Return to Transcripts main page

THE SITUATION ROOM

Bin Laden to Release Audiotape on Sixth Anniversary of 9/11

Aired September 6, 2007 - 19:00   ET

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


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now -- Osama bin Laden's 9/11 surprise. Tonight there is breaking news on how the fugitive al Qaeda leader plans to mark the sixth anniversary of the attacks on the United States on Tuesday.
Also this hour -- President Bush has some choice words about the mission in Iraq. You may be surprised as to the way he reportedly is describing progress in the war zone.

And a mini uproar, a woman nearly gets the boot from an airline for showing too much skin.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

Up first tonight, Osama bin Laden's new plans to try to rub the world's nose in the September 11th attacks. Al Qaeda's production company is advertising the fugitive leader's plans to issue a new videotaped message less than a week before the sixth anniversary of 9/11. That comes up on Tuesday. We have correspondents and analysts standing by for the breaking story, first to CNN's Deborah Feyerick. She's watching this story from New York. Deb, what do we know?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What we know, Wolf, is that a terror watch group says al Qaeda has released really what amounts to a calling card, that is, a promotional graphic designed by al Qaeda that is now posted all over the Internet. Historically, what this means is that a tape will be released within about 72 hours.

Now, another analyst I spoke with who's been monitoring Web sites says there is a lot of talk that can't be ignored. For example, one Web site says effectively, for those disbelievers who think bin Laden is dead, they will be able to see him soon in a video. Also on Web sites said once again, Americans will have to brace themselves.

Now, the IntelCenter, which tracks every al Qaeda statement, hundreds a year, according to their figures, says this was anticipated. It's nothing out of the ordinary. Other than that, bin Laden really hasn't been heard of or seen for quite some time. Wolf?

BLITZER: Stand by, Deb. Thanks very much.

Our Internet reporter Abbi Tatton is also following this story. She's been watching the Web site that initially posted the banner ad announcing Osama bin Laden's forth-coming video message. Abbi, tell our viewers what we're seeing. ABBI TATTON, CNN INTERNET REPORTER: Wolf, the Web site is the SITE Institute. This is a Washington-based group that monitors jihadist activity online, forums, chat rooms, hundreds of Web sites they're looking at, and that's where this banner was found, on one of these forums. Not the video itself, but a banner promising a video that will be forthcoming from Osama bin Laden.

What it's pointing out there on the banner -- we've translated it -- it is in Arabic. The translation -- "soon, God-willing, video message by the lion sheikh Osama bin Laden. May God protect him." Also on that, pointed out by the SITE Institute Web site is this photo that appears on the banner from (UNINTELLIGIBLE). This is the media wing of al Qaeda.

In the photo, what the SITE Institute is pointing out that it's reminiscent of Osama bin Laden's lost video appearance. That would have been in 2004. But what they also note here is that his beard is now completely black, previously, streaked in gray. Now, it's not clear how old that photo is. Wolf?

BLITZER: Abbi, thanks very much. Any tape, especially a videotape, with Osama bin Laden could provide intelligence officials some very important information. Let's go to our justice correspondent Kelli Arena.

What might U.S. officials be looking for if this new videotape of Osama bin Laden should emerge between now and Tuesday?

KELLI ARENA, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, U.S. officials that we spoke to say that this is a big deal. They're going to obviously look at his physical appearance. You know, does he seem ill? What's different from the last time that we saw him back in 2004?

They're going to look for clues as to what his location is. And then, of course, there is the message, how timely is it, are there clues to when it was made? You know, does he mention current events? Another major focus, the message he's delivering. You know, could it be considered a call to attack, or is it just bin Laden reminding people that he's in the game and that he's still relevant?

You know, Wolf, this is not the first time that al Qaeda has delivered a message around September 11th. You know, for example, last year there were martyr messages from some of the 9/11 hijackers, but you know as you said we have not seen bin Laden since October of 2004, so this message will be taken much more seriously, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Kelli. Thanks very much. Stand by. I know you're working your sources as well. Let's get a little bit more analysis now on the possible video appearance of Osama bin Laden. On the phone is our national security adviser, John McLaughlin. He is a former deputy director of the CIA.

First question -- how important would it be if he's trying to send some sort of message to his operatives or his supporters out there on this new videotape? JOHN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER (via phone): Well, I think the first message he'd be trying to send, Wolf, is that he's alive and well. There has been a lot of concern expressed on jihadist Web sites by his followers that they haven't seen him for a long time. And they begin to worry about the rumors that he has been either killed or that he's ill, and so I think one of his major motives would be simply to show them himself, in order to invigorate the movement and to draw more recruits to it.

