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The Situation Room

Astronaut Charged With Attempted Murder, U.S. Aircraft Accidentally Fires on British Convoy, Congressional Democrats Support Casey's Nomination as Army Chief of Staff, Chinese Intervention Stymies U.S. Foreign Policy

Aired February 06, 2007 - 19:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much, Lou. Happening right now, a NASA astronaut charged with attempted murder, an apparent love triangle involving another astronaut, and a strange cross-country mission out of control.
The Democrats' dilemma -- why some set aside their anti-war sentiment in a controversial vote to promote a top Iraqi commander.

And the evangelical pastor who lost his pulpit because of a gay sex scandal, Ted Haggard, breaking his silence.

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

NASA tonight is being rocked by a scandal involving a space shuttle astronaut. Lisa Nowak is free on bail tonight after being charged with attempting to murder and kidnap a woman she sees as a romantic rival. And we've just learned she's been put on a 30-day leave from NASA and removed from flight status.

Let's go straight to our space correspondent Miles O'Brien. He's joining us from New York with more on this very, bizarre situation. I take it Miles NASA has never seen anything like this in its 50-year history.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN SPACE CORRESPONDENT: Truly an unprecedented day for NASA, Wolf. A remarkable scene as the NASA astronaut suddenly changed garb and found herself in court.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Commission 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 pursing 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 wouldn't 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: There was apparently an incident between the victim and the astronaut where spray, pepper spray apparently was dispensed inside the victim's vehicle.

O'BRIEN: Shipman drove to the exit booth and summoned police who say they saw Nowak dumping a BB 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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: Here is a statement which just came out from Steve Lindsey's boss. This is Mike Coates, who's head of the Johnson Space Center, himself a former astronaut, saying this.

The charges against Lisa Nowak are serious ones that must be decided by the judicial system. She is officially on 30-day leave, and Wolf, she is free to return to Houston, if she likes. She just can't -- she has to wear a GPS device. And as we finish that statement there, she has been removed from flight status and all mission related activities.

She has to wear a GPS device and is not allowed to travel farther east than Orange County, Florida, where she would have to face any court dates. East of that location is where the alleged victim, Colleen Shipman, lives and works.

BLITZER: And as you reported Miles earlier, officials at NASA are clearly shocked. What about the psychological training these astronauts have to go through in order to reach the level that clearly she reached?

O'BRIEN: Well you have to understand that most of these people come to the military and they've gone through years and years of evaluation and training just to get to NASA. When they get to NASA for their week of interviews, they take a standardized test, which is a personality test, which is designed to root out potential psychological disorders, and then they sit down for one hour or so with a psychologist and a psychiatrist.

That's the extent of the psychological evaluation in the course of that week. As they continue through their careers, there is no proactive monitoring by NASA. If an astronaut feels they have an emotional problem, they can seek out psychological support, but many of them are reluctant to seek out any kind of help that way from (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for a psychologist for fear it might disqualify them from the next flight.

BLITZER: All right, Miles. Thank you. Miles O'Brien reporting for us. And we're going to have more on this story coming up later this hour. Our legal analyst Jeff Toobin is taking a close look at all of the legal ramifications of what is going on. He'll be joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Other important news we're following, things clearly have not gone well in Iraq these past few years, but the outgoing U.S. military commander of all the coalition forces there is now in line for a top job in the U.S. Army. Today he got past a key obstacle in a somewhat surprising vote.

Let's bring in our senior national correspondent John Roberts -- John.

JOHN ROBERTS, CNN SR. NAT'L CORRESPONDENT: Indeed, Wolf, it was somewhat surprising. It has been observed that the Iraq war can make for some peculiar politics here in Washington. And so it was today when the majority of Democrats on the Senate Armed Services Committee threw their support behind General George Casey for that job as the Army chief of staff.



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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Iraq is teetering on the edge of the abyss.

