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The Situation Room

Pentagon Lowering the Bar for Measuring Success in Iraq. Some Congressmen Want to Stop Funding Guantanamo Bay. NAACP Held a Mock Funeral for the Burial of the "N" Word. The National Hurricane Center Director has Been Replaced. Panama's Noriega is Due to be Released From U.S. Prison. CNN's Dr. Gupta looks at "Sicko" and Some Facts Are Incorrect.

Aired July 09, 2007 -   ET


Happening now -- as Congress waits for a report card on the president's Iraq strategy, the Bush administration already playing down any expectations of success. Will bad grades lead to new pressure for a troop withdrawal?

Michael Moore is hopping mad about America's healthcare system and about out fact-check on his movie "Sicko," he lets us know it, you won't want to miss my interview with the always outspoken filmmaker.

And a leading civil rights organization holding a symbolic funeral for the "N" word, but is burying that long-standing racial slur easier said than done?

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

He's watched key Republicans break ranks over his Iraq strategy. Now, President Bush must give Congress an update on how that strategy is faring. And like a student expecting some bad grades, the White House playing down expectations.

Meantime, the Pentagon is lowering the bar for measuring success in Iraq. Our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux is standing by, but let's go to our senior Pentagon correspondent, Jamie McIntyre, first. What are you hearing over at the Pentagon, Jamie?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SR. PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well we're hearing that that July 15th benchmark report is not going to be very positive at this point. But the Pentagon insists it's still early in the game. You might think that the lack of progress would argue for a change of course. But the Pentagon is circling the wagons.


MCINTYRE (voice-over): Defense Secretary Robert Gates went ahead with a planned appearance in Tampa at the headquarters of the special operations command to install a new commander, but then rushed back to Washington, canceling long scheduled travel to South America. A terse Pentagon statement said Gates was needed for policy meetings on Iraq in advance of the July 15th benchmark report, even as his own aides downplayed the report's significance. It will be a snapshot at the front end of the surge, said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman. And I don't think anyone expects all the benchmarks to be met at the front end. The Pentagon is acknowledging there's little to show for the effort so far. While there are a lot of technical successes, insurgents killed, arms caches found, small towns secured, the big goals, bringing down the level of violence and fostering political reconciliation, remain illusive.

BOBBY GHOSH, "TIME" MAGAZINE: Prime Minister Maliki, he's too weak. He is surrounded by politicians who have other agendas. And they're never going to be able to meet the targets.

MCINTYRE: The bad news from the front is affecting recruiting. In June, the Army missed its enlistment goal by more than 1,300 soldiers after falling short by 400 in May. The big problem, long tours coupled with parents who are dead set against their kids signing up.

SEN. JIM WEBB (D), VIRGINIA: This deck of cards is coming crashing down and it's landing heavily on the heads of the soldiers and the Marines who have been deployed again and again, while the rest of the country sits back and debates Iraq as an intellectual or emotional exercise.


MCINTYRE: Yes, the Pentagon has enough troops to maintain the higher force levels in Iraq through April of next year. But after that, it's going to be real significant pressure to bring the troops home. In fact, that's really when the pressure will be the highest -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Jamie, thanks very much.

Let's go to our White House correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux. She's standing by on the north lawn. How much of a rift, how much of a division is there inside the president's inner circle when it comes to a new strategy of troop withdrawal from Iraq?

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, in talking with people here at the White House and outside of the White House, the main discussion here is what is the alternative policy if the so-called troop surge does not work? Now we know that Secretaries Rice and Gates have put forward on the table this redeployment, withdrawing U.S. troops planned for the future.

No time soon. But several aides say that despite the fact that the president is being pragmatic in this, he also still views withdrawal as looking like a defeat here. So, that is what you're dealing with. And at the same time, the White House is insisting that there's not going to be any kind of hint of any troop withdrawal anytime soon.


TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Don't expect us to lift the veil and have a whole different strategy. We're not going to have a strategy jumping out of the cake.


MALVEAUX: But, Wolf, they do concede it as not necessarily going to be a good report card when they issue it this week. Perhaps within days, Tony Snow, the press secretary, saying don't expect all "As" here, a lot of those benchmarks for the Iraqi government simply have not been met. Wolf?

BLITZER: Suzanne, thank you -- Suzanne Malveaux at the White House.

The Iraq troop increase has boosted the cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan to $12 billion a month. And congressional analysts say the total cost so far of the Iraq war alone is nearing half a trillion dollars.

All told, Congress has appropriated $612 billion in war-related money since the 9/11 terror attacks. Roughly the same amount of money spent on the war in Vietnam. The figures come from the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.

