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More GOP Senators Oppose Bush on Iraq; Pakistan's Islamist Revolt

Aired July 13, 2007 - 19:00   ET


Happening now, a Republican revolt -- two key senators break with the president. The demand to plan for a pull out from Iraq should start by the end of the year.

Open mike night. Two Democratic presidential candidates caught on tape. What were John Edwards and Hillary Rodham Clinton whispering about?

He's a Republican presidential candidate and a fitness advocate. Why is Mike Huckabee blasting "Sicko" filmmaker Michael Moore? I'll ask him about his political food fight.

Wolf Blitzer if off today. I'm Miles O'Brien and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tonight rebellion on Iraq, from members of the president's own party one day after the president told Congress not to try to run the war, two Republican senators ignore his comment. They plan to demand that President Bush offer a plan to start reducing U.S. troops by the end of this year.

Our Elaine Quijano is at the White House, but we begin with our CNN congressional correspondent Dana Bash, on the Hill -- hello, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Miles. And what these two prominent Republicans are doing is demanding the president give Congress a war plan by the fall that does start to bring troops home. There are two significant dates in this bill. First, October 16, you can see on the wall next to me. That is the day president will be required to send Congress that plan, and then the second is December 31, the end of the year. That is when the new plan would have to be ready to go, but and this is a bit but, they would be -- the president would be required to create this plan, but not required to actually implement it, Miles.

O'BRIEN: And how significant is this piece of legislation?

BASH: It's significance, because John Warner and Richard Lugar carry a lot of weight here on Capitol Hill, but it's really unclear if this could pass because it doesn't have a deadline or even a timeline for troop withdrawal. And that means, Miles, many Republicans simply won't go for it.

O'BRIEN: Dana Bash on Capitol Hill. Let's go to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue, the White House, Elaine Quijano is there. Amidst of all this talk in Washington, Iraqi lawmakers are considering a vacation, of all things. That led to quite an interesting, shall we say, heated debate today in the pressroom. The new pressroom got its first donnybrook I guess you could say, Elaine.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know it was interesting because before we have heard in fact U.S. officials publicly coming out and objecting when the Iraqis were looking at a two-month long recess. They cut that back down to one month, but today during the White House press briefing, Press Secretary Tony Snow, he seemed to show a kind of acceptance about the fact that the Iraqis would go ahead with a month-long recess come August. Well, at one point, Miles, he seemed to even suggest that perhaps Baghdad's hot summer temperatures were one reason the parliament needed a break. Here is a little bit of that exchange with ABC's Martha Raddat (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... the entire month of August off before the September deadline?

TONY SNOW, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It looks like they may, yes, just like the U.S. Congress is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you tried to talk them out of it?

T. SNOW: You know it is 130 degrees in Baghdad in August. I'll pass on your recommendation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, Tony, Tony, I'm sorry, that, you know I mean...


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... happen like September and it's 130 degrees for the U.S. military also in Iraq.

T. SNOW: You know that's a good point and it is 130 degrees for the Iraqi military and the Iraqis -- my understanding is at this juncture they're going to take August off, but you know they may change their minds.


QUIJANO: Now this of course has been a troubling notion for the Bush administration as well as some lawmakers on Capitol Hill, because, of course, during this recess, U.S. forces won't be getting a break from the fighting at all, and of course just yesterday in the president's own interim report to Congress on the progress that the Iraqi government is making in Iraq, the government of Iraq got an unsatisfactory rating when it came to some key legislative goals. Miles?

O'BRIEN: I suppose you could say, Elaine, maybe because of that report card, maybe they need a break? QUIJANO: You know that I suppose is in the eye of the beholder, but certainly it does raise the question as American service men and women continue to make the sacrifices, the Bush administration has said all along, look, we want to give them breathing space. Well this month-long recess is now part of what they're going to be doing with that breathing space. Miles?

O'BRIEN: Yes, tough timing to swallow here at home. Elaine Quijano on the north lawn of the White House. Thank you.

American troops in a bloody Baghdad firefight today with Iraqi police, the clash a stunning new sign of just how deeply Iran may be involved in the violence ravaging Iraq. Our senior Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is here with more. Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Miles, new indications of Iranian influence inside Iraq.


STARR (voice-over): U.S. troops on a predawn raid in Baghdad captured an Iraqi police lieutenant suspected of being an Iranian agent, raising questions about whether elements of the police have now been infiltrated by Tehran.

GEN. PETER PACE, JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: We're waiting to hear from the folks (UNINTELLIGIBLE) investigate this on the ground. I would not want to presume anything, and especially when it comes to that kind of details.

STARR: But a U.S. military statement said the Iraqi police officer is believed to have close ties to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, a group the U.S. says is involved in dozens of attacks against American troops in Iraq. After the man was captured, a ferocious firefight broke out, U.S. troops came under fire from a nearby Iraqi police checkpoint.

ROBERT GATES, DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think we've been pretty straightforward in saying all along that the Iraqi police were a challenge.