ROBERTS: So how is it that three out of five no votes against General George Casey came from Republicans -- John McCain, John Ensign and Saxby Chambliss.

SEN. SAXBY CHAMBLISS (R), GEORGIA: I don't think he's 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 is up for re-election 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.

SEN. CARL LEVIN (D-MI), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: And 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 and not dissing the military?

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

ROBERTS: Does it seem curious to you, though?

LIEBERMAN: It's interesting.

ROBERTS: And it has 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?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: 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: 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's well qualified for the position of chief of staff. And we should point out, Wolf that the only two Democrats voted no on Casey and didn't do so immediately in the committee but filed their votes later on in the day were Senators Hillary Clinton and Evan Bayh, who recently traveled to Iraq.

BLITZER: All right. Everybody is going to be trying to understand what Hillary Clinton's theory was, but we'll get more on that I assume in the coming days.

ROBERTS: What some people will say is interesting is that she waited longer than everybody else to make up her mind.

BLITZER: Being very cautious.


BLITZER: John thank you.

In Baghdad, meanwhile, a truly shocking story about an Iraqi lawmaker who is 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 of the immunity that goes with that kind of responsibility.

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf and according to U.S. military intelligence, under parliamentary privilege, he can not be prosecuted, yet these intelligence officers say he's 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 1980's 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 is killing American soldiers.

BLITZER: He's part of the Prime Minister Nuri 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 and others were since absolved into another Iraqi group which so happens also dominates the Shia alliance, which owns this government.

I mean, this is embarrassing all around. There are connections everywhere. Someone in the prime minister's office told me last year they can't believe that the Shia political partners 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 leaving 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: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's in New York with "The Cafferty File". You know in this whole Iraq situation, Jack, just when you think you have seen it all and it can't really get much worse, there's this extraordinary story that pops up today. A guy convicted of actually bombing an American embassy in the Iraqi parliament right now.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I'm glad we brought democracy to that country, aren't you?

That's almost as bizarre as this. Who in their right minds would send 360 tons of cash, tons of cash into a war zone? That's exactly what our government did. Those are the words of Democratic Congressman Henry Waxman during hearings today about how the Bush administration handled or didn't handle reconstruction in Iraq.

Waxman's committee wants to know what happened to as much as $12 billion in cash that is missing in Iraq after the invasion. Nobody has any idea where it is. A report from the Oversight and Government Reform Committee says the money was more than half of former Ambassador Paul Bremer's budget from May of 2003 to 2004.

It also says at one point the contractors were told bring big plastic bags, which were then filled with shrink-wrapped bundles of cash. The committee questioned Bremer today. Of course he defended his record saying that the money was actually Iraqi money that was supposed to help jump-start the economy after the invasion.

What does that mean? It's OK if it was Iraqi money that 12 billion is missing? As Waxman pointed out, we have no way of knowing if that cash wound up in enemy hands. So here is the question.

What do you think happened to $12 billion in cash that vanished in Iraq shortly after the invasion? E-mail us at or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: I was watching that hearing earlier. And you know this is the largest cash withdrawal ever from a federal reserve bank. They just went in there with truckloads and loaded up with these bundles and bundles of $100 bills, and then they took it all to -- shipped it off to Iraq and started handing it out.

CAFFERTY: And four years later, no one has been held responsible for losing $12 billion of my money and your money and the viewers' money -- nobody.

BLITZER: Jack, we'll get back to you very, very shortly. That's coming up.

Also coming up, stunning new images of a deadly incident in Iraq. It involves American military planes accidentally opening fire on a convoy of British tanks killing a British soldier. You'll want to see this.

Also, what might a friend of America's enemies be called -- China right now making nice with some international outcasts. We're going to tell you why, what it might mean for the United States.

And he's the pastor linked to a former gay male prostitute who left his high perch as a major Christian leader. Now Ted Haggard is breaking his silence. What he says may surprise you.

