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Trapped Miners; Pakistan Problems

Aired August 9, 2007 - 17:00   ET


MILES O'BRIEN, CNN HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM: All right. Thank you very much Jack. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, it may not be long before we learn the fate of the six trapped miners in Utah. A drill could reach them hours from now. Mine owner Bob Murray will be here to tell me about that.
One-on-one with Hillary Clinton. She talks to CNN about those stories on her cleavage and the battle with her closest competition. You'll hear her response.

And could your tires be heading you toward an accident? Hundreds of thousands of tires being recalled. The fear? They were defectively made in China. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Miles O'Brien and you're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Could be just a matter of hours from a breakthrough in Utah in that mining disaster. A massive drill could soon pierce the cavity where officials hope those six trapped miners are and they hope they're alive. That could allow them to learn the final answer if they survived. Those hopes, of course, to be dashed. Let's go straight to CNN's Ed Lavandera in Huntington, Utah. Ed how soon before that first drill will get to the place they think the miners are?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What officials here are telling us is they anticipate that that drill could break through in the next two hours, some time in the next two hours, 5:00 Mountain Time, 7:00 Eastern. Of course, that is a big if. Bob Murray, the owner of the mine here says that that drill might have gone off target and might miss the area all together. If that did happen they'll have to wait for the second drill that might arrive tomorrow. They hope to establish some sort of communication later on tonight.


O'BRIEN: Ed, tell us once they drill this hole, I understand, one of the drill diameter is two 1/2 inches, there's another one that's wider, once they pop through there if by some chance they're there and everything goes well, what will they do for them?

LAVENDERA: What they have ready to go is a system of cameras and microphones. They will drop that through the hole, as you might imagine it will be probably very dark where these miners are. That camera will drop through to the hole and if it is indeed in that cavity where they suspect the miners are it will begin to emit a beeping sound. That will alert the miners to come to that area and they hope by then, by that they'll be able to begin talking to them and then after that providing the nourishment and water that they'll need to keep them alive for at least a week.


Ed Lavandera in Huntington, Utah, keeping us posted there. We'll be watching this one closely, of course. Thank you very much.

Just ahead, the mine owner Bob Murray will be here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He'll be speaking with Carol Costello that is coming up this hour on THE SITUATION ROOM. You know mining is among one of the most dangerous jobs in the country. You could have guessed that. Let's look at the numbers. This comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, these are new numbers. The fatality rate for coal mining jumped 84 percent in 2006, that's up from 2005. Of course, you'll recall the Sago Mine disaster and there were other incidents and that's what fed that increase.

Manufacturing fatalities rose in 2006 as well. Most workers died when they were struck by falling objects, by the way. Construction, up 6 percent, a 6 percent increase in fatalities last year. The numbers are better if you work in agriculture, fishing and forestry. Those numbers actually fell by 10 percent.

We've been tracking a story coming out of Illinois. Carol Costello is giving us details now about a monster truck which apparently veered off into a crowd. Carol what's the latest?

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I have a little bit more information and we do have some pictures coming in to us. This was in Dekalb, Illinois; it was a demonstration with the monster truck. You see it's the pickup truck with the huge wheels. It was doing a demonstration. It was going up a ramp and then it would come down and crush cars below. Somehow the driver lost control, the truck went into the crowd, injured 10 people and landed on some railroad tracks. Those 10 people have been transported to the hospital. We don't know how serious their injuries are, but police in Dekalb are calling this a major incident. When I find out more I'll pass it along.

Back to you Miles.

O'BRIEN: Well given the size of that vehicle and those tires imaging it veering off, that's a scary thought indeed.

COSTELLO: It sure is.

O'BRIEN: All right. We will be tracking it for you. Thank you very much, Carol Costello, that story coming to us out of Dekalb, Illinois.

U.S. diplomacy is being credited with putting the brakes on a state of emergency in Pakistan at least for now. Islamabad, had been considering the declaration amid growing security concerns in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions. It's another signal of growing tensions inside Pakistan. Our CNN State Department correspondent Zain Verjee joining us now. Zain how is the U.S. alliance with Pakistan faring through all of this? It's got ups and downs and it's gotten involved in the presidential political picture. ZAIN VERJEE, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, being allies is hard and the U.S. and Pakistan is going through a bit of a rough patch.


VERJEE (voice over): The U.S.-Pakistan marriage may be on the rocks again. The pressure is on both President Bush and President Musharraf to hunt down terrorists.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE U.S: I've indicated to him that the American people would expect there to be swift action taken if there's actionable intelligence on high-value targets inside his country.

