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The Situation Room

Hurricane Alex Eyes Texas; Storm Disrupts Oil Cleanup; Time to Scrap the Dollar?

Aired June 30, 2010 - 18:00   ET


SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: You're in the SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, a new threat in the Gulf as hurricane Alex moves towards the Texas Coast. It is moving away from the oil spill, but it is still managing to make life even harder in the disaster area.

Alleged spies living the American dream from big homes in the suburbs to making a splash in social media. Did their efforts to blend in get them caught?

And Elena Kagan plays it safe as her Supreme Court confirmation hearings are winding down. Could she build consensus on the Supreme Court? I'll ask a very special guest. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you're in the Situation Room.

Hurricane Alex Is bearing down on the coast of Texas and Mexico, and it is likely to strengthen before making landfall just hours from now. Even as the storm moves away from the oil disaster zone off Louisiana, high winds and waves have complicated the cleanup effort. Our CNN senior correspondent, Allan Chernoff, is standing by in New Orleans, but I want to go first to the severe weather expert, Chad Myers. He's at the CNN Hurricane Headquarters. Chad, do we know? What is headed their way?

CHAD MYERS, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This storm now only about 30 miles from making landfall south of Brownsville which would be right here. Brownsville, Texas, the Rio Grande, and then here, 30 miles to be on shore, and it will begin to die off. Look at this number, it is 539 miles away from the problem with the oil up there near New Orleans. 500 miles away and the waves are still 6 to 10 feet tall with this thing as it's moving away. So, let's do a couple of different things here.

Here is the eye itself, and we'll show you that it just -- it's not going to affect most of the Texas area here south of looks a Corpus Christi, other than the bands that could come in here with tornadoes in some of the small storms, but there is the eye that'll come onshore tonight, could cause some flooding in parts of Eastern Mexico here especially with five to six inches of rainfall, even flooding warnings going on right now in Brownsville because of all the rain that's coming in. We don't really focus on the eye, even though it' big and it's 90 miles per hour, could be 100-mile-per-hour wind gusts especially as it comes onshore later tonight, and probably around three hours, but the cells up here in the U.S. Those are the ones that we're going to watch for most of the night. Right now, the sustained winds at 90 and 150-mile-per-hour gusts. The waves are away, away, 500 miles away. The waves are six and in some spots 12 feet high, and that's where we go from here, because that's where the problem is -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Chad, thank you so much. Now, while Texas is bracing for the storm's impact, Alex has made a bigger mess of things in the oil disaster zone where highways have disrupted containment and cleanup operations, and there are now fears that the oil could be driven further inland. I want to go to our Allan Chernoff who's in New Orleans. Allan, what are you seeing on the ground? Are folks prepared? Are they worried? What's happening there?

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, really the big problem is out at sea, and it is because of exactly what Chad was talking about, those high waves and also high winds. The third production vessel, so-called production vessel that was supposed to hook up to a flexible riser out in the sea near that oil spill cannot do so in these very, very intense seas. It was supposed to begin happening today. Now, it's not going to happen at least until July 7th at the very earliest. That's very important because that vessel was supposed to be able to suck up about 25,000 barrels a day, the maximum that has been collected thus far.

In addition, other methods of cleaning up have not been enacted over the past couple of days because of those seas. Let's look at skimming, OK? I got a piece of cake over here to illustrate what skimming is all about. When you skimming the oil off the water, you're essentially taking that frosting, taking that icing, just like that, and just tucking it away. Well, if you got six-foot waves, you're getting a lot more water than you are icing or in the actual seas, oil. So, you're just getting water. It's not going to work. Therefore, they're not doing it.

They are also not burning oil and gas. They are not spreading the dispersants because of the high winds up to 25 knots, and they also have decided that they are going to pull back on any other efforts until things calm down. So, this is in a major way, impacting the cleanup. Federal officials are also concerned that the oil could head over to the Chandeleur Islands and also to St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans area, and they're saying if some of that oil actually gets on to land, BP is going to be held accountable for that.


ADM. THAD ALLEN, NATIONAL INCIDENT COMMANDER: If oil from this response or from this spill is pushed inland, let's say into a house as a result of the hurricane, that still is legitimate damage from the oil spill and is subject to be paid under a claims process, and so the issue will have to be how to disaggregate the damage cause by the hurricane and the implications of the oil spill.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHERNOFF: So, while the actual hurricane has not hit the immediate area of the oil spill, Suzanne, it is having a major impact on cleanup efforts.

