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The Situation Room
United Flight from London Due at Dulles in Several Hours; Lebanon Approves Sending Troops to South Lebanon; Questions Being Asked Concerning Israel's Accomplishments in War Against Hezbollah; Alberto Gonzales Interview; Arrest in JonBenet Ramsey Case
Aired August 16, 2006 - 16:00 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 and to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Standing by, CNN reporters across the United States and around the world to bring you today's top stories.
Happening now, new questions about airline security after an in- flight scare. It's 4:00 p.m. in Boston where a plane from London was diverted because of an unruly passenger. In the wake of the British airline bomb plot, are there lessons to be learned?
Also this hour, the Attorney General Alberto Gonzales on the state of homeland security. And the politics of terror. Right now Senator Hillary Clinton is the target of a Republican commercial featuring Osama bin Laden. We'll bring you the interview and the ad.
Plus, Lebanese officials tackle critical decisions about sending troops to the south and about the future of Hezbollah fighters. It's 11:00 p.m. in Beirut where new efforts are now underway to make sure the Middle East cease-fire sticks. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Jerusalem. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Lebanese troops are now poised to move into southern Lebanon beginning in a matter of hours to help uphold a fragile cease-fire. We have reports on all the new developments here in the Middle East. That's coming up.
But first, the ordeal isn't over yet for people on board United Airlines flight 923 from London. It was diverted to Boston today because a passenger on board got into a confrontation with other people on the plane. Now it's due at its final destination. That would be Washington's Dulles International Airport, in the next few hours.
Officials say the incident was not -- repeat, not related to terrorism. But it did add to security jitters with that foiled British terror plot still fresh on many people's minds. Our Brian Todd is standing by at Boston's Logan's International Airport, but let's start with Gary Nurenberg. He's live at Dulles Airport outside Washington -- Gary?
GARY NURENBERG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Wolf. At last report, United Airlines was still waiting for federal investigators to finish their questioning of the 182 passengers and 12 crew members who were aboard that Boeing 767 flight from London to Dulles that was diverted to Boston, landing there at 10:13 this morning.
Investigators wanted to know what was happening with a woman described as about 60-years-old, who had a confrontation either with other passengers and/or with crew members. That confrontation serious enough that the pilot diverted to Boston, informed the military and that flight was escorted to Boston Logan by military fighter jets that followed it down until it was safely on the ground.
When passengers were there, they were escorted off the plane and onto the tarmac, taken away for questioning by federal investigators. All of the luggage was taken off the plane, put on the airport runway and was gone over by bomb sniffing dogs. At this point, investigators are still completing their questioning, putting them through customs in Boston, so when they reach their final destination of Dulles sometime later this evening, they will not have to go through that process here.
United has had different stories during the day in terms of when federal authorities had imagined that the plane would be freed up to return here. The most recent guess is that it should get here sometime around 6:00 or 6:30 this afternoon. A United spokesperson says that process of interrogation and customs is in its final stages now and he expected passengers to be onboard the plane sometime within the next hour.
There are conflicting reports to CNN about what that woman had in her possession. Earlier in the day there were reports that she had banned like hand cream, matches, and report of two notes, one in English, one in Arabic. The English note apparently making reference to al Qaeda. But there's now conflicting information about exactly what items she did have in her possession.
We can only tell you that fellow authorities are trying to determine that right now. We are told that she apparently did have some kind of hand cream which, as you know, was banned and some kind of matches. In this particular case, we're told it was legal for her to have that particular kind of matches.
In any event, Wolf, the exact details of what that confrontation was like on the plane are still being held by federal authorities. When we can figure it out, we'll bring you that information as soon as we get it.
BLITZER: Gary, thank you very much. Let's go up to Boston's Logan Airport right now. Our Brian Todd is on the scene. He's joining us on the phone. Brian, I take it you've spoken with some of the passengers on that flight?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on phone): Yes, we have, Wolf. We've spoken to three passengers on the flight, including one who was sitting right behind the woman. This gentleman from Wales described the woman as very non-threatening, but was very anxious. She was getting up and down, he says, trying to get as much attention as possible, handing notes to the flight crew to take to the captain and was asking, in his words -- asking a lot of questions about customs and immigration. When we asked him if she ever posed any kind of a threat or made any kind of a threatening gesture, he says she did not. We are told, Wolf, now, that the woman in question is now in the custody of Massachusetts State Police. We spoke to other passengers on board the plane. Some of them said that they did see the fighter jets escorting the plane down and were a little bit anxious. But others said that they really saw and heard nothing out of the ordinary. Some of them said they didn't even know what was going on until the plane landed in Boston and said that the cabin -- the flight crew was very calm about it and handled it very well.
BLITZER: Brian, originally, there were suggestions that some of the passengers actually encountered this woman, brought her down, that she had been not only there with notes, presumably something referring to al Qaeda in English or Arabic, but she actually had a screwdriver with her. Has anyone confirmed any of that to you?
