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THE SITUATION ROOM
Rescuers Work to Reach Trapped Miners
Aired August 6, 2007 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf Blitzer is off today, I am Suzanne Maleveaux and you are in the SITUATION ROOM.
Time is of the essence. Officials say they know where the six trapped miners in Utah are. It has been ten hours since they went missing. We are following breaking news out of Utah right now. Crews are on a race against time to save them. Let's go straight to our Brian Todd. Brian, we've heard the very latest on site there. They know where these guys are but still don't know their condition.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Suzanne. Some good news, but as far as we know now, there was no explosion associated with this collapse, so that eliminates some danger. But there are plenty of other challenges to this rescue effort. CNN has learned rescue teams are within about a half-mile of where they believe the miners were working but have received no communication from the trapped miners.
CECIL ROBERTS, UNITE MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA: There isn't a fire, and there isn't an explosion. When there's a fire or an explosion, miners are at greater risk because of the carbon monoxide poisoning. The greatest risk to these miners would be whether or not they were able to survive the initial collapse of the roof.
TODD: A federal official says they believe the miners were about four miles in from the Crandall Canyon mine's entrance when the collapse occurred, but that doesn't mean they were four miles down. It's not clear now whether the miners have usable oxygen with them or not. Federal officials are coordinating rescue efforts with the mine's owner. Officials with the United Mine Workers of America and a top mine safety investigator tells CNN this facility conducts so-called retreat mining.
J. DAVITT MCATEER, FORMER ASST. SECY. OF MSHA: You drive from one side to the other and you take all the red squares and take the black squares. That's your advance. When you retreat mines, you take all the black squares and you pull backwards, and you, in fact, expect and hope that the roof falls because that takes that geologic pressure off.
TODD: Experts say it's a dangerous practice that state and mine officials have been warned to stop. But retreat mining continues all around the country because experts say you can mine about twice the amount of coal from that as you can other methods.
Suzanne. MALVEAUX: Brian, what about the event that happened? What are we learning about that aspect of it? There were some conflicting reports I think in the beginning.
TODD: I think it's still a little unclear. We were told initially a small earthquake caused this event. Now experts say the collapse itself might have caused the seismic activity. That's not unusual when mines collapse.
MALVEAUX: Brian Todd, thank you so much. We want to take a closer look at the exact location of this mine in Utah. Joining me now is CNN's Tom Foreman, Tom you have been using Google technology to figure out exactly where this is and what the conditions are.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Let's take a general look at it. The sense is if you fly in here, we're talking about an area between Provo and Grand Junction, Colorado, down here, beautiful countryside but very mountainous and quite high in areas like this. And you heard the discussion earlier about what can happen in this canyon, how you can go in.
Remember, we have big peaks like this. The quickest way in may be from the top. It may be from the side. It may be through an existing shaft. That's what they're talking about right now. They're saying if they can get to an missing shaft that was closed off long ago, a very common practice in mining, if they can reopen one of those, they may only be about 100 feet away from where they believe these people are. You can't bet on that, but that's what they're going to try while they look at the other possible ways in.
The terrain out in the west can be very challenging, and the difference between somebody underneath this part of the mountain or this part of the mountain can be hundreds of feet depending on how steep the mountain is at that spot. They have to say which of these three methods, through the top, through the side, or through an existing shaft, will get them there the fastest.
MALVEAUX: Do we have enough information to be optimistic about finding these guys?
FOREMAN: In my experience with mining collapses like this, until you hear from these guys or until they see some evidence of these guys being there or signaling to them, all you can say is we don't know.
MALVEAUX: Tom, thank you so much.
Last year, Utah placed 12th in coal production. The most recent figures show the state has 13 underground coal mines in 2005 according to Utah's geological survey. Emery County is the state's number two coal producer, and it was also where a fire killed 27 people in a mine disaster December of 1984.
Now crews in Minneapolis continue the grim task of searching for bodies. Eight people are identified as missing after that bridge collapse. But officials say there could be more. As crews look for bodies, they're also combing through every chunk of concrete and piece of twisted steel looking for what clues to what might have happened. Our CNN Ed Lavandera is in Minneapolis. Ed, new divers are joining the search today. What can you tell us?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Suzanne, those divers that are in the waters are armed with high-tech equipment, doing their best to look through that murky water, hoping to find the missing that are in there. So far, that high-tech equipment has at least identified some of the cars they might have been driving. Teams of navy and FBI divers are moving through the Mississippi's murky waters, looking for the bodies of missing motorists. The FBI teams also brought a small unmanned submarine to navigate through the wreckage.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's powered by thrusters. Attached to that, there are sonar, lights, cameras, and a grabbing arm.
