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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
President Bush Addresses United Nations; John Roberts Hearings Continue
Aired September 14, 2005 - 09:48 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: The president's being -- going to be introduced by the president of the General Assembly. Kofi Annan has just wrapped up his remarks. We're watching the United Nations General Assembly right now. The president has a very important speech to deliver. Diplomats from around the world will be looking at virtually every word to see what they -- what the president has to say. And many of those diplomats have not necessarily been all that happy, at least in recent years, with U.S. policy around the world.
Let's listen to introduction of the president and then monitor his speech.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Mr. Secretary General, Mr. President, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for the privilege of being here for the 60th anniversary of the United Nations. Thank you for your dedication to the vital work and great ideals of this institution.
We meet at a time of great challenge for America and the world. At this moment, men and women along my country's Gulf Coast are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters in American history. Many have lost homes and loved ones and all their earthly possessions.
In Alabama and Mississippi and Louisiana, whole neighborhoods have been lifted from their foundations and sent crashing into the streets. A great American city is working to turn the flood waters and reclaim its future.
We have witnessed the awesome power of nature and the greater power of human compassion. Americans have responded to their neighbors in need, and so have many of the nation's represented in this chamber.
Altogether, more than 115 countries and nearly a dozen international organizations have stepped forward with offers of assistance.
To every nation, every province and every community across the world that is standing with the American people in this hour of need, I offer the thanks of my nation.
Your response, like the response to last year's tsunami, has shown once again that the world is more compassionate and hopeful when we act together. This truth was the inspiration for the United Nations. The U.N.'s founding members laid out great and honorable goals in the charter they drafted six decades ago.
That document commits this organization to work to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, and promote social progress and better standards of life and larger freedom.
We remain committed to those noble ideals.
As we respond to great humanitarian needs, we must actively respond to the other great challenges of our time. We must continue to work to ease suffering and to spread freedom, and to lay the foundations of lasting peace for our children and grandchildren.
In this young century, the far corners of the world are linked more closely than ever before and no nation can remain isolated and indifferent to the struggles of others.
When a country or region is filled with despair and resentment, and vulnerable to violent and aggressive ideologies, the threat passes easily across oceans and borders and could threaten the security of any peaceful country.
Terrorism fed by anger and despair has come to Tunisia, to Indonesia, to Kenya, to Tanzania, to Morocco, to Israel, to Saudi Arabia, to the United States, to Turkey, to Spain, to Russia, to Egypt, to Iraq and the United Kingdom.
And those who have not seen attacks on their own soil have still shared in the sorrow, from Australians killed in Bali to Italians killed in Egypt to the citizens of dozens of nations who were killed on September the 11th, 2001, here in the city where we meet.
The lesson is clear: There can be no safety in looking away or seeking the quiet life by ignoring the hardship and oppression of others. Either hope will spread or violence will spread, and we must take the side of hope.
Sometimes our security will require confronting threats directly, and so a great coalition of nations has come together to fight the terrorists across the world.
We've worked together to help break up terrorist networks that cross borders and root out radical cells within our own borders.
We've eliminated terrorist sanctuaries. We're using our diplomatic and financial tools to cut off their financing and drain them of support.
And as we fight, the terrorists must know the world stands united against them.
We must complete the comprehensive Convention on International Terrorism that will put every nation on record. The targeting and deliberate killing by terrorists of civilians and noncombatants cannot be justified or legitimized by any cause or grievance.
And the world's free nations are determined to stop the terrorists and their allies from acquiring the terrible weapons that would allow them to kill on a scale equal to their hatred.
For that reason, more than 60 countries are supporting the Proliferation Security Initiative to intercept shipments of weapons of mass destruction on land, on sea and in air.
The terrorists must know that wherever they go, they cannot escape justice.
Later today, the Security Council has an opportunity to put the terrorists on notice when it votes on a resolution that condemns the incitement of terrorist acts, a resolution that calls upon all states to take appropriate steps to end such incitement.
We also need to sign and implement the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts Nuclear Terrorism so that all those who seek radioactive materials or nuclear devices are prosecuted and extradited wherever they are.
We must send a clear message to the rulers of outlaw regimes that sponsor terror and pursue weapons of mass murder: "You will not be allowed to threaten the peace and stability of the world."
Confronting our enemies is essential, and so civilized nations will continue to take the fight to the terrorists.
Yet we know that this war will not be won by force of arms alone. We must defeat the terrorists on the battlefield and we must also defeat them in the battle of ideas.
We must change the conditions that allow terrorists to flourish and recruit by spreading the hope of freedom to millions who've never known it. We must help raise up the failing states and stagnant societies that provide fertile ground for the terrorists. We must defend and extend a vision of human dignity and opportunity and prosperity, a vision far stronger than the dark appeal of resentment and murder.
To spread the vision of hope the United States is determined to help nations that are struggling with poverty.
We are committed to the Millennium Development goals. This is an ambitious agenda that includes cutting poverty and hunger in half, ensuring that every boy and girl in the world has access to primary education, and halting the spread of AIDS, all by 2015.
We have a moral obligation to help others and a moral duty to make sure our actions are effective. In Monterrey in 2002, we agreed to a new vision for the way to fight poverty and curb corruption and provide aid in this new millennium.
Developing countries agreed to take responsibility for their own economic progress through good governance and sound policies and the rule of law. Developed countries agreed to support those efforts, including increased aid to nations that undertake necessary reforms.
My own country has sought to implement the Monterrey consensus by establishing the new Millennium Challenge Account. This account is increasing U.S. aid for countries that govern justly, invest in their people and promote economic freedom.
More needs to be done. I call on all the world's nations to implement the Monterrey consensus.
Implementing the Monterrey consensus means continuing on the long, hard road to reform. Implementing the Monterrey consensus means creating a genuine partnership between developed and developing countries to replace the donor-client relationship of the past. And implementing the Monterrey consensus means welcoming all developing countries as full participants to the global economy with all the requisite benefits and responsibilities.
Tying aid to reform is essential to eliminating poverty, but our work doesn't end there. For many countries, AIDS, malaria and other diseases are both humanitarian tragedies and significant obstacles to development.
We must give poor countries access to the emergency lifesaving drugs they need to fight these infectious diseases.
Through our bilateral programs and the global fund, the United States will continue to lead the world in providing the resources to defeat the plague of HIV/AIDS. Today America's working with local authorities and organizations in the largest initiative in history to combat a specific disease across Africa, where health and local AIDS officials expand testing facilities, train and support doctors and nurses and counselors, and upgrade clinics and hospitals.
Working with our African partners, we have now delivered lifesaving treatment to more than 230,000 people in sub-Sahara Africa. We are ahead of schedule to meet an important objective: providing HIV/AIDS treatment for nearly 2 million adults and children in Africa. At the G-8 summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, we set a clear goal: an AIDS-free generation in Africa. And I challenge every member of the United Nations to take concrete steps to achieve that goal.
We're also working to fight malaria. This preventable disease kills more than 1 million people around the world every year, and leaves poverty and grief in every land it touches. The United States has set a goal of cutting the malaria death rate in half in at least 15 highly endemic African countries.
To achieve that goal, we pledge to increase our funding for malaria treatment and prevention by more than $1.2 billion over the next five years.
We invite other nations to join us in this effort by committing specific aid to the dozens of other African nations in need of it. Together we can fight malaria and save hundreds of thousands of lives and bring new hope to countries that have been devastated by this terrible disease. As we strengthen our commitment to fighting malaria and AIDS, we must also remain on the offensive against new threats to public life such as the avian influenza. If left unchallenged, this virus could become the first pandemic of the 21st century. We must not allow that to happen.
Today I'm announcing a new international partnership on avian and pandemic influenza. The partnership requires countries that face an outbreak to immediately share information and provide samples to the World Health Organization. By requiring transparency, we can respond more rapidly to dangerous outbreaks and stop them on time.
Many nations have already joined this partnership. We invite all nations to participate. It's essential we work together.
And as we do so, we will fulfill a moral duty to protect our citizens and heal the sick and comfort the afflicted.
Even with increased aid to fight disease and reform economies, many nations are held back by another heavy challenge: the burden of debt. So America and many nations have also acted to lift this burden that limits the growth of developing economies and holds millions of people in poverty.
Today poor countries with the heaviest debt burdens are receiving more than $30 billion in debt relief. To prevent the build-up of future debt, my country and other nations have agreed that international financial institutions should increasingly provide new aid in the form of grants, rather than loans.
The G-8 agreed at Gleneagles to go further. To break the lend- and-forgive cycle permanently, we agreed to cancel 100 percent of the debt for the world's most heavily indebted nations. I call upon the World Bank and the IMF to finalize this historic agreement as soon as possible.
We will fight to lift the burden of poverty from places of suffering, not just for the moment, but permanently. And the surest path to greater wealth is greater trade.
In a letter he wrote to me in August, the secretary general commended the G-8's work, but told me that aid and debt relief are not enough. The secretary general said that we also need to reduce trade barriers and subsidies that are holding developing countries back.
I agree with the secretary general. The Doha round is the most promising way to achieve this goal. A successful Doha round will eliminate tariffs and other barriers on farm and other industrial goods. It will end unfair agricultural subsidies. It will open up global markets for services.
Under Doha, every nation will gain and the developing world stands to gain the most. Historically, developing nations that open themselves up to trade grow at several times the rate of other countries. The elimination of trade barriers could lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty over the next 15 years. The stakes are high. The lives and futures of millions of the world's poorest citizens hang in the balance. And so we must bring the Doha trade talks to a successful conclusion.