I don't think we're going to see him -- of course, the intelligence agencies will analyze this -- but I don't think we're going to see clues about possible attacks in this video. We're more likely to hear some of the things that al Qaeda is saying on the Web sites now. The basic theme is he's likely to say this. That they've already won, that the United States is now just looking for a way to leave Iraq. That we're in a bad position in the Middle East and so forth. He's likely to use that kind of theme to appeal to some of his followers, and to just assure them that he's still in the game and he's alive and well.

BLITZER: So if it's confirmed, John McLaughlin, that this is a new videotape with a new message and it is his voice, his appearance, he's making some contemporary (ph) statements referring to current events that, in and of itself, would be significant?

MCLAUGHLIN: Oh, absolutely. The movement is still one that takes its inspiration from bin Laden. And I think he holds himself back from these appearances for two reasons. First, he knows that for dramatic effect, well, look at the attention we're giving it now, by allowing himself to appear only occasionally, he gets a lot more focus.

And everyone is ready to listen to everything he says. And second, my suspicion is that he is in an area that is more secure and more protected than other al Qaeda leaders, and the whole prospect of getting someone in, getting someone out, doing communication, just the logistics of getting a tape out is a risky thing for him. And they don't want to do this very often.

BLITZER: John McLaughlin, the former deputy director of the CIA, John, thanks very much.

Coming up later this hour, we're going to be speaking with President Bush's homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, and we'll get her take on the upcoming 9/11 anniversary and this new purported videotape from Osama bin Laden.

In the meantime, let's check back with Jack Cafferty. He's in New York with "The Cafferty File". You know, Osama bin Laden, we may be hearing from him in the next few days, Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: He plays us like a drum. If the tape surfaces, I don't think the American media ought to broadcast it. I think it ought to be ignored. Let the government look at it; let the intelligence guys pick over it. But I don't think it ought to be put on the air in this country. Why give this guy the promotion, the publicity, serve as a recruiting platform for him? I mean, I just don't see any upside to advancing this guy's public profile, one person's opinion.

America's European allies aren't so sure that relations will improve with the U.S., even after we elect a new president next year. There's a new poll out in Europe done by a group called the German Marshall Fund, along with an Italian research center, and it comes after efforts by some European leaders to mend fences with the United States after years of tension because of things like that pesky war in Iraq and global warming.

The poll shows 77 percent of Europeans disapprove of President Bush's international policies. Thirty-five percent think relations will improve with the U.S. after the next election. Forty-six percent think things will stay just about where they are. Thirty-eight percent of those polled in both Europe and the U.S. say the management of the Iraq war is the biggest factor in the decline of U.S./European relations.

Thirty-nine percent of Americans, 34 percent of Europeans say that it's President Bush himself that's the biggest problem. The upside is most Europeans still want to cooperate with the U.S. in dealing with global threats. About two-thirds of Europeans think they will be personally affected by international terrorism, compared with almost three-fourths of Americans. There is also the sense that we're all in this together, if you will, residents, both Europe and America, listing energy dependence among the top threats that they're worried about.

And both groups are concerned about Russia's behavior toward its neighbors. So here's the question. What will the next American president have to do in order to improve relations with Europe? E- mail your thoughts to CaffertyFile@CNN.com or go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Jack, thanks very much. I wonder if our viewers agree with you also on the point that you just made that, once the videotape comes out, assuming it's a new videotape, we shouldn't put it up on the air. I'm anxious what our viewers think about that as well, if they want to write to you and tell you on that.

CAFFERTY: I'm sure we'll hear from some of them on that subject, and if we do, we'll pass them along.

BLITZER: Thanks, Jack. Jack Cafferty's coming up.

President Bush is trying to convey progress in Iraq, but should he be choosing his words more carefully? Tonight there is a dust-up of sorts over his reported comments to an Australian official. You're going to want to hear what he had to say.

Plus, Syria says it opened fire on Israeli aircraft. Is this the possible launch of a new and dangerous conflict?

And an embarrassing security breach. Some comedians were able to penetrate the walls of protection surrounding President Bush, and one of the infiltrators -- look at this -- actually dressed up like Osama bin Laden. Some are laughing, but some are taking this very seriously, especially the Secret Service.

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: If things weren't bad enough, the situation in the Middle East could be heating up. There is fear tonight that alleged, hostile acts in the Middle East might spark yet another conflict. Syria now saying, and I'm quoting -- "enemy aircraft from Israel" flew over its territory and that Syrian air defenses shot right back at those planes. Let's go to our Brian Todd. He is following this story with very serious ramifications for a lot of people around the world, Brian.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. No one is denying there was some kind of an incident today, and there are new tensions, which could extend well beyond the Israeli/Syrian border.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TODD (voice-over): Serious warnings about a purported confrontation between Israel and Syria. Could it trigger something more dangerous? Syria accuses the Israelis of flying warplanes over its air space, dropping quote, "ammunition" in open areas. No injuries or damage, but it draws a warning on Syrian television.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The Arab Republic of Syria warns the enemy Israeli government against this blatantly aggressive act. It retains the right to respond in whatever way it finds appropriate.