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

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, Wolf. Some members of Congress think now that it's now a good idea to shut down Guantanamo Bay, Gitmo, the prison, the detention center. "USA Today" reporting that Democratic Congressman Jim Moran is going to introduce a funding proposal as part of the defense spending bill that would give the Bush administration six months to close it.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, has said the administration would like to close Gitmo if they can keep holding dangerous detainees who should never be released or put on trial. Moran says that as long as Guantanamo stays open, quote, "it undermines our defining principles as a nation of equal justice under law."

He plans to propose that the approximately $150 million a year that funds Guantanamo be phased out and that most of the 375 detainees being held there be brought back to the U.S. and tried in military or civilian courts. Under this proposal, Moran says the government would be allowed to hold a small number of the worst of the worst detainees without bringing charges.

In the Senate Patrick Leahy is expected to offer an amendment that would grant the detainees the right to challenge their detentions. But not everybody thinks this is a good idea. Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter called closing Guantanamo misguided and dangerous.

Here's our question, then -- should Congress stop funding the Guantanamo Bay detention center? E-mail your thoughts to or go to -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you for that. Coming up, Michael Moore, defending his new movie, and going after CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why don't you tell the truth to the American people? I mean, I wish that CNN and the other mainstream media would just for once tell the truth about what's going on in this country.


BLITZER: Michael Moore uncensored and in full force. This is an interview you don't want to miss. That's coming up.

Also burying the "N" word -- the NAACP holds a funeral for the racial slur, but will people actually stop saying it?

And hurricane uproar, the director of the National Hurricane Center steps aside after a staff revolt -- all this, in the middle of the hurricane season.

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


BLITZER: A symbolic funeral for one of the most derisive racial slurs in the English language that's come to be known as the "N" word.

CNN's Jason Carroll is in New York with details -- Jason.

JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, the NAACP is behind the event. The organization says that this is not an issue of free speech nor is this an attack on hip-hop or young people. They say that they want to put an end to the use of the "N" word, so today, Wolf, they buried it. We also want to warn you that some viewers might find the language offensive.


CARROLL (voice-over): The pallbearers carried on their shoulders a wooden casket, but the weight of what they were really carrying could not be measured. The NAACP held this symbolic funeral for the "N" word.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nigger has terrorized us. He has not beaten us. We have overcome him and we celebrate the end of his existence in our community. We officially declare him dead.



CARROLL: The word, considered a slur, has been used by some of hip-hop's biggest selling artists. Rappers like 50 Cent make no apologies for using it. 50 CENT, RAPPER: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) music is a mirror. And hip- hop's a reflection of the environment that we grew up in. It's the harsh realities.

CARROLL: The "N" word has become so common on the streets it's often used as a noun replacing the word for best friend or buddy.

(on camera): Do you use the word?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're in a professional business setting, you don't use the word nigger. But like if you're with your friends, you are going to say what up, my nigger.

CARROLL (voice-over): Most people we spoke to in Harlem don't believe a funeral is the force to create the cultural shift needed for change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The way people use it today in the streets like they're still going to use it. I don't think a funeral is going to have any impact on the word itself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We must just use the funeral as a stepping- stone to provide an outlet for the music industry to stop making the artists say that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't believe it's in the word because first we have to change our mindset.

CARROLL: The backlash against Michael Richards' (ph) use of the word during an onstage rant wasn't enough to start a street wide movement against it, so can burying it?

JULIAN BOND, NAACP: It doesn't mean we think that automatically people are going to stop using this offensive word, but we want the world to know that it is offensive and it doesn't matter who says it, whether it comes out of black lips or white lips.

CARROLL: Cultural critic Michaela Angela Davis says the NAACP, while well intentioned, may be too out of touch to tackle the issue.

MICHAELA ANGELA DAVIS, CULTURAL CRITIC: I think that energy spent should be more resurrecting their image with young people than burying words.


CARROLL: The NAACP says that they do have young people in their leadership and they would like to have even more. Whether this burial ends up being a publicity stunt that ends up making the news of the day or ends up developing into something even more, at this point, Wolf, it's just too early to tell -- Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: All right, Jason, thank you. Meanwhile, there's been a new development in the storm that's been battering moral over at the National Hurricane Center. The embattled director says he's stepping down amid criticism from many, including some of the country's top forecasters.

Let's go live to our John Zarrella. He's watching all of this unfold in Miami -- any explanation, any reason given for this departure?

JOHN ZARRELLA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well I think the handwriting has been on the wall now for some time. Conditions were deteriorating, sort of as in a hurricane, but at the National Hurricane Center. For the past six months Bill Proenza has been director of the National Hurricane Center and for nearly that entire period of time, he has become the center of controversy.