Doha is an important step toward a larger goal: We must tear down the walls that separate the developed and developing worlds. We need to give the citizens of the poorest nations the same ability to access the world economy that people of wealthy nations have, so they can offer their goods and talents on the world market alongside everyone else.
We need to ensure that they have the same opportunities to pursue their dreams, provide for their families and live lives of dignity and self-reliance.
And the greatest obstacles to achieving these goals are the tariffs and subsidies and barriers that isolate people of developing nations from the great opportunities of the 21st century.
Today I reiterate a challenge I have made before. We must work together in the Doha negotiations to eliminate agricultural subsidies that distort trade and stunt development and to eliminate tariffs and other barriers to open markets for farmers around the world.
Today, I broaden the challenge by making this pledge: The United States is ready to eliminate all tariffs and subsidies and other barriers to flee flow of goods and services as other nations do the same. This is key to overcoming poverty in the world's poorest nations. It's essential we promote prosperity and opportunity for all nations.
By expanding trade, we spread hope and opportunity to the corners of the world and we strike a blow against the terrorists who feed on anger and resentment. Our agenda for freer trade is part of an agenda for a freer world where people can live and worship and raise their children as they choose.
In the long run, the best way to protect the religious freedom and the rights of women and minorities is through institutions of self-rule which allow a people to assert and defend their own rights. All who stand for human rights must also stand for human freedom.
This is a moment of great opportunity in the cause of freedom. Across the world, hearts and minds are opening to the message of human liberty as never before. In the last two years alone, tens of millions have voted in free elections in Afghanistan and Iraq and Lebanon and the Palestinian territories and Kyrgyzstan and Ukraine and Georgia. And as they claim their freedom, they're inspiring millions more across the broader Middle East.
We must encourage their aspirations. We must nurture freedom's progress.
And the United Nations has a vital role to play. Through the new U.N. Democracy Fund, the democratic members of the U.N. will work to help others who want to join the democratic world.
It is fitting that the world's largest democracy, India, has taken a leadership role in this effort, pledging $10 million to get the fund started.
Every free nation has an interest in the success of this fund. And every free nation has a responsibility in advancing the cause of liberty.
The work of democracy is larger than holding a fair election. It requires building the institutions that sustain freedom.
Democracy takes different forms in different cultures, yet all free societies have certain things in common.
Democratic nations uphold the rule of law and impose limits on the power of the state, treat women and minorities as full citizens. Democratic nations protect private property, free speech and religious expression. Democratic nations grow in strength because they reward and respect the creative gifts of their people. And democratic nations contribute to peace and stability because they seek national greatness in achievements of their citizens, not the conquest of their neighbors.
For these reasons, the whole world has a vital interest in the success of a free Iraq and no civilized nation has an interest in seeing a new terrorist state emerge in that country.
So the free world is working together to help the Iraqi people to establish a new nation that can govern itself, sustain itself and defend itself.
It's an exciting opportunity for all of us in this chamber. And the United Nations has played a vital role in the success of the January elections, where 8.5 million Iraqis defied the terrorists and cast their ballots. And since then, the United Nations has supported Iraq's elected leaders as they drafted a new constitution.
The United Nations and its member states must continue to stand by the Iraqi people as they complete the journey to a fully constitutional government.
And when Iraqis complete their journey, their success will inspire others to claim their freedom, the Middle East will grow in peace and hope and liberty and all of us will live in a safer world.
The advance of freedom and security is the calling of our time. It is the mission of the United Nations. The United Nations was created to spread the hope of liberty, and to fight poverty and disease, and to help secure human rights and human dignity for all the world's people.
To help make these promises real, the United Nations must be strong and efficient, free of corruption, and accountable to the people it serves. The United Nations must stand for integrity and live by the high standards it sets for others. And meaningful institution reforms must include measures to improve internal oversight, identify cost savings and ensure that precious resources are used for their intended purpose.
The United Nations has taken the first steps toward reform. Process will continue in the General Assembly this fall, and the United States will join with others to lead the effort.
And the process of reform begins with members taking our responsibility seriously. When this great institution's member states choose notorious abusers of human rights to sit on the U.N. Human Rights Commission, they discredit a noble effort and undermine the credibility of the whole organization. If member countries want the United Nations to be respected and effective, they should begin by making sure it is worthy of respect.
At the start of a new century, the world needs the United Nations to live up to its ideals and fulfill its mission. The founding members of this organization knew that the security of the world would increasingly depend on advancing the rights of mankind and this would require the work of many hands.
After committing America to the idea of the U.N. in 1945, President Franklin Roosevelt declared, "The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man or one party or one nation. Peace is the responsibility of every nation and every generation."
In each era of history, the human spirit has been challenged by the forces of darkness and chaos. Some challenges are the acts of nature. Others are the works of man.
This organization was convened to meet these challenges by harnessing the best instincts of humankind: the strength of the world united in common purpose.
With courage and conscience, we'll meet our responsibilities to protect the lives and rights of others. And when we do, we will help fulfill the promise of the United Nations and ensure that every human being enjoys the peace and the freedom and the dignity our creator intended for all.
BLITZER: The president of the United States speaking for about 20 minutes or so before the United Nations General Assembly on this the 60th anniversary of the founding of the world body. Mr. Bush now going off to separate bilateral meetings he has with the prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, the prime minister of Britain, Tony Blair.
Jeff Greenfield is with us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He went through the whole laundry list of the major international issues, but he didn't shy away from criticizing the United Nations. He said, the United Nations must be free of corruption. This in the aftermath of the scandals involving the former Iraq Oil-for-Food Program. And he also blasted the United Nations Human Rights Commission for pointing out that some members of the United Nations who are human rights violators are now members of this commission and it simply demeans the whole U.N. process.
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN SR. POLITICAL ANALYST: The folks within the Bush administration and the so-called neo-conservatives who have been extremely critical of the U.N., have made those two points two of their major criticisms. And this is an institution rife with corruption and waste. He talked about using your resources wisely and that there's a certain irony that some of the people on the Human Rights Commission are some of the world's worst human rights violators.
BLITZER: Zimbabwe, for example.
GREENFIELD: Yes. The other thing he did was to . . .
BLITZER: By the way, we're seeing the president walking out of the United Nations there on the screen.
But go ahead, Jeff.
GREENFIELD: No that's right. We do recognize him and Secretary of State Rice right next to him.
But the other thing is, that while we're being told that the administration is scaling back its more grandiose visions of what Iraq could accomplish, the spread of democracy in the Middle East, a kind of revolution where authoritarian regimes give way, in this speech he re-asserted those more ambitious goals. That the Middle East would grow in peace and liberty. That success in Iraq would have a kind of reverse and positive domino effect. So that while the private conversations are, well, we know we can't maybe accomplish everything you set out to do, at least rhetorically at the U.N. we heard about a safer and freer world as a result.
BLITZER: The advance of freedom and liberty, the president said, is the calling of our time. We'll continue to monitor the president's activities in New York.
We're also monitoring the confirmation hearings of John Roberts to be the chief justice of the United States.
We'll resume covering that story plus the latest on Hurricane Katrina, the aftermath of that.
Hurricane Ophelia, what's unfolding right there.
And 12 -- more than 12 bomb blasts in Baghdad alone, killing more than 150 people on this day. We have a busy news day. We'll be right back.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're continuing to watch the hearings, the confirmation hearings of John Roberts to become the chief justice of the United States. Senator Orrin Hatch is going to be asking questions. That's coming up shortly.
But right now he's joining us live from the Senate Hart Office Building.
Senator Hatch, thanks very much for joining us.
As you well know, there's been a lot of focus on the answer that John Roberts gave yesterday to Senator Specter that he does believe that the Constitution offers a right to privacy for individuals. That right to privacy has been used as a basis for Roe vs. Wade and other controversial issues. Do you agree with him on that?
SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: (INAUDIBLE) the right to privacy is found in the Constitution and in a number of areas. But I think he basically centered on the Griswold Case which basically said that married couples can use contraceptions within the confines of their own home and perhaps others as well. And I don't think anybody's really going to differ with that particular position. Now I think he was very careful in his choosing of words to make it very clear that none of us know which way he would go if the another case of Roe vs. Wade came up.
BLITZER: Do you believe he's following the Ruth Bader Ginsburg example or going beyond that in refusing to answer certain hypothetical questions?
HATCH: Well, in my opening remarks, you'll notice that I said that he and the other nominees now this is now my tenth confirmation for Supreme Court nominees they have to set their own line. And it wasn't just Ruth Bader Ginsburg. It was Thurgood Marshall, Rehnquist. You could just name it right on down the line, right on up to Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They all set a standard that they would abide by and follow the cannons of judicial ethics, which is not to talk about cases that are probably going to come before the Supreme Court in the future.
BLITZER: Senator Hatch, Jeff Toobin, our senior legal analyst, has a question for you.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Senator, I don't know if you had a chance to hear Senator Specter's questioning just a few moments ago. But Judge Roberts said, you know, he doesn't really believe in originalism. That is the idea that the Constitution reflects only what the originate what the authors of the amendments to the Constitution thought it meant. That's somewhat different than the way some conservatives approach interpreting the law. What do you make of that?
HATCH: Well, Cass Sunstain (ph), of course, has ridiculed that, as people who want to go back to the 1787 standards. Well, of course, nobody who is a real originalist believes that. But I think I asked him. I said, which of these philosophies do you subscribe to, originalism, strict construction? Are you a minimalist? Are you a duratarian (ph)? Are you a perfectionist? Are you a fundamentalist? And he said none of them. He basically wants to do what's right on the court. And all of them have some elements of decency and honor. But, you know, I have to agree with him, I don't think any one of them can fully describe what a really intelligent person on the court, you know, can or should be.
