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The Situation Room

Syrian President Tells Army to 'Raise Readiness'; Interview With Israeli Ambassador to U.N. Dan Gillerman

Aired July 31, 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, guns still blazing. Israel continuing to target Hezbollah targets in southern Lebanon after it vowed to hold its fire. Israel says it won't stand by in the face of immediate threats to the northern part of the country. An Israeli airstrike pounded suspicious fields, even carrying a suspicious car carrying what turned out to be Lebanese soldiers. And Hezbollah rockets continue to rain down on northern Israel at the same time.

How are the tangled tensions in the Middle East inflaming tensions here in the United States? The crisis is pitting some Jews against Muslims from Seattle to Michigan, and the FBI says that could cause acts of violence. We're watching this story.

And it's 2:00 p.m. in California, where reports involving a mega celebrity are rocking Tinseltown. After being arrested for drunken driving, did actor Mel Gibson launch into a profanity-laced anti- Semitic tirade?

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

Israel continuing to pound Hezbollah. Today its prime minister said it's making progress. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert also says Israel will not stop right now.

Olmert defending the campaign, and he's vowing more fighting to come in the days ahead. Israel has agreed to halt airstrikes for two days, but Israel says it reserves the right to strike at immediate threats.

This after the outrage sparked when the Israeli military hit the Lebanese town of Qana. At least 54 civilians were killed, many of them women an children.

Israel launched new air and ground attacks in southern Lebanon today. Israel says it's sorry for accidentally hitting a car that turned out to be carrying Lebanese soldiers. Lebanese officials says one person is dead and three soldiers hurt. And Hezbollah fired more rockets into northern Israel today at the same time. Meanwhile, a key Republican senator blasting President Bush's handling of the crisis. Just a short while ago, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska urged the president to call for an immediate cease-fire aimed at "ending this madness."

CNN is tracking all of these latest developments. We have reporters covering all parts of the story.

Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson, is in Beirut.

Richard Roth is at the United Nations.

Matthew Chance is in northern Israel.

Let's begin this hour with Beirut and Nic -- Nic.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the very latest from here, a meeting between the French foreign minister and the Iranian foreign minister has just concluded without a joint statement. Only local media were invited to film the pair of them talking.

It's not clear exactly what they've discussed. The French foreign minister, before going in, has said it's important for Iran to trust the international community, important for the international community to trust Iran. But an indication that Hezbollah's biggest ally is being drawn in here, perhaps putting pressure on them to try and bring an end to the fighting that's going on in southern Lebanon.

The bombing today was evident in southern Lebanon, but really the 48-hour call for a cessation in the south of airstrikes by Israeli air force allowing some Lebanese to get back to their homes in the south, pull out some of their possessions, others fleeing the area. Huge traffic jams in the port city of Tyre as people try to flee the area, but close to the border, Hezbollah fired a missile at an Israeli tank, injuring some of the soldiers inside that tank -- inside the tank. The tank bursting into flames, the soldiers fleeing without significant injury.

But in the Israeli Knesset today, Ehud Olmert saying that Israel was not going to stand back and not have a cease-fire in the face of terrorist attacks.


EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We are fighting terrorists who know no bounds. War against them will not be stopped by us until we drive them from the borders.


ROBERTSON: Aid officials hoping for an extended cease-fire. That's not happening -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic, hold on for one second. There's a story developing right now.

Zain Verjee has got some news to report.

Zain, what do we know?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, very little, but the Reuters news agency is reporting that Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, has told the army in an annual address to "raise readiness."

We'll bring you more details when we get them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Significant words.

Nic -- let me go back to Nic Robertson.

Potentially significant words, Nic. The Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, saying to the Syria military, "Raise readiness."

I know that Israeli military sources -- and I was just there for a week, Nic -- are very worried that there could be a miscalculation that could dramatically escalate this war between Israel and Hezbollah to involve Syrian forces, something they say they don't want, but something they're deeply concerned about.

Give us some perspective from your vantage point in Beirut.

ROBERTSON: Well, Israeli officials have been very clear in their public statements, most recently over the weekend, saying that Israel has no intention of involving Syria in its operations in southern Lebanon at this time. Obviously the military operations in the south of Lebanon do expose Israeli soldiers to the potential for attack from Syria.

Syria, of course, a big backer of Hezbollah. The military calculation is that there is no need -- the Israeli military calculation, there is no need to involve Syria in the fight at the moment. But obviously the fear that Syria could try and involve itself.

There have been no strikes by Israel across -- across the Syrian border into Syria. Strikes very close to the border breaking roads between Damascus, the capital of Syria, and Beirut, the capital of Lebanon, other roads on the border. Also strikes to try and diminish Hezbollah's ability to try to resupply itself with missiles from Syria.