ZARRELLA (voice-over): Bill Proenza never sugarcoated the issues. He spoke his mind. That candor has, at least in part, cost him his job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted me to be quiet about it.

ZARRELLA: Muzzle you?


ZARRELLA: The director of the National Hurricane Center, Proenza, was talking about a satellite he felt was critical to forecasting, but was on its last legs with no replacement in the works. Proenza went public with his concerns. But many of his own senior forecasters didn't share his opinion. Last week, half the center staff signed a petition asking for Proenza to be removed, saying he didn't listen to them, he didn't seek their opinions.

LIXION AVILA, SENIOR HURRICANE SPECIALIST: We are going to make a very good damn forecast this year, with Bill or without Bill. And I think that's -- I've been very emotional on this, because I was his strongest supporter and I feel betrayed.

ZARRELLA: Proenza also publicly criticized his bosses in Washington for spending money on 200th anniversary celebrations for NOAA, the parent agency, while taking money away from hurricane research. The director had lost support at NOAA and in his own building. In an interview last Friday, Proenza told me he wasn't resigning immediately but was leaving the door open, and he said, he did not regret the way he had handled things.

BILL PROENZA, FORMER DIR., NATIONAL HURRICANE CENTER: When I'm asked, I've got to answer honestly and sincerely, and I feel that it is part of my responsibilities, I work for the American people.

ZARRELLA: NOAA officials tell us Proenza remains on the payroll. But he no longer works for the American people as director of the National Hurricane Center. (END VIDEOTAPE)

ZARRELLA: Now, a longtime deputy director, Ed Rappaport (ph), has taken over as interim director of the National Hurricane Center to get them through this season, which will kick in to high gear, the heart of the season starting as we move into August. And Wolf, I can tell you that in nearly 30 years of covering the Hurricane Center, I've never seen a director who hasn't made it through at least one season, and I've never seen what's happened in the last few weeks take place so publicly at the National Hurricane Center -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, let's hope they can contain any damage and get through this hurricane season effectively. John, thanks very much.

Still ahead tonight right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, the filmmaker, Michael Moore, he's furious with CNN.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are the ones who are fudging the facts. You fudged the facts to the American people now for I don't know how long about this issue, about the war. And I'm just curious, when are you going to just stand there and apologize to the American people for not bringing the truth to them that isn't sponsored by some major corporation?


BLITZER: And that's just the beginning of what he has to say. Michael Moore, he's fired up. He's here in THE SITUATION ROOM. This is an interview you're going to want to see.

Plus, he ruled his country with an iron fist before winding up in a U.S. prison, now Manuel Noriega is about to go free or is he?

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


BLITZER: Toppled by U.S. troops in 1989, the former Panamanian dictator, Manuel Noriega was jailed in the United States on criminal charges. But according to a judge's ruling Noriega is also a prisoner of war. He's due to be set free now, but in this case, freedom is a relative term.

Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd for an update -- Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Manuel Noriega is set to be paroled two months from today after nearly two decades in U.S. custody. It turns out that this man who was one of America's chief enemies before Saddam Hussein ever was, still presents a diplomatic challenge in Washington.


(CHEERING) TODD (voice-over): Manuel Noriega, described by a U.S. district judge as a prisoner of war, behind bars nearly 18 years in Miami for racketeering and drug smuggling. Now a born-again Christian, he wants to return quietly to Panama when he's released in September, but at least three governments are weighing in.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: That's something that we would take a look at. I know that there are other extradition requests for him that are pending.

TODD: France reportedly wants to extradite Noriega to jail him on money laundering charges. Noriega's attorney says he'll fight that. A Panamanian official tells CNN if he goes back to his homeland he'll be jailed for 20 years. Panamanian authorities convicted Noriega in absentia on murder charges, human rights violations and extortion.

A Justice Department official familiar with his case in the U.S. won't comment on what happens next saying it's too early. Noriega's attorney tells CNN the former general wants what he calls a real trial in Panama, believes he has the right to one and says the former dictator just wants to spend time with his grandchildren.

FRANK RUBINO, MANUEL NORIEGA'S ATTORNEY: He wants to return to Panama not -- and I overemphasize this -- not reengage in politics or any kind of a public life.

TODD: We asked a former State Department official could Noriega be a power to be reckoned with in Panama now.

PETER DESHAZO, CTR. FOR STRATEGIC & INT'L STUDIES: The economy is going well. The president is popular. And Noriega could only count on support of very minority groups within the -- his old party.


TODD: In fact, the one entity in Panama where Noriega could have won some support back has already been co-opted. The notorious Panamanian Defense Force, which he once controlled, has been dissolved and replaced with a civilian police agency -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian, thank you for that.