MALVEAUX: Allan, thank you so much with the display of the chocolate cake. Obviously, that really shows what you're talking about, and it seems like it really -- everything is really at a standstill now. Thank you very much, Allan.

I also want to get into the fact that they've already been slammed by the oil spill and now Louisiana oyster bin, they're gearing up for the impact of hurricane Alex. Our CNN's Anderson Cooper, he's on the phone from New Orleans. Anderson, you've been with these guys from the very beginning. What's going on through their minds now? How upset are they? How disturbed are they? How prepared are they?

VOICE OF ANDERSON COOPER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's obviously very (ph) disturbing. This is not just a business. It's an entire way of life for fishermen (INAUDIBLE) third and even fourth generations. I went out on the water with one oysterman yesterday and they've basically been shutdown now for several weeks. They were actually told they could go back on the water yesterday. Some of the areas and around Plaquemines Parish were actually open for oyster farming, but the oysterman I was with actually felt it was too soon and especially concerned about with this storm with Alex that the southern wind pushing more oil into the oyster beds.

He was going the hold off until next week to see, you know, if a new amount of oil came in because of this. But it's, you know, it's just the last thing they need is this storm right now. And with all of the doubt that it brings, you know, where this oil is going to be pop up next. It's not just the oil on the surface they're concerned about. They're seeing, you know, oil underneath the surface, obviously, with the dispersants being used, there's a lot of concern about that. There almost have concerned about dispersants and the impacts of the dispersants may have on the oysters as they are about the oil, itself.

MALVEAUX: Do you get a sense that they are prepared for the hurricane season? What's to come?

COOPER: You know, I mean, you know, certainly, they have been through many hurricanes in the past, and, you know, survived through Katrina and were able to rebuild their business, but, you know, each year is different and this is unlike any other year. You know, a lot of them don't have -- a lot of them don't have the crews that they had before, because now their crews are working for BP and some of the deckhands. So, their businesses have already been affected, and, you know, they're basically just kind of waiting to see what Mother Nature is going to bring.

MALVEAUX: OK. Anderson, thank you so much. Anderson Cooper is going to have extensive coverage of the oil spill and cleanup efforts tonight on "AC 360" that's 10:00 eastern right here on CNN.

Here are the latest numbers on Gulf animals, federal officials report 1,165 dead birds recovered with 858 rescued and 250 cleaned and released. 436 sea turtles have been found dead with 101 rescued and three of them cleaned and released. 51 sea mammals are reported dead with two rescued and one cleaned and released.

Jack Cafferty is next with the "Cafferty File."

And then those alleged Russian spies. Prosecutors say they went to great lengths to blend into the American suburban life. So, what were the fatal mistakes that led to their arrest

Also, a new twist in the case of a missing Iranian nuclear scientist. A new video claims he's escaped from U.S. agents.

Plus, what kind of justice will Elena Kagan be if she's confirmed to the Supreme Court? We're going to get legal insight from a law professor whose face may look somewhat familiar. She's my twin.


MALVEAUX: Jack Cafferty is here with the "Cafferty File." Hey, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, here's another troubling sign about where we are these days. The United Nations says it is time to scrap the dollar as the main global reserve currency. The U.S. dollar, of course, for years has been the currency of choice, especially in troubled times, a safe haven if you will, whenever uncertainty arises. But a new report by the U.N. suggests the dollar has become unreliable. It needs to be replaced with a more stable system. A lot of countries especially in Asia, can you say China, have been building up massive dollar reserves, but because the dollar has begun to fluctuate much more recently, these country's currencies have, at times, become undervalued and that makes it harder for those countries to import things.

The U.N.'s backing a proposal that would replace the dollar with a basket of currencies. The report says a new reserve system should not be based on a single currency in order to create more stability in the global financial system. Russia and China have already said they support creating a new reserve currency system as does the international monetary fund, but not everybody is so sure that this is a great idea. Some European officials suggested that it ought to be the market and not politicians that determines which countries, which currencies rather countries buy for the reserves.

There has been increased debate about using the dollar for international trade ever since the U.S. economy slipped into this ongoing recession we're in. And unless and until something definitive is done about our $13 trillion national debt and our skyrocketing federal deficits, well, the future of the almighty greenback will remain in doubt.

Here's the question. What does it mean if the U.N. says the dollar ought to be scrapped as the main global reserve currency? Go to and post a comment on my blog. You're not old enough to remember this, Suzanne, but I am. Most of my adult life, this would have been simply considered a figment of someone's imagination. There was nothing in the world stronger than the U.S. dollar.

