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The Situation Room

New Details on Friendly Fire Incident From the Beginning of Iraq War; Is a Iraqi Parliament Member an Iranian Agent?

Aired February 06, 2007 - 17:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM and it's happening now, seen from the cockpit of a U.S. jet, a fatal friendly fire attack on an ally. We're going to show you the shocking video.
He was sentenced to death for a bombing in an American embassy. But now he's a member of Iraq's parliament.

Is he also an Iranian agent?

And the Evangelical pastor who lost his pulpit because of ties to a male prostitute.

Is he now on a different path?

Ted Haggard breaks his silence.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.


It's every combat pilot's nightmare -- this time it was all too real. Stunning cockpit video shows a friendly fire tragedy in the early days of the Iraq War. You'll see what some on the ground never saw.

And the general who commanded the war in Iraq passes a key hurdle on the way to a top job in the U.S. Army. You may be surprised to learn who tried to stand in his way.

Our senior national correspondent, John Roberts, is standing by.

But let's begin with our Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the first thing that must be said is there was a formal investigation of this entire matter and all U.S. military personnel were already cleared of any wrongdoing.


STARR (voice-over): The invasion of Iraq was just in its second week, March 28th, 2003. U.S. Air Force A10 Thunderbolts are patrolling the skies over southern Iraq. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That is an affirm. You are well cleared of friendlies.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Copy. I see multiple revested (ph) vehicles.

STARR: Thirty seconds later, the U.S. pilots think they have a target.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I got a four ship of vehicles that are evenly spaced along a road going north.

STARR: The pilots mistakenly believed the orange panels on top of the vehicles are rocket launchers. But they are identification tags. These are British Army vehicles.

Ground spotters clear the Americans to fire.

On the ground, 25-year-old British Lance Corporal Matty Hull is dead. The Americans are told the worst possible news.


Be advised that in the 3122 and 3222 group box you have friendly armor in the area, yellow small armored tanks. Just be advised.

STARR: The pilots clearly are upset.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, POPOV 3-4, abort your mission. You've got -- it looks like we may have a blue on blue situation.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four of those are friendlies on that side of the canal.

STARR: The Pentagon has long insisted it gave the British government all the information it had about this friendly fire incident.


STARR: So, Wolf, what about this tape?

Well, this tape has been well known to both governments, of course, since 2003, when all of this happened.

But recently, what did happen is a British coroner conducting a civil inquest into the death of Lance Corporal Hull requested the tape. The Pentagon had not given it up right away, saying that there was classified material on it, some of that symbology, some of the markings on the tape.

But under pressure from the U.K. the Pentagon has now agreed to make that tape available for both the coroner and Lance Corporal Hull's family to view -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Barbara.

Barbara is at the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, the outgoing commander of coalition forces in Iraq now in line for the top job in the U.S. Army. Today he got past one key obstacle in a surprising vote. Some Republicans didn't like him. The Democrats were on board.

Let's get more from our senior national correspondent, John Roberts -- this is a sort of a twist.

JOHN ROBERTS, SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A little bit of a twist. But, you know, it's one of those things that happens in politics in Washington.

It's been observed that the Iraq War can make for some peculiar politics. And so it was today, when Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously threw their support behind General George Casey for Army chief of staff.


ROBERTS (voice-over): For the past three years, it's overwhelming been the Democrats critical of the war in Iraq.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Iraq is teetering on the edge of the abyss.

ROBERTS: So how is it that the only "no" votes against General George Casey came from three Republicans -- John McCain, John Ensign and Saxby Chambliss?

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R-GA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: I don't think he is the right guy. We're changing the strategy. We're changing the leadership on the ground. And I think we need to change that leadership all the way up the line, including the Chief of Staff of the Army.

ROBERTS: Republicans, like Chambliss, who's up for reelection in 2008, want responsibility for the Iraq War to be spread around. Democrats, on the other hand, want to keep the spotlight squarely on President Bush.

LEVIN: I want to not hold the military leaders responsible for the failures of our civilian leaders. I don't think that's right.

ROBERTS: Are Democrats trying to skate a fine political line between criticizing the president then not dissing the military?

SEN. JOSEPH LIEBERMAN (I), CONNECTICUT: Well, some might reach that conclusion. But I'm not going to try to psyche out why my colleagues who don't support the war nonetheless supported George Casey, the man who has been running the war for us.

ROBERTS (on camera): Does it seem curious to you, though?

LIEBERMAN: It's interesting.