TODD: Wolf, we're trying to hash out a little bit more of the information that you just talked about, about the screwdriver and the notes. We're getting conflicting information on those items. And we're going to hopefully get that confirmed or taken down a little bit later.
But what we can tell you is that the woman is in custody right now. The references to al Qaeda we're not positive of. She was very anxious. She was getting up and down, asking a lot of questions. She was in a very anxious state. She's apparently being questioned now by Massachusetts State Police. Some of the people on board the plane were trickling out as we got to them, trying to get on another flight to Dulles International Airport. But that is what we can tell you right now.
BLITZER: All right, Brian, we'll stay on top of this story. Brian Todd is on the scene for us at Logan International Airport in Boston.
And if you're flying, just what can and can't you bring on board? The items keep changing and the rules can be confusing. Our Internet reporter Jacki Schechner is standing by with information you need to know -- Jacki?
JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, that's right, the rules do keep changing. But if you're flying from the United States, the Transportation Security Administration Web site is the place to go. They have a full list of what you can and can't bring on board. It's very specific.
I want to point out a couple of things for you. As for eye drops or contact lens solution, you can have up to four ounces on board with you. Anything more than that has to be checked. As for gel shoe inserts, you're not allowed to wear those on the plane. If there is gel in the heels of your shoe, that is all right, but you're going to have to take the shoes off for screening.
What about lighters? Well you're not allowed to have a lighter in your carry-on. You are allowed to have up to two Zippo lighters in the checked baggage, but those have to be specifically sealed. The TSA is now recommending that you get to your airport at least two hours before any flight, domestic or international, allowing more time for international. The rules are a little different in the U.K. If you go to baa.com, they will have all of the information for you there -- Wolf?
BLITZER: All right Jacki and thank you.
And following up on now the terror plot arrests in Britain, police went to court in London today to renew permission to detain 23 suspects. They were arrested last week and under British law, they can be held without charge for 28 days. Authorities must periodically make the case to keep them in custody. The 24th suspect was arrested yesterday.
Coming up, I'll ask the Attorney General Alberto Gonzales about the plane diverted today, the London airline bomb plot and the different terror fighting tactics used by Britain and the U.S. And remember, stay tuned to CNN day and night for the most reliable news about your security.
Let's move on to the situation right here in the Middle East. Lebanon's prime minister says he's proud of the battle Hezbollah guerrillas fought against Israel, but he says it's time for his government to take control of southern Lebanon. The Lebanese cabinet today unanimously approved sending 15,000 troops to southern Lebanon beginning tomorrow.
Soldiers could start moving out in a matter of hours. Lebanon is hoping to speed up the arrival of U.N.-led forces that will uphold the cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah. And a top Israeli military official now says Israeli troops will not fully withdraw from Lebanon until that multinational force is in place, even if it takes, in his word, months.
Also today, Israel's defense minister appointed a committee to investigate how the nation handled the war against Hezbollah. Lebanon today upped its death toll to 989, most of them civilians. Israel's death toll during the month of fighting stands at 159, 41 of them civilians.
CNN's Jim Clancy is standing by live in Beirut with more now on that critical cabinet decision, the Lebanese cabinet decision and the state of this rather fragile cease fire. Jim, what's the latest?
JIM CLANCY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, you know we had the French foreign minister and Turkish foreign minister, two countries that are going to contributing peacekeeping forces in the south here today.
And in the words of one of the cabinet ministers, Marwan Hamadi, this was a decision unanimously taken by the cabinet to send the troops to the south that had to be done, because apparently the international forces were not going to move toward deployment until and unless the Lebanese army was going to south Lebanon. So that's the situation that we have today. We talked a little bit earlier with the justice minister, Charles Rizic (ph).
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The army will take control of the situation there and every arms will be under the control of the Lebanese army. She will have the monopoly of the arms.
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CLANCY: Did the cabinet really tackle the arms issue? The answer has to be no. They're saying it is between the Lebanese army now and Hezbollah. There is apparently an agreement that is already in effect that Hezbollah is not going to bear any arms south of the Litani and has been authorized -- they more or less said if anyone is found with any arms, they would support those arms being taken off the people and the same punishment being meted out to them as to anyone else with illegal arms.
So we have a situation here that may satisfy the Lebanese dilemma. Whether it satisfies international peacekeepers and Israel, that may be another question, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jim. Thank you very much.
In Israel today, tough questions are being asked about the war against Hezbollah and what it did or did not accomplish.
CNN's Paula Hancocks is here in Jerusalem -- Paula.
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it's day three of the cease-fire. It's still holding, and it's still fragile. But it's given the Israeli public and politicians a chance to assess what was achieved during this conflict, and more importantly, what was not achieved.
HANCOCKS (voice-over): Israel's border with Lebanon is busy again, but the traffic is going the other way, back into Israel. The conflict in southern Lebanon is over, but Hezbollah has not been crippled, their rockets not stopped by Israel's military might, and the two Israeli soldiers whose kidnapping sparked four weeks of deadly fighting are still in enemy hands.
