Return to Transcripts main page
The Situation Room
Iranians March in Mourning; U.S. Senate Apologizes For Slavery
Aired June 18, 2009 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All that coming up, plus the best political team on television.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But, first, the breaking news: a sea of protesters in the streets of Tehran. Many at today's massive march wore black as a symbol of mourning for last week's presidential vote and for those who died in post-election violence.
The rally was addressed by top candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi. Western reporters were not allowed to cover his remarks. But witnesses say he spoke of Iran's 25 percent inflation, saying that is due to -- and I'm quoting now -- "ignorance, thieving and corruption."
By all accounts, this protest was peaceful. But it is an unprecedented defiance of authority in Iran.
CNN's Reza Sayah is in Tehran.
BLITZER: Tell us what happened on this dramatic day.
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this movement, the support behind Mir Hossein Mousavi, the disgruntled candidate, keeps building and building. Really, what is fascinating is, no one really knows where it is going to peak, where it is going to culminate.
For the sixth day in a row, you had a massive rally in a major city square in Tehran. Once again, tens of thousands, some estimate hundreds of thousands of supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi came together. They gathered and they rallied. But this time they weren't wearing the color green, which has become the symbol of the Mir Hossein Mousavi camp.
Instead, they wore black. Mr. Mousavi himself asked his supporters to wear black in support and in memory of the several people killed on Monday. But this has been six days of rallies in a row without government permission here in Iran. And that's unheard of.
And if you look at modern history, you would be challenged to find anywhere in this region where this has happened, Wolf. So, this thing keeps on building. And no one really knows where it is going to culminate. An amazing political drama continues to unfold here in Iran.
BLITZER: And the people of Iran, Reza, tomorrow, will be hearing from the grand ayatollah. Give us some perspective. What does this mean?
SAYAH: Well, this is huge tomorrow. Of course, he is at the center of this political drama. And it is going to be very important what he says, because if he comes out in support of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, like he initially did a day after the elections, what he is going to be doing is essentially ignoring these tens or these hundreds of thousands of people who have come out day after day calling for a new election in support of Mir Hossein Mousavi.
But, instead, if he comes out in support of Mr. Mousavi and maybe hinting that there is a possibility of a revote, then he is undermining not only President Ahmadinejad. He is also undermining this regime and perhaps even undermining himself. So, this day is huge tomorrow, what he says in his address in Friday prayers.
We should also add that the Basij group -- these are the hundreds of thousands of volunteers that support Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- have called for a gathering themselves in support of the Islamic republic and the supreme leader. And that's going to happen tomorrow as well.
BLITZER: The Basij are these guys who ride on these motorcycles, usually two of them. And the guy on the back has got a baton. And he's trying to instill some order.
These guys are totally loyal to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; is that right?
SAYAH: No question about it. They support him.
And you saw that support earlier in the streets of Tehran earlier this week, when Mir Hossein Mousavi's -- came out. They were an antagonistic. They were whooping and hollering. And in return, you had these Basij riding on motorcycles in pairs with batons. They really cracked down. And we saw those brutal beatings over and over again.
But now you have this new strategy. And this is a remarkable thing that we have seen unfold in the Mir Hossein Mousavi camp, where the supporters keep silent, not a word. And it is so remarkable to see these large gatherings, and you can hear a pin drop.
What they do is, they have their slogans on placards and posters, peace signs in the air. And another fascinating scene that we have seen is supporters of Mir Hossein Mousavi, the protesters, in the past couple of days now approach policemen with smiles. You are seeing them smile back.
So, the tension has clearly diffused over the past couple of days. You haven't seen the clashes. And that's really because of this new strategy, these silent protests that we have seen for the past couple of days. BLITZER: Is the opposition, all those who are protesting, the dissent, if you will, are they able to get their messages out there still on the Internet, the various Web sites?
SAYAH: Well, they are having a very, very difficult time because of the government crackdown on dissent. They have blocked a number of Web sites, including Facebook. They have also blocked CNN International. CNN U.S. version, they can still get.
Texting, SMSing, they haven't been able to do that since Election Day last Friday. The phone goes out, mobile phone service does out, especially when there are rallies. Again today, for a few hours, we didn't have it. That's the bad news, is that we can't get access to these rallies with the ban on the media, the foreign media.
But the good news is, there's so many people who are yearning, hungry to get their messages out. And they are using all sorts of venues to get them out, Twitter. They're using proxy servers to break the filters. So, they are getting their message out, but they're not getting it through the conventional systems, through the media, because, as you know, CNN and other members of the foreign media have been banned.