ROBERTS (voice-over): And it is left Democrats who are struggling to pass a resolution opposing the troop build-up and have yet to come up with a plan of their own open to attack.

Weren't they the party of change, says Chambliss?

CHAMBLISS: What they voted for, to confirm General Casey, in part, seems to validate that they think the status quo is where we ought to be.


ROBERTS: Now, Democrats point out that Casey is up for a very different job than the one that he had in Iraq and that on the totality of his career, he is very well qualified for the presentation.

But it certainly is interesting, Wolf, to watch this reversal of political polarity on this issue.

BLITZER: A fascinating development, John.

Thank you.

Meanwhile, the Armed Services Panel today also heard that the number of roadside bombs in Iraq has doubled over the last year. That word from the Joint Chiefs Chairman General Peter Pace, who says that casualties from the IEDs have remained steady, despite a stepped up campaign to try to prevent the bombings.

Let's get to a shocking story right now about an Iraqi lawmaker who is actually a convicted terrorist sentenced to death for, among other things, bombing an American Embassy.

Is he now actually working for Iran?

Joining us now from Baghdad, our correspondent, Michael Ware -- Michael, tell us the story, briefly, about Jamal Jafaar Mohammed.

He's a member of the Iraqi parliament right now with full immunity, all the immunity that goes with that kind of responsibility.


That's right, Wolf, and according to U.S. military intelligence, under parliamentary privilege, he cannot be prosecuted. Yet these intelligence officers say he is actively supporting Shia insurgents attacking not only Sunnis, but coalition forces. And he's essentially a conduit for Iranian agents.

Now, this fellow has an extraordinary history. Back in the 1980s, when his party was exiled from Iraq by Saddam, he was part of the military wing that was moving with certain high profile figures who have since gone on to join Hezbollah and together, according to a Kuwaiti court, they blew up an American embassy with a car bomb, as well as the French embassy.

Indeed, this member of parliament was convicted in absentia by the Kuwaiti court for his role in the bombings and sentenced to death.

He later appeared back in Iran, where he came to lead or command an Iraqi element of the Iranian armed forces.

Now, shortly before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, he moved from that position and returned to covert operations.

He next appears in 2005 in the U.S.-sponsored elections, where he's voted into this Iraqi parliament, being held up as a democratic model for the region.

So, essentially, this man has been sentenced to death for blowing up a U.S. embassy and American intelligence says he's part of what's killing American soldiers.

BLITZER: He's part of the prime minister, Nouri Al-Maliki's political party, the Dawa Party. He's also part of the ruling coalition.

How embarrassing is this to the Iraqi government and to the U.S. government?

WARE: Well, this is frightfully embarrassing. I mean there's a lot of old history here. He was a member of the prime minister's party when the prime minister's party, known as the Islamic Call, had an armed wing. He was -- he and others were since absorbed into another Iraqi group, which so happens also dominates the Shia alliance which owns this government.

I mean this is embarrassing all around. There's connections everywhere. Someone in the prime minister's office told me last year they can't believe that this Shia political party put him up for candidacy.

When I spoke to a U.S. official last night and said it's staggering that American intelligence did not know this man was running and was in parliament, the response was this man is a professional. He's very adept at moving without people knowing. His skills at avoidance and eluding detection are incredible. It's not beyond the realm that such things will happen to us.

BLITZER: Michael Ware reporting for us from Baghdad.

Michael, thanks.

WARE: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: So what does the Iraqi government have to say about this extraordinary scandal and about what it will do about it?

And joining us now from Baghdad, Ali Al-Dabbagh. He's the Iraqi government spokesman.

Mr. Al-Dabbagh, thanks very much for coming in.

I want to get the major issues on the agenda.

But first, Jamal Jafaar Mohammed -- he's a member of the Iraqi parliament, he's a member of Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki's ruling coalition.

Do you know this man?

ALI AL-DABBAGH, IRAQI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: I didn't know this man. I just saw him while they -- the House of Representatives has been elected. I saw him among the 275 members.

BLITZER: Because U.S. intelligence, military intelligence, now telling our correspondent in Baghdad, Michael Ware, that he's wanted for participating in the bombing of the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait back in 1983, which killed five people, wounded 86 others and now he's a member of the Iraqi parliament, a member of the prime minister's ruling coalition.

Those are serious allegations.

AL-DABBAGH: Wolf, we have 275 members in the first election in the whole history of Iraq. They are all working for the unity government. They are all working together in order to implement a new Iraq, a new democratic Iraq.

