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The Situation Room
News Networks Declare Iraq in State of Civil War, Iraqi Leaders to Meet With Their Iranian Counterparts, Former Spy's Mysterious Death Strains Russian Relations With West
Aired November 27, 2006 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. 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 tonight's top stories.
Happening now, as America looks for answers to the violence in Iraq, death squads look for their next victims as the sectarian slaughter rages between Sunni and Shia, is it already a civil war?
And could a kiss help end the chaos? A long time foe of both Iraq and the United States may hold the key. Will the White House be the next to talk with Iran?
And his name is Bond, James Bond. Her name is Moos, Jeanne Moos. We'll get her take on the new Double 07.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
They use bombs and bullets. They kidnap, torture and kill Sunni and Shia, each side targeting the other side right now. As the slaughter rages and the body count steadily builds there's a debate over semantics. Does this conflict fit the definition of a civil war?
Let's begin our coverage tonight with CNN's Carol Costello -- Carol.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: There's a war of words going on, Wolf. Kofi Annan, the U.N. secretary general, told us today Iraq is almost in a civil war. Others say, come on already. If what's happening in Iraq does not constitute a civil war, what does?
COSTELLO (voice-over): The violence in Baghdad has been seemingly nonstop, some of the worst between Sunni and Shia. It is neighbor killing neighbor. The violence is being played out in a number of ways, with Sunnis lobbing mortars into Shia neighborhoods and Shias retaliating. There are death squads targeting both Shias and Sunnis. We asked our man on the ground what it looked like from his perspective.
MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anyone who still remains in doubt about whether this is civil war or not is suffering from the luxury of distance. COSTELLO: Still the definition of civil war is tricky in part because it has all kinds of political implications. The Bush administration says Iraq is not in a civil war, in part because most of the violence is centered in Baghdad. Even the world's top diplomat stopped short of calling Iraq's conflict a civil war but issued this warning.
KOFI ANNAN, U.N. SECRETARY-GENERAL: Unless something is done drastically and urgently to arrest the deteriorating situation, we could be there and in fact we are almost there.
COSTELLO: But some scholars disagree.
PROF. DAVID LAITIN, STANFORD UNIVERSITY: By the standards of the research community that studies civil wars systematically, it is.
COSTELLO: Academics define a civil war as two factions within the same culture fighting for political control and a death toll of at least 1,000. For the national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter there is also no doubt.
ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI, FORMER NAT'L SECURITY ADVISER: The longer we stay the more fragmented this will be because it is a civil war already. And in the meantime, and this is a key point, American position in the Middle East is being dramatically undermined.
COSTELLO: But the battle over the civil war definition is causing debate within news departments across the country. NBC came out today stating it would now call what's happening in Iraq a civil war, despite White House denials. "Today" host Matt Lauer announced NBC's decision in a matter of fact tone.
MATT LAUER, NBC "TODAY": After careful consideration, NBC News has decided to change in terminology as warranted that the situation in Iraq with armed militarized factions fighting for their own political agendas can now be characterized as civil war.
COSTELLO: Others are still calling it part of a larger conflict in Iraq between different factions, fueled by outside players like al Qaeda and Iran. But there's no question, all are fighting for control of Iraq's fledging government.
COSTELLO: I know what some are you are saying, why does this even matter? We agree the violence in Iraq is unacceptable. But academics say it is important how we define the war because, they say, you can't find the proper strategy to successfully deal with it if you are not honest about what it is. Wolf?
BLITZER: Good point, Carol, thanks very much -- Carol Costello reporting.
Let's get some more now on the view inside Iraq as to whether the nation is embroiled in civil war or not.
Joining us now our correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Ware. Michael, as you know, there's a huge debate here in the United States, whether or not this is a civil war. The White House, the Bush administration denies U.S. troops are involved in a civil war in Iraq. The Iraqi government, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki denies this is a civil war. But a lot of other experts not only say it is a civil war, it may be one of the most brutal and violence civil wars of recent memory. You're there on the ground. Is this a civil war?
WARE: Well, what I can tell you, Wolf, for example is right now, as I'm speaking to you, there's a gun battle under way, the sound of machine gun fire in a neighboring suburb. It's a Sunni area, where it's known that Shia death squads often in police uniforms roam and the locals band together to repel them. That could very well be going on as we are speaking to each other.