And this is our own report today, Wolf, because the Iranian government yesterday told us one report per day until further notice.
BLITZER: And there are very few Western reporters left in Tehran. You are one of the few that are left there, Reza.
But you are really restricted. And I want to be transparent with our viewers in the United States and around the world right now. You're really restricted as to where you can go and what -- who you can talk to.
SAYAH: Yes. And, really, we have had to get creative in covering this news, because we haven't had access, personally, to these rallies, to these protests.
And we should note that we had two members of our crew who have been here working very hard for the past couple of weeks. Their visas ran out today. And they went and requested an extension and they got a flat-out no. So, we are understaffed, shorthanded.
And without going into too much detail, we have had to get really creative in gathering some eyes and ears, in getting some help any which way you can to get access to these protests, to these rallies.
We have had some people report back to us, and we convey the news back to you. Also, we have depended on amateur video accounts from people there. If you get one or two accounts, you may have some doubt, but we are getting many accounts telling the same story, repeating to us that these gathering, including today, are absolutely massive, people coming out day after day.
And that's how we have had to do it, and, again, another challenge facing us, because they have now limited us to one report per day. This is it. Tomorrow, they are allowing us to go to the Friday prayer. Beyond that, we are just taking it a day at a time, Wolf.
BLITZER: And we, of course, will be checking in with you.
BLITZER: CNN's Reza Sayah reporting from Tehran. We will be checking back with home tomorrow. They are only letting him report once a day.
Meantime, Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad released a conciliatory recorded statement on Iranian the , distancing himself from previous criticism of protesters, whom he had compared to dust, dust, only a few days ago. Ahmadinejad's statement says, "Every single Iranian is valuable. And he added -- and I'm quoting -- "We like everyone."
Let's go to Jack Cafferty right now for "The Cafferty File."
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: By the time this is all over, he might be the one who is dust.
Three -- this is a story that defies any sort of logic, at least in my humble opinion -- three illegal aliens have been awarded a total of $3.85 million in damages for accidents on New York City construction sites. The lawyer for the men says all these cases involve terribly unsafe working conditions.
And he reemphasizes to all undocumented workers that they have the same rights once they are on the job as any New York citizen. In one case, an undocumented plumber, illegal alien from Mexico, scalded by an exploding pipe at a Wall Street construction site, he settled his damage claim for $2.5 million.
Another undocumented Mexican worker suffered severe injuries when a steal beam fell on his lower body. He settled for $750,000. And the third laborer, from Ecuador, settled a damage claim for $600,000, after being injured when three large trusses collapsed on him.
One immigrant advocacy group says, while construction work is often dangerous, undocumented workers are likely to work at sites that lack safety equipment and don't meet regulations.
Of course, it is illegal for an employer to hire illegal aliens in the first place. But, according to New York City law, if an illegal alien is hired by an employer, he then has the right to be paid minimum wage and overtime, the right to health protection, workplace safety, and the right to organize in order to improve labor conditions.
That is, even though these workers are in the United States illegally in the United States in the first place and it is illegal to hire them. It makes no sense. Here is the question. Should illegal aliens collect damages for injuries sustained while working in this country? Go to CNN.com/caffertyfile, and you can post a comment on my blog.
They are here illegally, they're hired illegally, but they have access to our judicial system in the event they are injured. It is not to say that working conditions on these construction sites shouldn't be improved. Obviously, they should. But I don't know about this idea of having access to damages. They're -- they're not even supposed to be here.
BLITZER: Yes, I am curious to hear what our viewers will think about this one.
BLITZER: The first time I even focused on this.
Good question, Jack. Thank you.
CAFFERTY: We try to bring interesting things to your attention here.
BLITZER: You do. I'm learning something right away.
BLITZER: They hold the key to Iran's fate, the powerful clerics who form the backbone of the country's theocracy. Now there are signs of growing divisions among them over the contested election.
Also, for the first time ever, the United States Senate apologizes for slavery. But some say it is only a first step.
And Hillary Clinton's very painful problem, a fractured elbow. We have new details of her upcoming surgery and how it could impact her job as secretary of state.
BLITZER: There is a reason it is called the Islamic Republic of Iran. While politicians may struggle for power and the public may press for change, Iran's clerics are firmly in charge.
We asked CNN's Brian Todd to take a closer look at what's going on -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they are in charge, but this is not a completely unified group. There are moderates, as well as hard-liners among Iran's influential clerics. And how this struggle shakes down among them may be critical to how it ends.