TOOBIN: But as Justice Scalia has said many times, if you don't anchor your opinions in what the authors of the Constitution meant, isn't it simply up to the judge to make up the policy that he thinks or she thinks is the right one at that particular moment?
HATCH: Well, many think that's been the case. But in all honesty, I think you do have to start no question about it with what the original founding fathers intended the Constitution to be. Now as you'll notice, a lot of the questions have gotten into, well, is the Constitution a living document? And I think Judge Roberts has explained it very well. That, yes, some of the provisions are written so broadly that of course the founding fathers expected us, as we modernize and as our country evolved, to be able to accommodate problems that exist in modern times.
But that doesn't mean that judges should be making the laws. And that's one of the important points that he's making throughout these proceedings, that the judges should interpret and apply the laws, but they shouldn't be making the laws. And, unfortunately, that's what you call activism, judicial activism. And a lot of our liberal friends believe that judicial activism is a terrible thing if conservatives do it but it's not very bad if liberals do it. I think it's bad whether it's from the right or to the left. I think we ought to abide by the law and we shouldn't be making laws from the bench.
GREENFIELD: Senator, it's Jeff Greenfield.
Give us your sense. You've been on this committee, I believe, since 1977.
GREENFIELD: Your Democratic colleagues, are they do they seriously think they can actually stop or and somehow deflect the Roberts nomination? Or in their questioning, are they setting down markers for what they see might be the next appointment?
HATCH: Well, there's a number of factors here. They want to damage the president if they can. They want to damage Roberts if they can. They certainly are setting the stage for the next nominee. Senator Schumer demanded that Roberts come at least three times to visit him. That's never been done before, to my knowledge. And but Roberts did it. And but the next nominee is going to have to meet some of these standards that have arisen with John Roberts.
But, look, if the Democrats can't vote for this man, who has clearly shown his tremendous legal and constitutional abilities, who clearly is a very fine attorney and jurist, then they're not going to vote for any Republican. And I think it would be catastrophic if our colleagues on the Democrats side would vote against a man of this quality.
This man really has it. I'm not kidding you. And anybody watching this has to agree that he has it. In my 29 years in the United States Senate, I have never seen and I've been through 10 of these I've never seen a more articulate spokesperson on constitutional law than John Roberts. And he's not only articulate, he's right. He's very, very smart.
BLITZER: Senator Hatch, I know you've got to get down there because you're going to be asking questions next. We'll be watching.
Orrin Hatch, Republican of Utah. Always good to have you here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
HATCH: Well, nice to be with you.
BLITZER: Thank you very much.
Senator Leahy, Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, is asking questions right now. Let's listen in.
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY, (D) VERMONT: Saying (ph) clemency to a whole lot of people who had been on death row. Some say and I think you have even said this when they're exonerated it shows the system works.
Well, let me tell you about the system in that case. One of the people is Anthony Porter. He spent 16 years on death row. He was within two days of being executed. The system didn't work on behalf of the government doing (ph). A bunch of kids from Northwestern University who had taken as elective course a course on journalism. And the teacher said, why don't you look into a couple of these. And these kids went out and did the kids dug up the information that was there, available to the police, available to the prosecutor, available to the defense. Nobody dug up. They found it. And within two days of his execution, the state's attorney dropped the case. They got somebody else to confess.
You said two years ago and I remember being at that hearing you said that on the startling (ph) number of innocent men sentenced to death who were later exonerated, you responded somehow showed the system worked in exonerating them. I worry about that statement. I really do. It's bothered me. And, you know, I voted for you for the circuit court. And there was a split vote in our party. But that one really bothered me. That statement. I found it almost mechanical. And I'll tell you why.
When we have people say innocent people have been freed after years on death row shows the system is working, it doesn't. I think Sandra Day O'Connor said a few years ago, statistics are any indication, the system may well be allowing some innocent defendants to be executed. If that's the case, the system is not working. (INAUDIBLE) discussed that. The court grappled with it. Didn't ultimately decide, does the Constitution permit the execution of a person who is innocent.
And as principal deputy solicitor general you co-authored the amicus brief for the U.S. in the Herrera case. You said their claim of action of innocence does not state a ground for federal habeas. Actually, you said, "does the Constitution require that prisoner have the right to seek judicial review of a claim of newly discovered evidence? Instead of being required to seek relief in a clemency process. In our view, the Constitution does not guarantee that the prisoner has such a right."
So let me ask you this. Without going into the facts of Herrera, is it your current, personal view the death row inmate who can prove his innocence has no constitutional right to do so before a court, before he's executed?
JUDGE JOHN ROBERTS, CHIEF JUSTICE NOMINEE: Well, senator and this is the basis of the disagreement in Herrera. Herrera was not a case about actual innocence. It's a question of whether you're entitled to bring a new claim.
LEAHY: But listen to my question. Does a death row inmate who can proves he's innocent, do they have no constitutional right to do so in a court of law before they are executed?
ROBERTS: Well, prove his innocence. The issue arises before you get to the question of proof. And the question is, do you allow someone who has raised several claims over the years to suddenly say, at the last minute, somebody who just died was the person who committed the murder. And does that mean you start the trial all over again simply on the basis of that last- minute claim or do you require more of a showing at that stage? That's what Herrera was about.
Now I don't think, of course, that anybody who is innocent shouldn't be suffer for as a result of a false conviction. If they've been falsely convicted and they're innocent, they shouldn't be in prison, let alone executed. But the issue . . .
LEAHY: Well, does the constitution permit the execution of innocent person?
ROBERTS: I would think not. But the question is never, do you allow the execution of an innocent person. The question is, do you allow particular claimants to raise different claims, fourth or fifth or sixth time, to say at the last minute, somebody who just died was actually the person who committed the murder, let's have a new trial? Or do you take into account the proceedings that have already gone on?
LEAHY: I'm looking for broad principles here. You said let me read it again. "Does the Constitution require that a prisoner have the right to seek judicial review of a claim of newly discovered evidence instead of being required to seek relief in the clemency process? In our view, the Constitution does not guarantee the prisoner such a right." Is that your view today?
ROBERTS: Well, that's what the court held in Herrera.
LEAHY: Is that your view today?
ROBERTS: Well, I'm not in a position to comment on the correctness or incorrectness of particular court decisions. That's the court's precedent in Herrera. It agreed with the administration position, which was not that innocent people should be subject to imprisonment or execution.
LEAHY: That's the position you took. Supreme Court is going to revisit this issue in House vs. Bell. Because you've stated a position on that, does that require you to recuse yourself in House vs. Bell?
ROBERTS: No. Because the position was stated in a brief filed on behalf of the administration. And we've talked yesterday about the established principle that lawyers do not subscribe as a personal matter to the views they present on behalf of clients.
LEAHY: Well, in this case, the client is the United States. I mean, you're stating the position as sort of the -- what do they call it? The tenth justice?
ROBERTS: Well, I was the deputy solicitor general on the brief. I didn't argue the case. The solicitor general was the counsel of record in the case. But the position presented in the brief as an advocate is not necessarily the position of every lawyer on the brief.
LEAHY: Well, I think you were more than just a lawyer on the brief. You were one of the most sought-after jobs, picked because of your position. I was very impressed when I talked with you about your use of Latin, for example, and French. And I'm always impressed with somebody with that facility. There is a...
BLITZER: All right. We're going to briefly break away from this confirmation hearing. Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, asking questions of John Roberts, the Supreme Court chief justice nominee.
Jeff Greenfield, are we getting any more indication right now whether or not John Roberts potentially is another David Souter or potentially is another Antonin Scalia?
GREENFIELD: Well, there's a middle ground there. I would be utterly surprised, not just given what he's saying today, but given his entire background, if he were to be another Souter. And, in fact, I think the second Bush administration, their vetting of all judges, the first thing on the list is literally no more Souters. That's a rallying cry of the right.
There's nothing to indicate that he'd be -- go off on a liberal tangent. And, in fact, the conversation that Senator Leahy and Judge Roberts is having now has to do with one of the things that liberals are most unhappy about about this court -- and they're unhappy about a lot -- which is restricting access to the courts. Closing off, with the help of the Congress, how many appeals death row inmates can have. Whether or not you can bring private rights in pursuit of what federal laws say. You know, as a private citizen, can I help enforce an environmental law?
And that's what they were doing here. But everything -- Mr. Toobin may have a different answer. He may have a slight set of differences from Scalia on original intent. But, boy, there is -- I cannot imagine what would happen if he turned out to be another Souter among the conservatives.
TOOBIN: It certainly doesn't look that way. There's not much of an indication. The person he seems most to resemble is his predecessor and the person for whom he clerked, William Rehnquist. You know, someone who is conservative down the line, but not interested as much as Scalia and Thomas are in expanding sort of the conservative worldview into areas it hasn't been before.
Very interesting exchange right now with Patrick Leahy about the death penalty, something that hasn't come up very much. And a rare moment of being flustered for John Roberts, when Patrick Leahy asked him does the Constitution prohibit the execution of an innocent person? And, you know, that sounds like it should be an obvious answer, but it's not. And Roberts kind of said, well, I guess so. But that issue has never entirely been settled, and given the advances in DNA, given how many innocent people are on Death Row, have been proved to be on death row, that issue is likely to come up more and more. And you could tell, Roberts was uncomfortable with it.
BLITZER: All right. Stand by, guys. We'll go back to that hearing, watch it unfolds. We're also watching other important stories unfold.
The 12 terror bombings in Baghdad alone today. More than 150 people killed.