STARR: It's just the latest example of potential growing Iranian influence in Iraq. A U.S. military drone spotted these rockets ready for launch outside Baghdad. Commanders believe Iranian rockets and mortars are being widely used in the growing number of attacks on Baghdad's highly secure green zone and other areas. Intelligence sources tell CNN insurgents frequently fire these weapons from populated areas, making it tough for the U.S. to launch counterattacks.


PACE: They hope that they'll encounter battery fire that will be indiscriminate that will cause damage from where the mortars are being fired, and we're not going to do that.


STARR: Secretary Gates believes all of this is part of an intense campaign by al Qaeda, Iran, and other insurgent groups to cause as much mayhem as possible, to make the Iraqi government look weak, and weaken U.S. support for the war. Miles?

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Barbara.

Let's get up to New York. Jack Cafferty with a Friday the 13th version of "The Cafferty File" -- it's our lucky night, isn't it?

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: I forgot about it being Friday the 13th. You're absolutely correct. I am not superstitious, however. High-tech hell is what some are calling the down side of living in a world with so many sophisticated gadgets that are actually meant to make our lives easier.

British newspaper "The Daily Mail" reports on a study that was done about something called the dark side of technology. The group did the study and concluded that technology can be irritating, infuriating and downright annoying. People they interviewed were eager to talk about some of their most hated devices, including GPS positioning gizmos, the roller ball computer mouse, security lights, automated telemarketing calls, automated phone options, you know press one for English, car alarms, cell phones, speakers, novelty door bells, iPods, on and on and on.

I have a personal interest in this story. I have never owned any of the following -- a car phone, a cell phone, a GPS device, a Blackberry, a pager, an iPod, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. I'm 64 years old; my life has been quite satisfactory without any of these things, so here's the question.

Which high-tech gadgets drive you crazy and why? E-mail your thoughts to or go to

O'BRIEN: No cell phone for you?

CAFFERTY: Nothing. I've never had any of that stuff...

O'BRIEN: What about a clapper? Do you have the clapper...


O'BRIEN: The clapper, you know, clap on, clap off.

CAFFERTY: No, I don't have any of those things.

O'BRIEN: You don't need it. You don't know how your life might be enriched.

CAFFERTY: You know what? My life is rich enough. I'm very content the way I am, and I don't have the mental curiosity to learn how to operate it...

(CROSSTALK) CAFFERTY: I mean my kids have cell phones and take pictures and send messages and do what. It would take me years to learn how to do that. I'm not interested.

O'BRIEN: All right. We'll see what the audience has to say, Jack.

CAFFERTY: All right.

O'BRIEN: Appreciate it. Jack Cafferty with "The Cafferty File".

Coming up, backlash against "Sicko" -- a Republican presidential candidate and a fitness advocate takes the filmmaker to task.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to do whatever we want and let somebody else pay for it, that's what I have a problem with, with Michael Moore's message.


O'BRIEN: Find out why Mike Huckabee says Michael Moore is part of the problem with American health care.

Also, Democratic leaders vowed not to do it, but now one senior senator says impeaching the president isn't off the table.

Plus, double down on Osama bin Laden. We'll tell you about action taken today to find the world's most wanted terrorist.



O'BRIEN: A secret intelligence report still in the work says al Qaeda has found a safe haven in Pakistan, a U.S. partner in the war on terror, but that country's embattled leader may have a much more pressing problem on his hands.

Here's CNN's Brian Todd. Brian, bring us up to date on this one.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, on one hand President Pervez Musharraf is promising to crack down on Islamic extremists, but those groups who he is accused of turning a blind eye to in the past seem to be ready to counter him.


TODD (voice-over): Anger on the street...


TODD: ... and more pressure on a key U.S. ally.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: (UNINTELLIGIBLE) TODD: Calling President Pervez Musharraf a killer, protesters in Islamabad lash out after the Red Mosque standoff that left nearly 100 dead. After that crackdown on Islamic militants, Musharraf vowed to eliminate extremism in Pakistan. One top Pakistani official tells us the Pakistani military is beefing up its presence in the remote border region with Afghanistan, a stronghold of the Taliban and al Qaeda as a show of force against extremists. But a U.S. officials tells CNN there's no indication a major crackdown on Islamic radicals is about to begin, and terrorism analyst Peter Bergen says Musharraf's previous attempts haven't worked so well.

PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: From 2003 to 2005, there was a major Pakistani military operation in the tribal regions that ended really in a political defeat, because it was unpopular in Pakistan and military defeat, because the militants really held their own against the Pakistani military.

TODD: Following the Red Mosque siege, some of Pakistan's leading mullahs who do not support the extremists warned Musharraf not to launch a wider campaign against the madrassa or religious schools. The government says its only intent on rooting out extremists from madrassa.

MAHMUD DURRANI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: The government has launched a major campaign to get hold of all the bad in the (UNINTELLIGIBLE). They are trying to reform all madrassas for the reason that they should get some modern education, too, besides religion.