Nevertheless, that's one or more than one that they -- they have such a -- I mean this -- this problem. They are all -- all the members are immune for arrest unless there is accused of felony from the majority of the members, to lift their immunity.

So whoever has been charged for anything, he will not be untouchable. He will be subjected to law. This is what we want in Iraq. We want to implement the law -- the rule of law -- on everybody. Nobody will be untouchable.

BLITZER: So you're saying what you want is more evidence from the U.S. or the government of Kuwait about this individual and then you will take the next steps in removing him, potentially, from the parliament?

AL-DABBAGH: This should be presented to the parliament and the parliament -- there should be approved. There should be a proper juridical cause for -- for this man. Then it's up to the House of Representatives to subject this to all the members in order to lift his immunity.

BLITZER: So when will Iraq be able to take care of its own security and what happens if U.S. troops withdraw sooner rather than later?

More of my interview with Ali Al-Dabbagh, the government spokesman in Baghdad.

That is coming up.

What's coming up right now is Jack Cafferty and The Cafferty File -- you know, Jack, this is pretty much of an outrage that a guy convicted of actually blowing up the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait back in the '80s is now a member of the Iraqi parliament, a member of Nouri Al-Maliki's ruling coalition and suspected by U.S. military intelligence of actually being an agent of Iran.

You know, I -- I don't know if it gets a whole lot worse than that.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's kind of symptomatic, isn't it, of the way this whole debacle has been going over there almost since the beginning. $12 billion missing. I mean it just, you know, it just goes on and on.

The poll of presidential wannabes continues to get larger. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani filing a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission yesterday, saying, "I'm in this to win," which is, I guess, why you'd enter that. You wouldn't enter it to lose. That's not exactly breaking news.

America's mayor is the top Republican candidate in the national preference polls so far. New York Senator Hillary Clinton leads the pack on the Democratic side.

If Giuliani and Clinton wind up as the nominees, it would set up a battle that was supposed to happen in 2000. The then mayor of New York was set to run against Clinton for the U.S. Senate when he came down with prostate cancer and had to withdraw.

But Giuliani and Clinton are not the only New Yorkers who might be running for president. Former New York Governor George Pataki said last week it'll be a few months before he decides whether to enter the race. And the Reverend Al Sharpton has not completely ruled out another presidential run.

So the question is this -- how many New Yorkers are too many in the presidential race?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to -- effort.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you for that.

Still ahead, a space shuttle astronaut charged with attempted murder of a romantic rival. We've been following it this afternoon here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We're going to have the latest details of what has happened. That's coming up next.

Also, the former Evangelical pastor caught up in a gay sex scandal -- now he says, and I'm quoting now, he says: "I'm completely heterosexual." Ted Haggard breaking his silence. We're going to have the latest on that. And more on Rudy Giuliani and his softer side. We'll find out what his wife is saying about the likely presidential candidate and how it could impact his campaign.

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


BLITZER: A shuttle astronaut is facing very serious charges, including the attempted murder of a romantic rival.

Let's go straight to CNN space correspondent Miles O'Brien.

He's watching these dramatic developments unfold. It's almost breathtaking, this very bizarre case -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Not one but two hearings, each of them makes it ever more surreal, Wolf.

At first, it seemed like it might have been a hoax. But there it was, the charges laid out. Lisa Nowak, shuttle astronaut as of last July, facing attempted murder and attempted kidnapping charges.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mission Specialist Number Three.

O'BRIEN (voice-over): NASA astronaut Lisa Nowak has traded her flight suit for a jail jumpsuit. She faces attempted murder and kidnapping charges.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And lift-off...

O'BRIEN: Police say it all stems from a high flying love triangle. They say Nowak, married with three young kids, was pursuing another astronaut, shuttle pilot Bill Oefelein. Police say Nowak targeted the other woman, Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman. She works at Florida's Patrick Air Force Base, supporting shuttle and other space launches.

Authorities say Nowak was following Shipman from Houston to Orlando, a 950-mile journey. While Shipman flew, Nowak got in her car, wearing diapers so she would not need any bathroom breaks. Police say Nowak, wearing a trench coat and wig, followed Shipman off her plane at the Orlando airport and into the parking lot to her car. And that's where there was a confrontation.


SGT. BARBARA JONES, ORLANDO POLICE DEPARTMENT: There was apparently an incident between the victim and the astronaut where spray -- pepper spray, apparently, was dispensed inside the victim's vehicle.