TODD (voice-over): There are the public rallies, the public faces of this struggle for power. And then there are the largely unseen, but enormously powerful few, Iran's clerics, the backbone of this theological government. Analysts say they have traditionally lined up behind the conservative wing of Iran's government. But that seems to be changing.
KARIM SADJADPOUR, CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE: What we have seen, especially these last two weeks, are sacred red lines being crossed. Senior grand ayatollahs are beginning to challenge the institution of the supreme leader in Iran, the power of the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei.
TODD: Experts point to at least three prominent ayatollahs who have come out and publicly criticized the election results, Yousof Sanei, Asadollah Bayat Zanjani, and Hossein Ali Montazeri, under house arrest for two decades, who was in line to replace the late Ayatollah Khomeini and was supplanted by the current supreme leader, Ali Khamenei.
Experts say the conservative wing has one menacing figure who works behind the scenes, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi, spiritual mentor to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
SADJADPOUR: He's kind of the Dick Cheney of Iranian politics, very hard-line, very much disliked. And he's someone that people are looking right now in terms of, you know, how he will react.
TODD: Most of these ayatollahs are based in the holy city of Qom. They carry huge moral influence and could sway public sentiment.
There's another group of clerics mostly below the local of ayatollah, the 80-plus-member Assembly of Experts, whose power is the suggest of debate.
MEHDI KHALAJI, SENIOR FELLOW, WASHINGTON INSTITUTE FOR NEAR EAST POLICY: Assembly of Experts have constitutional right to appoint or dismiss the leader and have supervision over his activities. But, in reality, Assembly of Experts never was a powerful body.
TODD: That Assembly of Experts is led by Iran's former president, however, his name, Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. He is an opponent of Ahmadinejad's, lost to him in the last election. He is now believed to have turned against the supreme leader as well. Mr. Rafsanjani has kept a relatively low profile so far during this crisis, not been seen very much or heard from -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Here's a key question. Could any of these groups of clerics actually turn the all-powerful Revolutionary Guard against Ahmadinejad?
TODD: Analysts say that is doubtful. He consolidated his power with the help of the Revolutionary Guard. He, in turn, has backed them. They are unlikely to turn on him, according to the analysts we spoke to.
But here is one thing to remember, the Revolutionary Guard, only about 150,000 to 170,000 strong. These moderate ayatollahs could sway millions of people on the street, millions of the public. That really could turn this against the Revolutionary Guard and could turn the whole dynamic here. We will have to see how that plays out in the next days.
BLITZER: We're going to see what the grand ayatollah is about to say in the coming hours as well. Thanks very much, Brian.
A tense situation out on the high seas right now. The United States is closely monitoring a North Korean ship believed to be carrying elicit weapons. A military official says the ship is sailing with a lot of eyes on it.
Our Pentagon correspondent, Chris Lawrence, is following these developments for us.
So, what are you picking up, Chris?
CHRIS LAWRENCE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, senior defense officials tell us that right now this ship is sailing under the North Korean flag through the Pacific Ocean, and all eyes are following it.
LAWRENCE (voice-over): Senior defense officials tell CNN the U.S. military is tracking a North Korean ship suspected of carrying weapons or nuclear technology, in violation of a United Nations resolution.
ADMIRAL MICHAEL MULLEN, JOINTS CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We intend to vigorously enforce the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874.
LAWRENCE: For now, that means monitoring. But senior defense officials left no doubt they will ask the North Koreans to come aboard and search their ship. The North Koreans would probably say no.
MULLEN: The United Nations Security Council resolution does not include an option for an opposed boarding or a noncompliant boarding.
LAWRENCE: And North Korea has said any attempt to board will be considered an act of war. But, eventually, the Kang Nam will need to refuel. Wherever it stops, the U.S. will pressure that country to refuse refueling until inspectors are allowed on board.
U.S. military officials are also monitoring continuing activity inside North Korea near a missile launch base. Japanese media reports, the North Koreans could launch another missile test within a month, this one towards Hawaii.
ROBERT GATES, U.S. SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: I have directed the deployment again of THAAD missiles to Hawaii. And the SBX radar has deployed away from Hawaii to provide support.
LAWRENCE: The last missile North Korea test-fired traveled nearly 2,400 miles from the launch side and landed in the Pacific Ocean. But even if a new missile shows greater range, Hawaii is still another 2,000 miles from that splashdown.
GATES: We are in a good position, should it become necessary, to protect American -- American territory.
LAWRENCE: So, they are keeping an eye on the launch site and of course that ship. A defense official tells us they don't know exactly what's on board the ship, but that the Kang Nam is a repeat offender, meaning that it's known to have carried proliferation materials in the past -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Chris Lawrence watching this potentially ominous situation unfold, thank you.