MALVEAUX: We'll have to see how the viewers -- what they think of it. You know, Jack, joining me -- I got a special guest here. I don't know if you know who this is. You got two Malveauxs as opposed to one today. What do you think?

CAFFERTY: Really? Is this a relative?

MALVEAUX: This is my twin sister as a matter of fact, Jack.

CAFFERTY: Well, let's get a close-up of her, so I can see. I don't have my glasses on. Oh, look at that.

MALVEAUX: You got double trouble on your hands today. I hope you can handle it.

CAFFERTY: So much beauty in a single-family.

MALVEAUX: Oh, my goodness. Jack is a charmer. Jack has been so nice this week. He's just been charming the heck out of us. So, we will see how it goes. It's working, Jack. It's working. Well, she is also a law professor at Catholic University Columbus Law School specializing in civil rights and civil procedure. Suzette, we get to talk about this not at home, but here in the SITUATION ROOM. Thanks for being here.


MALVEAUX: Now, I know that you've been watching these hearings. Clearly, a lot of people, particularly, on the right and the left are interested in the outcome of all of this, because they think the court is going to change. Why should everyday Americans care about how this court and the makeup of the court?

SUZETTE MALVEAUX: Great question. You know, there's a funny study that has come out actually that says that most Americans can identify two dwarfs as part of the Snow White and seven dwarfs, but they can't identify two justices on the United States Supreme Court. So, clearly, there's this disconnect for most Americans, and it matters who is on the Supreme Court, and it matters the types of cases that the Supreme Court decides. It's to everyday Americans they're dealing with issues that we care about. So, for example, if you think about immigration, the court has recently decided to look at a case this fall dealing with an immigration law coming out of Arizona.

MALVEAUX: And it's not the controversial one that everybody is thinking about?

SUZETTE MALVEAUX: Right. Different one. Different one. But it turns out that this law has employers punished if they decide to hire illegal immigrants, and what the court is going to be doing is figuring out does that state law, is it preempted by federal law? Which is a huge question. Because it's going to impact a thousands of immigrants in Arizona, workers and really all of the border states in all of the country are going to be looking at that as well as employers.

MALVEAUX: And the gun rights?

SUZETTE MALVEAUX: Gun rights, the same thing. The court decided last week, Monday, that there's an individual right to bear arms under the second amendment. It applies not only to the federal government but to the states as well. But what the court didn't tell us is what gun regulations are going to be allowed or going to be constitutional. So, again, you have people all over the country who really care about this sort of detail.

MALVEAUX: And watching the hearings, what makes this one different than some of the others that you have followed?

SUZETTE MALVEAUX: I mean, it certainly doesn't have all of the sparks and fireworks that we saw with Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill hearings, and we haven't seen that since, really, if you look at Alito, if you look at Roberts, if you look at Sotomayor, we haven't had those fireworks for a while. And so this is really kind of the same cloth. What I think it's interesting though about this hearing is the way Elena Kagan has used it as a teaching moment. She really has helped people understand what is it that Supreme Court justices actually do, right? How do they make decisions?

Sure, they have to look at the constitution, the language, but then they also have to consider things like history and tradition and other cases, and judges have to judge, right? They have to make determinations between some really difficult kinds of questions and competing interests.

MALVEAUX: And we've heard a lot about her ability to build the consensus that perhaps this would change either move the court to the left or to the right. Do we think that there's going to be any significant shift real quick?

SUZETTE MALVEAUX: You know, on the surface, it could look that way, because you're sort of trading one liberal for another, but I think if you step back and look at the big picture, you know, Stevens is actually not quite liberal. You have the court shifting to the right becoming more conservative and making him look liberal, so I think, in many ways, people don't realize the court is probably more moderate than we imagine.

MALVEAUX: And we heard Senator Diane Feinstein give praise to Kagan. Obviously, this would be a history making to have three women all together on the Supreme Court at the same time. How do you think that's going to play out?

SUZETTE MALVEAUX: I think that transition is really interesting. You know, once you get that critical mass, you have three women on the bench at the same time, it may open up the possibility of people feeling more comfortable, and in fact, you know, allowing some differences of opinion among the women on the court. So, we may start seeing some differences, and I think that's a sign of change and progress.

MALVEAUX: So, will we see you on the Supreme Court, Suzette?


MALVEAUX: All right. You know, if you want to fill in for me tomorrow here in the SITUATION ROOM, if you're available, do you think that anybody will notice the difference?