But this -- this apparent escalation being quoted by the Reuters news agency from the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, to put his defense forces on a greater state of alert. An indication there that in Syria they feel the tensions rising. Not clear what their intentions are. Are they ratcheting up the diplomatic rhetoric, or do they plan something else -- Wolf.

BLITZER: One of the concerns expressed to me by top Israelis when I was there last week, Nic, was that Bashar al-Assad, unlike his father, Hafez al-Assad, relatively inexperienced. Bashar al-Assad a newcomer, if you will, and as a result, more unpredictable.

His father, Hafez al-Assad, very predictable. And as a result, that frontier between Israel and Syria along the Golan Heights. Since Kissinger negotiated that disengagement of forces agreement in 1974, one of the quietest in the world.

This unpredictability of Bashar al-Assad, is this a significant factor? You know Syria.

ROBERTSON: It is a concern. I mean, what we've witnessed here are a series of strategic military calculations being made by the Israeli Defense Forces as they go into southern Lebanon.

One of the points of attack that we've seen has been across the border, what's known as sort of the Golan panhandle, across the border from Metula. Now, that attack in itself exposes the Israeli forces from the rear to the potential for Syrian attack.

And obviously knowing Hafez al-Assad far better, knowing his temperament over more than 30 years as president of Syria, has aided Israel in past years in calculating what the Syrian regime may do. What is happening now is that they're up against, as you say, a less experienced leader, a leader who's only been in power in the country for a little over five years or so, and it's the predictability what he'll do under pressure, what other influences in the country will be brought to bear on him, is not such a knowable quantity.

And again, it comes back to these military calculations. In terms of invading parts of southern Lebanon to tackle Hezbollah, you have to make military calculations on what Syria might do. And so far, those calculations have been based on the fact that Syria won't involve itself in the fight. This clearly a development that will have the military strategists rethinking their calculations -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Nic Robertson in Beirut. Thanks very much.

Let's go to northern Israel right now. Matthew Chance is watching this story unfold.

Matthew, the news that's coming in, some ominous words by Bashar al-Assad. The president of Syria telling the military in Syria to get ready, to raise their readiness. I've got to tell you, Israeli officials were saying to me there last week that the major reason that they mobilized those three divisions of reservists was not necessarily to fight Hezbollah, but just to be prepared in case there's a miscalculation and this war escalates to include Syria.

You're on the front lines for us. Tell us what you're seeing and what you're hearing.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SR. INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, Wolf, what we have seen illustrated over the past couple days particularly is the potential for miscalculations, even for shots going into the wrong building, are immense in this conflict between the Israeli Defense Forces, the Israeli military, and Hezbollah. And some of the attacks that we're seeing carried out by the Israeli air force and artillery strikes over the past several days, as Nic was mentioning, have been extremely close to the Syrian frontier, even, you know, in the no mans land between the Syrian and the Lebanese border.

And so it obviously is the Israeli military cutting the hairs very thin when it comes to sort of impinging on Syrian territory. And that must be a big consideration for the military planners here.

At the same time, military activity is continuing a pace here at this artillery field just inside Israeli territory on the Lebanese border. Throughout the course of this day, these artillery pieces behind me have been firing their shells deep, deep into southern Lebanon at what the Israeli Defense Forces call Hezbollah strongholds, in support of ground forces that are also on the ground, battling in close combat, we're told, Hezbollah militias.

In the other direction there's been fire from Hezbollah into Israel as well, but I have to say, Wolf, nowhere near the kind of level of rocket fire that we've been getting used to here, I suppose, in northern Israel over the past three weeks or so. Rockets have been coming in about a hundred a day, sometimes more than that, significantly more than that yesterday.

Today there have only been three explosions coming across Israel coming in from Lebanon. And what we're told now by the Israeli military is they are not Katyusha rockets, they are just mortars. Still deadly, obviously, but not as powerful as the rockets that we've seen raining down on towns and cities across northern Israel for the past several weeks.

Whether that will last or whether it will pick up once the Israeli airstrikes pick up in pace again, as the Israeli government says they probably will, remains very much to be seen -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Matthew chance on the border between Israel and Lebanon for us.

Matthew, thank you. We'll check back with you.

The president of the United States now back in Washington, just landed at Andrews Air Force Base aboard Air Force One. He came in from Florida.

Earlier he said this about Syria in remarks down in Florida...


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Lebanon's democratic government must be in power to exercise sole authority over its territory. A multinational force must be dispatched to Lebanon quickly, so we can help speed the delivery of humanitarian aid to the Lebanese people.

Iran must end its financial support and supply of weapons to terrorist groups like Hezbollah. Syria must end its support for terror and respect the sovereignty of Lebanon. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The president speaking before Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, told his military, according to the Reuters news agency, that they should raise their readiness.