LAVANDERA: Sonar equipment in this the water has helped divers create a virtual map of what the river bottom looks like. The Hennepin County sheriff says those images have identified seven cars, perhaps belonging to the victims. But with so much debris stacked and crushed together, officials say more grim discoveries are possible.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe that there is a good possibility there are additional vehicles under that tons and tons and tons of debris and rebar that's spanning across the river.
LAVANDERA: Heavy machinery needed to begin the moving of the massive chunks of crumbled interstate is arriving on the scene, and the hope is that the missing bodies will soon be recovered. Families can only sit and wait.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They know these are recovery efforts. We try to be honest and open with them, sincere; provide them accurate information about what it is that we're doing.
LAVANDERA: Officials here say that the navigating through that water is very treacherous for those divers because of all the debris that is in there. Investigators also say it will take months before they know what the conclusion is of this investigation and what caused this bridge to collapse. And the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board, is saying that portions of this bridge will be moved and reassembled in a field several miles away from here and that will be part of the process used in trying to figure out what exactly happened.
MALVEAUX: Sure. Ed Lavandera, thank you. Jack Cafferty is in New York with "The Cafferty File." Jack, what are you hearing?
JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Here's something that may surprise you. It surprised me. It was something done at Harvard University. The conclusion of a big study that came to this bottom line, diversity is not all it's cracked up to be. "The Boston Globe" has a fascinating story on a massive study that was done by a Harvard political scientist named Robert Putnam. It shows that the more diversity there is in the community, the fewer people vote, the less they volunteer, the less they give to charity, and the less they work on community projects.
The study was done interviewing 30,000 people all across the United States. It found that in most diverse places neighbors trust each other about half as much as they do in the most homogeneous places. It also found that almost all measures of civic health are lower the more diverse the neighborhood. Putnam writes, "People living in ethnically diverse settings appear to hunker down, that is, to pull in like a turtle." It's unclear how the research might affect the political debate in this country, dealing with everything from immigration to race-based admission.
But Putnam argues that these negative effects can be remedied saying that history will show ethnic diversity may eventually fade away as a social division between people, and to get there he suggests Americans expand their support for English instruction and invest in places like community centers. So, the question is this, do you see any downside to diversity? E-mail the Caffertyfile@CNN.com. Or go to CNN.com/caffertyfile, conventional wisdom is the more diversity, the more this melting pot idea controls society and the better off we all are. Apparently, that's not the case, at least according to this study done by of all places a guy at Harvard University.
MALVEAUX: A diverse place, Harvard University. Thank you, Jack.
Officials say they know exactly where those six trapped miners are in Utah, and they are hoping to find them quickly, saying they are sparing no expense to do so.
He is an American member of al Qaeda talking about killing Americans. He's out with a new tape preaching more hate. What the U.S. officials think. And how would Pakistan respond if the U.S. were to act unilaterally to take out Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan? I'll ask the country's ambassador to the United States.
MALVEAUX: We are hearing again from a local member of al Qaeda who happens to be an American citizen. The terrorist group yesterday released a video of Adam Gadahn, in it Gadahn levels threats against western diplomatic parities. Our CNN Homeland Security correspondent Jeanne Meserve has more in our security watch on what U.S. Investigators make of this new threat.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Suzanne, the U.S.'s assessments of the tape is "all talk."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ADAM GADAHN: We shall continue to target you at home and abroad.
MESERVE: On the more than hour long tape, the American Jihadist makes a specific threat against U.S. Embassies and consulates.
GADAHN: (INAUDIBLE) have long been breeding grounds of conspiracy against Muslims and their religion.
MESERVE: Nine years ago tomorrow, more than 200 people died when al Qaeda terrorists synchronized explosions at the U.S. Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Since then, security around U.S. diplomatic facilities has been significantly increased. No word on whether the release of the tape prompted additional protection.
SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Our security, our Intel people, is constantly looking at whether or not we are in the proper security posture both at home and abroad. I don't have any information for you about whether or not we have turned the dial at all at any of our facilities.
MESERVE: The FBI and intelligence community are analyzing the Gadahn tape for leads as well as clues about his whereabouts. Officials note the California-born man, a Muslim convert and self- proclaimed Jihadist, has issued tapes before. None have signaled an attack.
PETER BERGEN, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: He's been indicted for treason but not charged with any sort of criminal activity. There's no evidence Adam Gadahn has been planning operations or that he's been involved in terrorist activity.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MESERVE: U.S. Officials dismiss Gadahn as nearly a propagandist, but the FBI has him on their most-wanted terrorist list with a $1 million reward for information leading to his capture.