MALVEAUX: Maybe Jack will notice.

SUZETTE MALVEAUX: Thanks again, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Suzette. Appreciate it (ph).

MALVEAUX: They went out of their way to blend in. So, (INAUDIBLE) authorities to these alleged Russian spies. We're going to talk about it with Congressman Pete Hoekstra of the House Intelligence Committee and CNN national security contributor, Fran Townsend.

And an Iranian nuclear scientist, did he defect (ph) to the U.S. or was he kidnapped and tortured? The mystery deepens with the new video.


MALVEAUX: Lisa Sylvester is monitoring some of the other top stories that are coming into the SITUATION ROOM right now. Lisa, what are you working on?

SYLVESTER: Hi there, Suzanne. Well, first, I got to say that was a real treat having your twin Suzette. I really enjoyed that.

MALVEAUX: It was weird calling her Professor Malveaux. You know, I used to call her Zette, but you know, Professor Malveaux for today, that will do.

SYLVESTER: And I'm sure have told you, you, guys, actually sound alike, too. It's not just looking alike but sounding alike.

MALVEAUX: Yes, that's true.

SYLVESTER: All right. So, let's do a wrap of the news here. The death toll for NATO forces in Afghanistan is climbing again. A service member was killed by small arms fire in an insurgent attack today bringing the number killed in June to 101. The previous deadliest month was last August when 79 troops were killed. The new milestone comes on the same day the Senate confirmed General David Petraeus as the new commander in Afghanistan.

Researchers in India say cell phones may be to blame for the alarming decline of bee populations with pollinated estimated 90 percent of crops worldwide. The study involved exposing a hive to two cell phones for 30 minutes a day. Within three months, the bees stop producing honey. The queen bee production dropped by half and the hives (ph) population limited.

And hundreds of thousands of laptops maybe a burn hazard and that's prompting a massive recall by Sony. It covers 233,000 Vios notebook computers. The company says there have been 30 reports of overheating, enough to melt keyboards and casings. Details of which series are covered in the recall can be found on the Sony website -- Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: All right. Thank you, Lisa.

Well, homes in the suburb social networking. Did the alleged Russian spies do themselves in by trying to fit in? >

Plus, a man claiming to be a missing Iranian nuclear scientist shows up on YouTube video. We're going to have the latest twist in this extraordinary story.

And President Obama turns up the heat on Republicans. How he is using their own words against them.


MALVEAUX: From home in the suburbs to making a splash in social media. Did the alleged Russian spies make a mistake by trying to live very American lives? CNN's Brian Todd is digging to that. Brian, I guess, it's a fascinating irony when you think about it that that could have been the reason why they actually decided, hey, you know, we're going to call them in. What happened?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a key question here, Suzanne, is did they overextend with their alleged cover? Did they make critical mistakes that led to their arrest? We're learning new fascinating details about these alleged spies. These were suburban parents, working professionals, some with very impressive resumes. And according to documents we found, they also didn't lack ambition when it came to keeping up with their neighbors.


TODD (voice-over): They tried to blend in by buying into the American dream. Just a couple of weeks before their arrest, two of the alleged Russian spies, a married couple, bought this Boston area townhouse for nearly $800,000. Records show the husband, accused spy, Donald Heathfield (ph) bought the property under the name of someone who prosecutors say had been dead for years. Court documents say another married couple argued with the Russian handlers about this Montclair, New Jersey house. The couple thought they should be allowed to buy the place.

Their spy masters wanted to buy it themselves. According to the documents, the couple who went by Richard and Cynthia Murphy wrote to their bosses, it was a convenient way to solve the housing issue plus to do as the Romans do in a society that values homeownership." But did at risk blowing what looked like their deep cover. I asked Tyler Drumheller, a former CIA officer who run agents in Europe.

Weren't the agents making a decent case though by saying we're trying to blend in here, doing as Americans do and buying houses?

TYLER DRUMHELLER, FORMER CIA OFFICER: Well, I'm sure in their minds, they were, but in fact, this is one of those cases where convenience trumps security. It's an easy case to make. While everybody else is doing, I should do it. But really, the only way to guarantee that you're not going to be noticed is not to be noticed. The minute you do something, business like or you're getting to a big business transaction, you have do diligence, you have background checks, you have credit checks and all that, and all that out you at the mercy of just one little person somewhere saying, wait a second, that's not quite right.