A hard fall and a tough break for the secretary of state, Hillary Clinton. She is now facing surgery for a fractured elbow. Doctors say it certainly could crimp her style. But will it impact her duties? Stand by.
He is still enjoying high marks, but President Obama's popularity is slipping a little bit. Polls suggest Americans may be having some second thoughts about his policy.
And one lawmaker calls it a gesture long past over -- long past due. Senators offer an official apology for slavery and segregation. Some say it is still not enough.
BLITZER: There were no voices of dissent today in the United States to a resolution centuries in the making. The body issued a rare unanimous apology for the actions of past generations, in this case, slavery.
CNN's Kate Bolduan is joining us now with more on this story.
Why did the Senate decide to go forward with this national apology now?
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, one senator called it, slavery, an enduring national shame. And these lawmakers said they had a moral obligation to address what many have referred to as America's original sin.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All those in favor say aye.
UNIDENTIFIED SENATORS: Aye.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Those opposed no.
BOLDUAN (voice-over): A silence that spoke volumes, the Senate formally and for the first time apologizing to African-Americans for slavery and segregation, institutions sanctioned by Congress.
SEN. TOM HARKIN (D), IOWA: It's long past due. A national apology by the representative body of the people is a necessary, collective response to a past collective injustice.
SEN. SAM BROWNBACK (R), KANSAS: And we acknowledge that. We say it was wrong. And we ask for forgiveness for that.
BOLDUAN: The resolution states, the Senate "apologizes to African-Americans on behalf of the people of the United States for the wrongs committed against them and their ancestors who suffered under slavery and Jim Crow laws."
In a Capitol built by slaves, the moment especially poignant for the only African-American currently in the Senate, Roland Burris, the great-great-grandson of a slave.
SEN. ROLAND BURRIS (D), ILLINOIS: This resolution cannot erase the terrible legacy, but it can help to heal the wounds of centuries gone by.
BOLDUAN: The fell on the eve of Juneteenth, or June 19, the oldest known celebration of the end of slavery. Just a short distance from the Capitol, we asked African-Americans what this Senate vote meant to them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a long time coming, don't you think? But we have come a long way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't really do anything or address the problems that -- that we're facing in this country still.
BOLDUAN: Some African-American activists say the Senate vote is a first step, but not enough.
HILARY SHELTON, DIRECTOR, NAACP WASHINGTON BUREAU: Reparations has to be decided. That's something further down the line. There's nothing in this bill that refers to reparations one way or another.
BOLDUAN: Now, Congress has passed similar measures before apologizing to Japanese-Americans for interment during World War II and last year apologizing to Native Americans for past instances of violence and neglect. Lawmakers are planning a formal celebration to commemorate this slavery apology resolution early next month, Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes, but the House of Representatives has passed similar legislation.
BOLDUAN: They have. They passed it last year in the last Congress. They need to vote again on this resolution. It could happen as early as next week. And it should pass overwhelmingly.
BLITZER: So, it's just a resolution right now?
BLITZER: OK, thanks very much, Kate Bolduan reporting.
Where are things heading right now in Iran? CNN's Christiane Amanpour is just back from Tehran. She will tell us what she has learned and what may lie ahead.
And surgery lies ahead for Hillary Clinton. The secretary of state breaks her elbow. What will that mean for her very demanding schedule?
BLITZER: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Happening now: massive marches, deadly clashes, growing divisions inside the government. How will Iran's post-election drama play out? CNN's chief correspondent, Christiane Amanpour, is just back from the Islamic republic. She's standing by with her insight.
Also, we have new iReports coming in, as hundreds of thousands of Iranians take to the streets mourning those killed in almost a week of upheaval.
And Americans growing increasingly concerned about the budget deficit. We have new poll numbers that may be giving President Obama some pause. We will talk about that and more with the best political team on television.
I am Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
But let's look at the latest developments in Iran right now. At least 100,000 people marched through Tehran today in a silent protest over last week's presidential election results. Many dressed in black as a sign of mourning. Iran's Guardian Council of clerics and jurists says it is looking into complaints about the voting and will meet with opposition candidates.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, declared the winner, has kept a low profile. But his main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi, addressed today's protests and slammed the government's handling of the economy.
So, where are things heading in Iran right now?
BLITZER: And joining us now from London, our chief international correspondent, Christiane Amanpour.
You know, here in Washington, Christiane, some U.S. officials, including the president of the United States himself, are sort of saying, let's not carried away. The differences between Ahmadinejad and Mousavi may not necessarily be as great as some people out there are suggesting.