VERJEE: For a while now U.S. intelligence has been saying al Qaeda is regrouping in a lawless area in Pakistan near the Afghan border, but a new CNN opinion research poll shows that the American public is about split on whether or not the U.S. should wait for Pakistan to take action or go it alone against terrorists in that country.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): President Musharraf will not act, we will.

VERJEE: It's fired up the U.S. presidential debate and Musharraf's own political rivals have turned up the heat as Pakistan's presidential election is around the corner. But Musharraf may be more interested in keeping himself in power. Rumors have indicated Musharraf was considering declaring a state of emergency. According to senior Pakistani officials, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in a 20-minute phone call helped influence Musharraf to back away from making a new power grab.

SEAN MCCORMACK, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKEMAN: They did speak last night. They talked about the ongoing involving political developments in Pakistan. Beyond that I don't think I'm going to offer any other details.

VERJEE: The U.S. wants Musharraf to stay on track.

BUSH: My focus in terms of the domestic scene there is that they have a free and fair election.

VERJEE: And hopefully for the U.S. win.

AKBAR AHMED, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: It's been a matter of convenience than of love, but it needs to be nurtured.


VERJEE: Analysts say in his relationship with the United States President Pervez Musharraf really wants to be his own man especially as he faces rising anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.


O'BRIEN: Thank you very much, Zain Verjee.

Of course, President Musharraf has had other troubles to test his position in power. The red mosque standoff, of course. Dozens of radical student who staged protest there died last month in a military raid order by Musharraf. Pakistan's chief justice, General Musharraf's unpopular dismissal of the chief justice on charges of misconduct, triggered an out cry for Pakistanis wanting an end to military rule. Last month the Supreme Court ruled to reinstate him.

And a deal with pro-Taliban militants, the much-criticized pact would have pulled Pakistani troops from that tribal region bordering Afghanistan where many believe Osama Bin Laden is. The deal, by the way, fell through. Jack Cafferty is in New York with the "Cafferty File." Hello, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Miles, we're going to show you a picture that was probably not what the Bush administration was hoping for. This is Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al Malaki who is in Tehran holding hands with Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Malaki is there for three days and says he's trying to get Iran to help calm the mess in his country. Keep in mind, al Malaki is facing a lot of problems at home. Members of parliament holding out, Parliament is on vacation for a month, there is no parliament at the moment and there is lack of progress on the part of his government on all sides on a number of issues.

Officials in Tehran now promise they're going to do everything they can to help stabilize Iraq. That's comforting, isn't it? But Iran insists only a U.S. pullout from Iraq will bring real peace. Meanwhile, hand-holding aside, President Bush played down sides of warming relations between Baghdad and Tehran. Mr. Bush insists Iran is a destabilizing force in Iraq and he continues to voice confidence in his guy al Malaki saying they see eye to eye on Iran as a threat to Iraq's security.

They were holding hands, the threat and the other guy. Iran denies the administration's accusations that it's supplying weapons and militants in Iraq and instead it blames the violence on the U.S. presence there. So here's the question. What do you think of when you see Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki holding hands with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

E-mail your thoughts to or go to We've already gotten some mildly amusing answers.

O'BRIEN: I'm sure the viewers will give us a hand on this one for sure, but we should point out this is a custom in the Middle East for men to do this.


O'BRIEN: OK. We'll leave it at that.

COSTELLO: If you say so, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Thank you Jack. We'll see you in a bit.

The questions are personal, the answers revealing. CNN's Suzanne Malveaux goes one-on-one with Hillary Clinton. You'll want to hear what she has to say about Elizabeth Edwards and about all those stories about her cleavage.

Then inside the mine. Our Gary Tuchman was one of the few reporters to enter that Utah mine through the same tunnel that trapped workers went through. You'll see what he saw and the mine's owner says there's a good chance the miners are still alive. Bob Murray will be in THE SITUATION ROOM this hour. Stay with us.


O'BRIEN: A speech, a string of reporter's questions and a few fires works in Las Vegas. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton spoke there today at the National Association of Black Journalists Convention. Our CNN White House correspondent Suzanne Malveaux got her chance to speak with Senator Clinton after the event. Suzanne, tell us about the interview.

SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Miles, it literally was a couple of minutes to grab her behind the scenes her and try to get in as much in as possible and asked her to react to the latest comment by Elizabeth Edwards and also that story that made a lot of news, the controversy over the "Washington Post" columnist who talked about the senator's cleavage.