TODD: Another alleged spy who went by Anna Chatman was all over social media touting her real estate credentials on Facebook and the professional network linked in. Former intelligence officials say that and the house buying ventures were risky, but probably not fatal to the operation. Former FBI counterintelligence agent, Eric O'Neill, says, in the cases of Chapman and another alleged spy, mistakes in the field were critical.

ERIC O'NEILL, FORMER FBI OPERATIVE: When you get cute, that's when you get into trouble.

TODD: How did they get cute?

O'NEILL: Here we had at least two of the individuals who were approached in what's called a false flag operation. That means that a someone working for the FBI pretends they're a Russian handler and comes using information that we've gathered from the investigation and gives them the right code phrases and pass phrases to make them think that they are supposed to be working for this person. If you were smart, you might think, OK, I've been sending information back and forth using a laptop for the past member years. Maybe, it would be prudent if I did that one more time before I meet with this person and find out if it's legitimate.


TODD (on-camera): Instead, both Anna Chapman and another alleged spy, Mikhail Semenko, met in person with their new handlers both of whom turned out to the be undercover FBI agents. Both meetings according to court documents took place last Saturday in New York and Washington. The very next day, Chapman, Semenko, and eight others were arrested were arrested, and the spy network was taken down, Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: I understand one of them actually went to a very prestigious graduate school as pursuing a degree?

TODD: That's right. We found that one of the alleged spies who went by the name Donald Heathfield, (ph) according to prosecutors, actually got a Master's degree from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard ten years ago. The former CIA officer Tyler Drumheller says he may have been asked to do that by his alleged Russian handlers to get close to people who were getting into government. Obviously, people go on to some very impressive things after that program. They were here on a recruiting mission, so what better way to do that.

MALVEAUX: I can't imagine that at the Harvard Kennedy school. All right. Thank you Brian.

Joining me is Republican Congressman Pete Hoekstra of Michigan. He is the ranking member on the intelligence committee and CNN national security contributor, Fran Townsend. She was homeland security adviser to President Bush and worked in the justice department during the Clinton administration. First Fran, I want to start off with you. These are alleged operatives. They were married couples. They had kids. They lived in the suburbs and blended into the American society beautifully, and does it surprise you at how entrenched they were in American culture?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR: Not at all, Suzanne. In fact, it is the really good trade craft that you want. You want a long background and legend to people so that if anybody digs in or asking questions, they can have references that they can really survive sort of the base scrutiny that you go through in everyday life, so and the Russians are very good at this. Obviously, we have seen from statements from Vladimir Putin, he is very angry, but I said to someone that he is angry they got caught, because he didn't realize we were that good. This is a long-term investigation and the FBI deserves a good deal of credit for uncovering them. These are not easy cases.

MALVEAUX: But Fran, did they get useful information or are they basically low-hanging fruit?

TOWNSEND: Well, it is funny, Suzanne, there is a big investment in these clandestine covert agents, but what you do is you look for them to report over many decades. I mean it is a long-term investment and a lot of times they are gathering open source information that is not easily available. It's not as traceable if they gather it here. They are making contacts. They want to meet influential people and they are trying to assess people for recruitment over a long period of time. So I think it is a pretty important operation for them.

MALVEAUX: Well, Congressman, I want you to weigh in on this. How concerned are you that this is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to spying inside of the United States?

REP. PETE HOEKSTRA (R)-MICH., INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, I don't worry about that whether it is the tip of the iceberg or not. I know it's the tip of the iceberg. Not only are the Russians involved in this, but the Iranians are involved in these types of activities. The Chinese are very involved in these types of activities. We just had a successful prosecution earlier this year of a Chinese sleeper, and Fran is absolutely right, these countries have invested, you know, significant amounts of time and energy and personnel to get people planted here today so that maybe in five or ten or 15 years, they only need one of these people to pay off and get an important penetration, and provide them with real significant and valuable information. This is the tip of the iceberg. There is a lot more of this going on.

MALVEAUX: Who are the most dangerous spies? Congressman, you mentioned the Chinese and the Iranians and either one of you jump in here. Do we know who is the most dangerous when it comes to getting our state secrets?

TOWNSEND: Well, go ahead, Congressman.

HOEKSTRA: Well, okay, from my perspective, I think both the Russians and the Chinese are very, very aggressive. They are very good. They are not only targeting military and intelligence areas, but they are also targeting our research universities and there is cases where we are well aware of that they have stolen our secrets and stolen our information and they have patented it before we have ever known that they have taken it.