Certainly in the rest of Iraq tonight, that's what communities are doing, banding together, using telephones and SMS and even blog sites to coordinate as death squads move in and they prepare their defenses. The debate about whether this is a civil war is fueled either by the luxury of distance, those who aren't here living on the ground, or is fueled by the spin of those with a political agenda to deny its existence.
The basic definition is a war by organized groups within a country. Some say it must be a battle over the political center with at least 1,000 dead, involving neighborhood on neighborhood, militia style combat, elements of ethnic cleansing, you know, family on family, coordination and organization. Well, Wolf, you can tick every box.
We now have institutionalized death squads in police uniforms. You're having Sunni patients pulled out of Shia-controlled hospitals. You have neighborhoods with fighting positions. You have districts engaged in mortar wars, one neighborhood lobbing bombs on another neighborhood and then retaliating. People carry dual identity cards, one Sunni, one Shia. Children dare not go to school for fear of crossing ethnic lines. Wolf, if this is not a civil war, then I don't want to see one when it comes.
BLITZER: Is it likely, based on what you see on the ground there, Michael, you've been there for more than three years, that the violence could even get worse?
WARE: Oh, I don't think that that would be difficult thing to imagine at all. Put it this way. When I would speak to some of the most senior members of the U.S. military intelligence here in Iraq, when they were asked to define civil war, some time ago, they would say that well we're not at civil war yet, this is largely an al Qaeda- led sectarian conflict.
It requires al Qaeda to attack to provoke some kind of response from the Shia. They said it will not be civil war until it develops its own momentum, that the Shia attack unprovoked. Well, we passed that way back earlier this year. And U.S. military intelligence themselves said at first, we saw the Shia attacks were targeted, against specific individuals, now, we see mass killings by the Shia just like we've been seeing mass killings by the Sunnis.
U.S. military intelligence then said well it won't be civil war until we see the body politic, the general population being pulled apart. Well, Wolf, we've got that now. So, really, it's easy to see, even by conservative military intelligence dynamics that this thing has been rolling along and getting worse, and so far, there is nothing to suggest that that won't continue to deteriorate.
BLITZER: Michael Ware, reporting for us from Baghdad, Michael, thanks very much.
WARE: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: And I spoke earlier today with Iraq's deputy representative to the United States, Ambassador Feisal Istrabadi. I asked him why his government still denies a civil war is underway when ever day we see horrible images of Iraqi Shia and Sunni literally at each other's throats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FEISAL ISTRABADI, IRAQI DEP. ABM. TO U.N.: Well this is a question that has been raging on in the scholarly community for some time, as well in political circles, whether it is or it isn't a civil war. Today, the secretary general of the United Nations made a statement, which essentially it says that it isn't yet a civil war.
I think that what the point is, regardless of what terminology you use, regardless of what (UNINTELLIGIBLE) you want to use, the point is that people are dying every day. The situation is unacceptable, and we have to find a way and when I say we, I mean the Iraqis, of course, the multinational force and the international community, generally, including our neighbors, have to find a way of moving forward to bring the situation under control and to bring the violence and death to a stop.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: The ambassador, the deputy ambassador to the United States from Iraq.
Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's joining us from New York. Jack?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, not that it matters, I don't suppose, in the grand scheme of things, but why all the debate over what to call what is happening in Iraq? I mean, does it really matter whether it's a civil war or sectarian violence or some other name? Innocent people and American troops are dying there more and more of them every day. The hatreds that are driving events go back hundreds of years.
And whether we leave today or in 10 years, chances are those hatreds will be around for hundreds more years. The recent elections told Washington the American people want out. Now, the debate is about how we leave and when. And while we have that discussion, American troops and innocent Iraqi civilians will continue to die every day. President Bush and this administration made a horrendous mistake. The time for trying to defend it by calling it names that are politically acceptable has long-since passed.
Here's the question. Why does the White House refuse to call what is happening in Iraq a civil war? E-mail your thoughts to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile -- Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Jack, thank you for that -- Jack Cafferty reporting for us.
Coming up, three kisses. Not one, not two, three kisses between Iran and Iraq. The leaders of the two nations meet ahead of a visit by President Bush to Jordan -- a look at Iran's growing influence as a power player in the region.