(END VIDEO CLIP) O'BRIEN: Shipman drove to the exit booth and summoned police, who say they saw Nowak dumping a B.B. gun, a steel mallet and a four inch knife, as well as large plastic garbage bags and $600 cash.

Nowak's boss, chief astronaut Steve Lindsey, was there as she faced the music.

STEVE LINDSEY, NASA: And we're down here supporting her like we would any employee at NASA if they were to get into this situation. We're a close family and we try to take care of our own.


O'BRIEN: Lisa Nowak was awarded bail by the judge, despite the fact that that prosecutors there insisted she be held without bond. They felt she might be a threat to the alleged victim in this case, Colleen Shipman -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What are they saying at NASA?

I know you've been checking in over there. I'm sure they must be shocked.

O'BRIEN: Shock is the word, Wolf.

I mean this is a -- an astronaut, part of their very tight family there. They do consider themselves a very cohesive family. You heard Steve Lindsey referring to that quite a bit.

And Lisa Nowak just got off a mission where she succeeded in every way, shape and form, and really exceeded expectations in many respects.

Some of the people I've been talking to, the people who are involved in the psychological aspects of space flight, say frequently, after the high of a mission like that, this past July, astronauts deal with the reality of being back on Earth, and it can lead to very dark times for them -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Very dark, indeed.

Miles, thanks very much.

Miles is going to have more on this story coming up in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour.

By the way, Captain Nowak is an aerospace engineer who studied at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis. She's been with NASA since 1996, made her space shuttle debut last July. Her job operating the international space station's robotic arm during the mission's three space walks.

Coming up, one of the most popular toys in the United States recalled because of a possible danger to children. Our Internet reporters will have details. Plus, Ted Haggard breaking his silence on the gay sexual scandal that cost him his job as a leading Evangelical pastor. Find out what he's saying right now about his ties to a male prostitute.

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


BLITZER: Let's check in with Carol Costello.

She's monitoring developments coming into THE SITUATION ROOM from around the world -- what's the latest, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have it right here, Wolf.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is set to meet with a Hamas political leader in Saudi Arabia. Officials say the two will talk about an agreement to forge a new Palestinian unity government. Fighting between rival Hamas and Fatah supporters has killed dozens of people in Gaza in the past week. Abbas will also meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on February 19th.

A big legal setback for the nation's largest retailer. A federal appeals court ruled today that a class action discrimination lawsuit against Wal-Mart can proceed to trial. The lawsuit claims up to a million-and-a-half female employees across the country were discriminated against in pay and promotions. It could lead to billions of dollars in damages.

Wal-Mart says it will ask the appeals court to reconsider its decision.

And in case you haven't noticed, it is cold out there. An Arctic blast is keeping temperatures below zero in much of the Upper Midwest and in the Northeast. At least seven deaths blamed on slick roads and punishing cold. Dozens of schools are closed.

Just how cold is it?

Well, in International Falls, Minnesota, it was 29 degrees below zero. That, Wolf, is cold.

BLITZER: That is cold. I don't know if it can get much colder, but it is cold.

COSTELLO: It doesn't even matter after that.


Carol, thank you for that.

The toy company, Hasbro, is issuing a recall for one of its most famous products. That would be the Easy Bake Oven.

Here with the latest on how you can keep your children safe, our Internet reporter, Jacki Schechner -- Jacki.

JACKI SCHECHNER, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: That's right, Wolf, Hasbro and the Consumer Products Safety Commission have issued a voluntary recall of close to one million Easy Bake Ovens.

Let me show you a little video of what this looks like and show you what the problem is here. It's the oven's opening. The Consumer Products Safety Commission says they have 29 cases of injuries -- there's the opening right there -- kids sticking their hands and fingers into that opening. And they say they've got five cases of kids getting burned.

Now, Hasbro tells me today those kids were ages three, four and five. The package is labeled for kids ages eight and up.

Now, if you've got one of these Easy Bake Ovens, you don't have to send it back. What you do is get in touch with Hasbro and they're going to send you a little part to go over that opening. The part will help kids from putting their hands inside. And it will also have a warning on it that reminds you that this is a toy for ages eight and up and that it should not be used without parental supervision.

You can get all more information online from the Consumer Products Safety Commission, including the model number. These are units sold from May 2006 through February 2007 -- Wolf.

BLITZER: These Easy Bake Ovens have been around a long, long time.

Thanks very much, Jacki, for that.

Coming up, his wife says he's a very romantic guy -- likely Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani. She's going public with private details of their relationship.

Will it help or will it hurt his campaign?