TODD: But we've been down this road before. After the London terror attacks two years ago, Musharraf promised to crack down on madrassas that were training militants, but that crackdown was only partially carried out. Miles?

O'BRIEN: Brian, what about the extremists that might be inside Musharraf's own military?

TODD: That has certainly been a problem in the past. Critics charge that some key people in the military and the intelligence service, the ISI, have really extremist sympathies, but Pakistani officials and terrorism analysts tell us Musharraf has mostly purged the extremists from the top levels of the military, the intelligence service may be another story.

O'BRIEN: Brian Todd, thank you very much.

The U.S. Senate is doubling the reward for the death or capture of Osama bin Laden. The measure would raise the reward to $50 million, this as U.S. intelligence reports say al Qaeda has made a stunning comeback, and may be at its strongest since the early days of the war on terror.

Joining me now CNN terrorism analyst Peter Bergen, who has interviewed Osama bin Laden, knows the ring of security around him, knows what the whole possibility of retribution is here. In a sense, is the U.S. missing the point when it is raising the bounty? Does that really motivate people who would have any knowledge about where he is?

BERGEN: The short answer, Miles, is no. There's been a $5 million reward for bin Laden in '99 after the embassy attacks in Africa. It's gone up to 25. Now there's 50 million. The people around bin Laden are not motivated by money, otherwise somebody would have dropped a dime on him a long time ago. They regard this guy as a religious idol. And you know the people in his immediate circle are not going to be motivated by an additional reward. And if they were serious about it, let's make it $1 billion. We're spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the war on terrorism already. Why not you know make it a serious chunk of change?

O'BRIEN: Would that make a difference?


BERGEN: Well I mean you know maybe that...

O'BRIEN: That could change.

BERGEN: That's slightly facetious, but...


BERGEN: ... if it was -- you know if it was well known that there was a very substantial sum of money that could be divvied up amongst a lot of different people, maybe that might make a difference.

O'BRIEN: Interesting. Let's talk about why after all this time he remains elusive. We keep seeing, particularly from Ayman al- Zawahiri, his number two, you know these tapes keep appearing and he keeps communicating with the world. There has to be a trail associated with those tapes getting out to the public and yet we cannot follow that trail. Why not?

BERGEN: Well in the case of Ayman al-Zawahiri, he's releasing so many tapes that trail is being followed, in my theory. I mean you may remember in January 2006 there was an attempt to kill him (UNINTELLIGIBLE) al-Zawahiri (UNINTELLIGIBLE) missile, he narrowly escaped death. So these guys are in a sort of catch 22.

If they say nothing, they sort of receive from into historical figures, if they say things, they may be found. Now bin Laden hasn't said anything since 2006. I think they've just made the decision Zawahiri will take the risks of being out there. Last week he -- this week he produced two videotapes or two tapes, one almost immediately responding to events in Pakistan. So he's out there. Bin Laden is remaining quiet.

O'BRIEN: Something caught my ear yesterday, listening to the president. Let's listen to what he had to say at his news conference.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The same folks that are bombing innocent people in Iraq were the ones who attacked us in America on September the 11th. That's why what happens in Iraq matters to the security here at home.


O'BRIEN: OK. Once again making that link between Iraq and al Qaeda.

BERGEN: That is a disingenuous statement (UNINTELLIGIBLE), it must be said. Al Qaeda in Iraq didn't exist until 2004, well after the 9/11 attacks. There was no al Qaeda presence in Iraq until we invaded the country, and now there's a substantial presence. Does al Qaeda in Iraq take direction from al Qaeda central on the Afghan/Pakistan border? To some degree, but that's after the 9/11 events, not before it.

O'BRIEN: Do you think if the U.S. were to pull out, would that al Qaeda threat move to the shores of the United States as the administration would suggest?

BERGEN: I think a complete withdrawal from Iraq would, (A), confirm al Qaeda's narrative about the United States that we're a paper tiger (ph) based on Vietnam, Mogadishu, pull out from Lebanon in the 80's, but (B), more importantly it would confirm their strategy, which is to get to a place which they can really regroup, and now they have a safe haven on the Afghan/Pakistan border and they would like one in central Iraq.

O'BRIEN: So another Afghanistan/Taliban...



O'BRIEN: All right. Peter Bergen, our terrorism analyst, thank you for your insights, as always.

Up ahead tonight in THE SITUATION ROOM, beware of the open microphone. Hillary Clinton caught on tape and she didn't know it.

And then impeach the president -- one leading Democratic senator flies in the face of party leaders, saying don't rule it out.

Plus a judge bars certain words in a sexual assault trial, outraging women's rights advocates and the alleged victim. We'll tell you what they are.

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


O'BRIEN: Welcome back to THE SITUATION ROOM. Carol Costello monitoring stories incoming into THE SITUATION ROOM. Carol, what's going on? CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: A couple of things, Miles.

Australian authorities say an Indian doctor has been charged in connection with the attempted bombings in Britain last month. The doctor was detained July 2 in Australia at the Brisbane Airport. He's due to appear in court on Saturday. Several medical doctors have been arrested as part of the investigation into that failed plot.