The president remains up in New York, meeting with world leaders, including the prime ministers of Britain and Israel.
Hurricane Ophelia, now seriously threatening the Carolinas. We'll have an update on all of that.
Plus, the latest on what's happening in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast.
Much more of our coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM right after this. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: We're going to get back to the John Roberts confirmation hearings before the Senate judiciary Committee in a few moments, but there's other important news happening in this country, around the world.
Let's bring in CNN's Kyra Phillips from the CNN Center. She's got more -- Kyra.
KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, Wolf.
Of course, we want to talk about Hurricane Ophelia's winds pounding the coast of North Carolina this morning. The slow-moving storm hasn't made landfall yet. The Category 1 storm is strengthening, though, as it edges toward North Carolina's Outer Banks. We talked to Ed Rappaport of the National Hurricane Center last hour, and he told me the storm is packing winds up to 80 miles an hour. Inland flooding is expected and heavy rains in other areas could impact the area for about two days, we're told.
And Louisiana's top prosecutor says the apparent decision by the owners of a nursing home to ignore evacuation warnings before Katrina were quote, "pathetic and criminal." The story we've been all over here on CNN. And the attorney general now has charged the husband and wife with 34 counts of negligent homicide. We're talking about the deaths of the patients when they died during those floodwaters. It basically swallowed St. Rita's Nursing Home in Chalmette, and the couple's attorney says that the charges are unfounded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JIM COBB, ATTY FOR ST. RITA'S OWNERS: They abandoned no one. They saved over 52 lives after the water rose precipitously. Under that set of circumstances, the attorney general, to indict them for a crime, is, in my view, out of bounds and prosecutorial abuse of discretion. They sat and waited for a mandatory evacuation order from the officials at St. Bernard Parish. It never came.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: Well, Cobb says that his clients are innocent and that they actually saved more than 50 lives after those floodwaters rose. And the state's attorney general Charles Foti, Jr., says that the owners ignored repeated warnings to evacuate. And he says that their inaction resulted in dozens of deaths.
Earlier today on CNN's AMERICAN MORNING, Foti said that the victims weren't able to decide by themselves whether to evacuate or not.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHARLES FOTI JR., LOUISIANA ATTORNEY GENERAL: If you or I decide to stay there, we are big enough, responsible enough to make that decision. Where you have the -- are entrusted with the lives of other people, you cannot take those chances. Yes, there are risks any time you move people that are receiving health care. But not to move them is to condemn them to death.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIPS: We're going to continue to follow that story for you, of course. Our investigate reporter Drew Griffin is working it all throughout the day.
Meantime, President Bush will address the nation tomorrow night, in his first primetime speech since Katrina stormed ashore just two weeks ago. Louisiana will serve as Mr. Bush's backdrop in a speech scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time. CNN will carry that live.
Well, the group led by accused terrorist Abu Musab Al Zarqawi is apparently claiming responsibility for a deadly series of attacks in and around Baghdad today. That claim was posted on a Web site. CNN can't verify it, but multiple car bombings today left more than 150 people dead.
CNN's Jennifer Eccleston is live from the Capitol with more on that story -- Jen.
JENNIFER ECCLESTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kyra, a string of deadly attacks across Baghdad. The latest, a suicide car bomb at the entrance of an Iraqi army base in central Baghdad. The bomb was followed by a ground assault. Three Iraqi soldiers and one civilian were killed, 25 others were wounded.
But it was a day of relentless violence against Baghdad's Shiite community. Suicide car bombers targeted two Shiite neighborhoods, the latest in Shula (ph), northwest Baghdad. Four people killed, 22 injured. But by far, the most deadly, a morning bomb attack involving a mini-bus. According to the police, a bus exploded near a meeting point for day laborers in Kadamiya (ph), a Shiite neighborhood, north central Baghdad.
Witnesses said when that van pulled up, the driver called workers to the vehicle and detonated his bomb. At least 112 were killed, more than 200 wounded. Now Iraqi civilians baring the brunt of today's violence, but the military also targeted this day. A suicide car bomber targeted an Iraqi military convoy. Three soldiers were killed, and six U.S. military convoys were attacked by insurgents today. Five soldiers were injured.
And as you mentioned, there was a claim of responsibility for the widespread attacks across Baghdad. It comes from Al Qaeda in Iraq. They say it was in response to a joint Iraqi-U.S. military operation in northern Iraq, in Talafar, to root out insurgents from that town -- Kyra.
BLITZER: Jennifer, obviously we've had our hands full here, covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and we don't want to forget what's happening in Iraq, by no means. And I'm just curious, while you are there, are there soldiers, and sailors, and Marines and Iraqis talking about what's happening here in the United States?
ECCLESTON: Oh, absolutely. Mainly on the point of the American soldiers who are here who are watching these videos, these images coming out of the United States. Time has passed, and some of the video is less jarring, so it's not on the forefront. But it is on the forefront of those who are from the region, who have family who are affected. Many of those, especially from the Louisiana National Guard, are now back in the United States. But there are some, some from the Mississippi National Guard, who have been affected by Hurricane Katrina, whose families were affected, and only a handful of those were able to go back to the United States. Many of them are still here -- Kyra. PHILLIPS: Jennifer Eccleston live in Baghdad, thanks so much.
Wolf, let's take it back to you in D.C. now for more on confirmation hearings.
BLITZER: It's almost numbing, Kyra, to hear the numbers of the dead people coming out of Iraq. And with all the other news unfolding, it's not getting the kind of attention it would under normal circumstances. But as you and I know, it is a brutal, brutal situation as it's unfolding right now.
Kyra, we're going to be checking back with you soon. We're going to continue to watch what's happening with hurricane Ophelia off the coast of the Carolinas. Much more of our coverage of John Roberts' confirmation hearings.
That's all coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're following the confirmation hearings of John Roberts to be the chief justice of the United States. We're going to go back there in a moment.
Jeff Greenfield, this is the second day of questioning. They're in the 20-minute question phase, at least some of these senators will then have 15 or 20 minutes themselves to talk and ask maybe one or two questions. I think they're getting a little hammered on that issue.
GREENFIELD: Yes, they are. And you know, somebody once said insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and the expectation of a different result. And when you ask Judge Roberts the same question eight other people have asked him, knowing he's not going to answer, it gets a little silly. On the other hand, every once in a while, as Jeff Toobin pointed out, you get a flash of an interesting exchange, when Leahy said -- it's a fascinating question -- does the Constitution permit an innocent person to be executed? It sounds like a fairly obvious answer, doesn't it? But you know, in the law, it's not that obvious, and Roberts had to deal with it.
So I'm hoping as we see the rest of these hearings that we're going to have a senator of either side with the originality to come up with a question that actually throws some light on how this nominee thinks.
TOOBIN: That has come up a couple of times. There have been a few new areas. It's very unusual, surprising to me, take of Justice Roberts on the issue of original intent, which is conservatives, like Justice Scalia, believe that we should only enforce the Constitution in the words of the Constitution as the framers of the Constitution meant those words. Roberts distanced himself from that theory, at least to a certain extent. What will it mean? Will it make him more liberal? Will it turn him into a David Souter? I doubt it, but it suggests he isn't as conservative as Antonin Scalia.
GREENFIELD: And I can show you just for a minute where this leads, I interviewed Robert Bork a couple of weeks ago. And I said, well, what about cruel and unusual punishment? It's an Eighth Amendment prohibition. Could a state institute flogging? He said, I can't imagine anybody would do it, but it was understood at the time, maybe a common form of punishment. The framers didn't consider it cruel and unusual. Of course, others would say, in our evolving standards, or maybe some would even point out how the world regards it, no. In the 21st century, that would be cruel and unusual. It's a big difference among legal scholars as to how that should be portrayed.
BLITZER: All right, Senator Ted Kennedy, who's been in the Senate for a long, long time, he's just starting his second round of questioning for John Roberts.
SEN. TED KENNEDY, (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This country went through an extraordinary period of time, led by Dr. King in the 1950s, and then we had that extraordinary moment of Dr. King here at the Lincoln Memorial, which I think touched the conscience of the nation, people from all over the country.
We were stuck for months on the 1964 act, as you probably remember, and then with the action that was taken by Everett Dirksen that opened up the possibilities for reaching a compromise on the public accommodation provisions.
We spent eight hours, a number of us in the Judiciary Committee, with Nick Katzenbach over in the Capitol office, and had an agreement at that time there would be no amendments on the public accommodations; we could amend other provisions when the legislation went forward. And was monumental in its importance and consequence.
Then we came back and realized after that that the most important legislation that we could probably address -- we still had a ways to go on housing and employment; although employment was included in the '64 act, but not to a great extent -- was in the Voting Rights Act.
And we had extensive hearings. And during the course of those hearings by this committee -- other committees, as well -- we listened to Attorney General Katzenbach, who had been working with Senator Dirksen -- really the architect, leadership of President Johnson, certainly, but the architect of the '64 act.
And he testified before this committee about the Section 2 provisions. And in his testimony on the Section 2 provisions, he said, "Section 2 applies to any voting practice or procedure if its purpose or effect was to deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race or color." So for many of us, including the civil rights community, believed that the effects test was operative at that time.
That bill passed the House by 333-85, 77-19.
The next thing that happened is we had the series of tests, as you recall. And the overarching test case was the Zimmer case, but we had a number of cases -- Zimmer v. McKeithen. And it was the 5th Circuit, en banc, that dealt with the whole range -- for the most part -- range of states where many of these challenges had existed, although I certainly recognize we have a long ways to go in my own state of Massachusetts.