TODD: A Syrian military official tells CNN, Syrian forces fired back at the Israeli planes. The Israeli defense force would not comment, but other Israeli officials did not deny it. Western government sources and analysts tell CNN there is growing concern in Israel over what's described as a massive Syrian arms build-up since the Israel/Hezbollah war last year.

CHUCK FREILICH, FORMER ISRAELI SECURITY OFFICIAL: Russian-made aircraft, anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles, the anti-tank missiles being certainly one of the conclusions they drew from the fighting last summer, just how effective they were against armored units.

TODD: A Syrian official responded by saying his government's committed to peace with Israel. Sources say the money for some of Syria's new weapons comes from Iran. An Iranian official at the U.N. calls that charge baseless. Analysts say, for Israel, serious actions are merely a stepping stone to a larger threat, Iran's nuclear program, a threat that might bring an Israeli response and draw the U.S. in.

GEN. DON SHEPPERD (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: And if Israel should feel compelled to strike because they feel their existence is threatened, then a logical reaction to the Iranians would be to try to close the Persian Gulf. They would mine the Persian Gulf, they would install, and they would fire shore-to-ship missiles attacking shipping and U.S. forces.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TODD: At that point, analysts say the world's oil supply could be seriously compromised and Iran's involvement in Iraq could escalate, more reasons why one expert said the Iranian nuclear issue has to be resolved diplomatically, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much, Brian Todd reporting.

At the same time, there is fresh concern for the safety of Americans. Right now, German police are looking for 10 people they describe as haters of the United States. Officials believe they wanted to help three others now under arrest for allegedly plotting to blow up places frequented by American citizens in Germany. Let's go straight to CNN's senior international security correspondent Paula Newton. She's joining us from the southern part of Germany in Ulm. What's the latest there, Paula?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: As you said, Wolf, 10 suspects still at large. What investigators are doing is trying to unravel the nuts and bolts of this plot. That leads them right back here to southern Germany, as you said, Wolf, in Ulm. This is a hotbed of radicalism, has been that way for almost a decade now, and one of the key suspects, Fritz G. (ph), lived here for most of his life.

BLITZER: Paula, as you take a look at this sweep, they're looking for 10 more. Do they believe these 10 individuals, like the three they arrested, had some training at al Qaeda bases in Pakistan, or were they just sympathizers? How significant of the players would these 10 be?

NEWTON: The short answer is they don't know. What alarms them is that way back in June they did arrest three other German nationals who they suspect were also in training in Pakistan. This is what worries them, Wolf, is when they now have the opportunity to bust up this kind of a plot, they will retrace those steps, try and look at these other suspects, determine if there were other cells plotting other attacks or if they were all co-conspirators in this one plot to murder Americans.

BLITZER: Paula Newton on the scene for us. Thank you very much.

Coming up, our truth squads taking on new campaign claims...

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The surge is apparently working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, the surge is working, the surge is working, sir, it is working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's what I just said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, not apparently, it's working.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We're going to fact check the latest Republican presidential debate. Are the candidates telling it like it is?

And security wasn't an issue, but her clothing, or lack of it, was. Is there a rule against dressing too provocatively on planes?

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

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Tonight, Republican Fred Thompson is in Iowa in his new role as an official presidential candidate. Less than 24 hours into his campaign, the former "Law and Order" star is playing up his conservative credentials and trying to make up for some lost time. Let's go to our chief national correspondent John King. He is watching this story in Iowa.

You're covering his campaign. How did his first full day, John, on the campaign trail go?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So far, so good from a Thompson campaign standpoint, Wolf, but already, some are questioning the crowds. We're now in Council Bluffs; the buses are on their way here from Des Moines, another modest crowd waiting here for Senator Thompson. That is one of the big questions for his campaign. He built up considerable support when he was still on the sideline. The question is can he build on it now that he's officially in the race?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fred, go. Go, Fred, go!

KING (voice-over): The big challenge now is to make it worth the wait.

FRED THOMPSON (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So, the preseason is over, let's get on with it. Thank you.

(APPLAUSE)

KING: Fred Thompson used his first rally as a declared candidate for president to label himself a common sense conservative, and the Republican Party's best hope of keeping the White House in a campaign in which the Democrats are heavy favorites.

THOMPSON: My friends, our country needs us to win. Our country needs us to win. I am ready to lead that fight. Let's do it together.

KING: But this tiny crowd at the campaign kick-off highlighted concerns that Thompson waited too long and is too far behind his rivals in building an organization. Eight other Republicans have been at it for months already. But Thompson suggested he alone is the complete package, to keep taxes low, no amnesty, anti-abortion conservative and more.