A handwritten journal, leading police to arrest two New York teenagers now accused of threats against a Suffolk County high school. Officials say the journal contained terrorist threats and elaborate plans for an attempt on the school, which one of the teenagers attended. The 15-year-old and 17-year-old met while working at a fast-food restaurant.

Federal prosecutors have rested their case in the Miami trial of Jose Padilla. He and two co-defendants are charged with belonging to a North American terror support cell. The government produced a form Padilla is alleged to have filled out to attend an al Qaeda camp in Afghanistan. Padilla was arrested at Chicago's O'Hare Airport five years ago and accused initially in a dirty bomb plot, but that did not come up during his Miami trial.

Fallen media mogul Conrad Black faces up to 35 years in prison after being found guilty of fraud and obstruction. A Chicago jury acquitted Black on nine other charges. He was accused of stealing $60 million from Chicago based Hollinger, a newspaper empire he once ran. The "Chicago Sun-Times" and Britain's "Daily Telegraph" were among its hundreds of titles. His lawyers say he will appeal. Sentencing is set for November 30.

That's a look at the headlines right now, Miles.

O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you very much, Carol.

Let's take a look at some really interesting I-Report video. A powerful typhoon pounding Japan's Okinawa Island, the whole chain of Okinawa Islands. More than 100-mile-an-hour winds, take a look at this report.

Typhoon Man-yi has injured more than two dozen people. It's left nearly 100,000 households without power and forced the cancellation of hundreds of flights. The storm is forecast to start hitting Japan's main islands tomorrow.

If you would like to send an I-Report to us, video or still, e- mail it to us at

Just ahead in the program, a Republican presidential candidate puts some fat into the firestorm over Michael Moore's new movie.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know of a single American who gets a serious disease and turns to his or her spouse and says, honey, we've got to get me to Havana. (END VIDEO CLIP)

O'BRIEN: Mike Huckabee in THE SITUATION ROOM making no apologies. We'll have the skinny.

Plus caught on tape -- Hillary Clinton and John Edwards burned by an open mike. Find out why some other Democrats don't like what they said.

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



Happening now, Senator David Vitter expected to return to work soon after being implicated in a prostitution scandal. A fellow senator says Louisiana Republican has been in seclusion with his family, but will likely show up for votes next week.

Also Attorney General Alberto Gonzales insisting he told the truth. In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee's ranking Republican, Gonzales rejects allegations in a "Washington Post" article that he knew about potential abuses by the FBI when he testified otherwise.

And Lady Bird Johnson lying in repose at her husband's presidential library, people lining up to pay tribute to the late first lady. A private funeral is scheduled for tomorrow, with burial Sunday at the Johnson ranch.

Wolf Blitzer is off today, I'm Miles O'Brien. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Well, it's a constant danger faced by anyone in politics or in this job, for that matter. An open microphone catching comments you'd rather not share with the world. The latest victims, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards.

CNN's Tom Foreman joins us now with more on what. And what were the candidates caught saying, Tom?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well you know when are they ever going to learn? You just can't do it. It was an unguarded moment, but it has sparked a feud inside the crowded Democratic presidential pack.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Beware of the open microphone. At the end of an NAACP presidential forum Thursday in Detroit, Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were caught talking in the background.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Senator Joseph Biden. Again, thank you so much.

VOICE OF SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D-NY), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We got to talk because they are just being trivialized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much for coming. Have a great afternoon.


FOREMAN: Edwards says he was just talking about a new approach to forums and debates, limiting them to four candidates at a time, rotating selected at random.

H. CLINTON: You know, I think there was an effort by our campaigns to do that, but that got somehow detoured. We've got to get back to it because that's all we are going to do.


H. CLINTON: Our guys should talk.

FOREMAN: No candidate is mentioned by name, but one of the people objecting to any squeeze play is back of the pack Dennis Kucinich, the congressman from Ohio. He blasted what he called imperial candidates. In a statement, he said -- candidates no matter how important or influential they perceive to be, do not have and should not have the power to determine who is allowed to speak to the American public and who is not.

Hillary Clinton says the cut the candidates' idea came from Edwards. Edwards says he doesn't want to keep any candidates out, just show them off in smaller groups.


FOREMAN: I know it's hard to hear exactly what they're saying, but boy, have the smaller second-tier sort of Democrats heard it loud and clear, and they're not happy at all about it. And you understand why, it looks like a cabal. It looks like the big guy is ganging up on you. No matter how they explain it, the fact is, stay away from the microphones.

O'BRIEN: Well, and it's no surprise that they would want to do this. They tried to limit the number of people there. But hearing it in such stark terms, it makes a difference, doesn't it?

FOREMAN: Well, and a lot of people -- in our business, we are having a lot of discussions about the notion. If you have 12 people on stage -- we have 18 candidates now, we have got two baseball teams. How do you have a debate with that many people all at once. Maybe you do need smaller groups.