MALVEAUX: Elizabeth Edwards recently complained that she could not get the media attention as the other candidates, because in her words she said we can't make him black and we can't make him a woman. What do you make of it?

SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANIDATE: I'm just going speak for myself. I'm running as hard as I can to talk about the issues that I think are important to Americans and we have a great group of candidates running. It's a wonderful group, and I think you don't have to be against anyone. We have the luxury of deciding who we want to be for and obviously, I'm hoping to convince people to be for me.

MALVEAUX: Do you think that John Edwards being a white man has a handicap in this day and age?

CLINTON: Well you know I'm running as a woman, but I'm not running because I'm a woman. I'm running because I'm the best qualified and experienced person to do the job.

MALVEAUX: You're on the way to debate with logo and human rights campaign. You and other Democrats have said no gay marriage and yes to civil unions? Are you trying to have it both ways and winning the gay vote and at the same time not alienating the Middle America.

CLINTON: I can only speak for myself again. I believe that the states are responsible for marriage, and I fought very hard against the Republican's effort to amend our constitution, to pass something they called the Federal Marriage Amendment. I thought that was wrong. It would enshrine discrimination in our constitution. Any state is going make its decision and they're doing that. I personally support civil unions with full benefit, and I'm going work in the Senate and as president to try to make sure that people in committed relationships are given those benefits.

MALVEAUX: A "Washington Post" reporter took issue with your dress, your campaign slammed her. Do you think she crossed the line?

CLINTON: Well, people get to write whatever they want to write about and we get to respond however we want to respond. That's part of the tradition of the first amendment and I'll continue to say what I think and let other people do what they want to do.

MALVEAUX: Last question. Caroline Giuliani, supporting Barack Obama instead of her father. Have you checked in with Chelsea lately?

CLINTON: Yeah. I'm pretty confident about that.

MALVEAUX: She's on your side.

CLINTON: I'm pretty sure about that.

MALVEAUX: Thank you, Senator.


MALVEAUX: Miles, it is interesting Senator Barack Obama will be at the conference tomorrow to address the convention as well. Senator Clinton is about 22 points above Barack Obama. That's been pretty consistent. I asked Senator Clinton if she would consider Barack Obama as a potential running mate for the vice presidency and well, she didn't take the bait.

O'BRIEN: I can see how that would go. I assume you asked her also about the African-American vote which is, obviously, something that the two of them are vying for here. What did you ask her about on that front?

MALVEAUX: There's this whole question, it's very controversial. Some people believe its offensive. Some people believe it's relevant here that has been posed to Barack Obama. That is are you black enough? That is something that is being debated. So I decided I'd pose that question to Senator Hillary Clinton as well. Are you black enough to sustain the kind of support from the African-American community that her husband enjoyed, she took it in stride and laughed and she gave us a serious answer and it's not a vote that should be taken for granted and she would work very, very hard for it.


O'BRIEN: Suzanne Malveaux who is with the former first lady and now presidential hopeful, Hillary Clinton. Thank you very much.

MALVEAUX: Thanks, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Suzanne, part of the way, part of the best political team on television.

Up ahead, it involves shock execution-style killings. Three college students are dead and now there could be a break in the case.

And the rubber meets the road on Chinese imports. Are tires the latest problem coming from China?


O'BRIEN: In Newark, New Jersey, a break in the case of that horrifying execution-style killing of three college students. Police say they now have two suspects. CNN senior correspondent Allan Chernoff is in Newark. Allan what did you get? The mayor himself of Newark actually had a role in bringing in one of these suspects.

ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Miles, a fascinating day. The mayor himself Cory Booker was holding a press conference here this morning to announce the arrest of a 15-year-old juvenile in this triple homicide. During the press conference the mayor's office received a phone call from an attorney representing the 28-year-old who was wanted in connection with the same case. A man by the name of Jose Carranza. The attorney said he was in a car downtown Newark and ready to turn this suspect in to the mayor. The mayor went to the homicide unit and actually met the attorney and the suspect was handed over to Mayor Cory Booker.

MAYOR CORY BOOKER, NEWARK, NEW JERSEY: Any description of the individual will be colored by my feelings right now. So he simply came forward. He said nothing. We put him in handcuffs and we walked the individual into the office. I personally helped the detective to sit him down and I left.

CHERNOFF: Carranza is facing charges of murder, robbery in the first degree as well as conspiracy. He is being arraigned tomorrow morning, being held on bail of $1 million and the 15-year-old, the prosecutor in New Jersey says she is hoping to charge him as an adult. He is facing the same charges.