MALVEAUX: Thanks, Jean. And Adam Gadahn is the first American to be charged with treason in more than 50 years. The 28-year-old Gadahn was raised on a farm in southern California. He converted to Islam when he was 17.
Our Carol Costello is monitoring stories incoming to THE SITUATION ROOM right now. Carol what are you looking at at this moment?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A couple things, Suzanne. It is something we don't hear about everyday, the prospect of a Palestinian state, quote, as soon as possible. An aide to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told CNN talks between Mr. Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas touched on fundamental issues that could lead to that direction. A chief Palestinian negotiator confirmed that assessment he says more meetings are planned.
He's on vacation in the United States and French President Nicholas Sarkozy apparently did not like being followed by American photographers. The French leader saw the two photographers shooting pictures from outside of a security barrier on a New Hampshire lake. He approached them on the water, jumped onto their boat, and scolded them loudly in French. They quit taking pictures and he returned to his party. No comment from the French government.
And a pretty stunning twists in the Salem Chrysler. After the deal was closed, former Home Depot CEO Robert Nardelli was named new chairman and CEO of the struggling automaker. Nardelli was forced out of Home Depot in January after angry shareholders, he was the subject had intense criticism for his $210 million exit package even though shares were trading at the same price as when he arrived seven years earlier.
MALVEAUX: All right. Thanks, Carol Costello.
We are following a breaking story, breaking news, those six trapped miners out of central Utah. There's a rescue effort that is underway. We'll be bringing that to you throughout the hour as we get more details.
Also up ahead, he is the Florida state representative accused of trying to pay for a sex act. He says he can't explain but it's an explanation some call brazen.
In our strategy session, Rudy Giuliani's daughter throws a political dart at her dad. She's reportedly backing Barack Obama for president.
MALVEAUX: Joining us now in today's strategy session to discuss all the latest Democratic strategists and CNN political analyst Paul Begala and Terry Jeffrey. I'm going to get straight to this whole Giuliani his daughter's controversy, 17-year-olds old. Reports she had said she is supporting Barack Obama. She is the new Obama girl. How much does that hurt Giuliani?
TERRY JEFFREY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: His daughter is a student at Harvard. The message here may be don't send your daughter to Harvard.
MALVEAUX: Don't bad mouth Harvard.
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I think that every dad in America can identify with Rudy Giuliani. I'm a dad. I've got four boys. My oldest is 14. At age 14, he knows one thing, his father is an idiot. Everything I'm for he's against.
JEFFREY: Giuliani --
BEGALA: Honestly, he's raised -- first off, children are off- limits. When I worked for Bill and Hillary Clinton, their daughter was off-limits. I feel like Giuliani's children should be off-limits as well. But it is fair to say in praise of Rudy he's raised an independent-minded kid. She's close to becoming an adult and she is exercising her own views.
MALVEAUX: Is there too much independence going on? Obviously, his son spoke out. They don't have the best of relationships either. How much does this -- JEFFREY: Rudy and his family life is a different issue. But I agree with Paul. Ronald Reagan had four children. Two were in lock step with him politically; two opposed him sometimes very vocally politically. Sure as heck didn't hurt Ronald Reagan.
MALVEAUX: Just a blip on the radar.
BEGALA: Yep. It is. And my counsel would be keep the kids off- limits. I don't think it has anything to do with whether Rudy would be a good or bad president.
MALVEAUX: Now if she is off limits should she put something on her face book page or should she just kind of be quiet?
JEFFREY: She obviously has the right to say whatever she wants, and part of the problem Ronald Reagan had with his kids is they would come out and make statements that obviously weren't politically opportune for him. She could become a liability for Rudy Giuliani if she becomes a prominent spokesman on behalf of Barack Obama even in her own right. It remains to be seen.
BEGALA: For the record, John Paul Begala is a Democrat. He's watching at home and he's mad.
MALVEAUX: Let's go to the latest polls here because this is interesting. The national poll of polls for the Democrats here. Clinton in May, 41 percent, June 40 percent, July, 41 percent.
Obama, 26, 25, 26. Six months after campaigning here, we're right back where we started. What does Obama need to do to kind of break- away here and gain some ground?
BEGALA: Well, where he is gaining ground -- national polls are less I think important than the early states. Right? What's happening in Iowa, what's happening in Nevada where there will be an early caucus where Democrats have not had caucuses? In all those places the race is much tighter. In an odd way, the commanding national lead that Hillary has is probably good news for Barack and for John Edwards, because if John Edwards can catch and beat Hillary in Iowa, he looks like a giant killer.