Also, he was supposed to be a newlywed. Instead, they are now planning his funeral. There's fresh fallout tonight over the groom- to-be who was killed just before his wedding, amid a hail of some 50 rounds of police gunfire.
And the racist rants from the actor known as Kramer on "Seinfeld" inspiring a new movement for the entertainment industry to stop using the N-word.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Welcome back. Iraq is now reaching out for help from a former enemy. That would be Iran. It's more evidence that Tehran's often belligerent government may hold the key to trying to solve the Iraq problem, but here is the question. At what cost?
Brian Todd is following the Iran connection and the controversy surrounding it. He's joining us from the newsroom -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the U.S. and other critics argue that Iran is already involved in Iraq, and not in a positive way. Iran's president has his own ideas about that and is now clearly playing a very strong hand.
TODD (voice-over): In Tehran, two former enemies share three kisses and a handshake. The president of Iraq, which fought a devastating eight-year war with Iran, now says his crippled chaotic nation needs Iran's help to fight terrorism and restore security. The Iranian president vows to cooperate.
PRES. MAHMOUD AHMADINEJAD, IRAN (through translator): We believe a secure advanced and powerful Iraq will be in line with the interest of the Iraqi nation, Iran, and all the region. TODD: Iranian and Syrian officials would not confirm reports that a three-way summit was planned with Syrian President Bashar Assad invited as well. But Iranian officials do tell CNN they expect Assad to travel to Iran soon, and they say the Turkish prime minister will arrive within days. Analysts say with Iraq spiraling out of control, and the Bush administration indicating a change in strategy is imminent, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is positioning his nation as an indispensable player.
FAWAZ GERGES, SARAH LAWRENCE COLLEGE: Iran is trying to say to the Bush administration, unless you talk to us, this situation will continue to escalate and deteriorate.
TODD: Ahmadinejad's hands may in fact never have been stronger with an ambitious nuclear program, the world's third largest oil reserves, a massive army and ballistic missile arsenal. He's also gained huge popularity on the so-called Arab street by supporting Hezbollah's recent fight against Israel. But critics say his public statements about wanting a secure Iraq ring hollow.
MAMOUN FANDY, INTL. INST. FOR STRATEGIC STUDIES: Iran's revolutionary guard is all over southern Iraq. They have tremendous control in the south. They pumped in a lot of money into Iraq as well as weapons. So, some militias, most militias, actually, are armed by the Iranians.
TODD: Iranian officials deny they are supplying weapons to those Shia groups inside Iraq. They say Jalal Talabani's visit is aimed at promoting better security and economic cooperation. Either way, Tehran is now clearly a necessary destination for key players in the Middle East. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Brian, thank you.
Already embarked on some desperate diplomacy, could the Bush administration soon take that difficult step of actually sitting down with Iran? President Bush right now in the Baltic's, ahead of a NATO summit and later this week talks with Iraq's leader.
Our White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux is traveling with the president -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Bush arrived in Tallinn, Estonia. It's his first stop in this high stakes diplomatic offensive. His second stop, of course, Riga, Latvia. That is where he's attending the NATO summit, but all eyes are on that critically important meeting between President Bush and Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to take place on Thursday in Amman, Jordan.
Now, National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley aboard Air Force One already gave somewhat of a preview of this meeting, saying that first the two leaders would discuss the possibility and the appropriateness of the United States reaching out to its nemesis Iran in discussing the situation in Iraq. But Hadley said he believed Maliki felt that it was more appropriate that Iraq talk to talk to Iran and Syria directly, that they take the lead when it comes to that matter.
Now Hadley also described for the first time the level of violence in Iraq as entering a new phase. But he denied that it constituted civil war. And third, he said the two leaders will not discuss U.S. troop levels during their talks but rather how to build up and train Iraqi security forces. Now, both these leaders, their credibility, their legacy is on the line, the stakes are very high. That is one reason in part Bush administration officials setting the bar very low for these discussions in case the situation gets worse in Iraq before it gets better. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right, Suzanne, thanks very much. Suzanne is traveling with the president.
Still to come tonight right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we'll have more on the deteriorating situation in Iraq and growing consensus among many that the country has already fallen into a civil war. There's also developments a U.S. Air Force F-16 goes down near Baghdad earlier today. We'll have the latest on that.
And on a much lighter note, many predicted the new 007 would be a 00 dud. So, who's sorry now? CNN's Jeanne Moos among others.
Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Right now, more on a tragic story in New York City. Friends and family, who were supposed to be celebrating one man's wedding are now mourning his death. There's fresh fallout over the 23-year-old who was shot by police and killed only hours before he was to marry the mother of his children.
Let's get the latest from our Mary Snow. She's in New York -- Mary.
MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, as anger builds over this weekend's police shooting, the mayor of New York reached out to black community leaders, vowing a full and fair investigation.
SNOW (voice-over): They emerge united for a press conference. But behind closed doors an insider described the atmosphere among community leaders as electric and heated at times. Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly met with clergy members and elected officials to deal with the outrage over Saturday's police shooting. Five officers fired 50 shots killing groom-to-be Sean Bell and injuring his two friends. The men were later found to be unarmed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounds to me like excessive force was used, but that's up to the district attorney to find out. SNOW: While the details are still under investigation, police say the men struck an undercover officer while on foot and hit a police van twice. But another question being raised in this case is whether race played a factor. The police shooting evoked memories of Amadou Diallo, an unarmed African immigrant killed by police in 1999. The cops who fired at him 41 times were white and they were all acquitted.
REP. CHARLES RANGEL (D), NEW YORK: This is very, very unusual and it reminds me of a tragedy that took place at Mr. Diallo and we can't have that.
SNOW: Compared to the 1999 shooting, one difference is the racial makeup of the officers. Two are white. Two are black and one is Hispanic. Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins says another big difference is the fact that Bloomberg is meeting directly with black community leaders who felt shutout in 1999.
DAVID DINKINS (D), FORMER N.Y. MAYOR: The difference between then and now is as day and night.
SNOW: Rudy Giuliani was mayor at the time of Diallo's death. Dinkins was highly critical of him and was among black leaders who took to the streets.
DINKINS: We were outraged and so, in order to focus further attention on it, I and Congressman Charles Rangel and others, Al Sharpton, we were all arrested at one police plaza.
SNOW: Then as now, Reverend Al Sharpton is at the forefront calling for justice. He agrees dealing with city officials has changed, but...
REV. AL SHARPTON, NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK: It is better tone, but will it lead to results? We're not just looking to talk, we're looking for action.
SNOW: The investigation is now in the hands of the Queens district attorney. The D.A. had a late day meeting with relatives of the shooting victims along with community leaders. Wolf?
BLITZER: Mary, thanks for that. Mary Snow in New York.
And just ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the bloodshed in Iraq up close and unrelenting. Whether or not it's a civil war, virtually no one disputes that the violence is simply out of control right now. We'll get a report from the war zone.
Also, "Seinfeld" actor Michael Richards keeps saying he is sorry, but are prominent African Americans willing to forgive and forget his racist rant? We'll hear directly from Michael Richards. He spoke to CNN.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Happening now, the president of Iraq meets the president of Iran. Iraq's Jalal Talabani and Iraq's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met in Tehran to discuss Iraq's future. Talabani talked about the need for Iran's help in squashing the violence in Iraq.
Also, Israel now offering to release Palestinian prisoners if Palestinian militants free an Israeli soldier kidnapped some five months ago -- Prime Minister Ehud Olmert made the offer today. It comes as Israel tries to restart peace talks with the Palestinians.
And $5.7 million, that's the fine the federal government has levied against the American Red Cross. The Food and Drug Administration says it's for the violations of blood safety laws and a 2003 court settlement. The Red Cross says it does not use donated money to pay fines.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
We'll warn you now; this next report contains some graphic images. As President Bush prepares for top level talks aimed at finding answers to the Iraq crisis, death squads stalk the streets of Iraqi cities, leaving bodies behind. Day in, day out, the killing continues for both Sunnis and Shia alike. Is it already a civil war?
CNN's Arwa Damon is in Baghdad -- Arwa.
ARWA DAMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the U.S. and Iraqi governments continue to insist that Iraq is not in a civil war. But many Iraqis look at the bloodshed around them and say that the civil war here actually started a long time ago.
DAMON (voice-over): In the religiously charged atmosphere of Baquba, blindfolded and handcuffed bodies contorted in death arrive at the morgue. The local government said the dead were found scattered through the city, most Shia, some Sunni.
As bodies in this ethnically mixed city piled up for the second day...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)
DAMON: .... this man rages as anyone who will listen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)
DAMON: "The government is responsible for this," he shouts. "The criminals that are running the government."