The U.S. military launched an invasion to Panama to oust Manuel Noriega, 25,000 troops were involved and the operation cost the lives of some two dozen American troops, hundreds of Panamanians. Noriega didn't go easily.

He fled to the Vatican Mission in Panama City. The U.S. psychological warfare units played loud, very loud rock music, in an attempt to force his surrender. After 10 days inside that Vatican compound, Noriega gave up.

Just ahead, Michael Moore is in THE SITUATION ROOM and he has some questions for the administration and for the news media.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why are we here? That's the question. Why are we here in this war? Where's the weapons of mass destruction? Why didn't you -- why did it take you so long, Wolf, to finally take on Vice President Cheney?


BLITZER: And he's just not only mad about the situation in Iraq. We're going to show you my whole interview, uncut, with Michael Moore. That's coming up.

Also, what could cause a normally poised and sophisticated television news anchor to turn violent? Jeanne Moos has the most unusual answer. You're going to want to stick around for that as well.

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


BLITZER: To our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now -- the answer is no. The White House tells Congress it will not give in to some demands. It concerns the firings of those U.S. attorneys -- the White House asserting executive privilege -- a top lawyer refusing to comply with a subpoena for related documents.

Thirty-six million people now, almost 60 million by the year 2050. That's how many people will live in California, according to a new state report. It also says Hispanics will be in the majority by the year 2042.

And a review of several studies finds smokers are less likely to develop Parkinson's disease than nonsmokers. That's long been the belief of researchers. A report from UCLA seems to confirm it.

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

Millions of Americans are filling theaters across the country to see Michael Moore's controversial look at the U.S. healthcare system. "Sicko" was number nine on the top 10 box office draws this weekend. But the movie is being criticized by some who accuse Moore of playing loose with the facts.

Michael Moore will join us here in THE SITUATION ROOM in just a moment. But first a "Reality Check" from our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SR. MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "Sicko" throws hard punches at the United States healthcare system, and it seems just about everyone has something to say.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Moore was spot on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The facts, I think, support what I believe.

GUPTA: And Moore presents a lot of facts throughout the movie. But do they all check out? Keeping them honest, we did some digging and we started with the biggie. The United States slipped to number 37 in the world's healthcare systems.

It's true, 37 is the ranking, according to the World Health Organization's latest data on 191 countries. It's based on general health level, patient satisfaction, access and how it's paid for. France tops the list. Italy and Spain make it into the top 10. The United Kingdom is 18.


GUPTA: Moore brings a group of patients, including 9/11 workers to Cuba, and marvels at their free treatment and quality of care. But hold on. That WHO list puts Cuba's healthcare system even lower than the United States, coming in at number 39. Moore asserts that the American healthcare system spends $7,000 per person on health, whereas Cuba spends $25 per person.

Not true, but not too far off. The United States spends $6,096 a year per person versus $229 a year in Cuba. And astronomically more money doesn't mean far better outcomes. In fact, Americans live just a little bit longer than Cubans on average. So Americans do pay more, but the United States also ranks highest in patient satisfaction.

And Americans have shorter wait times than everyone but Germans when seeking non-emergency elective procedures like hip replacement, cataract surgery or knee repair. That's not something you'll see in "Sicko" as Americans tell their tales of lack of coverage and suffocating red tape.

It's true that the United States is the only country in the Western world without free universal access to health care. But you won't find medical utopia elsewhere. The film is filled with content Canadians and Brits sitting in waiting rooms, confident care will come.

In Canada, you can be waiting for a long time. A survey of six industrialized nations found that only Canada was worse than the United States when it came to waiting for a doctor's appointment for a medical problem.

PAUL KECKLEY, DELOITTE HEALTH CARE ANALYST: That's the reality of those systems. There are quotas. There are planned wait times. The concept that care is free in France and Canada and Cuba, and it's not. Those citizens pay for health services out of taxes. And as a proportion of their household income, it's a significant number.

GUPTA: It's true that the French pay higher taxes and so does nearly every country ahead of the United States on that list. But even higher taxes don't give all the coverage everyone wants.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fifteen-to-20 percent of the population will purchase services outside the system of care run by the government.

GUPTA: So, there's no perfect system anywhere. But no matter how much Moore fudged the facts -- and he did fudge some facts -- there's one everyone agrees on. The system here should be far better. Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, reporting.


BLITZER: Earlier I spoke to Michael Moore about criticism of his new film.


BLITZER: Michael Moore is joining us now live from Detroit. Michael, thanks very much for coming in. You want to respond to anything ...