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


BLITZER: It's every combat pilot's nightmare. This time though it was all too real -- a friendly fire tragedy from the early stages of the war in Iraq shown now in stunning cockpit video. Let's go to our Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr -- Barbara.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's taken four years and a British tabloid newspaper to publicly reveal what happened during a friendly fire incident in the opening days of the war.



STARR (voice-over): The invasion of Iraq was just in its second week. March 28, 2003, U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolts are patrolling the skies over southern Iraq.


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

POPOV36: I got a four ship of vehicles that are evenly spaced along a road going north.

STARR: The pilots mistakenly believe 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.


STARR: On the ground, 25-year-old British Lance Corporal Matte Haul (ph) is dead. The Americans are told the worst possible news.

LIGHTNING 34: You have friendly armor in the area. Yellow, small armored tanks. Just be advised.

STARR: The pilots clearly are upset.

LIGHTNING 34: Hey, POPOV34, abort your mission. You got a -- looks we might have a blue on blue situation.


Confirm those are friendless on that side of the canal.

STARR: The Pentagon has long insisted it gave the British government all of the information it had about this friendly fire incident. But under U.K. pressure, the Pentagon has now overcome security concerns and will allow Haul's (ph) family and British civil authorities to view the entire cockpit video.


STARR: The whole episode has strained U.S. and British relations. The crew once cleared of wrongdoing, but a British military family is still looking for answers -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right Barbara. Thank you. The Bush administration's Iraq strategy depends on Iraqi security forces shouldering a growing share of the burden, but what if that strategy changes? Is Iraq ready to take charge? I spoke about that with the Iraqi government spokesman, Ali Al-Dabbagh in Baghdad.


BLITZER: What would happen in your opinion, if the United States withdrew its combat forces over the next six months to a year?

ALI AL-DABBAGH, IRAQI GOVERNMENT SPOKESMAN: This is a gift to the terrorist groups if it is being done in this way. I think that it is the responsibility of all of the international community to fight this violence in Iraq. It is their responsibility of all of the regional countries to help Iraq and Iraqis as a front in combating this terrorist group.

If Iraq fails in this war, the -- all the world will be affected. I think that 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 groups, they succeed in Iraq.


BLITZER: And still ahead tonight right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we'll have more on our top story. We're going to go back and check out that astronaut accused of wanting to kidnap and kill another woman and driving some 900 miles to carry out her alleged plot. We're going to have the latest on this apparent love triangle gone very, very wrong. Jeff Toobin is standing by with some important legal analysis.

Who's up and who's down in one of the most important states in the "08 presidential race? That would be New Hampshire. Would it be Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Barack Obama? What about on the Republican side? We're about to release some brand new poll numbers from New Hampshire. You're going to want to see this.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: There are two stories happening right now -- stories just developing out in California, an oil field explosion. Also in Las Vegas, workers trapped at a major hotel. Let's bring in Carol Costello.

First on what's going on in California, Carol? What are you picking up?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, let's start in California. This is 35 miles outside of Bakersfield, California in the Kern County oil field. You see that huge fire there. This is at Elk Hills (ph) near Taft, to be exact. Firefighters are telling our affiliate there, KBAK, that six workers have been burned.

For a time, they were trapped in that building. These are oil fields, so they produce oil. The oil company is saying this was the result of a gas leak. Now let's head over to Las Vegas and this construction site.

This is the MGM-Mirage's City Center construction site. A 3,000-pound retaining wall collapsed, and we understand from our affiliates there that the two construction workers are dead. I'm going to find out more and I'll pass it along, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right Carol. Thanks for that -- updating our viewers on what is going on in California and in Las Vegas. Just ahead, we'll have more on our top story, a space shuttle astronaut charged with attempted murder of a romantic rival. We're going to show you how she allegedly tracked her target.

Also, the former evangelical pastor caught up in a gay sex scandal now says and I'm quoting, says "he's completely heterosexual" -- Ted Haggard breaking his silence. We're going to have the latest on that front as well.

