Skip to main content
Search
Services


 

Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Taunts From a Terrorist; Moore vs. Thompson; Dueling Documentaries: Scientology vs. The BBC

Aired May 15, 2007 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


WOLF BLITZER, HOST: He must be a friend of mine or something.
Thanks, Jack, very much.

And to our viewers, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Happening now, as anguish grips families back home, U.S. troops are on a massive search for fellow soldiers ambushed and apparently abducted by insurgents.

Were they easy targets?

The liberal film director, Michael Moore, takes on conservative actor and former Senator Fred Thompson -- their wows over Cuba, health care and cigars.

And he fought his own desperate battle with cancer. Now he's declaring war. I'll speak with this hour with seven time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

But up first this hour, we have some breaking news we're following.

President Bush has just tapped a new recruit to oversee America's long running wars. We have new word on Mr. Bush's choice to become his so-called war czar.

Let's go to our White House correspondent, Ed Henry -- Ed, tell our viewers who's getting the job.

ED HENRY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it will be Lieutenant General Douglas Lute. He is the director of operations for the Joint Chiefs.

As you know, previously, he was also director of operations, starting in 2004, for the U.S. Central Command down in Tampa. That -- he was overseeing combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The significance here as, you know, Democrats have been criticizing this move -- the expected move -- saying that the president essentially outsourcing his commander-in-chief duties. What the White House will say is that they need somebody here in Washington who is coordinating all of the various efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. They need one go to person who can coordinate all the combat operations but, also, cut through the red tape, all the bureaucratic red tape that they think has helped stifle progress because of all of the various -- both wars going on at the same time.

We're told the president just made the decision in the last couple of days. The White House believes this is the best man for the job. The official announcement with the president will not come tonight, but could come as soon as tomorrow -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And those of us who look at musical chairs bureaucracy here in Washington, does he report directly to the president or will he report to the national security adviser, Stephen Hadley?

HENRY: You put your finger on exactly the most important thing, and we're going to have to wait and see. But my expectation, based on conversations with senior officials, is that he will report directly to the president. And that's significant.

The reason why the White House feels they need this is that Stephen Hadley, the national security adviser, feels overrun with both wars going on in Iraq Afghanistan, as well as North Korea, Iran -- so many hot spots right now.

So this would be somebody who not only could cut through the red tape, but has a direct pipeline to the president of the United States. That is what's significant.

But, obviously, critics saying why did it take more than four years for the White House to realize they needed this go to person -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, we'll stand by for that official announcement over at the White House.

Thanks for that.

Ed Henry reporting.

Meanwhile, thousands of troops are hunting for three American soldiers missing and believed captured by insurgents tied to Al Qaeda. Four other Americans and an Iraqi interpreter were killed in a weekend ambush.

Were the soldiers left too vulnerable in an area known as the Triangle of Death?

Let's go live to our senior Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre -- Jamie what are you learning?

JAMIE MCINTYRE, CNN SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, right now all of the focus is on trying to find these missing soldier.

But some commanders are raising the question about whether there's a lesson learned in this episode that could be used to prevent these kinds of incidents in the future.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

MCINTYRE (voice-over): The U.S. military says the predawn attack overwhelmed the eight soldiers in two Humvees with superior numbers and a combination of rocket propelled grenades and intense small arms fire.

A U.S. predator spy plane surveyed the scene after contact was lost with the soldiers, who were manning an observation point, looking for insurgents planting IEDs. But some of those bombs had already been planted, slowing the ability of nearby U.S. troops to respond.

The conclusion?

It was a snatch mission from the get go.

LT. COL. PAUL FITZPATRICK, U.S. ARMY:

MCINTYRE: This is clearly a deliberate attack, planned, not a chance engagement. It was planned by the enemy with the express design to attempt to kill and possibly, you know, capture some of our -- our forces.

MCINTYRE: A massive search covers a large area near Yusufiya, about 20 miles south of Baghdad. More than 4,000 U.S. and Iraqi troops, including elite U.S. Special Operations commandos, are scouring fields and going house to house around the clock.

The belief the captured soldiers may still be alive is partially fueled by the fact that no bodies have been found. But every minute they remain in the hands of a ruthless enemy, their lives are in danger.

FITZPATRICK: As soldiers have been captured, they have not all turned out well. Now, we hope that this will be an exception.

MCINTYRE: The case raises some of the same questions that followed the brutal murders of Privates Christian Menchacha and Thomas Tucker last June, who were captured while guarding a bridge in an isolated area with just one other soldier. The Army launched an investigation into why they were deployed in a small, vulnerable three man unit, but it has not released the findings.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

MCINTYRE: And, Wolf, now some commanders are raising similar questions -- why two Humvees were left so isolated at 4:00 in the morning, apparently too far away for nearby soldiers to come to their rescue. That may suggest that the tactics used by the U.S. may have to be adjusted once again to adapt to a thinking enemy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: And this is one of the most dangerous areas in and around Baghdad, the so-called Triangle of Death.