But this court en banc effectively in the Zimmer case; it was the lead case on the effects test. And that was followed by a series of cases -- U.S. v. Post (ph), Kendrick v. Walder -- for a long period of time.
You're aware of this history?
ROBERTS: I'm remembering it from when we addressed this debate of 23 years ago.
KENNEDY: But it sounds familiar?
Then we went up to 1980 and we had the Mobile case which effectively put the intent test in.
And after the Mobile case, as you well remember, the Justice Department dropped a whole series of cases that had been prepared under the effects test because they did not believe that they could make the case on the intent test: whole series.
And this sent a very powerful message to individuals across the South, other parts of the country, that the additional kind of a burden to demonstrate intention was going to be so substantial, it was going to make, in terms of resources, and to try and determine the intent of individuals that lived many years ago, to virtually be prohibitive.
That happened. The Justice Department dropped scores of cases.
And it was one of the important reasons that the civil rights community and many of us believed that it was so important at the time of the extension of the voting rights case in 1982 that we put the effects test in.
You believed, as I remember, and as we have gone over, that it should have been a restatement of the existing law, as you correctly stated yesterday, which was the intent test. Am I correct so far?
ROBERTS: That was the administration's position.
KENNEDY: The administration's position. I remember French Smith testifying before this committee to that effect. I remember at that particular time.
Every civil rights group in 1982 included the effects test. This is the NAACP Legal Defense, National Urban League, Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights Under Law, Conference on Civil Rights, Mexican- American Legal National Council of Raza, League of United Latin American Voters, League of Women Voters -- the list goes on -- Congressional Black Caucus.
And the House went ahead and passed the legislation with the effects test by 389-24 -- 389-24. And in that legislation, the legislation included language which reflected the concern of the administration about whether the intent test was going to lead to either proportional representation or to quotas.
That language was included in the House legislation that passed. And it included the fact that members of a minority group have not been elected in numbers equal to the group's proportion of the population, should not, and in and of itself a constitutional violation of this section.
This addressed, for all intents and purposes, the concerns that the administration, I thought, and most of us -- the civil rights community -- thought that they had with regard to the issue of proportional representation.
You roughly remember that or aware without...
ROBERTS: I certainly remember the provision in the House bill at the time.
KENNEDY: So we also, now, included that language in the Senate bill. Now, the House bill passed. The Senate bill had 61 co-sponsors prior to the time that we adopted the Dole amendment.
That legislation was on its way. That legislation was good as done, quite frankly.
The Dole amendment was effectively a restatement of what was in the House bill, and it had been included.
But the administration, after that, said: Well, if they're going to include that as the Dole amendment, we will let up in our opposition and we'll eventually support it.
Now, during the time after the passage of the House bill and prior to the passage of the Senate bill, you -- even though the House had passed it -- you still strongly maintained the administration's position, did you not?
ROBERTS: Well, I was still working for the administration, Senator.
ROBERTS: President Reagan's position was to extend the act without change, as you mentioned. That was the attorney general's position. I was a special assistant to the attorney general and I was doing my best to implement their views and support their views.
KENNEDY: In your memoranda that was to the attorney general, Brad Reynolds, now -- the administration after the House bill, I think the history will show it, thought that the administration should alter its position.
Your memoranda said, "Brad Reynolds has expressed some reservation about circulating any written statement on the question to the Hill. My own view is that something must be done."
Maybe that's a staffer, but it's separating yourself from Brad Reynolds, who was the leader on this issue at the time.
ROBERTS: Well, with respect, Senator, my understanding -- and I've looked at that memorandum recently -- is that the issue was whether or not to circulate something, explaining the administration position.
ROBERTS: And I didn't think Mr. Reynold's view was: you shouldn't do that because you didn't support the position; it was a question whether or not to circulate something at that time. And my view was whether or not I thought if the administration was advocating its position, it ought to get the position out.
KENNEDY: Well, I think that's good. You're a good advocate and a strong believer in this.
The reason in this memoranda that you circled -- and I have it right here -- make what parts of it available to the record -- in this, in the last paragraph, you said, "On the issue of the effects standard nationwide, on the strength of the record, will be constitutionally suspect but also contrary to the most fundamental tenets of the legislative process, which the laws of this country are based."
"Constitutionally suspect" -- effects test.
The reason that I bring this up is to find out what you believed in then and what you believe today, because you, having raised in your memoranda that this is provision -- the effects test is constitutionally suspect -- is that still your position?
Because if it is your position on an issue as important as the Voting Rights Act that resulted in the elections of hundreds and thousands of local leaders of color in all parts of the country, representatives in the House of Representatives, and moved the whole democratic process forward, then I think the American people are entitled to know.
So, specifically, do you believe that the effects test in the Voting Rights Act, which is currently the law, is constitutional?
ROBERTS: Well, Senator, I don't know what the analysis -- you read a clause of a sentence -- and I would have to look at the whole memorandum to see exactly what the suggestion or the issue was in that case.
SPECTER: Senator Kennedy, would you make the memo available to him, please?
KENNEDY: Sure. Yes.
What I'm interested in doing is asking now whether you believe that the effects test is constitutionally suspect. I'm interested in today, quite frankly, more than what we had written before -- whether you believe that it is suspect today or whether you find that it is settled law.
It's fine if you want to, obviously, refer to it, but I'm interested in what's your view today, whether you...
ROBERTS: Well, we're referring to -- what I'm referring to in this paragraph is the court's determination -- if I'm looking at this correctly -- under Section 5, its determination -- the language you read notes the Supreme Court's conclusion under Section 5, which is the preclearance provision that applies to jurisdictions with a history of discrimination.
And what the court had said in that case was that requirement of preclearance was acceptable given the record that the Congress had established in the Voting Rights Act of 1965 of the practices in those jurisdictions.
And the concern was that if you extend the effects test nationwide, the record, which had been established only with respect to particular jurisdictions in the South, wouldn't apply nationwide, and that would be the basis for a constitutional challenge.
The application of the test under Section 2, which is -- as you know, we use the shorthand effects test. It's actually the totality of the circumstances test, and it lays forth a number of considerations. And I think there is some argument about how closely it tracks effects test under Section 5 or if it's a different totality of the circumstances approach.
I'm not aware of any case that has questioned the constitutionality of the application of the totality of the circumstances case under Section 2.
And if an issue on that were to be presented to me on the Supreme Court, which it may be, given the pending extension of the Voting Rights Act, I would, of course, confront that issue as a judge and not as a staff attorney for an administration with a position.
And as a judge, I would come to the issue with an open mind and I would fully and fairly consider any arguments that might be presented. I don't know if an argument is going to be presented about the application of the totality of the circumstances test nationwide.
Again, I'm not aware of any challenges that have been presented to it since it was enacted. I don't know if any will be if or when the Voting Rights Act is extended again, but if it is I would confront that as a judge and not as a staff attorney for an administration with a particular position on that issue.
KENNEDY: Well, Judge, there hasn't been, at least that I know, in the legal circles, suspicion about the unconstitutionality of the effects test as it applies to Section 5. That's as grounded as it can be.
I'm asking the specific issue that was the -- really issue attention with the extension and really the most important part historically about the Voting Rights Act, whether you think that that provision is constitutionally suspect today.
This is the backbone of effective voting in our country and our society.
And I think the American people are entitled to know whether you believe or suspect that that particular provision which, as passed just overwhelmingly by the House and the Senate, signed by President Reagan and has resulted in this extraordinary march to progress, is constitutionally sound?
That's what I'm asking.
ROBERTS: I have no basis. I'm not aware of any constitutional challenge that has been brought to Section 2 since it was enacted. And I have no basis for viewing it as constitutionally suspect and I don't.
If an issue were to arise before the Supreme Court or before the Court of Appeals, if I head back there, I would consider that issue with an open mind in light of the arguments.
I have got no basis for viewing it as constitutionally suspect today, and I'm not aware that it's been challenged in that respect since it was enacted. It may have been, but as I said, I'm not aware of it.
KENNEDY: I gather -- you've had an extensive answer -- that from that answer I did hear that it is not constitutionally suspect as far as your view today?
Could I move on to the issue of affirmative action, please?
KENNEDY: In the Grutter v. Bollinger case, the Supreme Court decided, very close, 5-4 decision, Sandra Day O'Connor, the deciding individual justice, the Supreme Court upheld the university practices that considered race as one factor in its admission decisions.
No one is talking today about quotas. We're talking about affirmative action as defined in this Grutter decision. The court found that there was a constitutional affirmative action program aimed at achieving a racially diverse student body.
In this decision, the court expressly gave great weight to the representation by military leaders -- military leaders -- that said a highly qualified, racially diverse officer corps is essential to the military's ability to fulfill its principal mission and to provide national security. What weight would you give to that kind of a comment or statement or testimony by the military in considering any issue dealing with affirmative action?
ROBERTS: Well, the weight it was given was to help satisfy the test, as the court, as you know in Grutter, applied strict scrutiny because it was dealing with considerations on the basis of race.
And that required the showing of a compelling governmental interest to support that legislative action. And the testimony of the military officers, as the court explained, helped substantiate the compelling nature of the interest in having a diverse student body.
And that was the weight that the court gave it. There was, of course, the other case. There were two Michigan cases: the law school case and the university case, the Grats (ph) case where the court did say that it looked too much like a quota in that case because it was given determinative consideration as opposed to being one of a variety of factors that is considered.
And the two cases together kind of show where the court is coming out, at least in the area of higher education. The court permits consideration of race or ethnic background, so long as it's not sort of a make-or-break test.