You were just there. What do you think? CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, Ahmadinejad is a fundamentalist conservative. Mousavi is a revolutionary, credentialed Ayatollah Khomeini follower, and was his prime minister.
As a reformer, though, he does have a very different manifest stow than Ahmadinejad does, in every issue -- from foreign policy to women's policy to social domestic policy. And certainly the tone would be very different. Remember the eight years of President Khatami -- a totally different tone in terms of international and domestic relations.
So the question is, could a reformist have actually really had his whole platform agreed by the conservative Ayatollah Khamenei?
But would he have wanted to reach out to the United States?
And perhaps there, there's not that much difference, because both candidates said they did want to reach out to the United States and -- and grab President Obama's hand -- of course, if there were real changes shown by President Obama.
BLITZER: The role of women -- it's really been amazing what we've seen, the women coming out in force.
You've been to Iran many times over the years.
Is the situation for women dramatically changing?
AMANPOUR: Iranian women are very strong people, Wolf. And during the president's election of 1997, it was the women who came out, along with the young people, and put Mohammad Khatami into the presidency -- people who had stayed back and hadn't voted in the past.
And they are increasingly a powerful voice. And because they're growing in such numbers -- and, for instance -- just a for instance -- make up 65 percent of the university population -- their demands are getting louder, too.
Mousavi had promised that if he was elected, he would appoint women ministers for the first time in the cabinet and that he would lobby for a change to bring women equal with men in the court system, the legal system, where currently, they are still second class citizens.
BLITZER: So -- so what do you think, in the coming days and weeks, how does this play out?
AMANPOUR: Well, I think it's going to be important to see what the supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, says at Friday prayers, which will be tomorrow, Friday, and which he's meant to speak afterward and probably have some of the opposition leaders there and try to urge them -- this is what I've been told -- to work out their differences through the legal channel, the Guardian Council, with recounts and the like.
What's really interesting is that very, very significant and important conservative traditional religious figures today have come out and called on the government and Ahmadinejad to treat the Mousavi supporters with respect, not to dismiss them as hooligans and dirt carried in on the wind, to treat them with respect.
And I think this is a very significant development within the conservative establishment.
At the same time, the democracy, Iranian-style, is still being allowed on the streets, with these rallies still allowed, despite a formal decree by the Ahmadinejad-aligned interior ministry that these were banned.
Nonetheless, they're still out in the streets. And today's was apparently much more relaxed and calmer, with no riot police, no heavy security force on display.
BLITZER: It's an amazing situation unfolding, very fluid and dramatic.
And our Internet reporter, Abbi Tatton, is monitoring the iReports that are coming in from the ground in Iran.
What does it look like, the streets of Tehran, right now?
ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, these are iReporters, young people who have been out there day after day. And they're saying that it is calm and the rallies are just getting bigger and bigger.
Let's take you to a street level view of where this started today, at Imam Khomeini Square, going north now. This is what it looked like. And as you can see from these pictures, as the rally snaked through the streets of Tehran, just how large it was.
You can see into the distance in this mild stretch of road here just people marching, as they have been for day after day. Today's rally, called by Mir Hossein Mousavi, asking supporters to wear black, not the green that they had been wearing. There he is in the crowd.
This shot by a 24-year-old iReporter, Shervin (ph), who says that it was quiet, it was calm, it was silent at a point, until their candidate showed up. And then people broke into chanting for their candidate.
As the evening went on, candles came out -- almost like a candlelight vigil for the people who had been injured, people who had been killed in the last few days. These are young people that tell us, Wolf, that they are going to be back out there. They've figured out ways to get past the sensors, to get their information online. And they say they're just going to keep on being in the streets with their cameras.
BLITZER: They're very courageous young people in Iran.
Thanks very much, Abbi, for that.
All right. There's new information coming in -- very disturbing information about that alleged Holocaust Museum shooter.
Alina Cho is standing by -- Alina, what are we picking up?
CHO: Hey, Wolf.
We do have this just in to CNN -- new potential evidence in the case against that alleged Holocaust Museum shooting suspect. Authorities say they have found child pornography on a computer belonging to white supremacist James Von Brunn. That computer was seized from Von Brunn's apartment in Annapolis, Maryland last week.
Now, in separate documents, the FBI says it also found dozens of rounds of .22 caliber ammunition in a search of his car. The 88-year- old, you'll recall, was accused of fatally shooting a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum last Wednesday.
Obviously, authorities gathering evidence right now -- Wolf, we are watching this story very closely. We'll bring you more details as they come in.
BLITZER: Thanks very much for that.