But most worrying of all for Israel, believe some analysts, is damage done to its military deterrence in the Arab world.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Deterrence is a question of perception. And the way the war is perceived in the Arab world at this point is that the small band of sturdy guerrillas was able to stand up to Israel and blunt the military might of what is probably the most powerful army in the Middle East.
HANCOCKS: But Israel's deputy prime minister sees things differently. He believes the perception of Israel's military might is intact. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We estimate that Hezbollah lost something like 600 fighters. And if they lost 600 fighters, one could imagine there is another 600 that were wounded.
HANCOCKS: So what did Israel achieve? The political echelon here consistently refers back to the United Nations resolution, considering it a diplomatic victory.
TZIPI LIVNI, ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER: Only a month ago, nobody could have believed that the Lebanese army will be deployed to the south part. Nobody could have believed that Hezbollah will agree to this kind of understanding of deployment of the Lebanese army, plus international forces.
HANCOCKS: Foreign Minister Livni calls Hezbollah fighters captured during the war assets. Politicians still balk at the term prisoner swap though political sources say it's certainly an option.
HANCOCKS: New opinion polls published today make very depressing reading for the Israeli leaders. Seventy percent believe Israel should not have agreed to a cease-fire without the release of the soldiers, and only 30 percent believe that Israel won the war, the same percentage that believe Hezbollah won -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Paula, thank you.
Let's go to New York. Jack Cafferty standing by with "The Cafferty File." Hi, Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the American Civil Liberties Union and Hispanic activists are suing a Pennsylvania city for cracking down on illegal aliens. Hazleton was one of the first communities to get a bellyful of the federal government's unwillingness to enforce this nation's immigration laws.
Mayor Lou Barletta says as influx of illegal aliens increased crime, overburdened schools and hospitals and lowered the quality of life. So they took matters into their own hands in Hazleton. Last month the city council voted to fine landlords $1,000 for renting to illegal aliens, to deny business permits to companies who hire illegal aliens, and to make English the city's official language.
These are all things that might actually go a long way toward solving the problem. Well, not so fast. Along comes the ACLU with its lawsuit, claiming the Constitution allows only the federal government the power to regulate immigration, that Hazleton's immigration laws are discriminatory and unworkable. But Mayor Barletta says the city will stand its ground and, quote, "fight it as far as we have to."
So here's the question: Should the ACLU keep its nose of out Hazleton, Pennsylvania's immigration laws? E-mail your thoughts to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
And if you want a sneak preview of Jack's questions, plus an early read on the day's political news and what's ahead right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, you can sign up for our daily e-mail alert. Just go to CNN.com/SituationRoom.
We want to check in with Zain Verjee. She's got news that's coming into CNN right now. What are you picking up, Zain?
ZAIN VERJEE, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, CNN's affiliate KUSA in Denver, Colorado is saying that sources close to the investigation of the murder of JonBenet Ramsey says an arrest was made on Wednesday morning in Thailand in relation to the case. We're not getting any more details, but NBC News is reporting that JonBenet's father told NBC that an arrest will be made.
We're following the story and will bring you details when we get them, Wolf. As you know, her murder shocked the core of America back in 1996 when she was found brutally murdered and, before that, sexually assaulted and beaten to death in the basement of her house in Boulder, Colorado. We'll bring you more details when we get them, wolf, as this story develops.
BLITZER: It was a shocking, shocking story 10 years ago. So many questions unanswered. No one was ever arrested, a lot of suspicions. We're going to follow this story and bring our viewers up to speed as the information comes in. Once again, as Zain just reported, an arrest apparently has been made in connection with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey 10 years ago in Colorado. We'll watch this story together with you.
Coming up, much more on the fragile cease-fire here in the Middle East. We'll go live to the Israeli-Lebanese border where troops on both sides remain in place.
Plus, the other even deadlier conflict that's here in the Middle East as well. We're going to tell you about another very, very bloody day today in Baghdad. It's been a deadly summer in Iraq.
And later, Hillary Clinton finds herself front and center in the political fight over the war on terror.
Live from Jerusalem, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: And this just coming in from the Associated Press. We're getting word that Iran's supreme leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini has issued a statement to the Hezbollah leader, saying that Hezbollah's victory, victory over Israel and in the words of the Iran's supreme leader, a victory for Islam. We're following the story. We'll get more information for you, as well as what's the latest on this very, very fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah.
Meantime, let's check back in with Zain for a closer look at some other important stories making news, Zain.
VERJEE: Wolf, dozens of people are dead or wounded today in the ongoing wave of violence in Iraq. These are pictures of the aftermath of one of several deadly bombings carried out in Baghdad just today.
Listen to this. Iraq's deputy health minister says about 3,500 Iraqis died in sectarian or political violence just last month alone. He says it is the highest one month civilian death toll since the war started back in March of 2003.
U.S. federal agents say they have nabbed a notorious Mexican drug kingpin in an off-shore operation in the Pacific. They say Javier Arellano-Felix was aboard the fishing vessel "Doc Holliday" 15 miles off the Mexican coast when he was taken into custody by the Coast Guard. Officials say his cartel was responsible for the recently discovered elaborate tunnel system under the Mexican/California border.