If Barack Obama can catch and beat Hillary in New Hampshire, which could easily happen, it's a bigger story for us in the national media with the national polls. The truth is those state polls are much more important and much closer.
BEGALA: Actually the most interesting thing in the last week is "The Washington Post" had a poll that showed Barack Obama going ahead in Iowa before John Edwards was competing with Hillary; Hillary had been up in polls in Iowa. If Hillary wins in Iowa, I think the Democratic nomination race is over. But if Obama or Edwards wins, immediately the whole complexion of the campaign changes.
MALVEAUX: Let's take a look at how the Republicans are doing. We have Giuliani, May 28 percent, June 26 percent, July, 28 percent. Fred Thompson 10 percent, 16 percent, 17 percent, Fred Thompson crawling up a little bit. Giuliani very consistently in the lead here. Is it going too help Fred Thompson to finally say, look, I'm officially in this race?
JEFFREY: He's got to get in; he has got to start campaigning. What's most interesting about the Republican polls is the guy in third place nationally is actually leading in most polls in Iowa and New Hampshire and that is Mitt Romney. The question Fred Thompson or his campaign has to answer, can he allow Romney to win Iowa and New Hampshire and only start engaging after that? I don't think so. So, Thompson better get in and start competing.
MALVEAUX: Is it better that he delayed the bid for his announcement? He's doing fairly well.
BEGALA: Not well enough. Terry is right. The idea -- I explained to a buddy of mine who worked for Wes Clark, the four-star general who did not succeed the last time around. The ideal Wes Clark was even better than the candidacy, he is a four-star general, and he is a commander of NATO, what a great guy to have in the Democratic Party, right? The idea of Fred Thompson is better than the reality. He's a pleasant guy, a good actor, a United States senator. What's not to like? Needs to get out on the track and start showing us what he can do, he should start mixing it up with these guys.
JEFFREY: You know, what's impressive right now about the fact that Romney's been able to stay ahead in Iowa and New Hampshire; it will be a big test Saturday in Ames, who will have a straw poll in which Giuliani and Thompson are not participating in. Romney's been beaten up pretty bad by his opponents yet he's maintained the lead in those two states. Thompson hasn't been beaten up. He hasn't been vetted for his past records the way Romney has betted.
BEGALA: We all know that Romney had flip-flopped unfortunately. It was excoriated in the debate the other day. Most people don't know this Fred Thompson was a speaker for a group.
JEFFREY: Pro-life, Republican, I want to hear Fred Thompson step forward and tell me exactly what his position is on abortion because I haven't heard it yet and I think there are a lot of voters who are curious about what it is.
MALVEAUX: Get in the ring, Fred Thompson.
JEFFREY: If he wants to be president, he has to run.
MALVEAUX: Paul Begala, Terry Jeffrey thank you so much for joining us here.
Up next, Pakistan's ambassador to the U.S. responds to the notion of a U.S. operation to find Osama Bin Laden within its borders.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pakistan is a sovereign nation, and they do not want a third party, even their best friend, to come and find him in Pakistan. The Pakistan military is fully capable of doing it. (END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: I'll go one-on-one with the Pakistani ambassador.
And next, we'll get the latest on the rescue mission under way to save six miners in Utah after the mine collapsed. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, two Florida men are in custody in Berkeley County, South Carolina, charged with having incendiary devices in their car. They told police the explosives, which were detonated yesterday, were fireworks.
For the first time in more than a year, gunshots were fired today at the border between north and South Korea. There are no reports of casualties nor any reason given for the gunplay.
And an 8-year-old Israeli boy is back on dry ground after floating in the Dead Sea for six hours. His father had left him there by accident during a family trip. The father is not being charged with wrongdoing.
Wolf Blitzer's off today. I'm Suzanne Malveaux, and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Crews are on a desperate search to find six miners trapped below ground in Utah, now more on the breaking news we are following. Officials say they know exactly where those miners are. Joining me again is our own Brian Todd. Brian, what is the latest on the rescue effort?
TODD: Suzanne, the head of the company that owns the Crandall Canyon Mine spoke to reporters a short time ago. Robert Murray says they know where the miners are, they've pinpointed that location, rescue teams have been able to get within 1,700 feet of the miners location. They do not know if the miners are alive. They have received no communication from the miners that we know of as of now. Now, Robert Murray did say that they are "using every means known to mankind to try to get to these trapped miners. Then he narrowed down a little bit what means they are using.
Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT MURRAY, MURRAY ENERGY CORPORATION: We're going four ways to get access: by helicopter and drill from the top of the mountain; by horizontal drilling that will be slow, we have that coming; by continuous miner units actually starting to clean this up here; and by rescue teams that I and Mr. Adare (ph) dispatched this morning with about 20 of our own men and two rescue teams going through here, breaking these seals and trying to get access. So all we've got to do is drill across here into that chamber.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Now when he talked about breaking seals, Mr. Murray was essentially referring to an old part of the mine where the seals had been broken I believe he said three years ago, so that area is open down there. By getting through into that area, he believes that they can come within about 100 feet of where the miners are, and that would obviously cut their time down trying to get to them drastically -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Brian, thank you so much for following the latest developments. Joining me now also on the phone is mine safety inspector Davitt McAteer. He is in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.
Thank you so much for being with us here in THE SITUATION ROOM. Want to ask you, obviously, Brian Todd is reporting there are various ways that you could go after these miners to try to get to them as quickly as possible. What is the most effective? Would it be through drilling or helicopter? Does it matter that you're actually trying to open the seals of these old shafts?
DAVITT MCATEER, MINE SAFETY INSPECTOR: Well, I think what you have to do, Suzanne, is you have to try every way possible, and I'm glad to hear that they're making those efforts both from the surface and from the two locations on the ground. It sounds like to me that there is about 1,500 feet to cover for that so that this is going to take some time to drill in from above.
But the rescue teams' efforts will go through the areas that the miners had traveled themselves. The second route that Mr. Murray suggested was trying to break through the seals is going from one worked out area, passing through a sealed area, and then back getting closer to the miners. That holds some promise.
Now, the fact that we don't have a fire, we didn't have an explosion, and we don't have -- typically we would not have toxic air, suggests that the miners have -- we have an opportunity get to them. Those also suggest that we -- what we learned after Sago was that if we can keep the miners alive longs enough, we can get to them. We do have the capacity to go do that.
And this suggests that we have a chance at it. There are some hopeful signs here, although you just have to pray that the miners survived, made it through the initial rock burst and that we can get the teams to get in there and get to them.
MALVEAUX: Now you talk about the good news that there was no fire, no explosion, no toxic air. Why do you suppose it is that we haven't been able to hear from the miners themselves? Why have we not been able to communicate with them?
MCATEER: Well, the rock outburst would have destroyed the -- typically it would have destroyed it. And I don't know this factually, but as a general matter, would have destroyed the landline. They use telephone lines like we used to use in the olden days on the surface where we don't use wireless communications, but it's a hard line. Once that's broken, that means the communication is gone. Remember, that the seismic event, the roof fall, where the collapse within the mine, lasted four minutes according to the U.S. Geological Survey and was of significant proportions. That is, it was 4.0 on the Richter scale.
What that really suggests to you is that you have a phenomenal amount of rock change and release of energy, and that means that you have dropped a lot of rock into the mine at some location. And that's going to be what the mine rescue teams will have to work their way through and see how big a event it was and whether it, in fact, sealed the chambers, and whether there are other ways to get in. And that's why you're going to have to try every possible way.
MALVEAUX: Officials have said they know where these miners are located. It's just a matter of getting to them, drilling down to them. How long does it take to actually drill down to their location? Do we have any sense of how far they can get, say, in an hour or so?
MCATEER: Well, again, they have 1,500 feet to cover. We don't know exactly where they -- they say they know where they're located, which is a good thing. And how long will it take you to get the drills onto the surface to get to that? Once the drills are set up and assembled, they can drill pretty quickly.
They can cover several hundred feet in a shorter period of time. But to get to them and to get them set up and to get them operational, that's one of the things that has been problematic both in this kind of accident, but also in earlier accidents in Sago and other places.
MALVEAUX: Do they have enough time to actually conduct this rescue operation? We were told earlier today by officials that if they have those oxygen tanks, if they could breathe, that they were OK and that way that they had about 48 hours or so.
Do the rescue workers -- do they have 48 hours? Do they have that kind of time, that window to get to them and to have this be a successful outcome?
MCATEER: Well, you hope that they do. We know that we have a better amount of supplied oxygen, so that's a good thing. That's a lesson we learned at Sago. We don't believe they have rescue chambers there, which is something -- another question of whether that would have been a positive thing here.
The miners went in typically about 11:00, maybe a few hours earlier -- an hour earlier, and this was at 2:48. And that would have meant that the event -- they would have still had their lunch and water with them. That would give them some fuel supply, some eating supply to allow them to stretch that out for a period of time.