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


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, an Iraq resolution is stalled in the U.S. Senate, so some in the House say they'll give it a try. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said today Democrats will move on a nonbinding resolution next week. Their measure much like the one in the Senate opposes President Bush's sending more U.S. troops to Iraq.

Also, the Bush administration plans to create a new military command, this one in Africa -- that according to the Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The Pentagon says currently operations in Africa are divided among three commands. Gates calls that arrangement outdated.

And imagine icicles on your hat or shoveling snow off your roof -- a bone chilling cold snap stretches from the northern plains through New England, but if you're suffering this deep freeze, worry not. Forecasters say milder weather is on the way.

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

More now on our top story -- a once high flying astronaut now accused of wanting to kidnap and kill another woman and driving 900 miles in diapers to actually carry out her alleged plot. Police say Lisa Marie Nowak was a lovelorn astronaut who drove from Houston to Orlando wearing those diapers to reduce the number of stops along the way, all because officials say she wanted to confront a woman she saw as a rival for another astronaut's affection.

Police say Nowak intended to kidnap the woman, Air Force Captain Colleen Shipman. Followed -- then she followed Shipman from the airport to Shipman's car in the parking lot and pepper sprayed her there. Now Nowak faces attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, and battery charges.

Let's get some more on this story. Joining us is our senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin. Jeff, legally speaking, she's out on bail right now even though she's accused of attempted murder. Explain what was going through the judge's mind.

TOOBIN: Well, you know, it was a bizarre -- it's a bizarre case. And it was a day of unusual legal developments, too. Nowak was arraigned in the morning on charges of battery and attempted kidnapping, serious charges, but not as serious as they might have been. And the judge set bail at only $15,500 with the requirement that Nowak wear an ankle bracelet and stay away from Shipman.

Prosecutors and the police weren't happy with that. Late in the afternoon they came back to court and added the charge of attempted murder, saying that the fact that she had a bb gun, a knife and a mallet in her car was evidence that she wanted and attempted to kill Shipman. The judge was unimpressed by the argument that this was sufficiently different from the original charges that made changing bail mandatory, so he only raised the bail $10,000. And she's certainly going to get out on bail. But it just shows prosecutors are really anxious to make this case as big and serious as they can.

BLITZER: How does the fact that she's an astronaut and that there's so much attention now being paid on this alleged love triangle, how would that play out if these were just anonymous individuals involved in this kind of situation? What's the difference because of the focus of attention?

TOOBIN: Well, it's really -- it was a huge factor when it came to the question of bail because her lawyer said to the judge, "Look, this is a woman who's married. She has three children. She's a astronaut, which is basically the definition of an upstanding citizen in the United States. She is someone who is a good risk. She's not going to commit any further crimes and she's not going to flee."

However, we have these extremely bizarre allegations with apparently, according to the police, a detailed confession by Nowak. So the combination of the upstanding citizen and the bizarre behavior is obviously a theme that's going to resonate throughout the resolution of this case.

BLITZER: A captain in the U.S. Navy, an astronaut, a graduate of the Naval Academy.

All right. Thanks very much, Jeff, for that.

We just got some videotape I want to show it to our viewers of Lisa Marie Nowak leaving the bail-bond office. She's covered her head. You saw her getting into that car. She's obviously very embarrassed as she got through the media throng there to get to that car leaving the bail-bond office in Florida, presumably trying to make her way back to Texas. She's married with three kids.

Colleen Shipman, by the way, described her confrontation with Lisa Nowak in a petition for a restraining order filed just after the incident.

Abbi Tatton is standing by with those court documents -- Abbi.

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is Colleen Shipman in her own words describing this incident in this petition for a restraining order against Lisa Nowak, who she described in this as an acquaintance of boyfriend. She goes into detail about her version of the incident, that Nowak followed me after she left the airport terminal, that she was wearing a wig. She was wearing glasses. Also she was wearing a hood of her trench coat turned up on her head.