Gerald Ford's office says the former president checked into the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, for testing and evaluation. The statement discloses little else about his condition, except to say the 93-year-old Ford was admitted yesterday. He's been in frail health in recent years and five years ago he suffered two small strokes. He became the oldest living former president after Ronald Reagan died in 2004. Wolf.
BLITZER: Zain, thanks very much. We're also following that developing story out of Colorado. Our affiliate in Denver, KUSA reporting that an arrest has been made in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case of ten years ago. An arrest has been made in Thailand. We're getting more information. We'll bring it to you as it comes in, more information from our affiliate KUSA in Denver, Colorado.
Also coming up, are we prepared to deal with a terror attack? I'll ask the attorney general of the United States. You don't want to miss our conversation. Alberto Gonzales, that's coming up.
And later, the fighting stopped but tensions remain sky high along the Israeli/Lebanese border. We're going to go live to the front lines in this very, very fragile peace. Live from Jerusalem, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Our affiliate in (INAUDIBLE) an arrest has been made in the case of JonBenet Ramsey, that little girl who was murdered some 10 years ago in her home in Boulder, Colorado. Zain Verjee is watching the story, getting more information for us. Zain, what are we learning?
VERJEE: Wolf, CNN affiliate KUSA is reporting this. A Boulder County D.A. investigator is bringing back a suspect in the JonBenet Ramsey murder case to the United States. The suspect was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand this morning. Now this suspect has apparently confessed to certain elements of this crime that are apparently unknown to the general public. KUSA is reporting that this suspect is expected to arrive in the United States maybe within the next two days, accompanied by an investigator from the Boulder D.A.'s office.
Now the D.A.'s office there, the county D.A.'s office hasn't actually confirmed the identity of the suspect, but they are expected to hold a press conference a little bit later today. And we'll bring you more details when we get them, Wolf.
BLITZER: Thank you very much, Zain. We'll follow this story, a story of huge interest to our viewers ten years ago, the unanswered question, who may have been responsible for the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. We'll watch the story with you Zain. Thanks very much.
Meanwhile, the flight at the center of a new scare is due to arrive at Washington's Dulles International Airport within the next couple of hours. It was heading from London to Washington, D.C. when a passenger got unruly and the pilot diverted the plane to Boston. Authorities say there was no security or terror threat but this comes amid a heightened terror alert and days after Britain announced it had foiled an airline bomb plot that could have rivaled the 9/11 attacks.
Joining us now, the attorney general of the United States, Alberto Gonzales. Attorney general, thanks very much for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM. It's been almost a week since we learned about this alleged airline terror plot, planes coming to the United States from the United Kingdom, supposedly with bombs on board. Do you know for sure now that this is an al Qaeda related plot?
ALBERTO GONZALES, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Wolf, we're still gathering up information. We're working with the British authorities, looking at the evidence. I don't want to confirm today that this is al Qaeda related. But as we've said before, if you look at the facts and the circumstances of this particular plot, as we understand it, it is certainly suggestive of previous al Qaeda plots and certainly suggestive of previous al Qaeda thinking about how to carry out a deadly plot. So it's something that we're still evaluating. And, obviously, as soon as we're able to confirm one way or the other, we will do so.
BLITZER: There's a story in the "L.A. Times" that authorities in Britain are looking for a suspect who may have had a role in 9/11, being, having a role in this plot, this alleged plot as well. Is there an individual out there that you think fits the bill, who may have had a role in both?
GONZALES: Wolf, you know, I spoke with the attorney general of the United Kingdom yesterday and a few days ago. I did speak with Home Secretary Reid about the fact that they believe it is very, very important that we be careful about confirming, not confirming facts.
So this is the kind of information that I wish we could provide more information to the American public, but we are in a sensitive stage now of the investigation in the United Kingdom and we don't want to say anything that would inadvertently compromise the investigation or harm subsequent prosecution. So as soon as we can confirm these kinds of facts, we will do so.
BLITZER: Are there any suspects in the United States in connection with this alleged airline terror plot that you're looking for?
GONZALES: Well, what I can say is that there have been a number of tips and leads that tie to the United States, and that's why we have had over 200 FBI agents involved and following up on every tip and every lead, to ensure that there is not an on-going plot here in the United States.
As we have said repeatedly, we're not aware of a plot here in the United States, but we're not prepared, also, to say that we've ended this threat. We've certainly disrupted the threat, but we're still involved in investigations to ensure that there is not currently a threat here in the United States.
BLITZER: Let me read to you what former President Bill Clinton said this morning. He said: "The Republicans should be very careful in trying to play politics with this London airport thing, because they're going to have a hard time with the facts. They seem to be anxious to tie the plot to al Qaeda. If that's true, how come we've got seven times as many troops in Iraq as in Afghanistan?"
Do you want to comment on what Bill Clinton said?
GONZALES: Well, I haven't seen his comments, and I don't know what context those comments were made.