Jamie, thanks very much. The dead and missing U.S. soldiers were members of the 10th Mountain Division. That's based in Fort Drum in Upstate New York. The families of seven have been notified that their loved ones were involved in that ambush.

Let's go to our Carol Costello.

She's got more on this part of the story -- Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, Wolf, it is, of course, a difficult time for those who lost husbands, fathers and brothers in that so-called Triangle of Death.

Word of Sergeant First Class David Connell's death reached his wife and children just after Mother's Day. An officer showing up at Connell's mother's home in Knoxville last night to give her the news.

I don't have to tell you, it was devastating for the sergeant's mother his wife and his children, who just saw him two weeks ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: We went to Dollywood and he took us out -- one of us a day -- out of school.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: I'm proud of my dad. He didn't really fight for himself, he fought for the country.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We were there to pick him up at the airport when he landed. And that's what I see when I closed my eyes, is him walking through that terminal.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COSTELLO: The first little guy, Brian, his son. Sergeant Connell's son said he went to Dollywood and he took the day off school. And that's how he's going to remember his dad.

Sergeant Connell, by the way, wanted to be buried at Arlington National Cemetery. The family was told there was a 4 1/2 month wait, so the family will hold a memorial service and then, of course, wait for the time when the sergeant can be buried where he wished -- Wolf.

BLITZER: You know, Carol you hear the names, you hear the numbers, but you see that reaction. You see the human beings involved and that really drives home the tragedy, the poignancy of what is going on.

Our deepest condolences to all of those families involved.

Carol, thanks very much.

Let's go to Jack Cafferty.

He's in New York with The Cafferty File -- this is so sad, Jack, but it happens, you know, every single day, these families are notified that their loved ones are lost in Iraq.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it does, and that's truly an unfortunate situation.

This is totally on another subject. You may want to steer clear of the streets of Miami, Florida. For the second year in a row, Miami tops the list of cities with the worst road rage of any place in this country.

According to a survey by Auto Vantage, drivers in Miami say they see other motorists slam on their brakes, run red lights and talk on cell phones.

The most common cause of road rage is listed as impatient drivers. Other reasons include bad driving in the fast lanes, driving while stressed, frustrated or angry.

When it comes to road rage, there are other cities that rank right up there with Miami. They are, in order, New York, Boston, L.A. and Washington.

If you're looking for more pleasant streets on which to apply your automotive skills, the survey says you should go to Portland, Oregon; Pittsburgh; the Seattle-Tacoma area; St. Louis; and Dallas/Fort Worth.

The question is this what's the cure for road rage?

E-mail caffertyfile@cnn.com or go to cnn.com/caffertyfile -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thank you for that.

Still ahead, seven time Tour de France champion Lance Armstrong -- he's here in Washington with a strong message for Congress.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANCE ARMSTRONG: Why wouldn't you spend $10 billion a year on this number one killer in this country?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Lance Armstrong here in THE SITUATION ROOM. We'll talk about a very personal war.

Also, a political force, a lightning rod for controversy. We're going to have details of the death of the Reverend Jerry Falwell.

Plus, a home grown terrorist whose victims say he's taunting them and inciting new violence from behind bars.

What are his rights?

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: He was a TV evangelist who helped turn the religious right into a very powerful political force. But to many, he was also a powerfully divisive figure.

The Reverend Jerry Falwell died today at the age of 73.

Let's turn to CNN's Mary Snow.

She's joining us from New York.

How is he being remembered -- Mary? MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, certainly as a powerful figure.

The Reverend Jerry Falwell died after he was found unconscious at his office at Liberty University this morning. He did have a history of heart problems.

Now, the founder of the Moral Majority is being remembered as a giant of the Evangelical movement who drew fire, at times, for, among other things, his fight against abortion and gays.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): He is known as one of the founders of religious right. But the Reverend Jerry Falwell was also known or his outspokenness that, at times, made him a lightning rod for controversy.

He claimed the 9/11 attacks were punishment from god.

Here's what he said on "The 700 Club."

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM CBS NEWS' "700 CLUB," FROM YOUTUBE)

REVEREND JERRY FALWELL: I really believe that the pagans and the abortionists and the feminists and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People for the American Way, all of them to have tried to secularize America, I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Falwell later apologized.

But just last week, here's what he said when questioned again about those controversial remarks by CNN's Christiane Amanpour.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FALWELL: If we decide to change all the rules on which this Judeo-Christian nation was built, we cannot expect the lord to put his shield of protection around us, as he has in the past.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So you still stand by that?