O'BRIEN: Alan, do police have any other suspects in mind?

CHERNOFF: Indeed. The police say that they are going to be pursuing other people as well. The police director told me a little while ago that he hopes within the next few days to collect several other suspects and he's hoping to tie this whole case together again, within a few days.

O'BRIEN: Allan Chernoff in Newark, thank you very much. Carol Costello is in the newsroom. She's watching stories as they come in. She's got her hands full today.

Hello Carol. COSTELLO: Hello Miles. New developments at the site of that collapsed interstate bridge in Minneapolis. The "Associated Press" is reporting divers recovered a seventh body this afternoon, a sixth body was also found today. Six other people are still missing, though. Investigators are trying to find out what caused the bridge to collapse on August 1st during the afternoon rush hour sending cars and wreckage into the Mississippi River.

Luciano Pavarotti is in the hospital in his hometown of Modena, Italy with a fever. The 75-year-old tenor was admitted yesterday. The hospital says doctors expect to release him in the coming days. A local newspaper is reporting that Pavarotti has pneumonia. His manager would not comment. He underwent surgery for pancreatic cancer last year.

It's one of London's most distinctive sounds but 4 to 6 weeks beginning on Saturday no one will hear it. London's famous clock, Big Ben will be silenced while repairs are being made. This is only the fourth time that has happened. The work is being done to prepare for the clock's 150th anniversary in 2009.

And is likely to impact small business. Freddy Mac says mortgage rates fell for the third straight week after two months of big increases. It says the average rate of a 30-year fixed rate mortgage dropped to 6.59 percent. The loan-buying company says fewer people are refinancing their homes because of tighter lending standards and cooling home price peps that's a look at the headlines right now, Miles.

O'BRIEN: Carol Costello in the newsroom thanks you very much.

Up next on the program. Painstaking work to reach six trapped miners in Utah is nonstop and deep within the earth. What is it really like down there? CNN's Gary Tuchman will take us inside the mine.

And later, more changes at the airport security lines. If taking your shoes off makes you mad, wait until you hear this one. New rules are in the works that critics say are an invasion of privacy. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.


O'BRIEN: You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Happening now, President Bush's approval rating is up a tick or two. The latest CNN Opinion Research Corporation Poll shows 36 percent of Americans think he's doing a good job, that's up from four points up from June. The same poll asked Americans whether or not they favor the war in Iraq. A third of those surveyed said they do, unchanged from two months ago.

And a wild day on Wall Street with the Dow losing a whopping 387 points. The Nasdaq fell almost 57 points. The S&P 500 slid 44. The tumble began after a French bank froze three funds that invested in U.S. sub prime mortgagees.

Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Miles O'Brien. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM. Well, there could soon be a breakthrough. More now on our top story in Utah, a massive drill could smash into the cavity where officials believe those six miners are trapped. The solid walls of rock are thick. It makes the job very difficult. CNN national correspondent Gary Tuchman got a look at what the crews are facing.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDNET (voice over): We entered the Crandall Canyon Mine with the same tunnel the six trapped workers went through. A three-mile journey in a small truck that would take about a half hour in utter darkness. We pass rescue workers in their vehicles on the way to our ultimate destination.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Right there is where the rescue effort is going on.

TUCHMAN: This is as far as we could go. This is where the mine had collapsed. The six trapped miners are believed to be tantalizingly close, but with tons of coal separating them from us, this was an unusual opportunity to see how much work rescue workers still have. You're looking at the effort to drill into the coal and rock to rescue the six men. The machine is called a continuing mining vehicle and it has a spinning drum in the front of it with blades. It cuts into the coal, rock and other debris that is mixed in from the mine collapse and then deposits it on the back of what's known as a shuttle car which can transport 12 tons of coal at a time. The coal is sent on a conveyor outside the mine and the process continues over and over and over again, far below the surface of the earth.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): Where the damage is here, we're about 2,000 feet deep.

TUCHMAN: But the process had to stop for almost two days because of seismic activity that has shaken up the mine and made it too dangerous for rescue workers. The work to get to the miners originally began at a different point of the mine.

(UNIDENTIFIED MALE): We had this cleaned up 310 feet. The machinery's still in there.

TUCHMAN: But another shift in the earth caused another partial collapse and the cleared area filled with coal again.