TOWNSEND: That is right. I agree completely with the Congressman and the other thing I would mention that they target is our commercial, our technology. You know, our American companies invest a lot of money in R&D and we know that the Chinese and the Russians are very aggressive about targeting what in this country is that they can get through commercial relationships or on open sources, but what is restricted from transfer outside of the country, and so that is another one of the benefits that these sleepers can establish commercial relationships that really steal our intellectual property.

MALVEAUX: And Fran, covering President Bush, and we know that the focus has been on fighting terrorism, and going after the terrorists and trying to unveil these plots, if you will. How much of the resources that we have are going into the fighting terrorism, disrupting the plots as opposed to going after the spies who are gathering information year after year after year? And do they compete with each other?

TOWNSEND: Well, there is always, you know, in a world of unlimited resources, there is always some prioritization, but under President Bush we established the counterintelligence center. It is now headed by a former deputy director of the FBI Bear Bryant. There is a counterintelligence division at the FBI and this is tremendous priority. I can remember when the Bush administration came in briefing then Attorney General Ashcroft about that Robert Hanson case. There is a lot of expertise, a lot of depth and a lot of resources are put against this, because it is a very serious threat.

MALVEAUX: Congressman, do you get a sense of how many people there are actually in the United States who are involved in spying and is that the most dangerous type of person who is collecting information or is it the person in their basement who is trying to hack into a computer?

HOEKSTRA: Well, I think that what you have got in a free society, we are a target-rich environment. When you take a look at the long list or types of, you know, counterintelligence activities, espionage or threats into the United States, I think that you're talking in the hundreds of people that are doing this, people from Russia and China and we are also worried now about as you said the cyber attacks which can happen from the United States or can really happen from anyplace in the world and we can't identify exactly where those threats are coming from. You know, we may also have the same kind of sleeper cells here from Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and Hamas who are not here to steal intelligence, but are here to attack the United States some day. As Fran said, there is a robust activity with the FBI, the intelligence community going after these types of threats at the same time that we are trying to identify the military threat. We just need to make sure that all of the folks involved in this are working together and I think that they are.

MALVEAUX: All right. Congressman Hoekstra, and Fran Townsend, we'll leave it there. Thank you very much.

HOEKSTRA: Thank you.

MALVEAUX: The mystery surrounding a missing Iranian nuclear scientist is getting even deeper as a new video surfaces. We're investigating allegations of defection, kidnapping, and even torture.


MALVEAUX: A man claiming to be a missing Iranian nuclear scientist shows up again on YouTube now. He has an extraordinary story to tell. Our Mary Snow has been looking into this. Mary, what have we learned now from the new videotape?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Suzanne, I have to tell you this is a case that is cloaked in mystery, and one that is taken another curious turn. For the second time this month, videos have surfaced of a man claiming to be a missing Iranian scientist sending messages to his family.


SNOW: I am Shahram Amiri, the video begins and he says he has escaped people in Virginia and in talking to the camera, he tells his family not the worry about his health and he hopes to return to Iran. The YouTube videos are supposedly Shahram Amiri, an Iranian nuclear scientist who disappeared a year ago during a religious pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia, and the mystery deepens. Iran blames the U.S. for its disappearance, and something that the U.S. denies. They are not saying much more.

P.J. CROWLEY, STATE DEPT. SPOKESMAN: I don't know where he is, but I can't comment on that. This is ostensibly, a third video, but I don't think that we are in a position to validate what is on the video or the circumstances surrounding it.

SNOW: While officials are not saying much, Amiri, if these videos are truly him is sending conflicting messages. CNN could not independently verify they were authentic or the identity of the man in the videos but they've been broadcast on Iranian TV. Three weeks ago in this video, he claimed to be tortured and kidnapped, but then -- a more polished video saying he is studying in the U.S. and doing so freely. All of it has led questions to who Amiri is and whether he defected. One nuclear weapons expert briefed by administration officials on Iran tells CNN he was not coerced.

DAVID ALBRIGHT, INSTITUTE FOR SCIENCE & INTERNATIONAL SECURITY: A senior U.S. official told me that Amiri had asked to come to the United States, that he had provided information about nuclear, what we call nuclear weaponization, the process of actually making a nuclear weapon.

SNOW: David Albright believes that Amiri may have second thoughts and trying to protect his family with these videos, but it is just speculation.

ALBRIGHT: The Iranian government may have threatened his family, and now he is trying to protect them. He may be very scared about what they may do to his family.