Plus, a disgraced pastor sharing details of an apparent transformation after an encounter with a male prostitute that ruined his career.

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


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM, where new pictures and information are arriving all the time. Happening now, stunning cockpit video of a friendly fire tragedy in Iraq leaked to the British news media. And sources now telling CNN the Pentagon is reversing course, agreeing to release the tape to the U.K. coroner investigating the death of a British soldier killed in that incident almost four years ago.

Also, shocking allegations against a member of an Iraq's parliament. U.S. military intelligence now saying he was sentenced to death in Kuwait for the 1983 bombings of the U.S. and French embassies and says he's now working as an agent for Iran and backing Shiite insurgents, all with parliamentary immunity.

And House Democrats blasting the former head of the Coalition Provisional Authority over 363 tons of U.S. cash sent to Iraq. Paul Bremer told a House panel the billions of dollars were needed to kick- start the Iraqi economy back in 2003. Critical lawmakers say there wasn't enough oversight, with one questioning whether some of the money actually wound up in the hands of the insurgents.

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

There are new developments in the case of Ted Haggard, the influential evangelical pastor whose ties to a mail prostitute cost him his job. Now Haggard is breaking his silence and saying he's a changed man.

CNN's Brian Todd is joining us now live with the latest details -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Haggard has emerged from rehab and sent a fairly dramatic e-mail to his followers talking about the painful consequences of his actions that led to his fall three months ago.


TODD (voice over): He at first denied knowing a former male prostitute. But when recorded calls were made public, he admitted...

TED HAGGARD, FMR. PASTOR: I did call him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what did you call him about?

HAGGARD: I called him to buy some meth, but I through it away.

TODD: Then he denied the man's allegations of a sexual affair, but said...

HAGGARD: I went there for a massage.

TODD: And later he confessed to sexual immorality. Now Reverend Ted Haggard says Jesus is starting to put him back together.

In an e-mail to his former congregation obtained by CNN from the New Life Church, Haggard says, "...I've been paralyzed by shame," and says he's gotten three weeks of intensive psychological treatment in Arizona.

According to "The Denver Post," Haggard has told a church panel responsible for his discipline that he is now convinced "He is completely heterosexual," and that his sexual contact with men was limited to his accuser.

A psychiatrist who's treated clergy but not Haggard believes that reported communication is a kind of code to Haggard's followers.

DR. JACK DRESCHER, AMERICAN PSYCHIATRIC ASSOC.: By declaring that one is no longer in that behavior, to people of that faith, it's like saying they're not homosexual anymore, because they believe homosexuality is just a behavior and not an identity.

TODD: Last November, Haggard was fired from the 14,000-member New Life Church and resigned as leader of the National Association of Evangelicals after his dealings with the former prostitute were made public. But that man's credibility were also questioned when he failed a lie detector test.

No charges have been filed against either man.


TODD: What becomes of Ted Haggard now? Well, in his e-mail to the congregation, he says he and his wife plan to move away from Colorado Springs, possibly to Missouri or Iowa, and will pursue their master's degree in psychology -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Is his wife saying anything about all of this, Brian?

TODD: Nothing from her in the current e-mail, but shortly after that scandal broke in November she did come out with a message also to the followers in the church, saying essentially that she supports Ted Haggard, that they will -- they're indicating at least that they will stay together. And she apparently has been with him through much of this treatment.

And again, in his e-mail, he says he plans to move with her either to Missouri or Iowa, possibly, when some of these rehab is over.

BLITZER: Thank you, Brian, for that.

Brian Todd reporting.

To many he's the face of American resolve in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, but his wife says the former New York City mayor and likely presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani has a softer side as well.

Let's go back to CNN's Carol Costello. She's joining us with more on this story -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: You know, Wolf, the magazine "Harper's Bazaar" has been after Judith Giuliani for an interview for a long time. Lo and behold, she finally agreed.

She calls her husband an "Energizer Bunny," a "romantic guy." TMI? Not in these political times.


COSTELLO (voice over): In the publishing world, it's the money shot. The people at "Harper's Bazaar" told me it was his spontaneous burst of affection.

LAURA BROWN, "HARPER'S BAZAAR": She's hugely in love with her husband. And honestly, that's an incredibly rare thing.

COSTELLO: And boy does Judith Giuliani impart that, saying most don't realize that "... Rudy is a very romantic guy, we love watching 'Sleepless in Seattle.' Can you imagine my big testosterone-factor husband doing that?"

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, "SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE": I want you to know that your son called and he asked me for some advice on how you might find a new wife.