(on camera): Frankly, it's very eerie standing here knowing that 2,000 feet behind me, and maybe less, are the six trapped miners. It's cold. It's dark. It's foreboding. A claustrophobic could never cut it here. There is a steady wind blowing. The ceilings are low. We're 30 minutes away from the nearest exit.

In normal times, it's very stressful. But right now there's a lot of tension. Nevertheless the workers here -- the rescue workers, the people who normally work in the mine are calm because they have a job to do.

(voice-over): And take a look at what happens to our camera shot while we're in the mine. We hear a boom that shakes the mine and startles the workers, and especially us. The owner says it's another seismic event. One more and we evacuate.

MURRAY: When the coal breaks away from the rib and just kind of lays there, we call that sloughage (ph).

TUCHMAN: But there are no more. We do see other damage to the mine walls caused by the initial collapse, but it's the feverish work to rescue six men dead or alive that stays in our minds.

MURRAY: This rubble could extend -- well, we know it goes 300 feet because we were up there. But it may go another 100 feet and stop and we can just walk up to the men or they may be right there.

TUCHMAN: Wishful thinking, perhaps, but it's keeping these rescue workers going.

Gary Tuchman, CNN, in the Crandall Canyon Mine, Utah.


O'BRIEN: The mine owner, Bob Murray says he wants to hear church bells when the cavity that officials think is holding the miners is broken. Our Carol Costello spoke with him a short while ago.

Carol, you asked him a lot of questions. He is an interesting guy and a bit prickly, you might say.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: He can be a bit prickly, but you know, he is so very hopeful that these miners are still alive. He told me he has been thinking about what kind of food in a tube he wants to drop down to them. He told me what might happen if that drill goes through the right cavity.


COSTELLO: What do you think that the miners will do to make the people above know that they're alive?

ROBERT MURRAY, PRES. & CEO, MURRAY ENERGY: We teach them how to, in such situations, conduct themselves. We use massive roof bolts -- that's a very good question, Carol, that we anchor into the roof to support the roof conditions. Those roof bolts anchor six to eight feet in the roof and they conduct up through the earth very well.

We ask them to take a piece of steel, another roof bolt, a drill bit, a hammer, and start pounding on those roof bolts. Because we can pick them up with our seismic equipment and some of our listening devices if they pound on those roof bolts loud enough and long enough.

COSTELLO: If you hear those things, what might you drop down to them immediately?

MURRAY: The first thing that we'll drop down, and we have two of them ready, is an audio device. We have inspected the devices. They're in good operating condition, and we'll drop one of those down and see if we can establish communication. And if we hear nothing, at least see what we can hear.

Then we will drop down a camera. And the camera will look within its minimal range and see if it can see anything. When the big eight- inch -- eight-and-five-eighths-inch-hole goes down tomorrow night, we're going to put a big camera down that can rotate 360 degrees and look out 300 feet in any direction in the darkness.

And so we'll be able to see exactly what's in there. But first, it's the audio communication. And then second, it's the cameras.

COSTELLO: Will you drop food or water in?

MURRAY: Yes. We can maintain their conditions indefinitely until we get to them from the underground drivage. We can put sustenance down, food, communication, and particularly ventilation to them.

It will take, in my estimation right now, Carol, to get to them, about a week through the underground. But that doesn't threaten their lives. That's the only way we can physically get them out, but we can keep them -- their lives maintained through the drill holes that will be down, hopefully, this evening and tomorrow evening.

COSTELLO: Mr. Murray, what kind of food would drop down to these men?

MURRAY: It's going to be in a tube. And I've been thinking about that myself, and water, of course. And we're going send down plastic packets of food that will fill -- go down the drill holes that will provide calories and protein and sustenances (ph) they need until we can get to them. Whatever will fit in the hole we are going to put down, but it will be sealed in plastic containers and will be quite elongated and small in diameter.

COSTELLO: Mr. Murray, you have been a miner for a long time, what, 50 years? What are the chances that these men are still alive?

MURRAY: I would say the chances are good. I was underground until almost midnight last night. I was underground earlier in the day and right where the rescue operations are taking place. And the reason I say that is that the roof conditions in the mine have not deteriorated at all. There have been no roof falls, as has been reported by some.

COSTELLO: But, Mr. Murray, these men have been down there for, what, more than 80 hours now? I mean, the odds are not great, are they?

MURRAY: Oh, yes. Because if the cavity that's in by where the damage is from the earthquake, then there will be plenty of air to sustain them for weeks. There's also water in the mines. Water that we provide for them and keep stored in there. Water that they have, plus there's water from the coal seam that they can drink. So with the air and the water, they can survive indefinitely.