THOMPSON: We must show the determination that we are going to be united as an American people and do whatever is necessary to prevail not only in Iraq, but in the worldwide conflict that lies beyond Iraq.

KING: There are many questions and a late start means the answers need to come quickly.

TUCKER ESKEW, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: There is time, but he'll have to come out of the gate strong. He's got that potential, and he's got a party that is looking for its man on a white horse.

KING: Early staff turnover in some cases because of friction with the candidate's wife, Jeri, is also raising some eyebrows.

WHIT AYRES, REPUBLICAN POLLSTER: Senator Thompson's executive experience is substantially less than that demonstrated by Mayor Giuliani or Governor Romney. Therefore, people are going to evaluate Senator Thompson's executive ability through the way he organizes his campaign and sets up his organization.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

KING: Even several Thompson supporters at the first event in Des Moines described his speech as too low-key for them. One used the term flat. Others, though, Wolf, said it is his down-home low-key style that they believe will eventually catch on with voters (UNINTELLIGIBLE) stop two in Iowa here in Council Bluffs in less than an hour. And as you can see, Senator Thompson won't be the only one here, some Ron Paul supporters trying to get their candidate a little bit of attention, too -- Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, John. We see them behind you. Thanks very much -- John King on the campaign trail for us.

Fred Thompson managed to skip a Republican presidential debate by timing his entry into the race after that face-off. His rivals took on the issues and one another in New Hampshire. Let's go to CNN's Mary Snow. She's doing a little fact checking for us.

What are you finding, Mary?

MARY SNOW, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Wolf, looking into some of the claims, while they were rooted in truth, some of them were overstated.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW (voice-over): One key fact put to the test in Wednesday's debate, is the Bush administration so-called military surge in Iraq working?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The surge is apparently working.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor, the surge is working. The surge is working, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's just what I said.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is working. No, not apparently, it is working.

SNOW: This week's Government Accountability Office report was not conclusive about the success of the U.S. military operation, and President Bush has asked Congress not to jump to conclusions before General David Petraeus presents his assessment next week. On the controversial topic of Guantanamo Bay, Rudy Giuliani said this.

RUDY GIULIANI (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We can't close Guantanamo because nobody will take the people there.

SNOW: That's not completely true. Some countries won't take back Guantanamo detainees. The Defense Department reports 435 detainees have been sent to more than two dozen countries since the camp opened in 2002. Currently, about 65 are eligible for release. On the treatment of Guantanamo detainees, this from Congressman Duncan Hunter...

REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Those guys get taxpayer paid for prayer rugs; they have prayer five times a day. They've all gained weight. The last time I looked at the menu, they had honey-glazed chicken and rice pilaf on Friday. That's how we treat the terrorists.

SNOW: While the menu and prayer rugs Hunter mentioned are not being disputed, it's just part of the story. In January, the FBI released a report on the treatment of Guantanamo detainees, reporting "witnesses saw prisoners chained hand and foot in fetal positions to the floor with no chair, food or water." And on the subject of torture and interrogation methods, Congressman Tom Tancredo said this...

REP. TOM TANCREDO (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Certainly, water- boarding, I don't believe that that is quote, "torture".

SNOW: Water boarding is a technique similar to simulating drowning. While Tancredo may not believe it is torture, the U.S. State Department and Department of Defense have said otherwise. The new Army field manual prohibits water boarding as an interrogation technique.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SNOW: And on the topic of same-sex marriage, Senator Sam Brownback defended his opposition to same-sex marriage by saying that in some northern European counties, 80 percent of first born children were born out of wedlock. That appears to be an overstatement. Brownback's campaign sources its information to one conservative writer who cited that 80 percent statistic from one county in Norway. Wolf?

BLITZER: Mary Snow with a fact check for us, thanks Mary.

President Bush is known for his Texas swagger, but was his choice of words to a high government official in Sydney, Australia, too informal for even the Australians?

And can an airline really boot you off the plane for what you're wearing? You're not going to believe this woman's story. That's coming up next, right here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

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

Happening now -- almost six years after the terrorist attacks on American soil, the Government Accountability Office has now issued its mixed review of the job the Department of Homeland Security has done so far. It gave the department high marks for maritime security but says limited progress has been made on emergency response.

The Humane Society of the United States is hoping Michael Vick can help it raise money to prevent dog fighting. The organization is selling what it says are notes used by Vick in a speech apologizing for his involvement in dog fighting. As of now, bidding on eBay has topped $10,000.