FALWELL: I stand right by it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Falwell also blamed AIDS on gays and at one point he took aim at children's TV character, Tinky Winky, of the Teletubbies, saying the purple character was promoting a gay agenda.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FALWELL: Parents, be very careful what your children are watching.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Despite controversy, Falwell often carried political clout with they religious right. He took credit for helping get Ronald Reagan elected. But his influence waned over the years. However, he did weigh in on the 2008 race and raised eyebrows last fall when he said this about Democrat Hillary Clinton.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP, 9/22/06)

FALWELL: I certainly hope that Hillary is the candidate. She has $300 million so far. But I hope she's the candidate because nothing will energize my base.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SNOW: Soon after, Falwell said those comments were tongue in cheek.

He was courted by Republican candidates through the years and into this last election cycle. Just last year, presidential hopeful John McCain spoke at Liberty University to repair a strained relationship he had with Falwell.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

SNOW: And this Saturday, Republican Newt Gingrich, who is considering running for president, is scheduled to be the featured speaker at Liberty University -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Mary Snow reporting for us.

Mary, thanks very much.

When Jerry Falwell spoke last week with Christiane Amanpour over at Liberty University, he said he was hoping for a lot more time.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

REVEREND JERRY FALWELL: I need about 20 more years to accomplish what my vision for the university is.

AMANPOUR: Twenty years to...

FALWELL: I need at least another 20 years. So that's how I pray. In the bible, there's a story of a guy named Hezekiah, who was dying. And he asked god for 15 additional years, and he got it.

Well, I'm praying the same prayer with the option to renew.

AMANPOUR: And do you think you'll get it?

FALWELL: I don't know, but I certainly am hopeful.

AMANPOUR: What do you want to do with those 20 extra years?

FALWELL: Well, well -- we want a huge major Evangelical Christian university. We're just starting our junior school this fall. The law school graduates its first lawyers right now. We're starting a medical school about five years down the road. We have a 5,000 acre campus. And when I used the word pit bull, I meant tenacious. We want young people to know what they believe, why they believe it.

I believe America was built on the Judeo-Christian ethic. I want to see the nation returned to the Judeo-Christian ethic.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The Reverend Jerry Falwell dead at the age of 73. He died today.

He was an architect of the Iraq War and deputy defense secretary, handpicked by the Bush administration to run the World Bank. This hour, Paul Wolfowitz finds that job very, very much on the line amid charges of favoritism.

Our State Department correspondent, Zain Verjee, is joining us -- Zain, what is the latest?

ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Paul Wolfowitz versus the World Bank. He is really just trying to hang on to his job, as the war of words keeps heating up.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE (voice-over): A public shoot out at the World Bank over whether its president, Paul Wolfowitz, should resign for giving his girlfriend a sweet pay and promotion deal.

A scathing World Bank report says Wolfowitz did break the rules and showed questionable judgment and a preoccupation with self- interest.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP FROM "THE MCLAUGHLIN GROUP," COURTESY TMG)

SHAHA ALI-RIZA, WORLD BANK: The Arab-Israeli issue has...

(END VIDEO CLIP) VERJEE: Shaha Riza, seen here five years ago on "The McLaughlin Group," was given a salary of about $194,000 tax-free. It happened when Wolfowitz became president in 2005 and Riza was moved to the State Department. Wolfowitz says Ms. Riza's promotion and relocation to the State Department was sanctioned by the Ethics Committee.

The World Bank is a group of organizations that help poor countries.

The bank's report also reveals the angry rift between Wolfowitz and his staff. In it, the bank's personnel chief alleges this: "Wolfowitz also stated very clearly that if these people (OBSCENE WORD OMITTED) with me or Shaha, I have enough on them to them to (OBSCENE WORD OMITTED) them, too. Those were the words."

A source close to Wolfowitz says he doesn't speak like that.

The White House appears to be standing by their man, at least for now.

Spokesman Tony Snow says Wolfowitz did not commit a firing offense.

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Regardless, we have faith in Paul Wolfowitz. We do think it is appropriate for everybody to sit down after the fact, calm down take a look and figure out, OK, how do you move forward.

VERJEE: But a senior administration official tells CNN, if Wolfowitz decides to resign, the president won't stand in his way.

Many World Bank directors, bank staff and member countries want him out -- blasting the scandal, his management style and his earlier role as an architect of the Iraq War.

Washington power lawyer Robert Bennett accuses the bank of unfair dealings and an unfair effort to get Wolfowitz to resign.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VERJEE: Wolfowitz is meeting with the board right now. He is going to be making a statement and then take the board's questions. The board's likely to make a decision this week -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right.

We'll be standing by.

We'll be watching that closely.

Zane, thank you.