After Thursday's attack in Sadr City that killed at least 200 Shia, the government imposed a three-day curfew in Baghdad, keeping the body count relatively low.
But there was no curfew in Baquba, and the slaughter went on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING IN ARABIC)
DAMON: "Why? Why?" this woman shouts.
The Sadr City bombing, the single deadliest sectarian attack of the war, enraged Shia militias and set the sectarian bloodletting to a whole new level. As one man told us, out here, it's now each man for himself.
Sunni websites urge their so-called brothers to carry weapons and share details about attacks in their neighborhoods. Residents and insurgents trade tips on defense against Shia militias.
"Prepare your weapons and ammunition," it says.
"With the first bullet you shoot your fear will go away."
"Plant bombs and tactically position snipers at entrances to your neighborhoods."
"Fighters should not waste their bullets."
"Think about your family, and remember that they, the militias, burned children with gasoline."
Fact or fiction, the Internet traffic is fueling fear, hatred and encouraging violence.
And this video posted on an extremist jihadi website shows a new level of brutality. The Mujahideen Army from Adamia (ph), a Sunni neighborhood, prepare to behead this man whom they claim is with the Shia Mahdi Militia. The killing, moments later, takes place as people record images.
And throughout Iraq, the agony of loss. The failures of the government, now painfully obvious as the country comes even closer to full scale civil war.
(on camera): Trying to curb the violence, topping high level agendas this week from Iran to Jordan to Iraq. But few here have any hope that their leaders will come up with a solution -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Arwa Damon in Baghdad. Thanks for that excellent but very frightening report.
Meanwhile, a U.S. Air Force F-16 jet fighter was -- crashed today outside of Baghdad, while flying a low level strafing run. A U.S. military official said the aircraft was carrying one pilot when it went down. The military did not say if the pilot survived the crash. We're watching this story very, very closely for you. There are also new developments in the controversial visit by Pope Benedict XVI to Turkey. CNN has now confirmed that the pontiff will meet with the country's prime minister, who was originally going to be out of town. It comes months after the pope quoted an ancient text that called Islam evil, angering many Muslims around the world.
CNN's Anderson Cooper is on the phone for us. He's in Istanbul, where the pontiff will arrive in only a few hours.
Anderson, give us a little flavor of the enormity of this visit by the pope.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Wolf, obviously it comes at a very crucial time in Turkey's history. They want admission to the European Union. There has been violence here back in 2003, of course, two synagogues were bombed, as well as the British Consulate. And a London-based bank headquarters was bombed as well. Those trials are still going on.
And a lot of people, of course -- you know, still the memory of what the pope said about Islam, about the role of reason in faith, of all the violence in the faith, as well, in his opinion, still rings very loudly in a lot of people's minds here. They're going to be listening very carefully to what this pontiff has to say about Islam, about Turkey and its role in the world, Wolf.
BLITZER: I assume, Anderson, security for the pope must be incredible in Istanbul tonight.
COOPER: It is. We saw hundreds of police practicing today for crowd control maneuvers. They said they're going to be putting some 22,000 police on the streets. The pope first goes to Ankara. He's going to be arriving there tomorrow, and that's where, as you just reported, he is going to be meeting with Turkey's prime minister for about 20 minutes at the airport. He'll also be meeting with other officials in Ankara.
And then he'll come here to Istanbul, where he will go to the Blue Mosque, as well as meet with the -- with Christian church leaders.
BLITZER: Anderson's going to have a lot more on this important story coming up later tonight, 10:00 p.m. Eastern, "ANDERSON COOPER 360". Anderson's going to be reporting almost all of this week tonight from Turkey for this historic visit.
Anderson, thanks very much.
Still ahead tonight, right here in the SITUATION ROOM, the comedian Michael Richards, trying to make amends for his racially charged rants. CNN caught up with him. We're going to play you that interview. That's coming up.
And of all the spies you're familiar with, he certainly could be the most famous. That would be Bond, James Bond. But is the newest actor to fill those shoes the best Bond ever? Jeanne Moos, watching this story for us. You'll want to see this.
Stay with us. You're in the SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: The spy is dead, but the mystery surrounding him is growing tonight. So are concerns about people who may have been exposed to the rare radioactive poison that killed him.