But when she got to her car, Nowak beat on the window with her hands. After that, after she rolled down the window just a couple inches, that's when Colleen Shipman said she was sprayed. She also goes into some detail about what might have been happening prior to this, that Nowak researched her personal information and found my flight information. That's what Colleen Shipman's saying here.

She's also asked at the end of this petition how long have these acts been going on for. And she answers there, stalking, approximately two months -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you for that, Abbi.

Nowak, by the way, is an aerospace engineer and, as I say, she studied at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. 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 three space walks.

And you can hear from one of America's most famous astronauts tonight on "LARRY KING LIVE". Buzz Aldrin will be among Larry's guests. They're going to be dealing with the story tonight. 9:00 p.m. Eastern, "LARRY KING LIVE".

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

Let's bring in CNN's Brian Todd. He's been watching these strange developments -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Haggard has emerged from rehab and sent a fairly dramatic email 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 calls were made public, he admitted.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what did you call him about? HAGGARD: I called him to buy some meth, but I threw 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, quote, "I have 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 the church panel responsible for his discipline that he is 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 ASSOCIATION: By declaring that one is no longer engaging in that behavior to people of that faith, it's like saying that 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 thousand 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 was also questioned when he failed a lie detector test. No charges have been filed against either man.


TODD (on camera): So what becomes of Ted Haggard now? 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 masters' degrees in psychology -- Wolf.

BLITZER: She's staying by her man.

Brian, thank you for that.

Brian Todd reporting.

Still ahead tonight, who's up, who is down in the state of New Hampshire? Republican Senator John McCain? Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani? We have some brand new poll numbers that are just coming out. You'll want to see them.

Also, regarding Rudy Giuliani, is he trying to show a softer side to win more support? We're going to tell you how his wife is presenting a man very different from the one many of you may know.

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


BLITZER: In the race for the White House, sometimes you're up, sometimes you're down. Right now, some presidential prospects are seeing firsthand the seesaw nature of a presidential campaign, even though it's very, very early.

Let's turn to our senior political analyst Bill Schneider -- Bill.

BILL SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Wolf, we have the latest New Hampshire primary polls. And it's getting real interesting.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): It's neck and neck in New Hampshire. John McCain and Rudy Giuliani are nearly tied.

SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, (R-AZ) 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CONTENDER: Thank you for having me here at this New Hampshire First in the Nation Rally. I appreciate that very much.

SCHNEIDER: The poll is not good news for McCain. McCain won the New Hampshire primary in 2000. And he's been leading polls of New Hampshire Republicans for the past two years.

Until now. Giuliani seems to have gotten a boost from his visit to New Hampshire last month. Not from moderate Republicans, where McCain leads Giuliani by nearly two to one. Giuliani seems to be rallying conservatives in New Hampshire, despite his views on social issues.

RUDY GIULIANI, (R) FORMER MAYOR OF NEW YORK: We have to reassert the basic core issues of the Republican Party. We've got -- you know, we've got to be about being Republican strong, not Democrat light.

SCHNEIDER: In 2000 McCain was helped by independents who voted in the Republican primary. But Granite State independents are strongly anti-Bush and anti-war. This year two thirds of them say they plan to vote in the Democratic primary.

Hillary Clinton is still in place among New Hampshire Democratic primary voters, but Barack Obama has bolted to the number two spot. Clinton commands the loyalty of registered Democrats.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON, (D) NEW YORK: I've been fighting for more than 35 years on behalf of poor people and children and women and families.

SCHNEIDER: But her lead is considerably smaller among independents who intend to vote in the Democratic primary. They like Obama's stand on the war. SEN. BARACK OBAMA, (D) ILLINOIS: I was opposed to this invasion publicly, frequently, before it began.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): For voters, the toughest choice is often between candidates who have similar views: McCain and Giuliani, Clinton and Obama. And that's why the New Hampshire primary could get very close in both parties and very exciting.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much.

Bill Schneider reporting.