Let's move on to the secretary of State. Hillary Clinton now facing surgery for a fractured elbow.
Here's the question -- how painful will it be?
How serious is the surgery and will it impact her job?
Brian Todd has been looking into these questions for us.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Painful, definitely, Wolf, according to doctors. How serious the surgery will be, we'll have to see.
Mrs. Clinton fell at about 5:00 p.m. yesterday evening as she was walking from the elevator in the State Department to her car. Now, she is working from home and her very rigorous schedule is in question.
HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, SECRETARY OF STATE: And -- and I think that...
TODD (voice-over): She's already under as much scrutiny as an injured NFL quarterback. But a State Department official calls Hillary Clinton's broken right elbow "a simple, straightforward fracture" and jokes about the resiliency of his boss. P.J. CROWLEY, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: She has already taken some calls and I'm sure learning -- starting to learn the limits of -- of movement, how well you can text with -- with just one arm in a sling.
TODD: The secretary of State's fracture is on the arm she writes with. She'll get surgery sometime in the next week. An orthopedic surgeon at Washington Hospital Center, who's done hundreds of elbow surgeries, says that's because doctors are likely waiting for swelling to go down. We asked him how her movement might be affected and how painful this is.
DR. DAVID JOHNSON, ORTHOPEDIC SURGEON: There are lots of nerve fibers around the elbow. Any break here will be very, very painful. The elbow will swell and movement will be very difficult.
TODD: Dr. David Johnson says Mrs. Clinton will likely have a hard time writing, feeding herself, brushing her hair and teeth. But he also says patients with these kind of breaks learn to adapt quickly. He says she will probably need some mild painkillers, but they won't likely affect her judgment and probably won't be used for too long.
JOHNSON: The first 72 hours is always the most difficult. But after the part has been immobilized and splinted and the bones are no longer moving, then the pain goes down considerably.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
TODD: Mrs. Clinton is scheduled to travel next week to Greece and Italy. So far, she has not canceled that trip. But her surgery could keep her from going. The State Department will make that call after the surgery.
Dr. Johnson says if this is what he called an olecranon fracture -- now, that's one affecting the bone on the pinky ringer side -- the pinky finger side of the forearm, right here, then she could be able to travel -- Wolf, this kind of break in this area right here, by this side of the forearm, which is up near the elbow, shouldn't be serious enough to keep her from traveling.
BLITZER: But if it's another kind of break and a fractured elbow, it could keep her from traveling.
TODD: He named at least two other types of breaks. He used very technical names that I didn't understand. But he said that at least one of them would require plates and screws. If she's got one of those types of fractures, she could be grounded for a while.
BLITZER: Let's hope she's not. And we wish her a speedy, speedy recovery, the secretary of State.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Brian.
Is the U.S. heading in the right direction?
That's the question. But President Obama may not like the answer many Americans are giving. We're going to talk with the best political team on television about the tough new poll numbers he's facing.
BLITZER: Pressure mounting on President Obama from all sorts of quarters. Let's talk about what's going on with our senior political analyst, Gloria Borger; CNN's Joe Johns; and CNN senior political analyst, David Gergen.
Should the president, David, relent and be more forceful in condemning what's going on in Iran, as John McCain and others are calling on him to do?
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, Wolf, nearly a week has now passed since the elections in Iran. And one would think that by this time, the administration would have found an imaginative way to send a stronger signal.
You know, it's been so muted as to be passive in appearance. And I would think either working with allied nations to send a statement or to have someone within the administration put out a story about how anguished the president is, how he really sides with these students but how he feels he has to continue to pursue the diplomacy.
You know, this White House has been careful to the point of -- to a point of fault, in my judgment.
BLITZER: And, Gloria, you know, the other side of the coin, though, is that that could play into the hands of Ahmadinejad and the hardliners.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. And I think the president does have a larger agenda here. First of all, he has to make sure that the people who are demonstrating are safe and that he doesn't give the establishment any reason to be able to say this is an American inspired and motivated demonstration.
I do, however, take David's point. And I think the imaginative way could be to use the secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, who is a woman and who can specifically speak to these Iranian women whop have been so important in this outpouring of this -- and the start of this -- this revolution that we're witnessing.
BLITZER: And it's really amazing, Joe, the women and the young people -- they're really been instrumental in making this situation unfold.
JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's for sure. And given the long history, though, of the United States with Iran, going all the way back to the Shah of Iran, there are people who say -- on Capitol Hill and in other places -- that the United States simply does not want to do anything to appear interventionist, especially given the fact that the president is trying to reach out to Iran and talk about their nuclear programs.