We'll continue to watch this story.

There's another important story we're watching involving Iran. The United States ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, says the clock is now ticking for Iran with a United Nations resolution giving the country until the end of August to stop enriching uranium or possibly face sanctions.

Let's bring in our senior U.N. correspondent, Richard Roth -- Richard.

RICHARD ROTH, CNN U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Iran is now on alert. If the country thought the Security Council now with loggerheads over policy in southern Lebanon would be divided over Iran, it is wrong.


ROTH (voice over): After more than three years of dialogue and dispute, it's come down to 30 days. That's how long the Security Council is giving Tehran to suspend its nuclear enrichment activities, or else.

JOHN BOLTON, U.S. AMB. TO U.N.: Sadly, Iran has consistently and brazenly defied the international community by continuing its pursuit of nuclear weapons.

ROTH: If it doesn't cooperate with nuclear inspectors, Iran could face appropriate measures, like sanctions. Iran was defiant addressing the council.

JAVID ZARIF, IRANIAN AMB. TO U.N.: Iran's peaceful nuclear program poses no threat to international peace and security and, therefore, dealing with this issue in the Security Council is unwanted and void of any legal basis for practical exclusivity.

ROTH: European countries still urge Iran to choose diplomacy instead of confrontation, still offering a package of economic incentives.

EMYR JONES PARRY, BRITISH AMB. TO U.N.: But the ball is now firmly in the Iranian court. We have made the offer, it is on the table, and provided Iran meets the conditions within in it, we can always get back into negotiations.

ROTH: In Tehran, they were burning U.S. flags, protesting U.S. support for Israel in southern Lebanon. As the U.N. Security Council stepped closer to sanctions, Iran's foreign minister in Beirut demanded more international involvement to help the people of Lebanon. MANOUCHEHR MOTTAKI, IRANIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (through translator): As far as this situation, however, unfortunately what we see after three weeks, these organizations did not do any of its responsibilities in this area.

ROTH: But even the Lebanon crisis will not distract the Security Council, which for now is unified that Iran will have to stop nuclear work or begin to pay a price.


ROTH: And Iran's foreign minister may meet with the French foreign minister in Beirut. Earlier, the French foreign minister said Iran may be needed to help resolve things in southern Lebanon -- Wolf.

BLITZER: It will be quite a week at the United Nations. We'll be seeing a lot of Richard Roth.

Thank you very much, Richard.

Let's stay in New York and go to Jack Cafferty -- Jack.


We've got three months until these midterm elections. It's worth taking a look at who might be voting on Election Day.

Did you know the way things stand now in many, many states in this country, millions of illegal aliens can vote in the upcoming election? They can. All they have to do is say they're a citizen when registering.

They don't have to furnish any proof, nothing. Just say, yes, I'm a citizen, they're marked as such, and they're registered.

People in the United States illegally primarily from Mexico can vote in our elections even though they legally have no right to do so. It's just that under current law in this country there's no way to prevent it.

Congressman Henry Hyde of Illinois has proposed a bill that would require all voters to prove they're citizens when they register and then show a valid photo I.D. when actually voting, but critics say that that would disenfranchise millions of Americans who don't have state-issued I.D. cards, primarily the poor, elderly, or members of minority members.

And, of course, Congress is going on vacation anyway for the entire month of August. So good luck with any of this.

The question is this: Should voters be required to show proof of citizenship and photo I.D.?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to Not only can we not keep them out of the country, because the borders are leaking like a sieve, but once they get here, if they want to take part in the elections I guess they can do that, too -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you.

Jack Cafferty in New York.

Up ahead, Israel rejecting calls for a cease-fire. The prime minister warning of days of fighting still ahead. And now there's news Syria apparently raising the readiness level of its military. I'll talk about all of that with Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman. He's standing by live to join us right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Also, increasing fears the fighting will spark more violence in this country, yes, the United States. We're going to show you why it's an especially difficult situation for U.S. law enforcement.

Plus, CNN has just learned that Mel Gibson is entering rehab. This comes on the heels of an alleged tirade that some are saying could cost him his career.

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


BLITZER: There's news coming out of Damascus right now, ominous words from Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, suggesting that the Syrian military is raising their military readiness.

Right now Aneesh Raman is on the scene for us in Damascus.

Give us some context, Aneesh. What exactly is Bashar al-Assad talking about?

ANEESH RAMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was a statement by the Syrian president read to the Syrian armed forces. He said that they should raise, as you say, their alert level. This, because of Israel's increasing ferocity in its war on southern Lebanon. He said that required caution, alert, readiness and preparedness.

Officials here are cautioning, though, that this statement is meant as a defensive, not offensive statement. Syria has long maintained that if Israel attacks here, it will respond with full force.