Coming up here in THE SITUATION ROOM, a possible presidential candidate and a controversial filmmaker trading some heated words. Michael Moore versus former Senator Fred Thompson.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED THOMPSON, FORMER SENATOR: The mental institution, Michael, might be something you ought to think about.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: The challenge is out there. The barbs are flying. We're going to show you what this is all about.

Plus, a big chill between the U.S. and Russia -- is it a sign of a new cold war?

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Our Carol Costello is monitoring some other stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now -- Carol, what's the latest?

COSTELLO: Well, Wolf, we just have details of a story coming into us.

Word of a military plane crashing near Barberville, Kentucky. That's about 100 miles south of Lexington. It may be a C-130. We're waiting for confirmation on that. We do know there were reports of a low flying aircraft just before the crash and we're told there is now smoke coming from a heavily wooded area and emergency crews are trying to reach the scene. We'll keep watching that one.

We're also following that huge wildfire along the Georgia-Florida border. It's forcing hundreds of people to evacuate, many for the second time. Weather isn't helping. Temperatures are high and humidity is low. Lightning started the fire more than a week ago. It's now burned more than 138,000 acres in Florida, as well as 109,000 acres in Georgia.

Out of Guantanamo and back to the battlefield -- the Pentagon is naming six former detainees who it says returned to Afghanistan as Islamic fighters, three of them in senior leadership positions. Another was later identified as a Taliban deputy defense minister.

The Defense Department says in total, 30 former detainees have rejoined the fight against coalition forces in Afghanistan.

A reprieve for actor Richard Gere, who had an arrest warrant out in India over that kiss with Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty. The two were accused of obscenity. But now India's Supreme Court is suspending legal proceedings while it determines proper jurisdiction for the case. Shetty lives in Mumbai and wants it moved there. Gere left the country before the warrant was issued. So, not (UNINTELLIGIBLE) -- Wolf.

BLITZER: A bad kiss, I guess.

They don't do that in India.

COSTELLO: I know, it seems so tame to Americans.

BLITZER: Yes.

You can't do it. A no-no.

Thanks, Carol.

Coming up, Lance Armstrong takes a strong stand about a controversial vaccine.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: You say it should be mandatory.

ARMSTRONG: Absolutely.

BLITZER: Absolutely?

ARMSTRONG: Absolutely.

BLITZER: There's no doubt about that?

ARMSTRONG: No.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

BLITZER: The cycling champion turned activist, he's here in Washington. He's fighting cancer. We'll tell you what he's doing.

Also, he's considered a domestic terrorist and is serving time in a supermax prison. But some of his victims say he's still being allowed to publicly incite violence. The latest on Olympic bomber, Eric Rudolph.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Happening now, a cease-fire between rival Palestinian factions collapses for the second time in two days. At least a dozen people are dead in fighting between Hamas and Fatah in Gaza. We're watching the story for you.

Also, an Iranian American woman and academic reportedly charged in Tehran. The state run media says Hallah Espandieri (ph) being investigated for security crimes and is being held in a notorious prison.

And more pet food now being recalled over traces of toxic chemicals. Fifteen brand of Sensible Choice and Costco dog and cat food are involved, although no new pet illnesses are reported.

I'm Wolf Blitzer.

You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Secretary of State Condoleezza rice felt the frost in her visit to the Kremlin, just like the bad old days of the U.S.-Soviet standoff over missiles.

Let's go to our senior international correspondent, Matthew Chance.

He's in Moscow -- Matthew?

MATTHEW CHANCE, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the U.S. secretary of state in a series of difficult meetings here with senior Russian officials.

Her visit to Moscow comes at a time of relatively tense relations between the two countries on issues as far apart as the future status of Kosovo to Iran's controversial nuclear program to missile defense.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

CHANCE (voice-over): It may not be a cold war, but relations between the U.S. and Russia have a distinct chill. On her visit to Moscow, Secretary of State Rice tackled the thorniest issues that now divide the two nations, like U.S. plans to deploy a missile defense system in Eastern Europe despite Kremlin objections.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Russia and the United States do not completely see eye to eye on the current plans for missile defense deployments, although we are continuing to talk about it.

CHANCE: But the missile defense plan remains controversial. Washington insists the radar site in the Czech Republic and interceptor rockets in Poland are designed to target missiles from rogue states. The Kremlin says they're unnecessary and could pose a threat to Russia.

For its part, Washington is concerned about the course of democracy in Russia. Opposition groups and journalists complain of harassment. The situation is so bleak, some analysts say fundamental divisions appear to have opened between Russia and the West.

SERGEI LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER: It's a problem of values because what is happening in Russia is, to a great extent, a challenge to the basic values of the Western civilization. I mean freedom, that's the key word here.