SNOW: Suzanne, a U.S. official who is not authorized to talk to the media about such issues tells CNN it would be ludicrous in his words or preposterous to claim that an individual is kidnapped in the U.S. and held against his will and questions how he would produce any of the videos if he were held against his will. Suzanne.

MALVEAUX: Fascinating story. Thank you, Mary.

President Obama slams a pair of Republican leaders, how he is using their own words against them.


MALVEAUX: With midterm elections around the corner, President Obama is turning up the rhetorical heat on the Republicans, using their own words against them. Take a listen.

PRES. BARACK OBAMA (D), UNITED STATES: The leader of the Republicans in the house said that financial reform was like -- I'm quoting here -- using a nuclear weapon to target an ant. That is what he said. He compared the financial crisis to an ant. This is the same financial crisis that led to the loss of nearly 8 million jobs. Same crisis that cost people their homes, their life savings. He can't be that out of touch with the struggles of American families.

MALVEAUX: I want to bring in our CNN's John King who is host of "JOHN KING, USA" and CNN senior political analyst Gloria Borger. This reminds me of the campaign all over again, they grab one thing and pound, pound, pound and before you know it, they have a characterization going of the Republicans. Is this like a blueprint for what we're going to see midterm elections?

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Well, it is a gift to the president. And John Boehner tried to explain away what he meant. Look, the wind is at the Republican's backs, it's in the president's face. Unemployment is 9.7 percent. Where he was in Racine, Wisconsin it's over 14 percent. Numbers out Friday are unlikely to be good. They could get worse. And so when you're a president and you know your party is going to lose and the other side says something like this that you can turn and spin, very smart of the president politically to get out there and say what to try to convince the voters it would be worse if they were in charge. I know you are not feeling good, but it would be worse.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Have you watched kids play t-ball where the ball is sitting right there on the tee and all they have to do to take a whack at it? That is what President Obama did today. You know the Democrats are having a rough time as John said. Sometimes the best thing they have going for them is the Republicans. This was one of those instances John Boehner today but also we had Joe Barton who apologized to BP for the escrow --

MALVEAUX: We heard the president go after him as well.

BORGER: Well, there you are, another t-ball and he took it and he whacked it which is exactly what you would expect him to do. Because it is too easy.

MALVEAUX: The out of touch argument, that was something that we heard during the campaign. They were accusing candidate Obama to be out of touch. Is this something that could possibly stick to the Republicans?

KING: Well, you have a midterm election where the question is, did the Republicans have a good year or did they have great year? A good year is 28 maybe 32 seats and a great year would be a wave to get them a majority in the house and the Senate, and Suzanne, that comes down if you are Republicans, to being near-perfect in the really hard races. If them Democrats can find arguments like this, and the Republicans are saying things that are out of touch. Mr. Boehner was trying to be cute. Don't try to be cute. What he was saying is it is disproportionate response but not an ant and nuclear weapon. If it is one house here or Senate race here or there, and that is progress in what would be a tough year.

BORGER: And this is what the Democrats want Barack Obama do. They have been complaining privately, you are running against Washington. Don't run against Washington. We are running Washington. Run against Republicans.

MALVEAUX: In all fairness, the Congressman responded this way, and he said that the president should be focused on solving the problems of the American people, stopping the leaking oil and cleaning up the gulf and scrapping the job killing agenda, repealing and ending Obama care, and not criticizing my metaphors. He's trying to paint the president as being petty.

KING: Yet if he hadn't chosen that metaphor he wouldn't be having to issue this statement telling the president to worry about other things. That's what I'm saying. Mr. Boehner was trying to be cute, but cute hardly ever works.

BORGER: Remember, he is the one who pulled Joe Barton aside and said you better reverse your statement, and so, now, he is the one who had to sort of put out the note.

MALVEAUX: Well, Gloria and John, thank you.

KING: The note.

MALVEAUX: Jack Cafferty is next, and then a quarter century of Larry King Live, a most unusual look is next.


MALVEAUX: Time now to check back in with Jack Cafferty. Hey, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Suzanne. You've got to love our viewers. The question this hour, what does it mean if the U.N. says the dollar ought to be scrapped as the main global reserve currency?

Anthony in New Jersey says, "It will never happen. We invented capitalism. Any change from the dollar will result in a worldwide cataclysm. The United States is once again expressing the futility of its existence. They don't have a clue, so why should we worry? When we suffer a glitch, the world goes into convulsions. They wouldn't know what to do without the line of security blanket that is America."