KENNEDY: Do you agree then with Justice O'Connor, writing for the majority that gave great weight to the real-world impact of affirmative policies in universities?
BLITZER: All right, we're going to continue to monitor this hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Senator Ted Kennedy, an important Democrat on this panel, continuing to question John Roberts.
Jeff Toobin, anything stark emerge from this second round by Senator Kennedy?
TOOBIN: It's really -- it's interesting, the generational difference between the two of them. Ted Kennedy was in the Senate in the mid-'60s, when these civil rights laws, the Voting Rights Act, civil rights act, was passed. When John Roberts was a kid. He would have been nine years old when the Civil Rights Act was passed.
And Kennedy is trying to make the point that, you know, these terms that we throw around today that seem very antiseptic, like effects test, intent test, they had real impact on people's lives and people died over these terms. And Roberts is a much cooler customer and, you know did not -- had no connection to that. In fact, in some of these memos when he was in the Reagan administration in the early '80s, was very disdainful of the civil rights movement. And Kennedy is trying to show what an impact these laws had.
And, you know, I think -- no minds are going to be changed by this, but it really shows, you know, the different worlds these two people came out of. BLITZER: Senator Kennedy, 73 years old, and Judge Roberts is 50 years old. So there is a whole generation right now. They're going to take a break right now in the hearings. We're watching them emerge. Usually these breaks last for about 15 minutes. We'll have more of our special coverage of the confirmation hearings of John Roberts.
Also there are new developments involving Hurricane Ophelia off the coast of the Carolinas. We'll go there live. Rob Marciano is standing by right after this.
BLITZER: They're taking a break in the John Roberts' confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. We'll go back there shortly. But there's important news happening elsewhere. For that let's bring in CNN's Kyra Phillips.
PHILLIPS: Hi, good to see you, Wolf.
Hurricane Ophelia's winds pound the coast of North Carolina this morning. We've been talking about it for a number of hours now. The slow-moving storm hasn't made landfall yet, but its heavy rains and winds could impact this area, we're told, for two days. CNN's Chad Myers in the CNN Weather Center.
Chad, we're trying to get linked up also with Rob Marciano, who is in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina. As soon as we make contact with him, we'll bring him in and have a three-way discussion here. But what can you tell us at this point?
CHAD MYERS, CNN METEROLOGIST: I have the 11 o'clock advisory, Kyra. The winds are 80 miles per hour. That is up five miles per hour from 5 a.m. this morning. There are the numbers, 33.7, 77.6, west. It is a Category 1 hurricane. You have to get to 95 miles per hour to get to be a Category 2.
This is not going to be a Katrina, but it will certainly cause its own problems. We know what a Category 1 did to Miami. The latest, highest wind gust was 64 miles per hour at Southport, North Carolina.
Now, I'll get you to the radar. You've been seeing it on the little bug in the corner of the screen. Now here are more cities here. Wilmington really getting hammered. Also, Topsle (ph) Beach getting hard hit with pounding waves at almost 10 feet now. Many of the waves off shore, 14 to 18 feet along the buoys.
There's Emerald Isle, that's right there. That's where our Rob Marciano is at Atlantic Beach, just south of the town here, the city of Morehead City, go across the bridge, onto the Boge (ph) Banks, which is really just an outer bank of sand. That's all it is. And now the sand is getting pounded with waves 10 feet deep and they going to be all day long.
Kyra, this is a slow moving storm. It isn't going to be off the Outer Banks for 36 hours. So what you see is what you get down there for a while.
PHILLIPS: All right, Chad, stay with us. We've got Rob Marciano with us by phone in Atlantic Beach, North Carolina.
Chad, just -- oh, you're on camera. We got the signal. So Rob, good to see you. Chad just pointed out exactly where you are. Why don't you give us an update? Looks more windy now from the last time we talked.
ROB MARCIANO, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It's been on and off, Kyra, which is typically the case before the actual center of the storm gets to you. We were just in a lull, actually the sun was trying to come out. Now another burst of wind has come through and the rain has picked up.
The winds have been consistently out of the east. Sustained anywhere from 25 to 35 miles an hour and at times gusting to over 50. The problem with it having still be out of the east is that means the storm is still in the same place, or at least coming from the same direction, which is directly towards us. So that has folks concerned.
Obviously there are issues to worry about. One of which is the storm surge. Different situation here than in the Gulf of Mexico. Much of the Outer Banks protected by a lot of these sand dunes. So you would need at least an eight or nine, maybe 10 foot surge, to breach the dunes. The bigger issue with the surge is going to actually be inland. In some of the sounds and bays, Pamlico Sound, with these east winds just piling up rivers, rivers that drain into Pamlico Sound, and storm surge inland is going to be an issue.
Some of the rains, ironically, actually a good thing. This area has been five to six inches below normal for rainfall. They'll take it, but just don't want to take it all in one shot.
We've gotten word from the state now. That there are over 60 shelters open. And over 1,200 people have sought refuge in some of those shelters. So that's good news. Even though only a Category 1 storm after Katrina blowing through, most folks in North Carolina taking this one pretty seriously. Back to you guys.
PHILLIPS: Chad's watching you, Rob.
Rob, you can't see Chad. I'm curious, Rob do you have any questions for Chad or vice versa?
MARCIANO: Chad, about 80 miles from me, by the way the crow flies? Chad, is that about right?
MYERS: Yeah. And, Rob, think about this as a tire on your car that doesn't have any weights on it and it's flopping around, boom, boom, boom, boom. The heaviest part is to the south. It's going to rotate up to you. See how this is very bright right here? You are in the easy side of the hurricane now. But it is going to rotate right up to you and slam into you, literally, in the next two hours, your weather is going to go double-downhill from where you are now. Your wind will double from what you have at this point. MARCIANO: I just lost you. Somebody else was talking in my ear. So give me a timing of possibly when the eye wall will be here, maybe the center of the storm.
PHILLIPS: About two hour, Rob, right, Chad?
MYERS: Yeah, well, the eye wall --
MARCIANO: Two hours?
MYERS: The eye wall itself will stay south of you, Rob, for at least 12 hours. There's this wobble in the storm that we always look at. And this wobble that's right here, all of this orange, is going to be on top of you, as it works its way up to Topsel Beach and right where you are.
So, you basically have the worst of this storm to come and it's going to be with you for 18 hours, just like that, getting worse from here, Rob.
MARCIANO: All right, fair enough, Chad.
One more thing I want to point out, Kyra, is that folks and officials here are saying obviously, easier said for me, than done. Try not to go outside especially when the storm is through or seems to be through. That's when most of the fatalities happen with a storm of this magnitude. Doesn't look like we'll have the severity of a Katrina, but always the possible of fatalities and that's something we want to avoid. Back to you.
PHILLIPS: Chad, you said about 18 hours, it's going to hit pretty hard, sort of continuous wind and rain? I'm curious, 18 hour that can do a heck of a lot of damage.
MYERS: It sure can, Kyra. Even if you have a 70 mile per hour wind, and a lot of times that will take a shingle off. If you have that wind for 12 hours, well, one, there goes one shingle, there goes another, there goes another. By the time four hours is over, you've completely lost the roof, because you've had those minor winds, as we call them, Category 1 winds, for hours on hour and hours. And this is just going to continue.
Surf City, Jacksonville, all the way up to Morehead City, right to Atlantic Beach. The reason it takes so long, Kyra, for all this to go away, this thing is only moving northeastward at seven miles an hour. This is 200 miles from here to here. Do the division yourself. That's 30 hours to go anywhere. And that's how long it's going to take to go past Nagshead.
PHILLIPS: Chad, you mentioned where Rob is, he's right there smack in the middle of where it's going to hit hard. Do you think that will be the hardest hit area, or do you think that that will continue in one direction or another?
MYERS: I think Rob will see the sunshine inside the eye before it's done. Because he's going to have the western eye wall, the eye itself, will travel right over Rob, and then through the Outer Banks and then off the coast. So yep, Rob gets it all.
PHILLIPS: Rob, what does the tide look like behind you?
MARCIANO: I'll tell you, well, it's coming in, Kyra. Low tide was earlier this morning. High tide scheduled to be 4:40 this afternoon. Low tide was where high tide normally is. So as the storm approaches, the way Chad is describing the timing of it, it will be advancing as high tide gets here in about five hours from now.
I suspect, judging from where it was last night, it will be up to the sand dune, if not even some water crashing on to this pier. That's going to be a problem.
One question for Chad, along immediate shorelines here the water may be 70, 75 degrees. As you know the Gulf Stream a little warmer than that. Any signs as this center gets closer to shore that it's weakening or falling apart?
MYERS: Rob, I wish I had that idea for you. But in fact, it's the opposite. As this thing is encountering a little bit of friction from the land, the eye wall is actually getting a little bit smaller. About two hours ago, it was 60 miles. Now it's 50 miles. As we shrink the eye wall smaller and smaller, it's a big word, but it's conservation of angular momentum.
The smaller the eye wall get, it's like an ice skater, as she brings her arms in and she's doing a little spin on the ice, the closer her arms get, the faster she goes, the smaller the eye wall gets, the faster the hurricane goes. It could pick up some speed, not actually lose speed, because of that land interaction.
PHILLIPS: All right, Chad Myers, Rob Marciano, we'll keep checking in with both of you, thanks so much. We're tracking Hurricane Ophelia. In addition to staying on top of what's happening with New Orleans and the Gulf Coast there also, in Mississippi.
Gentlemen, thank you so much. Wolf, back to you in Washington for more on the confirmation hearings. We'll continue to monitor everything here from Atlanta. Other stories of course going on around the country.