Senator Larry Craig's on-again/off-again resignation is on again. The Idaho Republican has now signaled he is highly likely to resign his seat within a few weeks. His departure in the wake of his Minnesota bathroom bust could take place as soon as October 1st.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

President Bush is getting attention for a comment he reportedly made to Australia's deputy prime minister. The "Sydney Morning Herald" newspaper says Mr. Bush was asked about his stopover in Iraq on the way to the annual Asia-Pacific economic summit. His reply is said to have been rather colorful. Let's go to our White House correspondent Elaine Quijano. She is on the scene for us in Sydney.

First of all, Elaine, tell our viewers what he reportedly said.

ELAINE QUIJANO, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I won't go into the exact phrasing, but it was essentially the sentiment that the U.S. is kicking tail, if you will, in Iraq. Now, we should tell you that the white house is not confirming or denying that President Bush actually made that comment upon arrival here in Sydney, but clearly, President Bush, Wolf, has been trying to paint an encouraging picture of the progress in Iraq. The president tried to do that, of course, with that unannounced visit to the al Anbar province. He's also tried to do that with his public comments here in Sydney, Australia. But as you know, Wolf, the president's critics say that perhaps this could actually drive an even bigger wedge between Sunni and Shia, that perhaps it might make Shias more fearful about Sunnis gaining too much power and make it more difficult for political reconciliation to happen.

Wolf.

BLITZER: Elaine, he's also got some strong words for the Chinese, even though he's accepted an invitation from the Chinese government to attend the summer Olympic Games in Beijing.

QUIJANO: Yes, that's right, Wolf. At this hour, the president is delivering some remarks here in Sydney to world leaders who have gathered for this APEC summit. It's not getting under way today, but the president, you're right, has some very pointed words for China.

First of all, yesterday during that meeting with China's president Hu Jintao, Mr. Bush did accept the invitation to attend the Olympics taking place in Beijing next year, and Bush aides made it a point yesterday to emphasize that the president was going to be attending as a sports fan, not to make any kind of political statement. But in his remarks, his prepared for delivery and released by the white house, the president is expected to say, of China's hosting the Olympics, "We urge China's leaders to use this moment to show confidence by demonstrating a commitment to greater openness and tolerance." So some pointed comments there aimed directly at the leader of China.

Wolf.

BLITZER: Elaine Quijano traveling with the president in Australia for us, Elaine, thanks very much.

The search for the multimillionaire aviator, Steve Fossett, is expanding. The search area in western Nevada has grown to 10,000 square miles. Fossett vanished on a routine scouting flight on Monday. Search and rescue officials say scouring the area could take weeks, but they say there are some leads.

Let's go to CNN's Miles O'Brien. He's on the scene for us out in Nevada right now. A very daunting task, I take it, Miles. And you've flown around there.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, I just got back from a flight with a member of the civil air patrol, Major Cynthia Ryan. And I got a sense of how difficult this is.

That 10,000-square-mile area you're talking about is the size of the state of Vermont. And this is some of the most rugged terrain you can imagine. You know, when people on the east coast think about desert, they are probably conjuring up visions of the Sahara where you can see things for miles and miles. This, instead, is incredibly rocky and incredibly mountainous, with all kinds of box canyons, nooks and crannies, any number of places where a plane could have gone down. And since they have not heard from that emergency locator beacon, perhaps in a canyon, it might be transmitting and they might not even be able to hear it at all.

Now, they did yesterday have what they thought was the wreckage of Steve Fossett's plane. Turns out, they now believe it is the wreckage of an incident that occurred 40 years ago, a plane crash 40 years ago, which they have just now come upon that wreckage. So that family has actually called and talked to the civil air patrol. They're now trying to get to that location on foot. It may, in fact, solve this mystery.

But that gives you a sense, Wolf, that wreckage has been there for 40 years, and just now in the midst of this search, they found it. So the search continues. They say morale is up. They say they'll continue for at least a couple of weeks. But as we know now, Steve Fossett did not have any sort of survival supplies with him, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's hope they still find him alive and well. I know you're on the scene for us, Miles. Thank you.

There is no hard and fast dress code for flying commercial, but a young woman was almost kicked off a recent flight because the airline apparently thought what she was wearing was too much or was it too little? What was it?

Let's go to Carol Costello watching this for us. It's caused quite a fuss, but it's got ramifications for a lot of air travelers out there, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm telling you, I think the airline thought it was too little. It was really about an extremely attractive woman in a very hot outfit. I bet you didn't know you could get tossed off a flight for an outfit that's too daring.

Southwest says it always tries to do the right thing, touting itself as a no-frills airline with a sense of humor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're embarrassed to fly the airline with the fewest customer complaints in the country, Southwest will give you this bag.

COSTELLO: But Kyla Ebbert isn't laughing. The 23-year-old college student, who is also a Hooters waitress, was escorted off a Southwest flight to Tucson for wearing this outfit, a mini skirt, a tank top, and a sweater. And yes, she is wearing a bra. Too hot to fly? Southwest Airlines thought so.