My reaction is, is that no one should be playing politics with this particular situation. We're not trying to tie it to al Qaeda. You just asked me a question as to the ties of al Qaeda. We want to be very, very careful in the information that we disclose to the American people. We want the facts -- the information -- to be accurate.
We want the information to be disclosed in a way that doesn't jeopardize an ongoing investigation or prosecution. And, so, I think we have been very measured and careful within the administration about how to inform the American public about this particular threat.
BLITZER: This notion of copycats, are you concerned that there could be copycats out there in the United States, or elsewhere around the world, that might want to use liquid explosives to blow up planes?
GONZALES: Of course we're concerned about that. And that's why, while we believe that we took important steps to disrupt this plot, we were concerned about copycats. And that's why, despite the arrests, the threat level was raised, both in the United Kingdom and in the United States.
And obviously, it's something we will continue to monitor very carefully.
BLITZER: The alleged plotters in this case, supposedly, were only days away from what they described as a dry run. There are reports out there that U.S. authorities and Pakistani authorities tried to discourage the British authorities from going up and rolling up this plot, because they wanted to get more information, see if there were other big fish out there. Is that true?
GONZALES: I'm not going to -- Wolf, the British authorities took action when they believed it was absolutely necessary to do so. I'm not aware of any pressure by the United States upon the British to take action when they did.
These are very difficult decisions that have to be made by prosecutors all the time, exercising their best judgment as to when you have enough information for a successful prosecution. You don't want to wait too long, where you put innocent lives at risk.
We support the actions of the British authorities in this particular case.
BLITZER: If it were constitutional in the United States to hold a suspect, a U.S. citizen, for 28 days -- which is the law, as you know, in the United Kingdom -- would you support changing the current rules of the game? Right now, 48 hours, you can hold someone without filing formal charges. Would you like to change those laws?
GONZALES: Wolf, I think that there are serious questions as to whether or not that would be constitutional. And, obviously, as to whether or not a particular tool or enforcement mechanism would be something that we would want, we would have to answer the question: Is it constitutional? Is it effective? Is it something that we absolutely need?
And, as we do with respect to every plot that's uncovered, as with respect to every response to a plot, we evaluate the changing nature of the threat and the ways -- the mechanism and tools that are currently in place to defeat that threat.
And that's what we're doing in this particular case, as we have done in response to the London bombings, to the arrests in Canada. We're always evaluating, OK, what is the enemy doing, and do we have the tools to adequately address this -- to adequately address the emerging threat?
BLITZER: But, if it were constitutional, you would be open minded about changing the rules to emulate the British rules?
GONZALES: Well, of course, the British, there's a different legal system, that there are additional tools that they have. We have additional tools that they don't have.
And, so, whether or not that that is something that we should pursue, assuming it's constitutional -- and, again, I think that there are serious questions that we have that would have to be addressed with respect to that.
You know, we would have to make a determination: Is this something that we really need?
BLITZER: The whole issue of changing the rules of the game, as far as racial and ethnic profiling, is it a good idea? GONZALES: I think that, you know, taking action against someone solely because of their race and solely because of their religion, I think, is problematic. I do believe it is appropriate to engage in threat profiling, that you have -- if you have information about a particular threat, if you have certain facts that we ought to be looking for, I think we have an obligation to the American people to use that information to try to disrupt the threat.
The president, however, believes very strongly -- and he's against racial profiling. Again, this is profiling based solely on race, for no other reason. But if there is a reason to engage in threat profiling, you know, during a time of war, in these very dangerous times, I think we have an obligation, in the law enforcement community, to use the facts that we have and to protect this country the best way that we can.
BLITZER: Attorney General Gonzales, thanks very much for joining us.
GONZALES: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, has just confirmed that an arrest has indeed been made in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, the little girl who was murdered some 10 years ago in her home in Boulder, Colorado -- Kelli Arena confirming that with two sources back in the United States.
Rusty Dornin is covering this story for us as well. She's trying to get some additional information.
Rusty, what are you picking up?
RUSTY DORNIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, from what we understand, the Boulder district attorney's office sent an investigator to Bangkok, Thailand, and has arrested a suspect there, apparently someone who knew too many details about the case, in this case, details that only the police knew about the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey in 1996.
We understand that they are bringing that suspect back to the United States, but they are not identifying who it is. This, of course, comes not long after the little girl's mother, Patsy Ramsey, died of cancer. It was her second bout fighting cancer. John -- Patsy Ramsey and her husband, John, had left Boulder right after the murder, came here to Atlanta, Georgia, and lived for a period of time.
Patsy Ramsey's parents still live here. CNN did contact them. They did not give us a comment. However, they were very upset on the phone. They obviously had heard some kind of news recently. Also, Patsy Ramsey's sister, when we reached her, she did not have any comment.
So, from what we understand, they are bringing a suspect back to the United States who will be charged. And, Wolf, remember, the Boulder police, just as early as this past Monday, were not ruling out the Ramsey family as being involved in this.