We're going to keep on top of this political story.

And by the way, you'll be able to see an early, very early debate. CNN co-sponsoring the first presidential debates this spring with WMUR television and the New Hampshire union leader. Mark you calendar: April 4th and April 5th, we'll do the Democratic and the Republican presidential debates right here on CNN.

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

Let's go back to CNN's Carol Costello. She's in New York. She's watching this part of the story -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's the talk of the town, Wolf. "Harper's Bazaar" has been after Judith Giuliani for an interview a long time. And 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 a spontaneous burst of affection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She's hugely in love with her husband. And, honestly, that's a very 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?"

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

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... I never meet him. What if this man's my destiny and I never meet him? BOB BARR, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: One, just the extreme sappiness of it, one has to wonder 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 kinds 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. Problem was, wife number two had no idea. She was not happy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 it was ugly.

COSTELLO: It's a Rudy Giuliani most of America isn't familiar with. But if this article is 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 (on camera): Yes, he's going to have to talk about issues, and his record on gay issues and abortion.

We did call Donna Hanover (ph), Giuliani's second wife, several times. No comment from her. It makes you wonder, though, if she will be a part of any future anti-Giuliani campaign ads -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Carol's going to stay on top of this story for us.

Carol, thanks for that.

That poll we just showed you in New Hampshire, neck and neck, Giuliani and McCain right now.

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

Jack Cafferty also wants to know what do you think happened to $12 billion -- yes, billion -- in cold cash that vanished in Iraq shortly after the invasion. Jack, standing by with the "Cafferty File".

And you're in the SITUATION ROOM.


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

CNN's John Vause is in Beijing with a story making news around the world -- John.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, China is only all too willing to do business with companies normally shunned 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 relation 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 voted them down, supported by China.

And when it comes to resource-rich Zimbabwe, which has been slapped with international sanctions for widespread human rights abuses, China has spent billions in loans and investments.

DAVID ZWEIG, POLITICAL ANALYST: 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: And clearly, money talks, John. Thank you for that.

The United States, by the way, gets much of its oil right next door, just more than 2 million barrels a day from Canada and almost 1.5 million from Mexico. Right behind is Middle East oil mainstay Saudi Arabia. Then it could get a little bit dicy. Venezuela, led by Hugo Chavez, very anti-American, still sells the U.S. more than a million barrels of oil a day, and Nigeria, with an oil region wracked by instability, sends in almost a million. And despite raging violence, Iraq sends the United States more than 500,000 barrels of oil every day.

Jack Cafferty is joining us from New York with "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question is, what do you think happened to the $12 billion in cash that vanished in Iraq shortly after the invasion?

T. in Leemore, California -- "This missing cash sure didn't fall into the hands of our enlisted soldiers. My husband's been gone nine of the last 15 months. We still barely make ends meet on a soldier's wages, much less plan for retirement or save."

Derek writes -- "You've got to be kidding me. You mean, if we found all that money, we could actually fund this war for another three or four days? Wow, all hands on deck!"

Joel in Jacksonville, Florida -- "Check out Halliburton. P.S.: I won't be paying back the measly $29,000 I owe on my student loans now."

Richard in Greenville Junction, Maine -- "Can't tell you where the $12 billion went, but I know it didn't end up in New Orleans."

Michael writes -- "It's probably in the same place where the weapons of mass destruction are."

David in Denton, Texas -- "My question, Jack, how did we as Americans allow ourselves to get to the point where we would be asking such a question?"

And John in Toronto solves the mystery. "I have the $12 billion, Jack, and my life's been very good ever since."

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

BLITZER: You know, I still don't understand why it was necessary to send all that money over there in cash. What happened to checks or the normal banking system that the United States is supposed to engage in?

CAFFERTY: It went the same way as common sense, I guess, up in smoke.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you for that. See you back here tomorrow.