KYLA EBBERT: I've worn that outfit before and nobody's ever said anything. I was just sitting there reading my magazine and playing on my cell phone.

COSTELLO: In a statement to CNN, the airline said, "Southwest Airlines was responding to a concern about Ms. Ebbert's revealing attire on the flight that day. As a compromise, we asked her to adjust her clothing to be less revealing. She complied, and she traveled as scheduled." So much for that sense of humor.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Remember what it was like before Southwest Airlines? You didn't have hostesses in hot pants.

EBBERT: I was really embarrassed. I was really upset, so I asked for a blanket and I just covered myself in a blanket. COSTELLO: According to the San Diego "Union Tribune," when Ebbert's mother complained, Southwest wrote to her saying there were concerns about the revealing nature of her outfit. Not a concern among people we talked to.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, well, I think that's outrageous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She paid the money, she should be able to fly.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's ridiculous.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's something that's very difficult to police.

COSTELLO: Feminist Ann Friedman can't imagine this happening to a man.

ANN FRIEDMAN, FEMINISTG.COM: The fact that she's a very attractive, younger woman is something that, you know, perhaps somebody on the plane was offended by more than just some, you know, schlubby (ph) dude.

COSTELLO: Ebbert said before she was allowed back on the flight, she had to listen to a lecture on proper dress and agree to pull down her skirt and pull up her tank top.

And you know, I just talked to Kyla a few hours ago. She told me she wanted only an apology from Southwest Airlines. That was not forthcoming, so now, Wolf, she is talking to a lawyer.

BLITZER: She may be getting some money out of this if she's got a good lawyer. Let's see what happens. Does Southwest itself have a dress code?

COSTELLO: You know, it doesn't. And according to the FAA, the airline can kick off passengers for whatever they think might jeopardize the safety of the passengers. Said nothing about hotness, though.

BLITZER: All right, Carol, thanks very much. Carol Costello reporting.

We're going to have more on the disturbing message regarding Osama Bin Laden, the breaking news we were reporting on at the top of this hour. He says he's going to speak directly to the American people on this, the sixth anniversary of 9/11. That, according to an al Qaeda-run media production firm.

Coming up next, we're going to be speaking live with the White House Homeland Security Adviser, Fran Townsend.

And a legendary voice silenced. We're going to look back at the life of opera great Luciano Pavarotti.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Hundreds, perhaps thousands of mourners gathering right now at the Cathedral of Modena, where the body of Luciano Pavarotti lies. His funeral will be on Saturday.

CNN's Brooke Anderson remembers his remarkable life and career.

BROOKE ANDERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He was widely considered the greatest tenor of his time. In his prime, a singer capable of hitting the most demanding notes.

But it was far more than mere technical skill that turned Luciano Pavarotti into a worldwide star. It was also the force of his personality. The man who had become larger than life began life modestly in the Italian city of Modena. He was the son of a baker and amateur singer.

LUCIANO PAVAROTTI, OPERA SINGER: I dreamed to become a singer when I was 4 when I hear my father on the church singing with a beautiful tenor voice, and I say to myself, well, let's try to do something.

ANDERSON: Do something he would, winning an international singing competition by age 25. But his big break came later in the 1960s when he appeared with Dame Jones Sutherland in some acclaimed operatic performances.

His U.S. debut came in 1965, and by the 1970s, he was earning rave reviews at New York's Metropolitan Opera. In 1979, at the height of his musical prowess, "Time" magazine put him on its cover, declaring him opera's golden tenor. Millions of record sales followed, earning him the title, classical music's best-selling artist, and he raised millions of dollars for charity through benefit concerts, often sharing the stage with pop stars. But the highlight of his career may have come in 1990 when Pavarotti joined Placido Domingo and Jose Carreras to form the three tenors.

Brooke Anderson, CNN, Los Angeles.

BLITZER: What a great talent, what a great talent indeed.

Coming up next, Fran Townsend, the president's homeland security adviser, she'll be joining us. We're going to be talking about the breaking news we're following, a reported videotape about to come out from Osama Bin Laden on this, the sixth anniversary of 9/11.

Also, a new challenge for the next president, repairing ties with Europe. What's the best way to do that? Jack Cafferty's standing by with your e-mail.

And some comedians actually got way too close to President Bush, and they make Osama Bin Laden part of their punch line. Was the security scare something to laugh about?

Stay with us. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Let's get back to our top story, the breaking news we've been following tonight, word that Osama Bin Laden is set to release a new videotaped message to the American people on the lead-up to the sixth anniversary of 9/11. The president's homeland security adviser, Fran Townsend, is joining us now.

Thanks very much for coming in. We've seen the announcement of this purported videotape on this website. What, if anything, have you heard about it?