MOORE: First of all, Wolf, yeah, well -- yeah, I'd like about 10 minutes to respond to what was said.

BLITZER: Give us a couple of headlines, what you'd like to say.

MOORE: I don't talk in sound bites. So -- that report was so biased. I can't imagine what pharmaceutical company ad's coming up right after our break here.

But why don't you tell the truth to the American people? I mean, I wish that CNN and the other mainstream media would just for once tell the truth about what's going on in this country, whether it's with healthcare -- I don't care what it is. I mean, you guys have such a poor track record.

And for me to come on here and have to listen to that kind of crap. I mean, seriously, I haven't been on your show now for three years. The last time I was on, you ran a similar piece about "Fahrenheit 9/11" saying this can't be true what he's saying about the war, how it's going to be a quagmire, the weapons of mass destruction.

You know, and -- why don't you start off actually with my first appearance back here on your show in three years and maybe apologize to me for saying that three years ago, because it turned out everything I said in "Fahrenheit" was true. Everything has come to happen.

Everything I said. I mean, I was -- I took you in that film to Walter Reed Hospital and it took three years before you or any of the rest of the mainstream media would go to Walter Reed Hospital and see what was happening to our troops. So for me to have to sit here and listen again to more crap about socialized medicine or how the Canadians have it worse than us and all this, all the statistics show that we have far worse healthcare than these other industrialized countries.

We're the only ones that don't have it free and universal. And, you know, there's a -- there's a -- you said that Germany was the only one that was better than us in terms of wait times. The Commonwealth Fund last year showed of the top six countries, we were second to last, next to Canada. It showed that Britain, for instance, 71 percent of the British public, when they call to see a doctor, get to see the doctor that day or the next day. It's 69 percent in Germany. It's 66% in Australia. And you're the ones who are fudging the facts. You fudged the facts to the American people now for I don't know how long about this issue, about the war.

And I'm just curious when are you going to just stand there and apologize to the American people for not bringing the truth to them that isn't sponsored by some major corporation? I mean, I'll sit here for as long as it takes, if you can do that for me.

BLITZER: Just in fairness, we had a lot of commercials for "Sicko" that we've been running on CNN as well. So we have commercials. This is a business, obviously. But let's talk a little bit about ...

MOORE: You have a nightly medical report. You have something called "The Daily Dose." I watch CNN. You have it every day. "The Daily Dose" sponsored by -- fill in the blank. And you are funded by these people day in and day out. Don't even compare that to my movie being out for a couple of weeks and a couple of rinky-dink ads for 15 seconds. Come on. Come on, Wolf!

BLITZER: No, no -- I don't know if you're familiar with Dr. Sanjay Gupta's record, but I would stack up his record on medical issues with virtually anyone in the business.

MOORE: All right. So when I -- when I now put on my Web site, as I will do tonight, how his facts were wrong about the $7,000 that we spend, it's actually -- I've read one report now, it's even more than $7,000 that we spend per person each year in this country. I'm going to put the real facts up there on my Web site so people can see what he said was wrong.

BLITZER: Well, if we get that confirmed, obviously, we'll correct the record. Sanjay - but I'm just saying ... MOORE: Oh, you will? You'll be getting it.

BLITZER: Sanjay Gupta is not only a doctor and neurosurgeon, but he's also an excellent, excellent journalist. Look, I saw the film, and it's a powerful, powerful ...

MOORE: I saw Dr. Sanjay Gupta over there embedded with the troops at the beginning of the war. He and the others of you in the mainstream media refused to ask our leaders the hard questions and demand the honest answers. And that's why we're in this war -- we're in the fifth year of this war because you and CNN, Dr. Gupta, you didn't do your jobs back then and now here we are in this mess.

What if you'd actually done the job on that? That's why anybody who hears anything he anything of what you say now about universal healthcare should question what you're saying, what you're putting out there. You didn't do the job for us with the war. You're not doing it with this issue. And I just -- I just wonder when the American people are going to turn off their TV sets and quit listening to this stuff.

BLITZER: Sanjay Gupta did an excellent job covering that war. He was with the Navy's medical doctors and he went in and risked his life and actually performed neurosurgery on the scene.

MOORE: You have the questions. Why are we here? That's the question. Why are we here in this war? Where's the weapons of mass destruction? Why didn't you -- why did it take you so long, Wolf, to finally take on Vice President Cheney? It took you to 2007 before you made the man mad at you.

BLITZER: Those are fair questions.

MOORE: Four years!

BLITZER: Let's talk a little ...

MOORE: Where were you?

BLITZER: Let's talk about "Sicko." That's the film that you're here to talk about.