So, there are some very positive and hopeful signs here. Whether we can get to them is another question, 48 hours is a time line that we could have made in Sago, and we would have made at Aracoma, but each of these is a different thing. But I think our experience at Sago and around the world is that if there's enough time, we can get to them. It's just making sure they have enough to get -- sustain through that period of time.
MALVEAUX: From your experience, what is the most important thing that these miners need to be doing right now? Staying together, staying positive, not panicking? What are they trained to do at this moment when they are obviously trapped and they are really at the mercy of others to help them?
MCATEER: Yes. Miners know that there is a principle that's never violated, and that is someone will come after you. If you get trapped underground, there will be efforts made by the government agencies and by other miners and by the companies to try to come after you.
And that will happen. And they know that's going on. It's a question of whether we have the capacity and the speed to be able to get it and make it happen as quickly as we need to. And we hope that that's the case here.
MALVEAUX: Davitt McAteer, thank you so much for joining us. Obviously, we'll be getting back to you as the news warrants. Thank you so much.
If the U.S. has Osama bin Laden in its crosshairs in Pakistan, would they need to get permission to kill him? The strong answer in my one-on-one interview the country's ambassador.
And when Florida state legislator Bob Allen was arrested last month, charged with soliciting sex, he said he could explain what he called a misunderstanding. Today, Carol Costello has his unusual explanation. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
MALVEAUX: With his country under siege, the president of Afghanistan paid a visit to President Bush. CNN White House correspondent Ed Henry joining us now.
Ed, they're putting a brave face on the crisis. What are President Bush and Karzai saying obviously about the Taliban threat? It seems to be that it's all happy talk today.
ED HENRY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Suzanne. Most striking about today is the fact that President Karzai was much less candid than he was on Sunday when he said bluntly on CNN's "LATE EDITION" that the security situation in his country had deteriorated.
HENRY (voice-over): Hosting Afghan President Hamid Karzai at Camp David, President Bush boasted that the Taliban's vaunted spring offensive never materialized.
GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a spring offensive all right. It was conducted by U.S., NATO, and equally importantly, Afghan troops. And we went on the offense.
HENRY: Karzai was just as bullish, actually trying to claim the Taliban has been beaten.
HAMID KARZAI, AFGHAN PRESIDENT: Progress has been made. We'll still continue to fight terrorism. Our enemy is still there, defeated but still hiding in the mountains. And our duty is to complete the job.
HENRY: But the optimism belies the fact that Karzai's country is in crisis. The drug trade is still booming and the Taliban resurgent. Insurgents are currently threatening to kill 21 Korean hostages unless jailed rebels are released. In private, Mr. Bush and his Afghan counterpart agreed they will not give into the demands raising the specter of more violence.
Nevertheless, Karzai stood by comments four years ago that the Taliban poses no danger to his government.
KARZAI: They are not posing any threat to the government of Afghanistan or to the build up of institutions of Afghanistan, or to the build-up of institutions of Afghanistan. It's a force that's defeated.
HENRY: In fact, the Taliban has not been defeated. The U.S. still has over 23,000 troops in Afghanistan nearly six years after the war started.
BUSH: There is still work to be done. Don't get me wrong.
HENRY: And while Karzai told CNN he believes Iran is a positive force in Afghanistan, Mr. Bush made clear he disagrees.
BUSH: From my perspective the burden of proof is on the Iranian government to show us that they're a positive force.
HENRY: Now, Mr. Bush today repeated that if he gets actionable intelligence, he and Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, could act and kill al Qaeda leaders, but Mr. Bush stopped short of saying whether or not he would first seek Pakistan's permission before taking military action within its borders. Obviously as you know, that's a very sore subject right now with the Pakistan government -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Very telling. Ed Henry at the White House, thanks, Ed.
And of course, key to the hunt for terrorism is the cooperation of Pakistan. A short while ago, I spoke with Pakistan's ambassador to the United States, Mahmud Ali Durrani. And I asked him about the hunt for Osama bin Laden.
MALVEAUX: Would the Pakistani government accept it if the United States acted unilaterally in going after bin Laden?
MAHMUD ALI DURRANI, PAKISTANI AMBASSADOR TO U.S.: I think that would be a sad day and it will create problems in Pakistan and we will not be able to fulfill the objective. You may hit one target, but the fallout of that is going to be very negative and the people of Pakistan are going to be very upset. So, you may kill one man, but if you upset a whole nation, I don't think it's worth it.
MALVEAUX: What kind of problems are you referring when you say people in Pakistan would be upset?
ALI DURRANI: Pakistan is a sovereign nation, and they do not want a third party, even their best friend, to come and hit targets in Pakistan when the Pakistan military is fully capable of doing it themselves. All we need is, give us actionable intelligence when we do -- don't have it, and give it to us in time.