FRAN TOWNSEND, WHITE HOUSE HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: Well, as you say, as you point out, Wolf, we've seen public reports that there is going to be a tape. Obviously, it's difficult to tell you what I think that means until we've seen it. It has been since June of '06, his last audio tape. We've seen numerous statements out of Zawahiri, the number two in al Qaeda, and it's been since October of '04 since the last videotape. We will look for -- if such a tape is put out, we will look at what is his appearance, what does he reference?

But let's remember, Wolf, these tapes are propaganda. Al- Zawahiri has said that more than half the battlefield is in the media for al Qaeda. So let's remember, they're using propaganda, they're using --

BLITZER: Let me ask you this question, should we not be showing this videotape on television? Should we ignore it? Some suggesting we're really being used by him if, in fact, we do.

TOWNSEND: Well, no question that he's seeking to use media outlets to get his message out. But I understand that there is public interest in it. I just think people have got to be clear that we're being manipulated every time that they issue a statement, because they're trying to use the media as a way to terrorize us. After all, we haven't seen an attack, and this is one way that they try to terrorize the American people.

BLITZER: You know, as soon as everyone sees it though, they're going to be reminded, especially Tuesday, the sixth anniversary. This guy has still got a production company. He's got all his aides running around. He's still alive, presumably, and well. And it's a huge failure that the United States of America, with all of our enormous resources, can't find this guy.

TOWNSEND: Well, it's not for a lack of resources devoted against that task. Obviously, it's a huge priority for us to capture and kill Bin Laden and bring he and the rest of the leadership to justice. We have had tremendous success in bringing leaders of al Qaeda to justice, and we seek -- there is no greater target on our al Qaeda list than Bin Laden.

BLITZER: Because the argument has been, we took valuable assets from the Afghan/Pakistan border and moved them from Iraq. If we would have had the necessary resources, we might have gotten the job done a few years ago instead of diverting those resources to Iraq.

TOWNSEND: But there is no question, we face al Qaeda not only in Afghanistan, in Pakistan, in the tribal areas --

BLITZER: Talking about Bin Laden, Bin Laden himself. We assume he's somewhere on that border, right?

TOWNSEND: Well, that's right. And as we've spoken about before, Wolf, we work with our Pakistani as well as Afghani allies and other allies around the world for lead information, so that we can ultimately capture or kill him.

BLITZER: What does the president say to you? You're his homeland security adviser. When a tape like this emerges, and Bin Laden sort of rubs it in our face that, here I am, you can't catch me, and he gives this message to his supporters out there, it must make the president and his top advisers so angry, so frustrated.

TOWNSEND: But you know what, Wolf? We look at things that really matter. His public statements aren't really horribly important to me. We take them seriously, we run them down, we look at them for threats.

What I take far more seriously are the plots, like the one in Germany and the one in Denmark, that have recently been disrupted. Those are the real indications that we have an enemy that continues to plot and plan against us and our allies around the world.

BLITZER: Should the American public be concerned as we come closer to Tuesday, the sixth anniversary, that some sort of anniversary-related terror attack could occur?

TOWNSEND: Look, we take all threats seriously, and as we saw in the recent national intelligence estimate on the threat to the homeland, this is an enemy that is determined, that continues to have capability to plot against us, despite our successes, and so we take all the threats seriously, and the statements, obviously.

BLITZER: Fran Townsend, the president's homeland security adviser, thanks for coming into THE SITUATION ROOM.

TOWNSEND: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's check in with Jack Cafferty. He's in New York with the Cafferty File.

Jack.

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, a couple of things. First question is, what will the next American president have to do to improve relations with Europe? They're not in real good shape and they've done some polling over there. A lot of people don't think things are going to change too much.

Kay writes from Oregon, "I doubt that even sack cloth and ashes will help at this point, now that Europe's seen how the only superpower can bully and ride roughshod over everybody else, why should Europe want improve relations? They should be busy working toward a balance of power for their own good." Bob in Pennsylvania, "She'll need to be," she. I like that. "She'll need to be honest, open minded and adaptable with more interest in listening than talking. In other words, the complete polar-opposite of the sorry, small-minded, egotistical emperor want to be that we currently have."

Barbara in Michigan writes, "The next president of the U.S. had better be a combination of Mother Teresa, Gandhi and Godzilla in order to undo all the screwing up that the Bushy administration has to its credit. To my regret, none of the candidates fills that bill."

Bill in Montreal writes, "A great start would be the ability to point Europe out on a map."

The other question we sort of toyed with is, if this videotape surfaces by Bin Laden, should the media broadcast it? I suggested maybe we should ignore it and just let the government handle it. So some of you wrote about that.

Laura says, "Finally, someone in the media who says what all of us out here in the everyday world have been saying all along, if you air Bin Laden's tapes, you're giving him what he wants. I've been wondering if the media would ever wake up to this fact. Thanks Jack."

