporting our troops and our veterans when they come home.
BLITZER: Governor Dean, thanks very much for joining us.
DEAN: Hey, thanks, Wolf.
BLITZER: And since I taped that interview with Governor Dean earlier this afternoon, we've learned that senators Kerry, Feingold and Boxer will introduce an amendment tomorrow that sets a deadline of July 1st of next year, a year or so from now for U.S. troops to be redeployed away from Iraq. And this note, tomorrow the other party chairman, the Republican Party boss Ken Mehlman, he'll join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. That's coming up tomorrow.
Up ahead tonight, a different type of Robocop. We're going to show you how police in Los Angeles plan to use some very sophisticated military technology to help them fight crime.
Plus, CNN's Anderson Cooper will join us live with a portion of his exclusive interview with Angelina Jolie, her first since the birth of her daughter. Stay with us.
BLITZER: How do you keep a close eye on criminals without them even knowing? Authorities in California think they found the answer with a quiet crime fighting weapon used by the United States military. CNN's Chris Lawrence is joining from us Los Angeles with our "Welcome to the Future" report. Chris?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's nearly invisible, an eye in the sky. It has been used in Iraq and Afghanistan. But in the next few weeks, a SWAT team will put a drone to use right here in Los Angeles.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): It's no bigger than a model airplane and launched with a good hard throw.
SAM DE LA TORRE, SKY SEER INVENTOR: It flies about 21 knots. We've proven it in altitudes up to 8,000 feet.
LAWRENCE: It takes one man five minutes to get the Sky Seer airborne. And when the mission is done, he can pack it up and toss it over his shoulder. It's cheaper than a helicopter, and can hover silently over a crime scene with no risk to a pilot.
COMMANDER SID HILL, L.A. POLICE: And so as a result we have the vertical perspective without the ambient noise.
LAWRENCE: Sky Seer's two campers will give the L.A. County sheriffs real-time images from the air, while suspects may have no idea they're even under surveillance.
HILL: I can tell you we're already being watched.
LAWRENCE: Commander Sid Hill says every ATM, grocery store and parking garage is using some kind of camera.
HILL: And interestingly enough, no one has really objected to that, because it's intended to be safer for the public.
JODY ARMOUR, USC LAW PROFESSOR: The problem is we don't have surveillance cameras over our backyards.
LAWRENCE: USC law professor Jody Armour says Sky Seer tilts the balance in favor of security over privacy.
ARMOUR: Certainly initially it may be for emergency situations, SWAT activities and the like, but it may be irresistible when you're fighting crime and doing a good job as our sheriff's department does, not to be tempted to take it a step further.
LAWRENCE: "Terminator 3" showed you are a film maker's vision of futuristic drones, but sheriffs say unlike the movies, Sky Seer has serious limitations on what it can do.
LAWRENCE: For example, the pictures from its camera is almost unusable above 300 feet, and at least to start, the Sky Seer won't look at anything that the sheriffs aren't already allowed to see with conventional aircraft -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris Lawrence reporting from L.A. Thank you for that piece. On an arctic island, get this, 600 miles from the North Pole, construction began today on what's being called the Doomsday Vault. It will house millions of seeds in the event the world needs to regrow crops following a major disaster. Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton is standing by with a closer look -- Abbi?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, it's being called a Noah's Ark for seeds, on the island of Svalbard, this is north of Norway, population 1,700. That's not including the polar bears, which roam freely there.
It's soon going to house up to three million seed samples. The idea is to ensure crop diversity in the event of a global catastrophe. The vault is being built in the side and underneath a mountain and research organizations and scientists from all around the world are going to be donating these seed samples that hope to represent every single crop variety by the time it is finished.
Why Svalbard? The seeds need to be frozen and the place certainly is cold. Plus, it's isolated, therefore it's easy to protect. It's going to have guards and a perimeter fence, in addition to the added security of those bears. Wolf?
BLITZER: Abbi, thank you very much -- Abbi Tatton reporting. Up ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Angelina Jolie in her first televised interview since having her baby. She continues her mission for refugees even as the world press tracks her over move. Anderson Cooper sat down with her, he's standing by to join us live right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Here's the bottom line on the markets today, check it out. Numbers all down.