COSTELLO: I know that earlier, our reporter on the scene was talking to some of the family members that you were meeting to -- and at one point, a meeting with the family became a little heated and supposedly you walked out of this meeting. Is that true?

MURRAY: No, it's not. Absolutely not, Carol. There's no truth to it. Let me tell you how I'm conducting these meetings. On my own I found that one of the sons of one of the trapped miners is a miner himself. The brother of another trapped miner is a miner and on the rescue team. So I invited them to come to the mine and go underground with me and see the rescue efforts.

And then I took them up on the mountain where we're drilling this morning to see the drilling. When they came out of the mine -- they are giving the reports to the family, not me. They can do a far better job than I can.


COSTELLO: Now Murray has owned this mine since 2006, and according to federal records, he has a pretty good safety record at this particular Utah mine. I'm not talking about his other mines. I'm talking about this one. I asked him whether he would welcome an accident investigation team. He said, bring them on.

O'BRIEN: Thank you, Carol.

And joining me now is mine safety expert David McAteer, he is in Shepherdstown, West Virginia.

Davitt, good to have you back with us. I'm curious, you know, we're talking about a matter of hours now before they reach this place where they think the miners might be. First of all, how certain can they be, do you think, that they're drilling in the right spot?

DAVITT MCATEER, MINE SAFETY EXPERT: Well, it's a very difficult question, Miles. They've made a guesstimate where the miners are relying on the last information that they would have had from the dispatcher in the hours before the accident occurred.

So that would give them the last known location. And then you would take a GPS satellite image locator and try to get from that point up to the surface and line your drill up and then start drilling toward it. The two-and-a-half-inch drill is less accurate, has less sophistication than the eight-and-a-half-inch drill, but you'll try to take that drill down and shoot for it.

It is a guess and only that. It is a guesstimate and it can be off by some few inches. It can be off by a number of feet. But it's the best you've got, so you go with it.

O'BRIEN: What I suspect when you're drilling down 150 stories in the ground, the slightest inaccuracy is compounded. Let me ask you this, I've been curious all day, why the two diameter holes, and the two-and-a-half-inch inch drill you say is the less accurate one and yet there's this other one, the eight-and-a-half-inch one, which obviously the wider the diameter the better for getting things down there, and it's more accurate. Why bother with the smaller one? MCATEER: Well, because the smaller one you can get up there -- remember, you're way up on the mountainous range there and the first one they could drop in with a helicopter and did do that. And that started earlier. The eight-and-a-half-inch diameter drill, they had a drill -- to develop a road up the mountain to -- and then set up. You have to set the drills up on a level place, set that drill up on a level place and put it down. So you started with the two-and-a-half- inch inch drill first.

Now, both the drills can serve some function, what you're really trying to do is to try and get it as fast as possibly can, get it underground so that you can get into the cavity and try to locate the miners, simultaneously running the second drill, gives you a fallback.

O'BRIEN: When -- they get in the cavity, say, in a couple of hours, and they hear nothing. What can we presume or not presume under that circumstance?

MCATEER: Well, you can't presume or not presume anything. I mean, it suggests to you that either you have not located the miners or that you have located the miners and they're not still living. The second drill would continue to be used until you can get down because it provides you with a basic ability to try to look around in that cavernous area.

Remember, we don't know whether the cavern is even going to be there because in point of fact when the seismic activity occurred, it may have filled up much like the sent entry that blocked the mine going in and may have blocked this location, too.

We simply won't know that. What we will know whether there is a cavity there, and secondly, we'll have some idea from the first drill as to what the atmosphere is like. Is there air? Is there anything going on? Is there toxicity to the air?


MCATEER: The second drill would give us a chance to take a better look because you can put a larger camera down that. The first drill, as Mr. Murray said, is really only for the noise or for the sound.

O'BRIEN: I have got to ask you this, before we get away here, because we talked about this after Sago. Why isn't there a better way for people who work in these mines to communicate? Obviously, radio waves don't travel well there, but there has got to be ways that people in these dire circumstances could get word back to the surface that wouldn't break the bank, necessarily.

MCATEER: There are ways that you can use to communicate. There's -- ultra-low frequency is a capability that was used in the accident in the 1990s where they were able to communicate an evacuation notice to the miners of a fire of a mine in Colorado.

That communication system relies upon either a source of -- wireless for part of it, but also relies upon some loops or some other ways to continue that information, continue the communication.