CNN's Paula Newton is in London with the latest.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): His doctors called it chemical torture. And in the hours before his death, former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko bared the scars of it. His organs failing, his body surrendering. But not his mind.
Until the last, he fingered the Kremlin, a charge echoed by his father.
ALEXANDER LITVINENKO'S FATHER (through translator): "This regime is a mortal danger to the world. He fought this regime, he understood it, and this regime got him."
NEWTON: What actually got him, investigators say, is a rare radioactive element called Polonium-210. And now trying to figure out when and how he was poisoned is turning into a sensational whodunit. His friends say the Polonium should be like a fingerprint for police; it implicates Russian intelligence executing the government's orders.
ALEX GOLDFARB, VICTIM'S FRIEND: We know that the Russian regime has evolved into a kind of authoritarian dictatorship by now, with no checks and balances.
NEWTON: Russian President Vladimir Putin denies any and all involvement.
VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I hope that British authorities would not contribute to instigation of political scandals. It has nothing to do with reality.
NEWTON: It's now up to Scotland Yard to sort all of this out. Investigators are combing through Litvinenko's north London home, the sushi restaurant where he had lunch on November 1st, and the hotel where earlier that same day when he met with two Russian men.
All the sites are now contaminated with radiation and authorities are asking people who may have been affected to come forward.
JILL MEARA, BRITISH HEALTH PROTECTION AGENCY: Because we can analyze for it, and this is potentially a serious incident as a whole, we are pleased to offer this reassurance to people.
NEWTON: But police remain challenged by this bizarre murder that now threatens to strain relations between Britain and Russia. NEWTON (on camera): As a former secret agent, Litvinenko made plenty of enemies. He had been one of Putin's harshest critics in recent years. But in truth, there may have been many with the means and the motive to silence him.
Paula Newton, CNN, London.
BLITZER: Meantime, for its part, the CIA is looking for a few good spies. Its latest recruiting technique, an online quiz, aimed at trying to lure some younger, newer agents. Are you a daring thrill seeker or an impressive mastermind? Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton has some answers -- Abbi.
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, in this tongue-in- cheek personality test at the CIA Web site, you'll be answering questions like, "what kind of superpowers would you like?" And you'll get your results based on your answers, be they flying, or x-ray vision, or bionic strength. And whether you are a curious adventurer or a thrill seeker, none of this is going to affect your chances of being recruited by the CIA.
A spokesman for the CIA, Tom Crispell, says that this is an entertaining way to drive traffic to drive people to the recruiting part of the Web site, and also to dispel some myths about what it's like to work for the CIA. According to this site, it's not all car chases and tuxedos.
Two years ago, President Bush ordered an increase in the ranks of operators and analysts at the CIA by 50 percent. That's something that Crispell says a process that is well under way. There have been advertisements in print newspapers, and also on television. That was the bug ad that was running on the Discovery Channel, trying to boost the recruitment in the areas of science and technology at the CIA. Spokesman Tom Crispell says that every single year, there is an increase in the amount of people applying -- 135,000 applications in 2006 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Abbi, thank you for that.
And the newest spy to hit the big screen is a big hit. But not everyone had such high hopes for the actor Daniel Craig as the new James Bond, including CNN's own Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): We just wanted to say, sorry, James. Sorry for all those cheap shots. For making you seem like a wimp when they first introduced you.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: James Bond, wearing a life jacket? Give me a break!
MOOS: We tittered when your tooth got knocked out doing a stunt. We compared Sean Connery's manly furry chest to yours. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We also are hearing that he has shaved his chest.
MOOS: Well, puff up that hairless chest, Daniel Craig. Here's what they are saying now.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has a great body. I love it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His whole persona was just wonderful.
MOOS: Naysayers repent. "Casino Royale" is the No. 1 movie in the world. The critics are raving, and so are movie goers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've seen every single one. This is the best Bond ever.
MOOS: Even hard-bitten reporters seem smitten by the new Bond.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You weren't anxious about having to achieve a certain chiseled perfection. Which you do, by the way.
DANIEL CRAIG, ACTOR: Well, thank you.
MOOS: The scene featuring 007 frolicking in his blue swim suit has been compared to Ursula Andress coming ashore in her bikini. That was "Dr. No," but even men are saying yes to the new Bond.