Just a few days ago, the information minister said if Israel gets within 20 kilometers of Syria, that they will see as would see that as a threat to national security. That will be a reason to respond.

Syria, though, not keen to get involved military in this conflict, but it doesn't want to be left out of a peace deal. And that is why we're perhaps seeing some posturing by the Syrian president tonight -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Aneesh. Stand by. Thank you very much.

Let's bring in Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Dan Gillerman. He's watching all of this.

First, your reaction to these words from the Syrian president, Mr. Ambassador. What does it say to you?

DAN GILLERMAN, ISRAELI AMB. TO U.N.: Well, good afternoon, Wolf. It's good to be with you.

I'm not surprised at the words of Bashar al-Assad because Syria has long traditionally regarded Lebanon as southern Lebanon. I don't know how many people are aware that there's still no marked or recognized border between Lebanon and Syria. For the last 40 years, there hasn't been a Lebanese embassy in Damascus or a Syrian embassy in Beirut.

For all intents and purposes, Syria is southern Lebanon. Syria was made to leave Lebanon by United States Resolution 1559, but I don't think it's ever come to terms with it. And Syria has a proxy in Lebanon, in the Hezbollah, which is fighting both on behalf of Syria and on behalf of Iran.

BLITZER: Are you worried, Mr. Ambassador, that this war between Israel and Hezbollah right now, which is limited to those two warring factions, if you will, Israel and Hezbollah, could escalate to include Syria?

GILLERMAN: No, I'm not really worried. We have no intention of attacking Syria and, quite frankly, I don't think Syria has any interest in entering this fray.

Syria is a very weak country, a very poor country, with an antiquated army. Syria has made the mistake of attacking Israel several times. And when it did, it did it with some of its Arab allies.

I don't believe anyone today, neither Egypt nor Jordan nor any other country, has any interest in helping Syria get out of the mess which it has made for itself. So I think these are words. I don't think we should take them too seriously.

But as I said, Syria has the Hezbollah fighting for itself. Syria is a home, a very gracious and warm home for over 10 different terrorist organizations, including the Hamas and the Islamic Jihad. So Syria doesn't really have to raise any readiness in order to prove to the rest of the world that it is a terrorist-supporting regime and it is a regime which has always been very, very much a warmonger.

BLITZER: We heard today some interesting comments from an influential Republican, Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska. He's a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Intelligence Committee, calling for an immediate cease-fire.

Listen to what he said.


SEN. CHUCK HAGEL (R), NEBRASKA: The sickening slaughter on both sides, Mr. President, must end and it must end now. President Bush must call for an immediate cease-fire. This madness must stop.


BLITZER: What's wrong with calling for an immediate cease-fire?

GILLERMAN: An immediate cease-fire will bring us back to square one. It will bring us back to the status quo ante, where the Hezbollah remains with its arms cache, with its huge arsenal of arms which they have amassed over six years, and with the capability to terrorize both Lebanon and Israel. The aim of this operation is to make it impossible for the Hezbollah to ever terrorize Israel again, to ever shell our cities and our homes, and to kill our children and our women.

And just having a cease-fire now would be a false pretense. It would be an illusion, and it would be the wrong thing, both for the Lebanese people, who I'm sure yearn to be free of that stranglehold of the Hezbollah, and for the Israeli people, who want to be free.

We need to create a situation where Lebanese children can go to school without worrying about Israeli planes overhead, and Israeli children can go to school in Kiryat Shmona and Haifa without fear of Katyusha rockets destroying their kindergartens and their school.

BLITZER: Mr. Ambassador, as you know, there's been an international outcry as a result of what happened in Qana yesterday. A lot of civilians, many children, were killed. Now some questions are being raised by some top officers in the IDF, the Israel Defense Forces, if you read the newspapers, the blogs, wondering whether or not Israel was responsible.

Does Israel take responsibility for that attack on that building that killed those civilians?

GILLERMAN: Israel regrets very much the killing of civilians anywhere, and is very, very mindful and mourns the death of the innocents in Qana. However, those people may have died from Israeli fire, but they are truly the victims of the Hezbollah.

If there were no Hezbollah, this would never happen. If there was no terror, this would never happen. If the Hezbollah would not use its own people as human shields and fire from densely-populated areas and have homes in which a room is designed to be a launching pad for a missile, this would never happen.

However, as to exactly what happened, we're investigating it. One of the reasons for the 48-hour cessation of some aerial activity is in order to try and allow us to very carefully examine what happened. And once we do, we will make all the findings final and public.

BLITZER: But there's no doubt that those people died as a result of Israeli bombs, is there?

GILLERMAN: Well, I'm not sure. I think until we fully realize what happened, we shouldn't jump to conclusions.