MOORE: Yeah, let's forget that. Yeah, OK.

BLITZER: There's plenty to talk about the war. There's plenty to talk about with "Sicko."

MOORE: I just haven't seen you in three years, so I was wondering how you felt for three years of not seeing me after you trashed "Fahrenheit" and said that I was wrong about, oh, yeah, this war was -- come on, I'm just waiting for an apology.

BLITZER: Michael, we've invited you on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, you've declined our invitations the past three years but there are plenty of times we asked you to come on the show and plenty of times you've declined.

MOORE: Really? And you wanted to apologize? Why did you want to talk to me?

BLITZER: No, we wanted to interview you. That's what we do on television. Let's ...

MOORE: You don't have to apologize to me. Maybe just apologize to the American people and the families of the troops for not doing your job four years ago. We wouldn't be in this war. If you had done your job. Come on. Just admit it. Just apologize to the American people.

BLITZER: Which of the presidential candidates who are out there right now do you think would do the best job fixing the nation's healthcare system?

MOORE: Well, the Democrats have to be asked some very specific questions. Too many of them are saying, well, they're for health care for all people. Very few of them are being as specific as Mr. Kucinich is in saying, well, I support the Conyers bill in Congress HR-676. That's what we need to hear.

And I would like to hear what these other Democratic candidates are going to say and do in specifics in removing the private insurance companies from the equation. We shouldn't have profit involved when we talk about taking care of people's health.

BLITZER: Is there a candidate, though, you think -- is Dennis Kucinich your candidate? Who do you think -- I know in the film you go after Hillary Clinton. And you're very, very bipartisan in your criticism in the film, Democrats and Republicans.

MOORE: Yeah. When you say I go after, let's be clear. I actually think she did a very brave thing to try and address this issue 14 years ago. And they stopped her cold. They went after her with the same kind of, you know, trash pieces I just had to watch. And so that stopped her. And now we've had to suffer through 14 more years of having no universal healthcare in this country. Our own government admits that because the 47 million who aren't insured, we now have about 18,000 people a year that die in this country simply because they don't have health insurance. That's six 9/11's every single year.

If you times that by 14 since Mrs. Clinton was unceremoniously removed from the agenda here, she hasn't been able to talk about this. She hasn't really put forth her specific plan. I'm hoping that the people have gone to my movie, the people that are concerned about this issue, will write to Mrs. Clinton and say, please, universal healthcare that's free for everyone who lives in this country. It will cost us less than what we're spending now ling the pockets of these private health insurance companies, of these pharmaceutical companies. So there's still some chance to have an effect on people like her.

And of course, there's one candidate who isn't even in the race yet. I don't know if he will be. But he was right about the war before it began, unlike CNN -- did I mention that?

BLITZER: You did.

MOORE: And -- and he's right about global warming and he's right on this issue, too.

BLITZER: Al Gore. The Democrats, by and large, most of them support some major health reform, including universal healthcare, which is what you support. I want you to listen to what Rudy Giuliani, the Republican front-runner said at the Republican debate that I hosted up in Manchester, New Hampshire. Listen to this.



RUDY GIULIANI, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Free market principles are the only things that reduce cost and improve quality. Socialized medicine will ruin medicine in the United States.


BLITZER: All right. What do you say to Mayor Giuliani?

MOORE: So he's saying that he hates Medicare?

BLITZER: He's saying socialized medicine will ruin medicine in the United States.

MOORE: That's what we have. Ask a doctor if they'd rather have a Medicare patient or somebody who has got a lousy HMO, because they know at least Medicare -- the government will pay them, send them a check and not have to fight an hour on the phone just to get a $15 office visit paid for.

I mean, seriously, we have one of the largest socialized medicine systems in this country. It's called Medicare and Medicaid. And while it's underfunded and too much of the control of it has been handed over to private companies, we've already proven we can do things like that, and Social Security and other things very well. So I hope that he wasn't attacking help for senior citizens, because that's what it sounded like to me.

BLITZER: I've got a whole bunch of questions. Unfortunately, we're out of time. But if you stick around ...

MOORE: We're out of time! I'll see you in three years.

BLITZER: No, no, stick around. We'll tape some more. We'll run it tomorrow. We want to make sure you get your chance to ...

MOORE: Oh, no, see, that's the deal, Wolf. There's no taping with me. As you know, it's rare that they put me on live. And to your credit, thank you for doing that. You can see why. They generally don't like to have me on live because, you know, a lot of that would have been cut out.

BLITZER: Well, no ...

MOORE: Thank you for having me on. I really appreciate it.

BLITZER: We're not going to cut a second of it out if you want to tape something.

MOORE: Run it unedited?