But if you're one of the smaller candidates, you don't want the bigger candidates deciding how those groups will be picked.


O'BRIEN: How do you decide who is grouped with whom? FOREMAN: Yes, exactly. Because it would be real easy for the big candidates to say, here's a good grouping, how about we stand together, and all the rest of you go to C-SPAN at 3:00 in the morning. You know, (INAUDIBLE) what they'd like.

O'BRIEN: All right. Tom Foreman, be careful of that microphone at all times.

Well, what does eating too many Twinkies have to do with the presidential campaign? Just ask Republican candidate Mike Huckabee. Michael Moore's film "Sicko" has ignited debate on health care, but Huckabee says Moore is part of the problem. In a reference to the filmmaker's weight, Huckabee said, and we quote him now: "Michael Moore is an example of why the health care system costs more in this country."

I asked Mr. Huckabee about that.


O'BRIEN: Governor, good to have you with us. Governor, in addition to being...


O'BRIEN: You're a Baptist minister. Do you feel that...

HUCKABEE: That's right.

O'BRIEN: Was that the most Christian thing to say?

HUCKABEE: Oh, absolutely. I wasn't trying to make a personal attack on Michael. But he was...

O'BRIEN: Well, sure, it was personal.

HUCKABEE: ... going after somebody that has done a great job, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

O'BRIEN: You were talking about his weight.

HUCKABEE: And it was ridiculous for Michael Moore to go out there and attack somebody who has saved a lot more lives than Michael Moore has. And I just think that Michael Moore has got not a real interest in improving health care for Americans, but in making millions of dollars off his films and trying to make it appear that he's going to help us be better off by sending us to Cuba for health care.

I don't know of a single American who gets a serious disease and turns to his or her spouse and says, honey, we have got to get me to Havana. They have got such great doctors and health care down there.

O'BRIEN: Governor, you say it's not personal, but you're talking about the man's weight. And, apparently, he's on a diet. He has lost 30 pounds. And I -- you know, let's remind our viewers what you have gone through. You lost more than 100 pounds, totally changed your lifestyle.


O'BRIEN: You know, turning the tables -- and, for you, you could turn the tables in this case, do you think that's the right way to conduct yourself publicly?

HUCKABEE: Well, first of all, nobody knows more about the impact of not taking care of yourself than I do. I did lose 100 pounds. And when I did, I also lost a lot of the cost of my health care, because I was a person who did everything wrong.

I overate. I didn't exercise, and the result of that was that it was far more costly for me than it was since I have started taking better care of myself. I never said anything specifically about Michael Moore's weight.

But I think, quite frankly, if Michael Moore would work as hard to take care of himself as he does to want to move us to a Canadian health care system, where people stand in line for weeks, and finally give up and come to this country -- it's not that we have a health care crisis.

We have a health crisis in America. Eighty percent of our health care costs in this country go to chronic disease. It's largely caused by three behaviors, overeating, under-exercising, and smoking.

O'BRIEN: Yes, but...

HUCKABEE: If we started, as Americans...

O'BRIEN: Governor...

HUCKABEE: ... making significant changes in the way we live, our economy would change as it relates to health care.

O'BRIEN: But what a lot of people would tell you, what a lot of experts would say is that 80 -- the reason 80 percent of the costs goes to treating diseases is the system is not designed to encourage preventive measures.

For example, if you go -- if you want to go on a diet and you call your insurance company and you say, look, I need a personal trainer and a -- somebody to help me with my sleep patterns, and all the things you probably went through to lose your weight, you're not going to get any sort of support from your insurance company, right?

HUCKABEE: And you're exactly right. That's why, in my state, we made those changes. We took away the co-pays and the deductibles on a lot of the screenings, like mammographies and colonoscopies and prostate cancer exams.

We do include weight-loss programs for state employees. We provided smoking cessation programs, not just for state employees, but for the Medicaid population.

You're right. What we need to do is to move to a prevention, rather than intervention. And I wish that we would get to the place where we would cover the ways that we could be healthier, rather than wait until we have catastrophic illnesses that, frankly, have catastrophic costs.

O'BRIEN: All right. There's one other thing I want to throw in the mix here.


O'BRIEN: This comes from the producer of "Sicko," Michael Moore's latest film. Meghan O'Hara is her name. She says this: "It looks like Mike Huckabee is auditioning for some insurance company dough, since he has raised about -- just about no money and sparked zero interest since jumping in the race. I wonder what the good governor would say to the French, who drink more, smoke more, eat more cheese, and still live longer than us, despite paying less for health care."

What do you say for that?

HUCKABEE: Well, they pay a lot more for health care, because their taxes are a great deal higher, just as they would be if we followed Michael Moore's incredible example of the Cubans or the Canadians or the British.

If Michael Moore wants to talk about what we have done for health care, a program we set up in our state helped to insure between 180,000 and 200,000 kids. Yes, we need to do better for coverage, but we don't do it by making the demons out of the very people in the health care industry, like Dr. Gupta, who, frankly, ought to be hailed as a true warrior in the public health crusade, because he has been talking about the issues of preventive health care, rather than waiting until people are desperately ill and then incredibly expensive to try to get well again.