MALVEAUX: Are you saying -- suggesting that the Pakistani government would -- there would be some sort of retribution against the Bush administration if that happened?
ALI DURRANI: This is too speculative a question. All that I am saying is the people will be not happy with such an undertaking by the U.S. government in Pakistan. It would not be in the greater interest of the two nations. What I am trying to emphasize, it will not be good even for the war on terror.
MALVEAUX: I want to play for you -- this is one of the Democratic presidential hopefuls, Barack Obama, who also made some very strong statements about what kind of action he would take if there was some sort of intelligence and bin Laden was in his sights if he was president.
Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. BARACK OBAMA (D-IL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. If we had actionable intelligence about high value terrorist targets and President Musharraf will not act, we will.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Is it your understanding that that would be acceptable?
ALI DURRANI: I have already told you that no direct action by the United States will be accepted. I have all the respect for Mr. Obama. He's a leading Democratic candidate. But he's in an election year.
MALVEAUX: Do you think this is just politics or do you get a sense that the American people are perhaps getting wary, getting tired of this cooperative stance with Pakistan and going after bin Laden, that as Barack Obama said, that he just would do it on his own? ALI DURRANI: There is some frustration there. But there is even frustration in Pakistan of what America is not doing. I think you need to do a lot in Afghanistan. Unless you start out in Afghanistan, you will not get bin Laden or Taliban or al Qaeda. I think that's where the problem is.
MALVEAUX: I want to play for you, if I can, this is Hamid Karzai, obviously the president of Afghanistan, who has been asked about the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden and essentially is saying that there has not been any progress that has been made.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KARZAI: I can't talk about that, whether he is in Afghanistan or Pakistan, but I definitely know that he cannot be in Afghanistan. Where he is is a question that I cannot answer at this point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MALVEAUX: Mr. Ambassador, can you answer that question? Do you know?
ALI DURRANI: Yes, I can answer that question and say that Mr. Karzai doesn't know, Mr. Musharraf doesn't know, I don't know. If we knew where he is, we would take him out. If he was on our side, we would have taken him out. And if he was on the Afghan side and they knew about it, then the U.S. would have taken him out. So, none of us knows it. So, that's the situation.
MALVEAUX: Is there a problem that you have inside of your government with intelligence that there are actually those who have infiltrated your government who might actually tip off Osama bin Laden or other al Qaeda members? Is that part of the reason why your government has not been able to find him?
ALI DURRANI: I would say your government has not been able to find him either. Are there people who are tipping off Osama? No. And just -- we haven't got the intelligence. And this is your (INAUDIBLE) based on the presumption that he's sitting supposedly somewhere in our tribal areas, this is false. This is incorrect.
MALVEAUX: Is it your understanding that the intelligence is wrong when most U.S. intelligence says that they do put him somewhere in your country along that border?
ALI DURRANI: No. The intelligence -- I read the intelligence estimate and the preamble to the estimate is that this is assessment, this is judgment. This is not based on fact. It is an assessment of some analyst. So, I don't buy that necessarily.
MALVEAUX: So, the bottom line, just want to be clear here, we understand that the U.S. government needs to call Pakistan's government first before going after bin Laden?
ALI DURRANI: No, not only that, they should give us timely intelligence, improve our capability where we are lacking it, and we'll get the bad guys better than you can.
MALVEAUX: Accused of trying to offer money for a sex act to an undercover cop, a Florida state representative says it is all a big misunderstanding. But wait until you hear how he explains what happened when he was busted.
And what many thought would happen didn't quite happen. We are talking about reaction to Barry Bonds making history. Our Jeanne Moos will explain in our 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour..
MALVEAUX: Lou Dobbs is getting ready for his show right at the top of the hour.
Lou, what are you working on this evening? Good to see you.
LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Good to see you, Suzanne. Tonight we'll have the latest on the mine disaster in Utah.
Also a new scandal at the United Nations, a scandal exposing gaping holes in our visa system. A U.N. employee facing charges of helping illegal aliens into the country. We'll have that report.
One of the Senate's most powerful Republicans, Senator Arlen Specter joins me here tonight. He's making a new effort to give amnesty to illegal aliens in this country. Senator Specter says the federal government should give green cards to those illegal aliens instead of citizenship. We'll be talking about that and more.
And Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards joins us for our special segment "Time for Answers." Senator Edwards with a bold new plan to protect American workers from the damaging effect of so- called free trade. All of that, all of the day's news, much more coming up in next hour here on CNN. Please join us.
Suzanne, back to you.