CHANCE: Freedom aside, analysts say Washington and Moscow still cooperate. Russia has growing trade links with the United States, and the U.S. needs the Kremlin to help maintain pressure on Iran over its controversial nuclear program.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CHANCE: Well, Secretary of State Rice has made it clear that despite all the problems between the two countries, she does not believe that the United States and Russia are engaged at the start of any kind of new Cold War. And out of these meetings in the Russian capital, both sides have now agreed to tone down the rhetoric, at least in public.

Back to you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Matthew. Thanks very much.

He's one of the country's most notorious homegrown terrorists. And now some of his victims say Eric Rudolph is taunting them, inciting new violence from inside one of the country's highest security prisons.

Let's go to CNN's Brian Todd. He's watching this story.

What exactly is Eric Rudolph doing, Brian?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he's writing letters from his Supermax Prison that are getting posted on a Web site run by sympathizers. This is a real test of a convicted terrorist's right to free speech versus the security concerns of his victims.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice over): He's considered by the U.S. government a domestic terrorist. He's nearly two years into a life sentence for deadly bombings at the Atlanta Olympics and an abortion clinic. And his victims are upset that Eric Rudolph's allowed to write letters that get posted on the Web site of what the U.S. government considers a terrorist group.

EMILY LYONS, BOMBING VICTIM: You would think that if it was a possibility of a terrorist network receiving information, encouragement to kill, the government would do something about it.

TODD: Emily Lyons, permanently maimed in Rudolph's 1998 attack on a Birmingham abortion clinic, claims Rudolph's letters posted on a Web site of a group called the Army of God incite others to violence. The anti-abortion group's posted one note from before his sentencing, saying, "... force is justified in an attempt to stop abortion." But we found no letters posted since Rudolph's been inside the so-called Supermax federal prison in Colorado that indicate he's inciting anyone to violence.

In one letter from prison, Rudolph taunts Lyons, describing her remarks and gesture to him at sentencing. "It was a great speech. Perhaps they could put it next to MLK's 'I Have a Dream'. They could call it 'I have a Middle Finger.'"

JEFF LYONS, EMILY'S HUSBAND: I sent a letter to the warden basically asking him to help me protect my family from this person...

TODD: Emily Lyons' husband Jeff says he's gotten no reply, but the Bureau of Prisons tells us all letters sent by Rudolph and other Supermax inmates, like convicted terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui and Ramzi Yousef, are screened for possible threats, codes and illegal activity.

PAT D'AMURO, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Absent a threat, it's going to be very difficult for the court to stop his communications.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: Now, if they do find evidence of threats, incitement or codes, plots in any of these letters, prison officials say they limit or cut off communications from inmates like Rudolph. As for the fact that he sends these letters to a group considered terrorists by the federal government, a Bureau of Prisons officials said they don't let inmates post material on the Internet, but they realize materials authored by these inmates can be posted by others -- Wolf.

BLITZER: What about the so-called enemy combatants at Guantanamo, are they allowed to send out letters?

TODD: They are. They're actually -- they are allowed to send out letters. Those letters are also screened and those letters are carried, delivered by the International Community of the Red Cross. But like a situation at Rudolph's prison, we're not being told whether any of these letters have actually had be cut off or limited in any way.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us.

Rudolph, by the way, avoided the death penalty by pleading guilty to four bombings. The first at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, followed in 1997 by attacks on a women's clinic and a gay nightclub, also in Atlanta, and the 1998 bombing of a women's clinic in Birmingham, Alabama. Rudolph is an experienced outdoorsman, has spent five years hiding in the North Carolina mountains before he was captured.

I also want to issue a correction. We didn't accurately identify someone in Matthew Chance's report. At the end of the report, there was an analyst, Yevgeny Volk, of the Heritage Foundation here in Washington, who was speaking. We inaccurately listed him as Sergey Lavrov, the former minister of Russia.

Apologize for that mistake.

Up ahead, Michael Moore takes on Fred Thompson, and vice versa. It's a war of words online. Our Abbi Tatton has that. That's coming up next.

Also, there's another war of words between the Church of Scientology and the BBC. Our Sibila Vargas will tell us what that fight is all about.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: The liberal filmmaker Michael Moore has a new target, the former U.S. senator, possible Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson. Moore is challenging Thompson to a debate over health care, the subject of Moore's newest film.

Let's bring in our Abbi Tatton.

Abbi, what sparked this latest war of words?

ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Well, Wolf, it's been going on all day. In one corner, Michael Moore, who is gearing up for the launch of his new documentary taking on the U.S. health care system. And in the other, Fred Thompson who earlier this month criticized Moore for a trip he made to Cuba in the making of that documentary.

Moore's response today, bring it on. In a letter to the former senator, he challenges him to a debate on the subject of health care. He says that even the winner of that debate could even be decided by an "American Idol"-style vote. Moore also accused Thompson of hypocrisy for his reported affection for Cuban cigars.