Let's find out what's coming up right at the top of the hour. Paula standing by with a preview. Hi, Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf. Thanks. We're going to have much more on astronaut Lisa Nowak's arrest on attempted murder charges. What got her to that place? We'll explore that tonight.

Also "Out in the Open" tonight, a growing controversy over a Super Bowl commercial for Snickers candy bars that showed two guys kissing. Some people are absolutely outraged.

Plus, the brand new warning that the Ku Klux Klan is making a comeback because of some of the anger over illegal immigration. Those stories and a whole lot more "Out in the Open" tonight, coming at you in just about seven minutes from now, Wolf.

BLITZER: See you in a few minutes, Paula. Thank you for that.

And still ahead here in THE SITUATION ROOM, we've just received a statement from the family of astronaut Lisa Nowak, who has been charged now with attempted murder. That's coming up right after this.

Also, choppers follow a case of a different kind in Southern California. CNN's Jeanne Moos on that story tonight as well. We'll be right back.


BLITZER: Just getting a statement in from the family of Lisa Nowak, that astronaut arrested in Florida, charged with attempted murder. Carol, what are we hearing from the family?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, this is from Lisa Nowak's family in Rockville, so certainly not from her husband. And this is what the family says. I'm going to read it to you now."

"Personally, Lisa is an extremely caring and dedicated mother to her three children. She's been married for 19 years, although she and her husband had separated a few weeks ago." That's something new.

It goes on to say, "Considering both her personal and professional life, these alleged events are completely out of character and have come as a tremendous shock to our family."

So the mystery deepens after this from her family.

BLITZER: I know we're going to have a lot more on the story coming up here on CNN throughout the night. Carol, thank you for that. Carol Costello reporting.

Moving on to another story, much lighter, much lighter note. A wayward wallaby leading authorities in Southern California on a chase of a very, very different kind. Here's CNN's Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It was another California chopper chase, only in this case...


MOOS: ... the chase involved a low-speed hop. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my -- what?



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A kangaroo is on the loose.

MOOS: Live on morning TV, it had one Fontana, California woman dialing 911.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think they believed me, because the lady said, "that's a what?"

MOOS: The caller answered "kangaroo," but actually it's a wallaby.


MOOS: A wallaby is to a kangaroo sort of like a pony is to a horse. Sometimes, they even refer to wallabies as "lesser kangaroos."

But there was nothing lesser about this pursuit. Walter the Wallaby seemed ready to go quietly as animal control officers closed in. KTLA's traffic reporter provided the play-by-play.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi. Oh, my gosh. No way.

MOOS: How many animal control officers does it take to tame a wallaby?

The hold-the-tail technique prevents the wallaby from springing and kicking, and for a demonstration of why you would want to avoid that, watch what happened at a Cleveland TV station.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is -- I guess I can assume the boxing kangaroo. Oops, wait a minute. This is my husband.

MOOS: Willard doesn't just kick, he has excruciatingly accurate aim.

Here is hoping the wallaby packs less of a wallop.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Looks like they got him. Or, maybe not.

MOOS: Residents say a neighbor was babysitting the wallaby until his real owner could retrieve him.

Reminds us of another traffic reporter's play-by-play.


MOOS: A few years back, when a poodle named Snoopy got away from relatives babysitting him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, oh, oh. Ah! MOOS: And ended up on a Bronx expressway.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh. Oh. Oh, OK. He's moving.

MOOS: Snoopy survived with just a bruise. As for Walter...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, no. Bag over the head maneuver.

MOOS: The only thing bruised on him was his dignity.

They carried him off, put him in their truck and took him to a local petting zoo. At least Walter the Wallaby didn't sting like a bee.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


BLITZER: Leave it to Jeanne Moos.

Thanks very much for joining us. Remember, we're in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Eastern, back for another hour from 7:00 to 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Tomorrow, we're going to be joined by Senator Joe Lieberman. He backs the president's plan for Iraq, but for how much longer? We're going to ask him. Also, the former House Republican Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Let's go to New York and Paula -- Paula.