COSTELLO: The political insiders I talked with today think that's way too much information.

BOB BARR (R), FMR. U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: One, just the extreme sappiness of it. One wonders -- one has to wonder, you know, which one of his advisers is recommending to him that he bring the innermost details of his family life into this.

COSTELLO: And others say maybe Giuliani shouldn't share those kind of details, considering Judith is wife number three. As New York mayor, he held a press conference back in 2000 announcing he was leaving wife number two for Judith. The problem was, wife number two had no idea.

She was not happy.

DONNA HANOVER, GIULIANI'S EX-WIFE: Today's turn of events brings me great sadness.

ROBERT POLNER, EDITOR, "AMERICA'S MAYOR": It was quite bitter. It was in the press and it was strained. And it was, I would say, ugly.

COSTELLO: It's a Rudy Giuliani most of America isn't familiar with. But if this article was meant to appeal to family values females, most pundits say...

BARR: No, it won't work. The fact of the matter is that he's going to have to rise or fall on his record, not his family's, not how macho his wife thinks he is.


COSTELLO: We did call Donna Hanover, Giuliani's second wife, several times. No comment from her, but it does make you wonder if she will be part of any future anti-Giuliani campaign ads -- Wolf.

BLITZER: The photo spread, the article in "Harper's Bazaar," I assume that was designed to attract female voters.

COSTELLO: Seemingly so, but I don't think it will. Conservative females voters, like men, are much more concerned with where Giuliani stands on gay marriage and abortion.

Warm and fuzzy? Probably last on the list.

BLITZER: Carol, thank you for that.

Carol Costello reporting.

And we have some brand-new poll numbers that are just coming out this hour. A CNN-WMUR New Hampshire presidential primary poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire has Giuliani in a statistical tie in that state with John McCain. The Arizona senator the choice of 28 percent of Republican primary voters for the party's nomination.

Giuliani just one point behind at 27 percent. That's well within the sampling error.

Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney comes in third with 13 percent, followed by the former House speaker, Newt Gingrich, with nine percent.

We'll have new -- new numbers in the Democratic field in this new poll. That's coming up in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

And this programming note -- CNN is a partner in the first presidential debate of the campaign season. CNN, WMUR TV and the "New Hampshire Union Leader" will sponsor back-to-back debates among the Democratic and the Republican presidential candidates on April 4th and 5th of this year.

It's an unprecedented early kickoff to a wide-open race for the White House. The first debates in the leadoff presidential primary state. Mark your calendars.

Up ahead, more of my interview with an Iraqi government spokesman in Baghdad. I'm going to ask him when he believes Iraq will be able to take care of its own security, and I'll also ask him what happens if U.S. troops withdraw sooner rather than later?

Plus, making friends with America's enemies. We're going to show you who China is now cozying up to and why.

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


BLITZER: The death toll in Indonesia's capital of Jakarta has risen to 31 after days of intense rain and flooding. Hundreds of thousands of people are homeless as water lingers in some places as much as 13 feet deep. Authorities are now concerned about waterborne illness.

Let's go to CNN's Abbi Tatton. She's watching this story unfold -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, some Jakarta residents have been posting videos like this one online, they tell me to try and show the world just how grave the situation is right now. This one recorded by a graphic designer by the name of Pino (ph). It finishes, if you watch it all the way through, with the words, "We are sinking here." Pino (ph) tells us via e-mail that some neighborhoods have just started to bail and clean up until last night, when there was another torrential downpour, three hours' worth, and now that they're flooded again.

Another Jakarta resident recorded people using makeshift ferries to get people from A to B. Bloggers and residents have been telling us that activities in Jakarta have been suspended and that the people forced from their homes need clear water, they need medicine. Forecasters are predicting more rain for the next several weeks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Almost 300,000 people displaced. Shocking, shocking numbers.

Abbi, thank you.

Let's get back to Iraq now. A key element of the Bush administration's strategy is to have Iraq's new security forces shoulder an increasing share of the burden. So is Iraq holding up its end of the bargain?

Let's get some more of my interview with the Iraqi government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, in Baghdad.


BLITZER: When will the Iraqi army and the Iraqi police force be able to take control of its own security, of your own security, without U.S. or foreign assistance?

ALI AL-DABBAGH, IRAQI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: There is a plan the prime minister had presented to President Bush in order to speed up the training, the arming, the manning of Iraqi security forces. At the end, the Iraqis should hold the responsibility for the security issue. And the United States supports this vision of the prime minister, and working together in order to make the Iraqi security force ready to have the control for the security.