MALVEAUX: Looks like a great show, Lou. Thanks.
A Florida lawmaker is launching an unusual defense in the wake of his recent arrest on a sex charge. CNN's Carol Costello joining us now.
Carol, what is the state lawmaker saying about the events that led to his arrest?
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, he said it was all because he was afraid of black men. This is a guy who touts himself as a family man, who co-sponsored a bill called the "lewd and indecent exposure act," which would have made things like public sex illegal.
Well, today an explanation as to why he's charged with that very thing. CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It is controversial, Suzanne. He says he did it because he was afraid of black men. This is a guy who touts himself as a family man, who co-sponsored a bill called The Lewd and Indecent Exposure Act, which would make things like public sex illegal. Well today an explanation as to why he's charged with that very thing.
COSTELLO (voice-over): State Representative Bob Allen, the lawmaker voted "representative of the year" by a Florida police association is now accused of offering 20 bucks to perform a sex act on an undercover cop in a park bathroom.
He's now telling Florida detectives it's all a huge misunderstanding.
BOB ALLEN (R), FLORIDA STATE HOUSE: This is something that -- you know this is my life on the line.
COSTELLO: What you're hearing is Allen's taped police interrogation. He tells the officers he walked into that park bathroom not for sex but because he was afraid of the undercover cop, who was black.
ALLEN: There's a pretty stocky black guy, there is a lot of other black guys in the park, you know.
COSTELLO: Later Allen adds...
ALLEN: I'm about to be a statistic here.
COSTELLO: Allen says he was so intimidated he would have said anything, including offering to pay sex with a stranger, a defense not exactly winning praise from civil rights attorney Richard Ugelow.
RICHARD UGELOW, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: It's laughable. In this day and age for somebody to suggest that they committed a crime because they saw a black person is just unbelievable and unimaginable. It's entirely racist quite honestly.
COSTELLO: And police aren't buying Allen's defense either, charging Allen with cruising for sex in Space View Park, according to their report, it was Allen who approached the undercover officer while he was inside of a bathroom stall and said, this is kind of a public place, isn't it? Then police say Allen proceeded to engage the officer "in a conversation in which it was agreed he would pay me $20 in order to perform a sex act."
COSTELLO: Now, also according to this police report, as Allen was being loaded into the police car after his arrest, he said, I don't suppose it would help if I said I was a state legislator, would it? I guess the answer was no, Suzanne. I did call Allen's office for more comment today, and I have not heard back yet. MALVEAUX: Thank you, Carol.
And up ahead, Jack Cafferty is asking, are there downsides to ethnic diversity? Your e-mail next.
MALVEAUX: Time now to check back with Jack Cafferty.
Jack, what do you have?
CAFFERTY: The question this hour is, do you see any downside to diversity? Big study out of Harvard University saying that it is not all it's cracked up to be.
Tammy writes from Delaware: "The Harvard Study likely shows people need additional supports in order to embrace diversity. Living beside each other may not be enough. Healthy social existence requires many things from many institutions such as the media, educational institutions, the economy, et cetera. Whatever the case, one thing more powerful than any particular conclusion about the downside of racial integration is the voluminous literature on the consequences of racial segregation."
Don in Indiana: "Our politically correct emphasis on diversity praises it, but insists that each group celebrate that diversity by hyphenating and hanging on to different cultures, thereby inhibiting the beneficial melding process. What has always worked is one language, one country. And the study shows that."
Marilyn writes: "The question I have is whether the study was controlled for economic levels. The more diverse a neighborhood, the more likely it is to have a number of new immigrants. And I would guess the greater number of people who do not speak English, no civic interaction; are not citizens, no voting; and work two jobs, no time to plant daisies in the town square."
Rachel in Washington: "I've worked in Silicon Valley, which is diversity personified. The high tech sector contributes less to social issues than other groups. And recent immigrants, those on H-1 visas who have supervisory positions, use them to promote their religious national group while perpetuating the divisions of their homelands. Muslim bosses pick on Hindus, who in turn discriminate by caste. And at the bottom of the heap are American citizens, especially if they are Jewish or overly Christian."
And Dick in Corpus Christi writes: "Hi, Jack. Who funded the study, the Ku Klux Klan? I wouldn't put much stock in a study like that. They are like statistics, you can use them to prove any point you want. Mark Twain once said there are 'lies, damned lies, and statistics.' He might as well have included studies" -- Suzanne.
MALVEAUX: Jack Cafferty, thank you so much. And we are here every weekday afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00 Eastern and we're back at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, just one hour from now. Until then, I'm Suzanne Malveaux in THE SITUATION ROOM. "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" 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