Well, responding online today, Thompson didn't miss a beat.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

FRED THOMPSON, FMR. SENATOR: You know, I've been looking at my schedule, Michael, and I don't think I have time for you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TATTON: In declining this invitation from Michael Moore, Thompson also suggested Moore think carefully about mental institutions.

Well, it's not over for Moore, who has posted the video at his Web site. And he says that Thompson is hiding behind his desk -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right. Thank you for that. A little publicity also for his new film as well.

A very unusual and highly public battle is raging right now between the Church of Scientology against the British Broadcasting Corporation. Each side lashing out at the other in dueling documentaries.

Let's go to our entertainment correspondent, Sibila Vargas. She's in Los Angeles.

What are they fighting about, Sibila?

SIBILA VARGAS, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's hard to believe that this kind of exchange is taking place between a church and one of the most respected agencies in the world.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHN SWEENEY, BBC REPORTER: SWEENEY: No! Listen to me! You were not...

VARGAS (voice over): It's the verbal tirade that's launched a war between the Church of Scientology and the BBC.

SWEENEY: You were not there! You did not hear or record all of the interview!

VARGAS: This shouting match featuring BBC correspondent John Sweeney and Scientology representative Tommy Davis was one of two posted on the Internet site YouTube caught during the filming of a documentary called "Scientology and Me," which aired last night on the British Broadcasting Corporation's "Panorama" program.

SWEENEY: Some people say it's a sinister cult.

VARGAS: In a previous altercation, Davis, who had his own crew of Scientologists filming, had strong objections to Sweeney's repeated use of the word "cult".

TOMMY DAVIS, SCIENTOLOGY SPOKESMAN: And the reason you keep repeating it is because you wanted to get a reaction like you're getting right now. Well, buddy, you've got it, right here, right now. I'm angry.

VARGAS: Scientologists are so angry that not only are there reports of a possible lawsuit, but the church has now put out its own documentary in retaliation called "Panorama Exposed".

The film takes a behind-the-scenes look at the BBC program, promising to blow the lid off what it calls the show's unethical practices.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice over): Our cameras follow the actions of reporter John Sweeney and reveal a side of the BBC that is both dark and disturbing.

VARGAS: It shows Sweeney interviewing several high-profile Scientologists, asking them if they felt brainwashed, and shows the reporter shouting at actor John Travolta at a movie premier.

SWEENEY: Are you a member of a sinister brainwashing cult?

VARGAS: Despite the controversy, the BBC aired "Scientology and Me," offering links to its footage on its Web site.

(on camera): Both "Panorama's" editor, Sandy Smith (ph) and John Sweeney expressed remorse over the incident, with Sweeney adding, "I look like an exploding tomato and shout like a jet engine. And every time I see it, it makes me cringe."

And while he says he apologized, he says his outburst was provoked by the constant monitoring he received from Scientologists while doing the story, posting this statement on line: "I have been shouted at, spied on, had my hotel invaded at midnight, denounced as a 'bigot' by star Scientologists, and chased around the streets of Los Angeles by sinister strangers." BRUCE HINES, FMR. SCIENTOLOGIST: I know they do hire private investigators, and I know that they do follow people.

VARGAS (voice over): Former Scientologist Bruce Hines says it's all part of a longstanding tradition.

HINES: Anyone who is critical or attacks the Church of Scientology, they should be attacked back.

VARGAS: But church spokesman Mike Rinder says it's about accountability.

MIKE RINDER, SCIENTOLOGY SPOKESMAN: When someone shows up and he refuses access and he is abusive and offensive to the people that he interviews, we're not just going to stand around and take it.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VARGAS: And, by the way, early reports indicate that the "Scientology and Me" documentary which aired last night on BBC did very well in the ratings. So, Wolf, it looks like controversy swirling around this story did not hurt it one bit.

BLITZER: All right. Thanks, Sibila, for that.

Sibila Vargas reporting from Los Angeles.

Still ahead here, a champion weighs in on new allegations of doping rocking the cycling world.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LANCE ARMSTRONG, BICYCLIST: Cycling's really been beat up on this. Does it have an issue? Yes. Do all sports have an issue? Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Lance Armstrong, he's here in THE SITUATION ROOM. My one-on-one interview with him, that's coming up.

And coming up in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, a couple of familiar Washington faces in an unlikely setting. Jeannie Moos takes a most unusual look. You're going to want to see this in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(NEWSBREAK)

BLITZER: He's a high-profile cancer survivor, not to mention a seven-time champion of the Tour de France. Now he's an activist seeking increased funding for cancer research and prevention.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM, Lance Armstrong.

Lance, thanks very much for coming in.

ARMSTRONG: You bet. Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: You're lobbying Congress today. Tell our viewers what the immediate need is that you're pushing for.