I think 2007 is a remarkable year for getting the transfer of the control. And hopefully that 2008 will show that the Iraqis will take the control of all the security forces.

BLITZER: As you know, there are some here in Washington who would like the U.S. to withdraw quickly, almost immediately from Iraq. What would happen, in your opinion, if the United States withdrew its combat forces over the next six months to a year?

AL-DABBAGH: This is a gift to a terrorist group if it is being done in this way. I think that it is a responsibility of all the international community to fight this violence in Iraq.

It is -- it is the responsibility of all the regional countries to help Iraq, and Iraq is a front in combating this terrorist group. If Iraq failed in such war, all of the world would be affected. I think that it is -- it is a joint responsibility between Iraq and the international community to fight, and the United States definitely will be affected if anything happened or the terrorist group, they succeed in Iraq.


BLITZER: Ali al-Dabbagh, the Iraq government spokesman, speaking with me earlier in Baghdad.

Still ahead, which Democratic presidential hopefuls have the lead heading in to the crucial New Hampshire primary? We have some brand new poll numbers that are coming out. We're going to show you them in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour

Also, oil tying China to some of America's staunchest enemies. Should Beijing be judged by the company it keeps?

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


BLITZER: Let's check in with Lou Dobbs. He's getting ready for his show that begins right at the top of the hour. He's going to tell us what he's working on.

Hi, Lou.

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Hey, Wolf. A lot going on tonight.

Coming up at 6:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, we're reporting on a shocking new development in the case of two U.S. Border Patrol agents sent to prison for doing their jobs. One of those agents severely beaten in prison by inmates. We'll have complete coverage.

Also, members of Congress now demanding paper records and national standards for those e-voting machines after a series of botched elections.

We'll have the report.

And Congress has introduced new legislation to help working men and women defend themselves in this war on our middle class.

We'll have that special report. And we'll have the very latest on the bizarre case of the astronaut involved in an apparent space- based love triangle who's been charged now with attempted murder.

All of that, all the day's news, and more at 6:00 p.m. Eastern at the top of the hour.

Please join us.

Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: That story of that astronaut, that love triangle, that's really a shocking story. You know a lot about the space program, Lou, and I don't think that anything like this has ever come forward in, what, the 40 years, 50 years that we have been watching this space program unfold.

DOBBS: Almost 50 years, Wolf. And indeed, there is no group of people on the planet who are more rigorously tested psychologically than our astronauts. And for this to have occurred is, as you say -- I mean, it is shocking, it is stunning, and tragic.

So, we're going to be reporting on the developments that have occurred today and what is transpiring now at the top of the hour.

BLITZER: I think it is fair to say, though, that these astronauts, they're courageous, they're brilliant, but they're also human beings, and they're under enormous, enormous pressure.

DOBBS: No question about it. And they are such remarkable human beings, the idea that -- that what appears to be an very unfortunate situation for this Navy captain being involved in a love triangle and the outcome, it is -- it is just -- it's so shocking, and it almost defies understanding given the just tremendous standards that all of these astronauts must meet and work under. It's incredible.

BLITZER: We'll be watching your program coming up at the top of the hour, Lou.

DOBBS: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Lou, thank you.

DOBBS: Thank you.

BLITZER: Making friends among America's foes. China's president has been on the road drumming up business and controversy.

CNN's John Vause has the story from Beijing -- John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, China is only all too willing to do business with countries normally shun by the West and in some cases use its influence to protect certain governments from international sanctions.


VAUSE (voice over): A who's who of dictators and international outcasts with one thing in common -- they all call China friend.

When China's President Hu Jintao visited Sudan last week, he called for a greater role for the U.N. to solve the conflict in Darfur which the U.S. describes as genocide. But that was it.

Instead, Hu wrote off millions of dollars in debt and promised to build a new palace for Sudan's president. He described their relationship as one of friendship, with no strings attached.

The country which once sheltered Osama bin Laden supplies China with seven percent of its imported oil. Second only to Iran.

Last December, when the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on the Islamic republic for enriching uranium, Russia watered them down, supported by China. And when it comes to resource-rich Zimbabwe, which has been with international sanctions for widespread human rights abuses, China has spent billions in loans and investments.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The United States is trying to squeeze those countries to get them to behave better. And China gives these countries an outlet.

VAUSE: Last year, when Venezuelan president, the vehemently anti-U.S. Hugo Chavez, signed a deal to sell more oil to China, many speculated it was more to do with geopolitics than good business. Officially, Beijing says it has no interest in the internal affairs of other countries.