Unfortunately, we already had a case where a very prominent diplomat jumped to conclusions far too early in a very hasty and unfortunate way. I think we should be very, very careful about this.

We're talking about human lives. We do mourn and grieve the deaths of the children and women and the innocents in Qana, but I do want to remind everybody again that there's a very, very strong moral disequivalence (ph) here, because while for us every dead Lebanese child is a mistake and tragedy, for them every dead Israeli child is a victory and a cause for celebration. That's the big difference between the two sides.

BLITZER: I suspect that prominent diplomat you were referring to was Kofi Annan, accusing Israel of apparently deliberately killing those U.N. observers. Is that right?

GILLERMAN: Yes, that's right.

BLITZER: Dan Gillerman is the Israeli ambassador to the U.N.

Thanks very much for coming in.

GILLERMAN: Thank you very much, Wolf.

BLITZER: And coming up, the former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger. He's standing by to join us live here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll talk about the Middle East crisis and the nuclear showdown with Iran.

Plus, a bold mass abduction in Baghdad targeting an Iraqi- American group. We'll have details of the unusual method the kidnappers used to snatch more than two dozen people.

We're watching what's happening in Iraq and everywhere.

Stay with us.


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

As we reported, the United Nations Security Council is now formally giving Iran under the end of August to stop enriching uranium or face possible sanctions.

Joining us now to talk about that, as well as the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, the former secretary of state, Henry Kissinger. He's joining us from Connecticut.

Dr. Kissinger, before we get to that, your immediate reaction to the words of Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president, suggesting that the Syrian military right now should raise their alert status, raise their readiness, and the fear that could generate that the war between Israel and Hezbollah may eventually escalate to include Syria?

HENRY KISSINGER, FMR. SECRETARY OF STATE: I don't believe the war will escalate because of Syrian intervention. We're at a moment now when everybody is maneuvering for the Security Council discussions and where everybody is trying to get some credit or some piece of the action as negotiations develop. And one should keep in mind what the fundamental issues are and not let oneself get deflected from those.

BLITZER: You invented shuttle diplomacy in 1974 after the '73 war. You were shuttling between Jerusalem and Cairo, you got a disengagement of forces agreement along the Suez canal, then you spent a lot of time shuttling between Damascus and Jerusalem to get that disengagement of forces agreement on the Golan Heights. Should Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, instead of coming back to Washington be shuttling between capitals in the region, including Damascus to try to bring this fighting to an end?

KISSINGER: No, I think she did the right thing returning to Washington. When I shuttled, the war was over, and the two countries that had attacked Israel then had not been able to achieve their objectives by military means, and America provided them an opportunity to achieve -- to make progress towards peace by diplomatic means. And I believe that pattern will apply here, too. If the military aggression, which really took place from Lebanon into Israel does not work, if Hezbollah cannot establish itself as a genuine spokesman of the radical Arabs, and do it by being on a territory of a country that did not invite them to do this, if that can be stopped, then there will be an opportunity for negotiation both on the immediate issue in Lebanon and on the more important issue of the relationship of Iran to the rest of the world.

BLITZER: I'll get to that in a moment. But does the Bush administration, which is seen in the Arab world and in much of Europe and elsewhere as so aligned with Israel, does it have the ability to serve as an honest broker and negotiate the kind of deals that you did during the Nixon administration?

KISSINGER: Well, we are not aligned with Israel except on -- except on the fundamental issue. The fundamental issue is that we do not -- that we oppose organizations that are not state organizations establishing themselves on the territories of states and conducting military operations as if they were states. America has an interest in the people outcome, America has an interest in normal relations with an Iran that is concerned with its own security and with its prosperity. But what we have to oppose is attempts to establish domination by radical groups which will have a profound impact on all the moderate Arab regimes, most of which quietly agree with us, and which will radicalize the Islamic world wherever Islamic minorities exist, that is the fundamental issue. If we can deal with this, we should be the leaders in a negotiation that brings peace and stability to the Middle East. But one cannot do that under the emotions of the moment and one has to settle the immediate issue and then I think indeed the United States should play an active and leading role in negotiations. BLITZER: In an article Dr. Kissinger that you wrote in "The Washington Post" today you refer to your break through many years ago and opening up the door to China, when a lot of people thought that was impossible, and you allude to the possibility that the U.S. should be working to do something similar with Iran right now, which is seen by the U.S. and others as working to develop a nuclear bomb. Is that doable? In other words, can the U.S. do with Iran what you managed to do in breaking down barriers with China?