O'BRIEN: You don't have any regrets, though, any regrets about bringing his personal health, his weight, into the picture here?

HUCKABEE: No, because I didn't do it. All I said was that he's part of the problem. And he is part of the problem. I was part of the problem. Nobody can say it more clearly than me, because nobody was more a part of the problem than me.

Here's what I had to understand. Changing the health care cost of America starts with me, Mike Huckabee, changing me, and my lifestyle, my habits. I cost a lot less if I take care of myself than if I just say somebody else is going to pay for it. You know, I will just live any way I want, and let me let the rest of the taxpayers of America pick up the tab.

That's what's wrong with the health care system. We want to do whatever we want and let somebody else pay for it. That's what I have a problem with, with Michael Moore's message. O'BRIEN: Mike Huckabee, former governor of Arkansas, Republican presidential candidate, out there in Iowa, thanks for your time today.

HUCKABEE: Thank you, Miles.


O'BRIEN: Much more on the hot button issue of healthcare coming up at the top of the hour. Don't miss a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE," 8:00 p.m. Eastern, right after this program.

Up ahead tonight, Democrats and the I-word. Didn't they say impeachment was off the table? Well, Senator Barbara Boxer is changing the menu of rhetoric.

And a sexual assault trial where no one can utter the word "rape"? Does that sound absurd. It happened. And the alleged victim is not the only one outraged at what the judge did.


O'BRIEN: Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer is ratcheting up the rhetoric here in Washington, saying lawmakers should consider impeaching President Bush. Our Brian Todd has more.

Brian, some tough words from the senator?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They sure are, Miles. You know, Democrats won control of Congress last fall, dismissing any talks of moves to impeach the president. But clearly that wasn't the end of that.


TODD (voice-over): You might call it the I-word, the one that just won't go away, impeachment. On Wednesday the I-" word came up for California Democratic Senator Barbara Boxer on a liberal talk radio interview.

The senator said, impeaching President Bush is still on the table.

ED SCHULTZ, HOST, "THE ED SCHULTZ SHOW": I want to say this for our listeners. They want impeachment put back on the table.

SEN. BARBARA BOXER (D), CALIFORNIA: Yes, look, I have always said it should be on the table. Ed, I've always said it and I've always said that you need to keep it on the table, and you need to look at these things.

TODD: So is impeachment really on the table? Democratic leaders say no. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said it back in November.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), SPEAKER: I've said and I say again that impeachment is off the table. And she reiterated that to CNN this week. Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid's office told us that: "It's not anything that Senator Reid could support, nor is it under consideration. And besides, the whole idea that Vice President Cheney would become the next president is nightmare too horrible to contemplate."

If congressional leaders say impeachment proceedings will not happen under their watch, why bring it up?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICAL EDITOR: When you hear Democrats talk about impeachment, it really is red meat rhetoric to really appease the base that is very frustrated at the fact that U.S. troops are still in Iraq, that U.S. soldiers are dying.

TODD: Political observers say as much as the Democratic base wants to hear the I-word, trying to impeach the president would be a bad political move.

PRESTON: Strategically, Democratic leaders realize that impeaching President Bush would actually hurt them in 2008. They would look partisan, they would look petty.


TODD: Now as for that race for president next year, the only candidates really pushing for impeachment are former Senator Mike Gravel and Congressman Dennis Kucinich, who this year introduced articles for impeaching not the president, but Vice President Cheney, to avoid that scenario that Senator Reid's office called a "nightmare too horrible to contemplate" -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: So all of this could be political posturing, as much is in this town. But it also could very easily backfire on Democrats. People could perceive it as just -- they were saying in the piece there, that it's petty.

TODD: They clearly could, and it's a very delicate balance they have to walk here. Now Boxer may be doing this maybe to position to help the Democratic candidates against the Republican candidates next year. The longer you keep something like this out there, the more they focus on all the criticism on President Bush and Vice President Cheney. It doesn't so much help Barbara Boxer, she's not up for reelection until 2010.

O'BRIEN: Brian Todd, thank you very much, sir.

John McCain is back on the campaign trail today in New Hampshire, fending off questions he may be near the end in his bid for the Oval Office. Some staffers have already defected, and CNN has learned more are expected to leave soon, but McCain is soldiering on.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We go to the town hall meetings, we fix our financial difficulties, and we win. I'm very confident. I can see the response we get here today from the people in New Hampshire. They know me. They will not go through any other prism but direct contact I will have with the people of New Hampshire and South Carolina and Iowa, and we'll win.


O'BRIEN: CNN's senior political correspondent Candy Crowley is on the hustings in New Hampshire.

And I'd love to see the game plan on this one. This might be in the category of hail Mary, but we've seen comebacks like this before, right?

CANDY CROWLEY, CNN SR. POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: We have. Every comeback is a little different, and this one is very tough, Miles. There is no getting around that. Here's what they say they want to do. They want to concentrate on those three states you just heard Senator McCain talk about, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina.