So there are a lot of things at stake here...
BLITZER: But David...
JOHNS: ...that the administration has to deal with.
BLITZER: David, what I hear you saying is there's a middle ground, there's a way he can be more forceful without allowing himself to become the issue in Iran.
GERGEN: Well, that's exactly right. That's what, I believe, from the beginning, as he worked with other nations and if the -- the voice of support for the women -- I think Gloria makes an excellent point on that -- if the voice of support for women and for these students were more universal, it wouldn't be just United States.
GERGEN: As it stands now, there's not even a call to -- for, you know -- a clear call about violence. There is a real chance that violence is going to break out here soon. Certainly, some of the protesters are reporting today they're very worried about that. We could get another Tiananmen Square here if we're not careful.
BLITZER: Yes. Some are already calling it the Tehran Tiananmen.
All right, let me move on to these poll numbers that are coming out. The president has got problems, certainly, on national security issues.
This question in the CBS/"New York Times" poll, Gloria. Do you think that things in this country are generally going in the right direction or have things pretty seriously gotten off on the wrong track?
Right direction, 44 percent; wrong, 50 percent; don't know or not available, 6 percent.
He's going to see that number and say to himself, you know what, I've got some work ahead of me.
BORGER: OK. But here's the -- the glass half full interpretation of that, Wolf. I mean I remember back when we were covering this campaign, back in October, when that question was asked. And it was 89 percent in the wrong direction, 7 percent in the right direction.
So if you're in the White House, you're kind of looking at that and saying well, OK, we're making a little bit of progress here. This isn't where they want to be. This isn't where they need to be. You never like it to be above 50 percent. But just think of where it was in October.
BLITZER: You know, they -- you know, he's very popular, Joe, personally, but some of his policies, especially the spending, not very popular.
JOHNS: That's certainly true. And there are other polls. I remember a Gallup poll that said the very same thing about federal spending and the president's spending.
Look, at the end of the day, people out there know that if the government dumps all this money into programs to try to get the economy going or whatever, somewhere down the line there's going to be a huge hit in taxes. You know, a middle class smackdown is what some Republicans are predicting.
And the president is looking at that -- and especially as we go forward with health care, another very big spending program -- a lot of people concerned. Voters may continue to be concerned until the president figures out a way to -- to make them not be concerned.
BLITZER: And here's another question that was in the CBS/"New York Times" poll, David. So far, do you think the Obama administration has developed a clear plan for dealing with the current budget deficit or hasn't it developed one yet?
Thirty percent said they have a -- he has a clear plan; 60 percent say he has not developed a clear plan.
Should they be worried about that?
GERGEN: Yes. They should clearly take comfort in the high approval ratings overall. He's still in the 60s. So, we've had like three different polls here over the last couple of days. And all of them show him around 60 or higher.
And -- so he should take comfort in that. But the softening, Wolf, coming, just as Joe Johns points to, on sort of the eve of this major, major health care fight in the Congress, is something that should be of deep concern.
Clearly, I think he's paying a price for having so much on his agenda. It's hard to have a focused message, you know. And right now, he needs to have a focused -- at home, he needs to have a focused message on health care that convinces people this is not going to break the bank.
BLITZER: All right. Good point.
Guys, we've got to leave it there, though.
Thanks very much.
Let's check in with Lou to see what's coming up at the top of the hour -- Lou.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Wolf, thank you.
Coming up, we're going to be reporting on the very latest on a North Korean ship that is now being track by the U.S. military. That North Korean ship is suspected of carrying nuclear weapons or other nuclear material.
Also tonight, the Pentagon has moved more missile defenses to Hawaii after a newspaper report from Japan saying North Korea may plan to fire a missile at the United States. We'll have the very latest.
We'll have also new polls on President Obama's handling of foreign policy and handling of the economy. The president, at this point, is more popular than many of his policies as concern is growing over some of his key domestic issues.
Also, the battle over taxpayer money going to the group ACORN, a group under federal investigation for voter registration fraud and other violations. Tonight, Congressman Steve King and the CEO of ACORN, Bertha Lewis, join me to be in our face-off debate.
Also tonight, the man attacked by the White House, Gerald Walpin, the inspector general of AmeriCorps fired by President Obama, will be among my guests.
Join us for all of that, all the day's news and much more. It's coming up at the top of the hour -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Lou.
We'll see you then.
Should illegal aliens collect damages for injuries sustained while working in this country?
That's Jack Cafferty's question this hour. Stand by for your e- mail.
BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty for The Cafferty File -- Jack.