But a federal judge did give a declaration this past Monday, saying that he did not believe the Ramsey family was involved in that little girl's murder -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Rusty, we have no idea who this suspect may be, the suspect picked up in Bangkok, Thailand, and, presumably, being brought to the United States right now.
It was there -- and I know you have covered this story. I remember covering it myself back in 1996. I don't remember anybody from Thailand who was either involved or implicated, or anything along those lines. Do you?
DORNIN: No. And this all comes as a great surprise -- as I said a little earlier, just this past Monday, a federal judge ruling that the Ramsey family had nothing to do with it, that it was likely some kind of intruder.
And the Boulder police just have not commented on it at all this week, and right now are refusing to comment on it. So, it really came as a surprise, Wolf, when this -- news of this arrest.
BLITZER: We don't know if the person arrested is from Thailand, could be an American who happened to have been in Thailand.
We will continue to watch this story -- much more coming up. But we have confirmed now that an arrest has been made now in connection with the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey back in her home in Boulder, Colorado, in 1996. We are going to get you more information and bring it to you as it comes in.
Rusty, thanks very much.
Also, we're following the situation here in the Middle East. Israeli troops halt their pullout from Lebanon, at least for now. We are going to tell you why -- all that coming up.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: An arrest has been made in connection with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey some 10 years ago in her home in Boulder, Colorado.
Our justice correspondent, Kelli Arena, is also watching this story for us.
Kelli Arena, what are you picking up?
KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, I'm being told by law enforcement officials that this arrest warrant was issued last night in Bangkok, that the male -- male is in custody.
He has been described to me by several officials as a possible suspect. I'm also told that this person will be removed from Thailand, brought back to the United States. This is an investigation, Wolf, that's being led by the Boulder, Colorado, DA's office, in conjunction with agents from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
When this individual is brought to the United States, he will most likely be escorted by those ICE agents. We don't have any information on an age, Wolf, or a nationality at this point. I'm still trying to get that information, but arrest warrant handed down, person in custody, described as a possible suspect in the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, the most notorious cold case, Wolf, that's out there.
BLITZER: The Associated Press, Kelli, reporting right now that this individual being held in Thailand, in Bangkok, Thailand, on unrelated sex charges. We're watching the story carefully.
The -- our affiliate in Denver, KUSA, had reported earlier, Kelli, that this individual, apparently, in talking to authorities there, knew specific details about the murder of JonBenet Ramsey that only someone on the inside, presumably, could have known. And that caused all sorts of alarm bells to come up.
But this case is being taken very, very seriously, I take it.
ARENA: Yes, it is, Wolf.
As I said, the officials that I spoke to describe this individual as a possible suspect. At first, we thought maybe this was someone who just had information about the case. But, no, this is someone who, you know, could eventually be charged.
Now, no one is going into what happened in that interrogation, Wolf. That information is not coming out at this time. But, you know, the more that we find out, we will bring it to you.
BLITZER: And we don't know the nationality of this possible suspect?
ARENA: That's right. I don't know if he's Thai or American or something else. We just do not have any confirmation on any of the identifiers at this point.
BLITZER: Kelli, thanks very much. We have got Kelli Arena working the story, Rusty Dornin working the story. We're getting information from our affiliate KUSA in Denver, Colorado, as well. We will bring you up-to-date information. Apparently, an arrest has been made in connection with the murder of 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey 10 years ago in her home in Boulder, Colorado, this coming only a few weeks after her mother, Patsy Ramsey, died from cancer in Georgia.
We will watch this story, and update you with information, as it comes into THE SITUATION ROOM.
Other important news we're following, though, here: the crisis in the Middle East. Israel has now begun withdrawing its troops from southern Lebanon, three days into a cease-fire with Hezbollah. An Israeli military chief says some soldiers, though, may remain in the area for months, if necessary.
Let's bring in our Chris Lawrence. He's in northern Israel. He's watching the situation unfold along the border with Lebanon.
Chris, what are you picking up right now, as far as the duration, the length of time Israeli troops might wind up staying in south Lebanon?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Wolf, we have heard that they could be there for months, because what they are insisting on is, they will not entirely withdraw until two conditions are met: The Lebanese army moves its troops down south of the Litani River and takes up position there, and that multinational force that the U.N. resolution required, that those troops also take up their positions.
Only then will Israel totally move its troops out of the area. Now, as we first reported yesterday, Israel has been moving back to a line about five kilometers from the border, still inside Lebanon. And they were prepared to wait at that line until all those forces came and took over.
Hezbollah has refused to disarm, and even reasserted its right to attack and fight Israeli soldiers while they're still patrolling in Lebanon. So, this move may have been designed -- this pullback to this line may have been designed to allow Israeli forces to have less contact, both with the returning refugees in Lebanon and Hezbollah.
As we have been reporting for the past couple days, Israeli troops have already shot at least 10 Hezbollah guerrillas since the cease-fire went into effect, killing several of them. So, as one Israeli soldier described it to me today, a cease-fire is not the same as peace, especially when it comes to this part of the world -- Wolf.