KISSINGER: Well, the first point I made was that much as I'm flattered by some of these comparisons, we did not persuade China to change its policy. China became convinced for other reasons that it should its policy, because it was scared by the deployment of 42 Soviet divisions on its northern border. What we did do is once we recognized the willingness of China to change direction, to provide a framework which made it possible and safe and which could be in the mutual interest. I think the same applies to Iran. Iran is not yet at the point that China was 30 years ago. Iran has not yet chosen between whether it is a crusading cause or a nation. And until it does so, the sort of diplomacy we applied in China will not work. But if Iran were to stop its nuclear enrichment program, then I believe an opportunity will exist for a comprehensive review of relationships within which Iran could find a place in the international system without challenging their old system. But they cannot do that by way of building nuclear weapons and holding the whole region and ultimately much of the world at ransom. That was the basic point of my article.

BLITZER: And I recommend our viewers reading it if they haven't done it yet. It's in the "The Washington Post" today. They can do to the Web site. Dr. Kissinger thanks very much for joining us.

KISSINGER: Always a pleasure.

BLITZER: And coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM, how do you target your avowed enemy without putting innocent civilians at risk of death. That's the delicate task Israel must perform with each attack. Our pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr watching this part of the story.

Also, clashes between some Jews and Muslims not in the Middle East, but right here in the United States. We're going to tell you how the conflict in the Middle East is causes angry echoes right here. Stay with us.


BLITZER: More now on the outrage and the investigation involving what happened yesterday in the Lebanese town of Qana. Israel is looking into the matter after its military struck killing many innocent women and children. Let's get some details now from our pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr. Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf the weapons are supposed to be precision weapons but as you say, the Israeli Defense Forces are still investigating what really happened in Qana. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

STARR (voice-over): After the Israeli airstrike on Qana that killed dozens of civilians, the prime minister apologized, but the question is how did it happen?

MARK REGEV, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTRY SPOKESMAN: I think we have to be that much more careful and I think we have to be very surgical, as much as we can be in fighting Hezbollah.

STARR: This Israeli military video shot before the Qana strike, shows flashes from a rocket fired from behind what the Israelis say is an apartment billing. Hezbollah's use of civilian areas, as the Israelis say happened in Qana, forces Israel to decide on the risk of killing Lebanese civilians every day. Israeli bombers and artillery quickly fire after a target is spotted, but that's a problem. Experts say somebody has to make the last-minute call that a strike should be called off if civilians are nearby.

MICHAEL O'HANLON, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: You're not going to eliminate katyusha rocket stockpiles form the air and so therefore letting the occasional launcher go is okay, even longer-range rockets, if all you're doing is destroying a concrete pad or a small transporter vehicle, it may not always be worth the risk.

STARR: And the larger the weapon, the more likely civilians will be hit by the explosion.

BRIG. GEN. JAMES MARKS, U.S. ARMY (RET.): They dropped something that far exceed in terms of blast effects, of what was going to cause damage in the area.


STARR: But Wolf you can be sure of one thing, the U.S. military is on the sidelines, but watching all of this very carefully to see what it can learn about both Israeli tactics, and the tactics of the Hezbollah. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right thanks very much Barbara for that. Good report.

How are the Middle East and the world at large treating the Israeli strike at Qana that killed dozens of civilians? The Internet is providing some answers. Abbi Tatton once again joining us with the latest. Abbi?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, the headline today in the Lebanese newspaper "Al Anwar" is Israeli Massacre in Qana Shakes Lebanon and the World. An accompanying editorial in that paper saying, "but we are a nation that doesn't die." There are graphic images on the front pages of these Lebanese newspapers, but also across the border in Israel, details of that strike. In Haaretz, also in English and the Hebrew editions, there are pictures of the body bags. Also in the "Jerusalem Post", details of the strike. Further a field in the Middle East strong condemnation of the attack by Israel. Barbaric says the "Gulf News" in the UAE. In Egypt "Al Afram", they call it a heinous war crime. Around Europe as well, some of these headlines calling it a massacre in the "London Daily Mirror" there, a simple headline "Stop Now." Wolf?

BLITZER: Abbi thank you. Still to come, is the tense situation in the Middle East causing some violent side effects right here in the United States? There are some angry confrontations between some Jews and some Muslims, and the FBI is now watching for any violent activity.

And actor Mel Gibson is a real-life character in a very messy story. He's apologizing for what he calls his despicable words after he was arrested for drunken driving. But were some of those comments anti-Semitic? There are some brand new developments in the story and we're going to bring them to you, all of that coming up.


BLITZER: In our CNN "Security Watch," growing concern the crisis in the Middle East could spark some violence right here in the United States. Our justice correspondent Kelli Arena watching this story. Kelli?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Department of Homeland Security held a conference call with its state advisers this morning urging them to remain vigilant. As you know, last week a 30 year old Muslim allegedly shot six people at a Jewish center, killing one of them.