ARMSTRONG: Well, this specific piece of legislation has to do with screening. So just making sure that in many cases -- and, of course, as you know, cancer is harder to treat the further -- the further it gets along. And so one of the most important things we can do is screen people early, diagnose them early, and ultimately, you know, either prevent treatment, extreme treatment like chemotherapy or radiation, but operate early on and just, you know, catch things early. That's...

BLITZER: And so what you need is the funding for this?

ARMSTRONG: Well, we need funding. Screening costs money. We need funding for that.

You know, unfortunately, the most -- the neediest population in this country is the one that doesn't receive, you know, the proper care, proper screening. So ultimately, their disease is diagnosed late. And as we know, everybody ultimately receives treatment. It just comes too late.

BLITZER: And if you can diagnose it earlier, you have a much better chance not only of surviving, but of beating it.

ARMSTRONG: Exactly. I mean, early diagnosis is one of the most important things.

BLITZER: How much money are we talking about right now? Because we did some research -- $5.5 billion or so in taxpayer money goes to the NIH for cancer research. How much money do you think realistically Congress should come up with now to deal with cancer?

ARMSTRONG: That's a great question. I mean, with this specific piece, the dollar amount is a little unclear.

If you're asking me, what do I think that the NCI actually needs, the National Cancer Institute actually needs to do the best job possible? I mean, I think, number one, we need to make it a priority in this country. So that means leadership.

But then also, once you have leadership in place, you have to fund the war. And it really is a war.

BLITZER: The war on cancer.

ARMSTRONG: This is a war. I mean, to me it's a war.

BLITZER: So how much money are we talking about realistically? A ballpark. ARMSTRONG: Well, if you get $5.5 billion now, why wouldn't you double it? Why wouldn't you spend $10 billion a year on the number one killer in this country?

BLITZER: A lot of people agree with you. But lawmakers and people in the executive branch, they're going to say, that's fine, but where is the money going to come from? What's going to suffer as a result of that?

ARMSTRONG: Right. And I don't know. I don't know.

My argument would be that, if it kills 600,000 Americans a year, roughly, which it does, then another $5 billion is irrelevant. And if you want to compare and contrast to the actual war, I mean, those numbers are minuscule.

For me, it's a huge issue, and I think it should be an issue for every American. And I think it should be an issue for our president.

And a lot of people are looking at the war in Iraq, and they're seeing how much that costs -- $2 billion a week, $2.5 billion a week. And they're saying, you know what? Take that money from the war in Iraq and devote it to cancer research, education, health care.

ARMSTRONG: Sure.

BLITZER: And that money might be a lot more useful.

Are you among those who would make that argument?

ARMSTRONG: I would love to have two or three weeks of that money. When you look at $4 billion, $6 billion -- but I don't want to be the person that sits there and says -- you know, I don't want to criticize the current administration, I don't want to say that was a bad idea, I don't want to say it's a waste of money.

I mean, we all make decisions for our own reasons. You know, would we like to have that money? Do I think that that's something that we ought to be spending money on? Absolutely.

But we are where we are. I don't have an answer on how to get out of Iraq.

BLITZER: So you're lobbying specific members of the Senate and the House right now. Do you see a difference on this issue between Democrats and Republicans?

ARMSTRONG: You definitely see -- yes, you definitely see a difference.

BLITZER: What is it?

ARMSTRONG: Well, I mean, typically, the Democrats are more health-oriented in terms of health care. They're much more friendly, they're a much more friendly audience. Republicans would be much more conservative because of the dollar amounts, and they know that we're involved in a war that is costly.

But listen, both sides are affected by the disease. This is not a partisan issue. Cancer affects Republicans, Democrats, Independents, the left, the right, the middle, everybody. Young, the old, the poor, the rich.

This is a bipartisan issue. So we all have to come together to solve it.

BLITZER: You went bike riding -- we've got a picture behind you, if you want to take a look right there -- with the president of the United States. Did you lobby him? What did you say to him during that famous excursion?

ARMSTRONG: At this point, he wasn't saying very much.

BLITZER: He was just trying to breathe, probably. Trying to keep up with you.

ARMSTRONG: You know, I have to give -- he tried very hard that day. But at the end of the ride and after a bit of time hanging out, I asked him for $1 billion that day.

And we've yet to get the billion, but I think we're making progress. I think if you address all the issues in the continuum, I think we can eventually get to the place we need to be.

And that goes all the way even before screening. I think we have to talk about prevention in this country as well. I mean, in my opinion, the United States of America should be a smoke-free country today.

BLITZER: I mean, we've got to talk about early detection.

ARMSTRONG: Right.

BLITZER: Treatment.

ARMSTRONG: Right.

BLITZER: And then a cure. And research.

ARMSTRONG: Right.

BLITZER: Basically to end cancer.

ARMSTRONG: Right.