BLITZER: You're in northern Israel, Chris. In the past month or so, nearly a million Israelis in Haifa and the other cities and towns in the northern part of the country either went underground, into shelters, or moved south, to get away from those incoming Katyusha rockets. What's it like there now?
I know you have had a chance to go out and about, and try to get a flavor of life presumably returning to some semblance of normality.
LAWRENCE: Yes, it's a tremendous difference from just a couple of days ago, where you just hear a constant boom, boom. And just about everywhere we would drive, we would see fires from Katyusha rockets. We would hear the artillery outgoing.
Now it is quiet. But the Israelis that you talk to have this sense of dread. One Israeli woman said, it's like the Katyushas did more than just damage homes and -- and injury people. They damaged this myth that -- that some Israelis were living under that they were safe from Hezbollah, that that has been shattered now.
We spent some time at a hospital today, where doctors tell us that post-traumatic stress cases are soaring in the country. And it's surreal to watch mothers and their daughters and people walking out of stores and sitting in cafes, and, a few feet away, there is a huge crater from a Katyusha missile -- or a Katyusha rocket just buried right there in the middle of a busy street.
BLITZER: Chris Lawrence, reporting for us from northern Israel -- Chris, thanks very much.
Coming up: an eye-popping new attack ad targeting Senator Hillary Clinton and featuring Osama bin Laden. We have a brand-new response from the senator -- all that coming up, as well as we will update you on the latest of an arrest apparently been made in Bangkok, Thailand, in connection with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey.
Stay with us.
BLITZER: CNN has now confirmed that an arrest has been made in the case of the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, that little 6-year-old girl who was murdered in her home in Boulder, Colorado, nearly 10 years ago, an arrest having been made in Bangkok, Thailand. We're following the story.
Tom Foreman is following for it, as well.
Tom, you covered this story 10 years ago. And, as so many of our viewers will remember, it caused a huge, huge amount of concern. But this mystery has never been resolved.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I can't think of anybody who is more flabbergasted than I am to hear about an arrest right now, because this was so thoroughly researched and so thoroughly covered, as you recall, 10 years ago. It was on the news around the clock.
The police were working on it like they have never worked on anything before in Boulder, Colorado. The DA's office was working on it. And, time and time again, people said, certainly, it must come down to arrests for somebody. And it never did.
Now to hear about this news, frankly, I'm fascinated to hear who this person is and what would make this person a suspect. I'm very keen to the notion that Kelli Arena just said this is a possible suspect. There have been possible suspects before, but none of them have ever panned out -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And we're expecting to get more information on this possible suspect arrested in Bangkok, Thailand. Apparently, according to our affiliate KUSA in Denver, he knew specific information about the case that had not been made public, raising all sorts of alarm bells -- and Associated Press now reporting this possible suspect being held on other sex unrelated charges.
Remind our viewers about this story, Tom, because so much of it had spread shadows and cast doubts on the parents and others. There was always a suspicion, though, that perhaps an intruder had come into that beautiful home.
FOREMAN: There was always a suspicion, Wolf.
But I have to tell you that the investigators involved in this case, all of those who were closest to it, had the biggest problem with the idea that there was an intruder, because, simply put, they continued to come back and look at Patsy Ramsey, principally, but the Ramsey parents.
Now, there has never been any charges against them. They have never been convicted of anything, charged of anything in this whole case. They have always said they were innocent.
But investigators constantly came back to them, specifically because of details of the case. She died on Christmas night. Her body was found in the house. There were no clear signs of forced entry. The ransom note that was found was found in the house by Patsy Ramsey. It was written on a pad of paper that apparently came from the house.
There was another shortened version of this note, which seemed to be a practice version, still in the house. The rope and the -- or at least the little stick that was used to choke her all came from a painting kit that was kept by Patsy Ramsey. There were all these details that made investigators not look at that intruder. And, yet, they always said there could be such a person. Now maybe they have found him.
BLITZER: Tom, stand by.
We're going to have our reporters watching this story, this new information coming in on a possible arrest in connection with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey. We're going to get back to it.
But I want to move on to some other important news we're following, including some political news.
Senator Hillary Clinton is calling a new attack ad against her outrageous. Her Republican Senate rival in New York, John Spencer, is airing the spot. It accuses Senator Clinton of being soft on terror. And it features a photo of Osama bin Laden to try to drive home that charge.
Senator Clinton calls it a -- quote -- "terrible injustice" to her. And she is accusing -- a terrible injustice -- accused of being accused of being in league, somehow, with Osama bin Laden.
A leading House Republican from New York is accusing Spencer of wild-eyed and angry rantings.
Meanwhile, the Homeland Security Committee chairman, Peter King, says he would never question Senator Clinton's commitment to the war on terror.
Let's bring in our senior analyst, Jeff Greenfield. He has more now on the politics of this war on terror -- Jeff.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SENIOR ANALYST: Wolf, the surest way to spot a key theme in any campaign is to watch and listen to the ads, because that's where the most money is spent and where a message has to be honed down to 30 seconds.