The question here is would that have -- would such a device have survived? Well, if it was in a room, if there's still a chamber there, yes, the answer would be yes. So in fact we could have put some of those in.

We ought to be looking at and we have been looking since the Sago accident at ways to improve communications. And there are some positive steps or positive products on the horizon.

But we are not unfortunately using the devices that we have currently available in the interim period to try to get information and communication back underground. And it's an unfortunate thing that we have not been able to improve that communication.

O'BRIEN: I should say so. Davitt McAteer, thank you very much. We'll leave it at that for now. Expert on mine safety.

Made in China. Brian Todd is going to tell us about the latest product from China that might be putting lives at risk.

Also, your plane has just taken off when all of a sudden it's diverted because a suspicious name has popped up on the manifest. Now the Department of Homeland Security says it has come up with a way to keep that from happening. Jeanne Meserve will tell us about it. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


O'BRIEN: The phrase "made in China" has begun to strike fear in the hearts of many American consumers. CNN's Brian Todd joins us now with news that is sure to generate even more worry.

Brian, at first it was pet food and we've talked about dumplings. There is many other things we've added to this. What now?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Miles, more concerns tonight about the hundreds of billions of dollars of Chinese merchandise on the U.S. market, as you just mentioned, on the heels of toothpaste, pet food, toys being found defective, another important recall began today.


TODD (voice-over): Another Chinese-made product recalled, 255,000 radial tires designed and imported by a New Jersey company. Foreign Tire Sales tells customers if you bought Westlake, Compass, or YKS tires for your van, light truck, or SUV between 2004 and 2006, they may not have so-called gum strips which bind the belts of the tire together.

RICHARD KUSKIN, PRESIDENT, FOREIGN TIRE SALES: We did extensive testing, the results of which our engineer concluded that the tires were not safe for the American road.

TODD: It's the latest in a dizzying series of recalls. Pet food laced with melamine, a chemical used to make plastic. Toothpaste tainted with an ingredient found in antifreeze. Key products on American shelves made in China.

Kurt Schertle runs Tree Top Kids, a popular chain selling developmental toys. He recently had to deal with a recall of Chinese made items.

KURT SCHERTLE, PRESIDENT, TREE TOP KIDS TOYS: The product that was recalled was Thomas and Friends, Thomas the Tank, which the company -- the company's name is RC2, and there were wooden, red- painted pieces that contained lead paint.

TODD: He says his business didn't take a huge hit, but in the toy industry, there's not much choice. We went around Schertle's store, pulling toys out at random.

(on camera): Here's an interesting one. It's the All-American Playset (ph) Air Force One and U.S. police vehicles and things like that. Now there you go.

(voice-over): China, in fact, produces more than 80 percent of the world's toys. Why are so many lead-painted toys, other defective products from China, moving onto American shelves? Experts say the U.S. government shares only part of the responsibility.

RACHEL WEINTRAUB, CONSUMER FEDERATION OF AMERICA: The Consumer Product Safety Commission does not have pre-market jurisdiction. So they only have jurisdiction over products once they come on the market. So in the pre-market universe, it's up to the manufacturers, the importers, the retailers.


TODD: Sometimes those retailers catch the problem, sometimes they don't. Now I just spoke with an official at the Chinese embassy. He would not comment on the tire recall. He did say his government attaches great importance to the issue of product safety. He says tough measures have been taken recently and he cautions against blowing this all out of proportion. He says 99 percent of Chinese exports are up to safety standards -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Brian Todd in the "NEWSROOM," thank you very much.

Lou Dobbs getting ready for his show right at the top of the hour. He always has a good program. But it will be hard to top last night's program, Lou, with the spectacular launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavour, eh?

LOU DOBBS, HOST, "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT": Indeed, but we're going to keep trying. Thank you very much, Miles. Coming up at 6:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN, we'll have the latest for you on the efforts to rescue those six trapped miners in Utah.

Also the pro-illegal alien open borders lobby still aggressively targeting business that comply with U.S. immigration laws. Illegal alien supporters demonstrating and saying that they absolutely have a right to work in this country irrespective of whether they've broken the law or not. We'll have that story.

We'll also be reporting on the rising threat to Americans from potentially dangerous tires all made in communist China, but it seems the U.S. government doesn't care much about American consumers, their safety or well-being. We'll have that special report.

And President Bush says our economy is the envy of the world. Tell that to hard-pressed working men and women in this country, reeling from plummeting house prices and in some cases soaring mortgage interest rate payments. We'll have that report.