BLITZER: There is the cervical cancer vaccine, the HPV vaccine. It's become a big issue around the country...

ARMSTRONG: Especially in Texas.

BLITZER: ... especially in your home state of Texas.

Where do you come down on the controversy that those who are saying it shouldn't be mandatory because it would promote sexual activity for young girls?

ARMSTRONG: Right. Yes, I don't -- I have a hard time going with that belief.

I mean, I think that you have a proven method to literally save lives. And I think that if you want to talk about a moral and an ethical issue, I mean, you could also say this with regard to stem cells, too. But if you have something that can save lives today, then it's an ethical issue if you actually don't use that. I mean, I think...

BLITZER: So you say it should be mandatory.

ARMSTRONG: Absolutely. Absolutely.

BLITZER: There's no doubt about that.

ARMSTRONG: No doubt about it.

BLITZER: Yesterday, Sanjay Gupta, a friend of yours, interviewed the first lady. And she agrees with you. She basically made that point.

ARMSTRONG: And I think if it's about a young lady that certain people would think is going to have -- you know, be more encouraged to have sex earlier, I mean, I think that comes down to the parents. I mean, you have to -- then as a father, I have to sit down and go, what kind of a father am I? What are you teaching your kids?

I mean, we have science to cure people and save people. Let's do it. Let's use it.

And then on the other side, I mean, let's -- you know, let's raise our kids right.

BLITZER: One totally unrelated question. I want to wind this interview up.

The Tour de France -- or the Tour de France, depending on how you like to pronounce it.

ARMSTRONG: I'm not coming back.

BLITZER: You're not coming back.

ARMSTRONG: I'm not coming back.

BLITZER: Floyd Landis, the winner, you know, charges against him. Anti-doping agencies looking into it.

Where do you come down on this whole uproar right now based on the latest accusations against him, largely by the French, obviously?

ARMSTRONG: Yes, it's -- look, it's bad for cycling. I mean, cycling has been sort of in the crosshairs of this debate for a long time. You don't hear about it, really, now. I guess you hear more about baseball as well.

But, you know, when do we talk about the other sports? I mean, cycling has really been beat up on this.

Does it have an issue? Yes. Do all sports have an issue? Yes.

And so, you know, Floyd's situation is unfortunate. I believe in him. I believe in him. And I hope the best for him.

BLITZER: And we hope for the best for what you're doing here in Washington.

Thanks for all the good work. It is critically important work.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you.

BLITZER: And we appreciate what you're doing.

ARMSTRONG: Thank you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BLITZER: Lance Armstrong speaking with me here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up next, Jack Cafferty is wondering, what's the cure for road rage?

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's got "The Cafferty File" -- Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: The question is: What's the cure for road rage? Miami's apparently the worst city in the country for this stuff.

John writes from Phoenix, "The only cure is to follow Germany's lead. They have much harder driving tests and more driver's education. The cost to get a license also much more expensive. Specifically, they have laws that make rude gestures punishable with a huge fine and even license suspension."

John in Brooktondale, New York, "I feel it will only get worse as gas prices climb and people try to maintain a car-centric lifestyle. The cure is walking, bicycling and taking mass transit."

Bill in Atlanta writes, "You cannot abolish road rage, so here's a suggestion: carpool. I do, and it's great. I love the days I don't have to drive to work. I save fuel and sanity at the same time."

"Let the angry and over-caffeinated shoot each other over lane changes. I just sit in the passenger seat, read my book." Janice in Vista, California, "Jack, the answer to road rage is a temporary penalty increase of the driver's insurance premium. Out-of- control anger is just as dangerous on the road as a drunk driver. Subsequent offenses should also include jail time."

Sharon in Corpus Christi, Texas, "To cure road rage, don't get married and don't have kids. You're never in a rush to get anywhere for anyone but yourself, then, and no one causes you to be late. Time is irrelevant and good music helps."

Watson writes, "The cure for road rage is humor. If all of us are willing to smile and laugh off the errors of others, we would function better and spare ourselves grief, like becoming frustrated with slow-moving traffic. There's nothing you can do about it, so sit back and enjoy the ride."

And Terry in Moses Lake, Washington, "Dollar a gallon gas. That would cure mine."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to cnn.com/caffertyfile. We post more of them online, along with video clips of "The Cafferty File" -- Wolf.

BLITZER: See you back here in an hour, Jack. Thanks very much.

We'll be back 7:00 p.m. Eastern.

Let's go to "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT". It starts right now.

TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.voxant.com

Search
© 2007 Cable News Network.
A Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines. Contact us. Site Map.
Offsite Icon External sites open in new window; not endorsed by CNN.com
Pipeline Icon Pay service with live and archived video. Learn more
Radio News Icon Download audio news  |  RSS Feed Add RSS headlines