Let's go up to New York. Anderson Cooper is standing by with a big exclusive interview with Angelina Jolie. I guess the whole world is going to be watching tomorrow night, Anderson. But give us the highlights. This is a very important subject you spoke to her about.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well it's interesting, Wolf. I mean, so much of the world is focused on the recent birth of her child. She had returned from Namibia just four days before we spoke. And we did speak about her family, of course. But it is fascinating that even though she's in the midst of this sort of paparazzi obsession, she is squarely focused on issues that matter to her. In particular, World Refugee Day and the plight of some 15 million refugees around the world. We talked a lot about what is happening in Africa, which she has seen with her own eyes, most notably what's going on in the Congo.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Since the late '90s. I mean, more than three million people have died, a thousand they're saying die a day from war-related conditions, malnutrition, and things like that.
ANGELINA JOLIE, U.N. GOODWILL AMBASSADOR: And there's also all the rapes in the Congo, which is -- and from Rwanda, which, that shocked me. I didn't realize how that was -- I mean, that's the thing you realize and I think why people are worried about Darfur now. One area of Africa falls apart and then how it just destabilizes a region and you can see from Rwanda still affecting Congo.
COOPER: It's also so often women and children who are the ones bearing the brunt of all of this. I mean, in the Congo, it's women being raped, tens of thousands of women. And, I mean, I read that you saw children that had been macheted. I mean, what is it like to see that? And to see that being done to kids?
JOLIE: It's just -- I mean, how could you possibly explain that?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: She talks a lot in the interview about the work she's done in refugee camps and really how it has changed who she is and in many ways led to the family that she's creating, Wolf?
BLITZER: The full interview, Anderson, airs tomorrow night, 10 p.m. Eastern, a special two hours of "ANDERSON COOPER 360." Is that right?
BLITZER: We'll be watching. Anderson Cooper, good work, thanks very much. Still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, should there be a phased redeployment or a phased withdrawal from Iraq? Democrats are proposing a plan. Jack Cafferty is standing by to tell us what you think. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York. Hi, Jack.
CAFFERTY: Hi, Wolf. Senate Democrats are out with two different non binding resolutions concerning U.S. troops in Iraq. One calls for a phased redeployment of our forces starting at the end of the year, or by the end of the year. The second sets a deadline of July 2007 for withdrawal of all troops. The question is should there be a phased redeployment of U.S. troops from Iraq or an all-out withdrawal by July of 2007?
Martin in Fallon, Nevada, home of the Fallon Naval Air Station, I used to hunt ducks there when I was a kid. We're told that the Iraqis have 250,000 trained troops. They will drag it out as long as possible as long as someone else does it for them. It's time to say: it's your country, now take care of it. We're out of here.
Lisa in Houston: Phased withdrawal? Until the job is done, there should be no withdrawal. Remember Somalia? Left before the job was complete. Remember the Gulf War? Left before the job was complete. We can see where the pattern of cut and run did not work before.
William in Mastic, New York: Full withdrawal. The war of lies has cost more than enough lives and money. Our soldiers are combat- ready in weeks. How long is it going to take for Iraqi soldiers to stand up so we can stand down? July of 2007 is plenty of time.
Jerry writes: No, a thousand times no. Any indication of pulling out will only encourage our enemies. What have these senators learned from Vietnam? Once you say you will leave before the job is done, the enemy will simply wait you out.
And Elizabeth in Howell, Michigan writes: U.S. troops should be phased out of Iraq. By working with other countries in the region to allow the troops to remain on stand-by in nearby nations so they could go back in to protect Iraq if it became necessary.
BLITZER: Jack Cafferty, thanks very much. We'll see you tomorrow, good to have you back here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Let's take closer look at some of the Hot Shots, pictures coming in from our friends over at the "Associated Press," pictures likely to be in your hometown newspapers tomorrow.
Let's put them up right now if we can. Afghanistan -- do we have those pictures really? Unfortunately we don't have those pictures ready. We'll show you pictures tomorrow right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons 4:00-to-6:00 p.m. Eastern. We're back at 7:00 Eastern for one hour. Until then, thanks very much for joining us. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Washington. "PAULA ZAHN NOW" starts right now.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com