BLITZER: Thanks very much, Kyra. Just what we don't need, yet another hurricane, but that's precisely what's happening off the East Coast, off the Carolinas, perhaps as far north as the Virginia state line. We'll watch all of that.
They're in a break still here in Washington, at the Senate Judiciary Committee, John Roberts' confirmation hearings. He's being grilled for a second day. We'll go back there. Much more of our coverage and the day's other news right after this.
BLITZER: They're wrapping up their quick break, about a 15- minute break, before the Senate Judiciary Committee. John Roberts is now back in the room. He's speaking with some of his friend, some of his supporters, some of his advisers, as he goes through this process.
Senator Kennedy just asked questions. Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa is next on the list. Will have about 20 minutes to ask questions. This second day is emerging, Jeff Greenfield and Jeff Toobin, very much like day one.
GREENFIELD: Yes with a very few exceptions like an occasional question about the death penalty and, you know, whether or not how the courts limited access to the courts and death penalty cases is actually threatening justice.
Basically, a lot of people here are setting down markers. That's what you look at. Left and right, Sam Brownback, on abortion, I believe in part is setting down a marker, saying, you know, the courts Roe v. Wade decision is indefensible. And as a potential presidential candidate, knows that he wants that right-to-life base.
Ted Kennedy has finished setting up a marker, which I think the subtext of which is the civil rights revolution was the great domestic movement of our time and even years later you had a mistaken and dangerous view of it as a Reagan aide. And I've got to know whether you've changed your mind or I want vote to confirm you.
So that's what you're hearing in a large measure, I think.
TOOBIN: One of the things, that if the Democrats think that the next nominee is going to be easier to beat, these hearings, it seems to me, almost always make the witness look better than the questioners.
We always prepare for these thinking, oh, the person is going to be on the griddle. But it's very hard to look good browbeating someone. I just think no matter how the -- whatever the issue, whether it's Oliver North in 1987 or, you know, here, many years later, it's very tough for the senators to look good and make the witness look back and Roberts is looking very good.
BLITZER: You know, I want to just show the pictures of the president that we're getting right now, he's up at the United Nations. He addressed the United Nations General Assembly about an hour or so ago -- he's now -- a little bit more than an hour and a half ago.
Now, still at the United Nations, he's in the Security Council, meeting with delegates, meeting with members. We'll see what he does there. There's Kofi Annan, the United Nations secretary-general. They met earlier in the day. Delegates, meeting at the United Nations right now on the 60th anniversary of the founding of the world body.
Let's see what's happening in the Security Council. We'll go there, if the president speaks, we'll see what's happening on that front. In the meantime, they're all just patting themselves on the back and shaking hands, which is not all that unusual at the United Nations.
Let me ask you this question about John Roberts' confirmation hearings, Jeff Toobin, and then Jeff Greenfield, you can weigh in. They're all dancing around some of the more sensitive issues like abortion rights for women. What would stop a senator from simply asking John Roberts, do you support abortion rights for women? And what would stop him from saying yes or no?
TOOBIN: The only rules here are what the participants choose to abide by. He has, in effect, been asked that, in so many words. He says -- he's decline to answer. There is something kind of preposterous about hearings where if you are an educated, sophisticated lawyer like John Reports is, and Roe v. Wade is the most controversial case of your generation, as a lawyer, he's got to have lots thoughts about it. He has to have read it dozens of times.
So the idea that we're having this hearing and not learning what he thinks about it is a little strange, but that isn't just true for John Roberts. That's how Supreme Court confirmation hearings have worked.
GREENFIELD: You may remember that when Clarence Thomas was up for confirmation, he said he'd never had a discussion about Roe v. Wade, which seemed, frankly, non-credible. But, you know, that would happens is these senators have what I call the Perry Mason disease. Journalists have this too, Wolf.
They believe if they just ask the right question, they'll get the equivalent of a courtroom confession. That the Democrats will ask the right question, obviously, you now you're right are I don't believe in any rights at all. I'm a crabbed, right-wing extremist and you shouldn't put me on the court. To put it mildly this is a delusion.
BLITZER: All right. Let's take a look at his picture. That's happening now. This is an interesting picture, the United Nations Security Council, the delegates gathering around the Security Council, the president of the Security Council from the Philippines, has called the session to order.
There's the secretary-general, sitting to her right. What is, perhaps, very, very interesting is that the president of the United States is representing the United States at this U.N. Security Council meeting.
Gloria Arroyo, I think that's Gloria Arroyo, president of the Philippines, is convening this extraordinary session of the Security Council. Delegates from the other states, the five permanent representatives of the Security Council, the United States, Russia, China, France, and -- uh, uh --
GREENFIELD: Did you say Britain?
BLITZER: Britain, of course, how could I forget? Tony Blair is there at the United Nations as well. The five permanent members, the ten non-permanent members -- speaking of Tony Blair, there he is. The president will be meeting with him as well, the representative of France, Dominique de Villepin, we just saw him there, he has come.
This is an important meeting of the United Nations, on the 60th anniversary. It gives the world body, a chance to take a closer look at itself, Jeff.
GREENFIELD: Yes, and it's a look that a lot of these folks are not particularly happy with. As I mentioned earlier, this was supposed to be the time, as Kofi Annan said, to reformulate new ideas. They're -- let's get that Millennium Development goal going, to halve the world's poverty rate by 2015.
They have an oil-for-food scandal. They've got a United States who's new representative to the U.N., John Bolton, is only there by recess appointment, in part because a lot of senators thought he was overtly hostile to the U.N., and has already been at the U.N. urging to reformulate a lot of their goals. So this is not a celebratory atmosphere, even though they're going to talk as though it was.
TOOBIN: Can I ask an uninformed question? I have never seen a president of the United States at the Security Council. I don't know if it's ever happened before. You always have the representative to the U.N., and you know, sometimes have the secretary of state, Secretary of State Powell made his famous speech, but I don't recall ever seeing a president sitting at that famous table at the Security Council.
BLITZER: I'm sure it's probably happened, at some point, but you're right, it's really, really extraordinary for the president of the United States to be sitting there with his U.S. ambassador to the United Nations sitting behind him, the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
It underscores on this 60th anniversary that as much criticism as a lot of people have for the U.N., this is still the U.N. And there's still, Jeff Toobin, an important role that the United Nations plays on many key issues.
TOOBIN: And, you know, we just came from the Roberts' confirmation hearings, where several senators have been asking about citing U.N. opinions, and foreign opinions and Supreme Court opinions. So even though the U.N. is at a low ebb of popularity in the United States, in the judicial world, the U.N. is sort of a rising force, and now very controversial.
GREENFIELD: A couple months ago, I hosted a conversation at the U.n. about -- on the tenth year commemoration of what happened at Srebrenica, the slaughter by the Serb of other forces, Croatians and Muslims, and I asked some of these people, who are generally trying to do heroic stuff, U.N. staffers, why do you still work for this organization, given what it did or didn't do in Rwanda, in the Balkans? And you know, some of the folks who've spent their lives there retain this belief that for all of its failures, there are times when the U.N. can step in, can save lives, can impose an international understanding. Clearly, that's a view that's more controversial in the United States than in many parts of the world.
But you see a moment like this, and you're right, Jeffrey, I think we should get Richard Roth probably to tell us when this has happened before. Yes, he would know.
BLITZER: You mean the last time an American president has actually represented the United States at the U.N. Security Council.
They're having some sort of vote. I see Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, is there. These are leaders who have gathered in New York City for this 60th anniversary event, and they are underscoring their support for the United Nations simply by their presence.
TOOBIN: You know, when I was covering the Republican National Convention in New York in 2004, I sort of listen to the everyday speeches, you know, not President Bush's speeches, but just sort of the drone of speeches, and the two guaranteed applause lines you'd always get from -- in the Republican Party, were attacks on trial lawyers and attacks on the U.N. The U.N. is just so deeply unpopular, at least in the Republican Party, that -- I mean, that's, I think, a change in recent years. That wasn't always the case.
BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our senior United Nations correspondent Richard Roth is watching this extraordinary meeting.
Richard, I take it the subject on the agenda of this Security Council meeting is terrorism. But Jeff Toobin raised an interesting question, and you know the answer, I am sure. How often is it that a president of the United States has sat at the Security Council?
RICHARD ROTH, CNN SR. U.N. CORRESPONDENT: All right, The last time was September 7th, 2000. It was Bill Clinton, not sure the exact topic. It might have been AIDS. It was the 55th anniversary or so, but it was a big millennium summit. Right now, inside the chamber, if we can take a look, the 15 nations, including President Bush, raising hands on this resolution, which is really backed by the British.
It is Designed to curb the incitement of terror, and that is something the British were pushing after mosques and others were accused of inciting violence and leading to a climate of terrorism, leading to the bombings in London as such.
But it is still very rare you see a U.S. president behind that U.S. seat. Normally now it's John Bolton representing the U.S. In the chamber, you mentioned Putin, Villepin, for France, and they are meeting on terrorism, is a major issue. Anything the U.S. can do to get world unity on this subject, they're going to push for here.
BLITZER: Dominique De Villepin was the foreign minister; he's now the prime minister of France, and President Chirac has been ill. Do we know about his illness, why he's not in New York right now, Richard?
ROTH: No, he had very -- he had treatment. It was regarded at one point as a state secret, but he's not here, and he's very close to the U.N. ideals and certainly to Kofi Annan at many points. French is one of the official languages, but other times the French language must be used in translation. There's still a desire by that country to keep its traditions, heritage, and that language, even as the organization may shift more toward the English language. Secretary General Annan was quite miffed that the countries of the United Nations could not agree on new, tougher language to spread the curb of nuclear weapons, non-proliferation. He said it was a disgrace, one of his most pointed comments to date, criticizing his membership.