And among my guests here tonight, Senator Byron Dorgan, author of the important book "Take This Job & Ship It." We'll be talking about those middle class issues and what we call a government. Please join us at the top of the hour.

Miles, right back to you.

O'BRIEN: All right. Thank you, Lou. We'll see you in just a little bit.

Next, new security rules at the airport. The government says it will make things easier for you. We'll take a look at the controversy, though.


O'BRIEN: The government says it may have to watch you to protect you at the airport. Here's CNN's homeland security correspondent Jeanne Meserve.

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Miles, Homeland Security says it is trying to make travel safer and easier.


MESERVE (voice-over): A small bottle produces a big explosion, simulating what could have happened if last summer's plot to bring liquid explosives on airplanes had been successful.

MICHAEL CHERTOFF, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: As the London plot demonstrated, we need to do everything in our power to identify potential threats before that airplane takes off.

MESERVE: So airlines will soon be required to give passenger names to U.S. authorities for vetting before an international flight takes off for the U.S., not after. That should minimize flight diversions like the one involving the singer formerly known as Cat Stevens. He was on a watch list for supporting certain Muslim charities but authorities only found out he was on the plane after it was in the air.

On domestic flights, the airlines currently check passenger names against terror watch lists. Now a proposal to have TSA do it instead because its lists are more current. Travelers may also be given the option of providing their date of birth and gender. CHERTOFF: So we can differentiate the innocent passenger from the person from the same name who happens to be a watch list.

MESERVE: Though much less intrusive than previous proposals, privacy advocates are still not satisfied.

MARC ROTENBERG, ELECTRONIC PRIVACY INFORMATION CENTER: And as long as the government is making decisions about who can get on a plane or not and not providing the reason why, I think the privacy concern will remain.


MESERVE: There is still no guarantee that innocent people won't be mistaken for terrorists or that flights won't be turned around, but Chertoff said it should happen less frequently -- Miles.

O'BRIEN: Jeanne Meserve, thanks very much.

What do you think when you see Iraq's leader and Iran's leader holding hands? Jack Cafferty has some choice e-mail next.


O'BRIEN: Let's check back in with Jack Cafferty -- Jack.

CAFFERTY: What do you think of, miles, when you see Iraq's Nouri al-Maliki holding hands with Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Here is some of the stuff we're able to read you.

Gayle in Cave City, Kentucky. Now there's a name: "I'm not a bit surprised by the hand-holding. This is the same man that puts his hand out for our U.S. dollars while wearing the blood of our soldiers on those same hands. I wouldn't be surprised to see him kiss bin Laden on each cheek. We have made a bargain with the devil's waterboy. What did we expect?"

Virl, Hertford, North Carolina: "I think we are in the wrong place at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. And it's time to let the lovers carry on. We're odd man out here and the best thing for the jilted is move on, cut the losses."

Jon in St. Louis: "Hey, Jack, you have forgotten the first maxim of war, 'know thine enemy.' This is a custom in the Middle East and can be commonly seen in public places. If you actually grew up, stopped reading liberal talking points, and got out a little bit, you might already know this."

Bob writes from Falls Church, Virginia: "Easy, Jack. I recall Nixon holding hands with Chairman Mao. We lived through that. Diplomacy isn't always what the photo-op depicts."

Tom in Forest Hills, Pennsylvania: "Jack, I think of Bush holding hands with the Saudi prince. It's a real square dance out there."

Clint writes: "Oh, come on, Mr. Cafferty. That's so sweet. Didn't you see the Iraqi prime minister leading the way and what's- his-name, that short little fellow from Iran following him? I think that's a good sign."

Vince in Carson City, Nevada, writes: "That picture just further convinces me of the absolute stupidity of the morons running our country."

And Ryan in Wheeling, Illinois: "Jack, I think they make a cute couple."

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."

O'BRIEN: I wonder if they're registered somewhere?

CAFFERTY: If who is registered?

O'BRIEN: The cute couple.

CAFFERTY: You can't -- come on, now, you can't go there. That's -- see, I try -- I was good through the whole segment and went to right to, are they registered at Tiffany's?


O'BRIEN: I'm so sorry.


CAFFERTY: No, you're not.


O'BRIEN: See you, Jack.

We're here every weekday afternoon from 4:00 to 6:00 Eastern. And we're back at 7:00 p.m. Eastern, one hour from now. Until then, I'm Miles O'Brien in THE SITUATION ROOM. "LOU DOBBS TONIGHT" right now -- Lou.

DOBBS: Thank you, Miles.