VAUSE: For China, the bottom line is, well, the bottom line, arguing that business is business among government officials. There seems little angst that they'll be judged by the company they keep -- Wolf

BLITZER: John Vause in Beijing for us.

Thank you for that story.

By the way, the United States gets much of its oil right next door. Just more than two million barrels a day from Canada, almost a 1.5 million a day from Mexico.

Right behind is Middle East oil mainstay Saudi Arabia. Then it could bet a little bit dicey. Venezuela, led by the anti-American Hugo Chavez, still sells the United States more than a million barrels of oil every year. And Nigeria, with an oil region wracked by instability, sends almost another million barrels a day.

And despite raging violence, Iraq sends the U.S. more than a half a million of barrels of oil every day.

Up next, Jack Cafferty wants to know, how many New Yorkers are too many in this presidential race? Jack Cafferty standing by with "The Cafferty File."



BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends over at The Associated Press, pictures likely to be in your hometown newspapers tomorrow.

In England, the man wearing protective clothing works at a farm where more than 2,000 turkeys died of bird flu -- 159,000 birds at the farm were slaughtered.

In Montana, firefighters battle flames after a fatal head-on collision between a car and a tractor-trailer.

In India, police officers run for cover as protesters throw back tear gas shells during a demonstration protesting alleged slayings of civilians by security forces.

And in Idaho, a 6-year-old boy looks at his moves during a chess game.

Some of today's "Hot Shots," pictures often worth a thousand words.

Jack Cafferty is in New York.

Did you like to play chess, took when you were a little kid?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: No, boring. Took too long, not enough action.

Rudy Giuliani says he's going to run for president. He's the former mayor of New York. The former governor, Pataki, says he's still thinking about it. Sharpton could run. Hillary Clinton's in.

The question is: How many New Yorkers are too many in the presidential race?

John in Oklahoma, "I'm 60 years old. I've have heard the same names in government nearly all of my life. The same bunch dragged me through the Vietnam war, now through the Iraq war. We desperately need to get rid of them all, no matter where they come from."

Laura in Chicago, "I don't know about New Yorkers, but after the last six years, I know how many Texans are too many: one."

Susan in Cape Coral, Florida, "No such thing as too many New Yorkers. Intelligent, assertive, logical, compassionate, diplomatic, hard-working, conscientious, focused" -- it sounds like a retired New Yorker" -- successful, open-minded. What's not to like? Give me a Hillary-Rudy ticket."

Richard in Seattle, "It doesn't take a New York minute to understand that even one presidential candidate from the Empire State is too many. New Yorkers live in an over-inflated, money hungry, out- of-touch with the rest of the country kind of town."

Sarah in Rochester, which is in upstate New York, "Hillary is a New Yorker? I forget sometimes that she's our senator up here. I think she does, too."

Diane in Allentown, Pennsylvania, "Why? Are you thinking of jumping in between Hillary and Rudy? I double dog dare you, Jack. You're so matter of fact, you'll beat the Biden time limit with politically incorrect statements. It would add some levity to the situation." It's going the be a very long year.

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to and read some more of these online -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Did you see the front page of "The New York Post" today of that beautiful picture of Rudy Giuliani and his wife kissing?

CAFFERTY: Yes. It reminded me of when Al Gore and his wife were -- weren't they at the convention when they did that?

BLITZER: Right. That was a long kiss they had there.

CAFFERTY: That might have cost him the election. I guess he was running with Clinton back then, right?

BLITZER: Right. That was a loving -- a loving moment, Al Gore.

CAFFERTY: I don't want to see candidates for president doing that stuff with their wives on television or in the newspapers. That's -- I just don't want to see that.

BLITZER: All right. We'll leave it alone on that point, Jack. Thanks very much.

See you back in an hour.

I just want to check in with Carol Costello. There's another story we're following.

Carol, what's going on?

COSTELLO: This fire is just getting bigger in DeKalb County, Georgia. Take a look at the pictures we have.

It just went to three alarms. It was two just moments ago. You can see the smoke and fire.

This is an apartment complex at Park Point North (ph) apartments. That's at 3303 Flowers Road and Mercer University Road. Don't know of any injuries as of yet.

And, of course, as you can see, firefighters are trying to put this thing down. As I said, it went to three alarms. We'll keep you posted -- Wolf.

BLITZER: See you back here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Carol, in one hour, 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Let's go to Lou in New York.