BLITZER: Run it unedited.

MOORE: And people can ...

BLITZER: And people going to your Web site, it's a free country, they can find out the truth, about what it is.

MOORE: The facts about Sanjay Gupta, they can find out about his facts, right? We can find that out, right? BLITZER: Absolutely. Michael Moore.


BLITZER: Thanks very much.


BLITZER: Sanjay was in surgery today. He missed this interview, but he will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM tomorrow to respond, along with part two of the interview with Michael Moore. He did agree after that interview to stick around. We taped part two. You will see it, completely unedited. The full interview, part two of the interview, with Michael Moore. You're going to want to see that, tomorrow, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up ahead tonight -- Cindy Sheehan suggests she's not afraid of political battle with the most powerful woman in the House of Representatives. The anti-war activist has drawn a line in the sand with a brazen threat.

And a woman considered one of the friendliest on television. But did Katie Couric really angrily slap around a staffer? Jeanne Moos has a most unusual look at this story. Stick around. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: A major figure in the anti-war movement and her political threat to the most powerful woman on Capitol Hill. Cindy Sheehan wants the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, to move to impeach President Bush or else. Tom Foreman is covering this story for us. Tom is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. She's furious with Nancy Pelosi. Tell our viewers why.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, she's furious because her belief is that the Democrats have a real responsibility to jump on the White House and demand impeachment.




FOREMAN (voice-over): We got to know Cindy Sheehan two summers ago. Her son Casey was killed in Iraq a year earlier, and Sheehan came to Crawford, demanding to speak to President Bush, who was spending August at his Texas ranch.

SHEEHAN: I'm going to go see the president.

FOREMAN: She never met with Mr. Bush, but she was joined by thousands of protesters during her 26-day vigil. And Sheehan became the face of the anti-war movement.

SHEEHAN: I want to ask the president...

FOREMAN: Early last year, Sheehan threatened to run against Senator Dianne Feinstein, unless the California Democrat tried to hold up the Supreme Court nomination of Samuel Alito. Feinstein voted against Alito, but she didn't try to hold up the vote. Sheehan did not run against Feinstein.

SHEEHAN: I have decided not to run. But I am calling on all Californians and Americans to support all anti-war candidates.

FOREMAN: Two months ago, Sheehan announced she was leaving the anti-war movement, saying -- quote -- "I'm going to take whatever I have left and go home."

But now she says she will run against Pelosi as an independent, if the House speaker doesn't introduce articles of impeachment against the president by July 23. That's when Sheehan and her supporters arrive in Washington, after a two-week caravan that starts near the president's Texas ranch.

SHEEHAN: And I want Congress to impeach George Bush and Dick Cheney. I want them to do the job that we elected them for.

FOREMAN: That was Sheehan just three months ago. Now, she says, Democrats and Americans feel betrayed by the Democratic leadership.

Pelosi's office responded yesterday, saying, the speaker remains focused on ending the war in Iraq, and believes July will be a month of action.


FOREMAN: We should note that Sheehan and the president did meet, just not during the big standoff during Crawford there. But this whole idea of her taking on Nancy Pelosi is a long stretch. Simply put, Nancy Pelosi got 81 percent of the vote last time in her district. She's hugely popular around San Francisco. She's not likely to be knocked off by Cindy Sheehan or anybody else anytime soon.

BLITZER: It's a very liberal Democratic district. Thanks very much for that, Tom Foreman here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Still ahead tonight, Jack Cafferty wants to know, should Congress stop funding the Guantanamo Bay detention center? Jack, with your e- mail on our question of the hour."

And Jeanne Moos takes the most unusual word at the word that made Katie Couric supposedly slap happy. Stick around, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: Let's check back with Jack Cafferty for "The Cafferty File." Jack?

CAFFERTY: Wolf, thanks.

The question is should Congress stop funding the Guantanamo Bay detention center?

Matt writes: "Jack, I hope you're not waiting on this Congress to defund Gitmo. I am afraid that this group of legislators lacks the courage to do much of anything if some pollsters tell them that 35 percent of the American people may opposite it."

Robert in Massachusetts: "No, we should not close Gitmo. The combatants there are dangerous and would slit our throats if they could. My opinion may not count for much, but as a soldier who has seen these animals firsthand, I think we should be proud of having a place that provides us some measure of protection from these jihadists."

Ryan in Colorado Springs: "It's a tragedy that our nation's leaders have determined that it's acceptable to hold the worst of the worst or anyone else without trial or legal recourse. With all due respect to Duncan Hunter, the greatest danger to our nation at this juncture is the continued encroachment of our civil liberties and the detainment of humans in violation of international law and constitutional principles."