ARENA (voice-over): The shooting rampage at a Jewish center in Seattle last week is exactly what the FBI warned about, but can do little to prevent.

MARK MERSHON, FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: We can't read minds, so with persons not giving outward signs or vitriolic statements, in truth these could play out without us having any forewarning.

ARENA: FBI field offices around the country did alert Jewish facilities about a possible threat, but had no hard intelligence anyone was planning an attack. There is anger within the Arab American community over Israel's conflict with Hezbollah.

KAREEM SHORA, AMERICAN-ARAB ANTI-DISCRIMINATION CMTE.: Sentiments in the Arab American community are extremely volatile, people are very emotional, they're hearing very immediate family members who are being injured and killed.

ARENA: That anger is made worse by the FBI's focus on the Arab- American community. Mark Mershon who heads the FBI's New York office says agents want to keep an open dialogue.

MERSHON: Part of our message is you may recognize or see those dangerous types where we may not or you certainly may see them much sooner than we would. ARENA: But community representatives say that reeks of profiling.

RAMI NUSEIR, ARAB-AMERICAN ACTIVIST: To suspect or question our integrity and our loyalty or our peaceful nature is -- it's kind of an insult.

ARENA: Anger doesn't necessarily translate into violence. In Dearborn, Michigan for example, citizens chose to protest to express their frustration. But within this crowd are supporters of Hezbollah, which the State Department classifies as a terrorist organization.

NUSEIR: A lot of people look at Hezbollah as a social service agency that provides a lot of help for the Lebanese people. And that's where the sympathy comes from.


ARENA: Law enforcement officials say that Seattle proved events in the Middle East can inspire acts of violence here in the United States and they warn, Wolf, that it could happen again.

BLITZER: Kelli, thanks very much. That woman who died in that shooting in Seattle, her funeral took place today. More than 1,000 people attended that funeral earlier today. Stay tuned to CNN day and night with the most reliable news about your security.

Zacarias Moussaoui remains the only person convicted by the U.S. government for his role in the 9/11 attacks. During his trial, a jury viewed some never before seen images and evidence. Starting today, you can get an extraordinary look at all of these exhibits on-line. Our Internet reporter Jacki Schechner has the story. Jacki?

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, want you to take a listen here, Mohammed Atta flight 11 from September 11th.

This is a radio transmission. He thought he was talking to passengers. There's audio like this. This is just one piece of evidence from the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui. There is 1200 pieces of evidence now available on-line through the federal court. They tell me today there's such tremendous interest from both the media and the public, they put all of the stuff, easily available online. Everything from Moussaoui's driver's license, his UK driver's license. There is audio from the planes from passengers and flight attendants, there are photos that you probably haven't seen before. This one of Mohammed Atta. There are driver's license applications, really just incredible detail and its incredible back story to 9/11. I just want to let you know that when you go and take a look at this stuff Wolf, it is graphic, the images are tough to take a look at, the audio hard to listen to. So just be careful if you go out and look for yourself.

BLITZER: Jacki thank you very much. Let's go to New York, Lou Dobbs getting ready for his program that begins right at the top of the hour. Hi Lou.

LOU DOBBS, CNN ANCHOR: Hi Wolf and welcome home. Coming up at 6:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN, we'll be reporting the very latest on the war between Israel and Hezbollah. Israel says absolutely no to an immediate cease-fire despite statements by Condoleezza Rice and others to the contrary. We'll have complete coverage and one of the country's leading authorities on the Middle East and Islam, Fawaz Gerges, joins us.

Also tonight, a blistering heat wave is rolling across much of the country. Electricity companies struggling to keep up with rising demand. We'll have a special report on our nation's crumbling power grid and absolutely ineffectual energy policy.

And the number of illegal aliens in this country, some say can be as high as 30 million, nearly 3 times the estimate used when the illegal alien lobby and supporters of the Senate's amnesty bill. The authors of an important new book on illegal immigration and our border security crisis, minuteman project founder Jim Gilchrist, Jerome Corsi, they join us as well. All of that and a great deal more coming up at the top of the hour. We hope you'll be with us. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: Thanks, Lou we'll be watching. Fawaz Gerges was in Beirut at the start of the fighting. I'll be anxious to get his current assessment. Lou Dobbs coming up in a few moments.

Up ahead, Mel Gibson's DUI. CNN has learned about some brand new developments in this story. We're going to have them for you coming up next.

And Jack Cafferty has voting on his mind -- should voters be required to show proof of citizenship and photo I.D.? Stay with us.


BLITZER: Just a short time ago, CNN heard from Mel Gibson's publicist, saying the actor has now entered an ongoing recovery program, but many are wondering if his career will recover from the alleged anti-Semitic tirade, the actor is said to have unleashed when he was arrested for drunken driving over the weekend. CNN's Chris Lawrence joining us now live from Los Angeles with the latest. Chris?

CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf as you said, Mel Gibson is now getting treatment for his alcohol abuse. But an even bigger problem, are these allegations that he cursed Jews and disrespected a female deputy.


LAWRENCE (voice-over): He's one of the biggest stars in the world, a man whose movies made billions, but some in Hollywood think Mel Gibson's arrest and alleged slurs will cost him.

MICHAEL SPEIER, VARIETY: No one wants to touch this guy right now with a 10 foot pole. It's like where did this come from.

LAWRENCE: Gibson was arrested in Malibu for speeding and DUI. The Web site claims Gibson made offensive comments, but that authorities allegedly changed an original police report to remove those comments. TMZ alleges that Gibson made a sexist comment to a female officer about her breasts and threatened to get even with the deputy who arrested him. TMZ says Gibson spewed anti-Semitic statements, including "F*****g Jews, the Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." TMZ writes that Gibson then turned to the arresting deputy and asked, "Are you a Jew?"

Some Jewish audiences criticized Gibson for his "Passion of the Christ" film, believing it blamed Jews for the murder of Jesus. Gibson's father was labeled a holocaust denier after he said the holocaust was mostly fiction. Mel Gibson's latest outburst, if true, could cause some in Hollywood to sever ties with the actor.

SPEIER: They might say, I think he needs to be ostracized from the community because he really does believe this.

LAWRENCE: Gibson did not specifically address the alleged comments in a written statement. Gibson admitted he, quote, "Said things that I do not believe to be true, and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said, and I apologize to anyone who I have offended."


LAWRENCE: And what we have learned recently is that what's going to happen from this point is that the D.A. is reviewing the case. He will take a look at it and basically decide whether to charge Mel Gibson with the misdemeanor crime of driving under the influence. Coming up in the next hour of THE SITUATION ROOM, we will tell you why some Jewish leaders are in no mood to accept Mr. Gibson's apology. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right thanks very much Chris. That's during our 7:00 p.m. eastern hour right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Let's check in with Zain once again for some other stories making news. Zain?

VERJEE: Wolf, triple-digit temperatures are baking the Midwest. From Minnesota where it feels like 110 degrees in the shade to Oklahoma, people are doing everything they can to stay cool. Utilities are bracing for a possible power drain as air conditioners get turned up, excessive heat watches are posted in the nation's capital into New England.

The morning-after pill could finally end up being sold without a prescription. The FDA now says it will consider allowing over-the- counter sales of the emergency contraceptive known as plan B to women 18 years and older. It had delayed a decision citing concern that teens would get the medicine.

A brazen daylight raid today in Baghdad. Iraqi officials say that armed men posing as police stormed the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce and a mobile phone company. They kidnapped at least 26 people. The chamber's president was among those abducted. Iraqi police say at least 30 other people were killed or found dead across Iraq today. Wolf? BLITZER: Thank you Zain. Coming up, Jack Cafferty. Should voters be required to show proof of citizenship and photo I.D.? The Cafferty File next.


BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack. Jack?

CAFFERTY: The question is should voters be required to show proof of citizenship and photo I.D.? A lot of states in this country, illegal aliens can register and vote, no questions asked. Cynthia in Colorado, "It is not an undue hardship for those who participate in the political process to show ID that confirms their identity. I'm a person of color who absolutely believes that stopping voter fraud will protect the value of my voting voice. Identification is essential."

Richard in Illinois, "Did you actually think our stupid lawmakers would ever be on the side of America or Americans? They are on the side of potential voters from Mexico." John in North Wales, Pennsylvania, "What's all the fuss about voter ID's, Americans don't vote. State elections are won in many cases with less than 30 percent of the vote, the president's elected with less than 50 percent. Please, voter ID's are all about keeping people from voting. The Iraqi people vote in greater numbers than we do even when threatened with death."

Ty in Boston writes, "Of course, I didn't realize there was nothing preventing illegals from voting. I am not a naturalized citizen yet, I'm a permanent resident though (legally entered the country 18 years ago), I look forward to exercising my privilege of citizenship, i.e. the right to vote with other citizens."

Rich in Newport, Rhode Island, "Of course you ought to show ID, hell they make me show a driver's license to get a beer at the Red Sox game and I'm 54 years old." And Gary in Butte, Montana where my father is from, "Jack the illegals have been voting for the last six years. That's why we have what we have representing the American people. You don't think the Americans are that dumb, do you?

If you didn't see your e-mail here, go to, we post some more of them there. Wolf?

BLITZER: See you in an hour Jack thanks very much. Let's go to New York, Lou Dobbs standing by -- Lou.