Shawn in Rhode Island, "To ignore the threat and to ignore statements that could give a greater insight into what we're facing is the worst thing anyone can do. I don't want to live in the dark, and the media ignores enough of the important stuff already. I say show the whole video, unedited, and you'd be doing a greater service to the American people than ignoring it or filtering it."

Ron in Indiana, "100 percent behind you on this one. This fool gets too much airplay. The media doesn't do anything but help his cause. The only news I want to hear about him is that he's dead."

Joe in Delaware writes, "Finally, a key news commentator gets it. I served in military intelligence in the Middle East from 1972 to '75. The terrorists thrive on martyrdom and having their stories, names, and acts aired over and over again on America's media outlets. It only fuels their cause. American media should never show these stories, nor should they identify the individual names or photos of terrorists."

And Steve finally writes, "American television should air his speech. His speech will be all over the internet and Arab TV. Terrorists are recruited from the internet, not American television."

If you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to CNN.com/CaffertyFile. We post more of them online, along with video clips of the Cafferty File.

BLITZER: And even if we don't show it, he's right. It's going to be all over Al Jazeera and the rest of the Arab world, Jack. But we love it when Jack is Jack and he speaks his mind. That's why we have the Cafferty File.

CAFFERTY: Well, I'm just here to help out.

BLITZER: And you do. Jack, thanks very much.

Let's check in with Rick Sanchez to see what's coming up in a few moments right at the top of the hour.

Hi, Rick.

RICK SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR: It's a perplexing question, Wolf. Why would two white guys from Germany named Fritz and Daniel join al Qaeda? We think we've got a better idea of why they would do this now, and it's kind of alarming when you think about it at least from our perspective here on the United States side.

And then, this is not a story you usually see on newscasts, but it's about black women and their hair. How incredibly sensitive they are to other people talking about it or making them do things about it. This is a lawsuit. We're bringing it "OUT IN THE OPEN" for you, Wolf.

BLITZER: All right, Rick. You've got a good show there. Thanks very much. Rick Sanchez coming up in a few moments.

It's an embarrassing security breach, amid word that Osama Bin Laden is about to release a new videotape, an Osama Bin Laden look- alike gets too close to where President Bush is. It's part of a joke that could land some people, though, in jail. Details, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: It's a security breach that has many officials red- faced. Our Jeanne Moos has this most unusual story.

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: See if you can pick out the fake motorcade at the APEC summit. Is it this one or this one or this one or this one? The guy who finally jumped out was the giveaway.

DAVID CAMPBELL, POLICE MINISTER: I don't see a funny side to what's happened today. I don't see a funny side at all.

MOOS: But this guy did. There were three vehicles, one flying the Canadian flag escorted by two motorbikes and make-believe security agents jogging alongside. No wonder they got past a couple of checkpoints.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I'm not embarrassed at all.

MOOS: It wasn't until a comedian dressed up like Osama Bin Laden jumped out within yards of the hotel where President Bush was staying that security caught on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What I am is I'm very angry that such a stunt like this would be pulled.

MOOS: The prank was the work of an award-winning Australian TV comedy troop called "The Chaser." They've even chased Hillary Clinton.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hillary --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd like to apply to be your intern.

SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: Oh!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you have been in trouble with them in the past, but --

MOOS: The cast has been specializing in security pranks, dressing up at an airport like the plastic bags passengers need for carry-on items, buying a ticket for a passenger named Al Kyder, who then gets paged.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Al Kyder.

MOOS: The show sent out a fake security guard to see how far the public would let him go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a secure area, thank you. Okay, ma'am, you have to go back up.

MOOS: And when challenged by a real security man ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I see your I.D.? Yes, I'm sorry.

MOOS: A real one then asked, can I know what's going on?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's classified, sir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not a problem.

MOOS: Not a problem he says, but similar stunts have been. Take the time a British comedian dressed up like Osama Bin Laden in a dress.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Happy birthday!

MOOS: And managed to get into Windsor castle for Prince William's 21st birthday dress-up party. He ended up kissing the prince on both cheeks.

Back in Australia, "The Chaser" cast doesn't always do security pranks. The show sent the supposedly gay Teletubby Tinky-Winky into a gay bar.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a handbag!

MOOS: Sent a supposedly blind guy out driving a taxi.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, it's only steering wheel left.

MOOS: And sent a guy with a stocking over his head into stores.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have this DVD. MOOS: Sometimes people get mad. Crashing a summit dressed up like Osama Bin Laden will get you arrested. Dressing up with a stocking over your head makes folks run for their lives.

Jeanne Moos, CNN.

BLITZER: Leave it to Jeanne Moos.

Let's go to Rick Sanchez. He's in New York with OUT IN THE OPEN.

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