Bill writes from Florida: "Jack, is there any question as to what would happen if any one of these Gitmo detainees had an opportunity in a shopping mall with an assault rifle? Every child, mother or father within range would get what we should give them. I'm tired of the legalese of the attorneys who are foaming at the mouth of potential billings to the government for their fees to defend these murders, who are eating and living better now than they did in the mountains of Afghanistan."

Cornelius in New Jersey: "Jack, the Democrats should be giving the Bush administration six months to stop the war instead of going off in a new direction. Seems they can't get the nerve up to call his bluff."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to where we post more of them, along with video clips of "The Cafferty File." Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you, Jack. See you back here tomorrow.

Let's find out what's coming up right at the top of the hour on "PAULA ZAHN NOW." Paula is standing by. Hi, Paula.

PAULA ZAHN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi Wolf, thanks so much.

We will start off the hour by talking about the latest in Iraq and the defection of a bunch of Republicans from the president's side.

And also, what would you say to a program that puts homeless alcoholics in apartments that are just about free and lets them drink everything they want to at your expense?

Also what kind of justice system decides that a wife is worth $4,800? I'll tell you about a truly bizarre court case in Chicago that is wrapping up. All that and more coming at you in just about seven minutes from now. Wolf?

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Paula. We'll be watching.

Still ahead tonight -- she's known for her cheerfulness and poise, but what and see what happens if you ask Katie Couric to say the wrong word? Jeanne Moos with a most unusual look. Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM


BLITZER: Here's a look at some of the "Hot Shots" coming in from our friends over at the "Associated Press."

In India, soldiers fire tear gas shells at protesters angry at police over the killing of a teenager.

In Denver, a grounds crew worker at Coors Field is trapped by a tarp by trying to cover the infield during a rain delay at last night's Colorado Rockies baseball game.

In Lima, Peru residents in traditional clothing celebrate the selection of Machu Picchu as one of the seven wonders of the world.

And in New York's East Harlem, a girl jumps into a community swimming pool to cool off.

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

It's a TV news anchor's worst nightmare, that obscure, hard to pronounce word that appears on the teleprompter without warning. It could make even the best of us stutter. And as our Jeanne Moos reports, it can cause a most unusual reaction.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): First we couldn't stop calling her perky. And now, we're perking up our ears because Katie Couric supposedly slapped someone?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wow, that is so unlike Katie Couric.

MOOS: It's more like what Zsa Zsa Gabor might do to a cop or what one Czech politician did to another. Politicians are one thing, but slap happy Katie?

(on camera): She didn't exactly slap his face, she went.

She slapped him like that. Sorry, Phoebe, it's OK. (voice-over): In a "New York" magazine cover article and what a bad year it's been for Katie at her new "CBS Evening News" anchor gig, one little anecdote is getting a lot of attention.

"Couric got angry with news editor Jerry Cipriano for using a word she detested - 'sputum' - and the staff got tense when she began slapping him over and over and over again on the arm."

Couric's spokesman disputes the over and over part. Tackled one blog, Katie Couric doesn't like "sputum."

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All it is is throat garbage.

MOOS: It was a story about that tuberculosis patient. Katie's spokesman said she read the script beforehand but the word sputum was inserted afterwards and she mispronounced it sputum on the air, which explains why she was annoyed at the writer.

"I sort of slapped him around. I got mad at him and said, you can't do this to me. You have to tell me when you're going to use a word like that. I was aggravated, there's no question about that."

(on camera): Have you ever slapped anyone?


MOOS: What drove you to slapping?


MOOS: Where did you slap him?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Probably on the shoulder, sometimes on the head. Come on, get with it!

MOOS (voice-over): Since she got with the "CBS Evening News," Katie says, "I have days when I'm like, oh, my god, what did I do? Adding, but for some weird reason, they don't happen that often."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hang in there, Katie, hang in there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I supposed to feel sorry for somebody that cut a $75 million deal? Am I supposed to feel bad for her? Are you kidding me?

MOOS: As for sputum, Katie says the words become something of a joke, banned from the "CBS Evening News."

(on camera): Sputum, on that which Katie Couric would probably like to spit on this slapping story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Leave Katie Couric alone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Take a Xanax and call me in the morning.

MOOS (voice-over): Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: That's it for us. Thanks very much for joining us. Remember, we're here in THE SITUATION ROOM weekday afternoons from 4-6 p.m. Eastern, then back for another hour at 7 p.m. Eastern. Tomorrow, part two of my interview with Michael Moore, uncut, the full interview, tomorrow here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Plus, Dr. Sanjay Gupta will respond. Let's go to Paula in New York - Paula