A male critic for a British paper described the swimsuit scene as "so scorchingly hot I feel embarrassed watching it, even when alone."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This guy is more grittier. He's darker. He's more realistic.
MOOS: Sure, Sean Connery could drive a stick shift and still manage to eject a bad guy. And we must confess to making fun of Daniel Craig when we heard he didn't know how to handle the stick in his Aston Martin.
But now that the movie's out...
(on camera): Did he seem to know how to drive a stick shift?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, he did fine.
MOOS (voice-over): And that Web site called CraigNotBond, the one that morphed Daniel Craig's face into one of the Three Stooges? It's gone.
And so, in this age of apology for weightier transgressions...
MICHAEL RICHARDS, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: I'm sorry. I'm very, very sorry.
MOOS: ... we, too, need a license to grovel.
(on camera): We're sorry, Daniel. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, Daniel. I'm very sorry that I doubted you. You are terrific.
MOOS: And hot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very hot.
MOOS (voice-over): He's gone from being called a girly boy with a girly gun to could be the best 007 yet.
(on camera): It's enough to make a guilt-ridden reporter eat her words. Or at least those rave reviews.
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BLITZER: Jeanne is right. A terrific, terrific James Bond. I've been watching these James Bond films for more than 30 years. This is an excellent James Bond.
Up ahead, the actor Michael Richards trying to move on after an onstage rant that appalled many of his own fans. Now, CNN has caught up with the actor. We're going to hear what Richards is saying right now in his own words.
Also, Iraq. By definition, the White House won't call it a civil war. But should it? Jack Cafferty with your e-mails still ahead.
BLITZER: There are new developments concerning the actor known as Kramer on the "Seinfeld" sitcom and his recent racist rant. Michael Richards appeared on the Reverend Jesse Jackson's nationally syndicated radio program yesterday, saying he's not a racist. Our entertainment correspondent Brooke Anderson caught up with the actor after his appearance on that radio program.
BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: What's your next step?
RICHARDS: Personal work, deep personal work.
ANDERSON: As in therapy, psychology?
RICHARDS: Yes, to get to the depths of my anger, the issues of anger.
ANDERSON: Have you seen someone or are you going to see ...
RICHARDS: Yes, I'm seeing someone now.
ANDERSON: OK. After the incident, 24 hours later, you were allowed back on stage because... RICHARDS: I was asked to come back to get back on the horse, and I was -- that was an attempt to recover my sense of showmanship in the course of my work, and that's why I went back Saturday night. I was asked to come back Saturday night by the club owner. And that was a creative matter, an artistic matter, to see if I could keep moving as an artist.
ANDERSON: And the club owner said you had told him you were going to apologize that night, but you didn't.
RICHARDS: No, no, I did not. That's -- that's -- that hurts me. That hurts me. I was told to come back and work and get back on the horse, so to speak. And that hurts me.
ANDERSON: Do you see yourself as a symbol of this bigger issue now?
RICHARDS: Perhaps a voice that got it in motion.
ANDERSON: How do you think this went this morning?
RICHARDS: Very well. The African-American community is -- I mean, the leadership has opened up the healing, and for that, I'm grateful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: This footnote: the Reverend Jesse Jackson today called on the entire entertainment industry to stop using the racial slur Michael Richards used. The owner of the Laugh Factory out in Hollywood is already listening. That's the forum where Richards used the racial slur. Today the owner said he's banning comedians from using the n-word on his stage.
Let's go to Jack Cafferty in New York -- Jack.
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question this hour, Wolf, is why does the White House continue to refuse to call what's happening Iraq a "civil war"?
We heard from Joanne in Bakersfield, California: "This is a question that been plaguing me for weeks now. Why are we sitting around playing a game of semantics while the entire country of Iraq is going up in flames?"
I guess because to give in and call it what it is is for Bush to admit to a complete and total failure of his policies.
Joe in New Brighton, Pennsylvania: "If Bush admits there is a civil war going on, his friends might have to pull their companies out of the country and the profit margin would fall."
Debbie in Tennessee: "You're asking why a country who describes hunger as "food insecurity" can't decide on what to call the violence in Iraq? I wouldn't be surprised if they came up with "peace resistant"? David in Athens, Texas: "The American people are not going to support leaving our troops in the middle of a civil war. If Bush has to admit that there's a civil war in Iraq, he has to admit defeat."