Those are the retail states where you don't need a lot of money other than the plane flight up, your staff salary, and whatever vehicle you use to get you around the state. So what they want to do is get back to that 2000 McCain, the insurgent, the maverick, the reformer.

They want to get back to that person. So they really are sort of aiming toward that. Having said that, what they also need to do most importantly at this point is try to convince their donors that this is not a dying campaign, that this is a campaign that has a reasonable chance, because donors don't want to give money to a campaign they think is dying.

O'BRIEN: Boy, that's a tough hurdle you just laid out there. How realistic is it that this one is going to come to pass?

CROWLEY: Well, I've talked to a lot of people outside the McCain camp that have been watching this. And they think the more -- the likelier scenario is that McCain holds on. If there's going to be a positive scenario, he manages to hold on, he stays in the race, he has enough money to keep himself going, and somebody in the upper tiers slips, so -- and they come back and take a second look at McCain.

I mean, that's one theory as to how he could come back. But again, you know, that's counting on somebody else to slip, that's counting on a lot of people watching when that happens. So no matter which scenario you pick here, Miles, this is a rough road for John McCain.

O'BRIEN: What's your best take on how his spirits are right now?

CROWLEY: You know, he said it has been a really tough week, and I think personally it truly has, because we are talking about people that have been with him since before his 2000 presidential bid. John Weaver in particular was very close to John McCain, so it's tough when those people leave under less than perfect circumstances.

I will also tell you that I talked to one of the senior advisers that's still in the campaign, who said, listen, John McCain is at his best when he's an underdog. That's his sort of comfort zone. He fights well. So, you know, they're sort of looking for McCain to spark up here, but personally really, really tough week, and he admits that himself.

O'BRIEN: Candy Crowley in New Hampshire, thank you very much.

Up ahead on the program, a sexual assault trial censored, the alleged victim barred from using the word "rape." Find out what she's doing about that.

And the government bans Chinese shrimp imports, but American fishermen are not netting any joy. We'll cast for some answers.


O'BRIEN: In Nebraska tonight there is outrage after a judge presiding over a sexual assault trial tried to ban the use of the word "rape." And that was just for starters. The alleged victim ignored the order, women's rights groups marched, and now it has all ended in a mistrial. CNN's Carol Costello is following the story.

Carol, why the ban in the first place?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, you know, I wish I could have asked the judge that directly, but his clerk told me on the phone, no comment. Court documents did say the judge did it so it wouldn't influence the jury against the accused.

But the whole controversy has become so hot, the judge was forced to declare a mistrial, but that has not ended the debate.


COSTELLO (voice-over): Pamir Safi is on trial for the second time, accused of raping Tory Bowen. His first trial ended with a hung jury after a war of words. Safi's attorney had convinced Nebraska Judge Jeffre Cheuvront to ban words like "rape," "sexual assault," "victim," and "assailant," arguing they might influence the jury.

And that ruling applied even to Safi's alleged victim, Tory Bowen.

TORY BOWEN, ALLEGED VICTIM: I was mortified. I didn't know what to do. My first question to Pat (ph) was, can I say this in a different language? I didn't think that the judges had that authority to ban what happened from me in the courtroom.

COSTELLO: At the first trial, Bowen testified for 13 hours without violating the judge's ban, but this time around she wanted to be able to speak freely, so she went public and women's rights groups backed her up with a public protest.

ANGELA ROSE, VICTIMS' RIGHTS ADVOCATE: We're just not going to stand for it. So they have got the scarves over their mouths to show that victims should be given free speech.

COSTELLO: Banning words isn't unheard of. The judge in Kobe Bryant's rape trial banned the word "victim" to describe the woman accusing Bryant of rape.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: The use of the label "victim" assumes that a crime took place. And it's the jury's job to decide whether a crime takes place, not the witnesses.

COSTELLO: But the Nebraska judge's order went a lot farther. His ruling not only applied to witnesses, but to the alleged victim's testimony. Bowen says the ruling left her with few words to adequately describe what happened to her, so she refused to sign a court order forbidding her to utter words like "rape," even though disobeying such an order could bring a contempt charge with jail time, a fine or both.

BOWEN: What happened was rape. Sex means consent. And what happened was not consent.

COSTELLO: Saft's attorney is frustrated, too, he was eager to prove his client's innocence. And says the judge's ruling was correct.

CLARENCE MOCK, DEFENDANT'S ATTORNEY: Trials should be deliberations based upon reason and the facts and the law, not about who can think up the most juicy terms to apply.

COSTELLO: As for where Bowen's case goes now, her lawyers are going to try to move the case out of the Nebraska.


COSTELLO: Bowen says she will continue to speak out about this issue. As for when another trial is scheduled? Well, Miles, that is anyone's guest tonight.

O'BRIEN: Carol Costello, thank you very much.

Up ahead on the program, Chinese shrimp banned from America. Find out why shrimpers here aren't necessarily celebrating.