BLITZER: Richard, standby for a moment. Our chief national correspondent John King is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with us, as well.
John, you've covered a lot of these meetings at the United Nations, when a president goes up there, but it is pretty unusual for this president to be representing the United States at this extraordinary meeting of the Security Council.
JOHN KING, CNN SR. NATL. CORRESPONDENT: We're at a definitional moment of the Bush presidency right now. He obviously wanted to make U.N. reform a key issue in his second term. John Bolton is the bull in the china shop. As you note, he's up there under a recess appointment. He does not have, if you will, the support of the Congress at the moment.
This is very important to the president. But at the same time, he obviously is dominating his time right now with Katrina and this reaction to it. Every other time this president has been at the Security Council, the issue has been the Iraq war. Iraq is still a big issue. Iran and North Korea big issues. A reminder even as he deals with this hurricane, prepares for this speech tomorrow night to the nation, considerable international issues still on his plate. He is not the most popular man in the room at the United Nations, that is a fair statement.
BLITZER: The fact that so many countries, 90 country, 100 countries, have now come forward and said, we want to help you, the United States, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, what does that do to sort of underscore this globalization, the world as a community, that some in this administration were, shall we say, less enthusiastic about?
KING: Well, without a doubt, it helps the atmospherics. The United States traditionally takes the lead in international humanitarian efforts. The United States, obviously, is getting some help now from people overseas. The president is about to move to the immigration reform issue, a debate in Congress that is very contentious. Mexico is providing perhaps the most direct help. You see Mexican doctors down there. You have seen doctors and other supplies brought in from Mexico. We're about to shift to an immigration reform debate in the Congress. That will be quite a contentious issue.
Obviously, Iraq is still a giant wound in this body. And the president has many opponents on the Iraq war in this body. Everyone has generally come together to say, OK, we might not agree with this, but we need to try to fix it now. It's a tough moment for this president, an interesting moment, perhaps a bit of goodwill because of the hurricane response from the world will help heal some of the wounds here. But there are so many difficult issues, from China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran, a lot on this president's plate overseas that we tend to sometime to forget, justifiably so at the moment, because of the huge challenge here at home. BLITZER: Don't forget the Israeli-Palestinian issue. The president will be meeting with the prime minister of Israel today in New York, as well Ariel Sharon. On this day that this extraordinary moment is unfolding, Jeff Greenfield, there's a series of about a dozen terror attacks in Baghdad alone, more than 150 people killed, more than 500 injured, on this day when the president is devoting a big chunk of his time to this issue of democracy in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East.
GREENFIELD: And it's astonishing. This is the second event in recent days that, absent other news, would have probably leapt out on the evening news, on a cable network and on tomorrow's front pages. You'll recall, what was it, 10 days or two weeks ago, 1,000 Iraqis were killed in a stampede triggered by a false report of a suicide bomber during a religious procession, during a major Shiite Muslim holiday.
A dozen attacks do suggest that this drumbeat of pessimism that has engulfed the administration's policy in Iraq doesn't abate. I mean, the president today was asserting some very familiar notions about the spread of peace and the spread of democracy, and more than anything else, I believe, these stories have just eaten away at the president -- even for the people who were for the Iraq war and his natural allies. You can't exactly call it good news to say, well, it won't get as much play as possible because we're still recovering from a massive hurricane. It's just a very tough -- let me be startlingly original -- it's a tough time for the president.
BLITZER: But, John, before we take a quick commercial break, I know you've been doing some reporting on the John Roberts confirmation process as well. And yesterday, we noted that he was rather open in responding to question, and saying that he does believe the U.S. Constitution provides an inherent right to privacy for American citizens, an answer that, under normal circumstances, could have jolted some of the more conservative supporters that he has.
KING: Well, the White House went out of its way, Wolf, to give a head's up to the key conservative legal voices that that answer was coming, because they did not want, what one official told me, was a gasping reflex outrage from conservatives as to, oh, my God, as you've been discussing, another Souter. They gave conservatives a head's up that John Roberts would acknowledge limited right to privacy, but refuse to answer questions about Roe v. Wade, how he (INAUDIBLE). The Federalist Society, a big lawyer there, Leonard Leo (ph), was one of those people. They call these conservatives and said, this is what he's going to say, please make phone calls to all your friends, calm them down. We don't want people in our face.
GREENFIELD: And you found out something else, which was that they pointed out, that Clarence Thomas had given a similar notion of a limited right to privacy, and heaven knows when it came time to decide things like Roe, Mr. Thomas, Justice Thomas...
KING: Well, Jeffrey Toobin hit on this yesterday, they knew that that was what pulled the rug out from under Robert Bork, when he said no, it's simply not there, there is no right to privacy, and so they needed to do this.
BLITZER: Very quickly, John, what was the reaction from those conservative stalwarts?
KING: I think, for the most part, quite well. Phyliss Schlafly is quoted in "The Wall Street Journal" today as saying, "This is, obviously, not a Scalia or a Thomas, but maybe he'll be a Rehnquist. That's OK with us.
BLITZER: All right, we're going to continue our coverage. We're juggling lots of important stories, the John Roberts confirmation hearings, the president's extraordinary meeting at the United Nations Security Council. Right now, he's sitting in the U.S. seat. He's representing the U.S. there. Hurricane Ophelia, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, disaster again In Baghdad. More than 150 people killed in a series of a dozen bombings.
Much more of our coverage here in THE SITUATION ROOM, right after this.
BLITZER: Welcome back. We're here in the SITUATION ROOM covering lots of news unfolding right now. The president is at the United Nations Security Council right now. He addressed the General Assembly earlier in the day. He's now representing the U.S. at the Security Council. They're having a meeting on terrorism. The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, is speaking before the Security Council right now. We're also following Hurricane Ophelia off the coast of the Carolinas. We're watching that hurricane to see what happens there. Much more coverage of that come up.
We're also watching what's happening in Baghdad; 12 bombings occurred today. More than 150 people have died, more than 500 injured, in this one day, in the Iraqi capital itself.
And we're follow the confirmation hearings of John Roberts to be the chief justice of the United States. Those questions from Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa continuing right now. Let's listen in.
SEN. CHARLES GRASSLEY, IOWA: ... the defendant has caused," end of quote. As you know, the Helper decision was later overturned by Hudson. Judge Roberts, do you consider the false claims...
GRASSLEY: Other than the Toten case and the Helper case, have you ever written or spoken publicly about the issue of the constitutionality...
BLITZER: All right, we're going to break away from this confirmation hearing. Before the Senate Judiciary Committee, John Roberts answering question posed by Senator Charles Grassley, Republican of Iowa.
Our senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is here in THE SITUATION ROOM with us.
As you've been watching these hearings unfold, a very interesting political dynamic unfolding. Candy, but give us some thoughts.
CANDY CROWLEY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What's interesting about this to me is in any other time, this would be -- look at least like a triple for George Bush. People would be saying, boy, he picked well...
BLITZER: Candy, hold on one second. Because the president is now addressing the United Nations Security Council. Let's listen in.
(JOINED IN PROGRESS)
BUSH: ...We meet just over two months after the terror attacks in London, one year after the terrorist massacre of schoolchildren in Beslan and four years after the terrorist attack in this city. Acts of terrorism like these emerge from a radical ideology that tolerates no dissent and justifies the murder of innocent people as the best way to achieve its goals.
Today, we support a resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom that condemns the incitement of terrorist acts and calls on all states to take appropriate steps to end such incitement. I want to thank the prime minister and his government for their hard work on this issue. The United States of America strongly supports the implementation of this resolution.
We have a solemn obligation. We have a solemn obligation to stop terrorism in its early stages. We have a solemn obligation to defend our citizens against terrorism, to attack terrorist networks and deprive them of any safe haven, to promote an ideology of freedom and tolerance that will refute the dark vision of the terrorists.
We must do all we can to disrupt each stage of planning and support for terrorists acts. Each of us must act, consistent with past Security Council resolutions, to freeze terrorist assets. To deny terrorists freedom of movement by using effective border controls and security travel documents. To prevent terrorists from acquiring weapon, including weapons of mass destruction. Each of us must act to share information to prevent terrorist attacks before they happen.
The United States will continue to work with and through the Security Council, to help all nations meet these commitments. The United States also reaffirms its commitment to support the prevention of unjust armed conflict, particularly in Africa. Which is why we have joined Algeria, Benin and Tanzania in co-sponsoring today's second resolution.
We support the need to approve the ability of the African union and sub-regional organizations to deploy both civilian and military assets to prevent such conflicts. Over the next five years, the United States will provide training for more than 40,000 African peacekeepers, as part of a broader initiative by the G-8 countries. We will help train African forces to preserve justice and order in Africa.
Terrorism and armed conflict are not only threats to our security, they're the enemies of development and freedom for millions. To help ensure the 21st century is one of freedom, security and prosperity, I want to thank the members of the Security Council for supporting today's resolutions.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thank President Bush for his statement. I invite the distinguished...
BLITZER: All right. We're going to go away from the United Nations Security Council. The president just made some historic remarks there. It's not that common -- in fact, it's pretty extraordinary -- for an American president to actually represent the United States before the Security Council. He speaks every year before the United Nations General Assembly. This is a not very common event. The president speaking about terrorism, together with other world leaders who are there, including the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
We'll take a quick break. Much more coverage of that, all the day's other news, Hurricane Ophelia, as well as the confirmation hearings of John Roberts, right after this.
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