And George Bush never admits he's wrong, no matter how many American troops have to die.
Jo in Los Angeles: "Arrogance and ignorance are a dangerous combination. This administration is too arrogant to admit a mistake and too ignorant to realize they made one. It's a very sad day for our country."
And Terry in Wichita, Kansas: "The reason the Bush administration refuses to call what is happening in Iraq a civil war should be perfectly obvious to everyone. They can't spell "civil"."
If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile and read somewhere of them online -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Did we get a lot of e-mail on this question, Jack?
CAFFERTY: Quite a few, yes a lot of letters. Yes.
BLITZER: People are very outraged, I suspect, and they're going to be for some time to come.
CAFFERTY: Until there's some sense of resolution, I would guess, yes.
BLITZER: All right, Jack. We'll see you tomorrow here on the SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much.
Let's find out what's coming up right at the top of the hour on "PAULA ZAHN NOW". John Roberts, filling in for Paula tonight -- John.
JOHN ROBERTS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, thank Wolf, and good evening to you.
At the top of this hour, we follow the trail of three young military deserters. They're among the hundreds of Americans who joined up but refuse to serve in Iraq. Just during the Vietnam Era a generation ago, they have headed north to Canada, only to find that things have changed. Join me at the top of the hour for a look into the secret world of military deserters.
And, as well, Wolf, you were talking about Jesse Jackson meeting with Michael Richards. We'll be speaking with the reverend, coming up next hour.
BLITZER: all right, sounds good, John. We'll be watching. Thanks very much.
Still ahead, promising new advances in fighting cancer. We're going to show you what may be just around the corner in our "Welcome to the Future" report. Stay with us. Miles O'Brien has information you may need to know about. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Medical science is quickly changing the way we fight cancer with many more promising advances in store and sooner than you may think.
CNN's Miles O'Brien has our "Welcome to the Future" report -- Miles.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN HOST (on camera): Wolf, when it comes to fighting cancer, detection is crucial. This year alone, almost 1.4 million Americans will be diagnosed with cancer. But with better detection methods on the way, the chances of survival are getting better all the time.
(voice-over): Dr. John Viator of the University of Missouri- Columbia says by listening to the noise some cancer cells make, we may be able to catch and treat it sooner.
DR. JOHN VIATOR, UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI-COLUMBIA: We have found melanoma cells using this laser induced ultrasound. Melanoma usually contains melanin, which is the color that the laser needs to be absorbed and create these ultrasonic waves.
O'BRIEN: But Viator says by adding color to the colorless cancer cells, this technique may also be effective in detecting other cancers.
VIATOR: This technology has the potential to impact oncology and cancer care across the board.
O'BRIEN: Today in order for an MRI or CAT scan to detect cancer, a patient must already have about a million cancer cells in their body. But Viator says this technology could be used to detect as few as ten cancer cells in the body, and one day, it could even identify a single cancer cell.
VIATOR: It takes away the waiting game. I want to know right now, am I still clear.
O'BRIEN (on camera): Dr. Viator says the immediacy of the test results would dramatically improve patient care. After blood is drawn, patients would know in just 30 minutes the nature and extent of their disease. Viator expects it to be available within two to five years -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Miles O'Brien, thanks very much for that.
Let's take a look at some of the "Hot Shots", pictures coming in from our friends over about the Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your hometown newspapers tomorrow.
And we'll start off in Baghdad. Mourners take part in a funeral procession for those killed in a mortar attack only yesterday.
In central London, people walk past the boarded up and guarded sushi bar where the former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko had lunch before getting sick and later dying from what's believed to have been radiation poisoning.
In northeastern Iran, look at this. Two villagers wrestle. This is part of a traditional wedding party.
And here in Washington, Jerry Nerren (ph), one of the Lollipop Guild Munchkins, you remember them from "The Wizard of Oz" movie, stands next to entertainment memorabilia over at the Smithsonian. They've got an excellent exhibit there. If you're in Washington, stop by and check it out.
Some of today's "Hot Shots," pictures often worth a thousand words.
Remember, we're hear in the SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons Monday through Friday from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, back for another hour at 7:00 p.m. Eastern.
Tomorrow, among our special guests, the former president of the United States, Jimmy Carter on what's happening in the Middle East right now.
Until then, thanks for joining us.
John Roberts, filling in for Paula tonight -- John.
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