And Jack Cafferty with our e-mail on our question of the hour. Which high-tech gadgets drive you crazy and why? Stay with us, you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


O'BRIEN: That ban on dangerous food from China has netted, among other things, shrimp. You would think the ban would be good news for American shrimpers, but not so. CNN Gulf Coast correspondent Susan Roesgen has been talking to some of them -- Susan.

SUSAN ROESGEN, CNN GULF COAST CORRESPONDENT: Miles, American shrimpers say the ban on Chinese shrimp is too little too late.


ROESGEN (voice-over): For American diners, there's nothing better than fresh shrimp... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, it's really good.

ROESGEN: ... right out of the Gulf of Mexico, like the shrimp in many restaurants here in New Orleans. But when you order shrimp, it probably doesn't come from the Gulf. In fact, less than 10 percent of the shrimp on American tables comes from American waters. All the rest is imported.

RONNIE LITTLE, SHRIMPER: And they use preservatives in them before they ever get them here. They have got to do something to keep them fresh until they get here. And they use a lot of that stuff in there, the domestic stuff don't have that.

ROESGEN: Federal officials worried about toxins banned Chinese shrimp last month, but these days most American shrimpers are caught between cheaper, foreign shrimp and high fuel costs.

LITTLE: You have got to catch a lot. I mean, you have got to catch a lot to offset what -- you know, what they want to give you at the dock.

ROESGEN: And the ban on Chinese shrimp probably won't help much. That's because in the big picture, China is just a small part of the problem. American diners get more shrimp from Thailand, Indonesia, and even Ecuador than they do from China, a tasty dish that leaves many American shrimpers starving.


ROESGEN: Americans are eating more shrimp than ever, more than four pounds per person per year. The question is, can American shrimpers keep up with that increased demand -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Susan Roesgen.

From shrimp to a giant, Jack Cafferty is back with a look at your e-mail.

And you got swamped, huh?

CAFFERTY: Don't be trying to butter me up.


CAFFERTY: Don't do -- yes, we got a lot of e-mail, actually. The question -- it's Friday night and I'm a little tired, what high- tech gadgets drive you crazy and why?

Diane in Mineola, New York writes: "Jack, you and my husband, Bob, may be the only two 64-year-olds living a wonderful life without all that electronic technology. He's happy and successful sans cell phone, GPS, iPod, et cetera. I (INAUDIBLE), on the other hand, have all of the above."

Lisa writes from Florida: "Hi, Jack, BlackBerrys drive me nuts. I'm a flight attendant. It's like pulling teeth to get passengers to shut these things off. It seems that people can't make it through an hour-long flight without one. And if it's that addicting, I don't want one."

Sam writes from Oroville, California: "I too am 64, also raised in Reno. I can't program a VCR. Last week I had to get rid of my coffeemaker. Can't program that either."

Kevin in Columbia, South Carolina: "Jack, you're just getting old. I'm sure those with a stockpile of candles and lantern oil were mad about electricity."

Barbara in Allentown, PA: "Sitting in a car with my husband, when he insists on having his GPS system constantly giving us verbal directions drives me crazy. What makes me nuts is he actually enjoys it so much, that even when we go places we know, places we have been to many times before, he likes to keep it on just to see what route the GPS tells us to take."

John in Texas writes: "Bill O'Reilly is annoying technology as far as I'm concerned."

John in Ohio: "What device drives me crazy, Jack? None of them. What drives me nuts is self-righteous Luddites like you who boldly proclaim they can do without these things. I know why you don't have a cell phone, Jack, you're intimidated by technology. Admit it and then get some therapy."

Tony in California: "The high-tech gadget that gets under my skin the most, anything that connects to my bank. For some reason it says I never have any money in there. By the way, who downloads and transfers your e-mail to parchment with a quill pen?"

Daniel in St. Louis: "You need to get a life."

And Walter in Arlington, Texas: "Jack, the technology device that gives me the most distress is the one that continuously keeps your scowling face in the upper corner of the CNN screen. You contribute nothing to intelligent discourse, and your mug is even more frightening."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to where we post more of them online, along with video clips of the "Cafferty File." Not everybody is a big fan of this stuff, Miles. Have you noticed?

O'BRIEN: No, I must confess, I do that GPS thing. I leave it on. And oftentimes the GPS gets into a fight with my wife, it's wonderful. It really is.

CAFFERTY: Why would you listen to a GPS thing if you know where you're going? I don't understand?

O'BRIEN: It's a geek thing. I can't really explain it to you. That's all I can say. All right.

CAFFERTY: That's why NASA loves you, Miles. O'BRIEN: Exactly right. You have a good weekend, sir. Enjoy the whale blubber lamp or whatever you have at home there.

Thanks for joining us. This Sunday on "LATE EDITION," National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley. Sunday 11:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN. Join us every day from 4:00 to 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. Eastern. I'm Miles O'Brien in for Wolf Blitzer. Up next, a special edition of "LARRY KING LIVE."