Nick in Canada writes, "I think this is a great idea. I'm not an economist. I'm not even very smart but like stock brokers tell you, it's time to diversify your portfolio. Maybe we should diversify our global currency. Perhaps some form of currency that's a combination of all the g-20 currencies would be the most stable or possibly go back to the gold standard."

Karen in Chicago writes, "If the greenback's so unreliable, then the United States ought to just withdraw from the U.N. and stop giving it to other countries."

Cordero writes, "The new world order is coming into view."

Michael writes, "For a century the world has been dependent on the United States to buy its products and we kept the world economy afloat doing that. If they expect to sell us any more products, then they'll have to take our money. That's just the way it works, Frenchy. Apparently, you can't replace the dollar with the euro because that currency's falling apart. You can't replace it with the Chinese yuan because that system is rigged. If the dollar goes down, the t-bills go down with it so the U.N. is just blowing smoke."

Frank in Florida writes, "Anything that comes out of the U.N. should not be taken seriously. It was intended to be for our amusement. It gets four stars as the best comedy show in New York City."

Bob says, "I don't know. Will it affect me buying a Chevy 4 x4 or not?"

If you want to read more, go to my blog at where you will find other enlightened correspondence.

MALVEAUX: All right. We look forward to seeing that. Thank you Jack.

It's the end of a prime-time era. Larry King announcing he's turning off his mike after 25 years. Our CNN's Jeanne Moos takes a most unusual look at some unforgettable shows.


MALVEAUX: Here's a look at "Hot Shots." In Afghanistan, a soldier patrols the terrain during the deadliest month for NATO forces in nine years of conflict.

In Taipei, Taiwan, a man walks by a wall of panels at the stock market.

In Vatican City, cardinals and bishops shade themselves from the sun during the pope's weekly address.

And on a warm day in Munich, Germany, children admire a garden from atop a bridge.

Hot shots, pictures worth a thousand words.

CNN's Larry King is getting ready to hang up his suspenders after 25 years as a prime-time icon. That gave our CNN's Jeanne Moos a lot of material to work with.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Larry, we know your palsy-walsy with presidents and world leaders but those aren't the moments we want to highlight.


LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: I'm fine, I'm following the clock.

MOOS: Now that our time with you is running out, we'd like to recall the feisty moments.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Larry, you're being inappropriate.

KING: I'm asking a question.

MOOS: The unexpected moments. Like when a toad freaked out your son.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Those are poison glands. Right back there. No, no, he's not going to hurt you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get it away from me.

MOOS: Moments like the one when Marlon Brando wanted you to stop pointing at him.

MARLON BRANDO: Yeah, it's not this finger, it's this finger I'm worried about. MOOS: That years of TV, Larry. Isn't it fun?

KING: Okay, we'll take a break, don't scream in my ear, I'm a human being. We'll return after this. We'll be right back. Don't go away.

MOOS: Now you're going away. Who's going to take our calls?

KING: Oklahoma City, hello. Gainesville, Florida, hello. Boston, Massachusetts, for Monica Lewinsky.

MOOS: Who are comedians going to kid for having so many wives.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One more and I'm the octo mom of divorcees.

MOOS: You always seem to laugh along.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Larry, we've got an interview with one of your experiments in an assisted living in Miami.

MOOS: You danced along. You played along. You sang along with Willie Nelson.

Please forgive us for raiding your New York office and borrowing your old-fashioned, nonfunctioning RCA mike. The Larry King memorial microphone.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he's got one in ever city.

MOOS: And a few pairs of trademark suspenders. These are English. These are English. Made in London. In the halls of CNN, this is a holy relic. Do you know what this is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do we need to bow down?

MOOS: You should bow down. This is Larry King's microphone.

Want to meet Larry King's microphone?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's awesome.

MOOS: Want to touch his microphone?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would. It's nice.

MOOS: These are his actual suspenders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You should take over.

MOOS: I feel like a walking Larry King museum here. I once ran into Larry while I was out doing man on the street interviews.

KING: You are the world's most famous street walker. Get back to work.

MOOS: The guy who asked a million questions also knew how to answer them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I ask you, what would be the first question you would ask god, do you remember what you said?

KING: Do you have a son?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I thought that was the greatest answer ever.

MOOS: After 25 years at CNN, Larry, you're still leaving them quivering. Jeanne Moos, CNN -- are you sniffing? -- New York.


MALVEAUX: Remember, you can follow what's going on in THE SITUATION ROOM. I'm on twitter. You can get my tweets at That's all one word. I'm Suzanne Malveaux in THE SITUATION ROOM. JOHN KING USA starts right now.