This season, one of the most significant trends isn't just what's being said, but what's not being said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, FORD FOR TENNESSEE AD)
REP. HAROLD FORD (D-TN), TENNESSEE SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: ... whose banks wired money to the terrorists.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD (voice-over): First, instead of changing the subject away from Iraq and terror, a lot of Democrats are taking these issues on directly.
For instance, in a Democratic primary in an Iowa congressional district, candidate Bruce Braley tried to tie his opponent to Bush's Iraq policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, BRALEY FOR CONGRESS AD)
NARRATOR: We need a timetable to turn the fighting over to the Iraqis and bring our troops home. But Rick Dickinson agrees with President Bush and is against setting a timetable for getting our troops out of Iraq.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD: In Vermont, Congressman Bernie Sanders, running for the Senate as an independent, puts his opposition to the war front and center.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SANDERS FOR SENATE AD)
REP. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT), VERMONT SENATORIAL CANDIDATE: I think the evidence is very clear that Bush's war in Iraq has been counterproductive, in terms of fighting international terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD: And the Democrats' Senate Campaign Committee has an ad up that argues America is less safe now than it was five years ago.
In Ohio, here's Senator Mike DeWine talking about his Democratic opponent.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, DEWINE FOR SENATE AD)
NARRATOR: Where does Sherrod Brown stand on protecting America's homeland? In Congress, Brown voted to slash national intelligence programs. He voted against strengthening criminal laws for terrorist attacks. He voted against the Patriot Act, which gives law enforcement the tools to fight terrorism.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD: And here's John Spencer, who wants to oppose Senator Hillary Clinton in New York. Note the visual aid here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, SPENCER FOR SENATE AD)
ANNOUNCER: But Senator Hillary Clinton opposes the Patriot Act and the NSA program that helped stop another 9/11. She would leave us vulnerable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's wrong.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD: And here's Republican Richard Tarrant, running against independent Bernie Sanders in Vermont.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, TARRANT FOR SENATE AD)
NARRATOR: For seven consecutive years, and over President Clinton's objection, Congressman Sanders sponsored legislation to cut our intelligence budget. Even today, Sanders' official Web site states his strong opposition to budget increases for our intelligence community.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GREENFIELD: So, what is it that these Republican ads don't say? None of them mention Iraq. They're all aimed at voters -- at votes and propositions, rather, they claim weaken America's ability to fight the broader war.
This is a sure sign that these Republican candidates believe that the argument that President Bush made two years ago, that the war in Iraq made America safer, simply is not going to fly this fall -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jeff Greenfield reporting for us.
And the breaking news that we have been following this past hour, the arrest -- apparent arrest of someone in Bangkok, Thailand, in connection with the murder of JonBenet Ramsey, we're watching this story -- much more coming up at the top of the hour.
Let's check in with Jack Cafferty, though, first, for "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Wolf, the ACLU is suing the town of Hazleton, Pennsylvania, for cracking down on illegal aliens. They claim, the Constitution allows only the federal government the power to regulate immigration. But the mayor of Hazleton, Lou Barletta, says his city will stand its ground and fight on. The question is: Should the ACLU keep its nose out of Hazleton, Pennsylvania's immigration laws? Technically, they probably have a role there, because it probably is the federal government's job. But it just seems like, if this town is willing to do this on its own, maybe they ought to be left alone.
Anyway, Tammy in West Virginia writes: "The ACLU should keep its nose out of everyone's business, especially Hazleton, Pennsylvania, and that saint of a mayor, Lou Barletta. If they are so concerned about illegal alien rights, why don't they hang up their shingle in Mexico? The ACLU is about as useful to decent Americans with real problems as" -- well, I can't read the rest of that to you. It's a family show.
Bima in Los Angeles: "The ACLU must continue unhindered. I disagree passionately with many of their positions, but who else is defending our basic human and civil rights? Certainly not our president, attorney general, Congress, or Supreme Court."
Jim in Rochelle, Illinois: "The ACLU, first and foremost, should realize the laws enacted in Hazleton are the direct result of the will of the people. I thought that is how democracy is supposed to work. The ACLU, at one time, garnered respect and kudos for their work. Those days are gone."
Alfred, Claremore, Oklahoma: "The ACLU should be suing the U.S. government for not enforcing our immigration laws, not the cities who are trying to. They got their priorities backwards."
Rob in Baltimore: "In principle, the laws in Hazleton sound like they're reasonable and potentially effective. However, enforcing them could -- and probably would -- lead to discriminatory practices. Landlords would likely only require citizenship documentation from people who fit the profile of illegal aliens, namely Hispanics, or they might simply choose to be safe, and not rent to Hispanics at all."
And Judy in Dekalb, Illinois: "I never realized the ACLU charter has a provision seeking to overturn the laws enacted democratically by the people of a U.S. city. It's the voice of the people, you morons. Perhaps the ACLU should set up shop in Iran, North Korea, or China. That would keep this pack of whiners busy for a few centuries" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Jack, thank you.
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