CAFFERTY: Wolf, the question this hour, should illegal aliens collect damages for injuries sustained while working in this country?
Three of them recently got almost $4 million for injuries they received on construction sites here in New York City.
Greg in Ontario says: "No and it's easy to fix. I bet all of those jobs were bid by several builders. What if the law stated that they lose the job and are kicked off the site if they use illegals? Weighing the possible losses against the poor quality, unsafe work habits of the illegals would be a no-brainer, even for those greedy contractors.
Bill writes: "Perhaps if the illegal aliens could read English, their injuries could have been avoided. But then again, the legal profession loves a happy ending, to the tune of 35 percent of $3.85 million. Who says the recovery is slow?" Helena writes from Florida: "If the damages are against the employer, then, yes, the employer should pay the damages and the cost of all medical treatment. But as soon as the illegal status is revealed, the employee should be deported, the employer should be fined. Maybe then this business of hiring illegal immigrants will diminish."
Bill writes: "Why should people breaking the law and cheating the system get to benefit from the laws and system that they're abusing? Why should they get any kind of reward or settlement? Take them to the embassies of their countries and wish them well. Their governments should take care of them."
Kevin in Dallas writes: "Absolutely. I'm not fond of illegal immigration, but if they get hurt on the job, then their employer should pay damages."
And D. in New Hampshire says: "This is nuts. No. Illegals should not collect damages and these companies should be heavily fined. The unemployment pushing 10 percent in this country, it should be no problem finding U.S. citizens who are willing to work. It just goes to show you how greedy some people are."
If you don't see your e-mail here, you can go to my bog at CNN.com/caffertyfile and look for yours there, among hundreds of others.
I'll look for you tomorrow shortly after 4:00 -- Wolf.
BLITZER: I'll see you then, Jack.
The comedian, "Terminator 2" Baron Cohen, leaves little to the imagination, dressed like Buckingham Palace toy soldier at the London premier of his new movie, "Bruno." CNN's Jeanne Moos will have the story.
BLITZER: Here's a look at our Hot Shots.
In Iraq, a policeman who braves the elements of a dust storm.
In China, an American student gets his picture taken after being released from a swine flu quarantine.
In London, a wax model of President Obama is given a fly swatter after his encounter with a fly. You remember that.
Hot Shots -- pictures worth a thousand words.
CNN's Jeanne Moos has more on this Moost Unusual character at Buckingham Palace.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When you've dangled in a rap star's face not wearing pants...
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, COURTESY MTV MUSIC TELEVISION)
SACHA BARON COHEN, COMEDIAN: Eminem, nice to meet you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: What's the big deal with wearing hot pants?
MOOS: Strutting to "I Will Survive" dressed like a Buckingham Palace guard, "Terminator 2" Baron Cohen's gay Austrian fashionista character, known as Bruno, arrived at the London premier of his movie.
MOOS: That's the disco version of "God Save the Queen." God save us all -- from Bruno.
COHEN: I'm not interested in you, either. I'm -- you may find this hard to believe, but I'm gay. Go to bridge and get over it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: Ah, he's just trying to sell a movie.
COHEN: This is the most important movie starring a gay Austrian since "Terminator 2."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY," COURTESY "TRI-STAR PICTURES)
ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: Hasta la vista, baby.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MOOS: In Bruno's imaginary world, half the world is gay.
COHEN: Gay is the new straight. Your prime minister, what's he called?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Gordon Brown.
COHEN: Gordon Brown is the gayest guy I've ever seen in my life. Come out.
MOOS: "Bruno in the Buff" graces the latest cover of "G.Q." They're calling it the magazine's first completely nude cover. Jennifer Aniston was wearing a tie. The Huffington Post ran a poll asking who has the hotter cover. Aniston was ahead, but only by a hair.
Speaking of which... (on camera): Bruno is not only without clothes, he's without body hair -- totally manscaped. "G.Q." Says that he had a full day of beauty the day before the shoot.
(voice-over): He also appears wearing an Yves Saint Laurent collar and leash and getting ready to take a hike with a high school football team.
Paula Abdul probably wishes Bruno would take a hike. She told KISS F.M.'s Johnjay and Rich that Bruno punked her for his movie, lured her to an interview in a room with no furniture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) FROM "JOHNJAY AND RICH," COURTESY KISS F.M.)
PAULA ABDUL: He snaps his fingers and these two Mexican guys come in. And they drop down on all fours. And he goes, go ahead, sit there. And he pushes me down on them. And he kicks one of them. And we all fall.
MOOS: It sort of makes putting your feet on the couch seem tame, Paula.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Up next, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" -- Lou.